|Cheap, Fast, and Out of This
World: The Untamed Age of Grindhouse and Drive-In Movies!!
Just after World War II, drive-in theatres began
sprouting across America, becoming a fast-growing, viable alternative to your neighborhood
movie house (remember when James Cagney as Cody Jarrett pulled into a drive-in to hide out
in WHITE HEAT?) Soon, drive-ins became the refuge of droves of teenagers looking for a
place to park and neck and, in between smooches, maybe drink in some of the cheap thrills
up on screen. The drive-ins showed prestige studio films, too, of course, but it was
pioneering companies like American Releasing Corp. (soon to become American-International
Pictures) who saw the true gold mine potential of the drive-in demographic. Soon grade B,
C and Z science fiction, horror, crime, juvenile delinquent and rock n roll opuses
proliferated on drive-in screens, with titles like CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN, IT!
THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE and KITTEN WITH A WHIP. At the same time, many
formerly shiny movie palaces became third-run theatres generally referred to as
"grindhouses" -- showcasing the same kind of films you would find in the
drive-ins: delirious low-budget movies made by independent American companies, or exotic
(and often erotic) treasures imported from Europe. The movies themselves were strange,
subversive messages from an alternate world, where traditional law and order had no
meaning, women were often much more powerful than men, and issues of race, politics and
sexuality exploded on-screen like incoming missiles. Drive-ins and grindhouses produced
their own auteurs, low-budget masters like Jack Hill (SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, COFFY), Larry
Cohen (ITS ALIVE, GOD TOLD ME TO) and Edward L. Cahn (CREATURE WITH THE
ATOM BRAIN), along with untamed icons like Pam Grier (FOXY BROWN), Mary Woronov (DEATH
RACE 2000), Rudy Ray Moore (DOLEMITE) and Claudia Jennings (TRUCK STOP
WOMEN). Sadly, the advent of cable TV, home video and multiplex cinemas in the 1970s
spelled doom for drive-ins and grindhouses. Now, the theatres are mostly a memory
but the movies live on, in all their rude, unsanitized, unrepentant glory!!
Were very happy to welcome to the Lloyd E. Rigler
Theatre at the Egyptian directors Larry Cohen, Richard Rush, Mark L. Lester, Vernon
Zimmerman and Jack Hill, actresses Coleen Gray and Mary Woronov, and actor Rudy Ray Moore
Thursday, June 5 7:30 PM
Larry Cohen Tribute In Person!!
GOD TOLD ME TO, 1977, Larry
Cohen, 95 min. Writer/director Larry Cohen has always been a truly independent
filmmaker, fusing unique concepts and bold, in-your-face storytelling with traditional
exploitation cinema. With the success of the recent PHONE BOOTH, for which he penned the
screenplay, Larry Cohen is long overdue for rediscovery. In one of his most unusual
shockers, GOD TOLD ME TO, Tony LoBianco is a cop tracking down a Christ-like figure
influencing random people to commit murder a warped messiah who may just be an
alien from outer space! With Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney, Deborah Raffin, Richard Lynch.
Q aka THE WINGED SERPENT, 1982, Taurus, 93
min. Dir. Larry Cohen. Q is a winged, resurrected Aztec deity decapitating New York
citizens -- and two-bit piano player Michael Moriarty knows just which skyscaper
hides its nest, info he intends to profit from, much to the dismay of cops David
Carradine and Richard Roundtree. Q is a perfect example of just how
well-acted and original exploitation films can be. Discussion
between films with writer/director Larry Cohen (schedule permitting).
Friday, June 6 7:00 PM
KITTEN WITH A WHIP, 1964,
Universal, 83 min. Dir. Douglas Heyward. Escaped reform school hellcat Ann-Margret
hides out in politician John Forsythes house, sucking him into an undertow of
sordid, violent hijinks with her maladjusted hipster friends. Not only does she jeopardize
his political career and marriage, but his life as well when her pals turn out to be every
bit as psychopathic as her! Purple prose beatnik/hoodlum dialogue abounds in this trash
classic. With Peter Brown.
Friday, June 6 9:00 PM
Brain Damaged Bikers Double Bill
Director Richard Rush In Person!!
