Bloody Great and Shockingly Sexy! British and European Horror in Detroit Area (With one Philippine Horror) , 1971 to Mid 1972

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1-1-71 – Starting the year with the second week of a double dose of Hammer Horror that would return a lot.

Detroit cinemas always had a place for Horror in the classic years of cinema and the imported releases from the Early 70’s that focused on Sexploitation were usually successful in the area. Both Indie and Major companies knew that these films would get some good business in the Metro area known for it’s fans who were wanting the R-Rated stuff they can’t get on TV at the time. Thankfully, the Sub-Distributors of the Indies knew their business and the Grand Circus Circle learned from the failures of the UA and Summit to go Adult, making these films a perfect fit. The growing number of smaller screens by the Mid 70’s provided more opportunities for these films to play, but in 71-2, it was mainly a Downtown and Drive In happening – and Southeastern MI Drive In customers were used to the snow covering up the tires.

1-1-71 – By 1970, the Independently-Distributed Imported Horror scene was starting to slow down theatrically as the growth of late night TV was more profitable to the genre, the New Wave of movie making steered the majors to try and come up with the next Easy rider, and the Adult film industry was rising to a fever pitch within the Indies. Despite the changes in cinema, there were some companies ready to take on the more violent and increasingly seductive films that were on offer, and those with the Hammer Glamour were among the very best. Not surprisingly, this double feature was to play across the US on a regular basis by American Continental and it’s parent Levitt-Pickman as the only way to see the full version in the Pre-Cable/Pre-VHS days was to catch it in the theater. With the classy Hammer production values, it was best to see it when it hit a big theater in the first run before the inevitable second-level house and Drive In runs.

In Scars of Dracula, the tried and true “Dracula rises from the dead” story is added with someone looking for a missing brother thrown in, but thankfully Christopher Lee still shows his style as one of the best actors to play the character. In Horror of Frankenstein, the under-rated Ralph Bates played Victor Frankenstein while veronica Carlson adds the Hammer Glamour which is legendary today. By this time, Warner Brothers’ US distribution of the Hammer films ended and the movies would usually find themselves with Independent companies with a few exceptions through The 1970’s (Columbia and Paramount would unleash a couple), resulting in lower budgets and more Exploitation-styled elements the would define the 1970’s period of the company that would still keep to a sense of Gothic style which would be influential.

In 1970, Lee would work with Jess Franco in an attempt to play Dracula by the book which would result in a film that was a success in Spain, but would wind up in low-level Distribution in The US before finding it’s way to the late show, VHS, DVD, and beyond. Scars of Dracula wound up on Thorn-EMI Video then Anchor Bay in The US

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1-22-71 – The Second Run/Drive In performance, and the first of many to come through the decade.

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2-3 and 2-5-71 – Wednesday and Friday ads – The Plaza was the Downtown destination for the AIP-Distributed Hammer classic while a number of Drive Ins were also picked as per the company’s business sence. The Plaza was once known as the Telenews in it’s beginnings and later as the Tele Arts after Nicholas George sold the theater. This was one of the first films of the Fine and Style era of Hammer that’s possibly still debated among fans of the studio, and this is one of the best. Sadly, the original US run was cut for the R rating, and those interested can see that version on the Embassy VHS, but the MGM DVD version is the way to go. Seriously, if you have not seen it, please do as soon as possible!

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5-12-71 – Before the Golan and Globus era that defines the history of Cannon to many modern fans, it was a company that was seriously hit and miss when it came to it’s releases, but thankfully it’s Horror films would usually be interesting (Silent Night, Bloody Night!). Both of these films were Tigon releases that were picked up in possible competition to the Levitt-Pickman double featured at the start of this post (seriously, before New World gained speed nobody could beat AIP!). Blood on Satan’s Claw deals with a town who’s children are turning into devil worshipers, which was perfect for the growing interest in the Occult in the Early 70’s, while Beast in the Cellar is about the madman of the family who escapes from where he’s kept.

At least Blood on Satan’s Claw is rightfully respected by many genre fans after years of being seen as another episode of Elvira’s Movie Macabre – which was my introduction to the film.

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7-14-71 – The Madison showed the one and only Daughters of Darkness! A beautiful film distributed through Maron Films under it’s Gemini wing, it’s seriously best seen on the big screen. Note must be made of Andrea Rau, who’s presence is brilliant in this movie – look for her at the 43 second mark of this trailer.

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11-3-71 – Daughters of Darkness also played with Next! which was The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh which was also released as The Next Victim and Blade of the Ripper. Unlike the other ads here, this one was with a very small and sleazy ad that kind of fitted – not too effective in the long run, but kind of eye catching for those who get into those films that played like creepy ghosts to the few who felt something a bit dark (almost like the way Violated with Rene Bond was promoted in the Mid 70’s). I decided to throw in Prostitution and Pornography USA playing as Erotica USA (or U$A if you like) at the Atlas and Mel, two theaters bitten by the Adult Movie bug to save from going out of business.

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1-26-72 – Trying to regain the business that was slightly lost when it played Adult films, the US Downtown went for the Horror genre with a Miss Vampire Business Card discount!!!. A very good try, with some great films to sink your teeth into, but sadly it will change it’s name to the Downtown and program more Adult films until it’s closing (1974). Creature With the Blue Hand fits the topic here and was usually paired with the Philippine Horror of Beast of the Yellow Night.

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3-29-72 – This Twins of Evil ad that showed the seductive evil of the Collinson twins was the perfect way to sell it. A sexy Hammer film with a lot of style and Peter Cushing at his most over the top. Distributed by Universal, this double bill had a few strong first run showings like this one at the Fox, but usually wound up in second-level theaters, Drive Ins, and small town theaters.

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5-10-72 – I seriously love the “Restricted” bit that was used before the MPAA brought it it for the official rating later in the year. Hallmark Releasing will soon be infamous for Last House on the Left.

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~ by screen13 on October 27, 2016.

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