Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
Released on: 7/192011
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Another budget priced bulk pack o’ movies from Mill Creek Entertainment who have once again delved deep into the Crown International archives and dug up a few interesting titles – most of which we’ve seen before, but two of which are new to DVD on this release.
Here’s the rundown…
The Sister in Law (1974):
Joseph Ruben’s 1974 thriller stars John Savage as a man named Robert Strong who has just returned home to the United States after some travel abroad. He catches up with his jealous brother, Edward (Will MacMillan), and then through a series of strange coincidences winds up getting involved with Edward’s wife, Joanna (Anne Saxon). Bad idea. Sure she’s hot, but she just might be nuts and, well, nailing your sister in law is kind of a no-no. Edward’s getting some on the side himself, however, and has a mistress named Deborah (Meredith Baer) who winds up accompanying Robert on a drive to Canada to go get a package for Edward that for some reason he can’t go get himself. It all heads south from there.
This one moves at a good pace and delivers not only the requisite nudity and sex that you’d expect but throws in a catfight and a basketball contest too! Savage, who contributes a few songs to the soundtrack as well, is good in the role while Saxon and Baer both deliver loads of eye candy. You kind of know where this one is heading well before it gets there so much of the suspense is lost but the story holds your interest thanks to some interesting characters and a sufficiently skuzzy, low budget time capsule vibe. Throw in some weird gangster dudes, scenes of melodramatic soul searching, and a lot of banjo music on the soundtrack and this one comes up a winner!
Noon Sunday (1975):
New to DVD is this obscure movie shot in the Philippines and in Guam. Mark Lenard stars as Jason Cootes, a former American agent in the South Pacific who has been around the block a few times. He meets up with a spy named Darmody (John Russell) and another agent named Kalin (Linda Avery) and the three of them wind up on a mission to stop a bunch of guerilla soldiers from establishing a missile base that could pose a serious threat to stability and security around the world. In order to save the day, our three heroes are going to have to take out the guerilla leaders but just who can be trusted remains to be seen.
Directed by Terry Bourke, this is a fairly disposable but marginally entertaining action/thriller with some fun spy movie themes running through it and some great location photography. It’s fun to see Mark Lenard, best known for playing Spock’s father, a Vulcan named Sarek, in the original run of Star Trek feature films, as a mercenary type but he makes it work even without the pointy ears. John Russell, who pops up in a few westerns, is suitably surly as the crafty Darmody while Linda Avery is, if not all that charismatic, at least fun to look at. The action scenes aren’t all that impressive, in fact, not much about this movie is but a car blows up at one point and so does a church and there’s enough sex, violence and bad dialogue to amuse those who appreciate such things.
Weekend with the Babysitter (1970):
Co-written by George E. Carey and directed by none other than Tom Laughlin, Weekend With The Babysitter follows a movie producer named Jim Carlton (George E. Carey) who is married, albeit not all that happily, to a former leading lady named Mona (Luanne Roberts). They have a kid together but that hardly solidifies their marriage, and while Jim is far from perfect, Mona just doesn’t seem all that interested in trying to make what they’ve made together work, she’s more concerned with her pills. Enter the babysitter - pretty, young Candy Wilson (Susan Romen). She’s there to watch the kid, obviously, but she pays more attention to Jim than he’s used to and it’s not hard at all to see why, in his situation especially, he would find that appealing. When she takes a look at his screenplay, a story about the problems of youth, she tells him what’s wrong with it and offers to help him improve it. Eventually, and not so surprisingly, they begin to have an affair and he winds up becoming a part of her world, hanging out with her much younger friends and fitting in far better than you’d expect. Mona, meanwhile, has hooked up with her dope dealing pal Rich (James Almanzar) and eventually winds up in some serious trouble.
This one isn’t quite as salacious as it might sound but the drug angle keeps things interesting to be sure. Some amusingly stilted dialogue and a fairly quotable script full of bizarre phrases add to the enjoyment, while the California locations are nicely photographed and plenty nice to look at. There’s a fair bit of nudity and some rad bikers towards the end to up the exploitation element accordingly and the movie, despite some pacing issues here and there, is worth seeing for drive-in film fans.
