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



    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 2nd, 2020.
    Director: Al Adamson
    Cast: John Carradine, John Durren, Burr Smidt, William Roy, Jill Jacobson, Marilyn Joi, Catherine Erhardt, Vaughn Armstrong, Renee Harmon, Mark Weston, Don Stewart, Jennifer Houlton
    Year: 1977/1977/1971/1983/1983
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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 – and today brings us to the big finish!

    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.
    You can read coverage of discs nine and ten here.
    You can read coverage of discs eleven and twelve here.

    Here’s a look at discs thirteen and fourteen of this blatant act of high definition absurdity in deluxe boxed set form.

    Disc Thirteen – Sunset Cover/Nurse Sherri/ Cinderella 2000:

    The first feature on disc thirteen is 1977’s Sunset Cove and, of course, Al Adamson at one point made a sexy beach comedy because… whatever. He just did. It isn’t my fault. And it isn’t very good. Yet, here we are, because like most of Adamson’s movies, even if it isn’t good it’s watchable enough. The jokes are obvious and the breasts gratuitous, but that’s okay.

    The story revolves around a group of ‘teenagers’ who are happy to put the school year behind them. They pile into a rad-tastic seventies van that has ‘The Complete Van’ painted on the side, just in case you thought it was an incomplete van. It’s a pretty sweet ride. They’re going to hit up the beautiful beach at the titular Sunset Cove where they intend to soak up some sand and surf and maybe do some hang-gliding while they’re at it.

    Out to ruin the fun for all the kids is Kragg (John Durren), a grouchy cop who has no patience whatsoever for teenaged shenanigans. On top of that, an evil real estate mogul named Dexter (Jay B. Larson) plans on building a bunch of condos on the beach and ruining their favorite summer fun spot. Given the fact that he’s got Mayor Nix (Burr Smidt) in his pocket it seems like it’s almost a sure thing. Thankfully for our lovable bunch of beach bums, the nerdiest of the group manages to get some face time with retired Judge Harley Winslow (John Carradine) and together they try to figure out a way to thwart Dexter and Nix and save the beach!

    This is not a very original film. It’s got a fat guy who eats all the time, a big jock, a cool guy in a van and a nerdy guy and it’s got some ladies who have an aversion to tops. There’s a ‘save our beach’ rally complete with painted signs and themed t-shirts. The jokes are corny and clichéd but sometimes effective enough. It isn’t shot with much style, but it’s all in focus and some of the beachside locations are actually quite nice. ‘The Complete Van’ is pretty cool touch, it really is a complete van and not surprisingly, proves to be an ideal place for topless lady hijinks to play out.

    John Carradine once again made me smile. He’s the funniest part of the movie, a surly old judge with an attitude! The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable but then it’s all watchable enough if you’re not in a particularly demanding mood. It feels like it should have been released by Crown International, so if that appeals to you, jump on it, the water’s fine.

    When 1978's Nurse Sherri begins, a cult leader named Reanhauer (William Roy) drops dead from a heart attack while trying to resurrect an evil corpse. He’s taken to the hospital but dies there later that night. Reanhauer isn’t going to go down without a fight though. Once his body passes on, he somehow kina-sorta transplants his evil spirit into the nubile frame of dutiful hospital employee Nurse Sherri Martin (Jill Jacobson)! How does this happen? Reanhauer’s spirit takes the form of some weird green laser goop, slips under the door of Sherri’s room while she sleeps, makes its way up the bed and basically has green laser goop ghost sex with her! Shortly after, inanimate objects attached to clearly visible strings start to fly around rooms and Sherri frequently has a crazed look in her eyes.

    Once Reanhauer got his evil powers working in their new home he uses Sherri’s body to kill off the doctors who let him die on the operating room table. Once that’s over with, the possessed Sherri is driven to other odd and extreme behavior. This earns her the attention of some of her co-workers, like Nurse Tara Williams (Marilyn Joi), when she isn’t tending to a football player named Marcus Washington (Prentiss Moulden) who has lost his eyesight – a hero of hers from way back when. Tara, once she starts noticing Sherri’s behavior, ultimately decides that something must be wrong with her. A guy named Doctor Peter (Geoffrey Land) wanders around, understandably confused by all of this and a guy gets killed with a pitchfork. Tara and fellow nurse Beth Dillon (Katherine Pass credited as Mary Kay Pass) decide that the only way to save their friend and co-worker is to dig up Reanhauer’s body and set things right. All of this leads up to a genuine firecracker of an ending, preceded by a pretty cool car chase, some quirky but memorable murder set pieces and Marilyn Joi taking her top off.

