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 Posted:   May 2, 2013 - 11:17 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

HAPPY AS THE GRASS WAS GREEN was a film based upon a 1971 novel of the same name by a young Mennonite, Merle Good. The film presents a view of a Mennonite family stunned into the reality of the outside world when their son is beaten to death at an unnamed New York university while protesting the Vietnam War. His best friend must deliver a message to the Pennsylvania family, and his long-haired, unkempt demeanor quickly brings the family and community's deep rooted prejudices to the surface.

Two Hollywood veterans starred in the film. Geraldine Page, a five-time Oscar nominee and later Oscar winner, played the mother of the slain boy, and Pat Hingle was an easygoing preacher. The third lead, the friend delivering the message, was played by a young Graham Beckel. Beckel had only appeared in one television movie at the time of the filming of HAPPY AS THE GRASS WAS GREEN. His first theatrical film, THE PAPER CHASE, in which he played upper class law student “Franklin Ford III,” would open just two months before this film. Aside from these three actors, the cast consisted mostly of nonprofessionals from Lancaster County, PA, where the film was shot entirely on location. For example, fourth-billed Rachel Thomas ("Hazel") was a 17-year-old Lancaster student who had previously performed in one school play. She was a Mennonite in real life.

HAPPY AS THE GRASS WAS GREEN was directed by Charles Davis. Davis had worked on one prior film, as producer-director-editor of a low-budget 1960 crime drama called GET OUTTA TOWN. Davis also adapted the film’s screenplay from Good’s novel. The film’s score was provided by William Loose, who had worked on a number of genre films up to that point, and had contributed music to several Russ Myer films (CHERRY, HARRY & RAQUEL; BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS). Loose also composed two songs for the film, "The Seasons of Life" and "Fellow Man," with lyrics by Robert Gillies. Both were sung by Lee Darin.

While it’s unclear who distributed the film (both Globe Music and Gateway Films have been mentioned), the PG-rated, 106-minute film opened in Los Angeles on 5 December 1973. Further distribution of HAPPY AS THE GRASS IS GREEN was minimal however, and it fell out of sight. In 1976, the title of the film was changed to HAZEL’S PEOPLE, and the film was slated for a re-release in March of that year. However, it’s possible that the re-release may not have happened until 1978. Boxoffice magazine call HAZEL’S PEOPLE a “deserving little film” with “many warm moments and rustic scenes.” HAZEL’S PEOPLE was presented nightly for years at the "People's Place" Amish attraction in Intercourse, PA in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. It is also the video title of the film.

Graham Beckel, who is the brother of political commentator Bob Beckel, would go on to have a lengthy career as a character actor in Hollywood, with featured roles in such films as L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. One of his most recent roles was as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in the National Geographic Channel’s filming of Bill O’Reilly’s historical book KILLING LINCOLN.

 Posted:   May 9, 2013 - 12:55 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

Bob, you remember "The Garden"? It was a 1977 Israeli film with Melanie Griffith.

 Posted:   May 9, 2013 - 4:49 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Bob, you remember "The Garden"? It was a 1977 Israeli film with Melanie Griffith.

THE GARDEN is the English title for a 1977 Israeli film originally titled Ha-Gan. It was produced by Berkey Pathé Humphries Israel Ltd. The story involves a garden located in the center of Jerusalem, whose owner is being offered a large sum of money in order to sell his property. One day, a beautiful and naked girl (Melanie Griffith) appears in his garden, escaping from a bunch of gangsters. Convinced that this girl is an angel, he gives her a shelter.

The 90-minute film was directed by Victor Nord, his only known directing credit. The film stars Zachi Noy, in his first film, as well as legendary Israeli actor Shaike Ofir.

THE GARDEN was never released theatrically in the U.S., and does not even have a legitimate Region 1 video release. There is an authorized Region 2 DVD, however. Gray market copies of that release, with English subtitles, can be found or downloaded.

