Crown International Pictures 70’s

DRIVE IN SEXPLOTATION & SCARES

 Weekend with the Babysitter (1970)

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After learning a disagreeable secret about his wife, a movie director finds consolation with the baby sitter.

Noon Sunday (1970)

Noon Sunday (1970)Two mercenaries (Mark Lenard, John Russell) land on an island to kill two guerrilla leaders and halt rocket-site work.

POINT OF TERROR / BLOOD MANIA

At the dawn of the ’70s, Crown released two ultra-cheap horror movies spearheaded by the late writer-producer-actor Peter Carpenter, a dark-haired stud with a passing resemblance to Tom Jones: BLOOD MANIA and POINT OF TERROR (both 1970).  Whereas the latter is bad in a hilariously inept way, the former is just dreadful, and possibly the worst film in Crown’s filmography.  “That was a mistake,” writer-director Robert Vincent O’Neill says of BLOOD MANIA.  “About a week before shooting, the producers lost their director.  I think he chickened out or something.  The cinematographer, Bob Maxwell, had just done THE PSYCHO LOVER (1970) for me, so he recommended me to the producers.  I had like five days to step in and do this film, and my ego got the better of me.  I thought I could do it.  I just didn’t have the actors.  The actors were not good.  They weren’t experienced.  The film was cast through friendship and personalities and love affairs and that crap.  So I was saddled with pretty bad actors.  Plus, I had problems with the producers.  We didn’t get along.”

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O’Neill continues, “When I did the final cut, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll never see that picture anywhere.’  It didn’t get much of a release, and I knew it would never be on TV because the character that Maria de Aragon plays walked through the hallways of the mansion naked with a knife killing people.  At that time you couldn’t have nudity on TV, or that kind of violence.  OK, so we jump forward seven, eight, nine years later.  I come home one night and my wife says, ‘You’ll never guess what’s on TV.’  I said ‘What?’  She said, ‘BLOOD MANIA!’  I was stunned.  I said, ‘Well, we’ve gotta watch this.’  In every sequence where Maria went down the hallway naked, they cut that out and…”  O’Neill pauses to say, “Red Jacobs, very innovative guy,” before bursting into laughter.  “They took the nurse, who was the only good actress in the whole film, and she would come into this waiting room and tell the bad guy y’know, the blackmailer? — what had occurred the night before.  In other words, she would describe the murder.  That’s funny in itself, right?  But what’s really funny is that the actor who played the blackmailer that she originally had this relationship with and would be telling these stories to had died, so they got an actor that looked like him and they put this big palm tree with these fawns that just happened to come across his face a little bit.  I couldn’t believe it!  To this day, the film haunts me!  Boy, that was one that I thought would die a death in some dark storage room!”

Screenwriter Tony Crechales, who did some work on BLOOD MANIA and POINT OF TERROR as well as Grefe’s IMPULSE (1974) starring William Shatner, also wasn’t happy with how BLOOD MANIA turned out.  One time, he saw it with some friends in Hollywood, and as the theater was letting out, he overheard someone say, “That’s the lousiest movie I’ve ever seen.” Crechales replied, “You’re right!”

Before gaining infamy for playing ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1975), Dyanne Thorne also played a murderous black widow in POINT OF TERROR, which she recalls “was a step away for Crown. They’d been doing a lot of action pictures, and this was a little bit off of their beaten path.” Thorne had a lot of fun working on the film, “and I got to keep my heritage of killing somebody in every film I ever get to do!” The late Verna Fields who edited AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973) with Marcia Lucas, PAPER MOON (1973) and won the Academy Award for editing JAWS (1975) was the supervising editor on POINT OF TERROR. In one scene, Thorne is chased around her pool by her jealous husband, who’s bound to a wheelchair. She torments him by waving a blanket in front of him, and yelling Ole, and it was Fields’s idea to put Spanish music over this segment. According to Crechales, POINT OF TERROR did well in the States and overseas. “I think it made $3 million domestically. In those days, that was very good.”

FILM SPOTLIGHT Point of Terror (1971)

SUMMARY

Lounge singer Tony Trelos is approached by a woman on a beach one afternoon. Her name is named Andrea Hilliard, and she is a wealthy woman whose crippled husband Martin owns a record label. That night, Andrea goes to watch Tony perform at his regular oceanside California club. She offers to cut him a record deal. Tony begins a sexual relationship with her, and begins ignoring Sally, a former flame of his. Unbeknownst to Tony, Andrea murdered Martin’s former wife in their home after having begun an affair with him nine years before.

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One evening, Martin confronts Andrea, saying he witnessed her having sex with Tony in their swimming pool earlier that night. In a tussle, Andrea pushes Martin into the pool, and watches him drown. After his death, Martin’s daughter, Helayne, arrives from Europe where she has been attending college. After the funeral, Tony is told by Andrea’s alcoholic friend, Fran, that Martin’s ex-wife was murdered by an unknown intruder, and that Helayne was sent to several boarding schools in Europe after Andrea and Martin married.

Tony seduces Helayne, which drives Andrea mad. One evening, on a cliff near Andrea’s home, the two get into an argument, and she attempts to murder him, but Tony throws her over the edge to the rocks below, killing her. Helayne witnesses the event, and the two embrace. Upon returning to the house, Tony is confronted by Sally, who shoots him to death. He then awakens on the beach, where Andrea approaches him; all that has occurred has been a premonition.

Chain Gang Women (1971)

Chain Gang Women (1971)

A murderer escapes from a chain gang, forcing his co-inmate to go along. The latter’s girlfriend helps, but gets raped by the aggressive prisoner. The desperate duo next invades the home of an older farmer and his teen-aged wife.

This was writer-director Lee Frost’s plan for THE CHAIN, a low-budget prison escape movie released by Crown in 1971 as CHAIN GANG WOMEN (1971).  As the late Frost explained to Shock Cinema magazine in 2002, “I got some guys together and we shot that, but then I got an AIP picture I had to do, which I think was CHROME AND HOT LEATHER (1971).  So I put THE CHAIN on a shelf, didn’t touch it for a year, and one day I’m sittin’ there watching it, and I said, ‘Y’know, this picture has merit.  This can be something in the major market.’  My partner [Wes Bishop] said, ‘I’ll talk to Red Jacobs about it at Crown and see what happens.’  So I made a presentation for them.  I ran a part of the picture and I said, ‘Now we’re going to shoot this, this, this, and this,’ and then I ran another piece of the picture, did the same thing, and nobody understood what I was saying.  They wouldn’t do anything with it.  I said to my partner, ‘Let’s raise the money from somebody else.’  So we raised some more money, shot it, did all the stuff that you see in the picture — the chains, the guys fighting in the mountains, helicopter shots of the truck moving and all that — and then we finished it off with the old picture.  We showed it to Crown, and they said, ‘Whoa, this is great!’ and they took it.  I said, ‘But that’s what I was telling you — you assholes.’”

Pink Angels (1971)

Pink Angels (1971)

Plenty of heads turn when a group of transvestite bikers wheel their way to Los Angeles.

The Naked Countess (Die Nackte Gräfin) (1971)

The Naked Countess (1971)

Count Anatol Manesse-Manconi embodies icy elegance. His style is expensive and heartless. He is incapable of love and instead celebrates sex like a lonely dictator. He is the ruler of the lust of his wife, Verena. A woman of simple circumstances became the goddess of impulses – beautiful and shameless. For the Count’s strange guests she is the object of desire, of her envy and of her contempt. Every guest in the Count’s house represents another mortal sin: arrogance, hate, gluttony, lust, lethargy, greed and envy are gathered together and enjoy each other in profound mutual antipathy. Until a misfortune happens. By order of the Count, his secretary Clemens inaugurates the inspector into the dark secrets of the house. The young mechanic Toni was murdered. But by whom?

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The Young Graduates (1971)

Spunky and precocious high school senior Mindy Evans spurns her decent, but frustrated boyfriend Bill and has a fling with teacher Jack Thompson, a hunky nice guy that’s married. Mindy finds out that she might be pregnant. While waiting for the results of her pregnancy test, Mindy decides to alleviate the tension by embarking on an impromptu road trip to Big Sur, California with her best girl friend Sandy. Although a dated and corny for modern audiences, the film remains as a nice period piece that reflects the very early 1970s youth culture. Despite a little bit of nudity, the film is surprisingly non-exploitative and non-judgmental about its subject matter.

John Burrows, a producer for Crown during the early ‘70s, remembers Jacobs as an honest, by-the-books businessman.  “If you made a picture and went to [Crown] for distribution, the deals were very tough.  Red’s contracts were ironclad.  Some of the producers, after they saw their first checks, would go back to him and say, ‘Oh my gosh, is this all we’re getting?’  Red would say, ‘Of course!  You read the contract.  We’re doing all the work.  We’re out there pushing your picture.’” Burrows worked for over a decade at Allied Artists, where he produced a number of films including AL CAPONE (1959) starring Rod Steiger, before leaving the company to become an independent producer.

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His biggest supporter at the time was Jacobs.  “I talked to Red, told him my desire and my abilities and he said, ‘I’ll distribute the first picture you do, but you’ve gotta raise the money.’”  Burrows managed to pull together $62,000 for a PG-rated youth movie titled THE YOUNG GRADUATES (1971).  “It did all right, made some money, and from then on, if Red needed a picture made, or someone came in with a good idea for a picture, he would hire me to be the producer.  I did that for 4 years.  I produced WILD RIDERS (1971), STANLEY, SUPERCHICK and a few others.”

The beautiful blonde star of THE YOUNG GRADUATES, Patricia Wymer, had previously top-lined Crown’s summer of ’69 hit THE BABYSITTER, a sexy T&A quickie that helped shape the template for a decade’s worth of drive-in programming from the company.  “One thing Crown was really good at were those girl pictures like SUPERCHICK,” says Grefe.  “There was a new one out every summer and they always did really good business.”

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Wild Riders (1971) Pete and Stick, two juvenile delinquents just thrown out of a biker gang, break into a luxury house where they rape two women. They settle in the house, sell the valuables and kill a curious neighbor.