    A strange blend of Corman’s sexy nurse films, like Candy Stripe Nurses, and supernatural movies, like Carrie, Nurse Sherri is as poorly made as you’d expect from one of Adamson’s knock off films but it’s not without its low budget charm. In fact, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun. For all of the picture’s many and obvious flaws, it’s nothing if not entertaining and the pacing is nice and quick. The sets are really limited and almost everyone over acts to a pretty severe degree but the movie is a gleefully trashy little picture that is absolutely worth checking out for those with an interesting in this type of material.

    As far as the performances go, Jill Jacobson might not have the most enthusiastic screen presence but she sure does look good. She handles the material well enough and is just fine in the part. Marilyn Joi has an interesting and appealing screen presence that gives the film a bit more oomph than it would have otherwise had. William Roy makes for an unusually goofy villain resulting in some unintentionally funny moments involving his character, he’s never less than a complete blast to watch.

    This would be one of Al Adamson’s last films (he made the lackluster Carnival Magic and Lost after this one, that was it) and his final collaboration with producer Sam Sherman, ending a genuinely prolific collaborative period.

    In regards to the version of Nurse Sherri included on this Blu-ray, this is the same ‘exploitation cut’ that was included on Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release a few years ago in standard definition, taken from an analogue master. Since that release, film elements have been discovered and so Severin’s transfer is sourced from those film elements. It’s a pretty interesting variant that excises the subplot involving the cult members and instead includes four fairly graphic softcore sex scenes (including one where Sherri has a Sapphic encounter with a rather fetching blonde) as different characters share with one another their raciest encounters – with Jacobson and Joi (who gets it on with the blind football player in this cut) both getting in their fair share of naked screen time. This version actually also contains a different end credits sequence and runs about four minutes less than the eighty-eight minute long feature version of the movie that, sadly, has not been included on this set (but which is still in print from Vinegar Syndrome).

    1977’s Cinderella 2000 is a softcore film inspired by the box office success of Star Wars with horrible musical numbers, bad costumes, crappy dialogue and a plot that really doesn’t make much sense at all. Take what these two miscreants, Adamson and Sherman, did with Blazing Stewardesses and put it in space and there you go – that’s more or less what this is. It’s got that same level of cheap and shoddy production value but the cast here makes it worth a look and those who appreciate Adamson’s movies should at least be able to take some enjoyment out of what is really a turd of a film. Somehow, I sincerely say that with love.

    The film takes place in the year 2047 which makes one wonder why the film wasn’t called Cinderella 2047, but regardless, in this not so distant future the Controller (Erwin Fuller, who also appears in Nurse Sherri and countless TV shows) has declared the mating game illegal – that’s right – if you’re caught getting it on then you’re going to land yourself in hot water with the powers that be. The reasoning behind this is that overpopulation is a problem in the future, so it’s best just to make the whole thing illegal.

    At any rate, one of the citizens of this totalitarian regime is Cindy (Catherine Erhardt of Through The Looking Glass and Expose Me, Lovely) who lives with her mother and her two horrible step-sisters. Used as a servant rather than treated like family, Cindy hates her life until she meets her fairy godfather (Jay B. Larson) who grants her wish to attend the fancy ball that looms just over the horizon. Soon enough she finds herself in the position to attend and when she does she falls fast in love with Tom (future Days Of Our Lives and Star Trek: Enterprise star Vaughn Armstrong). One thing leads to another and soon enough they’re doing the horizontal bop only to get busted by the cops. Oh snap!

    Cindy takes off and turns back into her normal slave girl self but Tom won’t soon forget her. He searches all over for her as he feels that they’re meant for one another, though this doesn’t stop him from sampling the local ladies when chances arise. Meanwhile, robots are kidnapping people and the government is trying to mandate what men and women can or cannot do in the privacy of their own home.

    While the plot might sound like it’s ripe with opportunity for lampooning government crackdowns on personal freedoms it’s really little more than an excuse to move the almost non-existent storyline on from one sex scene to the next with a few musical bits thrown in to add what one can only assume is supposed to be comedy to the mix. It doesn’t work, in fact it’s downright horrible – and it’s just those horrible results that make this movie as enjoyable as it is. Granted, it borrows heavily from the 1976 ‘adult’ version of Alice In Wonderland and it was riding the crest of the sci-fi boom so it’s not going to really gain any points for breaking new ground but as bad movies go, this one is up there. No one can act, the dance choreography sucks, and the music and singing isn’t much better. The effects are a joke as are the costumes and the set design, my god, the set design… ow. It just hurts. There was some obvious effort put into them and it looks like they tried to make them as ‘dayglo space’ as possible but man, didn’t anyone involved in this production have any semblance of taste at all? It would appear not.

