Tag Archives: Perry King

The Wild Party (1975)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Slumming actor stages comeback.

The year is 1929 and Jolly Grimm (James Coco) the once successful silent film star now finds himself, with the advent of talking pictures, to be in low demand. Although his movies once made a killing his style of humor is now considered cliched and with no studio willing to fund his latest pic he’s forced to use his own money to get it made. He holds a lavish party in his mansion inviting many Hollywood elites who he hopes will show an interest in his movie once he screens it to everyone, but instead his guests are more into each other as the party quickly devolves into a wild sex orgy with even Jolly’s faithful girlfriend Queenie (Raquel Welch) cheating on him with a much younger and better looking actor (Perry King).

The story is loosely based on the 1926 poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March while the Jolly character was inspired by Fatty Arbuckle a famous silent film comic who was accused and the later acquitted of the rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe in 1921. The script though by Walter Marks doesn’t seem to know what tone it wants to take as at times it seems like a trenchant drama while at other moments it comes off as a surreal comedy. The original intent was to turn it into a musical, which would’ve been a better idea as the lack of cohesion causes the pacing to be completely off and never allows the film to build any tension or momentum.

The party scenes are not interesting or provocative and in many ways it’s a poorman’s version of Day of the Locust which came out at the same time and had a similar theme, but a far stronger impact. The sex is stagy and mechanical and seeing all the guests sprawled in a symmetric way on the floor the next day throughout the mansion looks too surreal-like to be even remotely believable. The party’s only interesting moment is when Jolly has a meltdown by going on a long angry rant that reveals his ugly side to his guests, but the filmmakers botch this sequence by focusing solely on Coco instead of cutting away to show the shocked reactions of the party-goers.

Coco, in his only starring vehicle, does quite well in a role I didn’t think he was equipped for. Welch gives an equally strong performance, possibly the best of her career, but the relationship of their two characters made no sense. Director James Ivory tries to flesh them out by having the two at different moments go on long soliloquys explaining what attracted them to the other, but in both cases it rings hollow. So what if Coco treated Welch with respect and asked her ‘deep questions’ when they first meet, which is apparently why she fell for him, he’s no longer doing that now, so why stick with him? Coco’s statement, that he couldn’t ‘live without her’ comes off as equally absurd since every time he talks to her he’s abusive.

The relationship angle should’ve been scrapped as it’s Jolly’s mental deterioration that is more interesting.  A far better and more realistic scenario would’ve had Coco coming onto a young starlet such as Queenie at the party but she would reject his advances and then later when he saw her with a younger actor it would set off his already shaky ego, which would then precipitate the violence.

Spoiler Alert!

The shooting that occurs at the end isn’t effective. The film is filled with so many lulls that by the time it finally gets to it you really don’t care who dies and who doesn’t. Having it occur the next morning after the party is already over seems anti-climactic and something that should’ve been witnessed by all the guests. It’s also a bit frustrating to have it end so abruptly without any aftermath or denouncement given.

End of Spoiler Alert!

Tiffany Bolling and Perry King add some zest in support especially with their facial expressions and the sultry dance done by Chris Gilmore (who gets billed here as Annette Ferra) adds a weird sensual vibe. However, having David Dukes’ character break the fourth wall and begin speaking directly to the camera as he describes the party guests is a distraction, which only  further cements this as a misguided misfire that needed better focus.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 4, 1975

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes (Director’s Cut)

Director: James Ivory

Studio: American International Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video

The Lord’s of Flatbush (1974)

lords of flatbush 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sly and the Fonz.

Butchey (Henry Winkler) forms a leather jacket gang with his friends at a Brooklyn city high school during the 1950’s. The group is made up of Stanley (Sylvester Stallone) who is forced to marry his girlfriend when he gets her pregnant and Chico (Perry King) who romances the pretty new girl in school named Jane (Susan Blakely). As they grow into adulthood they find themselves drifting apart as new interests and demands begin to appear.

