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Harry's Grindhouse Titles... ...and some friends...

Hey folks, Harry here… I said I’d update the big Grindhouse Article with my list – and well… as I’ve received so many of your thoughts upon the Grindhouse of old… along with friends, programmers and general co-conspirators in all things cinematic… Let’s kick off a new article on GRINDHOUSE titles. I love Robert and Quentin’s films. Right now I’m listening to the Soundtrack to Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF and just finished the soundtrack to PLANET TERROR. It’s so hard to name…. “The Top Ten” – GRINDHOUSE films – simply because that’s such a wide spread blanket. Movies like JAWS literally did play in some Grindhouses… but they’re not primarily GRINDHOUSE films… to earn that label, they had to be films that you just weren’t likely to see at any other type of theater at the time… aside from Drive-Ins. Now saying that… I’m not going to name off the top 10 GRINDHOUSE titles – simply because you’ve seen some of those on other lists. Rather – these ten titles are the ones that just plain knocked my dick in the dirt and licked it clean. They’re the titles that I saw that sent me on quests to find other titles like them. OR – they’re the titles I found on that quest that made me so happy for being a film addict. So what does this mean for you? Well – if you can track the titles down – I personally vouch for each and every one of these fuckers as being righteously kick ass titles of the GRINDHOUSE variety. So… Here ya go… in no particular order… LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH Directed by Kenji Misumi I’m talking about this one first. Why? Cuz Vern needs a perspective on the love of this title. I know Vern, I know. I know the original LONE WOLF AND CUB: BABY CART TO HADES – is the superior version of the film. And I dearly love hearing Tomisaburo Wakayama’s original voice going along with his awesome Ogami Itto character… BUT… When I wasn’t long out of my own Babycart, I was taken to the State Theater here in Austin, Texas for the first screening of LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH. This was the pivotal film I saw at age 4 that started my love of badass asian titles. I started collecting martial arts trailers in 16mm shortly thereafter – which I bought and traded for on my own at Conventions that my Father took me to. LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH is the U.S. edited, dubbed version of a genuinely brilliant Japanese series directed by Kenji Misumi. For me though – I’ll never forget the U.S. trailer for LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH – mainly because I’ve seen it countless times on Harry’s Kung Fu Trailer reel – that played at nearly every film gathering I had as a kid and with my parents. It started a love of samurai and martial arts film addiction. Even cut down – it was all we had for years and years. And yes, we bitch like crazy at the Weinstein Brothers for treating Tony Jaa and others to this same treatment… And they should have learned from the past – that real movie fans want to see the original films. SADLY – the mass public doesn’t seem to… Or is it just because they won’t give them a chance to see it unedited. This is a towering film – that leads all that see it to a Six part series of LONE WOLF AND CUB films that just kick unholy ass. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? Directed by Massimo Dallamano Discovered this film at QT FEST Numero Cinco! Like Michael Madsen, this film fucking turns me on. I know you didn’t need to know that, but fuck off. That’s part of the Grindhouse – the women make you want to think dirty thoughts, forbidden fetishes and fuel the next sexcapade you have for yourself. What’s the deal? Well – this is a film about a killer killing young girls that all attend St Mary’s Catholic School for Girls. So the actresses are all right on that “barely legal” edge – with that period Catholic School Girl uniforms – and acting the way that… well, one assumes that Catholic School Girls should act in a Seventies Giallo film. That’s right – they seek out and seduce older men, their teachers, local artists and each other. That said – The method of death – which is “by stabbing into the vagina of the girls with a 14 inch banana blade, binding the girls, leaving them out in the woods to bleed to death from their pussies” – Well – as I said when I wrote this film up originally – it is severely sick. And btw- You didn’t think Eli Roth invented that spot as an entry wound, did you? The film challenges you to keep watching though, because you just want to know… WHY is someone doing all of this? What happened to Solange that sent her into her quiet. What trauma was done, that would inspire a killer to kill who they kill and how they kill? I love it. It is one of my very favorite Giallo movies. THE GREAT SILENCE Directed by Sergio Corbucci People know Sergio Corbucci. They love Sergio