Friday, November 26, 2010

Outlaw Riders -- '70s kitsch!

"Outlaw Riders" is a 1971 film that belongs in a time capsule marked Hollywood 1970s derivatve biker film. It was produced by Tony Cardoza, who gave us "The Beast of Yucca Flats" and it's a low-budget mix of "Easy Rider" and "Born Losers." It's a motorcycle gang/hippy cliche-fest. The riders spout words like"split," "make the scene," "fuzz," "crash" etc.
Plot involves an outlaw motorcycle gang headed by two couples (Bambi Allan, Jennifer Bishop, Bill Bonner and Bryan West). The gang is badly hurt by a botched robbery and the four stars, the only survivors, eventually head to Mexico, where they have to combat a gang run by a sadistic Mexican (Rafael Campos). Campos is the only "name star" in the film, although he was far away from his better days in "West Side Story."
I like this film for all its low-budget shortcomings. The mostly outdoor American West setting with long dusty cycle treks give it a nostalgic, time-capsule feeling. Cult film fans will enjoy the short cameo from Ed Wood star Valda Hansen as a nun who treats one of the injured bandits. Rumor as it that Hansen was a paramour of producer Cardoza. Film has the same type of downbeat ending as "Easy Rider."
I have no idea what exposure or success "Outlaw Riders" had in 1971. The color, 86-minute Tony Huston-directed film has a lot of violence but little sex, which might have cut down on its grindhouse potential. It's fairly hard to find today, but not impossible. My video copy is in great shape. It would make a nice DVD offering for a multi-disc set of biker films. Enjoy the kitschy theme song above.
-- Doug Gibson

Monday, November 22, 2010

Carradine as ... The Wizard of Mars

I really love this 1963 David Hewitt ultra-low budget space opera. I'll say right off that one of the aliens in this film is the same "Space Monster" from the Leonard Katzman schlock-fare also called Space Probe Taurus.

Ripped off from L. Frank Baum's famous tale, The Wizard of Oz, here is the Wikipedia description of 85-minute, color "The Wizard of Mars":

The title character is portrayed by John Carradine, who gives a lengthy monologue as a projection near the end of the film. The film centers on four astronauts--Steve (Roger Gentry), "Doc" (Vic McGee), Charlie (Jerry Rannow), and of course, Dorothy (Eve Bernhardt), shown aboard ship wearing Silver Shoes--who dream they are struck by a storm and encounter the Horrors of the Red Planet (one of the film's video retitlings), and eventually follow a "Golden Road" to the Ancient City where they encounter the title character, who is the collective consciousness of all Martians.

It's that crazy. The characters are wonderful stock space opera fare: The older mentor astronaut. The sexy woman astronaut who eventually gets the hots for the stud, leader astronaut. And, of course, there's the wisecracking astronaut. There is Hewitt's signature of touch of foamy, wavy fire waves that he has used in other films. I particularly like a strange creature -- guided by offscreen hands -- that menace the astronauts while they row in a Martian canal. The creature looks like a low-rent Tingler!

The space fare is low budget and I love the asteroid showers! This is a fun film. I first became aware of it while watching Something Weird OnDemand trailers. I found it on an old VHS that was titled Horrors of the Red Planet and said Lon Chaney Jr. was in it? WRONG. I later learned that Wizard of Mars was shopped as "Alien Massacre" along with Hewitt's schlocky "Gallery of Horrors," which features Chaney Jr. Such is the life of low-budget sci-fi being peddled in the early days of VHS and even Beta!

It became almost an obsession to find this film with its original title, and Plan 9 Crunch finally did, and old 80s VHS release had it. Carradine s wonderfully bizarre spouting nonsensical dialogue as "The Wizard." Of course it's all a dream. That really doesn't make sense, but again, the film really doesn't make sense. I loved it. Watch it as a double-feature with "Space Monster" or Hewitt's better "Journey to the Center of Time." You won't be disappointed.
-- Doug Gibson

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – A Night of Devoted Film Fans

By Steve D. Stones

Until you have seen and experienced The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the big screen with a live audience, you really haven’t seen the film at all. I’ve seen Rocky Horror a billion times on my small 24 inch TV, and I really felt I was seeing it for the first time at The Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden on Saturday October 30th, 2010.

I was totally amazed at how intense and devoted the fans sitting in the audience were to the film. Participants get up and dance to “Let’s Do The Time Warp Again,” and throw rolls of toilet paper and dried rice in the air during various scenes. Some participants even shout lines at actors on the screen and dress up in costumes similar to the characters in the film.

Before the film began, a man dressed as the Meatloaf character of Eddie came out on stage on a motorcycle to crack a few jokes about local culture and politics. He presided over a costume contest where audience members dressed like characters in the film come up on stage and are judged by the screams of sitting audience members.

The Egyptian Theatre also passed out a Rocky Horror Picture Show prop bag equipped with a derby party hat, a squirt gun, dried rice, a deck of cards, a toasted piece of bread, a bell and a roll of toilet paper, among other items. An instruction flier was inserted in the bag to clue audience members when they were to use each item during the film. I suspect most participants did not need to refer to the flier because of their devotion to the film.

A special thanks goes out to the Peery’s Egyptian Theatre committee in Ogden for bringing The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the big screen. This was the most fun I have ever had going to the movies!

For further information on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, refer to the book – Rocky Horror: From Concept To Cult by Scott Michaels and David Evans.

“Let’s Do The Time Warp Again!”