November 21, 2013


A look at how the big movies of 1976 were released in the UK, their advertising campaigns and coverage in the movie magazines of that year...

An article about special effects in the Photoplay Film Year Book includes this shot from The Land That Time Forgot. Doug McClure and Declan Mulholland on the deck of their submarine, fighting the full-sized prop of a plesiosaurus head (with notably rubbery teeth). 

In 1976, Mulholland would shoot his scenes as the original Jabba the Hutt, walking alongside Harrison Ford, for the first Star Wars. The scene didn't make it into the film, but was reinstated for the Special Edition, with a downsized, computer-generated Jabba pasted over his performance. He can still be seen in 'making-of' before-and-after clips in documentaries and DVD extras.

What would you rather go see in January 1976, Jaws or Barry Lyndon...? Me? I saw Jaws and then went back and saw Jaws again...

This incredible cover photo impressed me so much that I still haven't seen Barry Lyndon.

Film Review, January
A Stanley Kubrick film is always an event, this one using much of the research he'd spent years working on for his aborted Napoleon project. But it's not as much of an event as a great white shark eating its way around Cape Cod. Perhaps this is why Kubrick started phoning Spielberg in the middle of the night.

Photoplay, January
Some of my favourite movies have been released on Boxing Day, despite them being far more suitable for the height of summer.

Photoplay, January
Here's Roy Scheider relaxing on Martha's Vineyard with producer Richard Zanuck, and director Steven Spielberg, before he went permanently beardy.

Much much more about Jaws here - the movie, the merchandise and a visit to the filming locations...

Photoplay, January
The Man From Hong Kong has now been rediscovered as one of the most action-packed Australian films of the stunt-heavy seventies. Packaged as James Bond meets kung-fu... down under.

Films Illustrated, March
After a year of coverage in the movie magazines, Rollerball finally gets released in the UK, certificate 'AA' (no-one under 14 admitted).

Film Review, April
James Caan again. Sam Peckinpah's trademark cross-cutting, slow-motion action sequences are the only thing I remember about The Killer Elite, one of the few of his films that made it intact to TV. The action thriller pits ninjas versus guys with guns. Guess who wins...

Film Review, April
The last Hammer horror film is one of their darkest. A low-key, straightforward depiction of Satanism, with Christopher Lee at his most evil. In their earlier adaption of a Dennis Wheatley horror novel, The Devil Rides Out, Lee played the good guy...

More about To The Devil A Daughter here...

Film Review, April
Nicolas Roeg picked David Bowie for his favourite, most unearthly-looking actor. In The Man Who Fell To Earth, Earth gets its first close encounter, before they were called close encounters...

Film Review, May
Considering everyone knew the ending (especially after seeing the poster), The Hindenburg is an interesting and dramatic theory of why the disaster happened. But I remember the climax being especially disappointing when it flicked into black-and-white, so that the 16mm newsreel could be cut in, instead of being recreated by new modelwork.

Zoiks! Films and Filming's goriest cover. A good job it wasn't in colour. Vampyres director, José Ramón Larraz recently passed away. I'm sure he was pleased to see this getting released on blu-ray though.

Films and Filming, June
Spielberg's follow-up to Jaws, was eventually called Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Here's news of it early in production, with a less confusing title.

Films and Filming, June
Films and Filming were livening up their photo-previews by presenting them with shots of the director getting involved. Above is a very tired-looking George Pan Cosmatos filming 'outbreak on a train', The Cassandra Crossing. He later directed both Rambo 2 and Cobra with Sylvester Stallone. His son Panos recently directed cult psychedelia Beyond The Black Rainbow.

Films and Filming, June
I include this shot from The Cassandra Crossing for fans of Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue - it's the star Ray Lovelock without that beard! He plays the guitar-playing boyfriend of Ann Turkel. A dangerous role, as Turkel was married to the star Richard Harris! More about The Cassandra Crossing here...

Film Review, June
The delay in releasing Rollerball meant that Roger Corman's similarly-themed Death Race 2000 rolls up only a few weeks later. It was compared to Rollerball in the British press and favourably-reviewed as being better satirically. A great script and funnier than it looks, though director Paul Bartel was unaware that the second-unit was sent out to beef up the blood and gore as well. The censor didn't fall for the jokes though, and cut the kills for cinemas, despite the 'X' certificate.

More about the wonderful Death Race 2000 here...

Film Review, June
Richard Rush (The Stuntman) directed this early 'buddy cop' movie, mixing the tough tactics of a borderline-insane detective with comedy and car chaos, years before any Lethal Weapon was drawn.

Films and Filming, July
William Girdler's Jaws-with-claws arrived in cinemas remarkably speedily after Jaws, also pre-empting the Jaws 2 attack on a helicopter by two years! Grizzly sneaked out while 'animal attack' movies could still show gore, though it plays much more like a slasher movie. Of course, we saw far less gore in the UK than the US. The uncut DVD special edition was quite an eye-opener! Grizzly is now promised on blu-ray by Scorpion in the US.

More about Grizzly here...

A bizarre collage on this cover presenting the paradox of seventies cinema - violent independent New York new wave, versus bloated unfunny Hollywood nostalgia.

Films and Filming, August
The late Karen Black cheats her way into Alfred Hitchock's gallery of blonde female stars by wearing a wig as a disguise in Family Plot. The very last Hitchcock film is a disappointing light comedy.

