Monday, January 30, 2012
On DVD: ROGER CORMAN'S CULT CLASSICS: LETHAL LADIES COLLECTION 2
LETHAL LADIES COLLECTION 2 is the latest in Shout Factory's impressive "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" line, focusing on Corman's work as a producer/distributor with his New World Pictures in the 1970s and Concorde in the 1980s. While Vol. 2 doesn't reach the delirious heights of LETHAL LADIES 1's TNT JACKSON ("She'll put you in traction!") and FIRECRACKER, there's still plenty of drive-in action and skin to keep any exploitation fan satisfied.
(Italy/US - 1974)
The first film in the set is easily the best. THE ARENA (aka NAKED WARRIORS) is a sort of ancient Rome/feminist take on SPARTACUS with a bit of THE DEFIANT ONES as a band of sexy slave girls, led by Margaret Markov and Pam Grier, become female gladiators and lead a revolt against the asshole men in charge. Corman co-financed THE ARENA with Rome-based American actor/producer Mark Damon, and supplied the stars (Markov and Grier both had a recent hit with 1973's BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA), the script, and director Steve Carver, and Damon supplied the Italian crew and Italian supporting cast. So there's an interesting mix of talent in front of and behind the camera: co-stars Paul Muller, Rosalba Neri, Lucretia Love, Salvatore Baccaro, and Vassili Karis, composer Francesco De Masi and cinematographer Aristide Massaccesi (aka Joe D'Amato) are no strangers to fans of Eurotrash cult movies, nor are the familiar voices dubbing the cast (Italian films of the time were shot without direct sound, requiring post-production dubbing, and the perpetually miserly Corman didn't want to pay to have Markov and Grier fly back to Rome to record their dialogue, so Grier and Markov are both dubbed). Carver, a veteran second-unit director for Corman, was given his first shot at directing here, and when THE ARENA proved successful at grindhouses and drive-ins, Corman rewarded him by giving him the same year's BIG BAD MAMA, which was one of New World's biggest hits. THE ARENA is presented in a nice 2.35:1 transfer and is filled with special features: Carver supplies a director's commentary, and is seen in a retrospective doc that also features Corman, and Damon & Markov, who met on the set on THE ARENA and have been married since. (R, 82 mins)
(US/Philippines - 1973)
COVER GIRL MODELS
(US/Philippines - 1975)