• Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review (Part Five Of Seven)


    Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review (Part Five Of Seven)
    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 2nd, 2020.
    Director: Al Adamson
    Cast: Georgina Spelvin, Susan McIver, Rosalind Miles, Sandy Carey, Sondra Currie, Regina Carrol, Jennifer Biship, Rod Cameron, Timothy Brown, Russ Tamblyn, Geoffrey Land, Alan Tang, James Hong, Aldo Ray
    Year: 1974/1975/1976/1974/1976
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    Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection – Movie Reviews:

    Thirty-two movies! That’s right, there are thirty-two movies in Severin Film’s Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection boxed set, and so we’re going to split this review up over a week, two discs per day, so that I don’t have to check myself into rehab.

    You can read coverage of discs one and two here.
    You can read coverage of discs three and four here.
    You can read coverage of discs five and six here.
    You can read coverage of discs seven and eight here.

    Here’s a look at discs nine and ten of this mind-altering boxed set.

    Disc Nine – Girls For Rent/Jessi’s Girls/Nurses For Sale:

    The first disc starts off with 1974’s Girls For Rent (also known as I Spit On Your Corpse), which opens with a scene set ‘south of the border’ where a prison transport truck brings a gang of female convicts to a work site. They’re let out of the truck to do some manual labor under watch of some armed guards, those guards unaware that a criminal organization has planned to use this opportunity to bust out a woman named Sandra (Georgina Spelvin).

    Once the escape is made, Sandra is brought to the ringleader of the group, a man named Moreno (Ken Taylor in what would turn out to be his final film role), who has arranged her spring from the big house so that he can bring her into his employ. Her first job? To setup an aging politician with a prostitute named Donna (Susan McIver) who will get him into bed and drop a pill in his cocktail that will give him a heart attack! Unaware that this will prove fatal to her john, Donna screws him like she’s supposed to only to have him suffer the big one in the throes of passion. Understandably afraid of what’s just happened, Donna splits the scene, grabs a car and decides to hightail it to Mexico to hide out until this blows over.

    Moreno needs Sandra to get Donna back before she either gets nabbed by the cops or decides to otherwise spill the beans, so she teams up with Erica (Rosalind Miles) to follow Donna to Mexico and take care of this problem, permanently. Along the way, Sandra essentially rapes a mentally challenged man and kills him once she’s had her way with him, before then going on to shoot the poor guys old dad and we get some car chases and some shoot outs. Oh, and Mikel James (aka Sandy Carey) shows up to give a guy a sexy massage and we get a cat fight and some bad kung fu too!

    This one delivers! It’s a fast-paced and fairly sleazy little low-budget picture that offers Spelvin a chance to star in a ‘straight’ picture, an opportunity that she takes full advantage of. She looks great here, super cute with her pixie-cut hairdo, but she delivers a pretty hard-ass performance. Sandra is not a nice woman, not at all, she takes what she wants when she wants it and has no qualms about filling anyone who gets in her way with some hot lead! It’s pretty cool to see Spelvin, who was always one of the best actors of the vintage adult film scene (watch The Devil In Miss Jones and tell me I’m wrong) do her thing here. And on top of that we get a decent role for the lovely Susan McIver (a.k.a. Susan Ewing - Hot Pants from Smokey And The Bandit!) and for Rosalind Miles (who was the female lead in Shaft’s Big Score and who appeared alongside Pam Grier in Friday Foster) as well.

    Up next is Nurses For Sale from 1976, which starts out with a scene in which two nurses talk about an epidemic they have to treat in the jungle soon and how, thankfully, all the nurses have had their shot. Then some lucky dude beds one of the nurses in the hospital – it seems he is her boyfriend and he wants to say goodbye before she splits - only to be joined minutes later by a second, equally horny nurse. This type of things happens all the time and so this scene is very realistic. Anyway, they bump and grind for a few minutes and then we get the opening credits.

    After that, we see five sexy nurses getting ready to do their thing on the expedition. Nearby, some officials thank the doctor in charge and they discuss the importance of international cooperation and first aid work. Antibiotics are discussed – the Americans have created a remarkable cure that looks like heroin so it’s importance to make sure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The police captain inspects the boat that has arrived with the goods and he tells the ship’s captain (Curd Jürgens) to have his crew truck it to the medical team for a sign off on the official papers. There’s a squabble about a shipment of alcohol being signed off on by someone charged of fraud and the police captain decides to confiscate and destroy six thousand gallons of the pure alcohol on the boat. This is getting confusing. Anyway, the ship’s crew tosses all the barrels over the side of the board and all the local men show up to drink it, which you’d think would kill them but it doesn’t.

