Just a quick update to acknowledge that the last few waves of releases from Warner Archives have been targeting a lot of cult movie sweet spots. Recent releases have included hard-to-find theatrical release featuring icons like Fred Williamson and Joe Don Baker as well as a number of t.v. movies. For those not familiar with the program, Warner Archive sells these titles via DVD-R at $20 a title (more for multi-disc sets and you can get deals via monthly sales). Read on for a quick overview of recent releases Your Humble Reviewer considers worth exploring for any card-carrying Schlockmaniac…
(Note: the following synopses come directly from the Warner Archive site, which you can access by clicking here.)
THE PACK: Writer/director Robert Clouse, whose Enter the Dragon delivered hard-hitting action and whose Deadly Eyes provided gnawing rodent terror, combines both fright and fight in this survival tale where a walk in the woods becomes a long, dark journey into fear. Set on a remote island where vacationers have senselessly abandoned their unwanted pet dogs, The Pack shows man’s inhumanity coming back to haunt him with fanged fierceness. The confused, starving pets form a rampaging pack – and man’s best friend becomes his worst fiend. Joe Don Baker (Walking Tall, The Natural, The Living Daylights) stars as the heroic marine biologist who comes up with a do-or-die scheme that will either reestablish man as top dog – or turn him into a tasty tidbit. The suspense is ferocious.
BLACK EYE: Since he gave up his police badge, Shep Stone’s tried to make a go of it as a PI. A snoop job here, a shakedown there: work hasn’t exactly poured into the rundown bar where he occupies a stool keeping office hours. But one night, Stone walks into his own apartment – where a murder victim is still warm…and the killer is lying in wait for Stone. Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Original Gangstas) is Stone, whose search for a murderer spins into a spider’s web of suspense linking a religious cult, a porno ring, a missing person and a notorious drug underground. Labeled “The Hammer” for his gridiron style, the former pro football star plays Stone with the same hard-hitting directness. From a high-rent high-rise to a shabby amusement park, from alleyways to the beach, Stone sorts out clues, sidesteps a growing number of corpses and shows tough guys what tough is all about.
KILLER PARTY: It’s April Fool’s Day and the sisters of Sigma Alpha Pi have found the perfect place to throw a party: the abandoned fraternity house where a guillotined pledge lost his head in a hazing gone slightly awry. But shortly after the revelry begins, the student body count starts to rise as the vengeful pledge returns from the grave and makes it a party to die for. Featuring appearances by Eating Raoul’s Paul Bartel, debuting Joanna Johnson (who a year later would graduate to her longtime best-known role on The Bold and the Beautiful) and teen heartthrob Martin Hewitt (Endless Love) plus a bangin’ performance of April (You’re No Fool) by ’80s hair metal band White Sister, Killer Party is the stuff of legends, a one-of-a-kind slasher-horror-musical-sex comedy of terrors!
SWEET HOSTAGE: Stranded when her truck breaks down, 17-year-old Doris Mae (Linda Blair) accepts a ride from Leonard Hatch (Martin Sheen), unaware he’s an escaped mental patient. Held against her will, Doris Mae is taken to Leonard’s ramshackle hideout, a cabin nestled deep within the woods. Frightened at first, she soon finds her captor to be a kind and caring soul. So with time running out and the police closing in, Doris Mae must make a decision: return to her safe existence or run off with a misunderstood man. A 1976 Golden Globe® nominee as Best Television Movie, Sweet Hostage is an unforgettable tale of passion and fate, adapted from Nathaniel Benchley’s acclaimed novel Welcome to Xanadu. It’s also an invigorating showcase for the blazing talents of Blair (fresh off The Exorcist) and Sheen (soon after Badlands).
SHAFT – THE T.V. MOVIE COLLECTION: He’s the coolest private detective around, caught up in all the hottest cases. Can you dig it? Richard Roundtree portrays streetsmart Harlem sleuth John Shaft, reprising the film role he played in three trend-setting movies of the early 1970s (and would revisit in the 2000 Shaft remake starring Samuel L. Jackson). In these seven episodes that each ran in a 90-minute timeslot, Shaft likes his women chic, his cars fast and his clothes expensive – and takes the fight to mob lowlifes, scumballs and vigilantes who prey upon Shaft’s pals and other decent, everyday people. And, yes, it just wouldn’t be Shaft without the signature theme music of Isaac Hayes. That’s here, too. Right on!
SNOW DEVILS: Big, hairy and very scary. When a Himalayan weather station is smashed to smithereens by creatures who leave super-sized footprints, suspicion falls on Abominable Snowmen. A heroic expedition braves snow-whipped precipices and discovers the dreaded humanoids. But wait – these are extraterrestrial yetis who zipped in from outer space to conquer Earth by melting the polar ice caps with high-energy proton fields. Will mankind be global-warmed into surrender? Antonio Margheriti (aka Anthony Dawson) of The Wild, Wild Planet and War of the Planets fame directs this cult-classic freakfest that’s a Big Foot tangled up in a shoestring f/x budget.
