Sorcerer (1977)

sorcerer

William Friedkin’s title can’t help but conjure up images of a horror film. And why not? The man gave us The Exorcist. While this remake of the 1953 French film Wages of Fear isn’t  a horror film, it does have many tense scenes and images that somehow look like they were left on the cutting room floor from his landmark horror film of 1973.

The film starts by introducing us to four men from different corners of the world who have little in the way of a future and must flee their own countries for refuge in a South American jungle town. Of the four we have only one “known” actor in the cast. Roy Scheider who at this time had been seen by practically everyone worldwide with a theater in their hometown thanks to Jaws. Scheider is on the run from the mob due to a botched heist.

sorcerr77hd_06

While living his life in exile he comes into contact with our other banished characters consisting of a banker wanted for embezzlement, a terrorist from the middle east and a mysterious shooter who seems to be watching everyone else. They are all looking for a way back.

Their ticket comes in the form of a job offer. About 200 miles from the village they have settled in is an oil fire that requires a load of nitro/dynamite delivered to cap it. The roads are rough, the bush is dense and the explosives are unstable. Each man is to receive 10000 dollars and a new identity card to escape their current place in exile and hopefully find themselves a future of which they currently don’t have.

sorcerer4

With two men to a truck the journey begins and the tension gets cranked up a notch by Friedkin. The highlight of the journey has to be the bridge suspended by ropes and the struggles to get the heavy trucks across them. It has a horror film feel to the proceedings. One truck in particular looks like a demon with steam coming from it’s ears and the music or sound effects if you prefer from Tangerine Dream come across like a wailing Banshee as the trucks make their way over the wavering bridge.

The four men learn to work together one minute and can easily be seen as competitors the next. There is 40 grand up for grabs to whomever can survive the journey and claim a share.

sorcerer

If ever William Friedkin is to be compared to Werner Herzog, this is the film to be talked of. It has a Herzog flavor from the European style it begins with to the dense jungle shoot. All we’re missing is Herzog’s main protagonist Klaus Kinski. Not only do we have a jungle shoot but an amazing rocky landscape heightened by a setting sun casting a purple hue over the towering rock formations.

I generally like this film but can easily see why it wasn’t a success during it’s initial release. While I will always sing the praise of Scheider thanks to my love of Jaws, I do realize he wasn’t a huge draw at the box office. If one can stay with the film long enough to experience the jungle trek it’s a harrowing journey that puts you right in the seat with Roy and company. At times it has a Treasure of the Sierra Madre feel to it and that’s a huge plus in my books.

sorcerer7

Bruno Cremer who plays our French banker on the run is solid here and it’s his character that is perhaps most interesting. He’s gone from the riches of fine dining and Armani suits to getting his hands dirty while living in poverty. You can feel the humidity and the sweat coming across from the characters on screen.

I had seen this film years ago in the early days of the VHS tape and recalled some of the bridge crossing scene but it’s the films final moments that I have never forgotten and I still think it’s a memorable ending of which I won’t spoil here.

sorcerer

Nice to see this film restored and put out on blu ray with a bit of fanfare last year. This should appeal to a few different groups. Those who like a vigorous shoot in the Herzog fashion. Scheider fans should rejoice. Art house film fans probably will find something to like as well. Then there is the  Friedkin factor who at times has proven to be a director of note.

 

Yes, I Did See That In The Theater Continued…….

I kind of enjoyed the first posting and looking back at what I recalled about seeing some of these titles on the big screen.

How about Kirk Douglas re-living Pearl Harbor.

“I believe what we stumbled across is not man-made but a phenomena of nature, one that can’t be explained. This phenomena is the storm in which the Nimitz went through less than 18 hours ago, the storm has had some effect on time as we know it, it created a portal, a door into another era. Today is December 7, 1941… I’m sure we are all aware of the significance of this date in this place in history. We are going to fight a battle that was lost before most of you were born. This time, with God’s help, its going to be different… Good Luck”

final-countdown-poster1

Eastwood  back as Dirty Harry and I was old enough to get in…….well let’s just say “It made my day.”

sudden_impact

Thanks to my parents for the gift of Don Knotts.

hot-lead-and-cold-feet-movie-poster-1978-1020232832

Off with the family to see the guy from the Telethon and those funny movies on afternoon tv on the big screen.

hardly working

Hiding in the back of an old seventies van with 2 other underage guys while sneaking into a drive in theater. We’re talking BRONSON here. You gotta take that chance.

death_wish_2_poster_01

My first big screen Bond outing. Yes I grew up in the Roger Moore era.

moonraker

I’ll bet I’m one of the few who saw this on a big screen.

hawk

Bonus Trailer. Goodbye. ……………………………………………… till the next posting.

