Island of Death gets “Perverted” and shown in Indianapolis, 1976

•July 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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4-9-76, Indianapolis
4-16-76, Indianapolis

It’s great to be returning on WordPress after building up a readership with my Facebook page which I felt needed some support, so expect double trouble from The Scene! There’s no better way than to start things off again with a serious rarity that could only have happened in the Mid 70s.

Nico Mastorakis’ Island of Death has been an eye opener in the Blu Ray world via Arrow’s classic release, but very little is known about its theatrical history, especially in The States. EDIT – I was just going through my notes once again after seeing the second ad and found out that Bryanston was behind this release in it’s very last days as an active company – Not surprising considering also picking up Last Stop on the Night Train – and although I will have to seriously capture where I got it from, this might have been the true story. The only showing I have so far is for one in Indianapolis at the Vogue, a theater that was moving into X-Rated movies by the Fall of 1975 would play for two weeks – Flesh for Frankenstein was its co-feature for it’s held over showing.

The Director was already being talked about through getting the gig for The Greek Tycoon, although there was hardly any mention of this film in those reports for obvious reasons. Despite the name value that was brought into the ad, it was obvious that it would join the ranks of the many imported films which played a few theaters in the dying days of the classic Exploitation era and quickly shoved aside after a few showings including Because of the Cats, Delirium (with Mickey Hargitay), The Student Connection, and Born for Hell. It would be soon a Video Nasty favorite in England, where it was Distributed theatrically through Winstone and would be bootlegged for years until recently.

The Vogue closed circa April, 1977 after months of showing Porn and revived itself as a club on New Year’s Eve in that year and still operates as a theater today.

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Playmate Theatre – Billings Gets Sexed Up in 1971 at the World Theater

•May 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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7-23-71, Billings – The World Theater in Billings had a long history dating back to 1924 as Myrick’s Egyptian Theatre with incarnations being names the Lyric and the Dolly. Facing a change in the movie-going scene, it developed a late night program called Playmate Theater in order to boost up the business. This small chapter which went from Summer ’71 to Summer ’72 needs to be chronicled as one of the many attempts to go adult in the Early 70’s that came and went at a fast pace before the Adult Movie industry turned into a solid business through the decade.

The theater would close in Nov. 1978.

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7-13-71 – Mac Ahlberg’s Nana, the last of two films released by “Distinction Pictures” was one of the first in the series.

Although in many areas, the age limit for X was 18, but here it was 19, which cut off a lot of the potential audience who were waiting for birthday #18 to arrive.

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8-3-71, Russ Meyer might have struck out with The Seven Minutes, but constant re-plays of classics like Vixen still kept his name alive. It was a perfect match for the late night crowd, who I’m convinced were around to see it back when it was one the most talked about films of the day. By this time, it looked quaint compared to the Adult scene of the day, but then again Russ made movies and not flicks for storefronts that looked like the Director just put film through a camera in a hotel.

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8-6-71 – The hit Without a Stitch makes it’s way to Billings

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11-6-71 – Going Swedish with Ann and Eve starring Marie “Inga” Liljedhal and Gio Petre. The Chevron release did well for a couple of years, and it was a natural for late nights and Drive ins.

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12-31-71 – A New Year’s showing of The School Girls was clearly the sign of the times where films like this could get played for years in the mainstream. This first US release of the many School Girl Report films from Germany was certainly a hit back in the day, although I’m sure there are those would like to see these erased from history today.

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12-24-71 – Although Dandy could not stop with the good night kiss, the World had to stop showing it on Christmas possibly due to some “No to Naughties on Christmas” pressure.

Exploitation legend John Alderman is in this flick.

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1-7-72 – Performance with Mick Jagger and James Fox seriously has to be seen. The film made in 1968 and finally unleashed in 1970 did fair business in it’s first run, but turned into a well-respected Midnight show and re-issue through The 70s.

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1-14-72 – Wow! It’s Cindy! On the road to being a tramp, a tale we all know.

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1-21-72 – The eccentric mind of Fredrick Hobbs made his best known film in Roseland, released by Boxoffice international Pictures. A counter-culture Cult hit right out of the gate, the Something Weird Video release kept it’s reputation alive.

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2-28-72 -Not just focusing on Sexploitation fare, the Playmate Theater program also brought in films like Ginger.

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5-19-72 – The eerie Don’t Just Lay There was a minor cult sensation that was inspired by the Zodiac Killer. It was actually re-promoted later in the decade to go with the interest in the real-life crime spree still alive and exploitable.

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5-12-72 – The Godson was another Boxoffice International release that hit Billings.

