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One man who does what the police can’t do: The cult of Charles Bronson grows
08:34 am


Charles Bronson

A new Charles Bronson book and a slew of DVD releases seem to indicate the cult of the macho movie tough-guy is ever-growing. Twelve years after his death, the actor’s legacy shows no signs of fading.

Bronson’s Loose Again! On the Set with Charles Bronson was released last month by BearManor Media. Author Paul Talbot’s exhaustive, definitive document of Charles Bronson’s work from the mid ‘70s through the ‘80s follows his previous volume Bronson’s Loose!: The Making of the Death Wish Films which specifically covered the Death Wish franchise.

Bronson’s Loose Again! indicates that the cult of Bronson initially took hold in Europe and Asia, while he was still largely unknown in the United States. According to the book, Bronson had passed on three Spaghetti Westerns which ended up making Clint Eastwood a huge star. It was then that Bronson finally agreed to appear in the European films Farewell, Friend (1968), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Rider on the Rain (1970). These three films were virtually ignored upon initial release in America, but made Bronson a huge megastar throughout the rest of the world.

He became one of the highest paid actors in the world by the time he went on to shoot Violent City (1970), Cold Sweat (1970) and Red Sun (1971).

The Bronson phenomenon was so huge in Japan that his face alone could sell a movie—or anything else, for that matter.

From Bronson’s Loose Again!:

Red Sun unspooled in one Tokyo theater for nine months and broke the house record set by the recent reissue of Gone with the Wind (1939)—which had played for a mere four months. Nearby, a massive billboard displayed a lone image: a painting of Bronson’s cracked, mustached face. There was no text, just the visual promise that the latest movie with the nation’s favorite star could be seen locally. In 1971 Bronson collected $100,000 for four days work shooting (in Colorado) a series of TV ads for a new cologne from the Japanese firm Mandom. These clever spots by director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi (who went on to do the 1977 cult horror film Hausu) perfectly captured the rugged Bronson mystique. A few weeks after the first commercial’s broadcast, Mandom’s product was the best-selling cologne in Japan. A rival company decided to not even bother airing its own Bronson-less ad.

The hyper-masculine Mandom ad must be seen to be believed:

Bronson didn’t really break through in the United States until Death Wish was released in 1974. The controversial vigilante film cemented his stardom both in the United States and abroad. The squinty-eyed, gun-weilding, middle-aged man with the weather-beaten features became an unlikely archetype for American badassery.

Strangely, the one person unaffected by the cult of Bronson seemed to be Bronson himself. Bronson, quoted from Talbot’s book:

“I’m not a fan of myself. I wouldn’t go to see me. I don’t like the way I look and talk. I like the way I walk, but I don’t like the way I stand. I hate the way I stand. There’s something about the way I stand. I’m embarrassed at myself. I’m not embarrassed at what I’m doing. I’m just embarrassed at myself.”

Audiences didn’t seem to have a problem with the way he looked or talked or stood—then or now: Six of Bronson’s films have gotten recent Blu-Ray reissues on boutique labels: 10 to Midnight, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, Mr. Majestyk, Messenger of DeathThe White BuffaloBreakheart Pass... and two more titles are set to be released soon: Assassination, and Murphy’s Law.

We wrote about 10 To Midnight back in October here at Dangerous Minds, calling it the weirdest, “most fucked-up, underrated, ‘80s slasher horror movie.” It’s a MUST-WATCH for either fans of Bronson’s “cop not playing by the rules” antics or fans of homocidal maniacs in a proto-American Psycho vein.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bronson’s canon of work, or have any lingering doubts about him being the ultimate movie badass, after the jump, I invite you to bask in the testosterone of the brilliant “Ultimate Charles Bronson Movie Trailer” supercut. It’s a thing of glory…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The most f*cked-up, underrated, 80s slasher horror movie: ‘10 To Midnight’
08:35 am


Charles Bronson
10 To Midnight
Cannon Films

J. Lee Thompson‘s 1983 thriller 10 To Midnight is virtually unknown in horror circles, as its advertising billed it as a typical vigilante cop crime-drama. The film, starring ultimate silver-screen badass, Charles Bronson, is a taut action-thriller, but at the same time it’s one of the weirdest, most fucked-up slasher horror films of the 1980s.

This bizarre film certainly deserves recognition among horror fans who may be unaware of its existence, and Gene Davis’ portrayal of the nudist serial-killer creepazoid, Warren Stacy, is one of the great underrated horror-villain performances of all time. 

The gist of the film is that a psychopathic loser who can’t get laid gets back at the women who won’t fuck him by murdering them—in the nude—that is to say, HE is in the nude… and, well, usually the women are too. Anyway, things get complicated for him when he goes after Charles Bronson’s daughter, because Bronson is a cop who doesn’t play by the rules and isn’t afraid to take the law into his own hands. You can probably fill in the rest, but whatever you’re imagining isn’t nearly as fucked-up as what actually happens in 10 To Midnight.

It’s not that the film is extremely graphic, but the imagery of a completely nude male serial-killer stalking and butchering nude or scantily-clad women creates a level of viewer discomfort that is rare for the by-the-numbers slasher genre of the 1980s. The killer in this film doesn’t wear a mask. In fact, he doesn’t wear anything. There’s a level of grotesque intimacy between Warren Stacy and his victims that you don’t have with a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers.

It’s a level of fucked-upedness that could only be achieved by the infamous production company: Cannon Films. If you’re unfamiliar with Cannon films and their prolific canon of B-films, I highly recommend the documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films which details the rise of the Israeli-launched production company which came to dominate the exploitation film markets in the ‘80s. Back then if you saw the Cannon logo at the start of a film, you knew it was going to deliver the goods BIGTIME in a simplistic, straight-forward way, and it was probably going to be a little bit OFF somehow.

10 To Midnight certainly has its “off” moments. And by “off” I mean completely weird and awesome. In one scene Bronson, the Dirty Harry-esque cop who doesn’t play by the rules, confronts the accused killer with a ridiculous sex toy he’s confiscated from the suspect’s apartment. He barks at the suspect: “Warren, do you recognize this?! You ever seen one of these before? What’s it used for? What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? IT’S FOR JACKING OFF, ISN’T IT!?”—As if “jacking off” with an enormous sex-toy prop that looks like a cross between a fleshlight and an electric knife is admissible evidence of serial-killing.

Amazingly, the same laughable prop also turns up in J. Lee Thompson’s 1989 Bronson vehicle, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects

Stop reading right now and watch this crucial scene and its masterful use of dialogue: “It’s for jacking off, isn’t it!”

More of this madness, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Charles Bronson’s sexy world of body odor

It’s likely some of you have already seen this. But even after being on YouTube for six years, I managed to miss it. I saw the 1970s Mandom commercial featuring Charles Bronson for the first time the other night at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. It was part of a reel of short subjects the theater screens in lieu of the kind of gag-inducing “real” ads shown in most movie theaters. Watching a vintage Japanese commercial in which Bronson slathers himself with deodorant while making sexy talk is lighyears better than one of those shitty Fandango ads.

The doorman is played by the wonderful character actor Percy Helton.

Enjoy the Mandom theme song (“Lovers Of The World”) by Jerry Wallace after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment