Creature Features: The Classics

Seeing as it’s October and Halloween is around the corner we have decided to make this month’s theme a compilation of the horrors and thrillers the film industry has to offer. We have chosen a couple of movies that are definitely worth a mention and that might spark some memories from your childhood.

It [1990]

In 1960, a group of social outcasts who are bullied by a gang of greasers led by Henry Bowers are also tormented by an evil demon who can shape-shift into a clown and feed on children’s fears and kill them. After defeating the demonic clown as kids, it resurfaces 30 years later and they must finish it off as adults once again.

This TV Mini-Series based on the book written by Stephen King was definitely one of the scariest movies of its time and most definitely one of the main reasons people are afraid of Clowns. It is currently being remade under the direction of Andreas Muschietti and will be released in late 2017.

The Fly [1986]

Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist attempts to woo investigative journalist Veronica Quaife by offering her a scoop on his latest research in the field of matter transportation, which against all the expectations of the scientific establishment have proved successful. Up to a point. Brundle thinks he has ironed out the last problem when he successfully transports a living creature, but when he attempts to teleport himself a fly enters one of the transmission booths, and Brundle finds he is a changed man. This Science-Gone-Mad film is the source of the quotable quote “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

#DidYouKnow, the infamous cat-monkey scene where Brundlefly fuses a cat and the remaining baboon and then beats it to death with a lead pipe was cut following a Toronto screening. According to producer Stuart Cornfeld the audience felt that there was no turning back for Seth and they lost all sympathy for his plight, which caused the rest of the film to not play as well. In Cornfeld’s own words: “If you beat an animal to death, even a monkey-cat, your audience is not gonna be interested in your problems anymore”.

Gremlins [1984]

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.

#DidYouKnow, the set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.

Leprechauns [1993]

When Dan O’Grady returns to the U.S. after stealing some Irish leprechaun’s pot of gold, he thinks he can settle down and enjoy his newfound wealth. He thought wrong. The leprechaun followed him and O’Grady barely gets away with his life, having locked the little monster in his basement. Ten years later, J.D. and his spoiled daughter Tory move in. By accident, the leprechaun is released and almost immediately the annoying creature starts to look for his gold, not displaying any respect for human life.

#DidYouKnow, according to the director, Warwick Davis, the movie was originally planned as a scary kid’s film, but the studio thought it would work better as a more adult horror, so inserts were filmed to increase the gore and violence.

All these movies have a few things in common: Growing up they were the scariest movies around and it haunted our dreams for years to come. We were definitely not allowed to watch them and because of that reason we wanted to watch them even more no matter the consequences. At Retro Afrika Bioscope we love our old Classics so we hope this sparked a new flame of nostalgia so you can curl up in front of the TV with your favorite childhood scary movie this October, if you dare!!!

Movie content source: http://www.imdb.com/?ref_=nv_home

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Retro Afrika Bioscope celebrating Heritage Day

This Saturday South Africa will be celebrating Heritage Day. And with Retro Afrika Bioscope playing such a significant role in restoring and preserving this beautiful country’s diverse film heritage it seems only fit to dedicate a blog to this awesome day!!! It’s also very important to remember where it all started and what significance it has to the people of South Africa and our rainbow nation.

The History

In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, president Nelson Mandela stated:

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”

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And thus Heritage Day was born, to be celebrated every year on the 24th September. With such a diverse culture and rather than focusing on the cultural divisions, a recent initiative by the Braai4Heritage called upon all South Africans to celebrate their common roots by having a Braai (BBQ) on Heritage Day.

Retro Afrika Bioscope has been dedicated to preserving and restoring lost and forgotten films produced in the 1980’s. These films might never have been seen by modern audiences if it wasn’t for this project. We started the long process of sourcing these films and restoring them to their former glory and today they are accessible on various platforms such as DVD and Video on Demand. In South Africa we have partnered with DSTV’s Mzansi Bioskop, channel (164) in bringing these once forgotten African Classics into your living room and this Sundays movie will be ‘Isiqalekiso’ [1980]’.

