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Geek Movies Not On DVD, A through K
© Staff and Contributors
February 23, 2007

Inspired by Glenn Erickson's always interesting annual Movies Not on DVD list at the entertaining DVD Savant, we at RevolutionSF decided to put together our own list. We contacted writers, critics, artists, and even a game designer for their selections.

There were a few rules:

1) DVDs must NOT be available in the U.S. (Region 1). The exceptions would be movies that are on cheapie labels and deserve a much better edition.

2) The DVDs need to be geek-related and/or something of interest to SF Revolutionaries. All science fiction, horror, and mysteries with supernatural elements are copacetic. Most cult films make the grade. TV movies are fine but NOT TV series.

This list is by no means complete, but a mere sampling of what we thought. Let us hear your thoughts and suggestions at subspace@revolutionsf.com.

Without further preamble, the selections.

— Rick Klaw

Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956)

Let this be a lesson to all geeks of the world: if they don't know you want it, they will never make it for you to consume. I'm talking, of course, about one of Willis (King Kong) O'Brien's later projects, The Beast of Hollow Mountain.

When cattle start disappearing on an American cattle rancher's ranch in the foothills of Mexico, the answer comes not in the form of bandits, but from the Cretaceous Age in the form of a giant allosaurus. Will the annoying Mexican peasant kid get eaten? We can only hope.

Nowadays we'd look on this as a precursor to the seminal cowboys and dinosaurs movie, The Valley of Gwangi (1969). As such, it's lacking O'Brien's magic touch in stop-motion animation. It was actually delivered in the film by Edward Nassour. Don't bother checking him out. He's no Willis O'Brien. But if we can get The Black Scorpion (1957) on VHS in the '80s, surely then we can get this tiny, minor gem on DVD? Dino-fans want and need a complete Willis O'Brien catalog.

Mark Finn, author of Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard and RevSF contributing editor

Bedazzled (1967)

The original Bedazzled is one of the iconic British comedy films of the '60s and the most successful pairing of the comedy duo of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. It's a modernized "Faust" in which Dudley Moore is Stanley Moon, a dissatisfied short-order cook who hopelessly pines for Margaret the waitress. Despairing this unrequited infatuation, he incompetently attempts suicide and is interrupted by Satan, as played sharply by Peter Cook. In return for his soul, Satan offers Stanley seven wishes, which he uses up on opportunities to try to satisfy his lust for Margaret. Of course Satan twists the words so that none of these scenarios succeed. Satan fills the time between these episodes with acts of minor vandalism and spite, incompetently assisted by the personification of the seven deadly sins, most memorably Raquel Welch as Lust.

Bedazzled is a surprisingly clever comedy full of biting wit, social satire and a great animated sequence with Stanley as a fly on the wall. Not only is it still one of my top all-time favorite movies, I credit it with being the first thing to start me on the road to questioning religion.

I grinned and gritted through the awful Brendan Fraser remake of Bedazzled (2000) clinging to the hope that it would be enough of a success to spur a DVD release of the original. No such luck. Nor was the death of Dudley Moore in 2002 enough. However, there is a Non-Region 1 format version on DVD. Well worth buying an all-region DVD player just for it.

Martin Thomas, film reviewer geek for The Reel Deal, RevSF, and Spill

Buxom Beautease (1956)

Irving Klaw's Buxom Beautease, the lesser known of Klaw's three Vaudeville-style feature films from the 1950s (Varietease [1954] and Teaserama [1955] being the others), was the only one not to feature the famous Bettie Page. The movie starred the legendary strippers Tempest Storm, Lil St. Cyr, and Blaze Starr. Rachel Schteir in the excellent Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show (Oxford, 2005) asserts that "[Klaw's] movies did more to spread striptease across the country in this era [the 1950s] than any one burlesque short. What they did was spread striptease, drag strips, and burlesque comedy to a provincial audience. In essence, they were giving these audiences what they might see in Miami, Las Vegas, or some other cosmopolitan city." The contemporary popularity of his movies has inspired the current neo-burlesque revival in major American cities.

Rick Klaw, author of Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century and RevSF contributing editor

The Barbarians (1987)

A Conan ripoff directed by Ruggero Deodato, The Barbarians is admittedly a very stupid and lamebrained movie. Then again, I own Alien Vs. Predator (2004), and thus should be counted as a guaranteed sale.

Lee Sparks, producer-writer-actor for upcoming Austin Animation AOK feature Viva the Nam and screenwriter for the award-winning short film Fun With Clones (2003)

The Bermuda Depths (1978)

An ABC telefilm co-produced by Rankin-Bass and Tsuburaya Productions (the Godzilla effects people), The Bermuda Depths starred Burl Ives, Connie Selleca, and a very cool Carl Weathers in full "Ahab" mode. Think of it as Splash meets Moby Dick by way of Gamera. Kaiju fans will go nuts for the giant turtle plot, and maybe react less rabidly to the mermaid romance ghost story elements. But never fear, Carl Weathers wants that turtle's shell on his wall, and he'll stop at nothing to get it.