Corbucci – and often times they’ll say the word… DJANGO. I love that word. I love that film. But if I’m putting one Spaghetti western on a list of badass Grindhouse films – I’m going to name THE GREAT SILENCE. First off – it doesn’t look like any other Spaghetti western ever made. Replacing the golden tones of dirt and sunlight comes the starkness of winter. It’s the use of gore, the way the gore is used here that blows me away. Not just that, but the whole way the story is told – forces you to re-evaluate the good guys and the bad guys – and which is which. It’s brilliantly convoluted, brutal and badass. I came to this film on my own – buying it when it was a German import – buying exclusively on the names of Klaus Kinski, Sergio Corbucci and the art on the DVD. What I got was very nearly the best spaghetti western of all time – in otherwords – as I watch this film – I get that sensation that… THIS IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER… then you adjust the hyperbole to – Best Non-Leone Spaghetti Western… period. Wait til you see Klaus Kinski in this fucker. He’s awesome. HANZO THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE Directed by Kenji Misumi What happens when the director of the LONE WOLF & CUB series and Shintaro Katsu of the ZATOICHI series sit down and watch SHAFT… and decide to create a Japanese Samurai Private Dick set in feudal Japan – who trains his cock to be an instrument of torture and pleasure with which to extract any bit of information from any Geisha or woman on the planet? WELL… You’re watching HANZO THE RAZOR – which as far as I can tell never actually made it into Grindhouses back in the day… at least not American Grindhouses. This is the first of a trilogy of films that just fucking blow away any conception you might expect to place on the world of cinema. It’s stunning. It gives you great new kinky sex habits. It makes SHAFT and SUPERFLY seem impotent. It’s just a stunning film. Beautiful, Bizarre and UnFuckingBelievable. Once you’ve seen HANZO THE RAZOR – you can never UN-SEE Hanzo The Razor. An Awesome Film. THE BEYOND Directed by Lucio Fulci My first Fulci. I was completely unaware of Fulci when I first saw THE BEYOND on the final night of QT FEST 1. I hadn’t a clue what to expect. Some day – Someone will make Horror like this again… The sensation of watching the film isn’t far from something like THE OTHERS – but imagine if THE OTHERS had balls that clacked and signaled the opening of hell itself. Someone will do it. Someone will take up where this film left off – and there will again be vomit, fainting and cardiac arrests back into theaters. People will be removed in straight-jackets and the film will play to the cheers of a long silent cult of horror fans that hunger ever more for this type of horror. Christophe Gans wanted to head in that direction with SILENT HILL… you could tell, but CG will not take you there. Well, not the CG that they could afford for SILENT HILL. THE BEYOND is a film that works on nightmare logic. The characters are stuck in a horror that there is no escape from. The gore is so impossibly beautifully complex that you just scream out in joy because it’s that fucking awesome. I want to see this sort of film get made by a Guillermo Del Toro or an Alfonso Cuaron or possibly Quentin Tarantino. A filmmaker with the capacity for deliberate madness and uncontrolled carnage as the proper punctuation for sequences of exquisite atmosphere. I don’t know. But I hope we’ll see it one day. THRILLER Directed by Bo Arne Vibenius Yeah. Christina Lindberg. In the history of GRINDHOUSE women – is there a woman that you’d want more? Possibly Barbara Bouchet, but more on her later… I never imagined that this film could live up to the hype it had received in my mind from the trailer alone. THEY CALL HER ONE EYE (and then they ran for their lives) is a towering film of the genre of REVENGE. I love it. The X-rated version is just unbelievably intense. Many feel that the X-rated scenes are too much and unnecessary – but to me – those moments take the film to a place that movies I love like COFFY – just never went. It makes the revenge sweeter – more deserved – more intense. When you watch the calm in Christina’s one eye as she goes kill crazy – you can imagine her replaying those moments in her mind. Fueling her killing. That said. Holy shit she’s an awesomely well put together woman. Yes, I do know the XXX moments are not her. I’m just talking about Christina. She’s stunning and once you see her in this film, if you’re half the obsessive deviant that I am, you’ll idly begin seeking out her other sexploitation pieces. But none of them are anything like this. This is… stunning. TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN Directed by Stanley Brassloff Amongst my proudest moments as a programmer at BUTT-NUMB-A-THON – was the programming of this brilliant subversively erotic tale. The year prior – I had scored a home run of exploitive proportions with TEENAGE