 

The Nest (1988)

The long shadow of a certain box office smash from 1975 still provided a template for this Julie Corman produced “B” flick for Concorde Pictures.

nest-1988-everett

We have a sheriff on a small island who drives an SUV that looks a lot like the Amity police vehicle driven by Chief Brody. A mayor who worries about the tourism trade over the long weekends, safety be damned and when something is eating flesh to the bones of dogs and old bums about the town an expert is called to the island to help with solving the mystery. All we’re missing is a professional hunter that is willing to give us the head, the tail and the whole damn thing for a paltry 10000 dollars.

nest

Using the backdrop of Jaws this script adds in a bit of the Piranha story as well with a factory that has a by product turning cockroaches into man eaters. We get point of view attacks from the hordes as they nestle through the tall grass and approach their prey which consists of a cat being used as bait. Poor kitty.

Robert Lansing as our mayor slowly begins to realize that he has endangered all those on the island and most importantly his daughter played by Lisa Langlois. She has recently returned to the island to reconcile her differences with her estranged father and also rekindle her love interest with local sheriff Franc Luz.

When the roaches finally go on a feeding frenzy there isn’t any safe place left on the island. Least of all the local diner where steaks and people can be devoured raw. Can a rather psycho doctor played by Terri Treas join forces with Lansing and company to put a stop to the breeding and feeding?

This flick from the quickie video era throws everything at us from Jaws and Piranha to second rate effects that seem left over from Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s all a  passable flick from director Terence H. Winkless that makes for a night of silliness if so inclined.

robert-lansing-1-sized

The only actor I recognized in the roach infested proceedings was Robert Lansing. It’s no wonder. When I looked at his list of credits I think he may have appeared in practically every television show I watched growing up. Twilight Zone, Bonanza, Star Trek. He even tangled with another overgrown giant species in Empire of the Ants. Seeing this reminded me I need to revisit his film 4D Man.

If anything, this proves that I’ll watch most films involving nature striking back. As for cockroaches though, nothing beats E.G. Marshall and his hatred for them in his Creepshow segment.

creeps

The Serendipity of Movie Collecting

While growing up I fell in love with the two eras of classic horror films on late night television. The first wave with Karloff and company and then the Hammer years mixed with the Price-Poe cycle. With my interest peaking, I would hit the libraries researching the titles available to me from both the studios and the filmographies of the famed actors donning the greasepaint and performing the mad doctor experiments. Pen in hand I would write the titles under the appropriate columns.

One such title is a film called Battle of the River Plate also known as Pursuit of the Graf Spree from 1956 starring Peter Finch and in the cast somewhere in a bit role of sorts, Christopher Lee. This put the film on my radar of titles to watch out for.

Pursuit-of-the-Graf-Spee

In the early days of the VHS rental, cities and towns had rental stores and chains popping up just as fast as Tim Horton Coffee and Donut shops do in Canada. One such chain was Bandido Video of which there was a local store next to the bank our family dealt at. This always presented me with a good shot of renting some titles for the weekend when my parents would take their weekly paychecks in to the bank.

Sure enough among the section of classics was a VHS copy of the Lee film River Plate. I quickly added it to the pile of our weekend entertainment that I am sure consisted of movies including Meryl Streep in Plenty for Mom and The Big Red One for Dad.

lee4

Apart from remembering that Lee appeared as a waiter of some sort in an outdoor cafe, I can’t recall much if anything else about this British naval film. As time has moved on and the video chains died a slow death older VHS tapes have seemed to disappear like the 8 track tape. But at least I can say I have seen this Lee film and put a check mark beside it.

I believe this film has turned up on TCM but due to restrictions of rights holders has been blacked out in Canada. So I have yet to revisit it. That is all about to change.

plate3

Just last week while rummaging through a box of discarded video tapes at the local good will store I came across a copy on VHS. Hooray for me! That puts the total to 120 Lee films in my collection. The irony of all this is that when I opened the hard shell case of the tape it had the Bandido Video sticker on the inside with the old address.

bandido

Yes, it’s the exact same tape that I rented about 30 years ago! It has finally found a home with someone who appreciates it. This is why I always say I never pass up a dusty box of VHS titles…….see here.

 

Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

I can already hear you thinking, “How can Mike review a film like Bad Day at Black Rock one day and an unbelievable title like this the next?” That’s just it! It’s an exploitation title that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Lure me in with images of guys in a Lon Chaney suit on Harleys and for a minute or two we get just that.

werewolf on wheels

In the tradition of countless biker films from the era of Easy Rider and The Wild Angels we have a gang on bikes known as The Devil’s Advocates who are generally riding around the countryside raising hell. A fistfight here and chasing topless biker babes there. Giving us a hint of what is to come, one of our riders seems to have an affinity for the occult and reading taro cards.

