The Zero Boys: Greek genre specialist Nico Mastorakis strikes again, dishing up a movie that mixes slasher movie elements and a dash of the “southern discomfort” genre with the subject of paintball (?!). The plot focuses on a gaggle of frat boy-style paintball enthusiasts who go to the woods to party down, only to run afoul of a group of backwoods psychos who push things into a more Friday The 13th direction. The blend of genres is odd, reflecting Mastorakis’ self-made filmmaker style, and the sex and gore quotient is fairly light. That said, ’80s genre fanatics will enjoy its period-specific vibe and the presence of scream queen Kelli Maroney is a nice bonus. Arrow has recently issued in a nice blu-ray/DVD set with extras a-plenty that include both Mastorakis and Maroney.
Danger Pays: a quirky Nikkatsu entry that plays like a Mad Magazine sendup of the yakuza films they specialized in during the ’50s and ’60s. A mixture of oddball independent crooks, including Joe The Ace (the great Jo Shishido), form an unlikely band as they plot to steal a famous counterfeiter away from the yakuza family employing his services. From there on out, the plot twists duke it out with slapstick. You get the best of both worlds here: the production values and the cast have all the professionalism you’d expect from a Nikkatsu film of the period but you also get lots of cult movie-style oddball comedy (example: Shishido’s character goes nuts when he hears glass being scratched). A fun change of pace for the yakuza fans, with snappy direction from Ko Nakahira and an inspired comic performance from Shishido. This one’s available on Arrow’s Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol. 2, complete with a sharp new transfer and a nice Jasper Sharp featurette about Nikkatsu history.
The Swinging Cheerleaders: by the title, you’d guess this was a campus sexploitation item in the vein of The Cheerleaders but it’s actually an entry in the wave of pseudo-feminist ’70s sexploitation flicks inspired by The Student Nurses. The cast of cheerleaders includes Rainbeaux Smith, Rosanne Katon and Colleen Camp but the main star is one-shot wonder Jo Johnston, who goes undercover to write an expose of the cheerleader life only to discover her cohorts are more complex than she first thought – and the real corruption lies in the school administration. This was directed and co-written by Jack Hill and it’s much lighter than his usual bill of fare but his knack for interesting female characters and sense of craft shines through – and exploitation fans will love the female cast. Arrow has recently revisited this title for hi-def and put together a nice little blu-ray/DVD set with extras, including a new interview with Hill.