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6-2-72 – While the series was a small sized success that had a mainstream appeal, there was pressure to stop it all together. I’m sure that this ad for Farouk University featured a special important message to censors, do gooders, and other repressed species.

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6-23-72 – The Naked Wytche (no relation to the Larry Buchanan film) might have been the final Playmate Theater show, but a Mini-Kota theater called the Studio 1 was about to creep into the Billings movie scene. I can see she has that kind of magic!

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5-24-74 – While “Playmate Theatre” had to end, the World still had the urge to play some wicked films every once in a while. This ad is a very tasty way to say FU to censors and the Anti-Porn leagues that were trying to shut the scene down. To show that the good old days were just as “bad”, a showing of Roadshow classics played thanks to New Line’s re-issues of these classics. A Firesign Theater short also joined in the fun.

Three for “Five”: Five Minutes to Live Re-Titled – Johnny Cash in The Door to Door Maniac, ad highlights 1966-69

•May 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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12-13-69, Kansas City – Hot in the heels of Johnny Cash’s serious comeback starting with 1968’s classic At Folsom Prison with Greatest Hits Vol. 1 keeping the interest alive and Live at San Quentin a strong 1969 album, AIP’s re-release of Five Minutes to Live played in the Kansas City area with this ad showing it’s greater marquee value. Following the success of his TV series (featuring an episode where The Monkees in it’s Nesmith,  Dolenz and Jones lineup show up), The Holy Land, and a fan following for two Old Golden Throat collections of singles sides of which the second was released before this showing, this was a prefect time to play this good B-Crime Noir filled with the grit that only The Man in Black can offer even if as an actor he was seriously best at music. He would have made a good actor for the roughies, but thankfully things turned out the way they did in the long run.

This showing was paired with Lucio Fulci’s The Brute and The Beast starring Franco Nero, a Spaghetti Western that played well thanks to an exciting AIP promotion and the fact that it’s one of the greats in it’s genre. AKA Massacre Time.

His then-recent single was “Blistered” from the 1970-released Hello, I’m Johnny Cash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11-4-66, LA and surrounding areas – In the middle of Sunset Strip mania, fans of classic Country and the Sun records legacy as well as those who just liked some tough movies got to see The Door to Door Maniac  with this solid promotion. Who would have known that the singer who’s then recent album was Happiness is You which only made the Country chart would have turned into a great star in the next couple of years.

 

 

 

 

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2-24-67, Chicago area – A classic screen filler Double Feature of the then-topical Hallucination Generation and The Door to Door Maniac hit the Windy City in the end of Winter at the perfect time. The George Montgomery film was unleashed in 1966 right when the LSD scare was front page news.

 

Look for Vic Taybeck (later of the Alice TV series) and Ron Howard.

Riding with The Girl on a Motorcycle in NYC, 1968

•May 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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11-26-68, NYC – The Girl on a Motorcycle starring Marianne Faithful looking like the fetish dream come true played two Trans Lux theaters in the area near The Deuce. Showing that most of the rest of The US was still a little uneasy about the X rating that was just starting, the original release under it’s real title was possibly not shown anywhere else outside of the coasts until it was quickly re-called, re-rated, and re-titled to Naked Under Leather.

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11-7-68 – Hollywood – The classic original US premiere where is also did quite well for the area. Warner-7 Arts thought things were going to run smooth for this flick, right?

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12-20-68 – Looks like she’s got competition from the new girls named Inga and Candy! Such as the ways of the movie scene when you have to see life “as tears go by”.  Cinemation went full force with it’s promotion of Joe Sarno’s classic Swedish drama which The Scene will take a look at a little later while Candy naturally showed up at almost every Drive In that knew it’s customers for years. Marianne’s turn sadly became a Stateside Ozoner program favorite when she crashed out after a 1969 with Mick Jagger in a story that has been told many times over with at least one classic single in “Sister Morphine” and around the time she recorded the songs aimed for an album called Rich Kids Blues in Late 70 that were shelved until some budget labels found a way to release them upon her comeback later in the decade.

The Magic is Back – Mondo Magic (US release 1977)

•May 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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12-17-76, NYC

Mondo Magic is one of the final films of it’s genre to have received wide Stateside Distribution before the video Age took over, but only had a few strong ads like this one from NYC. In the world of Bill Landis’ Sleaziod Express, this had a bit of success while programmers outside (ie The Rest of The US) were getting scared as they don’t want to risk being able to play the latest hits even if they were second or third run in an era of Star Wars and Close Encounters and the Sub distributors for these movies were losing their power. Still there were a couple of places where this shocked the seats in the twilight days of the classic Exploitation era.

