Gallery of half-familiar faces
Howard Sauertieg | Harrisburg, PA USA | 06/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You don't hear much about this Something Weird "Angry 70s" double feature. It's a queer duck among the company's releases, the main point of reference being that David F. Friedman produced these films in the early 1970s. They were a response to the new "hardcore" pornography that was making Friedman's "soft" porn obsolete. He spent more money, rounded up some decent actors and put out these Corman-New World-type features. Violence is the order of the day, sex is secondary, some nudity required and there's a seasoning of social comment.
JOHNNY FIRECLOUD is regarded as the "better" of the two films, but both are entertainingly awful, in my opinion. J.F. is an American Indian (played by Latin American actor Victor Mohica). A relative of his (father? grandpa? I don't remember) is driven to drink by the local bigots who rule their Southwestern town; he's mocked and emasculated, and when he attempts to regain his self-respect he's finally murdered. Then a lady schoolteacher on the Reservation who loves J.F. is raped and murdered in her classroom after hours, also by bigots (while a portrait of Abe Lincoln looks down on the scene, unsmiling). J.F.'s love interest is actually a white girl whose father is the town's Lord High Bigot. J.F. can finally stand no more abuse of himself and his people, and he goes ballistic through the second half of the movie. There's a gay cop who doesn't want to serve the bigots who pay his salary but feels he has no choice.
Then the second feature is about a terrible "rock group" and the groupies who will do anything to hang out with them. One of these rockers is an impotent sex maniac (the worst kind) who plays bass. He gets his "kicks" seeing dumb, drugged-out groupies being abused and sexually assaulted in the bathroom. The band's lesbian agent (Leslie MacRae from GIRL IN GOLD BOOTS) keeps telling the lead singer to fire the bass player, but he won't do it. The music in this film is slick 70s lounge-rock but these guys think they're Led Zeppelin or something, living like the big rock stars but on a smaller scale and budget. Ultimately things get out of hand and it's a BUMMER.
There's a really good audio commentary for JOHNNY FIRECLOUD, in which Friedman talks about the 70s exploitation scene at length. He also tells all you probably want to know about the feature presentation. No commentary for BUMMER, which is a bummer, though I can't imagine what Friedman could say about BUMMER for 90 minutes without having to repeat stuff from the J.F. commentary (e.g. about how he didn't want to make hardcore porn so he started making "general release" movies like this one).
The extras are not extensive but there are some wild trailers on this disc. I recommend the disc to fans of drive-in junk, but if you are looking for very good or very sexy films, you might try something else."
Pretty Decent SWV Release
K. Brown | Walnut, Ca USA | 11/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fairly decent "Something Weird Video" release, though I would not rate it as one of their finest compilations. "Johnny Firecloud" stands out as one of the better 70s low budget revenge flicks, while "Bummer" has its moments, but leaves lots of room for improvement. The extras on this DVD include some good movie trailers, and an alluring B&W striptease.
"Johnny Firecloud" is clearly the prize of this DVD. A lower budget spinoff of "Billy Jack," this stars Victor Mojica. This movie may be choppier than Tom Laughlin's B-Movie series, but Mojica is WAY COOLER than Laughlin could ever conceive. This is one of those Native-American-Done-Wrong flicks, taking place in a small town packed full of racists who make the mistake of humiliating, then killing, Johnny's grandfather. They go on to rape and kill one of Johnny's close friends (played by Sacheen Littlefeather), thus setting Johnny Firecloud into full-throttle vengeance mode.
A very interesting twist in "Johnny Firecloud" comes in the role of the town's sheriff, played by David Canary (Soap Opera fans will instantly recognize him as All My Children's Adam Chandler). What makes this movie more interesting than an all-out good vs bad flick is the complex nature of the sheriff, an in-the-closet homosexual who recognizes the corruption in his hometown, but feels powerless to fight the system. This unique twist in this film does not get it out of B-Movie territory, but Canary's role does make this a B-Movie ahead of its time.
"Bummer" is pretty much a bummer. The characters in this film are either loathsome or outright stupid, thus leaving room for nobody to cheer for. Lurid depictions of rape and all out misogyny make this film thoroughly unpleasant. And while I'm probably putting a little too much thought into the plot of a B-Movie, there are plenty of subplots that begin to evolve, but are dropped with no explanation part way through the film.
A few comments on the plus sides of "Bummer": if you are a Southern California native like I am, you will enjoy the numerous early 1970s shots of Hollywood and The Valley. Carol Speed gives one of the better performances in the film, and she is quite nice to gaze upon! In fact, the gals of "Bummer" are really attractive pre-plastic-surgery era beauties, and their rompin' about naked would be thoroughly enjoyable if the tasteless violence wasn't thrown into the equation.
The extras on this DVD are nice over all, with the B&W striptease act of Alopie the Apache Princess in "War Drums" stealing the show. Classic striptease era voluptuous babe doing an empowering war dance.....YES!!! The trailers are fun nostalgia, leaving the David Friedman Gallery as the weak point of the extras.
All in all, a "Something Weird Video" release worth the price, though not their crowning glory.
Johnny FireCloud Rocks!
Movie Madness | 01/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Johnny FireCloud is pretty awesome! Very clean copy, great picture & sound, vibrant color! I love these type of movies and had stumbled onto this one by accident. Thank you SWV! Johnny gets his revenge when the whiteman pushes too far! If you like this movie check out Billy Jack, War Party, Thunder Warrior and Navajo Joe."