Written and Directed by Ken Russell
Adapted from the play by Sandy Wilson
Starring Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian, Bryan Pringle, Tommy Tune, Antonia Ellis, Barbara Windsor, and Vladek Sheybal
When the Celluloid Zeroes started talking about doing a Ken Russell round of reviews, I thought I’d write up Savage Messiah. Since Russell is most remembered now for horror and the cult rock opera Tommy, I wanted to look at something different. Unfortunately, I’d lent my copy to someone I don’t see often. Running an Amazon search on his name turned up a 1971 musical that I’d never heard of, which would be released on blu in time for the roundtable. I preordered it and hoped for the best.
aka O slavnosti a hostech
Directed by Jan Nemec
Written by Ester Krumbachová and Jan Nemec
Starring Ivan Vyskocil, Jan Klusák, Jiri Nemec, Pavel Bosek, Karel Mares, Evald Schorm, Jana Pracharová, and Zdena Skvorecka
The word ‘brave’ gets used a lot. Bakery owners are brave for refusing service to homosexuals and then slandering them online. Citizens are brave for responding to Black Lives Matter protests with clarification that Blue and All matter as well. Donald Trump is brave for saying the openly racist and xenophobic things that “everyone is thinking”. Yes, there’s a lot of bravery in defending the existing power structures against those who’d like to be treated as human beings. For a real example of bravery look at Jan Nemec and the cast and crew of A Report on the Party and Guests.
Directed by Roy Rowland
Written by Dr. Seuss and Alan Scott
Starring Mary Healy, Hans Conried, Tommy Rettig, and Peter Lind Hayes
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) is a treasured part of our cultural consciousness. He wrote and drew seemingly hundreds of books for children, taking them through basic language lessons and whimsical diversions to allegorical fables of tolerance and equality. Say “one fish, two fish” to someone raised with English as a first language, and they’ll probably reply immediately with “red fish, blue fish”. (I would also believe this to be true for the speakers of the dozens of languages into which his books have been translated.) Seussisms are a shorthand language that we reference freely in the certainty of being understood. Even if someone doesn’t instantly recognize the word sneech, within five words of explanation they remember the story of the sneeches having stars placed on and then removed from their bellies in order to appear superior to each other. What most have forgotten, if they ever knew of it at all, was that the first live-action Seuss film was The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by William Castle
Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson, John Anthony Hayes, and George Kennedy
William Castle was a man who liked his gimmicks. He’d have theaters rigged with swooping skeletons or buzzers placed under seats. There were glowing coins and votes for how the film should end. But his greatest gimmick may have been casting Joan Crawford as an axe murderer who’s spent 20 years in an asylum. It’s not a glamorous role, but it’s a juicy one; and it’s far better than the usual parts for older actresses at the time (or even now, sadly). With a script by Robert Bloch (author of the novel Psycho was based on), Crawford may have even been optimistic about its reception. Sadly, it would not live up to the incredible What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, which she’d made only a few years previously.
aka Ator l’invincibile
Directed by Joe D’Amato
Written by Joe D’Amato and Michele Soavi
Starring Miles O’Keeffe, Sabrina Siani, and Ritza Brown
The sword and sandal genre once thrived, with heroes like Hercules and Samson knocking down pillars and wrestling lions. Maybe it died off because other cheap fare was more marketable, or perhaps an audience that had rejected tight shorts on men now demanded their heroes wear pants. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t until Arnold Schwarzenegger donned the loincloth for Conan the Barbarian that buff men running around in their underwear muscled their way back into theaters.
Directed by Lance Hendrickson, Troy McCall, Mike P. Nelson, Steven Rhoden, and Ben Trandem
Written by Lance Hendrickson, Mike P. Nelson, Steven Rhoden, Pa Chia Thao, and Ben Trandem
Starring Simon Wallace, Amy Cocchiarella, Tony D. Czech, Lance Hendrickson, Troy McCall, and Mike P. Nelson