Rio Lobo

Year: 1970   Company: Malabar Productions   Runtime: 114′
Director: Howard Hawks   Writers: Burton Wohl, Leigh Brackett   Cinematography: William H. Clothier
Music: Jerry Goldsmith   Cast: John Wayne, Jorge Rivera, Christopher Mitchum, Jennifer O’Neill, Jack Elam,
Victor French, Susana Dosamantes, Sherry Lansing, David Huddleston, Mike Henry, Bill Williams, Jim Davis
Disc company: Paramount, CBS Home Ent.   Video: 1080p 1.78:1   Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 English,
DTS-HD MA 2.0 English, DTS-HD MA 1.0 Spanish, DTS-HD MA 1.0 German, DTS-HD MA 1.0 Castellano,
DTS-HD MA 1.0 French   Subtitles: English SDH, Castellano, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Norsk, Finnish, Swedish   Disc: BD25   Release Date: 05/31/2011   Available for order now through Amazon.com

Rio Lobo isn’t the first John Wayne film to find its way to high definition, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it is the first that this Blu-ray enthusiast has had the opportunity to see.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’d never so much as heard of Rio Lobo before happened upon it on the Target new releases rack, and a more familiar title like True Grit or Stagecoach may have proven a better starting point.  But the quadruple-draw of Wayne, director Howard Hawks, Technicolor, and a $10 price tag rendered this one irresistible in the moment, and I can’t say that I was disappointed.

Just after the Civil War draws to a close Yankee Colonel Cord McNally catches up to a pair of Confederate train robbers (Jorge Rivero and Christopher Mitchum) whom he had earlier captured, and convinces them to help him track down the treasonous Union soldiers who helped them with the capers – one of which left McNally’s closest friend dead.  Along the way they decide to help a young woman victimized by the corrupt officials of the eponymous desert town, only to discover that the men running Rio Lobo are the very same conspirators they’ve been searching for…

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The Horrible Sexy Vampire

a.k.a. El Vampiro de la Autopista / Le Mania di Mr. Winninger Omicida Sessuale
Year: 1970   Company: Cinefilms / Fida Cinematografica   Runtime: 90′
Director: Jose Luis Madrid   Writer: Jose Luis Madrid   Cinematography: Francisco J. Madurga
Music: Angel Arteaga   Cast: Val Davis (as Waldemar Wohlfahrt),  Barta Barri, Anastasio Campoy,
Susan Carvasal, Victor Davis, Kurt Esteban, Luis Induni, Patricia Loran, Jose Marco, Luis Marugan
Available in the Undead: The Vampire Collection bargain-bin DVD set from Mill Creek Entertainment.

As a prime example of the boring and under-achieving co-produced European horror cinema of four decades past, 1970′s The Horrible Sexy Vampire is, well, boring and under-achieving.  Funded with pocket change forked forth by Spain’s Cinefilms and Italy’s Fida Cinematografica and filmed in Germany, Vampire is a pulse-free skin flick that tries to excuse itself with a tiresome Gothic horror framework.  The only noteworthy aspect of the production is its own inherent awfulness, for which the title gets things at least partly right – it’s certainly horrible.

The story, credited to director Jose Luis Madrid (7 Murders for Scotland Yard), is as generic as they come.  Bleached Count Oblensky (Val Davis, The Lustful Amazons) inherits a spooky German mansion around which a series of strange murders have been taking place, and begins to suspect that his ancestor Baron Winninger, long thought dead, may be responsible.  A crusty old inspector investigates the murders, badly, while Oblensky tries to save his similarly bleached lover from becoming a footnote in a case file.

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