May’s list of rare titles from Alpha Video will delight fans of Euro westerns and vintage blaxploitation movies as well. First off, Nightmare Castle director Mario Caiano takes a liberty with the tired spaghetti western formula and adds a little kung fu into the mix. The result: The Fighting Fist Of Shanghai Joe (1972) (aka My Name Is Shanghai Joe), a favorite amongst late-night TV viewers and Klaus Kinski buffs alike — the latter of whom co-stars along with Chen Lee and Gordon Mitchell. Although it isn’t part of their “Grindhouse Double Shock Show” line-up, Shanghai Joe shares a DVD case with a second feature: Any Gun Can Play (1967), directed by Enzo G. Castellari, the man who also brought us Inglorious Bastards. Also in the same category is The Hellbenders (1967), one of the better Euro westerns with Joseph Cotten and directed by Sergio Corbucci (Django, The Great Silence).
If you love spaghetti westerns, then you probably can’t help but appreciate the vintage Hollywood cowboy movies that inspired them. For May, Alpha Video has released several seldom seen Poverty Row quickies from the Samuel M. Sherman Archives: Rough Riding Rhythm (1937) with Kermit Maynard and Reefer Madness’ Dave O’Brien; and a double feature of Jack Perrin B-westerns from 1936, Gun Grit and Hail-Trigger Casey. Also for the month of May, Alpha has repackaged several older B-western double features with legends Bob Steele and Tom Tyler.
Ah, yes, I mentioned vintage blaxploitation titles, didn’t I? Well, there‘s two of them this month. The Girl From Chicago (from 1932) is one of several films brought to us by an all-but-forgotten Oscar Micheaux, Hollywood’s first feature-length black producer (Spike Lee be damned!). Famed songwriter and actor Spencer Williams writes and directs the 1943 war entry Where‘s My Man To-Nite? (originally released as Marching On!), which is double-billed with Mystery In Swing (1940), a whodunit advertised as having “a 100 per cent all-star colored cast.”