Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ophidiophobia!

Another 42nd Street Forever DVD just came out, and it's just as good as the last. Over 50 movie trailers from the 70's and 80's of films, most of which, have yet to see proper DVD release. And as last time, you get commentaries loaded with trivia about individual movies. This time AVMANIACS Editor Edwin Samualson is joined by Fangoria's managing editor Michael Gingold. The folks at Synapse films are truly doing a public service. I'm still amazed so many films aren't available on DVD. These guys are too. And though they wouldn't be thrilled if Americathon ever came out, I know I sure would be.

The folks at the now defunct BCI Entertainment were also doing quite the public service as well. Having provided DELUXE reissues of genre obscurities for a few years, it seems the poor economy has hit them so hard they have gone out of business. From Mexican and Spanish horrors to Martial Arts and forgotten B-movies to obscure TV show compilations, I'm hoping someone can pick up the ball where BCI has dropped it. A few of the final releases, which kinda don't even exist, yet somehow showed up anyway, includes the fourth volume of the Drive-In Classics series. As usual it contains 8 1970's drive-in classics for around ten bucks. This one has "The Van" starring Danny Devito, Chain Gang Women (from the director of The Thing with Two Heads!), and the Young Graduates (starring a sexy Bruno Kirby!). The final release I was most excited to see was of obscure (naturally) early 70's enviro-horror film STANLEY. The story of Vietnam vet/Seminole Indian Tim (Chris Robinson from General Hospital)living and raising snakes in the Florida everglades. Tim's being done wrong by some carpetbaggers itching to get ahold of his daddies land and the snakes that live there. Yes, it is Willard with snakes. Done as deluxe as needs to be, this has loads of commentaries and documentaries with and about most of the main people involved in making it. The only person missing is lead bad-guy Alex Rocco, though he's covered with a story about how Stanley opened in theaters the same day as The Godfather and that Alex was in both. You'll all remember him as Moe Greene, who is famously shot in the eye. Or you may remember him as Jo's father on Facts of Life. You'll certainly NOT remember him from George Carlin's 1994 sitcom, The George Carlin Show. Throughout the late 70's/early 80's Stanley showed up here in Chicago on the late show on channel 7 and I seemed to have seen it each time. I remember it so well, though it's not just because I saw it a handful of times in my youth, but because it was one of the few horror films/b-movies Gene Siskel actually reviewed in his column. Ya see, back in junior high, I'd spend hours going through old issues of the Chicago Tribune at the Library looking for movie reviews of films of interest, and Stanley was one of the few. And Gene Siskel even kinda liked it! A two and a half star review isn't a rave, but when it came to "those kind of films", it really stood out. Siskel was most taken with the "death by quicksand" scene, and I concur.
Since Stanley came out, it has taken a lot of grief for showing the apparent mutilation of scores of snakes. It sure looks like understandable outrage once you see the film, BUT according to Star Chris Robinson, he remembers using nothing but rubber snakes or already dead ones for those scenes. It's the story of how they made the live snakes docile that offends me.

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