    Regardless, the movie delivers what you’d expect from an Adamson/Sherman softcore film. Enjoyable naked ladies, bad jokes and plenty of unintentional hilarity. It was obviously made fast and cheap like the bulk of their work together and it shows in every frame. The script by Bud Donnelly (who also wrote Black Heat) has to take some of the blame but Adamson’s direction isn’t doing the film any favors.

    But then, Renee Harmon shows up in this movie, and Renee Harmon is a fucking goddess, so it’s impossible to hate on it too much.

    Disc Fourteen – Carnival Magic/Lost

    Made in what would sadly turn out to be the twilight of his career, Al Adamson’s 1983 ‘children’s film’ Carnival Magic is just as stunningly bizarre as you’d expect from the man who gave us such irredeemable (yet somehow completely enjoyable) cinematic junk as Dracula vs. Frankenstein and The Naughty Stewardesses. Like pretty much all of Adamson’s other movies, Carnival Magic isn’t… good, at least not on a technical or artistic level but there’s enough unadulterated weirdness tucked away inside this film’s eighty-six-minutes to keep cult film fans more than happy.

    What’s it all about? A man named Stoney (played by the film’s screenwriter, Mark Weston) runs a travelling carnival that, these days at least, is dealing with a problem. See, the troupe’s magician, Markov the Magnificent (Don Stewart) has a beef with tiger trainer Kirk (Joe Cirillo) and it’s starting to have an effect on things. As such, Kirk coerces Stoney into sending Markov on his way but before he can get too far, low run worker Bud (Jennifer Houlton), who is in reality a woman named Ellen, comes up with an idea. She figures that Markov is just sad since losing his wife and unborn child a few years back, and that Alex, the talking chimpanzee who inexplicably lives in Markov’s trailer and likes to read porno magazines, is the only thing he truly cares about these days. If Stoney will bring Alex into the act, maybe Markov will be turned around and all will go back to what it once was.

    Stoney loves the idea – monkeys always draw a crowd – and before you know it the crew is putting together an act for ‘Alexander The Great,’ which quickly proves a great success. While this is going on, Bud falls for David (Howard Segal), the man in charge of the carnival’s marketing, while Markov’s lovely assistant Kate (Adamson’s wife and muse, Regina Carrol – the Karina to his Godard!) helps the cranky old magician get back in touch with his kinder, gentler side. Meanwhile, Alex decides to take a car out for a joy ride, much to the dismay of the woman sleeping in the back seat, and grumpy Kirk starts scheming how to get rid of his magical nemesis once and for all.

    This one is pretty out there. Markov’s character is all over the place in terms of what he can do and who he really is, and the quirky cast of supporting characters sort of shift in and out of the film fairly randomly. None of the acting is good, but some of it is fun. Don Stewart, who did plenty of TV work like Guiding Light and Knots Landing but who also somehow wound up in American Ninja, is pretty entertaining as one of the leads, and Joe Cirillo is equally amusing as his foe. Carroll is in the movie because she was romantically involved with Adamson, there’s no other reason for her to have been cast here as she’s pretty bad, but yet… somehow she works. The real star of the show, however, is Alex the monkey. The talking monkey. For reasons not really known to some of the people involved with the making of the film, he was dubbed in post-production and not dubbed very well (this is covered in Blood & Flesh) and it just adds another layer of surrealism to the film.

    Made the same year, Lost tells the story of Jeff (Don Stewart again) and Penny (Sandra Dee) Morrison have recently relocated to beautiful rural Utah to take up residence in the new home that, upon their arrival, they realize isn’t quite finished yet. They find ways to kill the time as they get things up to speed, but Penny’s daughter, Buddy (Sheila Newhouse), who isn’t quite yet sold on the arrival of her new step-father, quickly becomes irritated with the whole situation and decides to run away from home with the family dog. She quickly gets lost, only to come into contact with a burly but kindly mountain man named Mr. Newsome (played by wild-eyed Jack Elam of all people!) who decides to help her get back home.

