Bruno Mattei's THE SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS (1983, 86 min.) on YouTube for the first time.The screenwriter/director of "Troll 2" ripping off Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" for the director of "Hell of the Living Dead," starring TV's "Incredible Hulk" and the chick from "Howling II:... Your Sister Is a Werewolf." Did I mention this is a Cannon Group joint? With the number of strikes against it before it was even made, you'll be surprised that "The Seven Magnificent Gladiators" (get it? :-() isn't the disaster it could have been as the 'B' feature the Italians got out of Lou Ferrigno and Sybil Danning when they flew them to Rome in '82 to do Luigi Cozzi's "Hercules." There's a Roman village with women, children and old men terrorized by a Freddie Mercury-lookalike and his men. Only Han (Solo?), the man strong-enough to wield the Sword of Achiles, can lead a group of warriors into battle to save 'em. You know, just like that other "Seven Samurai" ripoff ("̶T̶h̶e̶ ̶M̶a̶g̶n̶i̶f̶i̶c̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶S̶e̶v̶e̶n̶"̶ "Battle Beyond the Stars") that Danning had already starred in for Roger Corman three years prior. THIS-SYBIL-KNOWS-HERSELF-SPLOITATION! ;-)Compared with "Hercules'" shitty overload of crappy effects shots this flick's simple 'good vs. evil' plot, basic camera set-ups and peplum-soaked outfits feel refreshing. Like almost every Cannon movie a massacre in which the good guys slaughter dozens of generic baddies ensues, except here it's with lances, swords, arrows and H̶e̶r̶c̶ Ferrigno & Co. instead of Bronson/Norris wielding machine guns. You can tell how high Danning's star power was at the time because, unlike every other Italian actress relegated to 'mother,' 'worried girlfriend' or 'defenseless victim' roles, her Julia character kicks butt alongside the guys. And hey, while everyone else is one-dimensional (all the men can think about is sex) Sybil's character is two-dimensional (all she thinks about is gold AND sex)! Not the worst movie I've seen for Junesploitation! (oh, that one's coming, and it's a beaut! :'(), this one gets by on below-surface expectations being surpassed. For a Bruno Mattei flick that's a major complement.
Daughter of Death a.k.a. Julie Darling (1983)This is on Prime so I imagine there may be a few people watching it today and so I won't say much. Isabelle Mejias is sufficiently creepy as a daughter afflicted with an Electra complex though, while Sybil Danning doesn't get a whole lot to do.
Warrior Queen (1987, dir. Chuck Vincent)Chuck Vincent directing, written by frequent Jess Franco collaborator Harry Alan Towers, and produced by Joe D'Amato. Whew! Sybil is top billed, but says maybe three lines, despite actually being in the movie quite a bit. The first thing that happens is her gouging out a dude's eye with a sword! The movie focuses mostly on a slave girl who's being pursued by three different dudes (one of them Rick Hill, the Deathstalker!) It really wants to be Caligula, and most of it is scenes of decadence and brutality, largely cheap-as-hell looking orgies and gladiatorial events staged by Donald Pleasance to try and impress Sybil. She's really there to rescue the aforementioned slave girl, and gets her chance when Mount Vesuvius erupts during the climax! A bunch of footage from The Last Days of Pompeii shows up suddenly. Since Joe D'Amato produced, I would bet there's a few Italian porno movies from the same year that were also shot on these sets (I mean, Samantha Fox is also in this.)The Phantom Empire (1988, dir. Fred Olen Ray)Goddamn Fred Olen Ray probably could've been great if he hadn't insisted on trying to be so damn funny all the time... because besides being a lame goofball, the guy had great taste. This is his riff on serials and center-of-the-earth movies. It's about a team looking for a lost city after a cave monster from there kills Dukey Flyswatter in the opening (I love Dukey Flyswatter.) The whole first half is just the cast wandering around a cave making wisecracks. Ross Hagen is a roguish adventurer, sort of what we would've got if they'd cast Ernest Borgnine as Indiana Jones. Jeffrey Combs is a scientist tagging along, and they run into a bunch of cavegirls including Michelle Bauer, and ruled by cruel space-bitch by Sybil, who's got a supercar and a cave full of computer banks. The team escapes but runs into some awesome stop-motion dinosaurs. A closing (joke?) title card promises a sequel that never happened.Day of the Cobra (1980, dir. Enzo G. Castellari)This is AWESOME. This is a really good movie. Franco Nero is a down on his luck private investigator, hired by an old buddy to hunt down some drug trafficker. Sybil is a nightclub DJ(!) he falls for. I think this is at least as good as Sharky's Machine, so check it out.
