As teens, we went to the drive-in for two distinct reasons. First, if we didn't have dates, we'd load up the car, hide a few of our friends, and try to con our way into the all night horror/hump marathon for some good clean pre-cable TV fun. In between trips to the snack bar and peeks at the perversion going on in the steamed up cars around us, we'd witness one lackluster lame s-excuse for mainstream entertainment after another. If we were lucky enough to have a lady present...well, let's just say that what was playing on the massive movie screen ahead couldn't match the action in the backseat. In either case, films like the ones offered in Mill Creek's Drive-In Cult Classics 21 Movie Collection remind us of a time when privacy meant a trip down to the local outdoor Bijou, where entertainment value was less important than availability. Oddly enough, the same can be said for the quantity vs. quality of such a overstuffed DVD release.
32 slices of substrata B-movie mediocrity, most dealing with diddling and the fine art of breast exposure, beginning with:
The Babysitter (1969) - blackmail becomes the norm when a Deputy DA prosecuting a biker gang case falls for a spry teenage temptress.
Best Friends (1975) - four pals head out in a Winnebago in search of fun and frolic, only to find temptation and tragedy.
Blood Lust (1959) - a group of tourists discover a deserted island, and the big game hunter who wants a new kind of 'animal' for sport.
Blood Mania (1970) - dying old men, a big inheritance, and blackmail (yes, again), rear their ugly dramatic head when a doctor finds himself caring for a rich dying patient.
Blue Money (1972) - when the local police start cracking down on smut, porn director Jim must hide his profession from his clueless wife and child.
Carnival of Crime (1962) - a Brazilian businessman is accused of killing his wife, and must find the truth with the help of his best friend.
Cindy and Donna (1971) - it's Sappho in the suburbs as our teen heroine discovers the joys of living vicariously (and awakening sexually) through her half-sister's debauchery.
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (1990) - a sadistic psycho killer stalks models.
The Creeping Terror (1964) - a giant interstellar carpet wrecks havoc on a small California town.
The Devil's Hand (1962) - Lucifer makes them do it as a man and his fiancé are threatened by a Satanic cult.
Double Exposure (1983) - a photographer believes he may be responsible for the gruesome deaths of his models.
The Hearse (1980) - an unbalanced woman takes up residence in her dead aunt's house. Funeral car craziness ensues.
Hot Target (1985) - a housewife sees her chance affair turn deadly when her lover won't take "No" for an answer.
Land of the Minotaur (1976) - three archeologists find themselves up against a cult that worships the mythic monster.
Lurkers (1988) - a young woman goes all M Night on herself when she starts seeing dead people.
Madmen of Mandoras (1963) - it's They Saved Hitler's Brain minus the added footage. So see below.
Malibu Beach (1978) - two beach bums target a sexy female lifeguard as their potential paramour. Groin-based competition ensues.
Malibu High (1979) - a young girl tries to salvage her GPA by sleeping with her teachers. Soon, she's in deep with the local crime syndicate. Huh?
Night Club (1989) - a married couple hopes to convert an abandoned warehouse into a happening hot spot - that is, if they can overcome the local government and pesky crime bosses.
Pick Up (1975) - a pair of horny dames and a RV driving stud hook up and then get lost in the Florida wilderness. Buck naked nookie ensues.
The Pink Angels (1971) - crossdressing bikers take up a quest of sorts, and a retarded road movie breaks out - sort of.
The Pom Pom Girls (1976) - a group of high school kids decide to sow some wild oats before heading off into adulthood.
Separate Ways (1981) - a harried housewife tries to settle her marital discord by having a fling with a younger man.
Single Room Furnished (1968) - a bitter, abandoned woman has a miscarriage. Another tries her hand at waitressing. A third falls into a life of prostitution! And they're all played by the same actress!
Sister In Law (1974) - a hippy returns home to live with his absentee brother. This means more monkeyshines for his sex starved wife.