Isiqalekiso [1980’s]

After hearing a story of missing golden treasure, a group of young boys set out on an adventure to look for it. After some time, they eventually find a box believed to be the missing gold. But very soon, the group of friends is overcome with gold-fever and it’s not long before they start turning on one another. When a local thug discovers that the boys have indeed found the hidden treasure, he manages to steal it away from them, and the friends are forces to reconcile and come together in order to retrieve their find and get their own back on the thief.

So how are you going to spend your Heritage Day? If you’re living outside of South Africa. why not go onto FilmDoo, Hoopla Digital or Bigstar to browse through our catalog of movies and stream these Lost African Classics. You never know, you might find your next favorite between the rich treasures that is South Africa’s film pride and joy.

 

Blaxploitation: International Films

Blaxploitation arose at a critical time for the Hollywood film industry. While black political activists battled in the courtrooms and streets for the end of segregation and equal civil rights, it became increasingly difficult for Hollywood studios to ignore black society, which ultimately led to the infiltration of black actors and filmmakers in Hollywood. Thus; Blaxploitation was born. Here are just two examples of the type of films produced in this genre.

Across 110th Street [1972]

This film is set in Harlem, of which 110th street is an informal boundary line. In a daring robbery, some $300,000 is taken from a Mafia-owned Harlem policy bank. Several mafiosi are killed, as are two policemen. Lieutenant William Pope, played by Yaphet Kotto, has to work with crude, racist but streetwise Italian-American Captain Frank Mattelli, played by Anthony Quinn, in the NYPD’s 27th precinct. They are looking for three black men who slaughtered seven men, three black gangsters and two Italian gangsters. Mafia lieutenant Nick D’Salvio, played by Anthony Franciosa, and his two henchmen are also after the hoods. Will the mafia catch these criminals first, or will the police?

The film has claimed to be more than just a cliché. It was deep and developed, yet had a simplistic story about cops and criminals, with a gritty and honest addition to its characters. It was seen as pure and uncut, with cinematic genius from beginning to end. Despite the many pitfalls seen by critics, the film continually saved itself by being genuine and dark throughout. The film demonstrated the raw force of truth, giving viewers a rare (yet fictional) story of the changing of the guard in Harlem, the truth of its streets, and the minds of its criminals.

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Across 110th Street [1972]

Foxy Brown [1974]

A sexy black woman, Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) seeks revenge when her government-agent boyfriend is shot down by gangsters led by the kinky couple of Steve Elias (Peter Brown) and Miss Katherine (Kathryn Loder) that services local judges, congressmen, and police in the area. Foxy decides to pose as a prostitute to infiltrate the company, and helps save a fellow black woman from a life of drugs and sexual exploitation and reunites her with her husband and child. However, not long after she infiltrates the company,  Foxy is caught before she can escape…

It was this film that catapulted Pam Grier to a level of iconic stardom. Foxy oozes independence and woman empowerment. She’s a ‘whole lotta’ woman who’s got what it takes to beat the baddies at their own game, a voluptuous body, a show-stopping Afro, and, most importantly, a “black belt in barstools”. Together with Jack Hill’s (director) slick direction and an exciting yet soulful Willie Hutch soundtrack, this movie is a modern classic that exceeds the Blaxploitation genre in which it evolved.

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Foxy Brown [1974]

There are hundreds of International blaxploitation films on the market which we encourage you to watch. The genre carries many themes to suit your taste, such as action, romance, horror, crime, and sci-fi to name a few. So bring out the popcorn, kick up your feet, and enjoy!

South African Blaxploitation Films

What is Blaxploitation? Blaxploitation was a term coined in the early 1970’s to refer to a sub-genre of black cinema, which incorporated the culture of Black people in America and worldwide. Although initially popular, it quickly disintegrated as a film genre criticized for stereotypical characterization and glorification of violence.