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Blue Money (1972)

SUMMARY Yearning to make real films in early 1970s Hollywood, California, 25-year-old French-Canadian Jim DeSalle gets caught up in the adult film industry, trying to support himself and his wife Lisa (Barbara Caron), with their Baby. They seem to have the perfect life, but it all falls apart. Unbeknownst to Jim, they have been under surveillance by the local police Vice Squad for being involved in making and distributing pornographic films. Everything starts to unravel for Jim: The police begin a series of raids, his “sleazy distributors” won’t pay him, he has a fling with an actress, his wife takes their child and leaves him, and his creditors are seeking to seize his assets and evict him from his beach house. It seemed like he had everything at the beginning of the film, it now looks as if he’s going to be left with nothing. It may be too late when Jim and Lisa finally realize that all they really want to do is to get on their boat, with Baby, and sail to the middle of the ocean, to get as far away from it all as they can. Just as Jim reveals to the Vice Cop. (The uncredited role of the Vice Cop was done as a favor to director Alain Patrick by his friend Gary Kent).

Blue Money (1972) Thai Version
Blue Money (1972) Thai Version

 BEHIND THE SCENES The story is told in a “mockumentary” style, with a voice-over narration from the Vice Squad police officer (Bob Chinn) describing black-and-white stills and video footage (in the fictional film stated as coming from the police investigation surveillance films). Some of those involved in the project also worked on a number of other films, such as the two leads, Alain Patrick, who worked on over 26 other film and television projects, such as Time Tunnel, Harry O, and Ironside; and, Barbara Caron (Barbara Mills), who performed in The Stewardesses and Executives’ Wives, among her 38 other film projects. As many of those who worked on the film have also worked in the industry the film portrays, the movie itself is a quasi-documentary.

The Stepmother (1972)

Returning home late one night from a business trip to Mexico, architect Frank Delgado finds the car of wealthy client Alan Richmond in his driveway. Suspecting that his wife Margo and Richmond are having an affair, Frank attacks Richmond when he steps outside and strangles him to death. Although stunned by his action, Frank drives Richmond’s body to the beach and, using a spade he brought from his home, buries the body in the sand. As he finishes the burial, Frank overhears a nearby, young, Latin couple’s argument escalate into a fight, but drives away without being seen. The next morning as the police receive a report of the discovery of two bodies at the beach, Frank and Margo are awakened by the arrival of Frank’s business partner Dick Hill, his wife Sonya and their friends, pornographic film director Goof and his wife Rita. Although reluctant, the tense Frank agrees to accompany the others to the beach house belonging to Richmond, for whom he and Dick are building another property.

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Stanley (1972)

 SUMMARY

A Seminole Indian and Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome uses his cold-blooded companions to seek vengeance against the people who killed his father in this horrific frightener from director William Grefe. Tim Ochopee (Chris Robinson) has been deeply scarred by his battlefield experiences. Upon finishing his tour of duty and returning to his home in the Everglades, all Tim wants is to live peacefully in the wilderness with his pet snake “Stanley.” Upon discovering that his father has been killed under suspicious circumstances, however, Tim finds Stanley a mate and begins breeding the pair. Before long, Tim has a shack full of hungry snakes just waiting for a decent meal. That meal comes when Tim decides to sick his slithering friends in slimy snakeskin manufacturer Richard Thompkins (Alex Rocco). Infuriated that Tim would refuse his offer to purchase the snakes and transform them into tacky apparel, Thompkins hires a psychotic hitman (Paul Avery) to put the snake-loving vet in the ground. But Thompkins and his volatile gun for hire have underestimated the unusual bond that Tim shares with his snakes. Now, as Tim and his serpents come out to play, the poison begins to flow and the screaming starts.

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BEHIND THE SCENES

Crown’s biggest success of the early ‘70s was STANLEY (1972), which was basically a Seminole Indian version of WILLARD (1971), but with snakes instead of rats. Again, Grefe came up with the idea while looking through Variety.  After reading that WILLARD was the biggest grossing independent horror film up to that time, he “went to bed that night thinking animal movies were maybe the next big trend,” Grefe explains.  “And I literally dreamed STANLEY from beginning to end.” Grefe told Red Jacobs the story, said he could make it for $125,000, and finally Red shook his hand and said, “You’ve got a deal.” Red had to get the movie in theaters by April 15, and here it was November 1st, and Grefe didn’t even have a script. He called a writer friend, Gary Crutcher, got together on a Friday, wrote out every scene on a legal pad, handed the pages to Crutcher and said, “I gotta have a screenplay of this in Miami by Tuesday morning!” Crutcher stayed up for 48 hours writing the script, sent it by FedEx that Monday, and Grefe got it in Miami that Tuesday. STANLEY began principal photography on December 1, wrapped right before Christmas, and was indeed in theaters by April 15. Grefe recalls, “It opened in L.A. against THE GODFATHER (1972), which made $181,000 in L.A. – and STANLEY made $175,000!” Red liked STANLEY so much that he wanted to do a sequel, so he hired Crutcher to write a treatment.  “He paid me $750, which was nothing to sneeze at in those days,” says Crutcher.  “It was called STANLEY IN MIAMI.  I had the snakes invade Miami, and instead of a Seminole man as the lead character there was going to be a Seminole woman played by Jenifer Bishop.  She even came to one of the STANLEY screenings dressed as an Indian to promote it.  Well, Mark [Crown International Vice President] Tenser shot down the whole thing.  He told Red, ‘No one ever makes money with sequels,’ and that was the end of it.”

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” In one scene Stanley kills Rocco’s character by filling his pool with poisonous snakes. Rocco refused to jump in the pool with live snakes. “So I said. ‘OK, Alex. I got these rubber snakes, we’ll do a lot of quick shots and fix it in the editing room. I got three handlers and they each had four (real) snakes, two in each hand. I had them hiding behind the building (by the pool). When Alex made his dive off the pool, we hit him with twelve real snakes.” In the release print the shot freeze-frames on a snake point of view of Alex in mid-air. There is real fear on his face. In the editing room “we were listening to the soundtrack and the minute we hit him with the snakes….he yells out, ‘GREFE! YOU DIRTY SON OF A BITCH!’

Santee (1973)Santee (1973)

Jody Deakes joins up with his father after many years, just to discover that his dad is part of an outlaw gang on the run from a relentless bounty hunter named Santee. Jody is orphaned soon after Santee catches up to the gang, and follows Santee in hopes of taking vengeance for his father’s death. Instead, however, Jody discovers that Santee is a good and loving man, tormented by the death of his young son at the hands of another outlaw gang. Santee and his wife take Jody in and a father and son relationship begins to grow. Then the gang that shot Santee’s son shows up. The film was produced by Edward Platt of Get Smart fame.

Jacobs’ daughter, Marilyn J. Tenser, and her husband, Mark Tenser, became more involved as Crown executives at the start of the 1970s.  “Mark knew dollars and cents but creatively he wasn’t that strong,” Crutcher says.  “Red, on the other hand, was very good in all departments.” However, one department the Tensers excelled in was acquisitions.  “I’d say they looked at six or seven films a week,” remembers Crutcher, who worked closely with the couple during the production of STANLEY (1972) and SUPERCHICK (1973).  “They brought me in to see everything they screened for consideration.  I saw a film with Lyle Waggoner in it called LOVE ME DEADLY (1973), which was about necrophilia.  Another one I saw with them was LITTLE LAURA AND BIG JOHN (1973), which they actually ended up distributing.  I thought it was pretty good, but when the lights came up I could see they weren’t a bit impressed by it.  I told them it had a unique setting in the Everglades and that I liked the vintage cars and Karen Black, but they were ho-hum about it, and that’s why I was surprised later when I found out they had acquired it.  I don’t think that was my doing at all though.  They probably got a good price on it.” Sometimes filmmakers would screen incomplete movies for Crown in an attempt to interest Jacobs in putting up the funds needed to complete the pictures.

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Little Laura and Big John (1973)

SUMMARY Little Laura and Big John is a 1973 American feature film about the exploits of the Ashley gang in the Florida everglades in the 1910s and 1920s. Loosely based on the true story about Laura Upthegrove and John Ashley. Laura’s mother, Emma Upthegrove tells the story of her daughter and John Ashley. John goes into a life of crime after he accidentally shoots an Indian.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Plans to make the film were announced in 1968 by Luke Moberly, who owned a studio near Fort Lauderdale. Costumes were borrowed from the Martin County Historical Society. By February 1969 it was announced that Fabian and Karen Black were to play the leads. Filming began 10 March 1969 on location in Stuart, Florida, in and around Martin County, and at Moberly Film Studios in Fort Lauderdale. The budget had been raised by Lou Wiethe. Additional footage was later shot, including filming a nude scene at the public beach at the House of Refuge in Martin County.

The original title of the film was The True Story of the Ashley-Mobley Gang. Then it was Too Soon to Laugh, Too Late to Cry before becoming Little Laura and Big John.The film marked the first time Fabian was credited as “Fabian Forte. Crown International bought the rights to the movie which was not released until 1973.

Producer Marilyn J. Tenser and Mark Tenser, on the set of SUPERCHICK (1973)
Producer Marilyn J. Tenser and Mark Tenser, on the set of SUPERCHICK (1973)

John Burrows came up with an idea based on THE CAPTAIN’S PARADISE (1953),” says Crutcher.  “That was a movie with Alec Guinness as a ship captain who went back and forth between two lives and two wives.  He had Celia Johnson in Gibraltar who could cook up the kippers and Yvonne De Carlo in Tangiers who could kick up the capers.  Tony Randall bought the stage rights and had a hit with it as a musical called OH, CAPTAIN!  Anyway, Burrows thought of doing it with a stewardess having layovers in New York, Miami and L.A.  So I wrote a script and it was announced in the trades as SUPERGIRL, but Warner Brothers quickly contacted Crown and said ‘You can’t call it that.  We own the rights to Supergirl.’  So we changed it to SUPERCHICK, and right about that time Ross Hagen started a movie about cockfighting called SUPERCHICKEN.  Crown told him he couldn’t use that because it was too close to SUPERCHICK, so he changed his title to SUPERCOCK (1975).”  Crutcher pauses for a moment, and then adds, “We thought for sure that John Holmes was gonna call him about that, but he never did.”

