Friday, July 8, 2022

My Junesploitation Diary, Part 2

by Anthony King
Dear diary: Fine, I’m sleazy.

Full disclosure, we went on vacation from day 23 to day 27, and then we got stranded in Charlotte, NC so I wasn’t home until Day 30. No worries, though! I came prepared, having watched all my remaining Junesploitation movies before we left and got stuck in canceled flight purgatory. In this second part you will find my second favorite discovery of the month, as well as another film that made my teeth itch (that’s not a good thing). And if you missed it, read part one here.
Day 16: ‘80s Action
Savage Island (1985, Ted Nicolaou)
(*extreme Tom Papa voice) Have you ever been misled by marketing materials of a movie? I have. With Linda Blair’s name above the title, the tagline “She will blow you away,” and the word “savage” in the title, I thought this might be a loose sequel to the brilliantly sleazy Savage Streets. Sadly it is not. This also isn’t horrible, though. Linda Blair’s in it, sure, for the first five minutes holding an uzi on a fatcat in a suit sitting behind a desk in a skyscraper. She starts telling him she figured out his plan, which then turns into weird narration as we’re whisked away to the jungles of South America. And then she’s just gone. We no longer hear her voice and she’s not one of the scantily clad jungle prisoners. She comes back for 30 seconds at the end, but it is one of the most exploitational casting/billing choices I’ve ever seen. Women kidnapped and sold as slaves in the jungle escape and plot their revenge and it’s a good, sweaty time.

Day 17: Fulci!
Aenigma (1987, Lucio Fulci)
Like every single Fulci movie I’ve seen, it takes me a couple (or several) watches to fully appreciate the movie at hand. Such is the case with Aenigma. It’s perfectly fine, but I can already tell upon further exploration of the movie it will join Zombie, New York Ripper, and City of the Living Dead as my favorites of his. As it stands, it’s living right in the middle with the likes of Manhattan Baby. A dead teenage girl comes back and possesses other teenage girls to exact her revenge.

Day 18: Cannon!
Bolero (1984, John Derek)
I thought I’d be clever and watch one of the non-action Cannon movies. I regret my decision. Along with Private Lessons, this ties as my most uncomfortable watch of the month. Of the year. Possibly of my life. First you have John Derek exploiting his wife Bo. Then you have Golan and/or Globus yelling, “MORE! DIRTIER! GROSSER!” On top of that, this is one of the stupidest movies I’ve ever seen. I cannot state how much I wanted to scoop my brain out through my nose and pan fry it while watching it. But I finished it. All 105 minutes of it. A virginal woman travels the world looking for her perfect mate and has a sexual awakening in the process with, among others, a bull fighter and a prince. Yuck.

Day 19: Free Space!
Massacre Mafia Style (1974, Duke Mitchell); Gone with the Pope (1976/2010, Duke Mitchell); The Food of the Gods (1976, Bert I. Gordon)
Thank the good lord above that he blessed us with Duke Mitchell and his brilliant creative mind because I surely needed a pick-me-up after my Bolero disaster. Mitchell only directed two movies, and they’ve been on my watchlist for a few years. Like the bar I had set for No Escape, I was sure Massacre Mafia Style wouldn’t be able to attain the heights I had set in my mind, but dear reader, I was not disappointed! This is a film made by a man who had a passion to make very Italian-American movies and showcase his version of The Godfather. My favorite part of both of Duke’s movies is how much lip kissing there is between men. Not in any sort of sexual way, it’s just a very endearing way Duke expressed his affection for his fellow brothers. Duke plays Mimi, the son of a mob boss, who, with his friend, goes around killing other mob enforcers and bosses to get to the top. In Gone With the Pope, Duke plays a gangster who kidnaps the Pope and demands $1 from every Catholic in the world. It’s as amazing as it is ridiculous. Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing lovingly restored (and finished Pope) by rescuing elements of the films after Duke’s death in 1981 resulted in his not finishing them. And with the remaining time I had this day I got a jump start on MarJuly by watching Marjoe Gortner and Ida Lupino battle giant bugs and rats in this H.G. Wells adaptation.