For the first time in a long time,The scene is back in action on WordPress after a time kicking the Facebook page into gear once again. The blog is being aimed for the “elite” of films and the more daring of ads plus more in depth looks at the films in the manner that this is known for (plus more groovy trailers!). While it’s great to know some of the statistics back at FB – This blog and it’s Social Network page have nothing for the Bubblegum Market! I view it as having “No Commercial Potential” – it’s also good to know that you have been stopping by to check out the articles around here. Yes, by “Magic” you will witness the “Mondo Screen” you read and love here, but sometimes with more daring picks and topics in most of the posts.

Mondo Magic is on You Tube under it’s original name, Magia Nuda. Well…it was a 42nd Street Hit!

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=magia+nuda

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9-20-77, Honolulu – A diabolical double with The Psychopath, a re-title for An Eye for An Eye, was playing at the Kaimuki, but I don’t think the scene where the tribes learn the famous biblical statement the hard way was the reason why they were paired.

Nature started a Demolition on the theater in 1980 through a storm which was later torn down in ’82.

Tom Basham as Mr Rabbey seriously brings the Creep Level up to 11…maybe 13, and the Grindhouse gang certainly liked it that way.

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9-23-77, San Antonio – One of the oldest theaters in San Antonio’s life turned into the kind of theater where New York-style programs were the norm including this showing of Mondo Magic with Bummer and Super Man Chu.

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5-28-86 – The “Magic” returns as Shocking Cannibals at the Liberty. A film can always see the world on VHS, but the elite of Exploitation will always return home even with another name. The Liberty paired it up with two of the Upchuck Buffet specials prepared for you by one of the master chefs in the field – Umberto Lenzi! Doomed to Die was Jim Jones-sploitation class-sic that only played New York on the screen while the rest of the US saw it on Continental Video’s release of Doomed to Die.

 

On the Search for CALIGULA, Part Two – Three More Showings found

•March 30, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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7-14-80, Des Moines – Caligula hits the Midwest in a city known to many Scene 13 readers for theaters that had plenty of good films. The Holiday was no stranger to controversial films as it played The Story of O in Late 1975. The Midwest Premiere was ahead of Chicago’s by a couple of months.

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9-11-80, Trotwood (near Dayton) – Caligula comes to the Kon Tiki Triple screen and actually gets a good review (“don’t dismiss it” was the headline while still saying it’s gross). Sadly, the 200 Degrees of Failure site is now archived and no longer in normal existence, but hope the creator of it will catch this as this showing was “Undetermined” at that press time although now here’s the proof to back it up.

A later showing in Cleveland Heights in Dec. 1980 was protested by a religious group, but it and had to be more pressure to stop the showing all together. A lot of these banned showings must have had a serious effect on creating the R version.

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4-24-81, Louisville – This had a 4-day stay as the Moral “Majority” decided to protest it’s showing at the Showcase Cinema  – cue raid and a confiscation. There was at least Blazing Saddles, although you could see/crash out at Heaven’s Gate (believe it or not, held over for another week!) or  Gary Coleman in his epic classic (fail) On the Right Track, then again you might want to skip the theater and catch the Howling elsewhere! Of course, there were a few Adult Cinemas around, but nothing matched catching this mind-melt of a movie that still holds a demonic power over Cult Movie fans today, pro or even con.

Toledo’s Showcase will get the R-Rated version later in the year, but I’m sure those who attended the small North Point 75 showing back in Nov. 1980 might have been very disappointed as it was 1) in a well-kept multiplex (RIP around 2004…a small part of my life was seated in there…more later!) and 2) edited. Sometimes, there’s nothing like catching a very controversial film in a Strip Mall Theater located possibly next to the Foodtown from what I remember or some small box that you knew was not a prestige place – those who have seen Cannibal Holocaust outside of NYC in either ’85 or ’86 will really know what I mean.

CALIGULA’s Tour of Infamy through the US – Selected Highlights, Part 1 – 1980

•March 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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Wimington, 4-13-80 – Caligula! After a seriously troubled history in production and a few special screenings in NYC and New Haven, the Penthouse Magazine-Presented epic that seriously caused controversy and criticism finally appeared in The States in Feb. 1980 at the Trans Lux East in New York City which was renamed the Penthouse East for a couple of years before it’s final life as the Crown Gotham (RIP 2001) with showings in Washington DC (Mar, 1980), San Francisco (Mar-Sep, 1980), New Haven (Apr.), and Hollywood (Apr, 1980-Jun, 1981 at the Holly) predating the Wilmington showing seen here. Beautifully bloated and over the top featuring a classic performance by Malcolm McDowell who usually got good noties, this might have been the mighty fall of the Adult Movie empire as it tried to turn the scene into something acceptable to the mainstream with movies featuring serious stars, a thought very possible when it was first in production, and unleashed in a time when it’s fan base was moving to VHS and many newspapers were either restricting the Porno ads to mere small blocks or not even mentioning them at all (The LA Times stopped in 1977, for example) making the film a perfect way to end an era.