“I really became involved with the Crown bunch during the casting of SUPERCHICK,” Crutcher says.  “It took nine months to cast that movie!  They had every beautiful young actress in town come in and read for it.  Rene Bond auditioned.  I fell madly in love with her, but she wouldn’t have made a good Superchick at all.  Roberta Collins auditioned, and she would’ve made a great Superchick.  We went to her place on Holloway and she opened the door in hot pants and boots, a cutoff with no bra, and one of those belts with the hand clasps right under the belly button – man, was she hot!  Well, Mark Tenser just froze when she got near him.  She did the whole audition and afterward he said, ‘She’s not right for it.  Let’s keep looking.’  I couldn’t believe it!”

SUPERCHICK screenwriter Gary Crutcher with Mark Tenser
SUPERCHICK screenwriter Gary Crutcher with Mark Tenser

“So in comes Joyce Jillson and her husband, who was an executive at Universal.  She sits on Mark’s lap and says in a baby voice, ‘Oh, I know I can do this part, daddy, I know I can!  Just give me the chance, daddy!’  Mark’s laughing away, ‘Oh well, shucks, oh-ho-ho!’  And he gave her the part!”  Crutcher wasn’t happy at all with the casting of Jillson.  “I couldn’t stand her.  She agreed to do the nudity, did one little scene, and then halfway through refused to do any more unless she got paid extra.  Well, they paid her more money, but she still raised all kinds of hell about it, so they brought in a body double to do more nudity, and the double turned out to be problem as well.  She kept saying, ‘Why don’t you show my face?’  We tried to explain to her, ‘You’re supposed to be Joyce Jillson.  If we show your face, then where will we be?’  But she still didn’t get it.  We finally said, ‘Look, we just need your body!’ and then she started screaming and crying.  It was awful.  But the movie came out and was a hit.  STANLEY did better, but SUPERCHICK did very well.”

Superchick (1973)

Tara B. True is a flight attendant who makes a weekly swing through New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. In each city, she has a man: Edward, older and wealthy; Johnny, a beach bum with gambling debts; and, Davey, a rock musician on the cusp of success. Tara is a free spirit, faithful to each man in her own way, and so stunning that she dresses in a wig and ill-fitting uniform while she’s working so men won’t harass her constantly. The low-life whom Johnny is in debt to figures out a way to use Tara to help him execute a daring in-flight robbery. But will Tara stand by helplessly, or is superchick ready for action?

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Policewomen (1974) Nail-tough but beautiful female undercover cops use their considerable martial arts skills to defeat a vicious gang of gold smugglers in this actioner.

Policewomen is a 1974 exploitation film about a female police officer who infiltrates an all-female criminal gang. The film was written and directed by Lee Frost, and stars Sondra Currie, Tony Young, and Phil Hoover. Despite the fact that the story actually features only one female police officer, the film’s title was pluralized and formed into one word because the title Police Woman was already in use by an NBC TV series whose pilot was scheduled to premiere one month after this film’s release.

“So I had two hits for Crown under my belt and I thought I was all set up,” Crutcher goes on to say.  “I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m the member of a moviemaking stock company now!  What do we do next?’  They said, ‘We’d like to do an action piece about policewomen.’  So I got another $750 for a treatment called POLICEWOMEN.  It was about a female police officer who worked in the K-9 unit.  Her partner was a dog that sniffed out drugs.  Unfortunately, the dog was an addict.  It would sniff out the drugs and then eat them.  They made a lot of arrests, but the dog was always so stoned that it didn’t know what it was doing.  For instance, whenever she’d turn the siren on, the dog would start howling along with it ‘cause it knew it was about to get some drugs.  Finally, the dog OD’d, and I had the same gag that Cheech and Chong later used in UP IN SMOKE (1978), where the dog’s flat on its back with its legs in the air.  Anyway, the dog’s death is terrible publicity for the police department, so they make all their dogs take drug tests.  Meanwhile, the policewoman falls in love with a dealer…”

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Crutcher pauses for a beat.  “…and then suddenly, two fuckheads appeared on the scene, one named Lee Frost and the other named Wes Bishop.  They told Mark, ‘We’ve got an idea for POLICEWOMEN that will actually work,’ and before I knew it, they’d taken over the film.  They invited me out to a party they were throwing at their place, way out in the valley, and they knew at the time they were sticking the knives in my back.  They were the biggest bunch of phonies.  Wes sat by a fireplace the whole time playing a guitar and singing folk songs, and then this nude girl came in and sat on my lap and started reading Rod McKuen poems out of a book!  I remember thinking ‘What the fuck am I doing here?’  A few days later, Mark did a FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973) on me  took me out to a football game, the Rams at the Coliseum, and kicked me off the film.  Remember when they took Eddie Coyle to the hockey game?  At least they fed him!  I didn’t even get a meal out of Mark!  And then at halftime he said, ‘Let’s go.’  ‘Let’s go?  Shit, I wanna see the other two quarters!’  So that was the end of me at Crown International.  I was crushed.  Man, I didn’t know what the hell I was gonna do — ‘til I wound up working at Columbia and raking in $125,000 a year for half the work I was doing at Crown!”  Crutcher lets out a laugh, and then adds, “I never spoke to them again.  It’s been 40 years.”

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FILM SPOTLIGHT  Horror High (1973)

Horror High (1973)

SUMMARY

A nerdy high school super whiz experiments with a chemical which will transform his guinea pig “Mr. Mumps” from a gentle pet into a ravenous monster. In a fit of rage against his tormentors at the high school, Vernon Potts (Pat Cardi) goes on a killing spree, eliminating all of those who ever picked on him – the Gym Coach, the School Jock, The Creepy Janitor (Mr. Griggs) & his hated teacher, Ms. Grindstaff. In the end he gets the jock’s girlfriend for himself but his happiness is short-lived as the potion turns him into a monster hunted by the towns lame police Lieutenant

 Another horror flick that became a big late night TV favorite was 1974’s HORROR HIGH, a teenage Jekyll and Hyde story, where Vernon Potts, a nerdy kid who’s good at science, played by Pat Cardi. Potts invents a formula that turns him into a monster, and in his altered state, he gets violent revenge on the teachers and jocks who bully him. HORROR HIGH was a very low budget (under $100,000) extravaganza shot in Texas, and the makers of the film had connections to the Dallas Cowboys, which is why the film features the NFL greats Mean Joe Greene, Roger Staubach, and Calvin Hill. Cardi was a child actor who started in 1959.  He was on a TV series IT’S ABOUT TIME (CBS, 1966-1967) with Imogene Coca, and also starred in William Castle’s LET’S KILL UNCLE (1966).  When Cardi was coming up, he competed for roles with the young Kurt Russell, Jeff Bridges, and The Livingston Brothers, and by the time he hit 18 or so, he wasn’t getting roles because of the competition. (Cardi also admits he wasn’t that good of an actor.) Then the call came in about HORROR HIGH. Cardi read some scenes with producer Jim Graham and director Larry Stouffer, they glanced at his credit sheet, realized he had some legit credits and wouldn’t ask for a ton of money, and hired him on the spot. “And I think I had the look they were looking for,” Cardi says. “I don’t think there was a lot of sophisticated thought that went into it.”

 HORROR HIGH was shot in Texas the same time Brian De Palma was filming PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974).  “My career was just going in the toilet, and when HORROR HIGH came around, I was down on my luck. When I landed in Texas, and they told me they were doing it in 16mm and it cost (about) $100,000, that night I took a good, long look at myself in the mirror and said, ‘Acting’s over!  I’m not doing this anymore!’” Where HORROR HIGH is definitely great, low budget late night schlock, it’s also surprisingly poignant because there’s a love story at its core. Potts is in love with Robin Jones, played by Rosie Holotik, who also starred in the low budget Texas horror classic, DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (1973).  Robin is dating one of Vernon’s jock tormentors, Roger Davis (Mike McHenry), but begins falling in love with Vernon in spite of his geekiness.  At the end, she’s horrified to learn he’s the monster doing all the recent murders, and is devastated when he’s finally gunned down by the police.

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 HORROR HIGH has a funky ‘70’s rock score that was inspired by The Edgar Winter Group. Cardi says initially Stouffer wanted to use traditional ‘30’s horror music when he’s chasing Holotik down the high school halls. Then Cardi gave Larry a copy of Winter’s They Only Come Out at Night album, featuring his signature tune “Frankenstein,” and said, “This is the music we want. Play this with the scene and take a look at it. It’s gotta be more modern. I used to have an 8-track of the music and played it in my car all the time!” HORROR HIGH also co-stars Austin Stoker (best known now from John Carpenter’s 1976 film ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13), as a police lieutenant investigating the killings. “I knew Austin was professional because he was one of the only people on the set that actually knew how pictures were made,” says Cardi. “I felt like we were constantly training everybody else. Austin knew his lines, he was very willing to work, and he was somebody I looked up to on the set. I felt like I was on an island, and finally somebody threw me a life-raft and there was Austin.” In one especially memorable scene, Vernon transforms and stomps his hard-ass gym teacher to death wearing cleats. As Stoker recalls, “I used to run track myself, and I thought ‘There’s no way you could kill somebody with these spikes! They’re not even sprinter’s spikes!’  But that movie was fun to do. The people on it were wonderful.”