MOTHER… a film that while idly fun and kitschy, suddenly takes off on an education film nightmare that few can describe without screaming, “EWWWW”. I had a challenge. Once you program something like that – there’s a collective memory that the audience has that’s subtly itching on them. They want something they’re never going to see in a million years – unless I place it in front of them. Tim League has an amazing library of Grindhouse Titles at the Alamo Drafthouse – and each year I get the joy of scouring the list trying to find something awesome to unleash. It gets harder each year, due mainly to the amazing job that Lars Nilsen does programming his Weird Wednesday line ups. But this particular year – apparently nobody at the Alamo had yet screened their print of a film called TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN. As it played – EVERY GIRL in the theater got turned on. And every guy in the theater got turned on, cuz we could all hear the naughty giggly thoughts of the girls in the theater. And… had we all been smoking pot – this would have turned into an amazing night for reasons we movie geeks rarely speak of. However, had that night gone that way – about an hour after we’d all gotten naked – we would have screamed in horror – because where this movie goes… you begin to see about 25 minutes in advance – in the movie. Then… like the slowest moving, can’t take your eye off of it, trainwreck – that you’ve just got to see happen… cuz you can’t believe they’re going to go there. THEN – Once you are actually there… They do something artistic to avoid actually SEEING what you’ve been waiting to see. But what they do is so impossibly worse than anything you could have possibly imagined, that their blunder turns into a wonder of such cosmic wrongness – that you just… weep laughing, crying.. out of shock, joy, wonder. It’s astonishing. When I programmed it – it was on a hunch – it was the best hunch I’ve ever had. You must watch this with a mixed sex audience of friends, loved ones, etc. Great exploitation film for family. FLAVIA Directed by Gianfranco Mingozzi Ever seen a Nunsploitation film? Well after watching this – I bought them all. Seeking out something close – and I still haven’t found it. FLAVIA: THE HERETIC is just way the hell out there. The sexual repression in excess here is just unbelievable. I found myself screaming at my screen as I watched it – and I just couldn’t believe what I was watching. It’s just very very very intense. And as bad as Flavia is treated and as bad as what she witnesses… nothing compares to when she has the upper hand. Gianfranco Mingozzi – the director – had to have the worst catholic school upbringing ever – to create a film like this. It’s just jaw-dropping. That said, it’s kinda hot, too. THE CONTRACT aka CALIBRE 9 Directed by Fernando Di Leo My favorite Fernando Di Leo – probably because I sought it out on my own, after Quentin showed Austin the other Di Leo flicks that he’s screened. The movie is very much MOB movie, but those familiar with Fernando Di Leo’s mob – probably are very well aware of the fact that Di Leo’s mob movies do not glamorize – but tear the mob apart. Making anyone and everyone that touches the Mob out to be the most vile, stupid, repugnant piece of dog shit ever shat. This film very much continues that. But what really stands out in this film is the lack of an American star – which kind of makes it all feel more real to me. Not just that, but the score is unfuckingbelievably great. And then there’s Barbara Bouchet’s dance, which is so fucking hot that you wanna whip it out and keep up. Then there’s just the plot and where it goes and how it turns and then the action and fucking Mario Adorf is fucking fucking fucking amazing! NO WAY OUT Directed by Duccio Tessari WOW. Just WOW. Now – as fucking great as all the Fernando Di Leo films are… he just never fucking had Alain Delon. And 1973 Alain Delon – well – it’s just a fucking miracle. He’s beyond amazing to just watch breathe. He plays a killer that is retiring, who well… gets fucked. And then in the best sort of – twisting of the fucking – he fucks a lot of people up. The car chases, the action sequences… the fucking STYLE! The Fucking Style is amazing. If you could live in any film – this would be a great film to LIVE through – because with Alain Delon – you have one of the most amazingly attractive men in film history. Then… you’ve got Italian women like Rosalba Neri and Carla Gravina… and then the clothes… the hair… the fucking kid’s rocket playscape. The cars, the music, the everything – it’s just all so much better than you could ever dream. Wow – I just realized – I got through those ten titles without having a single American Exploitation Grindhouse title. Well – perhaps that is another list, for another day. This was where my mind was today in the world of GRINDHOUSE - maybe it's my fault for putting on the soundtract to HOLY MOUNTAIN. Heh. Damn good tunes! Now here's TOM JOAD with his list...

