by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
A blond-wigged muscle-bound warrior roams a savage prehistoric land using his wits and other assorted stone-age weapons to fight off mutants, dinosaurs and robot clone space-troopers. Wait…what? The classic early HBO staple Yor, The Hunter From the Future is a whacked-out genre-bending spaghetti masterpiece that manages to mix the then-popular fantasy sub-genres of the Conan-esque sword-and-sandal adventure flicks with the space opera theatrics of Star Wars. And what a combination it is! Caveman Yor (the original Captain America, Reb Brown) is actually a survivor of a galaxy-crossing space voyage that killed his parents. With a sexy cave girl (Corinne Clery) and her popeyed uncle, he infiltrates and takes on the Overlord, a Darth Vader-rip-off hell-bent on destroying the rest of humanity so he can populate the Earth with his robot-clone space-troopers. It’s as fun as it sounds and features an amazing broken-English theme song from Italo-disco group Oliver Onions that proudly states“Yor’s world, he’s the man, Yor’s world, he’s the man!” It’s truly the greatest movie theme song ever written.
In the early 1970s, the groundbreaking Richard Roundtree hero Shaft was a big enough American sensation that, for a couple of years, he actually had his own television show. It was broken down into seven made-for-TV movies: The Executioners, The Killing, Hit-Run, The Kidnapping, Cop Killer, The Capricorn Murders and The Murder Machine, all gathered here in this remarkable Warner Archives collection. Now, many people at the time claimed that the TV version of Shaft was too sanitized and too neutered from his cinematic incarnation, and while I can understand that point, I think what is sadly ignored is that it was an honest, direct attempt to make a mainstream African-American prime-time superhero that could be embraced by all of America. Who else was really doing that on network television? Sure, maybe Shaft couldn’t curse out Whitey or bed a luscious bevy of Jet cover girls, but neither could Columbo or Cannon or Ironside, and those were some of the biggest shows of the time. Shaft was an honorable attempt to recreate that successful formula, but even in the "progressive" ’70s, it was just way too far ahead of its time.
Michael Caine is at his ultimate coolest in this 1971 British crime thriller as cold, calculating thug-gangster Jack Carter. Seems his brother’s been mysteriously murdered by racketeers, and by hook or by crook, Carter is going to get them, and make them pay. He travels from London to Newcastle, meets the troubled niece who might be involved deeper than she’s admitting, uncovers a flesh-peddling ring, and gets a contract out on himself. What sets Get Carter apart from other British crime films of the era is the single-minded reptilian nature of Carter, who, like a Terminator, just moves from one messy situation to another, intent on revenge and revenge only, not stopping until everyone is dead. The 2000 remake starring Sylvester Stallone is instantly forgettable, without all the insane coolness of the original — the coolness that made Get Carter such a memorable film in the first place.