Yellow Hair And The Fortress of Gold (1984):
Not new to DVD (it was released by Rhino) but new to these Crown International multipack releases is this goofy action film starring Laurene Landon of Maniac Cop and Hundra fame. Directed by Matt Cimber, who also directed Hundra and a few other notable titles like The Witch Who Came From The Sea, The Black Six and The Candy Tangerine Man, the film lands Landon in the role of the titular Yellow Hair, a blonde Caucasian woman who hangs out with a few Apaches and a guy named Pecos Kid (Ken Roberson). They all get into some trouble when a mute guy named Flores (Aldo Sambrell) and a bad guy named Colonel Torres (Luis Lorenzo) who decides to track down and pilfer a legendary fortress of gold watched over by a tribe called the Tulpan. The Tulpan are not to be trifled with, however, as they possess the uncanny and seriously really handy ability to… turn into statues? At any rate, Yellow Hair’s mother gets killed and so Yellow Hair and Pecos Kid have to figure out who did it and go get them to make them pay for what they’ve done.
A really bad Indiana Jones style adventure movie, Yellow Hair And The Fortress Of Gold doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It introduces all of the main characters right in the opening scenes so it should move in a fairly straightforward manner from there but the plot is just all over the place and there are so many logic gaps and questionable character decisions here that if you think about it too much you’ll probably give yourself a brain aneurysm. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like anyone involved in this turkey expected anyone to think all that much, so you can just sit back and take in all the Styrofoam sets, bad acting, horrible dialogue, semi-offensive stereotypes and completely horrible kid friendly humor. Shot in Spain, the movie does feature some nice location photography that makes it look more exotic and expensive than it probably was and the last twenty minutes or so are well paced and actually even a little bit exciting – but it’s all too nonsensical for most people to care all that much.
French Quarter (1978):
Hey wow, this one stars Ann Michelle, the ‘star’ of Haunted with the really pokey nipples! Well, she’s probably better known for House Of Whipcord and Virgin Witch, but whatever. Aside from that, well, it was directed by Dennis Kane, who worked on Dark Shadows for a while, and it also features Virginia Mayo. At any rate, the story follows a teenager named Christina (Alisha Fontaine) who splits from her tiny town to the big city of New Orleans to find her destiny and soon realizes it’s not going to be all that easy. She takes a job as a stripper but when she gets shafted come pay day, she decides to enlist the aid of a voodoo priestess – this turns out poorly for her, as she gets drugged and somehow travels back in time where she wakes up living the life of a hooker named Trudy. Here she hangs out with the likes of Coke-Eyed Laura (Ann Michelle), Ice Box Josie (Laura Misch Owens), Bricktop, and best of all, Countess Willie Piazza (Virginia Mayo) – will Trudy solidify her romance with a piano player named Kid Ross (Bruce Davison) before she’s sold into white slavery for good?
A rare entry in the ‘time travelling prostitute-period romance’ genre, French Quarter is definitely out there. The fact that much of the period drama is shot with a soft filter over it making it look like the camera lens was covered in Vaseline doesn’t help things much, but there’s a pretty cool cast here so that counts for something. There’s a bizarre, dream like atmosphere to a lot of the movie that makes it sort of interesting even when it’s terrible and you’ve got to give the producers credit not just for green lighting something this wacky but for somehow managing to get Virginia Mayo involved in it.
Night Club (1989):
A later entry in this set, 1989’s Night Club, directed by Michael Keusch, stars Nicholas Hoppe, who co-wrote, as Nick, a guy with a poofy dyed blonde mullet who is married to a hot chick named Beth (Elizabeth Kaitan) who he also sees as his fantasy mistress? Yep. Weird. Anyway, Nick wants to open a night club, and so he hits up poor Beth for the money he doesn’t have to do it. He then talks to some mobsters and borrows some money from them so that he can wisely invest it in a building that the city has condemned. It’s here he will build his night club, even if it is falling apart – but then the mobsters want their money back, and since Nick invested it in a building that he can’t use, well, he can’t pay them back so they decide to take turns on Beth while Nick builds a disco ball and complains.
This movie is horrible and mostly consists of a guy whining. At least the mobsters get laid.
