Tuesday, March 06, 2007

He Has Come...A God With A Devil On His Back...To Rip You Off

1973's SOUL HUSTLER stars the former "Hound Dog Man," Fabian Forte, the '50s teen idol, who is better than you might think as Matthew, a guitar-playing, heroin-addicted drifter who becomes a gospel-rock superstar overnight. While cruising through the desert with only his two dogs and hitchhiker Brian (Larry Bishop, later the sleazy strip club owner in KILL BILL, VOL. 2) for company, Matthew stops off at an evangelical tent show owned by the shady Reverend Evin Calder (Tony Russel, the star of Antonio Margheriti's Italian space operas), where he picks up some extra bread by fleecing the crowd. Calder realizes Matthew has something he doesn't--youth and a way with a song--and hires Matthew as a headliner. Soon, with ex-junkie Vietnam vet Brian in tow as chauffeur, roadie and hooker procurer, Matthew, the Son of Jesus, heads to the top of the charts and a sold-out gig at the Los Angeles Forum, where he receives an award from the city.

Yes, it's a pretty typical show biz rags-to-riches story, and it's obvious there's going to be no easy way out for Matthew, but the production is pretty lively, the campy dialogue is fun, and--I'm ashamed to say--my toes were frequently tapping during Fabian's bubblegummy tunes, which were mostly written by Harley Hatcher (WILD WHEELS). Topper (THE HARD RIDE), who also wrote and produced SOUL HUSTLER, was obviously working with little money, and he cuts a few corners showing the various transitions in Matthew's meteoric rise, but I liked his PG feature better than I thought I would. Casey Kasem, the legendary schlock disc jockey and voiceover artist, looks ridiculous in a curly-headed rug as Matthew's PR man.

SOUL HUSTLER originally released as THE DAY THE LORD GOT BUSTED; I have an original one-sheet in which the SOUL HUSTLER title was obviously pasted over the first. The Monterey Home Video tape is complete as far as I can tell. The picture and sound were pretty good--especially considering the tape's age--and the feature is followed by two previews for other Monterey releases: 1961's JOHNNY NOBODY with Aldo Ray and 1977's HUGHES AND HARLOW: ANGELS IN HELL, directed by Larry Buchanan!

3 comments:

Matt Farkas said...

I've been wanting to see NASHVILLE GIRL and MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS for years! I'm pretty sure that these two have been MIA on home video since Warners put them out in oversize clamshells in the '80s. Now that the clueless boobs at Buena Vista control Corman's New World catalog, who knows if they'll ever see the light of day again?

And that goes the same for Jack Hill's SORCERESS, THE STUDENT TEACHERS, and the early Andy Sidaris flick STACEY (which I've at least seen), as well as DARKTOWN STRUTTERS, SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS, and FLY ME (which I haven't). I want these now!

Marty McKee said...

All of Corman's NURSES pictures came out on Concorde/New Horizons DVDs, but I think all are now out of print. Netflix should still have them for rent.

I have all of the titles you listed above. Fire me a private email and maybe we can work out a trade.

KingDaevid said...

...sorry, but Marcie Barkin wasn't in THE CAR, she was in THE VAN...