With Bob Guccione’s added on footage clashing with the well-made film directed by Tinto Brass in an attempt to bring in more of a Stateside audience, the original opinions were very scathing of the whole movie even if the reviewer knew of it’s long gestation and who was involved with it and very few theaters took on the film in it’s Adults-Only form booked usually with inflated ticket prices although reportedly some were on a normal level. With it’s aforementioned long run at the Holly reminding us that it stayed somewhere for a long time, it was also proof that some concepts worked well in only a few cities while others shunned it out or treated it like any one-week-only happening with a strong opening and a weak run after. If there was a good film within the Exploitation, if it was just a slam dunk of sleaze with big names, or even if it was just a steaming pile, it’s theatrical history deserves to be well-known as a tour of a torrid film that seriously made it’s mark with fans and critics.

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5-2-80, Philadelphia – A perfect pair of ads! One for an Adult spectacle that was in a scene headed for VHS and another for the first two films of a series that continued through The 80’s. Caligula appeared on 4-25-80 at the Budco Midtown and continued until May at screen 1 with a later showing at Screen 2 from Aug. to Oct. of that year. Other big hits that week included The Fog and Mad Max.

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5-2-80, Philadelphia – On the same day, another publication was about to have trouble with it’s own film – Mad Magazine’s Up the Academy was one of the many troubled Comedies of the year including the Nude Bomb, Where the Buffalo Roam, and The Gong Show Movie. Mad Magazine was more successful of disowning it’s film while Director Tinto Brass and writer Gore Vidal had their names still attached in less direct credits (Principal Photography and “based on a story”, respectfully).

The tour continued…basing on list of screenings on a seriously detailed defunct Caligula history site 200 Degrees of Failure that went a bit quiet in early 2017, showings included the following.

Oakland, CA – Rockridge Showcase (in a major shopping center), Apr, 1980

Palo Alto, CA – Aquarius (still open!), Apr., 1980

Madison, WI – Esquire 2 (May)

Holyhoke, MA – Holyhoke Mall cinema, May-June, 1980

Seattle, Town (RIP, 1984), June, 1980

Kansas City, MO – Fairyland Drive In – You read right, an Ozoner had Caligula! (June) – It reportedly was stopped due to pressure.

Boston – Saxon – Pulled by law after four days, but returned after a court case, June and later at the Sheri 1-2-3 in August. The case must have been a spark for a huge booking through Massachusetts in September. The reason for revoking the ban was reportedly that the judge saw beyond the reputation and viewed it as a look into the abuse of power.

Providence – Cinerama, Aug. to Oct. 1980.

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8-1-80, Pittsburgh, A successful showing at the Chatham,

One story to note before I go on…

8-15-80, Morristown, NJ – Caligula was replaced by the Blue Lagoon at the Lakeside. Although Caligula was understandably controversial and broke a few promises of a theater never to go X again even if it was unrated, it’s a good guess that it is kind of creepy for some to see it be replaced with the slightly less infamous Brooke Shields movie that might have been rated R, but still was made when the star was 14. Both were called “Dogs” by Siskel and Ebert in their year of infamy which targeted Horror movies.

Speaking of Gene and Roger…

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9-19-80, Chicago – Continuing through the Midwest, Caligula makes a stop in the Windy City

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9-7-80, San Antonio – Now HERE’S a Cult classic Capture!

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10-24-80, Fairlawn, OH near Akron at the Village Twin – It was banned in Summit County.  Owned by Mann and later National General, one can see where this was not too wise of a move.

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11-14-80, Minneapolis – Today, the Cedar is a Cultural Center, but back in the day it had a history that went from Porn to quality films or at least more adventurous fare.

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11-14-80, Toledo – The Cinema North was a small Strip Mall Cinema just off of I-75 that closed sometime around 1984.

11-21-80, Bound Brook (near Bridgewater) NJ – Another pulled showing, more news stories, and more trouble. Further controversy in Amhurst, NY and Cleveland Heights, OH possibly made the decision to create the R version a more attractive option. A Louisville showing in April, 1981 which reportedly offended the Moral Majority of the community that was raided by police at the Showcase made it easier just to go with the rated version before any more trouble was caused – In other movie news, Heaven’s Gate was showing at the same time!

Sadly, Detroit did not get the Adult version, nor anywhere else in Michigan, but got the R version later on in 1981. Fact fiends should know that the theme that was never in the film, “We are One”, was recorded at Motown Studios in LA. More later, but I think it’s time for this town to get down!