I’ve always had an obsession for low budget movies and the ways that they’re marketed. Recently, I’ve been focused on a shiningly deceptive con that some film distributors used to practice back in the good old days of drive-in movies and grindhouses. That would be the act of acquiring a film and then retitling it and re-releasing it to an unsuspecting audience. When I was young, I vividly recall seeing ads in my local newspaper for the movies Satan’s Playthings, Cemetery Girls, and Vampire Playgirls. I was probably around eleven or twelve so the provocative movie titles and the sexy promotional pictures that accompanied them naturally made along-lasting impression on me. Over the years, it has become easier to go back and try to track down some of these movies that I never got to see as a kid because they were rated R and my parents wouldn’t let me see them.Some have been easier than others and I own a lot of them now. Others, like the three I just mentioned, have been far more difficult. As it turns out, Satan’s Playthings was a British thriller starring Lesley Anne-Down. It was originally released in 1971 as In the Devil’s Garden and also as Assault and The Creepers. From the clips I’ve seen it is nothing that I imagined “Satan’s Playthings” to be. It looks pretty dry and quite frankly, not all that sexy. That’s some pretty clever marketing on somebody’s part.
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The movie Vampire Playgirls was an alternate title for a film that also came out in 1971, a supernatural thriller called The Devil’s Nightmare. Cemetery Girls was an alternative title for Count Dracula’s Great Love, a 1974 Spanish film directed by Javier Aguirre. Apparently, it was also the alternate title for The Velvet Vampire, an American vampire movie from 1971. But it doesn’t stop there. Somebody decided this was such a great title that they also slapped it on to a movie called Vampire Hookers , a 1978 film directed by Cirio H. Santiago. Honestly, the younger me would have been just as intrigued to see a film called Vampire Hookers as I would have been to see a film called Cemetery Girls. Oh, who am I kidding? I would’ve seen all of them if I had been allowed to. I’ve seen an almost identical poster to Cemetery Girls for a movie called Graveyard Tramps. Turns out that Graveyard Tramps was the UK video title for the 1973 sci-fi movie Invasion of the Bee Girls.
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H.O.T.S. was a fun little college exploitation film that focused on the wild escapades of the women of the H.O.T.S. sorority. That movie came out in 1979, however in 1990 it was re-released on video under the new title T&A Academy. Go figure! These days, the deception continues as Full Moon Features regularly releases it’s older titles under different names for it’s streaming service. Also, companies like The Asylum put out mockbusters with similar titles to bigger budgeted, major releases. They then piggyback on the advertising of those major releases. That way, you end up seeing a movie on dvd at WalMart and mistakenly pick it up, thinking it’s the movie you just saw the trailer for on tv. The marketing is absolutely brilliant. I’ve accidentally purchased movies that I already known because they were re-titled as something else and while I may be a little miffed at being cheated, I can’t help but be impressed by their creativity. -Scotch