Sleazy like Sunday morning

Pub date March 27, 2007
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review

The collective teeth of umpteen fanboys and fangirls commenced grinding when it was announced that the release of the Quentin Tarantino–Robert Rodriguez nuevo-schlock faux double bill Grindhouse would be preceded by rare 35mm revival screenings of actual ’60s through ’80s sleazebag hits such as Fight for Your Life and They Call Me One-Eye. A wonderful and laudable thing, of course — at least if you live within driving reach of Los Angeles’s New Beverly Cinema.

Well, if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em. By fortunate coincidence, San Francisco is getting something similar, which will play nowhere else — so nyaah-nyaah. That thing would be "A Month of Sleazy Sundays," four unholy nights of vintage exploitation gems beginning this April Fools’ Day at the Mission District’s lovable Victoria Theatre, brought to you by Another Hole in the Head and SF Indiefest’s Bruce Fletcher, among others.

The April quartet of triple bills offers a panoply of delights, like those shown at drive-ins, urban flea pits, and semirespectable joints such as San Francisco’s late Strand Theatre before it went porn and then closed entirely. These films were made for audiences, not for the private snickering of home viewers. Dark Channel’s rare 35mm prints are unlikely to be mint — but then, pink-out and scratchiness now seem integral to this kind of vintage theatrical experience.

The kickoff program spotlights English-language outer spaciness as only the Italians can deliver. Two entries are shameless Star Wars knockoffs from 1978: Alfonso Brescia’s War of the Robots and Luigi Cozzi’s Star Crash. The former stars Antonio Sabato Sr. (mmm). The latter stars Marjoe Gortner (Jesus with more eyeliner), Caroline Munro (in leather bikini and thigh-high boots), and a pre-Baywatch David Hasselhoff. It also sports the stupidest action scenes ever. Sandwiched between these cheese baths is Mario Bava’s genuinely eerie Planet of the Vampires, the 1965 sci-fi-horror hybrid that purportedly inspired Alien.

Highlights abound within the three remaining Sundays. April 8 brings 1970’s psychedelic séance- and H.P. Lovecraft–drawn tab o’ satanism The Dunwich Horror, in which an exquisitely perverse Dean Stockwell drafts grad student Sandra Dee (!) for sacrifice. It’s followed by the next year’s really hairy biker saga Werewolves on Wheels. A creature feature melee April 15 features Larry Hagman’s first and last directorial effort, 1972’s Beware! The Blob, a.k.a. Son of Blob, the sequel no one was waiting for — until, perhaps, it was rereleased a decade later as "The movie that J.R. shot!" Finally, a grindhouse odyssey April 21 travels from the 1934 adults-only Phyllis Diller campsterpiece Maniac to the 1971 Southern moonshine-circuit classic Preacherman to, finally, the politically incorrect yet dy-no-mite 1975 blaxploitation whopper The Black Gestapo. (Dennis Harvey)


Through April 22; single feature $8, double $15, and triple $20

Victoria Theatre

2961 16th St., SF

(415) 863-7576