    This one isn’t nearly as gonzo as Carnival Magic, it’s a much more conventional kids film and it plays things much safer than Adamson’s earlier effort. As such, it’s very likely going to be of less interest to most readers of this site, but it does have moments of absurdity, weird dialogue and strange situations to keep things mildly entertaining. The high point of the film is definitely Elam, who always looked crazy no matter how he was cast, and how is by far the most interesting actor in this one. Sheila Newhouse is pretty bad, even by the admittedly low standards of kids’ films of the era, but much of that is due more to her dialogue than her actual performance. At least the dog is cute.

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

    Sunset Cove is framed at 1.85.1 and takes up just 14GBs of space and it looks quite good. Colors are a little bit faded but not seriously, and occasionally there’s some nice pop here. Detail isn’t bad at all, we get a reasonable amount of depth and texture in the image. Nurse Sherri is framed at 1.85.1 and gets just over 11GBs of space. This one was taken from lesser quality elements and as such, detail isn’t quite as strong but the print used was in pretty nice shape as while it is a bit soft, there isn’t a load of print damage to content with. Colors look okay here, not perfect but okay and overall this one looks pretty solid. Cinderella 2000 is framed at 2.35.1 and gets just over 16GBs of space and it looks very nice indeed, all things considered. Detail is strong throughout and colors are nicely defined. We get good black levels and flesh tones as well and the image is very clean, with no really problematic print damage at all. All three transfers are nice and film-like, showing the expected amount of film grain and no evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement at all.

    The AVC encoded 1080p 1.85.1 widescreen transfer on this 50GB Blu-ray disc for Carnival Magic is taken from the ‘only existing pre-print elements’ and overall it looks pretty solid, with the feature taking up just under 23GBs of space. There’s a bit of print damage here and there but nothing too distracting even if it is a few steps beneath pristine. The color reproduction looks very nice. The picture is filmic throughout, showing no issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement. We get good black levels and skin tones and the picture is free of any noticeable compression problems. Lost is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.33.1 with this feature given just under 18GBs of space. Picture quality isn't quite as nice, there's obvious color fading and some softness here and there but it's more than watchable.

    All five films on discs thirteen and fourteen get 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks with subtitles provided in English only. The movies sound fine. There aren’t really any problems with any hiss or distortion at all and the levels are properly balanced on both pictures. 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.

    Extras for discs thirteen and fourteen are as follows:

    Disc Thirteen – Sunset Cover/Nurse Sherri/Cinderella 2000:

    The extras for Sunset Cove Special include a featurette called Sunset Toolbox which is an interview with producer Tony DiDio that runs just under twelve-minutes. He speaks about making the transition from a 'kid stockbroker' to moviemaker, noting how he was always good at raising funds. He then talks about how he started executive producing films but wanted name recognition and then got his name out there working on a series of low budget films. He notes he was involved with Nurse Sherri and The Toolbox Murders (which he took producer credit on and which was very successful), and then working on Sunset Cove. Here we learn about how CalAm Productions was run by a lawyer and in the 'tax shelter business' who financed Sunset Cove, how much fun it was to shoot largely on a beach, how the film was originally entitled Save Our Beach, meeting John Carradine passed out at a bar and how nice he was to work with and how much he enjoyed working with Adamson and, sadly, his memories of Adamson’s last days. DiDio comes across as a really nice guy and tells some interesting stories here.

    A TV spot and two trailers for the feature are also included.

    The best of the extras for Nurse Sherri is the selection of scenes directed by Adamson for Dr. Dracula, an alternate cut of Lucifer’s Women. The deal here is that Dr. Dracula cut that was essentially made by hiring Al Adamson to go out and shoot a whole bunch of additional footage to be cut into what director Paul Aratow had already created. Interestingly enough, extra scenes with Barry, Carradine, McIver and Land – all cast in the original film - appear in this version and additional narration from Larry Hankin is included here too. In addition to the extra bits with the aforementioned cast members, Adamson’s footage also adds four murders but pretty much all of the sex and nudity has been excised in an attempt to make a TV-friendly version. The music used in this version is also quite different at times. In short, it’s not quite an entirely different film but it’s close enough that if you enjoyed Lucifer’s Women, you’ll want to check out Doctor Dracula as well (particularly if you have a soft spot for Adamson/Sherman collaborations). It would have been nice to get the original version of Lucifer’s Women included here but that disc is also still in print from Vinegar Syndrome.

    Additionally we get a TV spot, a radio spot and a trailer for the feature.