Day 20: Regional Horror!
I Eat Your Skin (1971, Del Tenney)
Speaking of Grindhouse Releasing, I had always assumed I Eat Your Skin was going to be another hippie-acid trip-murder spree movie like it’s counterpart I Drink Your Blood. Sadly, it is not. While I appreciate the regional aspect of the movie (having been shot in Florida), it is a far less superior version of the Val Lewton-produced classic I Walk With a Zombie. It’s fine, don’t get me wrong. But having spoken to Danny Peary about the film that launched his Cult Movies books, IEYS just made me want to watch Zombie. A doctor on a remote island in the Caribbean is experimenting with natives and turning them into zombies in order to conquer the world.
Day 21: Jackie Chan!
Fearless Hyena (1979, Jackie Chan)
Jackie Chan day is always a highlight of every Junesploitation, and this year I went further back in his filmography than I usually do every June and watched one of his classic kung fu films. Like most of his movies, Fearless Hyena is full of amazing stunts and gut-busting laughs. I couldn’t help but see the similarities with Crystal Fist, one of the kung fu movies I recommended here. But, obviously, Jackie Chan makes any movie better. Jackie plays the grandson of a kung fu master who teaches him a very specific fighting style. After his grandfather is murdered, Jackie seeks out the man who killed his master.

Day 22: Lethal Ladies!
‘Gator Bait (1974, Beverly & Ferd Sebastian)
I think it’s high time we crown Claudia Jennings Queen of Junesploitation. With titles like Truck Stop Women, Moonshine County Express, and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (plus a dozen others) under her belt, she is one of the few actors that will always be a part of Junesploitation. Unfortunately this didn’t land for me. Think Smokey and the Bandit in the swamp but less fun. Jennings is Desiree Thibodeau, a cajun “swamp rat” who supports her family by poaching. After an attempted rape and an accidental death, the local sheriff and another inbred family go hunting Desiree, but she gets her revenge for all the abuse she and her family have suffered.

Day 23: Giallo!
The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971, Sergio Martino)
I’m sorry, but I just don’t like giallo movies. In fact, I find them boring as sin. I’ll see myself out. I thought, “Hey, here’s one everybody seems to rave about. I can’t not like this one, right?” Wrong. Listen, I could watch Edwige Fenech all day long, but after the 99th red herring, I could care less about who’s stalking her and killing her friends. By the time the twist is revealed (in any giallo) I’m just relieved it’s almost over. A beautiful woman begins an affair while her husband is frequently out of town, people start dying, and she can’t figure out which of the 400 suspects it really is.

Day 24: ‘90s Comedy
House Party (1990, Reginald Hudlin)
I cannot believe it took me 32 years to finally see House Party. I remember being at the video store and begging my parents to let me rent it over and over and over again, always getting the same answer: no. As expected it’s very cheesy and very '90s. But also very funny. Martin Lawrence begging Play not to damage his DJ equipment had me in tears. I assume the other four House Party movies aren’t as good, but I’m not averse to a House Party marathon. A House Parathon, if you will. After getting in a fight at school and getting grounded, Kid has to find a way to get to Play’s party.

Day 25: Revenge!
Day of the Woman aka I Spit on Your Grave (1978, Meir Zarchi)
I know I’m in the excruciatingly small camp of people who enjoy or look forward to watching films others deem too hard or too gross to watch (Henry, Salo, Martyrs, Last House on the Left, Come and See, etc.), but, sorry, I do. The controversy surrounding and the history of Day of the Woman (and all these other types of movies) is truly fascinating to me. Why was it made? What was going on in the world at the time? How was it received? How is it received now? These are the things that make these hard to watch movies fascinating, and yes, enjoyable to me. I Spit on Your Grave is your typical rape-revenge movie, but the revenge is so satisfying.
Day 26: Free Space!
Fritz the Cat (1972, Ralph Bakshi)
I’ve written about Bakshi in the past, and I’ve podcasted about some of his movies. I appreciate his art and his voice. And Fritz was a movie whose reputation preceded it: “The animation film rated X.” Folks, it was a chore. The character of Fritz was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe because I was never a partier, I found Fritz and his exploits quite tedious. So tedious, in fact, that, similar to the reasons I like watching those hard-to-watch movies, I couldn’t care less about WHY Bakshi was making this movie. What was this in response to? Who gives a shit. Shut that stupid cat up, lock his ass up in the pound, and give me some Pyun.