 Posted:   May 12, 2013 - 6:03 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Long before there was the very successful SCARY MOVIE series. Back in the 70's there was a successful film called THE GROOVE TUBE, throughout the 70's and early 80's low budget multi comic skit films were made- like TUNNELVISION, KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, IF YOU CAN'T STOP IT YOU WILL GO BLIND,CAN'T STOP TILL I NEED GLASSES, ET ETC, 2 in the bunch of those films I would like to track down again- one is OUTAKES-81- FORREST TUCKER- AND FOREPLAY-75- None of these type films ever got a lot of TV showing on cable, The only one recently has been AMAZON WOMAN ON THE MOON-87.When you get a chance BOB, can you find up to date info on these 2 I been searching for, thanx as always.

 Posted:   May 13, 2013 - 12:37 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

Tthere was a Robert Youngston version of the silent NOAH'S ARK - reeditted with just scenes from the Biblical story and it ran about 75 minutes - it had narration, sound effects and a musical score totally different than the restored Warner Archive version -- Id love to see it released.I recall ( I saw it in the 70s) that it was more "fun" than the official release.

NOAH’S ARK was, in part, a spectacular filming of the Biblical story by Warner Bros. in the silent era. In the film, the story of Noah is actually told as a flashback from, and in contrast to, a modern story set during World War I. The cast, headed by Dolores Costello, George O’Brien, Noah Beery, and Paul McAllister had roles in both the modern and ancient stories. The film was directed by long-time Warner Bros. stalwart Michael Curtiz, just two years after his last European film of the 1920s. It was only the 10th of his more than 100 American films. Producing and providing the story was Darryl F. Zanuck. The scope and budget was certainly big for its time and a major undertaking for a young, aspiring movie mogul like Zanuck. His career at Warner Bros. began as a writer in 1924. Ever ambitious, he established himself as a producer within four years. NOAH’S ARK was his first film assignment and--befitting his youthful enthusiasm (he was only 26 years of age)--he vowed to "make the greatest picture ever made".

Location scenes were shot at Big Basin, CA, and at the Iverson Ranch in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles. Probably the most astonishing sequence of the $1.5 million picture is the Flood, which is still impressive by today's special effects standards and was every bit as harrowing to shoot as it appears onscreen. Curtiz had a huge tank containing more than a million gallons of water constructed, with access spillways leading to the tops of the Babylonian temple set. Sadly, his zeal to obtain authenticity in this scene made him shamefully neglectful of safety precautions. His emphasis on realism was so intense that cinematographer Hal Mohr (a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire) questioned him about the lack of adequate safeguards for the film's players, telling him that while the trained stuntmen knew what to expect and could prepare for it, the ordinary extras would have no idea what was coming, and many would be hurt. Curtiz reportedly replied, "They're just going to have to take their chances." Mohr was so appalled at Curtiz's comment that he walked off the set and his duties were taken over by Barney McGill. But the dangerous sequence proceeded as planned. The contents from the tanks were released and 15 cameramen and a reported 5,000 extras thrashed about in the water for hours. Many extras were injured (some sources say that up to three were drowned, but this morbid rumor has never been confirmed). The film's leading lady, Dolores Costello, recalls wounded extras laid outside her dressing room door as fleets of ambulances carried away victims of the carnage. Costello herself developed pneumonia from being in the water too long and actor Guinn Williams injured two ribs. Among the extras who escaped without injury were John Wayne and Andy Devine.

NOAH’S ARK was originally conceived as a silent film, but was then given last minute doctoring to include dialogue, a decision dictated by the huge success of Warner Bros.’ innovative sound feature THE JAZZ SINGER (1927). The final film contained some talking sequences and a music score by Louis Silvers in the then state-of-the-art Vitaphone process (sound on discs). The film had its world premiere in Los Angeles on 1 November 1928. The 135-minute premiere version ran only at the opening engagement in Hollywood. By the time of the New York premiere some weeks later, the film had been trimmed by over 30 minutes. At least some of the cuts were of Vitaphone talking sequences that didn't work well. In particular, Paul McAllister (Noah/Minister) fared poorly, as all his talking scenes were removed. The film went into general release on 15 June 1929. On 27 July 1929, a totally silent version of the film was also put into release. One source describes the New York premiere:

“The show started outside New York’s Winter Garden Theatre with lighted displays and a forty-foot blimp hovering over the marquee. Eight "sunlight arcs" poured changing colors on the leviathan as wires caused it to dip and sway toward a giant replica of the ark electrified with rain effects and clouds of steam. Inside the auditorium, more deluge greeted the audience as wind and water signaled the Vitaphone overture. First-nighters paid eleven dollars a seat, and all were filled. Subsequent tickets went for two dollars, which caused resentment among reviewers whose own lukewarm response to NOAH’S ARK was in part a rebuke of Warners for having oversold what these critics considered an ordinary and derivative picture.”