Films and Filming, August
Margaux Hemingway in what I think is a missing scene from Lipstick. She starred alongside her younger sister Mariel in this rape-revenge thriller opposite Chris Sarandon and Anne Bancroft.

Films and Filming, August
Director Pete Walker (Frightmare, House of the Long Shadows) shows Stephanie Beacham how to wield a knife in bloody whodunnit Schizo. Released this year on blu-ray in the US, by Redemption Video.

Films and Filming, August
Director Bob Rafelson directs Jeff Bridges in Stay Hungry, his follow-up to the acclaimed Five Easy Pieces.

Film Review, September
Director Alan Parker directs Scott Baio and Florrie Dugger in the all-child cast, gangster musical hit Bugsy Malone. His next two films will be Midnight Express and Fame...

It was fairly easy for Film Review to predict the coming hits on their preview covers, especially after the Oscar ceremony. All The President's Men won four awards that year.

Radio Times, July
If you wanted anyone to star as you in a film, in 1976, it would be Robert Redford. Journalist Bob Woodward was the lucky one, runner-up Carl Bernstein is played by Dustin Hoffman. Here the actors pose with the team they portrayed in All The President's Men.

Film Review, September
We finally get to see it in September, following the sensational news headlines and the best-selling book, written by the two journalists who cracked the case and exposed the President of the United States to be a liar. Richard Nixon's crime was to sanction government agencies to listen in on anyone's telephones. He resigned. Times have certainly changed.

Film Review, September
Producer/director Moustapha Akkad is best known by horror fans for making John Carpenter's original Halloween possible, and for producing each of the sequels. Just before all that, he'd made this epic about the birth of Islam, The Message, starring Anthony Quinn.

The Message will soon be on blu-ray from Twilight Time, along with the epic follow-up, Lion of the Desert.

Film Review, September
Here's Moustapha Akkad (on the right) with Anthony Quinn while filming The Message.

Film Review, September
These kids don't know how lucky they are, because they won a set visit to Star Wars, before anyone knew what Star Wars was.

While the dated special effects (and especially the wobbly robot) of Logan's Run was lucky to appear in cinemas before Star Wars, we were about to be starved of predictive science fiction films that had something to say.

Films and Filming, October
This photo-spread rightly shows off the extremely complex and dangerous 'Carousel' scene, with multiple stunt performers simultaneously hanging in the air on wires.

Film Review, November

Film Review, December
I can find no mention in Film Review or Photoplay of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre opening in cinemas. Yet they have no problem with the posters for Survive! and Death Weekend. To be fair, Chain Saw had an unorthodox release and wasn't co-ordinated on a national basis, but rather with individual Borough Councils!

Survive! also told a real life tale of cannibalism, when a plane crashed off-course in the Andes. It was dramatised again as Alive in 1993.

Much more about Survive! here.

Films Illustrated, December
Another rape-revenge thriller where, like Lipstick, it's the assaulted woman who takes revenge. Lipstick predated The Accused in highlighting the lack of legal support women had at the time. Death Weekend is a more straightforward thriller, but unlike Death Wish and like Lipstick, it's the woman that takes revenge. This also draws on Straw Dogs, with a home invasion and an isolated setting. All these films predate the infamous I Spit on Your Grave, a gorier, far more exploitative reworking of the premise of Death Weekend. But I bet they were jealous of the poster's tagline (above).

Still not on DVD, more about Death Weekend here...

Films Illustrated, December
Like Phantom of the Paradise, Brian De Palma's Obsession wasn't a hit, though both were received well in Britain. His next film launched his fortunes, something called Carrie. Out of all the posters I've seen for Obsession, this is my very favourite, also used on the vinyl soundtrack. Obsession boasts one of Bernard Herrmann's last soundtracks and some of De Palma's best work. It's just been released on region-free blu-ray in the UK by Arrow Video.

A decade of classic Brian De Palma films...

Previous magazine flashbacks...

Lawrence of Arabia and more from 1963

Blow Up, The Trip and more from 1967

Barbarella, Witchfinder General and more from 1968

Rosemary's Baby, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, Women In Love and more from 1969

M*A*S*H, Myra Breckinridge and more from 1970

The Devils, Deep End, double-bills and more from 1971


  1. Did I see OBSESSION on a double bill with THE STREETFIGHTER? My (faulty?) memory is telling me while I saw the former at my local Odeon (as a standalone feature?), I saw THE STREETFIGHTER at the ABC coupled with something else, though I have no idea what.

    Saw THE HINDENBURG at the ABC as a standalone. Saw DEATH WEEKEND on a double-bill with STRAW DOGS; I have that DW quad which was already imprinted in my memory from its original run and newspaper ads.

    Wish I could see all the Wolverhampton cinema listings for that period.

  2. Wish I hadn't thrown away my collection of local listings!

  3. Love it Mark. Takes me back to my days going to the local ABC Cinema and buying FILM REVIEW (and hoping there'd be a nude picture or two in it - lol). Still have lots of FILM REVIEWS (and lots of those free Preview mini-mags they used to give away). Sadly I now live in Los Angeles and all my mags are at my parents in York.

    I love seeing all the old painted film posters too. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

    BTW if you're in LA in the new year, give me a call as I'm running a horror film festival at the Quentin Tarantino-owned New Beverly Cinema. I'll put your name on the guest list! Cheers, and keep up the cool blog.