Maybe I'm overselling Day of the Cobra. I dunno. It was a lot better than I was expecting, at least.
I really wanted to watch it for today but wasn't able to secure a copy in time. Looks great, so I'm happy to hear you dug it.
Julie Darling (1983)Known on Amazon Prime as Daughter of Death (and elsewhere as Bad Blood). I think Ross is correct that quite a few people will be watching this today, so I won’t spoil any major jaw-dropping moments (I can think of two right off). The film deals with a teenaged girl with an (ahem) unhealthy interest in her father. Daddy brings home Sybil, and it’s on. The film is well-shot, well-directed, and well-acted. The main issue I have with it is that the lovely Ms. Danning doesn’t have much to do. The film frustratingly teases a tense, cat-and-mouse game between Julie and Sybil, even to the point of showing the two of them playing a chess game. Unfortunately, the film stays squarely focused on Julie and her various machinations. This is not a bad movie by any stretch – I just wish we had more Sybil. I will say, the ending is profoundly satisfying.
Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf (1985)Yeah that was a movie. I wish I liked this movie, it's strange enough. But I was mostly confused. But that could have been my mood, I wasn't in a good mood. But I did like a couple of things Christopher Lee reading us a bed time story, complete with skeletons in the background. And Sybil Danning's outfit complete with sun glasses (and yes she looks as though she's a 7 foot tall amazon). Actually I enjoyed myself more anytime anyone was wearing sun glasses.
The Tomb (1986, dir. Fred Olen Ray)How can a movie with both Sybil Danning AND Michelle Bauer suck this hard? (Checks director again) Oh, right. Sybil is a cameo in the opening five minutes. May have to watch the end credits of Howling II just to salvage the day.
YouTube is your friend. :-)
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Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)First viewing. Star Wars meets the Magnificent Seven, or I guess you could call it proto-Mass Effect. I was surprised at the earnest nature of the Corman produced, Star Wars inspired film. Much better acting and a more coherent story than the similar Star Crash. Sybil Danning (it is her day after all) is the definition of statuesque as Saint Exmin the Valkyrie, one of the mercenaries brought together by Richard Thomas to save his planet (others include George Peppard, John Saxon, and Robert Vaughn).I was expecting a "so bad, it's good" experience. What I got was a "so okay, it's just okay." Entertaining, but nothing amazing here (aside from Danning's wardrobe).Also: That ship has boobs.
Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf aka Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch (1985, dir. Philippe Mora)It's not just you, Lindsay, the movie is an incoherent mess that's edited all to hell (apparantly by the studio without the director's input). And yes, the end credits were the best part, as advertized.
Still looking forward to hearing the commentary though.
Very much looking forward to the commentary! And you are right about the editing, left and right sometimes had no meaning
I've watched 3-4 times with commentary. It's very good, even though Patrick very much dislikes the movie.
Malibu Express (1985)Charmingly, the "high-tech" opening credits appear to have been created on an Apple IIc. This is actually a surprisingly timely movie, centering as it does around computer files getting leaked to Russian intelligence. That being said, being an Andy Sidaris movie it really has nothing on its mind other than boobs and bloodshed. Mostly boobs.Woman of the hour Sybil Danning is the fabulously-named Contessa Luciana, and like everyone else she's really just there to show off her...ahem...assets. There's nothing as memorably goofy as Hard Ticket to Hawaii's frisbee decapitation or rubber snake, but there's still plenty of fun to be had for the undiscerning late-night Cinemax viewer. It's the kind of movie Junesploitation was made for.