Tom Joad here, with a late addition to the fray… Growing up in Oklahoma, I never had the opportunity to be exposed to a true grindhouse theatrical experience. Years ago, when I heard that Mayor Guliani had cleaned up the 42nd Street district, I lamented the loss of an era I would never be able to fully appreciate in its natural environment. A NOTE TO PARENTS: never tell your kids they are not ALLOWED to do something. It only encourages them to disobey you. My mom wouldn’t let me watch horror movies. She told me I wasn’t allowed to. From the list of titles I’m contributing to the list, you can imagine how successful her efforts were. I was never exposed to exploitation movies, I had to seek them out and expose myself to them. I was on a mission to impregnate my mind with the most unspeakable images and scenarios I could possibly get my hands on. In Oklahoma, I had access to a handful of video stores, even going so far as to rent movies from neighboring towns that had movies I couldn’t find locally. I watched everything I could get my hands on. I mail-ordered hundreds upon hundreds of videotapes from Chas Balun’s Deep Red Headquarters, from Video Wasteland, from Video Search of Miami, from Luminous Film & Videoworks… Finally discovering a kindred spirit in Annette Kellerman, she and I found that our love of the obscure, the depraved, and the despicable was shared by Harry and Co., who had turned us onto the QT Fests that were beginning to take shape in Austin… The following is a work in progess. The Gestapo’s Last Orgy – Although Love Camp 7 is terrific, and SS Experiment Love Camp rules… but for those familiar with the nazisploitation subgenre, this one comes with a bonus twist. When Lise, the primary subject of all the usual forms of humiliation, degradation, and torture that have become a staple among these types of films, uses her wits and her body to seduce the officer who brutalizes her, she is given a rare opportunity to exact revenge when you least expect it. The final act of vengeance is one that resonates, one that stunned me with glee upon my initial viewing and continues to provide me with much enjoyment. Great, great stuff. Dr. Butcher M.D. (Medical Deviate) (1980) – If you haven’t tasted the preposterously fun cannibal-zombie-mad-scientist cocktail that director Marino Giorlami serves up, you’re in for something special. With gore that doesn’t quit and full blown nudity on behalf of the gorgeous lead actress, Alexandra Delli Colli. We’re graced with the mighty flesh trifecta of breasts, bushsteak, and labial love. Let’s hear it for Ian McCulloch’s, MacGuyver-inspired use of an outboard motor to liquefy the contents of a zombie’s skull!!! Death Race 2000 (1975) – Carradine plays Frankenstein and kicks so much onscreen ass, you can’t help but smile from ear to ear for 80 minutes. You’ve all seen it. You know it. And you love it. A sheer, destructive, car-carnage-with-a-message movie that set the stage for some truly worthy followers. Without Paul Bartel’s initial vision, we’d not have the likes of Cannonball or Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Barbed Wire Dolls (1975) – While no exploitation list is complete without a Jess Franco flick, this particularly brutal entry into the women-in-prison subgenre is sleazy nastiness at its finest hour. The usual trappings are here: lesbian warden, compassionate yet spineless prison doctor, ruthless guards who love to exploit the prisoners in gloriously depraved ways and the inmates who loathe them. As an added level of tastelessness, Franco CAST HIS OWN WIFE, the sultry Lina Romay as the inmate protagonist and target of much sadomasochistic mayhem. While WIP flicks are not for everyone, this is a crown jewel. Trap Them & Kill Them (1977) – Absolutely NO exploitation/sexploitation/grindhouse list would be honorable if smokin’ Joe D’Amato weren’t represented. Granted, his resume boasts many genre classics, but