The Stepmother (1972) - a jealous husband murders his wife's lover and disposes of the body. As he slowly sinks into madness, the Missus must find ways to satisfy her sinister urges.
The Teacher (1974) - a recent high school grad spends the Summer bonking his horndog instructor.
Terrified (1963) - a masked killer is murdering various members of the local victim fodder while a college student tries to write a report on fear.
They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963) - in an attempt to resurrect their fallen leader, a group of dedicated Nazis battle to keep their beloved Fuhrer's noggin alive.
Trip with Teacher (1975) - a group of female students find themselves trapped and terrorized by a group of motorcycle riding roughnecks while on a field trip with their instructor.
Van Nuys Blvd. (1979) - it's time to go cruising in one's tricked out conversion van as our hero heads for the bright lights of the big city.
Weekend with the Babysitter (1971) - the husband of a doped up diva falls for the couple's teenage child care worker.
Let's give each movie their minor mention critically. It's all most deserve anyway.
The Babysitter (***)
If you don't mind old men with young babes, you'll kind of dig this latent exploitation attempt. A little too passive to be potent, but fun nonetheless.
Best Friends (**)
We prefer our '70s love making circa a Chevy Van. Silly, and not half as sexy or scandalous as it thinks it is.
Blood Lust (*1/2)
It's The Most Dangerous Game meets utter stupidity - and the moronic win. Not worth a second look.
Blood Mania (**)
Nude scenes aside, there is nothing here worth mentioning. Plot machinations shouldn't be so robotic and perfunctory.
Blue Money (***)
Pretty good, actually. The behind the scenes insights into the '70s porno biz have a basic snap to them.
Carnival of Crime (*)
Cindy and Donna (**1/2)
It's a skin flicking sleaze fest that will either leave you self-satisfied or in desperate need of a shower. Either way, it's typical passion pit product.
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (*1/2)
With Ross "chili peppers burn my gut" Hagen behind the lens, you know this has to suck sidehackers - and it does!
The Creeping Terror (**1/2)
Coleman Francis may be the king of cinematic inertness, but he has some stiff competition in compatriot Vic Savage. This is one horrifically bad, guiltily pleasurable "pile" of fun.
The Devil's Hand (**)
Too talky to be terrifying, too silly to be scary. Still, there are a couple of effectively eerie moments here and there.
Double Exposure (***)
Violence and nudity galore in a pseudo slasher with a decidedly nasty undercurrent.
The Hearse (***)
A halfway decent shocker with some silly plot elements destroying an otherwise effective spine chiller. A nice throwback to the "Old Dark House" style of horror.
Hot Target (*1/2)
As erotic thrillers go, this one if pretty lame. Luckily, the ample bare bodkin will keep the pervs pleased.
Land of the Minotaur (*)
Though Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing make appearances here, the movie itself is miserable. Dull and dopey.
Roberta Findlay is a icon of exploitation. This hackneyed horror film only soils her otherwise solid directorial reputation. Awful.
Madmen of Mandoras (1/2)
Not even the disembodied head of everyone's favorite Fuhrer can save this nonsense. Makes Ed Wood look like Christopher Nolan.
Malibu Beach (***)
Faux aardvarking and lots of it. Bare breasts and gratuitous shower sequences. What more do you want from a '70s exercise in softcore spelunking?
Malibu High (***)
A truly deranged film. We go from failing grades to bumping off mobsters so quickly that we barely have time to savor the whoring and hooking. And let's not forget the dope jags. Yikes!
Night Club (1/2)
And you thought Carnival of Crime was a snooze fest. A film destined to put you in an irreversible coma.
Pick Up (**1/2)
It's a healthy dose of groovy gratuity as our stars sport their birthday suits and cavort among the swamps of the Sunshine State. Florida never seemed so frisky and fun.
The Pink Angels (**)
Homosexuality is given a stupefying '60s satiric treatment in this lazy Easy Rider in Drag rip-off. Funny at times. A failure the rest of the way.