Separate Ways (1981):
Howard Avedis’ 1981 film stars Karen Black as Valentine Colby, a woman stuck in a tough marriage to Ken Colby (Tony Lo Bianco). The two are trying to make things work not so much for their sake but for the sake of their young son. He runs a car dealership but business isn’t going so well as he’s more interested in the affair that he’s having behind his wife’s back with a fox co-worker named Sheila (Katherine Justice). Valentine, not to be out done, gets into a situation of her own when she starts fooling around with a man she meets at an art class named Jerry (David Naughton). While Ken goes out and passes some time racing cars, she takes a job at a skuzzy night club - will they be able to save their marriage or should they just throw in the towel and go their… separate ways?
Not particularly sleazy at all, Separate Ways actually plays just fine as a fairly serious drama and a look at how relationships can and do go sour over time. Both Black and Lo Bianco are very good in their respective roles and things are played completely straight here, an interesting contrast to the earlier sleazy pictures director Avedis made a name for himself with.
Hot Target (1985):
Made in New Zealand and directed by Dennis C. Lewiston, Hot Target stars lovely Simone Griffeth as Christine Weber, an American woman who is married to a local big wig business tycoon named Clive (Bryan Marshall). Sadly, her marriage is boring and she’s not in the least bit satisfied, even if she wants for nothing as far as material possessions are concerned. Seemingly completely by chance, she meets a fellow American named Greg Standford (Steve Marachuk) while hanging out in a park and before you know it, he’s pretty much seduced her and she’s fallen for him big time. Things get complicated when it turns out Greg is a thief and that he’s planning on hitting the Weber house as his next target.
Moderately well acted and featuring no shortage of steamy bedroom bumping and grinding (much of which allows Ms. Griffeth, best known for Death Race 2000, to get down to her birthday suit, Hot Target isn’t the most interesting erotic thriller to come out of the 80s heyday but it’s not awful. Marachuk is good in his role and his character is fun to watch while Griffeth, well, she’s naked a lot. So there’s that. The dialogue is generally stilted, poorly written and delivered with a style that can only be described as awkward but this one was obviously made fast and cheap to cash in on the success of DePalma’s Body Heat, a much better film in almost every way possible.
Blue Money (1972):
This film stars Alain Patrick as a guy named Jim who makes a living shooting fast and cheap porno movies. Married to a hippy named Lisa (Barbara Mills), who he has a daughter with, Jim wants to make mainstream films but his luck just hasn’t landed him that opportunity yet. On top of that, the FBI are watching his every move, hoping to arrest him, and his producers are shifty as shifty can be and playing fast and loose with funding. As Jim’s lift gets grubbier and more distraught, he starts to take solace in the arms of the women he works with, and as such his marriage begins to crumble. Will Jim be able to pull himself out of this quagmire of filth and make it in the movies or is he destined to spend the rest of his life toiling in porno and trapped in a trouble marriage?
Interesting that this movie was produced by none other than Bob Chinn (credited as Robert C. Chinn - read our interview with him here!), as it paints a fairly unhappy picture of the adult film industry that Chinn helped build into what it is today with his seminal Johnny Wadd films. Patrick, who also directed, is a strong and likeable lead here despite his character’s infidelity and flaws, and the most has an interesting almost documentary approach to the scenes that take place on the sets of the adult movies that he’s making. Equally good, if not better, is Mills as Lisa. Her performance is very strong, her persona sympathetic, and her looks fantastic and the camera loves her in every scene she’s in. While the subject matter lends itself to loads of sex and nudity, it’s a fair bit more judicious in its use of those elements and this plays more like a semi-serious drama than a drive-in or sexploitation picture. A very well made film with a good story and some great performances, Blue Money also features some interesting performances from recognizable California based exploitation and sex film regulars like Maria Arnold, Sandy Dempsey, Suzanne Fields and Susan Wescott.
Famous as Mae West’s final film, Sextette sees the actress playing Marlo Manners, an aging woman out on her honeymoon with husband number six, a much younger man named Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton). By sheer coincidence, one of Marlo’s ex-husbands happens to be a Russian Politician and is staying at this very same hotel to attend a conference. He decides that if the other countries want him to play ball, well, he should get to ball his ex-wide one last time!