his Laura Gemser films are the ones I where I discovered that Smokin’ Joe meant business. Executing the standard Emanuelle-reporter-on-a-crazy-adventure-to-get-a-scoop plot, played out against a backdrop of Amazon jungle filled with flesh-hungry cannibals, we’re privy to a stunning series of softcore sex scenes that build to a terrific climax of gore where nearly everyone in her search party is eviscerated and consumed by cannibals while captured by her photographic lens. I bless the bushsteak gods that Ms. Gemser’s escape plan involved her stripping buck nekkid and painting her body in an attempt to trick the cannibal tribe into believing she is their goddess of the river. GO JOE!!! Terror! (1978) - When it comes to watching exploitation films, one of the purest pleasures is discovering an unheralded film that has been largely ignored by history. This is one such film. Filmed with flourish and featuring a score that will melt your brain with pleasure, this is a movie you won’t soon forget. When car trouble leaves a crew of bank robbers stranded along a beach, they venture into a beach house where a group of young girls are enjoying a relaxing weekend away from school with one of their teachers, who happens to be a nun. The nastiness that ensues is simultaneously disgusting and delightful… and I can’t get enough. The Swinging Barmaids (aka Eager Beavers) (1975) –Absolute balls-to-the-wall mayhem ensues when a righteous, morally upright man enters a club in his community to see the busty, scantily-clad waitresses and the seedy clientele they attract, causing him to lose his mind and begin killing them. Sound straightforward? Good. Because it is. The fight scenes have such a realistic quality to them that people seem to actually be getting hurt. I feel bad for the set medic who must have had an enormous stash of aspirin on hand. The cop on the trail is played by the one and only William Smith, who is enjoyably given free reign to kick the ass of absolutely anyone and everyone. As per usual. Tough to find, but worthy of the search. Night Train Murders (1975) –Wes Craven may have done it first (exploiting Bergman’s A Virgin Spring, that is) but Aldo Lado’s film raises the bar like no man’s business. Following a similar plotline to Last House on the Left, two college girls traveling home via train for Christmas are stalked by a group of three degenerates who trap, humiliate, rape, murder, and mutilate their genitals like you’ve never seen. The girls are ultimately redeemed by their parents, who after unknowingly inviting the murderers into their home, hunt them down and kill them one by one. You can go into this film knowing all of this in advance and you will still find your dick knocked into the dirt. Believe me. Coffy (1973) –Hands-down, the A-number one women’s revenge flick ever made. After being wronged, Pam Grier, er Coffy, uses her brains as well as her glorious set of assets to infiltrate the corrupt organization and kill absolutely every motherfucker in sight. Every frame is perfect, every performance is spot-on, every line of dialogue memorable, with a soundtrack so goddamned great you won’t be able to load it onto your ipod fast enough. Jack Hill is a god!!! The Candy Snatchers (1973) –Just twisted, sick, and deliciously fun. When three kidnappers snatch young Candy, they intend to hold her for ransom from her wealthy parents. Unbeknownst to them, Candy’s father has ulterior motives of his own to do just the opposite. Depravity ensues as Candy (who seems borderline in age…) has her virginity taken from her by one of her abductors as a five-year old mute boy from neighborhood watches from a loft above them. It only gets worse for poor Candy from there. And you will never believe the ending. Keep repeating: it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie… And only in a grindhouse/exploitation movie will yoube served an ending as bleak as The Candy Snatchers.