    Later on, a man in drag is hit over the head by a bottle of booze. Two nurses, Angelika (Angelica Ott) and Lisbeth (Ilse Peternell), discuss the importance of wearing proper makeup even in the jungle, and unpack the medicine after it is delivered and an engineer flirts with Dr. Karin Andersen (Johanna von Koczian) before she heads off to the police station to examine some men there.

    Eventually a group of kidnappers, heavily armed and on horseback, snatch themselves those aforementioned sexy nurses with the intent of holding them hostage in order to coerce the government into doing their bidding. They do this after killing off a few of their male escorts, one of whom was ‘a world famous scientist!’’. The girls are abused fairly regularly, the kidnappers fight over whether they should be allowed to grope them or not (resulting in one guy whipping the other). Two of the nurses get horny and make out. Eventually the girls decide to try and make an escape, but not before their story kinda-sorta ties into what’s going on with the ship’s captain...

    A bit of back story. In 1971, a German filmmaker named Rolf Olsen made a picture called Käpt'n Rauhbein aus St. Pauli, which was then picked up by Sherman and doctored by Adamson, the dynamic duo adding a bunch of newly shot footage that was meant to spice up the film for American drive-in audiences when it was released by them in 1974 as Nurses For Sale, which is the version that we have here. It’s pretty easy to tell which footage Adamson shot as it’s considerably more explicit than the footage that looks to be culled from the German picture. The plot is a complete mess and the dubbing ridiculously bad, but as disjoined as this is – and it is VERY disjointed – it probably gave drive-in audiences of the day enough cheap titillation and thrills to have worked. It isn’t good at all but it does feature enough sex, nudity rape and violence to hold your attention.

    Finishing off disc nine is Jessi’s Girls from 1975, a trashy tale of sex, sadism, babes, bullets, rape and revenge set in the old west. Jessica (Sondra Currie) is a young Mormon woman who has recently married her husband Seth Hartwell (Rigg Kennedy). Together, they’re travelling to Utah when they’re accosted by a group of bank robbers, led by Frank Brock (Ben Frank), who interrupt them as they’re enjoying some alone time in the camp they’ve set up. They rob Seth but don’t feel his paltry cash on hand is enough and so they ‘take the only thing of any value to you’ and at that point, rape his poor bride. They make Seth watch and, after all five have had their fun, put a bullet in Seth and then in Jessica, leaving them both for dead. Seth doesn’t make it, but Jessica survives and makes it to a cabin where a woodsman named Rufe (an aged Rod Cameron) helps her out and eventually teachers her how to use a gun.

    With vengeance on her mind, Jessica sets out to get payback for what was done to her. In order to help her hunt down the men that killed her husband and raped her, she springs three female convicts - Claire (Regina Carrol), Rachel (Jennifer Bishop) and Kana (Ellyn Stern) – and soon enough the four of them are off on their mission of revenge. But of course, there’s a twist or two along the way…

    This film isn’t the most original picture ever made, the story is a simple one about revenge – not exactly unexplored territory in the western genre – and it works better as an exploitation picture than as a traditional western. There’s a fair bit of violence in the picture and some decent shoot outs but the film is more obsessed with sex than anything else. The rape of Jessica, who later goes by Jessi, in the early part of the film is legitimately rough – but some of the later sex scenes are just plain silly, the best being the one where Carrol comes across an ailing Native American man and quite literally humps him back to health! Not enough? After getting what she wanted from him, Claire decides she’s going to stick around and hang with her new man for a while instead of helping the other three finish the job. To take care of this unexpected problem, Kana kills the poor man!

    The performances are about what you’d expect. The ladies were cast more for their looks than for their acting abilities. Sondra Currie, from Class Of ’74 and Teenage Seductress, fairs the best of the four. She’s very pretty, of course, but actually manages to create some genuine sympathy for her character early on. Regina Carrol is Regina Carrol, she fills out her costume well enough. Jennifer Bishop, an Adamson regular at this point, looks great here but is a bit wooden while Ellyn Stern is never that convincing. It is interesting to see Rod Cameron, who starred in scores of vintage westerns, show up here in the twilight of his career and Ben Frank is okay as the bad guy, doing at least enough with the part to create a truly hiss-worthy villain.

    Disc Ten – Black Heat/The Dynamite Brothers:

    In 1976’s Black Heat (also known as The Murder Gang), Timothy Brown plays Kicks Carter, a tough as nails cop with an even tougher name. He’s got his ear on the street, you might say he’s got his finger on the pulse of the city. Kicks and his partner, Tony (Geoffrey Land), are not only a hit with the ladies but also a feared crime fighting team. When they learn of a massive ‘guns for coke’ trade going down in the underworld, it’s up to them to figure it all out and put a stop to it. That is until Tony gets offed by a thug named Ziggy (Russ Tamblyn, by this point another Adamson stock player).