Despite all the efforts of those involved, NOAH’S ARK failed domestically at the box-office and with the critics. The New Yorker called it "an idiotic spectacle", while the New York Times stated that the film "frequently bordered on the ridiculous". It did however, have a much better reception in Europe, and in the end grossed more than $2.3 million worldwide. These contrasting posters show how the related modern and biblical stories were simultaneously advertised.

NOAH’S ARK was then forgotten for 20 years. The fact that the film had only a smattering of talking scenes, mostly awkwardly done, put the brakes on any reissue chance. Warners would re-release films like LITTLE CAESAR and PUBLIC ENEMY, both nearly as old as NOAH’S ARK, as late as 1954, but at least these talked throughout. Silents were for scrap heaps, or fattening film libraries sold to voracious TV. Being a silent movie adherent was like donning a dunce cap in early 50's Hollywood. Anyone proposing commercial life for non-talkers, outside a Chaplin, was for the birds, or unemployment lines. But a man named Robert Youngson had championed NOAH’s ARK during the early fifties when he was employed in Warner Bros.’ short subjects department. A lifelong film buff and later producer of many fabulous comedy compilations, Youngson had edited a group of one-reel subjects at Warners that were culled from silent spectaculars such as DON JUAN, ISLE OF LOST SHIPS, OLD SAN FRANCISCO, and NOAH’S ARK. These were like Castle Film versions of the pictures. The NOAH’S ARK short was the first in a series called “Magic Movie Moments.” The 10-minute short, designed for theaters to show (along with cartoons and newsreels) with their main features, was narrated by frequent newsreel narrator Dwight Weist and was released on 26 December 1953. The short shows footage of the original New York premiere, plus several scenes from the film, including the loading of the animals on the ark, the 40 days and nights of rain, and scenes with George O'Brien and Dolores Costello. With the quick running time, however, some of the biggest scenes of holocaust and mass slaughter didn’t make it into the one-reeler.

When Associated Artists Productions (AAP) bought the Warners pre-1949 film library for television release in 1956, they ended up with the surviving silent negatives as well, including NOAH’S ARK. While 16mm prints were being prepared for TV sales, AAP established a subsidiary called Dominant Pictures, whose mission was to squeeze whatever theatrical bookings they could out of the old Warner product before the television dump. Youngson approached Dominant with his idea of re-editing and "modernizing" NOAH’S ARK for a 35mm re-issue. Since they now owned the picture anyway, there was little to lose. Youngson’s 1957 version would be shorn of all intertitles and talking sequences. Again, narrator Dwight Weist provided non-stop explanation and commentary throughout a truncated version that ran just 75 minutes. One source claims that the newsreel footage of the film’s premiere that was in the short was also included in the reissue, but that seems unlikely. Reportedly, the reissue had some original music by David Buttolph, William Lava, and Howard Jackson, as well as tracked music from Adolph Deutsch, Bernhard Kaun, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, and Franz Waxman.

NOAH’s ARK would be an experiment, said AAP, to see if extreme oldies might sell. In mid-1957, every theatre in the country wanted Cecil B. DeMille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, but most couldn't get it. DeMille's spectacular was having roadshow runs in the biggest houses and staying for what seemed to be forever following its late-1956 opening. Hoping to piggyback on THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Dominant would treat NOAH’S ARK like a new picture, saturation booking it through the country one area at a time, according to Variety. One hundred dates for late July and August 1957 were set in the tri-states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Full-page ads went into Philadelphia newspapers, but none disclosed NOAH’S ARK being a silent made decades before; instead it was labeled as simply “The Most Electrifying Drama In the History of Mankind!” Ten of the first thirty theatres held over NOAH’S ARK for seven-day runs, better than what Dominant anticipated. With floods, spearings, and columns falling, this was no art-house cast-off. Showmen could bally NOAH to the hilts as a next-best TEN COMMANDMENTS, so long as Paramount's film eluded them (many localities wouldn’t get THE TEN COMMANDMENTS until the fall of 1957).