 

 When Mean Joe Greene shoots Vernon at the end of the film, he falls to the ground as his shotgun goes off, an accident that was kept in the film. Greene was so pissed by his gaffe that he smashed the shotgun on the side of the building. “Probably the largest major expense of the film!” says Cardi with a laugh. As far as having the film come out through Crown, Cardi has mixed feelings. “I think they got a good job of getting it out there,” he says, although he clearly didn’t see much money from the company.  Crown re-released HORROR HIGH under the title KISS THE TEACHER GOODBYE and sold it to TV as TWISTED BRAIN.  Cardi says, “I wasn’t sure if they were trying different names, or if they were trying to keep us from knowing where it was playing!  The money thing sucks, but the fact is they got a lot of exposure for the film. I have kind of a minor fan base because of it, apparently it struck a chord with people, and I think it’s cool there are people out there that like this movie.”

 horrorhighcaps_002Interview with actor Pat (Vernon Potts) Cardi

 What attracted you to the role of Vernon Potts in Horror High?

Pat Cardi: Well, at that point I had been on well over a hundred interviews. I’d gotten many, many callbacks. A few on-set readings. And a few parts where the funding just dropped out before we got to film. What attracted me to the role of Vernon Potts was getting paid. (Laughs.) It didn’t hurt that it was a starring role and I got to play a monster.

 Did you audition for Vernon?

Pat Cardi: Yes, I did. They told me in that first audition that they wanted me for the part. It seemed like it was too good to be true. Larry Stouffer (the director) and James Graham (the producer) appeared very professional to me, and independent films were coming in vogue at the time so I was happy to be on board.

 Had you been a horror fan before you accepted the part?

Pat Cardi: Yes, I had been a fan of all the horror films. You know, the Hammer films, William Castle’s movies, Roger Corman’s. I could only hope this would be as good.

The film had a two-week shooting schedule, which is fast for even a low-budget movie like this. Was that difficult?

Pat Cardi: Actually, the more difficult part was that I was just coming into the “Former Child Actor Syndrome” phase of my life. I had discovered pot and beer, and had liberally self-medicated at every available occasion. I was anesthetizing myself against the degradation of not being a part of the starlight anymore, and seeing my career plummeting to new depths. I had been revisiting my old producers, directors, co-stars, casting people. Because I had grown up and was no longer the cute child prodigy, they just had no idea who or what I was. Most of the time I was on that set, I was stoned. Very unprofessional. I was very sad and confused and had recently fired all the management and agents including my father. And it all just all drifted away.

 In what year was this filmed exactly?

Pat Cardi: I think it was 1972 or 1973. I don’t remember much about those two years.

 Tell us about working with director Larry Stouffer.

Pat Cardi: Larry was a good director. I had worked with a lot of Hollywood directors, and he was a natural. He took command of the set well, and helped the actors through the script. He was very attached to all of us, and very specific with his directions. He should have come to Hollywood and stayed. I think a few more of those little films might have helped him make it to the top. He was aware of what I was going through at the time, but didn’t mention it at all until we were finished with the shoot.

 The shooting was done in Irving, Texas. Is that right?

Pat Cardi: Yes, the entire film was shot in Irving.

 What kind of budget did Horror High have?

Pat Cardi: I think the budget was under $100,000. Or maybe even under $75,000. It was shot in 16mm on an Éclair. A Bolex was used for the special effects shots, and an old wind-up Kodak Cine Special II was used for the slow motion.

 There are several well-done murder sequences. What was your favorite? The death-by-cleats?

Pat Cardi: The death-by-cleats was certainly one. But I did like the janitor-in-a-drum who takes an acid bath. And the paper cutter through Miss Grindstaff’s neck. What eleventh grader hasn’t thought about doing that?

 Do you recall if anything was cut out from those murder scenes?

Pat Cardi: At the time, we did much more graphic versions of those murders. When Crown bowed down to the wishes of Jack Valenti (and his scene-cutting film terrorists at the MPAA) those shots were excised from the negative.

 We hate to hear of this kind of censorship.

Pat Cardi: I have a print of the original 16mm director’s cut from the A/B roll in my possession. This includes mistakes in the cutting that resulted in the slate showing up twice, and some non-synced shots at those points. That was the print that was originally shown to Jack Valenti and the MPAA rating board. It was rated X for violence. We didn’t recut the film, and had a hard time getting distributors to look at it because it was rated X and everyone I talked to said it was not their cup of tea, based on the description and the rating. Even AIP wouldn’t look at it. I know I protested the rating, citing several other films at the time that passed with PG and R that had excessive violence. But there was no response. I believe the version that Crown cut together was re-rated by the MPAA and may well have gotten a PG. 

TWISTED-BRAIN How did you film the transformation sequences?

Pat Cardi: We didn’t. There was no money for transformation, and this is a sacred part of the process that I think was missing from Horror High. I guess they just couldn’t afford it.

I offered to stay in Dallas another week so that we could play with it, but they were plenty done with me by then. So, no transformation effects – just several shots back and forth between me and the victim. Foam rubber was added to my shirt and pants, and crepe hair glued to my face and hands for each successive shot. Folks still liked it.

 

The Sister-in-Law (1974) Robert and Edward are brothers involved in a web of adultry and deceit. They share Edward’s wife and his mistress and a mission to deliver a package of jewels across the Canadian border, but the mission turns out to be deadly.

The Sister-in-Law (1974)2
Robert Strong (John Savage), a singer-songwriter who has been traveling the country, makes a mistake when he goes to visit his brother, Edward (Will MacMillan), and gets involved with his bored sister-in-law, Joanna (Anne Saxon). Robert and his brother’s mistress, Deborah Holt (Meridith Baer), try to help his brother get away from working in drug smuggling. It may or may not be a mistake, which turns out deadly.

The Sister-in-Law (1974)

BEHIND THE SCENES
Feature film debut of Anne Saxon, who plays the titular sister-in-law. This is also the only known film appearance by Ms. Saxon. There has been some speculation that she used an assumed name while making the film. John Savage who starred as the principle lead in this film also provided much of the music. He wrote and performed three original songs for the film. Michael Ruben: close family member of the film’s director, writer, and producer Joseph Ruben appears as the young son of Edward and Joanna Strong.

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The Teacher (1974) American coming-of-age erotic suspense film, written, produced, and directed by Hickmet Avedis (also known as Howard Avedis) in just twelve days for an estimated $65,000 and released by Crown International Pictures. The film is Hickmet Avedis’ grindhouse homage to The Graduate (1967).

The film stars Angel Tompkins, Jay North, and Anthony James, and tells the story of an 18-year-old’s first relationship with his alluring teacher, and the hidden danger awaiting them in the shadows. The film is daring in its narrative structure and ludicrous in the extreme. Its part leering soft-core sex romp, part tender coming-of-age drama, part stalk-and-chill suspenser, the movie’s mismatched parts come together to form a surreal and laughable whole. It is summer, and obsessed Ralf Gordon (Anthony James) stalks a high-school teacher, 28-year-old Diane Marshall (Angel Tompkins). He watches her from an old warehouse while she is relaxing in her swimsuit on one of the boats. One of Diane’s students, 18-year-old Sean Roberts (Jay North) and Ralf’s younger brother Lou (Rudy Herrera, Jr.), also watch her strip naked and exercise. An angry Ralf yells at them, brandishing a bayonet. Shocked at this, Lou falls over the railing to his death, for which Ralf falsely blames Sean.

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                                                               Angel Tompkins
Later that night, Ralf confronts Sean again, threatening to cut the boy’s tongue out should he reveal anything. The sheriff questions Sean, who lies due to seeing Ralf eyeing him. The next day, Sean meets with Diane, who invites him to have tea. Diane reveals that she knows about Ralf stalking her. On their way home, Sean and she see Ralf watching them. Diane invites Sean into her house for a drink. This soon escalates into a moment of passionate lovemaking while Ralf, unknown to them, watches jealously.
Diane invites Sean to her boat the next day. Ralf arrives and threatens Sean with a handheld harpoon. However, upon seeing Diane, he flees. Diane later asks Sean to dinner, after which Ralf again threatens him with the bayonet. Diane then tells Sean’s parents about Ralf’s threats. The next day, Sean drives Diane home and they have a pool party together, then make love. Diane receives a phone call from her drifter husband telling her that he is coming back, but Diane tells him she is divorcing him.
As Sean gets into his van to drive home, he is held at bayonet point by Ralf and ordered to drive to the warehouse. Sean manages to get away and arms himself with a rifle, but Ralf reveals that the gun is loaded with blanks. Ralf gets him in a choke-hold, which ends up killing him. Diane arrives on the scene, where Ralf tells her that he killed Sean so he can be with her. A horrified Diane pleads tearfully with him. Ralf, overcome with anger and jealousy at Diane’s love for Sean over himself, tries to strangle her. Diane manages to stab him with his own bayonet and flees crying, leaving Ralf to bleed to death. Diane finds Sean’s body, breaks down and weeps.

Crown wasn’t always quick to cash in on a trend, however.  Their Chinese martial arts pickup KUNG FU MAMA (1974) didn’t reach theaters until a year after Warner Brothers kicked off the kung fu craze with THE FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (1973).

KUNG FU MAMA (1974)

Kung Fu Mama (Shan dong lao niang, aka Queen of Fist) (1974)
After the Boxer from Shantung is murdered by the Shanghai Axe Gang his mother gathers up the rest of her fighting brood and travels to Shanghai to have it out with the axe gang and avenge her son. Fantastic action in the tradition of Boxer from Shangtung and Man of Iron.

Best Friends (1975)

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Mature, stable Jesse, his nutty and impulsive longtime best friend Pat, Jesse’s caring fiancé Kathy, and Pat’s fragile gal pal Jo Ella all decide to embark on a cross country road trip in a Winnebago prior to facing the challenges of encroaching adulthood. Relationships between everyone become increasingly strained as things take a turn for the worse and the journey turns into a severely bum trip for everyone involved.

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Susanne Benton Gallery

The Specialist (1975) Adam West stars in The Specialist as Jerry Bounds, an upright crusader standing up against the water company’s efforts to exploit a local lake. John Anderson plays his opponent, Pike Smith, who at the start of the film smashes the glass out of a door at Bounds’ law firm, to prove that “Nobody crosses Pike Smith and profits by it!”

The Specialist (1975)

Pick-up (1975) Two young women, free spirit Carol (Jill Senter) and introverted Maureen (Gini Eastwood) are hitchhiking when they’re picked up by Chuck (Alan Long) in his mobile home. They disappear into the Florida Everglades where they have various symbolic experiences.