In retrospect, Blaxploitation and the legacy it left behind have been acknowledged as a positive contribution to African and African-American film history. Blaxploitation films such as Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss song [1971], Coffy [1973], and Dolemite [1975] proved that black actors possessed a strong box-office appeal, and despite the fact that many of the films were written, directed and produced by white people, black audiences finally saw the recognition that African and African-American actors, directors and writers deserved, and fought for, since the early days of silent film. The following South African films, restored by Retro Afrika Bioscope, depict the essence of Blaxploitation.

Umbango (The Feud) [1986]

When Kay Kay, a powerful, ruthless businessman sets out on a mission of revenge against two men accused of killing his brother, he strong-arms the local sheriff into forming a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta. But when Jet and Owen, the two easy going friends, learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to stand their ground and fight back. It all comes to a head in a final gunfight, a showdown in the small western town where blood will have to be split if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

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Umbango (The Feud) [1986]

Bullet On The Run [1982]

Bullet is back, and this time he will have to put his reputation on the line as he goes deep undercover in prison to unfold the mystery of a police corruption ring, being run by one of the most wanted mob bosses in the country, a man known only as Snake.

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Bullet On The Run [1982]

When looking at Blaxploitation films, we can see a historical cultural significance that comes from a time and place which transcends into the universal truths of freedom, expression, and community. Despite some of the controversy that these films created, it opened the doors to talented African-Americans, ultimately proving to its audience that they could thrive in film. Thus, their achievements speak for themselves.

International Women’s Month: Leading Ladies In Film

It is with great honour that through Retro Afrika Bioscope, we restore and re-release once discarded South African films to a new generation of audiences worldwide. In light of Women’s Month, it is only appropriate that we acknowledge and commend the talented women of the time who played such significant roles in these films, and for their contribution to the development of the South African film industry.

“Joe Bullet” [1971] is about a man [Joe] who helps save his soccer team when faced with a series of onslaughts from a mysterious gangster a week before the championship final. Joe will have to battle against villainous henchmen, escape booby-trap bombs and bring his martial arts expertise to the fore in order to survive an attack from a deadly assassin. Not only does he have to save his team, but that of his beautiful love interest, Beauty – played by the multi-award winning Abigail Kubeka. The odds will be stacked against him, but he will  fight with all his might to save the day.

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Joe Bullet [1971]

“Rich Girl” [1985] portrays a young, beautiful lady who comes from a wealthy family, however; with this, comes many consequences. Her father hires a highly trained bodyguard to protect her, but she refuses to believe that she needs any protection at all. One day, his worst fears come true, and the two of them are kidnapped by a pair of thugs, but the unsuspecting crooks have no clue as to what the bodyguard is capable of, and are soon to learn the error of their ways.

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Rich Girl [1985]

“Hostage” [1985] – one of the most captivating films – depicts three men who decide to blackmail a young local businessman by the name of Ben, in the hope of using one of his warehouses in the harbour to store a shipment of drugs coming in soon. Ben refuses to cooperate, until his wife Thuli is kidnapped by the crooks. This changes everything for him, as he will do whatever it takes to save his wife.

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Hostage [1985]

 “Thunder Valley” [1985] tells the story of three friends, John, Sipho and Thandi, who spend the summer holidays at Uncle Joshua’s cottage. Despite their best efforts to stay out of trouble, the three manage to encounter a group of crooks hiding out in a supposed abandoned shack on the river. However, one of the crooks decides to join forces with the youths to save the day and defeat the remaining crooks who are holding a large cache of stolen weapons.

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Thunder Valley [1985]

If you haven’t see these films yet, we encourage you to do so. Despite the trying circumstances of the time, so much talent and effort went into these films and it is important that this is recognized.

 

International Women’s Day: Empowering Women in Film

In honor of Women’s month, it is important to reflect on the importance of women’s empowerment and to acknowledge some of the many struggles that women were faced with. There are a wide variety of films which depict this theme, and we encourage everyone to watch, learn and enjoy!