Lee Sparks

Confessions D'un Barjo (1992)

In his book I Am Alive and You Are Dead, Emmanuel Carrere tells the anecdotal story of a French intellectual who, upon meeting Philip K. Dick, insists that Ubik is one of the five best novels ever written. Not, as Dick assumes, one of the best SF novels ever, but one of the five best novels ever. A bold statement, perhaps, but it does illustrate why one of the best adaptations of a PKD work comes not out of Dick's home country but in France.

Confessions D'un Barjo is adapted quite faithfully from Dick's great mainstream novel Confessions of a Crap Artist. It isn't always successful; the characters are lovably idiosyncratic instead of downright strange, as they are in the novel, and as a consequence one or two roles are underwritten. However, it remains an engaging work because it actually concentrates on character instead of situations, and even allows room for a couple of Dickian touches, as when Barjo imagines his family as the leads on a science fiction television show. It may not be a classic like Blade Runner (1982), but it deserves to be placed alongside A Scanner Darkly (2006) as how to do a PKD movie right.

Derek Johnson, book and film critic

Convoy (1978)

Much maligned and misunderstood, the Sam Peckinpah trucker magnum opus Convoy is basically a Western on big wheels and for whatever reason, is a huge cult film in Denmark! Ernest Borgnine is absolutely on FIRE. Best. Ending. Ever. "You ever see a duck, couldn't swim?"

Lee Sparks

The Cardinal and the Corpse (1992)

Made in the early '90s, Iain Sinclair's The Cardinal and the Corpse featured Alan Moore, myself, legendary guitarist and book-hunter Martin Stone, thriller writer and Soho character Robin Cook (Derek Raymond), book-burning philosopher John Latham, Alexander Baron (brilliant chronicler of East End Jewish life), Emanuel Litvinoff, London man-about-town Gerry Goldstein, the legendary book scout Driffield, cultural historian Dr. Brian Hinton and various (now mostly deceased or scattered) gangsters, booksellers, writers and academics, all of whom are, in the story, searching for Flann O'Brien's alleged Sexton Blake novel The Cardinal and the Corpse.

It isn't egocentricity that makes me want to see the movie on film -- Ideally it would be there with the other two films in the trilogy made by Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit during that decade (Asylum [2000], shot mostly in Texas and Arizona, featuring myself, Jim Sallis and poet Ed Dorn, and The Falconer [1998], mostly about the self-invented maker of Tonight Let's Make Love in London [1967]) — but because of its fascination with the margins of London life.

Not only are the marginalised poets and artists featured, usually as themselves, but people like Tony Lambrianou, famous for his part in the Jack the Hat murder by East End gangsters and the last surviving (he's now dead) witness to what even then was a dying culture. Nowadays Yardie drug gangs are the most prominent professional crooks in the East End and the old cockney gangsters have moved away, usually into slightly more respectable lives. The movie is what people sometimes call "faction" in that it imposes a semi-fictional plot on a real world setting, including the bookshops of Charing Cross Road, the pubs of Whitechapel and so on.

Sinclair is a master of this kind of creativity, both in his books and his films, and in some ways The Cardinal and the Corpse is a far more satisfying and "connected" fantasy than some of the better straight SF and fantasy films produced in recent years. It captures much of the urban "noir" feel of London just before the heritage industry tore down everything but the facades, cleaned it up and made the once dangerous areas of Notting Hill in the West and Whitechapel in the East into imitations of themselves, safe enough for tourists to visit and, eventually. for middle class non-Londoners to move into, so that the neighborhoods I knew as a boy and where I lived most of my life became some of the most expensive real estate in the city.

Without nostalgia, but with an angry sympathy for the dispossessed, the marginalised and the people he calls "the reforgotten," Sinclair uses invention and fantasy to give a highly accurate picture of a world that is now hardly a memory any longer but more of a fable.

Michael Moorcock, legendary author of nearly 100 books, whose latest novel is The Vengeance of Rome, the final volume of the Pyat Quartet

Darktown Strutters (Get Down and Boogie) (1975)

Louisville Cross, a Colonel Sanders clone and owner of a chain of BBQ joints that offer free watermelon with every order, has invented a "Negro-making machine" so as to expand his customer base, and is kidnapping people to use a test subjects. Meanwhile, a black female biker gang, the Darktown Strutters, clad in day-glo polyester and feathered helmets, comes to a Hanna-Barbera version of Watts to search for one of the missing, their leader's mother.

Part sci-fi, part musical, part WTF, Darktown Strutters, directed by William Whitney and written by George (Miami Blues) Armitage, treats racism as a whacky joke and incorporates every known stereotype, including racist cops, Klansmen, a minstrel show, a vast cotton plantation with servants who resemble Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, and the Dramatics singing "I Can't Get Over You" in a prison cell. Hands down, the weirdest, most un-PC Blaxploitation flick ever made.