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The company’s lone foray into the so-called blaxploitation movement WELCOME HOME, BROTHER CHARLES (1975) was also late to the party, but more than made up for its tardiness with an abundance of raw style, rich subtext and jaw-dropping chutzpah.  “This is the first black picture that Crown has been associated with and I consider it one of the most important black pictures to appear on the market,” Mark Tenser told Boxoffice magazine, describing the film as “a gutsy picture” that presented “a side of life which white middle-class America seldom sees, but it is a way of life black America knows well and can see every day of the week in any inner-city community.”  An audacious UCLA film school project by a then 33-year-old undergraduate named Jamaa Fanaka, this treatise on African-American male sexuality dispensed with the post-SHAFT (1971) “super spade” clichés and focused instead on an average citizen of Watts named Charles Murray (Marlo Monte), who’s nearly castrated by a racist cop during a marijuana bust and railroaded into prison by a corrupt judge.  Emerging three years later with newly discovered powers, Charles proceeds to take murderous revenge on the guilty parties who put him behind bars.  However, the deadly weapon he uses isn’t a gun or a knife but his own “shaft,” which holds hypnotic power over women and can extend to 10 feet or more and strangle his enemies!  Tenser intended to showcase Fanaka’s freshman effort at film festivals but ended up not even screening it for critics during the initial release, making it one of the most underexposed oddities on the exploitation circuit for many years. 

Soul Vengeance a.k.a. Welcome Home Brother Charles (1975)

After being released, a wrongfully imprisoned black man exacts vengeance on those who’ve crossed him via the power of his newly sentient penis, which may or may not be the result of an experiment gone wrong.

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Hustler Squad (1975) World War II: Allied Command learns that in 60 days three Japanese generals and an admiral party at a bordello on a tiny Philippine island. It’s fortified and hard to attack, so a creative, cynical major gets the assignment to figure something else. With the help of Paco, a Filipino guerrilla leader, the major devises a plan to put four women assassins among the prostitutes. He must recruit and train them, convince his general that an unarmed woman can best a man, and get them on the island. The rest is up to them. An imprisoned killer, a nurse with a fatal disease, a chippie on the lamb from the mob, and a Filipina whom the Japanese assaulted are his team. Can they do it?

Las Vegas Lady (1975)Las Vegas Lady (1975)

In Las Vegas, Lucky and two of her girlfriends, Carol and Lisa, plan to steal half a million dollars from the sadistic manager of the Circus Circus Casino. A shadowy man is their contact and organizer. Each of the women could be a weak link in a scheme that has to be flawless: Lucky’s boyfriend is a security officer at the casino, Lisa is a trapeze artist who’s now plagued with vertigo, and Carol is in debt to a nasty thug – plus, as a Black woman, she’s subject to additional harassment. Can the gals pull off the heist, or is the plan, with its mysterious organizer, too complicated to succeed?

Trip with the Teacher (1975)Trip with the Teacher (1975) Four teen-age girls (along with their teacher and bus driver) from Los Angeles are on a field trip in the desert. On the way to their destination their bus breaks down. While stranded they are approached by three bikers. When Jay (one of the bikers) tries to help the bus driver, the other two bikers start to harass the four girls. As soon as the teacher (Miss Tenny) observes this, she immediately defends the girls, however, is assaulted for her interruption. After a few scuffles the group of bikers decide to help the stranded bunch and tow them to a remote cabin, with less than good intentions in store. Another altercation ensues, when Al’s promise to take them to safety is now obviously broken. Almost as soon as the bus driver (Marvin) steps in, he is run over and killed by Al and his brother, Pete. To keep everyone quiet, Al and Pete holds everyone hostage in the abandoned cottage near the murder site.

Land of the Minotaur (1976) 

The Devil’s Men/Land of the Minotaur (1976) Tourists visiting a Greek archaeological site are being abducted by a strange cult, intent on providing their God – the Minotaur – with sacrifice. Irish priest Father Roche (Donald Pleasence) enlists the help of former pupil and a private detective to find out what has happened to them.

Death Riders (1976) Documentary goes on the road with state fair daredevils.

Satan’s Slave (1976) A young girl is caught up in a devil cult run by her evil uncle and cousin. She can trust no one and even people she thought were dead comes back to haunt her.

THE POM POM GIRLS, THE VAN, VAN NUYS BOULEVARD, MALIBU HIGH

As with many drive-in companies, T&A was often Crown’s bread and butter, and they released a number of box-office hits in the horny teen subgenre, most of which were surprisingly less raunchy than similar picture from the competition.  In fact, they often had more in common with the beach party pictures of the sixties, just with more nudity, customized vans and ‘70s AM Gold soundtracks.  The runaway success of Joseph Ruben’s sexy high school comedy THE POM POM GIRLS in 1976 inspired this further streamlining of the Crown formula, with youth pictures like THE VAN (1977), MALIBU BEACH (1978), VAN NUYS BLVD. (1979) and THE BEACH GIRLS (1982) becoming the company’s biggest breadwinners for the next several years.  It also stirred up more bad feelings between Crown and AIP; THE POM POM GIRLS was so successful — grossing more than $18 million by the start of ’77 — that Sam Arkoff and his son Louis, a fledgling producer, took notice and lured Ruben away from Crown to direct a trio of teen-oriented movies for them: JOYRIDE (1977), OUR WINNING SEASON (1978) and GORP (1980).

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 FILM SPOTLIGHT The Pom Pom Girls (1976) 

SUMMARY

Guys go crazy for the gals cheering on the home team in this raunchy teen comedy from the Seventies. It’s football season at Rosedale High, and Johnny (Robert Carradine) and Jesse (Michael Mullins) are eager to lead the school’s team to victory. But while Coach Hartmann (Robert Gammon) wants to put the team on the right track, his abusive methods and obnoxious attitude are turning some of the players against him. Meanwhile, the guys on the team are just as interested in making time with the girls on the cheerleading squad as they are in scoring touchdowns, and Johnny starts dating Laurie (Jennifer Ashley), much to the annoyance of her former boyfriend Duane (Bill Adler), a thick-headed tough guy. Meanwhile, the Rosedale High team is gearing up for their annual game with cross town rivals Hardin High by launching a battle of pranks, which reaches its peak when the Rosedale guys steal a fire engine.

 

BEHIND THE SCENES

 The Pom Pom Girls was conceived by Marilyn Tenser, an executive at Crown International Pictures. Tenser held that box office success for a date movie hinged on the appeal the film had for high school girls and young women living in small-town America. While it would be designed as a picture both sexes would want to see, the Crown executive believed that females ultimately decided what movie a couple would attend. For The Pom Pom Girls, the idea was to create a film that was somewhat titillating — and thus interesting to high school boys and young men, but not so raunchy that it would offend their dates — as well as one that explored teen romance and female friendships. Common teenage behavior like hanging out, goofing off, and acting disobedient, as well as various outdoor and, ahem, indoor activities would appeal to both sexes.Tenser had the marketing materials produced first (a common practice in exploitation cinema), which were then handed off to scriptwriters Robert Rosenthal and Joseph Ruben (Ruben also directed the picture).

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  Interview with actress Jennifer (Laurie )Ashley

You got your first big, meaty role in 1976’s teen cheerleading comedy THE POM POM GIRLS. Now that was quite a big success when it first came out, wasn’t it?

Jennifer Ashley: Let me tell you this I got so many offers to do low budget movies after The Centerfold Girls (1974) came out in theaters. I don’t think THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS was a huge hit but it certainly made money and people saw me in it. But after THE POM POM GIRLS it went crazy for me! With that one it was just insane, (laughs) Sometimes I had to turn down a whole bunch of offers. It was mainly the same type of films cheerleaders and stuff… that was a big genre back then. Films like THE POM POM GIRLS were playing at drive-in cinemas and making a whole lot of money. Young people flocked to that film…

Did you get to see the movie with a drive- in audience?

Ashley: Well, I liked to see the audience react to the films I was in so I would always try and see them in theatres rather than at the drive-in. But I went to the Cannes Film Festival with THE POM POM GIRLS and it was orazy out there too! It went down so well in France and I began to be recognized on the streets of Cannes, which was quite funny.

Had you seen any of the cheerleading movies that came out before THE POM POM GIRLS such as THE CHEERLEADERS and THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS?

Ashley: No, I had never seen any of these. I did not even know about them at the time. However, when I was interviewed for THE POM POM GIRLS I knew it was going to be a worthwhile project. I did not know that it was following in the footsteps of other things. I knew it was going to be good, though, because of the director. Joe Ruben. He is a very talented guy and he wrote a very funny script. Plus, they had Robert Carradine attached to it and there was a special chemistry between the four leads in the movie. But even though I knew it was going to be entertaining, I didn’t expect it would be a big hit.

Your character Laurie is the silent sex bomb in THE POM POM GIRLS. How did this resemble your personality at the time, if at all?

Ashley: Yeah, Laurie was the virgin cheerleader and I was actually like that in high school. She was shy and innocent. She went with the crowd but was always soft spoken and that was what I was like too. The part was not much of a stretch for me at all. However. I am not one for swimming in the ocean, but we had to do that in one sequence, and I think you can tell — if you look closely — that I am not really enjoying myself, (laughs) I also had to roll down a hill, for what rea- son I cannot remember, and I didn’t want to do that either. It was this big dirty hill, you know? But for years aftenwards we were still hanging out together — the cast of that film was very, very close, it was a great time in my life.

You mentioned being surprised by the film’s success. When did you first realize it was becoming a hit?

Ashley: Well, everybody loved it at the first screenings I went to so I sort of knew then… There was so much laughter and an insane amount of clapping. Dustin Hoffman actually saw it and called me in to read for a part and Bruce Springsteen told people at his concerts to go and see it. I look back at that now and realize how funny it all was.

Where did you shoot THE POM POM GIRLS?

Ashley: The beach that we are all cheerleading on during the opening credits was in Malibu, and it was beautiful, and then we worked at Chatsworth High School for the rest of it. We did a lot of the scenes in the locker room, and inside the class- rooms, just at a normal high school. Joe Ruben let us be very creative. For instance, I love apples. I eat a lot of apples, and I asked him if I could do that onscreen — just because I related to the character and wanted to bring some of my own ticks to her. That is also why she chews gum. He went for all of that. That was the first movie where I was allowed to bring my own ideas to the table.

Your POM POM GIRLS co-star, the cult starlet Rainbeaux Smith, had also been in THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS and was beginning to make a name for herself back then. Can you share some memories of her?

Ashley: I remember finding out Rainbeux Smith died and I was so shocked. We never really kept in touch. But who knew about her problems back then? I didn’t know. She was like a little baby. She was very innocent. I did keep up with a lot of the cast though but I haven’t seen Lisa Reeves or Susan Player for a long time. I don’t know if they are even working anymore. We used to have parties at my house back then and Bobby Carradine’s entire family would show up I got to know them all.

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Death Machines (1976) An evil Oriental Dragon Lady injects three martial arts fighters with a serum that turns them into zombie-like assassins, and she sends them out against her enemies.

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The Van (1977) The day he graduates high school, Bobby takes ownership of a tricked-out van that’s like a bachelor pad on wheels. He’s disappointed, however, to see that his best friend—who has better luck with the ladies—makes more use out of it than he does. He soon meets a shy girl and falls for her, but before he can win her heart, he has to win a drag race against a local bully.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Production on The Van began on November 8, 1976, with locations in Moorpark, Whittier, Stanton, and Malibu, California. Legendary car customizer George Barris was commissioned to build two “Straight Arrow” Dodge D300 extended-length Tradesman vans, with one being the primary picture car, and a backup that was used for all stunt driving scenes. An additional van, the antagonist’s “Van Killer,” was built by Barris as well, while the vans in the “van show” sequence were all various local Southern California customs.

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The Van (1977) cashed in on the customized van craze with a soundtrack that included Sammy Johns’ hit single from 1975, the million-selling “Chevy Van” (Pop #5).  Released during the days of the “love machine” custom painted vans with water beds and state of the art eight-track sound systems THE VAN  stars Stuart Goetz, now a successful music editor, as Bobby, a teen trying to get lucky and make money racing his customized Dodge.  The poster’s tag line was, “Bobby couldn’t make it…till he went fun-truckin’!”

Original VHS cover art for the movie The Van(1977) This was painted in 1987
Original VHS cover art for the movie The Van(1977) This was painted in 1987

(THE VAN was also one of Danny De Vito’s first big screen acting roles before he finally broke through with the popular sitcom TAXI.) MALIBU BEACH (1978) was a sequel to THE VAN, but arguably the best of the lot was VAN NUYS BLVD., which Crown released in 1979.  Bill Adler, a supporting actor in THE POM POM GIRLS and THE VAN, stars as Bobby, a kid from a small town looking for action and finding it on Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.  The film is loaded with love machines, street races, a Playboy Playmate or two, disco music, sex, nudity, rollercoasters, go-karts, early low tech video games, and much more.

  

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FILM SPOTLIGHT The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

SUMMARY

In Crater Lake, Northern California, Dr. Richard Calkins is informed by his colleague Dan Turner that he and his girlfriend Susan Patterson have made an incredible discovery in a nearby cave system. The three head down and discover a system of cave drawings, including what appears to be a depiction of people fighting off a Plesiosaurus, thus providing evidence that dinosaurs existed at the same time as humans did. However, a flaming meteorite crashes into the lake just overhead, resulting in a cave-in that destroys the cave system and the drawings, while the three scientists are barely able to escape alive. The local sheriff, Steve Hanson, sees the meteorite crash and radios in the incident before continuing on his patrol.

Several months later, Sheriff Hanson meets with the three scientists to go search for the meteorite. Turner and Patterson dive down to the bottom of the lake, only to find out that the meteorite is still too hot to recover and has resulted in the entire lake becoming significantly warmer than before, rising to approximately ninety degrees. Somewhere else on the lake, a birdwatcher is setting up his equipment when the monster suddenly rises out of the water, moves onto the shore, and kills him.

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Two friends, Arnie Chabot and Mitch Kowalski, running low on money, decide to start a boat rental service. Their first customer is U.S. senator Jack Fuller, who rents a rowboat for a quick fishing trip for $20. However, he is attacked and killed by the monster. Arnie and Mitch see the empty boat drifting in the middle of the lake and go out to retrieve it, finding only some large blood stains inside the boat. They bring the boat back to shore as evidence for the Sheriff. Then the sheriff finds many dead animals, and takes the case.

Some time later, a performer named Ross Conway and his wife Paula are on their way to a show when their car suddenly begins to break down. They stop at a gas station and learn from the mechanic that their car won’t be repaired for several more days. The attendant tells them that the fastest method of transportation at this point is by boat across the lake. The couple heads down to Arnie and Mitch’s dock to rent a motorboat for $25 and head out. While out on the lake, they are attacked by the monster, but manage to outrun it due to the boat’s motor and run it aground. When the monster pursues them onto the shore, Ross empties the can of gasoline into the boat and sets it ablaze, fending off the monster.

Arnie and Mitch, as they walk away from renting the boat out to the couple, begin to argue about their boat-renting service. Mitch claims that he is tired of being bossed around by Arnie, and the two eventually fight. Their scuffle leads to the water, where the two discover the severed head of Fuller floating in the lake just as the Sheriff arrives. As he takes in the head for evidence, he orders them to stay away from the lake, and to not use any more boats. Realizing that the couple from earlier is still out there, Arnie and Mitch head out in another boat to search for them. They eventually discover the charred remains of the motorboat and the distraught couple, both too mortified to explain what happened to them. The couple is taken away in an ambulance, and the Sheriff issues a stern warning for Arnie and Mitch to not head back out onto the lake.

While at the local diner, the Sheriff spots a man who is wanted for armed robbery in the nearest town that killed the clerk and another customer, and quickly pursues him into the forest. After the robber drives his car off a cliff and jumps out, the Sheriff pursues him on foot. The chase eventually leads them down to the shore, where the Sheriff shoots him in the knee, then stops and hides behind a tree to reload. During the brief pause, the monster quickly snatches the robber and drags him under. The Sheriff does not hear it happen, but discovers a large blood stain on a nearby rock. Meanwhile, Calkins’ autopsy report on Fuller’s head comes in, and he tells the Sheriff that the wounds were caused by an animal’s teeth, and the attacking animal is not only of a significant size, but also living in the lake.

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When the Sheriff returns the next day to the location where the robber went missing, he finds several massive footprints before the monster suddenly emerges. He fires all six shots in his revolver at it before jumping in his car and driving away. He tells Calkins, Turner, and Patterson about the incident, and his description of the monster fits that of a Plesiosaurus. While the three scientists are excited at the idea of a living dinosaur in the lake, the Sheriff is determined to kill it before more lives are put at risk.

28155475_160304018108721_689405923898163200_nThe Sheriff, Calkins, Turner, and Patterson host a town meeting in the diner the next day, informing the town of the danger and what they plan to do to stop the monster. Arnie and Mitch ultimately take the scientists’ side in favor of keeping the monster alive, saying it’ll bring in a significant amount of money for the town. However, a man named Ferguson is attacked by the monster and barely manages to make it to safety inside the diner. The Sheriff, Turner, Patterson, Arnie, and Mitch all head outside to confront the monster, which is just outside the barricade of farming vehicles and a wall of hay bails. The Sheriff starts up a bulldozer, but Arnie attempts to stop him at gunpoint, saying that the monster must live. The Sheriff convinces him that nothing will stop the monster without killing it, and Arnie jumps in the back, shotgun at the ready. As the monster draws closer, Arnie panics and attempts to flee, only to be caught and killed by the monster. The Sheriff slams into the monster with the bulldozer, causing it to drop Arnie’s corpse. When it reaches its head down to try to pick up Arnie’s body again, the Sheriff drives the bulldozer forward and repeatedly slams into the monster’s neck, finally killing it. In the aftermath of the battle, the Sheriff, Calkins, Turner, Patterson, and Mitch all mourn Arnie’s death, with Mitch vowing to continue the boat rental service that he and Arnie started, softly repeating “our boats…our boats.”

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BEHIND THE SCENES

THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER is the first feature film by producer/director William R. Stromberg. He began like many of the current generation of filmmakers, grinding out backyard productions as early as age thirteen. Ultimately, he made a 16mm version of Ray Bradbury’s short story, “Sound of Thunder,” complete with animated tyrannosaurus and rudimentary front projection effects. Stromberg worked at Clokey Productions, assisting on several of their DAVEY AND GOLIATH puppet animation TV episodes, and at Cascade (now called CPC) where many dimensional animation commercials have been made. Reacting against the trend toward morbid, “R” rated horror films, Stromberg decided to make a neat little nostalgic kind of monster movie typical of the ’50s. It was scripted with long time close friend, Richard Cardella, who plays the sheriff in the film. Cardella was involved in Stromberg’s earlier filmmaking efforts, and shared the desire to make a simple, family monster movie.

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Interestingly, Stromberg and Cardella’s original script was about a Big Foot monster, but the proliferation of abominable Big Foot movies caused them to veer away from the idea in favor of a dinosaur picture. That decision made, it was a short step to bringing on another friend of Stromberg’s, animator David Allen (they had met some years before at Cascade). Stromberg’s understanding of the potential of dimensional animation is extremely rare among producers: “We wanted a little bit of class, and the only way really to give realism to the monster is with animation… The guys in suits just don’t make it.”

David Allen is known for his animation of the chasmasaurus in WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH and for his many television commercials, one of which is a spectacular recreation of the climax of the original KING KONG. The basic design of the pleisiosaur-like Crater Lake monster is Allen’s. Only one model, about fifteen inches long, was construct ed. John Berg assembled its steel ball-and socket jointed skeleton, or armature, using older joints from several sources. Armatures must be custom machined and the expense of such hand work often dictates that older armatures be cannibalized for usable joints. In this case, some joints even came from an old pleisiosaur model built by assistant animator Phil Tippet as a teenager. Sharp-eyed credit followers will note that Tippet and Berg are responsible for the splendid dimensional animation chessboard figures in STAR WARS. Allen built the aluminum skull for the creature and sculpted the head. Tippet sculpted the body, tail, and flippers. Allen comments, “I was delighted that Phil was willing to finish it up with that much of it already done, but he did a real good job. He made it quite a bit thicker than I had imagined, and I think that worked to the advantage of it…” The foam rubber body, including all skin detail, was cast from these clay sculptures and then painted. Using Allen’s miniature as a guide, Steve Neill built a full scale head of the creature to be used in certain live action closeups with actors. The head was about four feet long. Though dinosaur fans will no doubt be quick to point out that it is fundamentally unlike any known dinosaur, the monster’s design nicely reflects the ferocity called for in the script. The model has great vitality even in still photographs.

Steve Neill's insert puppet head of The Crater Lake Monster from the 1977

Rick Baker referred me to William Stromberg to build a Bigfoot suit in 1975. Later the script was changed and it became THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER (1977). I built the big dinosaur and other makeup effects for that movie. I sculpted the head out of clay on my apartment’s kitchen floor in Toluca Lake. Then I made a huge bathtub size mold in plaster. To get it out of the kitchen we had to pass it through the kitchen window which was wider than the door. Working in the back alley, I poured the head up in latex and made a fiberglass under-skull for it to support the latex. The rest of the dinosaur head was composed out of foam and latex construction. Later it was painted. Solid latex teeth were added and the mouth was constructed from foam rubber and coated with latex. The eyes were created from plastic hemispheres painted from the inside. – Steve Neill creator of the Crater Lake Monster’s life sized head

 

With Stromberg putting up his own money, production began on what was to be an aborted version of the film. Initially, Stromberg, in addition to his other tasks, was playing a part (the doctor, played in the release version by Bob Hyman), but he soon decided that this was a mistake. “It was pretty hilarious in some places,” he adds. Moreover, there was a general feeling that the film was not going well. More money was needed if improvements were to be made, and Crown International became the source. Ultimately. everything which had been shot up to that point was re-shot.

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With the second version underway. animation work began in earnest. Composite work was done at Allen’s Burbank studio. Animation was finished in the relatively short time of two and a half months, concluding almost concurrently with the last of the live action shooting. Delays in obtaining background plates caused the animation work to pile up, so Allen brought on assistant animators Randy Cook and Phil Tippet, running the studio in double shifts to meet the deadline. In general, for those shots which he did not animate, Allen still set up the composites, matching model lighting and perspective to that in the backround plates. He estimates that he performed about half the animation in the film, with Cook and Tippet doing the rest, save for a few shots animated by Jim Danforth, who has created outstanding animation and visual effects for many features.

THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER is a film which called for a realistic look, in terms of settings, so there was no necessity for adding visual elements (bizarre landscapes or fantastic buildings) via glass painting. The only sequence for which the monster’s actions were preordained was the fateful battle with a snowplow. Thus, within limits, the animators could invent action for other background plates. This is a unique advantage of dimensional animation. One is not limited to the fixed repertoire, for example, of movements provided by a mechanical creature. An animated model can do virtually anything a screenwriter might think of, and do it with proper dramatic (or comic) timing. The animator studies the live action in the background plate and animates the model to match or respond to it. Interaction between live and animated characters can be extremely precise.

178634104_1492828883“I thought they did a fine job,” says Stromberg. “I had no problem with how the effects looked, there just weren’t enough of them. I had planned for several more animation sequences, but Crown vetoed doing any more. I guess they just figured, ‘We don’t want it good, we want it Friday.”‘

Not all the animation work went smoothly. Difficulty was encountered with the registration of the camera used to shoot the background plates (an Arriflex 35mm BL). Failure in registration causes the dinosaur and the background to jiggle with respect to one another, making the composite look unnatural. Some shots in the film have this defect. Also, some of the plates were shot in ways which made matching perspectives with the model somewhat awkward. Mystery surrounds one animation shot which Danforth did for the climax of the picture, showing the dinosaur being hit by the snowplow (Allen had previously animated the approach of the monster towards the plow). Everyone who saw the completed Danforth shot described it as a stunning piece of work. Yet, incredibly, it is not in the film. It simply disappeared, overlooked or lost, during editing.

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As distribution deadlines drew near and budget ran low, two planned animation sequences fell by the wayside. One involved a confrontation with the monster in the Indian cavern, the other a showdown which culminated with the monster tearing the roof off a building. Disappointed about losing those sequences, Stromberg declares that in the future, “that’s one thing I won’t short change the viewer on…the animation; never again.” The future, of course, depends heavily on the success of THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER. Stromberg and Cardella both express hope that it just does well enough to allow them to launch another picture. The film was shot on location at Huntington Lake in the High Sierras. “Every morning,” laughs Cardella, “right on cue, the million dollar fog would roll in.” Indeed, most of the fog in the film is real. Stromberg wryly comments that the money spent on a fog machine was largely wasted. Once, when they were using the machine with only moderate success, mist obligingly moved in off the lake and enclosed everything. Cardella grins, “You couldn’t have asked for a better moody situation.”

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Cinefantastique_06However, while the lake did provide fog, it also became what must be one of filmdom’s largest continuity problems. Stromberg describes the discovery: “The second or third day we were out, when we walked down on the dock we noticed that the ramp…was sliding out, and it looked like the angle was changing and the shoreline looked like it was receding.” The lake was being drained. Rapid phone calls revealed that it is drained every year for irrigation. It was dropping about eight feet a day. So, in addition to normal production problems, all shooting now had to be designed so that shots taken of the shoreline on different days would not be cut too close together in the final film, lest the audience’s attention be drawn to the fact that the lake was slowly bowing out of the movie.

As production began to draw to a close, Crown International began to take more control. Stromberg had little to say about the editing, and some of it was not to his liking. Some scenes giving explanatory information were deleted. Also, as some sequences were never shot, others had to be stretched, damaging the pace of the film. Strangely, too, there are no dissolves at all (they add some expense to the printing phase), even though the dissolve is considered a basic editing tool. As a result, some transitions in the film are rather abrupt. Stromberg feels that it is not clear, for example, that many months have passed between the meteorite’s crash into the lake and the first appearance of the monster, whose egg is incubated by the meteorite. In spite of all obstacles and disappointments, Cardella says that, “every once in a while, we look at each other and smile like. . .’Did this really happen? Did we really do it?'”‘ Indeed, the filmmakers can take some pride in having gotten to the screen at all. Hollywood’s film vaults are piled high with unfinished films which faltered due to lack of funds, lack of distribution, or lack of determination.

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According to Variety, The Crater Lake Monster made over a million dollars, yet Stromberg says he never saw any of it. “I went to several Hollywood attorneys trying to track down the money, and one lawyer told me, ‘How much justice can you afford? They probably going to cost you as much money as they owe you to fight ’em.’”

As far as Crown’s business practices go, opinions are mixed. While Cardi and Stromberg weren’t happy with the company, Grefe asserts, “Red Jacobs was a tough old guy, but he was the type of guy who shook your hand and it was as good as any contract.”

John H. Burrows, a producer for Crown during the early ’70s, remembers Jacobs as a fair but by-the-books businessman. “If you made a picture and went to Crown for distribution, the deals were very tough. Red’s contracts were ironclad. Some of the producers, after they saw their first checks, would go back to him and say, Is this all we’re getting?’ Red would say, ‘Of course! You read the contract. We’re doing all the work. We’re out there pushing your picture.’”

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Dracula’s Dog (1978) a.k.a. Zoltan…Hound of Dracula

A Romanian road crew accidentally blasts open a subterranean crypt, and the captain of the road crew, fearing looters and criminals, stations a guard near the site. Late in the night, an earthquake shakes loose one of the coffins, which slides down and lands at the feet of the confused guard. Curious as to what has fallen before him, the guard opens the coffin and discovers the body of a dog, impaled by a stake. He removes the stake, which revives the vampiric Doberman Pinscher Zoltan. After slaying the guard, Zoltan opens another coffin shaken loose from the crypt, this one holding the body of his master, an innkeeper named Veidt Smit (Reggie Nalder), who once owned the crypt. Zoltan removes the stake from the innkeeper’s chest, reanimating the innkeeper. The movie cuts to a flashback of a village in Romania in 1670, over 300 years ago. The dog of an innkeeper saves a woman from being bitten by Count Igor Dracula. Furious over losing his meal to a dog, Dracula, in bat form, bites the woman’s savior, turning the dog into a vampire. Then Dracula, with the dog by his side, turns on his owner, turning the innkeeper into a creature called a “fractional lamia” (a undead creature that is only part vampire, able to function in the daytime and having no need to drink blood) and thus turns him into a slave of the Dracula family. Back in the present (1977), it appears that the Dracula family has only one surviving descendant, Michael Drake, a mild-mannered psychiatrist, played by Michael Pataki, who decides to take his wife, Marla and their two children, Linda and Steve (who are, technically, also descendants of the Draculas), as well as their two German Shepherd Dogs, Samson and Annie, and their two puppies, on a vacation in the family’s Winnebago camper, hoping to spend some quality time with his family and their pets out in a national forest.

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Still loyal to the Draculas, the vampire dog and his master travel to the United States, shipping themselves via boat to California in order to make Michael their new master. Eventually, Zoltan and Smit find themselves in the same forest as Michael, his family and their dogs. Other campers, vacationing with their dogs, discover that their pets are being killed by a strange beast. The deceased animals soon reanimate into vampire dogs, the minions of Zoltan. Zoltan is killed in the final scene, but a vampire German Shepherd puppy escapes destruction.

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Directed by Albert Band, and starring Michael Pataki (Grave of the Vampire). Jose Ferrer (Blood Tide) and Reggie Nalder (Salem’s Lot), the canine in question is a Doberman with long fangs, designed by Stan Winston in one of his first makeup gigs.