“Thelma and Louise” [1991] – one of the world’s “must see” women-empowerment films, is an ultimate classic about two women who decide to break out of their societal roles as women by hitting the road and embarking on a new journey. Their adventure, however, turns into a flight when Louise kills a man who threatens to rape Thelma. They decide to go to Mexico, but soon they are hunted by American police.

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Thelma and Louise [1991]

The film has many themes: Laughter, sadness, fear, and endurance. But overall, it gives viewers a feeling of happiness and comfort. It reflects on the importance of a strong bond between two women, and their efforts to help and love one another at their darkest of times. Women’s month reminds us to love, value, and respect all women, no matter their race, ethnicity or social class.

“Yesterday” [2004] is a South African film which captures a Zulu woman’s journey as she discovers that she is HIV positive. She must deal with consequences of her illness, but her singular motivation is to see that Beauty, her five year old daughter, enrolls in school the next fall. This is a significant and inspiring film, which portrays a woman in distress as she struggles to balance her relationship with her daughter and husband, and of course her newly diagnosed illness. Despite this, she chooses to remain positive and strong for her family. Even in the worst situation, her prime goal is to live long enough to see her daughter go to school.

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Yesterday [2004]

The film portrays a woman’s strength, courage, and bravery, and is a role model to all mothers and wives.

International Women’s Month reminds us to lead by example as strong women and the importance of women empowerment.

 

Bringing Lost African Gems Straight to your Living Room on Mzansi Bioskop

Gravel Road Entertainment Group’s Retro Afrika Bioscope and Mzansi Bioskop have teamed up to bring you a starlit line up of lost and forgotten South African films. Over the next couple of months, you can tune in every Sunday at 8pm to DSTV Channel 164, Mzansi Bioskop to feast your eyes on some of the most authentically South African films that was produced in the 70’s and 80’s. These films showcase all-African casts and in a number of local languages with English subtitles.

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“Umbango” will have it’s first ever TV premiere this coming Sunday. The film was produced and directed by Tonie van der Merwe, starring Popo Gumede, Hector Mathanda and Kay Magubane and is arguably one of the first all African cast isiZulu Westerns. The film was digitally restored by Gravel Road Entertainment Group and was, together with the film Joe Bullet, official selection in the Forum section at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015. Both films had sell out audiences at the festival. “As the first producer and director of an African language film, it gives me great pride to finally get some recognition for our contribution to the South African film industry. I am proud of what we have achieved and it’s a great honour and privilege to experience this moment. It’s a shame that most of these actors such as Ken Gampu, Joe Lopez and Hector Mathanda cannot be here today to see these films on TV. Thank you again to all the actors and my colleges. I salute you!!” says Tonie van der Merwe.

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About “Umbango”
When Kay Kay, a powerful, ruthless businessman sets out on a mission of revenge against two men accused of killing his brother, he strong-arms the local sheriff into forming a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta. But when Jet and Owen, the two easy going friends, learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to stand their ground and fight back. It all comes to a head in a final gun-fight, a showdown in the small western town where blood will have to be split if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

Retro Afrika Bioscope is Gravel Road Entertainment Group’s specialty release label for classic retro African content. In 2013, Gravel Road launched an initiative to locate, digitally restore and re-release films produced for the oppressed majority (African) audiences in the 70’s and 80’s under the old South African film subsidy schemes. All films being released by Retro Afrika Bioscope undergo a highly specialized digital restoration process.

The line-up of films for the month of July includes, Abathumbi (Starring: Innocent Gumede and Khulekani Magubane), Zero for Zep (Starring: So Mhlanga and Khulekani Magubane), Umgulukudu (Starring: Roy Dlamini and Mandla Ngoya) and Thunder Valley (Starring: Roy Dlamini and Mandla Ngoya).

More information on these films are available on:
Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/retroafrika/
YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMR66tlg7C2Yp-10tHNH1SA