Lucius Shepard, award-winning author of With Christmas in Honduras: Man, Myths, and Miscreants in Modern Central America.

Death Rides A Horse (Da uomo a uomo) aka As Man to Man (1967)

The iconic spaghetti western stars Lee Van Cleef (which is about as distinguishing a characteristic as saying "this western has horses in it"). The real appeal is hunky young John Phillip Law, who is such a wooden and incompetent actor that his only worthwhile movies are the ones where he still looks good. Which would be this one, Diabolik(1968), Barbarella (1968), and on a good day maybe Attack Force Z (1982).

Lee Sparks

Flash Gordon (1980)

The 1980 colorful tongue-in-cheek spectacle Flash Gordon with the Queen soundtrack deserves the Special Edition treatment!

Lee Sparks

Update: Done! (No need to thank us.)

Forbidden World (1982)

A colorful, lurid, action-packed and gory-as-hell Alien (1979) ripoff produced by Roger Corman, Forbidden World is loaded with blood, nudity, spaceships, and Fox (Repo Man) Harris to boot! SPOILER: the only movie ever to feature a monster being killed by being force-fed a cancerous tumor that was cut out of its owner without anesthesia. WOW! Wake the kids!

Lee Sparks

From Beyond (1986)

"Something's . . . coming!" Well, no, not really, not yet. It's been two decades since Stuart Gordon, the once-upon-a-time enfant terrible of Chicago's notorious Organic Theater Company, breach-birthed this super-sanguinated semi-sequel to his cunningly comic mindwarper Re-Animator (1985). But only Re-Animator, declared "one of the great trash pictures of 1985" by no less than Roger Ebert, has seen its indie-cred explode in the interim. From Beyond, released one year later, employed much the same cast and crew, with Gordon as director, co-scripter/producer Brian Yuzna, and stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton all returning to battle Carl Buechler's super-gooey, interdimensional monstrosities.

As the S&M-loving, pineal-gland-obsessed medical maniac Dr.Edward "Freak-a-Leek" Pretorious, Ted Sorel comes off as a giddy melding of Bride of Frankenstein's Ernest Thesinger and Robert Mapplethorpe (a compliment to be sure), while steely-geekster Combs, as the twitchy voice of histrionic semi-restraint, is nearly as entertaining to watch than an Arnold Stang/Colin Clive Bare-Knuckled Jell-O-Brand Death Match.

Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle film critic

Update: It's here! (No thanks necessary. Seriously.)

Galaxy of Terror (1986)

Jim Cameron art direction! Erin (Happy Days) Moran squished and exploded by slimy alien tentacles! Some bimbo raped by a giant rubber caterpillar while screaming like those girls in Blow Out (1981)! Sid Haig! Ray "Mr. Hand" Walston! Grace (Twin Peaks) Zabriskie! Some dude named Robert Englund! Impenetrable ending! This one might not have it all, but it has some of it!

Lee Sparks

I Married A Witch (1942)

Rene Clair's directing career began in France in 1924 with Paris qui dort, a satire with a science fiction theme. He continued to develop his surrealistic comic style in a series of movies now considered masterpieces. During World War II, Clair left France and came to Hollywood, where he made six films. One of these was 1942's delightful I Married A Witch. The movie stars Frederic March and Veronica Lake breaking away from their serious work for rare comedic turns as, respectively, a Puritan (and his descendants) and the witch he burns at the stake, who vows revenge. It is a delightful romantic comedy, with great performances by March, Lake, and a young Susan Hayward.

Peggy Hailey, RevolutionSF books editor

Island of Lost Souls (1933)

By many accounts one of the finest horror films ever made, Island of Lost Souls is definitely the best ever film rendition of the H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. Charles Laughton stars as the good doctor, and gives a tremendously subtle and bizarre performance. See the scene where he is revealing his evil plot to Parker, the hero, and in the middle of his mad scientist speech, decides to lie down on his side on a hospital gurney that is there, cross his legs and fold his hands. All the while he continues his monologue. There are all sorts of genius acting choices in his performance, and he moves quickly from the jolly to distraught.

Laughton is worth the price of admission, but then you've also got Bela Lugosi as Speaker of the Law — "No more House of Pain." "What is the law?" "Not to go on all fours, that is the law." Also in the crowd of beasts look carefully beneath the makeup for Alan Ladd, Randolph Scott, and Buster Crabbe (who played Flash Gordon).

Jeffrey Ford, Edgar award-winning author of The Girl in the Glass

(It Came) Without Warning (1980)

How can a movie with Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Larry Storch and David Caruso, not to mention a big ugly alien, not be on DVD? Its absence is intolerable, and I am tired of my cruddy Greek VHS bootleg! (It Came) Without Warning is basically a dry-run for Predator (1987), only with skinny American teenagers and old drunk character actors instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The same guy plays the monster in both movies, though.

Lee Sparks

Click here for L through Z!



 
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