Terror (1978) The descendants of a witch hunting family and their close friends are stalked and killed by a mysterious entity.

Terror (1978)

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Sextette (1978) The legendary American movie star and sex symbol Marlo Manners (Mae West) is in London, England, where she has just married for the sixth time. She and her new husband, Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton), then depart for a honeymoon suite at a posh and exclusive hotel that has been reserved for them by her manager, Dan Turner (Dom DeLuise).

The hotel is also the location of an international conference, where leaders have come together to resolve tensions and problems that threaten the survival of the world. As the chairman, Mr. Chambers (Walter Pidgeon) is trying to call the meeting to order, the delegates are crowding to the windows in an effort to catch a glimpse of Marlo when she arrives. As they enter the lobby, Marlo, now Lady Barrington, and her husband, a knight, are swarmed by admirers and reporters. When asked, “Do you get a lot of proposals from your male fans?” she quips, “Yeah, and what they propose is nobody’s business.”

Once inside their suite, the couple are unable to go to bed and have sex because of constant interruptions due to the demands of her career, such as interviews, dress fittings and photo sessions, as well as the various men, including some former husbands, diplomat Alexei Andreyev Karansky (Tony Curtis), director Laslo Karolny (Ringo Starr), gangster Vance Norton (George Hamilton), and an entire athletic team from the U.S., all of whom want to have sex with her. Meanwhile, Turner desperately searches for an audiotape containing his client’s memoirs, in order to destroy it. Marlo has recorded extensive details about her affairs and scandals, with a lot of dirt about her husbands and lovers. Ex-husband Alexei, who is the Russian delegate at the conference, threatens to derail the intense negotiations unless he can have another sexual encounter with her. Marlo is expected to work “undercover” to ensure world peace.

Filmed at Paramount Studios, Sextette was Mae West’s final film, as well as that of Walter Pidgeon and Keith Moon. Featured were cameos by Rona Barrett, Regis Philbin and George Raft, all of whom appeared as themselves. The film turned out to be a major box office bomb, grossing just $50,000 against an estimated budget between $4–8 million.

Malibu Beach (1978)

Malibu Beach (1978) Day or night, it’s a hot and wild summer at Malibu Beach. When the sun is high, it’s Dina’s (Kim Lankford) job to patrol the area. Being the hot new lifeguard on duty isn’t as easy as you’d think — there’s the older, muscle-bound beach idiot Dugan continually lusting after her, while jerk kids fake drowning just to get her to save them. And who can forget that pesky bikini-stealing dog?!?

 Coach (1978) Coach (1978) An Olympic Gold medalist is hired to coach the boys’ basketball team. But when Coach Randy Rawlings arrives, the school’s sexist principal discovers that he has hired a woman. Blocked from firing her by discrimination laws, he tries to make sure the team loses so he can fire her for poor performance.

Coach is a 1978 American sport comedy film directed by Bud Townsend and starring Cathy Lee Crosby, Michael Biehn, Keenan Wynn, Channing Clarkson, Steve Nevil, and Jack David Walker. The film was released by Crown International Pictures on March 17, 1978

 

French Quarter (1978)

 

French Quarter (1978) The strange tale is set in the notorious Storyville red-light district of New Orleans and begins in the early 1900s as it chronicles the life of a young prostitute and her co-workers. The tale is simultaneously paralleled in a modern-day story featuring the reincarnated forms of the same characters, all of whom are somehow connected with a voodoo curse.

 

  Van Nuys Blvd. (1979)

Van Nuys Blvd. (1979) The film tells the story of a small-town boy who hears about the wild nights of cruising Van Nuys Boulevard in California. He drives out there to check it out, and gets involved with drag racers, topless dancers and bikers. Because director William Sachs’ style is often rather surrealist, a number of comedic scenes of a police officer on a beach, being handcuffed to his car, show a gradually more and more surrealist tone as the film progresses. In the course of the film, he gets approached by a mysterious biker stealing his possessions, a dog and ultimately, towards the end of the film, his own mother who is worried about her boy while police searches for his location.

 1974 Playboy Playmate of the Year Cynthia (Moon) Wood (NSFW)

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Lovely, sunny and appealing blonde sprite Cynthia Wood was born on September 25, 1950 in Burbank, California. Her father Harold was a recording executive and her mother Erma was an actress. Cynthia attended both Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles Valley College as a music major but eventually switched to theater. She ultimately dropped out of college altogether in 1971. Wood was the Playmate of the Month in the February, 1973 issue of “Playboy.” She was named Playmate of the Year in 1974. Cynthia did a follow-up pictorial ten years later in the April, 1984 of “Playboy.” Wood made her film debut with a small role as a beauty shop customer in “Shampoo.” Cynthia gave an especially lively and winning performance as sassy spitfire Moon in the enjoyable drive-in comedy romp “Van Nuys Blvd.” She was likewise memorable as one of the dancing “Playboy” Playmates in “Apocalypse Now;” this particular part was greatly expanded in the 2001 “Redux” version of the movie. Moreover, Wood appeared as herself on episodes of the TV programs “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” and “The Jim Stafford Show.” Cynthia Wood has worked as a casting agent for director Michael Lesner and has a Ph.D. in psychology.

 

Malibu High (1979)

Malibu High (1979) High school student Kim Bentley (Jill Lansing) is having a tough time of things at the moment, she has been dumped by her boyfriend Kevin (Stuart Taylor) for rich girl Annette (Tammy Taylor), her grades are slipping and she has no money, and all her mother (Phyllis Benson) seems to care about is cleaning. Kim tells her best friend Lucy (Katie Johnson) that the nonsense ends today. Kim’s been feeling sorry for herself ever since her father hanged himself. She begins working for Tony the pimp (Alex Mann) and things start to look good for her, new clothes, new car and good grades. Annette begins to hate Kim even more and Kevin becomes jealous. Kim then meets Lance (Garth Howard) who frees her from turning tricks in a beat up old van which leads her to better clothes and nicer cars. Prostitution isn’t the worst of it as Kim is forced to kill a man in self-defense when he tries to have his way with her being tied up. Kim becomes a hit woman and after murdering several people, including Annette and her father, she herself is killed on a deserted beach.

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BEHIND THE SCENES The ad campaign shows a beautiful, tanned model in a bathing suit flashing a big smile, with a cartoon in the background of a bunch of fuddy duddy teachers checking her out.  “Every teacher in school wanted to FLUNK HER…,” read the ad copy, “But nobody dared!”  It was a classic case of deceptive B movie advertising, because the model in the poster, Mary Margret Humes, isn’t in the film, and MALIBU HIGH is a much darker, more disturbing film than the artwork implied.  The tag line is more truthful, since the movie is about a troubled high school girl who becomes a blackmailing hooker and hit woman.  In the early stages of production, the film was known as DEATH AND DENIM and TEEN TERROR. MALIBU HIGH producer Craig Muckler took a low budget filmmaking course at UCLA taught by Irv Berwick, the director of THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1959) and HITCH-HIKE TO HELL (1977).  Berwick’s writing partner, John Buckley, wrote this script, and Berwick came aboard as director, with Muckler producing.  The film cost $75,000, and Berwick’s connections got it seen around town until Crown acquired it.  The title was changed to MALIBU HIGH because of Crown’s success the previous summer with MALIBU BEACH (1978).  “Honestly, I couldn’t complain,” says Muckler. “It brought people to the theaters.”  MALIBU HIGH was a bona fide hit for Crown and company president Mark Tenser loved to say he had the ability to “turn shit into gold.”

Burnout (1979)

Burnout (1979) Troubled teenager Scott aspires to be a professional drag race car driver. Scott makes several faltering attempts to break into the world of drag racing with the help of his affluent businessman father Jeff. Undaunted, Scott decides to spurn Jeff’s advice by branching out on his own by going on the road as a gopher for a successful drag race car driver.

Crown International Pictures 70’s
Weekend with the Babysitter (1970)
Noon Sunday (1970)
Cindy and Donna (1970)
Blood Mania (1970)
Point of Terror (1971)
Chain Gang Women (1971)
Pink Angels (1971)
The Naked Countess (Die Nackte Gräfin) (1971)
The Young Graduates (1971)
Wild Riders (1971)
Blue Money (1972)
The Stepmother (1972)
Stanley (1972)
Santee (1973)
Superchick (1973)
Little Laura and Big John (1973)
Horror High (1973)
Policewomen (1974)
The Sister-in-Law (1974)
The Teacher (1974)
Kung Fu Mama (Shan dong lao niang, aka Queen of Fist) (1974)
Best Friends (1975)
The Specialist (1975)
Pick-up (1975)
Soul Vengeance a.k.a. Welcome Home Brother Charles (1975)
Hustler Squad (1975)
Las Vegas Lady (1975)
Trip with the Teacher (1975)
The Devil’s Men Land of the Minotaur (1976)
Death Riders (1976)
Satan’s Slave (1976)
The Pom Pom Girls (1976)
Death Machines (1976)
The Van (1977)
The Crater Lake Monster (1977)
Terror (1978)
Dracula’s Dog (1978) a.k.a. Zoltan…Hound of Dracula
Sextette (1978)
Malibu Beach (1978)
French Quarter (1978)
Coach (1978)
Van Nuys Blvd. (1979)
Malibu High (1979)
Burnout (1979)

CREDITS/REFERENCES/SOURCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Rue Morgue 121
Scary Monsters Magazine 081
http://www.streamline.filmstruck.com
Cinefantastique 06 02
Coolasscinema.com
Psychotronic Video 19
Psychotronic Video 24
Screem 012
Femme Fatales v08 n15
Fangoria 008
http://www.terrortrap.com
STARLOG 43
Cinefantastique v10n02

One thought on “Crown International Pictures 70’s

  1. Other than Horror High, which I love, I have never seen a Crown film I liked. And Good God is Crater lake Monster a complete and total piece of shit. To this day I want to track down the yahoos who played Mitch and Arnie and beat the hell out of them. At least it had some great work by Dave Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

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