Dominant had offices mostly on the East coast, so arrangement was made with Manhattan Films International to handle NOAH’S ARK in eleven western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. Aggressive Manhattan got the film into Los Angeles just as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS wrapped forty-six weeks playing first-run. The timing was just right for another biblical film, whatever its vintage. Boxoffice response to NOAH’S ARK was mixed overall, depending on the territory and how it was pushed. Baltimore saw torrid business at its Little Art Theatre, wherein records were beat, but faces turned red when St. Paul, Minnesota patrons, lured by “Bigger Than Biggest” ads, found to their chagrin that this was an epic sans talk. More than a few moviegoers attending it became so upset when they learned the truth that they jumped up and demanded their money back, said the St. Paul Dispatch's movie columnist. They'd thought NOAH’S ARK was a brand new epic that somehow was made with no publicity. Still, despite refunds, the show performed above average for Minneapolis-St. Paul houses, and certainly beat typical revenues for a reissue, even if the film wasn't necessarily revealed as such. Fifty years later one viewer remembers his experience:

“We all went wild thinking we'd been gypped to pay our quarters for an old B&W silent movie. We thought it would be a ‘See! See! See! A cast of thousands! CinemaScope and Eastman Color!’ Well, the cast of thousands was in there, but in those days we expected epics to be in color and widescreen. The melee grew until the projectionist stopped the film and the theater's manager got up on the stage in front of the now empty screen and told us how badly behaved we were. Silence for a moment. Then someone sailed a flattened popcorn box at him Frisbee-style and the chaos took over again. It was the closest thing to a riot I've ever experienced. We finally calmed down and the movie resumed. There was a western with George Montgomery playing with it, but I don't remember the title.”

Small towns reveled in NOAH’s ARK, since Biblical themes were always welcome in Southeast climes. A Pilot Mountain, NC, showman got a NOAH’S ARK display (in the back of a pick-up truck) into the town's 1958 Christmas parade to some pretty good results, said Boxoffice. Perhaps realizing the brief stir caused by the reissue, the Mirisch Company announced in July 1958 its intention to make a new and multi-million dollar Noah's Ark (it didn't happen). The original meanwhile floated through theater circuits starved for product.

Part of why reissues boomed during the late 1950s was lack of small or B titles to fill in weeks, thus NOAH’S ARK was back in Los Angeles in September 1958, this time with an AAP/Dominant reissue of YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, another Warner favorite that was being withheld from TV. But the duo grossed only a mild $4,500 and was gone in a week. AAP entertained the possibility of reviving Warner silents beyond NOAH’S ARK, with maybe a festival group for art-houses, but that trial balloon came to nothing. Of all the silents they now owned, it appears AAP and successor United Artists included only NOAH’S ARK among features syndicated to TV (NOAH became available for broadcast in the mid-sixties).

At a screening of Youngson’s version in 1966, noted film historian William K. Everson had this to say:

“This fine spectacle, which can more than stand on its own feet, is afflicted with an almost non-stop and 90% unnecessary narration, delivered in portentous tones as though by the Reverend Davidson! It's the price one has to pay for seeing it resurrected at all. Producer Youngson, with a genuine love of old film, has certainly earned our gratitude through the years with a number of excellent documentaries and comedy compilations, so we must be charitable about this early mistake, in which the narration is hypnotized by its own eloquence. Too often it seems as though the picture is accompanying the track, instead of the other way round, and when the image is left alone occasionally, it's amazing how the language of film takes over and the picture soars.”

Even today, film historians view NOAH’S ARK as an important early talkie artifact. It's also the first notable American film in the career of the prolific Curtiz. After regaining control of the film, Warners supported a partial restoration that was done in 1989 by Robert Gitt and the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with the project American Moviemakers: The Dawn of Sound. This version is 100 minutes long and includes most of the talking sequences, approximating the 1929 general release version of the film. It also gives credit to the Vitaphone Orchestra before the Warner Bros. logo card, citing the use of the system's "Western Electric Apparatus". It airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies and has been released as a made-on-demand DVD under the Warner Archive program. It’s not known whether Robert Youngson’s feature version survives, but a print of his short film is in the UCLA Film and Television Archives. For those wanting more information, reportedly the definitive history on the production and restoration of NOAH’S ARK was written by Scott MacQueen and published in Issue 12 (Winter 1991-92) of The Perfect Vision. (I’ve never read it.)

