It Was The One Armed Man

  • videoarchives
  • September 13, 2022

Today’s episode of The Video Archives Podcast has it all: revenge, revenge and REVENGE!

 Quentin & Roger kick it off with the harrowing journey of The One Armed Executioner, before stopping for a spell in the mysterious town of Welcome To Blood City. Then they wrap things up with an improbable bank heist in Blind Rage. On Counter Talk I’ve got movie facts and VHS covers galore, so let’s get right into it…

This week’s lineup is a triple feature of the low-budget exploitation films we usually save for the third slot of the episode. That was the plan for our first film, until Quentin & Roger watched it and were so bowled over, they decided it was worthy of headliner status. The One Armed Executioner delivers exactly what its title promises, as an Interpol agent whose wife was murdered by mobsters (and who gets his arm cut off to boot) goes on a crusade for vengeance. 

Supposedly, the scene where star Franco Guerrero loses his wife and arm was so intense, his appendix burst during shooting and he had to be rushed to the hospital! That commitment to hitting the emotional beats of the story (plus some immensely entertaining action from director Bobby A. Suarez) elevates a predictable plot into something special. Suarez is one of the Philippines’ finest action directors, and his filmography includes one of the best movie titles I’ve ever seen – I’m determined to track down “Scotch on the Rocks to Forget, Black Coffee to Remember” and find out if it’s worthy of that title.

The electric cover of the One Armed Executioner Paragon release has not one but two explosions, a tease of the helicopter-driven climax, and a furious but focused Guerrero holding a smoking gun.

The back cover promises revenge in triplicate, and showcases the helicopter chase again - Suarez was only able to rent a helicopter for two hours during production, but he made it count!

As the great critic Franklin Brauner says, you can’t watch Welcome To Blood City without thinking about Westworld, another sci-fi film in Western clothing it bears more than a passing resemblance to. But if you love this particular flavor of dystopia, it’s well worth tracking down for its unique mythology and an unusually unflaccid Keir Dullea performance.

(Speaking of Franklin Brauner, this marks his first appearance on the podcast, but careful listeners may notice that it sounds like Quentin’s heard a few of Brauner’s reviews already, as if we’re airing this episode out of order or something. This is not the last you’ll hear from this mysterious curmudgeonly critic!)

The only hints of science fiction on this cover are the strange machine on the center left, and the typeface used for “BLOOD CITY” - I could pinpoint the era of computer used in the film from that title font alone:

And the back cover, hilariously, highlights what’s surely Keir Dullea’s most noteworthy credit, “2010: The Year We Make Contact.”

This alternate cover from the collection heightens the sales pitch with the lurid subtitle “The Olympics of Death” - but then gives over half the back cover to an ad for The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”. Like they need the marketing!

If you’re in the mood for a heist film with a solid gimmick, Efren C. Piñon’s Blind Rage is a must-see; simply watching these five blind criminals work out the logistics of how they’re going to pull off their audacious bank robbery is so much fun. The music is also excellent – Gala briefly mentioned the wild career of musician-turned-Filipino Senator Tito Sotto, who scored Blind Rage, and the pop genre he pioneered, the Manila Sound. But even that summary leaves out his time as a professional bowler and tournament-winning golfer, his noteworthy acting career, and his stint as co-host of “Eat Bulaga!,” the longest running variety show in Philippine history. (Here’s a little taste of the Manila Sound, with Sotto’s former band VST & Company.)

The MGM/UA cover of ‘Blind Rage’ (quotes included) rivals The One Armed Executioner poster for exciting action poses, keeping the heavily-advertised but barely-featured-in-the-film Fred Williamson in his own showcase box – and proudly listing the locations featured in this globe-hopping picture across the bottom. Vegas, Manila, LA, Mexico, Tokyo and Hong Kong: this movie truly is an International House of Pancakes.

It’s all going down at the International House Of Pancakes.

This is a really cool box all around - the foil back cover still has a nice shine. The gatefold style packaging also includes a cast list on the inside flap:

And look at that embossed MGM/UA waterfall underneath the tape! Who needs a Blu-Ray SteelBook?

Before I sign off – we loved seeing Elric from the Pure Cinema Podcast with his Video Archives shirt at Scarecrow Video in Seattle, Washington!

We love seeing your Video Archives Letterboxd lists too! Mike Kenny has done a stellar job cataloging every film mentioned on a Video Archives episode – check out his recent lists on our Illustrated Man / Dirty Hands / Demonoid episode, and the following After Show.

Finally, I’m so thrilled that Quentin and Roger are going to appear in person for screenings of The One Armed Executioner and Blind Rage at The New Bev this weekend – I can’t wait to see these two crackerjack films on the big screen, on film. They’ll be introducing screenings this Saturday, September 17th, and Sunday, September 18th – and on Saturday they’ll be doing a discussion with the audience as well. That show is sold out, but there are still tickets for the Sunday show as of this writing.

On next week’s After Show, we’re going to start going through the letters you sent us for our first mailbag segment. Remember, if you have a question for Quentin and Roger, you can send your mail (real letters only! No emails!) to The Video Archives Podcast, c/o Earwolf Media, PO Box 66, 5551 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90028. Until then, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, rate us on Apple and Spotify, and I’ll be back with more Counter Talk next week!