THE BLACK ZOO: The most savage animal in a garden of beasts, animal-worship cultist and private zoo owner Michael Conrad (Michael Gough) has trained his lions well, siccing the big cats on any fool who dares get in his way. First it was a snoopy secretary, then a scheming realtor (Jerome Cowan). But only when his unhappy wife (Jeanne Cooper) runs off with his beloved chimps does Conrad unleash his inner beast, and the fur really flies. Shot by Academy Award®-winning* cinematographer Floyd Crosby on a soundstage stocked by famed animal behaviorist and Marine World creator Ralph Helfer, Black Zoo is the third and final collaboration of Gough (who later played Alfred the butler in four Batman movies) and producer Herman Cohen (Horrors of the Black Museum and Konga), a furocious last trip to the maul.
THE SUPER COPS: Better cool your jets, all you Bed-Stuy dealers, operators and lowlifes: the heat that will take you down is on the street. The Super Cops zippily chronicles the crime-busting adventures of David Greenberg and Robert Hantz, the unorthodox police duo “who became known, not always fondly, as Batman and Robin,” writes Vincent Canby in his review in The New York Times. “The nicknames define the comic-book style of the film,” Canby adds, a film directed by renowned Life photojournalist and Shaft filmmaker Gordon Parks and amped by enthusiastic performances from leads Ron Leibman and David Selby. The real-life Greenberg and Hantz appear in the film in news footage and in bit roles.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (REMASTERED SPECIAL EDITION): It’s back! The classic TV MOW that continues to cast a spell almost 40 years after it was first broadcast, in a new remastered and enhanced edition. Sally (Kim Darby) and Alex Farnham’s (Jim Hutton) marriage has a sinister wedge driven through it, when her occult “imaginings” threaten to derail his career after they inherit Sally’s grandmother’s house. Also starring William Demarest. Enhanced Content: Superfan commentary track from horror fans and pros Jeffrey Reddick, Steve Barton (“Uncle Creepy”) and Sean Abley.
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. – 8 MOVIES COLLECTION: Combine the spy-against-spy Cold War era with ’60s cool and the result is the trend-setting series that became a cultural touchstone – and generated 8 Theatrical Movies derived from and expanding upon key episodes. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) are intrepid U.N.C.L.E. agents who maintain tongue-in-cheek style as they confront the deadly schemes of THRUSH in the U.S. or anywhere else spy chief Mr. Waverly (Leo G. Carroll) sends his two top operatives. Guest stars caught up in the globetrotting intrigue include Joan Crawford, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Palance, Eleanor Parker, Telly Savalas, Rip Torn and more. NOTE: all movies are presented in their original 4X3 aspect ratio, as originally filmed.
THE MAN FROM ATLANTIS – COMPLETE T.V. MOVIES COLLECTION: Mysterious mer-man Mark Harris washed ashore on the nation’s TVs in early ’77 and quickly became a breakout hero. America fell hard for the Atlantean amnesiac, generating big ratings for the Man from Atlantis pilot movie and its three subsequent follow-up TV movies. Starring newcomer Patrick Duffy and overseen by Robert Justman (Adventures of Superman, Star Trek, Then Came Bronson, Probe/Search), the original TV movies easily swim between the parallel genres of Science Fiction and Super-Heroics, creating a fantasy that is still fun and fresh today. This 2 disc collection contains all 4 TV movies. Also stars Belinda Montgomery. PILOT(Newly remastered!): Mark Harris washes ashore, possessing strange sea-faring powers but no memories. The Death Scouts: Mark battles scuba diver abducting aliens. The Killer Spores: Intelligent spores from space possess Mark in a bid to return to the yawning galactic gulf. The Disappearances: Scientists all over the world are disappearing – including Mark’s associate, Elizabeth.
THE MAN FROM ATLANTIS – COMPLETE T.V. SERIES: Go deeper below the surface than ever before with the adventures of the being who is both human and aquatic. Atlantis survivor Mark Harris (played by Patrick Duffy just before starting his lengthy run on Dallas) breathes underwater, withstands extreme depth pressures and wields superhuman strength. And those astounding abilities are showcased in this 4-Disc Collection containing All 13 Exciting Episodes. Submerge with Mark and the crew of the Foundation for Oceanic Research submarine Cetacean (including costars Belinda J. Montgomery and Alan Fudge) into a world of science-fiction wonders. Guest stars include Victor Buono (in several episodes as the villainous Mr. Schubert), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pernell Roberts, Rene Auberjonois and Pat Morita.