Thanks Bob for this detailed info on NOAH'S ARK(as well as THE BLUE VEIL) - I had forgotten my post here .

I am pretty certain that a print or prints of the Youngson reedit exists as I saw it at Northwestern University around 1980 or so in a vintage film series - the print was excellent - probably 16mm - not sure . I disagree with Everson who I remember seeing at a Chicago area screening back in the 80s-90s at the Art Institute of Chicago's film series - I enjoyed the narration (and the added score) and that it added to the enjoyment .

I have the archive dvd but still think the Youngson version was very well done - and there seemed to be more footage of the ancient story than in the restored print. At a 100 minutes , I'd say at least 50 minutes are devoted to the modern story including sound footage - yet the Youngston version ran 75 minutes and had no modern footage (nor any footage of the premiere that I recall). So there was approximately 25 minutes more than in the UCLA restoration- maybe.

 Posted:   May 23, 2013 - 3:17 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

For over thirty years, Marty Robbins was a successful country and western singer, who won several Grammy awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Two of his most famous albums were titled “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs” and “More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.” So, it was only natural that when Robbins decided to appear in films that he would gravitate to movies with country music and western themes. Robbins’ first film appearance was in the 1957 Allied Artists production THE BADGE OF MARSHALL BRENNAN. That same year he also appeared in Republic’s RAIDERS OF OLD CALIFORNIA. And finally that year, Robbins and popular country singers Carl Smith and Webb Pierce got together with writer-producer A.R. Milton to create a western called BUFFALO GUN, which remained unreleased until 1961, when it was briefly distributed by Globe Pictures. In 1963, Robbins was back at it, starring, and singing the classic western song “El Paso,” in BALLAD OF A GUNFIGHTER, released by Parade Pictures.

Robbins then left westerns for a while to appear in a string of films that showcased his music--TENNESSEE JAMBOREE (1964), COUNTRY MUSIC CARAVAN (1964), ROAD TO NASHVILLE (1966); FROM NASHVILLE WITH MUSIC (1969), and NASHVILLE STORY (1972). During that time, he also starred in 1967’s HELL ON WHEELS in which he played himself as he pursued his other passion—stock car racing. He then combined his love of music and racing in the 1972 docu-drama COUNTRY MUSIC (see posting of April 12, 2013). In 1973, Marty Robbins returned to westerns for the last time, starring in GUNS OF A STRANGER.

In GUNS OF A STRANGER, Robbins played a character called “The Drifter,” which also was the working title of the film. The Drifter was formerly Kansas sheriff Matthew Roberts, who gave up the profession after being forced to kill a young outlaw. He rides into Arizona and befriends a young boy, an old man, and a young woman who, like their neighbors, are struggling against men greedy for land and cattle. The film was produced and directed by Robbins’ personal manager Robert Hinkle. (See the posting on COUNTRY MUSIC for information on Hinkle’s career.) Co-starring with Robbins was noted character actor Chill Wills, another actor managed by Hinkle. Other cast members came from the country music fraternity. Bobby Sykes and Don Winters, who portrayed “Bob Bishop” and “Axe Mayhew,” respectively, performed for several years in the Marty Robbins Trio. Shug Fisher, who portrayed “Shug Meadows” and sang with the trio in GUNS OF A STRANGER, was a former member of the singing group the Sons of the Pioneers. The opening credits also "Introduced" Ronny Robbins (the son of Marty Robbins), Melody Hinkle (likely related to Robert), and Mark Reed. In addition, the film marked Steve Tackett’s film debut.

Production on GUNS OF A STRANGER began in mid-May 1972 and stretched to early September. The film was set in Arizona in 1876, and was shot in Arizona locations, with considerable work being done at Apache Junction, AZ and Old Tucson. Robbins composed and sang five songs in the film: "The Drifter," "Restless Cattle," "The Wind Goes," "Oh, Virginia" and "Lonely Old Bunkhouse.” This combination of music and western action gave the picture the feel of an old Gene Autry western. The film was an independent production of Marty Robbins Enterprises, and was picked up for distribution by Universal Pictures. The 91-minute, G-rated picture was released on 1 May 1973 and played around the country before finally opening in New York in December 1973.