When the gang pulls off the road for some R and R they encounter a group of hooded figures who freely give them bread and wine. Once the drugged drink sets in the coven leader Severn Darden has Donna Anders dancing topless with the customary snake in her hands around a fire with a blood ritual added to the mix.

wheels

When gang leader Stephen Oliver comes to he rouses the troops from their slumber and lays waste to the monks and rescues his fair damsel from her demonic gyrations. Somehow she just doesn’t seem the same to me.

Moving on up the highways to their next camp is when things begin to get a little hairy. When Anders puts the bite on Oliver during a little midnight petting we wind up with two Lon Chaney Jr. wannabes. It becomes a tag team effort in a thirst for blood as members of the bike gang begin to disappear at night. Rather than feeding on each other I had hoped this was going to take on a Near Dark theme.

Steve_Oliver_werewolf

Silly as this whole affair is, I kind of liked this flick for a few reasons with the werewolf subject ranking number one on the list. Another is the fact that after seeing Race With The Devil as a kid I have an affinity for most of those seventies Satanic cult style “B” films. How about The Devils Rain or Daughters of Satan. Let’s also not forget others like The Devil Rides Out and of course a special nod to Rosemary’s Baby.

The music from Don Gere has a driving beat that fits in well with this hybrid horror/cycle flick from director Michel Levesque who gives us some nice camera angles and movements during the 79 minute running time. While only having 5 directing credits on IMDB, Levesque served on a few cult titles as the art director. Films from director Russ Meyer and even an “Ilsa” film. Then again he was credited on an underrated Willie Nelson/Gary Busey film from 1982 called Barbarosa.

wheels2

Nice print of this available from the Dark Sky Films company if you are so inclined to catch up on your dosage of hooded figures gathered around a topless dancer chanting to their Satanic Lord.

 

 

A Fan Letter to Clint Walker.

night of grizzly

In October, 2009 I took a shot at sending the Clint Walker website a letter in thanks to the enjoyment he has brought me over the years.

Hello Mr. Walker:

Just wanted to say hi and share a couple of fond yet ironic moments from an Ontario Canada fan.

I happened to come across an original Night of the Grizzly poster about a month ago and added it to my collection. I had seen the film many years ago and had always enjoyed it when it was on television in the seventies and eighties while I was growing up. Haven’t seen it in many years……. until by chance I came across it in a hobby store on VHS last week. I watched it and shared the film with my two sons who share their love of westerns with Dad. They know you well as you are a member of The Dirty Dozen, which I have seen numerous times(my favorite) and that my boys have enjoyed with me as well. They are 15 and 12 years of age.

Lastly, I just wanted to say I have always enjoyed your film appearances and Cheyenne shows and I hope you take pride in knowing that they are still enjoyed by many and I’m sure will continue to be by my sons and theirs.

Sincerely,

Mike Perry

clint walker

Not long after that I did receive a reply.

Howdy Mike;

Thank you for taking the time to let me know that you have enjoyed my work. All the best to you and your family.

Clint Walker

dirty dozen6

In the days before the giants that appear on screen now, Walker was as big as they come and standing next to Richard Jaeckel above second from the left he was number 1 in the line up known as The Dirty Dozen. As for Night of the Grizzly, it has since turned up on blu ray and I quickly upgraded from the old VHS tape.

It sure made my day getting that comment back from Mr. Walker. I thank him once more.

Peter Lorre Poster Gallery

While reading these quotes, try to channel the magnificent instrument that was Peter’s voice.

“Do you imagine I could take advantage, exploit, capitalize on a great scientific discovery? Cheat millions of people all the world over? Profane my profession?”

boogie man

“You ought to do something about your nervous condition, Mr. Brand. You must never talk too much. Nervous men sometimes talk too much, and they make mistakes, and you musn’t make mistakes, Mr. Brand.”

island-of-doomed-men-rochelle-hudson-peter-lorre-1940

Stepping in for Charlie Chan. Note Keye Luke in the billing as Number One Son.

mr. moto

“I have conquered science! Why can’t I conquer love?”

mad-love-frances-drake-peter-lorre-everett

How about two great voices in one film? Lorre + Duryea = FUN

black angel

“How would you blow a whistle if somebody cut your throat?”

verdict

As Joel Cairo. Hungry for the stuff that dreams are made of.

“You… you imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head you.”

Peter-Lorre