HELLS ANGELS ON
WHEELS, 1967, MGM/UA, 95 min.. On its release, HELLS ANGELS was seen as one
of the more credible portraits of outlaw biker life, and achieves an unusual existential
aura by the time its final fiery frames unspool. An early harbinger of great things to
come from director Richard Rush (THE STUNT MAN), cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs
(EASY RIDER) and actor Jack Nicholson, who appears as the easygoing loner, Poet.
Angels leader Buddy (played by the underrated Adam Roarke) offers alternating comradeship
and prickly competition to Nicholson as they vy for the attentions of biker mama Sabrina
THE GLORY STOMPERS 1967,
MGM/UA, 85 min. Dir. Anthony Lanza. Dennis Hopper is a sociopathic loser
leading a tribe of cycle-riding miscreants on a rural Southern California tour of
gratuitous violence, sleazy sex and assorted perversion, in this no-redeeming-social-value
masterwork. Discussion between films with director Richard Rush
(HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS) (schedule permitting).
Saturday, June 7 5:00 PM
Claudia Jennings Tribute Double Feature!!
TRUCK STOP WOMEN, 1974,
American World Pictures, 88 min. One of the most popular Playboy Playmates of the
1970s, Claudia Jennings (1949 1979) brought her stunning good looks
and ballsy, in-your-face spirit to the big screen in films like TRUCK STOP WOMEN, UNHOLY
ROLLERS and GATOR BAIT, before her tragic death in a car accident at age 29.
With TRUCK STOP WOMEN, director Mark L. Lester delivers one
of the most perfectly realized drive-in movies of the 1970s. Hard-living truckstop
owner Anna (Lieux Dessler), given to hijacking big-rigs on the side to supplement her
income, goes into crisis mode when her rebellious daughter, Rose (Claudia Jennings) joins
ranks with L.A. mobsters trying to take over her operation. This well-told, fastpaced
story has it all: nudity, violent action and an abundance of sick humor!!
UNHOLY ROLLERS, 1972, MGM/UA, 88
min. Director Vernon Zimmerman (FADE TO BLACK) spins a fascinating
behind-the-scenes roller derby yarn punctuated with raunchy humor. At-loose-ends Karen (Claudia
Jennings, in her first starring role) decides being a skater beats working in the
catfood cannery, and in no time is headed for a vicious rise-and-fall as a superstar
roller derby queen. With Roberta Collins, Allen Vint. Discussion
following with writer/directors Mark L. Lester, Vernon Zimmerman and Daily Variety film
critic Todd McCarthy(schedules permitting).
Saturday, June 7 9:15 PM
Jack Hill Tribute In Person!!
COFFY, 1973, MGM/UA, 91 min. Jack Hill
had already directed the ferocious Pam Grier in the women-in-prison pix THE BIG
DOLL HOUSE and THE BIG BIRD CAGE, but this was the first time they worked together on home
turf, and the result is one of the most spectacularly satisfying black action films ever
made. Nurse Coffy (Pam Grier), her sister nearly dying from tainted heroin and her cop
friend murdered by pushers, is transformed into a one woman hit squad bent on
exterminating every hardcore drug dealer in Los Angeles. Mindbending! With Robert Doqui,
Linda Haynes, Sid Haig and Allen Arbus.
FOXY BROWN, 1974, MGM/UA (AIP), 94
min. Dir. Jack Hill. Shes baaaad, shes black and shes back
Pam Grier returns in this unofficial sequel to the super-smash COFFY (the
films original title was BURN, COFFY, BURN). This time, Grier goes undercover as a
high-class hooker to smash an ultra-tacky white drug mob (bad hair, gold chains and very
) Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear from "Starsky & Hutch") co-stars
as Griers skinny brother. Discussion between films with
writer/director Jack Hill (schedule permitting).
Sunday, June 8 5:00 PM
Actress Coleen Gray In Person!!
THE VAMPIRE (aka MARK OF THE
VAMPIRE), 1957, MGM/UA, 74 min. Dir. Paul Landres. Small town doctor Paul
Beecher (the excellent John Beal) mistakenly takes some pills he found on a dead
researchers body and immediately becomes addicted. Sheriff Buck Donnelly (Kenneth
Tobey) connects the dots when people start turning up dead, and, before long, tormented
Beal realizes he is the vampire killer. Coleen Gray (NIGHTMARE ALLEY) is his
devoted nurse, hoping to stay alive as she tries to help him. A fast moving, well-acted
little gem of a thriller punctuated with an awesome chills-inducing score by composer
Gerald Fried (PATHS OF GLORY, THE KILLING). Discussion following
with actress Coleen Gray (schedule permitting).