I'm piggybacking as I watched this today and your review sums it up perfectly.
THE TOMB (1986) Archeologists unleash an evil spirit when they invade the titular tomb. This one’s bland, with little thrills or action. No one seems upset about being stalked by… wait, what is this monster? She’s a mummy in some scenes, a vampire in others, and a ghost in others. Too bad there’s more of the characters hanging out in a bar than there is monster action. Skip this one. MALIBU EXPRESS (1985) I guess Andy Sidaris decided he wanted to direct an episode of Simon and Simon, but with all the nudity that TV censors won’t allow. I’d like to give Sidaris the benefit of the doubt and say this is all tongue-in-cheek, but there’s so much sexism in this that it stops being jiggly fun after a while and becomes an “I need a shower after watching this” movie.JULIE DARLING (1983) What starts out looking and feeling like a stock made-for-TV movie becomes something a lot more interesting, and a lot more uncomfortable. I liked Sybil Danning in this. She got to play an ordinary person rather than her usual badass sex goddess persona, and she’s just as good at it.
They’re Playing With Fire (1984) (First Time Viewing):Starts out promising with teacher Sybil Danning seducing a student, followed by some wicked mean-spirited killings, but quickly devolves into a pretty boring mystery. The only part of this I really enjoyed was Sybil’s performance. She’s pretty great here, and Sybil and her Dannings are bared on-screen a lot! I haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast today but I’m hoping you guys cover it. In honor of this special day I say RECOMMENDED.
Listened. Turns out you guys like it WAY more than I did and I totally get it. I think I just was more intrigued by the initial premise than the slasher it morphed into. And I wanted more Sybil!
Thanks Matt, I went with this one.
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)S. Danning (as credited) isn't in much of this Italian horror(?) film, but she certainly does a lot with that time. I actually really liked this movie a lot. It follows two sisters who don't get along, and end up inheriting a castle that they don't want to share. That's a very watered down summary, but there's actually a lot to unpack. My biggest takeaways are: I could watch Barbara Bouchet in anything, and I will never climb over a spiked fence again.
I finally got my copy of this! I might try and squeeze it in for Italain Horror, sounds good.
It's a great pick for that day. I'm sure you'll like it a lot, and it'll look amazing on Blu-ray.
They're Playing With Fire (1984)First, it's a teacher-student sex comedy that fulfills its promise in under 10 minutes. Then, it becomes a weird hybrid of horror when a slasher appears. The movie is also a clusterfuck, but in the greatest way. Sybil Danning and Eric Brown have terrible chemistry(most of the blame should go to Brown, who is awful and whiny). The acting from the supporting cast is...broad. Also, if you've seen an 80s slasher, you can guess the killer halfway through. anning(both clothed and unclothed) through sheer will makes it all work. Fun fact: It also stars Joey(RIP) from Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.
I couldn't agree more with the lack of chemistry between those two! He was quite whinny and well, one dimensional really.
They're Playing With Fire (1984): Basically what Shannon said but it didn entirely work for me as much. I am not sure I get the Sybil Danning thing yet. Side note, this could be that I don't have a part of the element of enjoyment I can see some have as she isn't really my type. Pam Grier om the other hand... But that is another matyer entirely haha.I am new. What do I do?
P.s This also might not have helped the film that I have had a really stupid fly flying around. I cannot get out of my room so I was highly irritated by this throughout most of the film haha.
Ha! You need to take care of fly before it ruins any more movies.
You didn't hear a faint cry of help from the fly, did you?
Luckily I got it to leave, I think it went for a pint at my local pub after that!
