Only In The 70’s (and Rarely 80’s)- Two Screen Mini-Mall Theater, One Screen G, the Other X…Snuff Plays the Greenwood Mall Theater
Home to playing Billy Jack for weeks on end, home to WTTO-hosted Midnight Movies during its last days on the air, and on 12/3/76 it was also the place where you could either take the family to see the legendary Four Wall event that was The Wilderness Family on one screen or go by your Adult self or with a date to see Snuff on the other…I wonder if kids who saw the title on the marquee asked their parents!
True, a lot of strip malls looking for cheap ways to fill the screens were like this back in the day and it was a common site in the Grindhouse Strips in every major city, but this was my turf during my youth – I saw Reform School Girls and A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 among others (Chopping Mall comes to mind, too!) – but this was with Snuff on one of the screens, one of the most protested films of the decade.
To those still wondering what is going on – and the story still deserves telling as it is one of Exploitation’s most nasty hypes – Monarch Pictures/Alan Shakleton bought a film from Michael Findlay called The Slaughter, had Simon Nocturn and his team create an ending that lived up to the new name and claim something to the effect that it was real when in reality the effects were so cheap that it only fooled and offended those who were never used to watching these films who wanted it off the screens quick. The main part of the film, The Slaughter, was already branded X by the MPAA back in Early 1971 – it was reported in a 3/8/71 edition of Boxoffice – but today the viewers wonder what the fuss was all about, although of course the legend has it that it was harder on the Indies anyways.
In a way, the Findlay footage has it’s scuzzy charms, kind of like a Touch of Manson in Argentina with some one-take “Born to Be Wild”-inspired music playing through a lot of it just to pick up the pace a little, but those not used to the way they made their films back in the day including the mainly two-people vocal overdubbing team of Roberta and Michael might not really like it if they don’t get into the scummy feeling. Although the Blue Underground Blu Ray seriously is a great way to view the film and know about it’s history, this is the kind of film that really works best in an ugly theater late at night, not knowing if you are going to meet some kind of major league psycho on crack (I was at a Big Boy with friends one midnight in the Mid 90’s where someone obviously on either Crack or Angel Dust was sitting a couple of tables near us, so I kind of know what that’s like). Filmed in Argentina (“Where life is cheap” claimed the ads), it was just a crazy trip between the Findlays, Ed Adlum, and others that resulted in one of the most interesting films of the decade which clearly was an example of the hype topping off what is just a low level Exploitation film with a Manson angle (it’s clearly no Sweet Savior) showing the twilight time of the couple’s film history that started off with some of the most out there films and winding up with the kind of dull Shriek of the Mutilated plus a tacked on ending from someone else who really knew how to sell it.
To those still not impressed, let’s just say that you had to be there. I’m sure there was a creepy feeling in the theaters.
An interesting article featuring the history of the film…