If that weren’t bad enough, Marlo has decided to make a tape that detail all of her misadventures and exploits that have occurred over the years, preserving her memories for posterity’s sake. Her manager, however, is sure that this will sooner or later fall into the wrong hands and so he wants to destroy it.
Marginally entertaining, Sextette isn’t a particularly remarkable film though it does have enough effective comedy going for it that you won’t be pulling your hair out as you try to make your way through it. West still has some charm left in her and a fair bit of attitude when she gets fired up but her relationship with Dalton doesn’t set the world on fire. Passable entertainment, yes, but not much more than that – though it’s fun to see Alice Cooper, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Dom DeLuise, and Regis Philbin pop up in weird cameos and it’s got more camp value to it than you can shake a stick at and West’s lip synching skills are in a league all their own. Plenty watchable, but usually for the wrong reasons.
The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High (1987):
Written and directed by Francesco Lucente, this movie follows a nerdy guy named Mike (Joseph Straface), who makes a bet with a more popular jock-type named Randy (Lee Barringer) that he can’t convince the school’s prettiest and most popular girl, Diane (Stacy Christenson), to sleep with him. In order to win the bet, he has to get Diane, a virgin, to a hotel called Paradise Bungalows out in the woods and convince her to do the deed with him. Mike and his pal Charley (J.T. Wotton) aren’t going to make it easy though – Mike has got some moves of his own! When Diane’s friend Judy (Anna Lisa Iapaolo) finds out about the bet, however, Mike may very well have blown his chances.
A goofy attempt at the teen sex comedy/gotta lay the virgin subgenre, The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High is entertaining enough if very dated in that late eighties corniness that permeated so much of what turned up on movie screens at the time. It’s not a classic, but it’s entertaining enough in a superficial way and it builds to a decent enough finale and a completely goofy ‘big scene’ that is more ridiculous than anything that came before it but as far as disposable entertainment goes, you could do worse.
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (1990):
A later entry in the Crown International library, this one gets the distinguished honor of being the only movie in this set to deal with a psychopathic transvestite killer. The movie tells the heartwarming story of a grumpy fashion photographer named Jack Hackerman (Ross Hagen) who, along with his assistant Alan (Troy Donahue), heads off to a ranch with a bunch of hot models for a calendar shoot in which the girls pose in strange, near death situations. Well, all of this is odd enough on its own but when a lunatic dressed up in a nurse’s uniform shows up and starts slaughtering the models, it just gets weirder.
A fairly horrible slasher film, Click takes about an hour or so before really getting to the murders but it is entertaining enough along the way, thanks to a ridiculously crazed performance from a bug eyed Ross Hagen that you won’t mind so much. It’s all corny and nutty and it doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense but it’s got a good amount of sleaze working in its favor even if most of the nudity is fleeting and rather tame. It’s not so surprising to learn that Hagen was involved in writing and co-directing this one, as his character is really the only interesting one in the bunch and he definitely gets the most screen time out of all involved. The violence is fairly strong and there are some impressively nasty kills here – the end result is a pretty entertaining and fun little B-grade slasher.
Well, the screen caps more or less tell the story here – each film is either fullframe or 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. Quality varies from movie to movie but one thing that is consistent is the compression artifacts that are present in each and every film. That’s what happens when you cram two movies onto each side of a double sided disc. Everything is watchable enough, but expect a fair bit of softness throughout in addition to the compression artifacts and occasional instance of macroblocking. Each of the twelve movies in the set is also interlaced.
As it is with the video, there hasn't been any serious restoration done here. Expect to hear hiss and pop throughout pretty much each one of the twelve films in the set, and expect some fluctuations in the levels periodically as well. You'll be able to hear and understand everything well enough if you don't mind reaching for the remote to make adjustments now and then, but you can't really say that the movies sound 'good' - rather, most of them are serviceable and a few are rather poor.
Each disc contains a static menu offering the choice of movie A or movie B – but nothing outside of that, no extras to speak of.
The Final Word:
The presentation is nothing to write home about and there aren’t any extras to speak of but you can’t argue with the price and while a lot of fans will already have some, if not all, of the Crown International titles on this set the inclusion of two new ones will make it hard for some of us to resist.