This film can best be described as a B-version of American Graffiti that came out just a year earlier. The production values are shoddy with a grainy picture that looks like it was filmed on somebody’s home camera. The story works in fragmented style that comes off more like a series of vignettes than an actual plot. Chico’s romance with Jane happens too quickly and seems artificial from the start especially since they are from ‘opposite sides of the tracks’. The actors themselves are clearly well over 18 and in Stallone’s case almost pushing 30 making their presence and the overall 50’s feel seem unauthentic.

The one thing that saves it is that there are some funny scenes as well as moments of decent drama and character development. The part where Stallone barters with a jeweler over the price of the wedding ring is quite good. I also liked the scene where the boys get together to intimidate a guy who is dating Chico’s girl only to run in fright when the other guy brings in a team of football players to defend him. However, the opening bit dealing with the teens misbehaving in class is not funny at all and I ended up feeling sorry for the teacher who was only trying to do her job.

Although given top billing Winkler is underused and almost forgettable. King is the real star and does quite well while also creating a multi-dimensional character. Stallone steals every scene he is in and proves to be much more adept at comedy than you might think. You can also glimpse Ray Sharkey, Armand Assante and Brooke Adams as wedding guests.

The film also features model-turned-actress Susan Blakely in only her third feature who does well playing the ‘good girl’, but the scene where Chico pressures her into having sex and she resists while asking him what color her eyes are in an attempt to see if he really ‘knows’ her and not just using her makes no sense. For one thing her big, blue eyes are the most prominent part of her face. Anyone, even a stranger, who glances at her face for even a second would know the color of her eyes, and thus having her ask someone what color they are is ridiculous already and then having them unable to tell her makes it the dumbest part of the whole movie.

susan blakely

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: May 1, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 26Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Martin Davidson and Stephan Verona

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972)

the possession of joel delaney

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Possessed by his friend.

Norah (Shirley MacLaine) is a divorced mother of two living in a well-off neighborhood of New York that is also keeping a watchful eye on her younger brother Joel (Perry King). He is a recent college grad returned from an overseas stay and still looking to find his way in the world. He lives in a poorer section of town and does so to keep a distance between he and his sister who he feels has domineering traits like his now deceased mother. As things progress he begins to show odd, frightening behaviors that at times turn violent and when conventional therapy doesn’t help Norah turns to a Puerto Rican witch doctor that is convinced that Joel is possessed.

What makes this film so intriguing is that it has far more layers than a typical horror film and its most interesting aspect isn’t the occult at all, but instead the vivid look at New York’s contrasting socio-economic and cultural make-up. It shows how buffered the rich are from the poverty stricken areas of the city and how completely helpless they become when thrown into that environment. In fact Norah’s most frightening moments are when she is taken out of the safety zone of her pampered lifestyle than in dealing with the possession of her brother.

MacLaine’s character is not too likable, but this ends up being a positive. Her exchange with a clerk at a mental hospital when she expects to receive preferential treatment is amusing as is her obliviousness to her surroundings when she walks into a rundown tenement building wearing a gaudy fur hat and coat only to later finally get the sense to take it off when walking down the street of a tough neighborhood.

King is perfect choice for the role as his clear blue eyes give off a naturally creepy look and his moments of possession are some of the most unnerving parts of the film although I would have liked more time to have been given showing him in more of a normal state. His relationship with his sister also exposes an underlying sexual theme that never gets sufficiently explored

Although the terror is more cerebral it still has some choice moments including a shot of a decapitated head of a woman hung over her nude body as well as Maclaine’s extremely odd reaction to it. The ritual involving the attempted removal of the dead soul from Joel’s body has a nice cinema vertite flair and when the man lights some kerosene on the floor and steps in it with his bare feet it looks genuine and not staged. The climatic sequence that takes place in a remote beach house is intense and includes the controversial scene showing a young boy being forced to strip as well as a young girl having to eat dog food from a dog dish that was excised from many prints, but intact on the Legend Films DVD release. There is also a cool twist that occurs at the very, very end.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: May 24, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 45Minutes

Rated R

Director: Waris Hussein

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD