Sunday, March 30, 2008

Said the Spider to the Bat

Superhero movies are almost always ridiculous, reinforced by the tongue-in-cheek style set by the Batman TV series of the 60's. One wonders how much of the intentional humor of the series was picked up by Maura Monti and friends in La Mujer murciélago, better known as Batwoman, the Mexican Batman imitation? Perhaps we should just be happy that unlike Monti on the Mexican one-sheet, below, Adam West never wore a bikini! The film is hard to see today but it did have an international release, playing Italy under the title L'Invincible Superdonna - as proven by this Italian two-sheet. Incredibly, it also played Germany under the more than bizarre title Draculas Tochter und Professor Satanas - I guess the Batman connection was not as hot over there! Too bad I can't show you that poster, some other time perhaps...

Obviously inspired by Italian superhero train-wrecks such as Superargo Contro Diabolikus, as well as the Japanese Spiderman, some internet entrepreneurs have released a fabulous spoof trailer for Italian Spiderman. It is pitch-perfect down to the releasing company logo ("Alrugo!") and fake video drop-outs, and comes complete with an implausible backstory about the only full-length print being lost in a shipwreck... But what finally tipped us off that this is not a real time-capsule artifact was not the made-up Italian accents, the more than inspired acting, or the fact that it seems to be filmed in a college dorm backyard - it is that no real Italian would drink his macchiato from such a big cup!

If anyone can fill us in on the real story behind this inspired trailer we'd love to hear it!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What happens to girls without men?

The "women in prison" genre is a peculiar construct. I do not know exactly where and when it started, I honestly have not seen very many, but examples of the formula go back to the 1950's at least. In Girls in Prison, we get "a shocking tale of one man against 1000 women" according to the Swedish tag line. Both the poster art and the title are directly lifted from the US counterpart, but the censors decided to cut the film in several places before putting it before Swedish cinemagoers. Among the lost moments were "the scene with girls fighting", "knife threat against sleeping woman", "the assault and beating in the shed", "the scene where a girl falls off a lorry", and "the scenes with fighting and close-ups of a dying girl". One wonders if there was anything left to get excited about?

I'm sure the genre thrived in the 60's, but we forge ahead to the 1970's and of the more accomplished examples: Jonathan Demme's Caged Heat. This is actually a pretty good movie, with Euro-goth/horror queen Barbara Steele as the wicked warden. Nobody even bothered to try passing this by the Swedish censors, as it was doomed to fail. Leave it to the Italians to squeeze the most visuals out of this Roger Corman production...

By the time the Italians caught on and started producing these films themselves, the sleaze factor went up to the max and Laura Gemser had yet another career option. A typical 80's production would be Violence in a Women's Prison, from hack master Bruno Mattei, most notable because the poster would have been equally fitting in my rat collection!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

E La "Sex-Bomb", Lotte Tarp!

It is always gratifying to see how Swedish exploitation movies made their way around the world, especially considering how other countries often produced lavish promotion material for movies that were hardly seen in their native country! Here we have two lovely examples - Italian manifesto or 2-sheets (100*140 cm.) for the sex/horror hybrids Morianerna and Skräcken har 1000 ögon. Both are prime Swedesploitation, the first being directed by Arne Mattson who pioneered the genre by breaking the breast barrier in Hon dansade en sommar, the second being produced by Inge Ivarsson, the legend behind The Language of Love and still going strong at 90 years of age! Not forgetting La Sex-Bomb herself, of course. And hey, both titles are out on DVD from Klubb Super 8...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tell Your Children!

I was pleasantly surprised when doing some poster archeology the other day, and discovered this: A Swedish daybill ("stolpe") for Mom and Dad, under the title Din Kropp är Din ("Your Body is Yours"). Kroger Babb's revolutionary "sex education" roadshow picture gave many exploitation greats their start in the business as it toured America in the 1940's (and of course the same fearless young showman later brought some Swedish sensations to the US!). Babb's strategy was to set up tents outside cities, whip up interest in the shocking scenes to be seen, and do segregated screenings for men and women! The ticket take was part of the profit, but even more was had with the "educational booklets" as evangelized by the "eminent hygiene commentator" Dr. Elliot Forbes, in a rousing speech during the intermission. There were literally dozens of "Dr. Forbes" traveling the country, and one of the was none other than Colonel David F. Friedman, later to revolutionize the exploitation film world himself together with Herschell Gordon Lewis, through the early "nudie cutie" Lucky Pierre, and even more important, the first "gore movie", Blood Feast. When Friedman visited Gothenburg for the Something Weird 2000 tour in 1999, he regaled the audience at the Draken Cinema with a full Forbes routine, and always with an eye on the bottom line, he thoughtfully brought some pamphlets to sell too! I have not seen them but I am sure Swedish-language books were also printed - it was part of the business model - as was, as is apparent from the Swedish poster, sex-segregated screenings. And just as in America, the main selling point is the sensational final reel, containing "the miracle of birth"! I wonder who the Swedish Dr. Elliot Forbes was, and if there perhaps was another one working the country side while the film was playing at the China Theater in Stockholm?

For the full story on Mom and Dad, I recommend Joe Bob Briggs' excellent essay Kroger Babb's Roadshow, and his book Profoundly Disturbing.

Apparently this was not an isolated event. I also excavated this Swedish one-sheet for Test Tube Babies, a rather more blatant piece of smut masquerading as education. A racy poster for "the sensational American film about artificial insemination", and I wonder what exactly the people in the inset photographs have to do with such a clinical procedure? Anyway, it is good to know that Sweden had its fair share of "fearless young showmen", even though they did not quite approach the mastery of Babb himself.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A nice pair

Rabid readers have probably seen these guys before, but I finally got around to framing them and putting them up on the wall in the living room!

These posters are special for me for several reasons. Both are linenbacked and restored by Dario Casadei, whom I wrote about some time ago (here and here). Grodorna is the Swedish 1972 release of AIP's "nature revenge" shocker Frogs (actually, very few frogs are seen), and was one of the first posters I ever bought - found in a pile of trash in a junk shop in Gothenburg in the mid-80s. This pile actually included over 20 posters, Swedish and American, for Hammer films, rock'n'roll, nudist and animal horror films from the 60's and 70's. I negotiated fiercely with the owner (who, like such people always do, claimed the posters were immensely valuable, but that the really great ones had been sent to be photographed and disappeared in the mail!) and finally got the whole kit for about $15.

This pile has followed me along many moves, most of them have been thumb-tacked to walls in one flat or the other, and Grodorna being one of the favorites deteriorated accordingly. But thanks to Dario it is now spiff and looking spankin' new again and has finally found it's dignified place!

I Draculas klor is the Swedish 1970 release of Hammer's classic Dracula. It is also out of a pile, this one found on a Swedish auction site a few years ago. Some of the posters in this batch were completely destroyed (seemed to have been sitting in a barn somewhere) but thankfully Dracula had only minor damages. The artist is Hans Arnold, who is well-known in Sweden for his thousands of delightfully horrific illustrations for magazines and books. He made very few movie posters, and as far as I know, never made any illustrations specifically for the movies - they were all originally published in books, magazines or other places. The ones I know of are Steven Spielberg's debut, Duel; Disney's Escape to Witch Mountain; and most exciting for me, Breaking Point, Bo Arne Vibenius' "follow-up" to Thriller - A Cruel Picture! If anyone in the world can find me the the last one, eternal gratitude and quite a lot of money will be yours...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Even better than TANK GIRL???

So who can send me a DVD-R of Phoo Action, the new BBC3 pilot based on a comic by Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett? Looks awesome!