Day 27: Albert Pyun!
Cyborg (1989, Albert Pyun)
I have seen exactly two Albert Pyun movies – Radioactive Dreams and Nemesis – both of which I enjoyed. What I love even more is how much love there is for this man. In my opinion, Albert Pyun doesn’t seem to make “great” movies. But he makes purely authentic movies; movies he wants to make. And how could one not love someone like that? And I love that people cheer for Albert Pyun and his films with genuine, unironic devotion. I decided this year to cross off the biggie of his filmography. If you read me regularly you know I’m not a big action guy. I can appreciate the work that goes into making an action, and the work that goes into making an action star, but I don’t typically live in that world. Needless to say, I enjoy JCVD as much as the next layman. But Cyborg? Woof. I wasn’t expecting great (or even good) performances. I wasn’t expecting a story that kept me on the edge of my seat. What I got was embarrassingly bad performances from all involved and a story I didn’t care about. Again, I’ll see myself out. It’s another post-apocalyptic world and JCVD is out to save the day.

Day 28: ‘80s Horror!
The Undertaker (1988, Franco Steffanino)
I really needed a win after two films that seemed like work to sit through. Joe Spinnell to the rescue! It’s another version of Maniac, a role for which Joe became synonymous, but he plays it so well. And like Nicolas Cage, you could always tell Joe was always happy to work. Joe plays Uncle Roscoe, a mortician who kills local townspeople and keeps them as friends in the basement of his funeral parlor. His nephew suspects something is amiss and enlists the help of his college professor.

Day 29: Sword and Sorcery!
Black Angel (1980, Roger Christian)
Along with space day and giallo day, sword and sorcery day is always the pits for me. I cannot stand fantasy movies. To give you a clue as to how much I dislike these movies, I would rather sit through a 24-hour giallo marathon than watch one S&S movie. My wife is rewatching Game of Thrones right now and my eyes cannot roll any further in the back of my head whenever I look up from my computer. So, technically I watched a S&S movie, but I watched a short S&S movie. Twenty-five minutes, to be exact. And guess what? It was good. Roger Christian is most known for the Travolta disaster Battlefield Earth, but I reviewed his film The Sender last year and enjoyed it immensely. I always like watching the early shorts from filmmakers to see where it all began for them. Most of the time you’ll see very bad films, but every now and then you’ll get an extremely strong outing like Black Angel. Christian got his start as an art director and set decorator on movies like Star Wars and Alien, so he had some great experience coming into his first directorial effort. In Black Angel, a knight is rescued by a maiden who is being held captive by the Black Angel, whom he battles to free the maiden.

Day 30: DTV!
Blood Type (2019, Kevin Wayne)
We’ve come to the end, and I had no idea where to start. I thought I might try one of the DTV Cages or Travoltas Adam and Patrick discussed last year, but I only had so much time, so I found an hour-long movie that turned out to be a pilot for a planned webseries. And a pilot to a planned web series it was! Again, the top billed actor, the one and only Don Swayze, shows up for maybe seven minutes, delivering a performance that puts everyone to shame. If you’ve read the Mike Carey novel or seen the Colm McCarthy movie The Girl With All the Gifts, then you’re better off not watching Blood Type. But if you want to see some people obviously giving everything they have to make a cool, dystopian vampire show, then give Blood Type an hour of your time. A man wakes up after an undetermined amount of time to be in the middle of a world-ending, viral outbreak. He’s taken to a secret bunker filled with survivors and reveals he may have the key to ending the outbreak.

There you have – another successful Junesploitation in the books. In fact, I got so high from watching movies this month (the only drug in which I partake nowadays) that in between bouts of Neon Badges you will be getting a new column from me focusing exclusively on the underseen, underrated, and under-the-radar movies to which I normally flock. Godspeed, and keep it sleazy!


  1. You should do a House Party Marathon. But only the first 3. After that, the 2 main dudes are not in it anymore (maybe a cameo or something)

    I actually did a marathon this weekend. Fun times

  2. My fav thing about Junesploitation is the wonderful suggestions and reviews from the F This Crew. Therefore i SO appreciate you taking the time to document and share your diary! Thanks Anthony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!