The Pom Pom Girls (***1/2)
A solid drive-in delight. No unnecessary plot to get in the way of the huffing and puffing and plentiful heavy petting. Pert teen T&A at its crotch grabbing best.
Separate Ways (**)
Crappy kitchen sink melodramatics without a lick of lasciviousness to keep us interested. Boring.
Single Room Furnished (*1/2)
Jayne Mansfield, in her last film appearance, is the big draw here. Unfortunately, her acting talents, not her natural assets, are one display.
Sister In Law (**)
A silly little bit of post-'60s melodrama. The only saving grace? The ample topless footage. Otherwise, a waste of time.
The Stepmother (*)
A relatively monotonous affair saved briefly by MASH's Larry Linville. Otherwise, one to avoid.
The Teacher (**1/2)
Dennis the Menace gets lucky! Former child star Jay North turns softcore in order to save his career. He was more convincing as a towheaded terror to Mr. Wilson.
A fairly decent pre-slasher effort, with an effective use of the ghost town location's atmosphere of dread. Does drag in parts, but is still nice and creepy.
They Saved Hitler's Brain (*)
They should have thrown it away with the rest of the Third Reich's rotten Reich paraphernalia. PU!
Trip with Teacher (**)
While it sounds like a headline from a recent high school expose, this is actually a fairly effective thriller in which a group of bikers threaten some sexy innocents. Definitely has its sick slimeball moments.
Van Nuys Blvd. (*1/2)
It's T&A mixed with a mediocre coming of age. All right in the shown skin subdivision. Boring in the life lessons department.
Weekend with the Babysitter (**)
We liked it better when it was called The Babysitter (see above) - a lot better.
In general, this is a good collection of crap. It doesn't delve too deeply into junky genre elements and delivers enough pre-plastic surgery flesh to get even the most jaded adolescent male clamoring for the Kleenex. On average, the films are more or less shoestring productions, using their equally thin narratives to tack on as many miscreant moments of ersatz erotica as possible. Go in expecting art and you'll be gravely disappointed. Tone your tendencies down to "tawdry" or "tacky" and you'll be just fine.
With over 46 hours - the HOURS with a "H", mind you - of video to consider, it's hard to give a solid, all encompassing score. In fact, it's safe to say that map readers everywhere will be a little irritated at how spread out over the visual topography this box set is. Most come in 1.33:1 full screen prints. Others have pseudo-letterboxing, while just a couple are anamorphic (you can usually tell by the date). Colors are often faded and soft with details lacking. Since Crown International Pictures is responsible for these efforts, the original stock is probably as much to blame as the transfer. Running the gamut from watchable to WTF?, the image issues here are plentiful and problematic. Don't expect reference quality, film geeks!
Equally disturbing. Most of the sonic situation here is passable. A few presentations force the standard Mono into a Dolby Digital 2.0 faux stereo standoff. The music is occasionally overmodulated and there is a harsh, tinny quality everpresent. With some of the newer films, the aural aspects of the disc are decidedly better. Overall, the soundscapes provided are just as varied and volatile as the hit or miss prints on display.
There is a commentary on Van Nuys Blvd. A few of the films are offered in a "Drive-In" recreation dynamic that provides trailers, snack bar ads, and other passion pit admonishments. In general, however, the 12 disc set strikes out in the added content category.
Even though most of the movie represent the unbelievable bottom of the barrel in regards to cinematic scrapings, this set is going to earn a Recommended rating. Of course, your key question is now "Why?" - Why, if the transfers are frequently garbage and the movies themselves are a rollercoaster of ridiculousness? Why, if the sexuality is safe and the sleaze several notches below a Something Weird level of lurid? Why this, if there are indeed better packages and presentations out there? The answer is relatively simple - more and more bad movie bang for your digital buck. Where else would you get 32 Crown International artifacts for such a low, low price. While a collection of the studio's horror output would be far more interesting, this look at the passion pit product of yesteryear is a genial, if often fetid, walk down movie memory lane. Now, let's go get some Smithfield BBQ!
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