Sunday, June 8 7:30 PM
Atomic Age Sci-Fi Madness Edward L.
IT! THE TERROR FROM
BEYOND SPACE, 1958, MGM/UA, 69 min. Director Edward L. Cahn was one of the
legendary, underrated masters of the grade-Z movie, wringing suspense, well-orchestrated
action and authentic cheap thrills from drive-in staple material. IT! is no exception, and
is his most famous contribution to genre film history. A reptilian Martian vampire stows
away on a rocketship bound for Earth, and the crew has to use every trick in the book to
kill it before it kills them. This chilling nailbiter is the film most often credited as
inspiring ALIEN. With Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith.
CREATURE WITH THE ATOM
BRAIN, 1955, Columbia, 70 min. Once again, matinee master Edward L. Cahn crafts
a delightfully whacked-out sci-fi monster mash. A ruthless gangster forces a misguided
scientist into using his atomic zombies to murder his double-crossing enemies. Richard
Denning is the police forensics doctor hot on the trail of the radioactive creatures.
Tuesday, June 10 7:30 PM
Mary Woronov Tribute In Person!!
DEATH RACE 2000, 1975, New
World, 78 min. Deliciously funny, politically incorrect sci-fi/action satire directed by
the late, great Paul Bartel (EATING RAOUL), chronicling the national sport of the
future: a cross country road race where the wrestling-themed champions run down
pedestrians to garner points!! David Carradine is Frankenstein up against homicidal
rivals Machine Gun Joe (Sylvester Stallone) and Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov).
Produced by Roger Corman.
SUGAR COOKIES, 1973, Troma, 90
min. Dir. Theodore Gershuny. Mary Woronov stars as an ultra-nasty porn producer who
remakes innocent waif Lynn Lowry into the image of a deceased adult film star (also
played by Lowry!), in this Nixon-era lesbian version of VERTIGO. Described in the Troma
Films catalogue as a "sensuous melodrama" [i.e. with copious nudity]-!! Discussion following with actress Mary Woronov (schedule permitting).
Wednesday, June 11 7:00 PM
Rudy Ray Moore "Dolemite" In
DOLEMITE, 1975, Xenon, 90 min. To
quote the poster, "Bone Crushing Skull Splitting Brain Blasting Action!!" Super
pimp Dolemite (played by Rudy Ray Moore, who created the character in his infamous
comedy club sketches), aided by his squad of kung fu hookers, goes up against evil bad-ass
Willie Green (DUrville Martin, who also directed) in this low-budget classic.
Peppered with Rudys famous toasts, martial arts skills and just plain crazy plot
twists, DOLEMITE must be seen to be believed. Discussion
following with actor Rudy Ray Moore (schedule permitting). Note: Rudy Ray Moore is famed
for his unvarnished, uncensored and politically incorrect live appearances. No one under
18 will be admitted to the screening or Q&A!
Wednesday, June 11 9:30 PM
Italian Crime Rampage!!
MACHINE GUN MCCAIN (GLI
INTOCCABILI), 1968, Columbia, 94 min. Dir. Giuliano Montaldo. John
Cassavetes is pitch-perfect as McCain, a lone wolf ex-con who helps his son rip off
former mob comrades Peter Falk and Gabriele Ferzetti. Things go wrong, and the
gangsters hunt him down. On-the-run, McCain brings along his girl (Britt Ekland)
and enlists the help of his ex-wife (Gena Rowlands), two things that contribute to
his downfall in this violently riveting Italian/American co-production. Ennio Morricone
did the simple but very memorable score. With Luigi Pistilli, Florinda Bolkan, Tony
ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY
WEAPON (ROMA A MANO ARMATA), 1976, Grindhouse Releasing, 80 min. Director Umberto
Lenzi (SPASMO, CANNIBAL FEROX) turns out one of the most gonzo, over-the-top Euro
crime films youll ever see, a picture that compares favorably in pace and visceral
impact to Kinji Fukasakus 1970s yakuza thrillers. Maurizio
Merli is the rules-be-damned, hot tempered cop on the trail of wisecracking hunchback
"Il Gobbo" (super charismatic Tomas Milian), a psycho thief who
occasionally enjoys machine gunning innocent bystanders just for the hell of it! With
Arthur Kennedy, Ivan Rassimov.