In this scene from the film, Marty Robbins, Don Winters, and Bobby Sykes sing “The Wind Goes.”

Eight years after Robbins’ death, GUNS OF A STRANGER was briefly released on an independently distributed videotape in 1990 from Marty Robbins Inc., but otherwise, the film has remained unavailable for the past 20 years. When the American Film Institute sought out a print for viewing for its cataloging project, the only print that could be found was missing its second reel.

 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 12:32 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The post of April 29, 2013 in this thread discusses a 1974 German film (“Magdalena, vom Teufel Besessen”) that was retitled BEYOND THE DARKNESS for its 1976 U.S. release. But there was another foreign film that was also called BEYOND THE DARKNESS in some English-speaking territories (other than the U.S.). This was a 1979 Italian film, originally called Buio Omega (Dark Holocaust). The film was produced by Marco Rossetti for D.R. Mass Communications and directed by prolific writer, director, and photographer Joe D’Amato. Following a successful career as a cinematographer for some of the best Italian films of the early 1970s (WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO SOLANGE?, THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT, THE ARENA, THE ANTICHRIST), D'Amato made his directorial debut in 1973 with the cult classic DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER. And while his ever-popular "Black Emanuelle" series starring Laura Gemser are his best-known contributions to Eurocult cinema, his most noteworthy horror film remains Buio Omega.

The film’s story is credited to writers Ottavio Fabbri and Giacomo Guerrini (neither of whom would work on more than a handful of films). D’Amato takes a director of photography credit under his given name, Aristide Massaccessi. The original shooting format of the film was Super 16, with a shooting aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Theatrical presentations were blown up to 35mm and would have been anywhere from 1.66:1 to 1.85:1.

In the film, young taxidermist Frank (Kieran Canter), recent beneficiary of his dead parent’s sprawling estate and financial assets, is in love with the ailing Anna (Cinzia Monreale), but jealous house maid Iris (Franca Stoppi,) wants Frank for herself. While Anna lies wasting away in a hospital bed, Iris tries killing her with voodoo magic, hoping that Anna’s death will drive Frank right into her arms. But Anna’s demise only succeeds in turning Frank’s love into a deadly obsession. The 94-minute film was shot in Alto Adige, Italy, with interiors at Cine International, Rome. The film opened in Italy on 15 November 1979.

Buio Omega was not released in the U.S. until 1984, when Aquarius Releasing distributed an R-rated dubbed version under the title BURIED ALIVE.

Here is the film’s theatrical trailer, using the film’s international English title BEYOND THE DARKNESS:

The film was scored by Goblin, and the score has been released on CD by Cinevox. Here is the main title track:

BEYOND THE DARKNESS was originally released on video in 1986 on a cassette from Thriller Video, under the title BURIED ALIVE.

The film was released on DVD in 2002 by Shriek Show / Media Blasters and on Blu-ray in 2011. The DVD release may be cut by several minutes to 91 minutes (reports vary), and the Blu-ray reportedly runs a half-minute shorter than the DVD.

 Posted:   Jun 9, 2013 - 2:58 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

HEX was a 1973 film set in 1919 in the fictional town of Bingo, Nebraska, during the years immediately after the First World War. A band of motorcyclists blows into town and messes with two sisters with psychic powers. This gets a hex cast on them by one of the sisters, whose father was a Native American shaman. The bikers soon depart this world in not so natural ways.

The opening credits of HEX introduce Mike Combs, Doria Cook, and Tina Herazo. HEX marked Combs's only film credit, and Cook previously had appeared only on television. HEX was Tina Herazo's only appearance billed under her real name before changing her professional name to Cristina Raines, as she was credited in numerous later film and television productions. Herazo and Hilary Thompson (billed as Hilarie Thompson) starred as the psychic sisters. The Philippine-born Herazo had appeared in only one other film, the Andy Sidaris exploitationer STACEY. Thompson had been acting since the late 1960s in both films (WHEN ANGELS GO, TROUBLE FOLLOWS – 1968) and television (“Bewitched,” Gunsmoke”), and was part of the ensemble cast of the short-lived 1970 youth-culture television series “The Young Rebels.”