Then there's this from Anthony Timpson - one of the foremost brilliant gutter minds in the universe!

Ant Timpson curator of The Exploitation Archive 1000+ exploitation/grindhouse films Loaning 35mm prints to cinematheques worldwide, Alamo, Tarantino screenings, - everywhere ! First off all let it be said there is a major difference between watching exploitation in a controlled and sanitised arrangement that folks do these days. The Grindhouse experience was occasionally a fucking scary outing, with more menacing shapes and sounds coming from your row than from the stained screen. It wasn't unusual to see sexual activity and regurgitated fluids on a regular basis. I might not remember all the titles I saw in the 70s/80s but boy can I still vividly recall certain odours! The wondrous whiff of despair from another pathetic soul killing time before going back to the black-hole of their existence. You just can't forget an aroma that beautiful. As always, an ever changing list but off the top of my head, these big screen cinema experiences were bloody memorable. Five Fingers of Death - Astor Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1975 Stone - Crystal Palace, Auckland, New Zealand 1975 The Ultimate Warrior - Starlight Cinema, Papatoetoe, New Zealand 1976 Last Cannibal World - Crystal Palace, Auckland, New Zealand 1978 I Spit on Your Grave - Green Island Cinema, Dunedin, New Zealand 1984 Men Behind the Sun - Australia Cinema, Sydney, Australia 1989 Devil Fetus - Australia Cinema, Sydney, Australia 1990 Let Me Die A Woman - Rialto Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1995 Story of Riki - Wintergarden Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1996 Candy Snatchers - Regent Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1997 Woman From Deep River - Westend Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1997 The Love Butcher - Regent Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1998 GUMS - Regent Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand 1998

Then there's John from Barrel Entertainment...

Hi Harry, A late entry here, I'm afraid. This is John from Barrel Entertainment speaking... Grindhouse movies; well, where to begin? 1. Last House on Dead End Street The epitome of the grindhouse experience-- a beyond low budget exploiter that tore up the screens in its limited theatrical (and later BETA / VHS) release. Talk about "lost" films; by my calculations, there's only ONE print of this film left in existence (please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong). 2. Death Promise What the FUCK is this movie? Directed by Bob Warmflash (who, by fate and chance, cut the LHODES trailer), this is the poorest of poor when it comes to martial arts exploitation. 3. Combat Shock A little late in the game, but Buddy G's Combat Shock is guaranteed to peel the paint off of your walls, balls, and eyeballs. Baby baking, wife killing, Vietnam flashbacks... Buttgereit called it Taxi Driver meets Eraserhead, and I'm hard pressed to argue. 4. Fight for your Life This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating. A vile, reprehensible film that has to be seen to be believed. 5. Hell of the Living Dead Hey, the Italians rip off Romero AND their fellow countrymen. A twisted mess, but highly enjoyable at two in the morning, after a gallon full of booze. 6. Career Bed Joel M. Reed's (Blood Sucking Freaks) first film, a sexploiter that serves as a nice double bill to Milligan's Vapors. 7. Deadbeat at Dawn Long before there was GRINDHOUSE, Jim Van Bebber filmed this ode to joy. Along with Basket Case, this is my favorite "modern" take on the exploitation genre. 8. Pieces J. P. Simon's masterpiece, without a doubt. Words fail me on this one... 9. She-Freak What list could be completed without at least one Friedman film? This one takes it, hands down. An update of Browning's Freaks that captures not only the flavor of the original, but is also a loving nod to the carnival-culture that any low-brow historian is in love with. 10. Cannibal Holocaust Have to be predictable, I suppose. If there is one Italian-cannibal film that you should see, make this one it. It'll change your life (for better or for worse) forever. OK, that's it. Keep cool hands in the pockets, John Szpunar Barrel Entertainment
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