    Understandably pissed off, Kicks sets out to crack the case wide open and uncovers the gun smuggling and drug peddling operation along the way. With the help of a few of his lady friends and an insider named Alphonse (Al Richardson), he’s gonna bring down the heat on these punks if it’s the last thing he does.

    Black Heat is a solid Blaxploitation thriller and while it hardly breaks any new ground in the genre, it’s got enough political incorrectness, colorful dialogue, jive talkin’ hipsters and gratuitous nudity and violence to keep you entertained. Adamson was never one to shy away from a successful formula or cash in on a cinematic craze, and neither was producer Sam Sherman, and this film is yet another example of the two of them doing just exactly that.

    Built around a bunch of footage shot and used in a different movie entitled Girl's Hotel, and also re-titled and released as Murder Gang, the film is typical Adamson material based around a series of exploitive set pieces, but it still works and Adamson stuck to what he does best here, giving the audience pretty much exactly what they want out of a film like this, geared towards the grindhouse and drive-in circuits of its day.

    Worth noting is the films unusual gang rape scene, which would have been quite disturbing if it didn't have some crazy funk track laid down over top of it. It makes for a rather unsettling moment in the film. Lots of sleaze, nudity, violence and crazed dialogue should keep most viewers interested throughout the films duration. Oh, and John ‘Bud’ Cardos’ plane shows up here and a car falls off of a cliff. And of course Regina Carrol shows up in the movie.

    As to The Dynamite Brothers, from 1974? Well, Al Adamson made definitely some interesting films in his day, though The Dynamite Brothers isn’t really one of them. Being a fan of both kung fu movies and ‘Blaxploitation’ movies, I had high hopes for this film, one of the earliest (or possibly the first) to cast an Asian man and a black together as the two male lead heroes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver quite as much as you’d think it would.

    Our story starts when we find a man named Larry Chin (Alan Tang) illegally immigrating into the U.S. in hopes to track down his brother, who he hasn’t heard from in years. Along the way, Larry busts into some pretty cool fights, kicking and yelping and doing his best Bruce Lee impersonation. He cruises into San Francisco and finds that he’ll need to mosey on over to L.A. if he wants to track his sibling down, so it’s off to the bus station for him.

    Shortly thereafter, we see a black man named Stud Brown (Timothy Brown) being hassled by the man. A couple of narcotics agents throw him into the back of their cruiser, and are then off to ‘pick up a chink’ at the bus station. When they get there, they find Larry instead, who doesn’t have any papers because he illegally came into the country, so they throw him in cuffs too. But Larry and Stud work together, and lay quite a smack down onto the fuzz, and run off handcuffed together until they find a hacksaw and hitch a ride to the City Of Angels.

    A trusting girl picks the two heroes up and, while driving to L.A., they earn her trust with their good natured attitude, rugged good looks and grossly unbuttoned leisure shirts. When they hit the city, Stud takes Larry over to visit his good buddy Smiling Man (Don Oliver), where it turns out that he and his gang are at war with the local drug pushers – the same pushers who the narcotics agents happen to be taking bribes from.

    By this time, Stud has fallen in love with a local mute girl named Sarah (Carol Speed), and has wandered off to her place to show her how he earned his name. Larry has turned up some leads in the search for his missing brother, but by doing so has wound up in a brawl, which he loses when he is knocked out. When he awakens, he finds himself gently lowered into a pit into which the bad guys soon throw a lone rattlesnake. Well, Larry grabs the snake and lets him go, but by this time the evil doers have high tailed it out of there and made their way back to the city. But when they go one step too far and kidnap poor, mute Sarah, Stud and Larry take justice into their own hands one more time and leap into action to save her, and find out the truth behind Larry’s brother’s disappearance and his connection to the drug dealers.

    While the plot may sound exciting, it actually drags along in a few too many spots to make the film as ‘Dynamite’ as it really could have been. Larry fights like a bat out of Hell, and Stud is pretty cool in his own funky lady-lovin’ way, but when the two aren’t kicking ass or makin’ time with the fairer sex, the movie tends to slow down and becomes uninteresting. Except when the NARC’s wife goes skinny-dipping – that part was all right. Granted, you could do worse, and there are the usual touches of Adamson wonkiness on display throughout the film, but of all the Blaxploitation pictures that Adamson had a hand in, this one is the weakest – but hey James Hong is here, and that’s definitely reason for celebration and dig that gratuitous Aldo Ray bit appearance and a car blows up too. Oh, and we get a weird tinted flashback that takes place in a cornfield. And another car falls off a cliff. So yeah, it’s bad and it has stretches that are kind of dull, but like a lot of Adamson’s bottom of the barrel films, it has its own stupid charm and somehow manages to be watchable enough.

    Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection – Blu-ray Review:

    All five movies are presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Girls For Rent is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and gets jus over 18GBs of space on the 50Gb disc. It looks very good. Colors are gorgeous and both detail and texture are quite strong through. The elements used were obviously in very nice shape as there isn’t much print damage here at all. There’s good depth to the image and black levels look nice and deep. Nurses For Sale is presented in 1.66.1 widescreen and takes up just over 13GBs of space. The elements clearly weren’t in the best of shape for this one. The opening scene with the three-way is in pretty rough shape, showing a good bit of print damage and noticeably faded colors. The picture improves after the opening credits but it still looks a bit flat throughout. Detail gets better after the first few minutes and the image shows only minor print damage once we get past that opening. It’s more than watchable, just not perfect. Most fans will have no problem with this given the obscurity of the picture. Lastly, Jessi’s Girls is also framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and is afforded just a hair under 16GBs of digital real estate. The colors look a little flat here but overall this transfer is pretty decent. There isn’t a whole lot of print damage to note, just some occasional instances of small specks now and then. Detail is good if never reference quality but the image is stable throughout. None of the transfers show any evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement though eagle-eyed viewers may spot the odd minor compression artifact now and then if they’re obsessive enough to look for them.

    Black Heat is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and gets just over 23Gbs of space on the 50GB disc. The Dynamite Brothers if framed at 1.85.1 widescreen as well and it takes up just under 23GBs of space. Both of these transfers share similar qualities – they look great! Colors are reproduced beautifully here, you really get a feel for the tacky fashions and goofy seventies décor on display throughout both films. Black levels are nice and deep as well. The images show very little print damage and are nearly pristine for the entirety of their running times. There’s the expected amount of natural film grain but no noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement and with both films given pretty generous bit rates, compression artifacts are not a problem.

    All five films on these two discs get 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks with subtitles provided in English only (save for Nurses For Sale, which has no subtitles for some reason). Nurses For Sale sounds a bit rough in spots and Jessi’s Girls sounds less than perfect, there’s a bit of hiss here and there and the occasional pop. The other three movies sound just fine, occasionally even great. Dialogue stays clean and easily discernable throughout. No problems here at all, and there’s even a bit of depth to the music used in both pictures, particularly the two Blaxploitation pictures, which definitely benefit from some legitimately funky soundtracks.

    Extras for discs nine and ten are as follows:

    Disc Nine – Girls For Rent/Nurses For Sale/Jessie’s Girls:

    Girls For Rent gets an archival audio commentary featuring Sam Sherman. I feel like I’m repeating myself here but Sherman’s commentary tracks are great and this one is no exception. As is the norm, he goes into a lot of detail about the history of the picture, noting that the picture was released theatrically first as Girls For Rent. He notes that it was made in June of 1974 in California, that he used color transparencies of photos that he took in the opening credits, the ability of filmmakers to double locations from all over the world, meaning they were able to use California to stand in for Mexico without any trouble. He notes the presence of Barbara Bourbon (from The Afternoons Of Pamela Mann) in the film – she has a small role in it but also did make up for the movie, how Georgina Spelvin wound up starring in the movie and how they got some of the ideas for the story after running into trouble picking up an already made European import that they intended to distribute. Amusingly enough he goes quiet when Sandy Carey does the massage scene, and chimes back up when it’s done, speaking about the rushed production schedule that they had to deal with, the attractive qualities of most of the female cast members, pushing the R-rating as far as they were able to at the time, working with Adamson on the picture and lots, lots more. A lot of great information here.

    Additionally, we get an alternate opening credits sequence that uses the alternate I Spit On Your Corpse title, a radio spot and a trailer.

    Extras for Nurses For Sale and Jessi’s Girl are limited to a trailer for each feature.

    Disc Ten – Black Heat/The Dynamite Brothers:

    Black Heat is the recipient of yet another partial archival audio commentary featuring Sam Sherman. The guy has got a pretty great memory and has a lot to say about Blaxploitation films and the contributions he made to the genre with Adamson, how the film was marketed and the success that it found, where they got some of their influences, casting the picture and more. There’s also some interesting information about how the pair recycled quite a bit of the footage in the film into a second film, Girl’s Hotel, marketed to the drive-in’s at the time.

    We also get alternate opening title sequences for the Girl’s Hotel and The Murder Gang variants as well we trailers for

    Extras for The Dynamite Brothers? Just a trailer.

    Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection - The Final Word:

    Discs nine and ten of Severin Films’ Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection Blu-ray set delivers sleaze, cheese, kung fu and funk all in liberal doses, and it throws in some western action, nursesploitation and James Hong too! The presentations are, generally speaking, very nice and those Sherman commentary tracks worth their weight in gold.

    Click on the images below for full sized Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection Disc Nine Blu-ray screen caps!



























































































    Click on the images below for full sized Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection Disc Ten Blu-ray screen caps!