The members of the biker gang in the film were also in their early days as actors, but would soon become better known. They included Keith Carradine, Scott Glenn, Gary Busey, Dan Haggerty, and Robert Walker, Jr. A cast and crew list states that character actor John Carradine, whose son Keith portrayed "Whizzer," was cast in the uncredited role of an old gunman. However, he does not appear in existing prints.

Director Leo Garen had only one short film and one TV episode on his resume, and was directing his first feature. Garen co-scripted the film with another first time writer, Stephen Katz, based on a story by Vernon Zimmerman and Doran William Cannon. Cannon was the writer of Otto Preminger’s 1968 disastrous acid trip SKIDOO and Robert Altman’s admirable 1970 post-M*A*S*H flop BREWSTER McCLOUD. Vernon Zimmerman had written and directed a more conventional exploitation film, the 1972 roller derby flick UNHOLY ROLLERS.

The working title of HEX was “Grasslands.” The MPAA website also lists “Charms” as an alternate title. A major portion of the film was shot in South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. HEX was produced by Max L. Raab Productions for Twentieth Century Fox. Executive producer Raab was a former clothier turned filmmaker. He had executive produced 1971’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

A crew listing for HEX indicates that Pat Williams was originally assigned to compose, arrange and conduct the score, but the onscreen credits list only Charles Bernstein for music. According to Gergely Hubai’s book Torn Music: Rejected Film Scores – A Selected History, Pat Williams had been recommended to director Leo Garen by Fox music director Lionel Newman. But “Garen was unsatisfied with Williams’ score, preferring music that was not so traditional, not so genre-bound.” As Charles Bernstein recalls: “I came in and supplied a less conventional score using odd percussion, women’s voices, harmonica, as well as regular instruments recorded over at Fox. Pat’s score was more conventional in the orchestral sense; it played more of the elements of the old West in a traditional manner than it did the sort of oddball, anachronistic time-travel factor where you had elements from the 1960s mixed with the 1800s.”

HEX completed production in 1972, but Twentieth Century Fox delayed releasing the film until its screening at the 1973 Atlanta Film Festival. The 93-minute, PG-rated film went into general release in November 1973. Although author Norman Mailer felt that the film was one of the year's ten best, most reviewers disagreed. Variety’s “Murf” felt that HEX was “laden with too many plot elements, indecisively handled in writing, acting, and direction. . . . Only some superb physical details, supplied largely by nature on the South Dakota locations, are notable. Debuting director Leo Garen, who shares the script blame, seemed more interested in landscapes than drama. . . . Charles Bernstein’s barn-dance-fiddles score simply throws the drama off into further indecisiveness.” Largely agreeing, Boxoffice magazine felt that while “Technical credits, especially editing, are impressive,” the script “has numerous gaping holes.” “The entire production needs more of Keith Carradine’s campy enthusiasm.” Phil Hardy's The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies declares that HEX "crosses elements of the bike film with those of the post-western and the supernatural tale.” Hardy concluded that “The film scarcely succeeds in welding its disparate elements together, but still makes a distinctive, atmospheric impression."

HEX was released as THE SHRIEKING on videotape and laserdisc by Prism Entertainment.

In 2006, Trinity Home Entertainment released a DVD of the film under the title CHARMS, and under that same title the film is available for rental or purchase as a download from Amazon.

Christina Raines would have a significant acting career during the 1970’s and 1980s, with major roles in the features THE SENTINEL and THE DUELLISTS (both 1977), the mini-series “Centennial” (1979) and the series “Flamingo Road” (1982). She left acting in the early 1990s. Hilary Thompson would spend most of her acting career over the next two decades in television guest star roles, with the occasional small part in a feature (THE FURY, NIGHTHAWKS). Doria Cook would have roles in THE PARALLAX VIEW and THE SWARM, among other films.

Story author Vernon Zimmerman would write the 1976 film BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW, which starred a young Lynda Carter, as well as the 1980 slasher FADE TO BLACK. Screenwriter Steve Katz went on to 1980s bubblegum TV (“The A-Team,” “Hardcastle and McCormick”). Leo Garen would never direct another feature. He would script a couple of minor films for cinema (BAND OF THE HAND) and television (“Inflammable”), but over the next two decades, he was basically involved in non-screen work. He died in 2006 at age 70.

