Just before hitting it big with Labyrinth, future Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly starred in the teen movie Seven Minutes In Heaven. Despite the suggestive title, it’s actually a sensitive and thoughtful drama that both teenagers and older viewers will enjoy.Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.
By the dawn of the 1970’s, the major Hollywood studios found themselves facing near-bankruptcy, both financially and creatively. The old system just wasn’t keeping pace with the times: more and more people turned to television rather than the movies, since they no longer seemed to see themselves or their concerns represented on the Silver Screen.
Of course, Black America had never really seen its interests represented in mainstream movies — if the Black experience did show up on screen, it was almost always filtered through the eyes of, say, Gregory Peck or Spencer Tracy. That’s why it came as a shock to Hollywood when they realized the biggest profits of the early 70’s were going to movies made for that vast, under-appreciated Black audience… movies like Ossie Davis’s Cotton Comes to Harlem or Melvin van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s BaadAsssss Song. Suddenly it seemed like a good idea to give Black viewers what they wanted.
The movies that followed made stars of Black actors… brought attention to Black issues… gained a foothold in the industry for talented Black artists of many kinds… and paved the way for the serious Black Cinema that arose a decade later. But the producers, directors and/or writers of these movies were still — more often than not — white guys. This fact, plus the movies’ emphasis on violence, sex, drugs and crime, prompted civil rights leaders to coin a new word to condemn the Soul Cinema of the 70’s: BLAXPLOITATION! A term that’s been extended to almost all the Black-themed movies of the era.
Some of these Blaxploitation movies were genuinely respectful of Black American culture. Others at least had their hearts (and fists, and other body parts) in the right place. And some, in spite of their Black casts, were pure jive-ass honky bulls#!%. Yet taken all together, in their strengths and weaknesses, they represent some of the most vivid and memorable movies ever made. So join the B-Masters through the month of May, as they celebrate Blaxploitation movies from every part of the bell curve. It’s…
A bunch of reviews that refused to get written combined with the emergence of an obsessional new project to render my usual B-Fest roundup both irrelevant and impracticable. Still, a couple of the projected B-Fest reviews were sufficiently well advanced to be worth resurrecting once I got back into the swing of things:
Attack of the Puppet People (1958), in which a startlingly good Bert I. Gordon movie is undercut somewhat by insisting upon sci-fi when it ought to be straight-up fantasy instead…
Drunken Tai Chi (1984), which is a charming light comedy about assassination and post-traumatic stress disorder…
Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962), in which the makers of Reptilicus return to Denmark to rework The Angry Red Planet…
The Lair of the White Worm (1988), in which Ken Russell decides that an obscure Bram Stoker novel could use a little extra sex and blasphemy…
The Lost Missile (1958), in which an unconscionable orgy of stock footage gives way to an unexpectedly bleak and sober meditation on the end of the world…
RoboCop (2014), which didn’t suck anywhere near as much as I thought it was going to…
Thomasine and Bushrod (1973), which wasn’t supposed to be the blaxploitation Bonnie and Clyde, but inevitably gets passed off as that anyway.
This was actually supposed to be my second entry in the last Roundtable, but when I lose a DVD somewhere in the house, it stays lost…
In which John Carradine is sent to Mapleton, Massachusetts, to clean up the mess made by Turhan Bey, and ends up fouling the nest even more thoroughly.
Meanwhile, Kharis decides that he’s had enough of High Priests interfering in his love-life…
Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!
Yahrzeit? OK, OK, so Jess Franco wasn’t Jewish. That’s OK: neither am I. Still, this is the one-year anniversary of his death, so in his honor I’m posting reviews from two of the last — how shall I put it? — unambiguously good years of his film-making life.
Miss Muerte/The Diabolical Dr. Z — often called Franco’s best film.
Cartes sur table/Attack of the Robots — Franco’s first movie with Eddie Constantine.
Residencia para Espías/Golden Horn — Franco’s last movie with Eddie Constantine, who really looks better in black & white.