    Cinderella 2000’s special features are highlighted by a partial audio commentary with Samuel Sherman. If you’ve heard Sherman talk before, or read our thoughts on earlier entries in this series on the quality of his commentary tracks, you already know he’s a bit of a character and this commentary gives him a chance to get into some of the specifics of the marketing of this movie where. He talks about the state of the film industry at the time it was made and how things were changing with the advent of hardcore. Of course he covers the usuals as well, like casting the movie and what it was like working with Adamson and the cast and crew. He also talks about what kind of audience they were going for in addition to providing a few fun stories about the people he worked with on the movie and where some of the ideas for the picture came from.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature and a few radio spots.

    Disc Fourteen – Carnival Magic/Lost

    Extras for Carnival Magic start off with an audio commentary with the film’s producer, Elvin Feltner, which is pretty interesting stuff. He speaks about working with Adamson and how what went in addition to how they were able to secure an actual working carnival to shoot on. There’s plenty of talk here, too, about working with live animals, the monkey in particular, as well as insight into the cast and crew, the budget, the marketing of the film and more. Joe Rubin from Vinegar Syndrome moderates the track and he keeps Feltner engaged throughout.

    Up next is a featurette called A Boom To Science: A Critical Appreciation By Zack Carlson & Lars Nilsen, where over the span of twelve-minutes these two astute gentlemen discuss the film’s background, Al Adamson’s legacy, their thoughts on the picture and how it compares to other monkey-centric pieces of filmed entertainment. It’s quite amusing.

    Rounding out the extras for Carnival Magic specifically are twenty-minutes of silent outtakes, a TV spot and a theatrical trailer.

    Additionally, the disc includes a trailer for Lost as well as twenty-three-minutes of silent rushes for a promo film of The Happy Hobo, an unproduced kids film that Adamson was working on that was never finished.

    But wait! It wouldn’t do this release justice to not talk about the physical packaging. Each of the fourteen discs fits inside a ‘page’ inside a rigid book decorated with vintage artwork from movie posters for Adamson’s releases. While some might gripe about having to slide their discs in and out of the cardboard – and rightly so, because sometimes this can damage discs – Severin has applied some sort of finish to the insides of the areas that the discs slide in and out of that makes it easy to do so and does not appear to cause any scratching, which is certainly a nice touch that anal retentive collector types like myself will appreciate.

    Accompanying the discs is a fantastic full color softcover book, approximately 120-pages, written by Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes – and this book is important for a few reasons. Not only do we get a four page primer on ol’ Al, but each film is nicely detailed here with production date info, cast and crew listings, double feature listings, a synopsis, lengthy production notes, filming locations, alternate titles and details on what elements were used for the different transfers in the film and more. This covers not only the features included in this set but also the ‘Adamson shot new footage for this’ projects like Dr. Dracula and even the thought-to-be-lost Lash Of Lust. It’s a very comprehensive book and a valuable resource for the Adamson fan or those curious about the history of vintage American exploitation pictures. The quality of the writing is excellent and the layout work also very good, the interior of the book decorated with a load of vintage photos, poster art, VHS cover sleeve art and even some unseen stills from different productions. This is the part of the set most likely to be overlooked but Ackerman and Reyes really and truly deserve top marks for their work here.

    The softcover book and the book that holds the discs both fit neatly inside a rigid and sturdy slipcover with some fantastic artwork adorning the front and back.

    Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection - The Final Word:

    The final two discs in the Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection are the most eclectic yet, offering comedy, horror, sex, sci-fi and kid-friendly monkey-based nonsense in equal measure, and in nice presentations as well. On top of that we get a few choice extras, and that book is fantastic. All in all, Severin’s release scores very high marks, a ridiculously comprehensive set for a filmmaker of very dubious quality. Highest possible recommendation!

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

























































































































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






































































    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      Good job soldier! You did a man's job. Now it's time to hit the showers.
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      Nice job, Ian. Hopefully this experience hasn't left you suffering from facial twitches and head spinning.
    1. chriszilla's Avatar
      chriszilla -
      Nicely done! This was obviously a labor of love for the folks who put this together, and the packaging and book are the icing on this multi-layered cake. Really looking forward to getting my copy of this set!
    1. Marshall Crist's Avatar
      Marshall Crist -
      Glad to hear that the version of NURSE SHERRI is from a recently-located film element. The "exploitation version" is SO much better than the theatrical cut, and the presentation on the VS disc was from an old tape source.