 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 11:09 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

FADE TO BLACK-80- Here is a film that did pretty good at the box office, but has been pretty obscure over the years avoiding CABLE TV for the most part in decades.Was on video in the 80's, It's interesting premise about a man who dresses up as famous movie characters and kills people seem at the time to be the type of film that would lead to cult status as years go by. But it has never happened.

 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 11:10 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

dp- sorry

 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 11:31 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

FADE TO BLACK-80- Here is a film that did pretty good at the box office, but has been pretty obscure over the years avoiding CABLE TV for the most part in decades.Was on video in the 80's, It's interesting premise about a man who dresses up as famous movie characters and kills people seem at the time to be the type of film that would lead to cult status as years go by. But it has never happened.

I saw FADE TO BLACK about 6 months ago. Star Dennis Christopher had starred in the Oscar-winning film BREAKING AWAY the year before, but FADE TO BLACK was not nearly as successful. The film's concept is good, but some amateurish acting (not from Christopher) and low production values work against the film. Still worth seeing though.

In 2003, FADE TO BLACK was released by Anchor Bay as one of their "Drive In Horror Double Features," on a double sided DVD with HELL NIGHT (1981).

Here's the film's trailer. The film is available in its entirety on YouTube.

 Posted:   Jul 27, 2013 - 7:36 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

LE CHAT-73- A long time ago in a Montreal hotel in the 80's I caught this film on TV IN French. It stars JEAN GABIN. Have not track it down since. Rare, never saw it listed on American TV. Couldn't find it on video DVD PERHAPS?

 Posted:   Aug 4, 2013 - 4:38 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

TAM LIN, the 1971 film directed by Roddy McDowall (see posting of July 26, 2012), is finally being released on Blu-ray and DVD by Olive Films on 24 September 2013. It's currently ready for pre-order at Amazon:

 Posted:   Aug 4, 2013 - 5:25 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TAM LIN was on WOR TV,channel 9 in NEW YORK back in the 70's I believe just once. Bye bye it went. As I remember I had a hard time staying awake watching it. Now I am not sure was that because as I remember I just came back from a doubleheader at Shea stadium[mets] or because it was an extremely dull film directed at turtle's speed. I would have to check it out again to give a honest opinion.

 Posted:   Aug 4, 2013 - 6:30 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

CALLING BOB - in THE LATE 70'S EARLY 80'S WOR TV CHANNEL 9 IN NEW YORK showed a movie twice and then it seem to have left the face of the earth- It was a very low budget film called TILL DEATH-77- Unknown little cast of about 3 people. the premise was interesting on his wedding night a man loses his bride. The rest of the movie he is communicating with her spirit at the cemetery.A tiny fun gem. Love to check it out after 30 years, any info would be greatly appreciate. Also the film had a very nice opening theme song.

 Posted:   Aug 13, 2013 - 8:35 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

THE ALL AMERICAN GIRL-74- Have not seen this film in decades, has some nice music now doesn't it?

 Posted:   Apr 22, 2014 - 11:25 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

According to the website, on June 10th, in conjunction with New Horizons, Scorpion Releasing will present NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN, a 1972 drive-in horror film from the old New World Pictures library. [See posting of July 10, 2012 in this thread for more details on the film.] Special features on the release include:
  • Brand New HD transfer (16x9, 1:78) from the original IP
  • Interview with star Marlene Clark
  • Interview with Roger Corman
  • Original trailer
    The MSRP for the DVD is $19.95.

     Posted:   Apr 23, 2014 - 7:54 AM   
     By:   dan the man   (Member)


     Posted:   Apr 23, 2014 - 7:54 AM   
     By:   dan the man   (Member)

    NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN was the second feature of a double bill with LADY FRANKENSTEIN in 73 . Released by NEW WORLD PICTURES. I caught it as a kid at the old JEFFERSON THEATRE on 14th street in the BIG APPLE. Film later was put into syndication and shown once and awhile in some markets in America in the 80's. Cut to shreds of course. Was on video in the 80's.

     Posted:   Apr 23, 2014 - 7:59 AM   
     By:   dan the man   (Member)

    TO BOB- Thanks for digging this very successful thread out.

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