Jungle Warriors (1983, dir. Ernst R. von Theumer) Lackluster in most every respect. Sybil shows up 38 minutes in as one of the villains and even then she's barely in the picture (Wasted-Opportunity-sploitation). At least Paul Smith and John Vernon are amusing in their roles, but just enough. The rest is walking and talking through the jungle, casual sexism, abrupt cuts around the presumably graphic scenes of violence and sleaze (the upload I watched on YouTube is most apparently a truncated version), walking and talking through a coke den, and an explosive yet boring climax. Skip it.
They're Playing With Fire (1984) After hearing everyone on all the podcasts I listen too talk about this movie I had to check it our for myself. It's pretty banana's and tonally its all over the place. All in all a lot of fun!
They're Playing with Fire (1984)Well I've heard so much about this one I'm glad I finally saw it. I don't want to rain on people's parade so I won't say much because I didn't care for it. I probably would have had a different experience if I went in blind. But I heard SO MUCH about it on this show and Shockwaves that my biggest surprise was it wasn't nearly as crazy as I was expecting.
Julie Darling (1983)There's some good stuff here! End of review :)
Julie Darling (1983) I know the phrase is "whatever floats your boat" but really Julie?
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)Not the best choice for Sybil Danning day because she's not in it much, but it was a fun giallo, if a little staid. Which is ridiculous, because the movie is nuts by the standards of movies that aren't Italian horror. It does feature that old giallo staple: a scientific explanation for seemingly supernatural events that feels less plausible than the supernatural explanation would have. So it has that going for it.I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't already acquired a taste for giallos; it might feel a little slow and silly if you're not already on board with the particular grammar of these films. If you've already gone down the rabbit hole and you're running out of Argento, Fulci, Martino, etc., you'll enjoy yourself. And it has Sybil Danning in it.But I listened to the podcast and the correct choice for today was clearly Chained Heat, which sounds like an even sleazier (crazier?) version of Riki-Oh. Seeing Chained Heat is my new mission in life.
Chained Heat (1983) I did it, Patrick and Elrics Sybil triple feature and it did not disappoint. I got halfway through watching Caged Heat before I realized I was watching the wrong movie (although an equally bonkers movie), I felt like a dummy. After realizing that, REAL chained Heat was crazy. Linda Blaire feels sadly outshines by everyone else's over the top performances, still this one was my fav out of the three.
Daughter of Death (1983)A daughter's love for her father is a beautiful thing. I don't see what the big deal is.
Howling II: Your sister is a c̶o̶y̶o̶t̶e̶ werewolf (1985) aka Howling II: Stirba - werewolf bitchI watched with the Fthismovie commentary. When did that werewolf bitch put those sunglasses on? How did that band get teleported to the werewolf castle near the end during the orgy? What was the backstory behind the "blessed earplugs"? Why is the protagonist dressed head to toe in denim? Why was George Lucas brought into the editing room to add a million swipes?I'm with Heather on this one. This movie is full of werewolves.
Chained Heat (1983)What better time to catch up to a classic I'd never seen before - this has got to be one of the quintessential exploitation flix as it just has every seedy element a bunch of weirdos like us would want in this kind of movie. My heart belongs to Linda Blair but Sybil manages to wring a surprisingly powerful performance out of this blood and sweat-soaked rag of a movie. And I want (fellow Canuck) John Vernon to be the villain in everything - such a great voice and clearly gives his all. Loved it.
My heart belongs to Linda too....but that hair though. wowser....
Ugh. Yesterday totally got away from me. Not enough hours in the day. I now want to watch everything everyone watched.
They're Playing with Fire (1984)Mix the teen sex comedy, crime thriller, slasher genres together and top it off with Sybil Danning's boobs and you have this. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoy this film a lot.
Chained Heat (1983) First time viewing, and was looking forward to it even more after Patrick and Elric's excellent podcast. Totally wild and WTF exploitation cinema. Great fun.