Category: movies

re:View —The Exorcist III

from RedLetterMedia

Excaliber (1981)

from Oliver Harper’s Retrospectives & Reviews

Based on a True Story — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

from The Cynical Historian


from History Buffs

R.I.P. Rip Torn (1931 – 2019). 

The Decline of redbox

from Company Man


A clip from a recently digitized home movie taken by gay men in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1947.

The Perfect Shotgun for Action Movies — The Franchi SPAS 12

Franchi is an Italian company famous for making civilian shotguns for hunting and sporting purposes. In 1979 Franchi attempted to enter the military and law enforcement market with a combat shotgun called the SPAS 12, SPAS standing for Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun. Like the name suggests, the SPAS 12 was a semi automatic shotgun chambered for 12 gauge. However, it could also be quickly converted to pump action mode in order to fire specialty ammunition such as bean bag rounds, tear gas shells, and other less than lethal ammunition. Often such ammunition lacks the pressures and power needed to operate a semi automatic action, hence why the SPAS 12 had a pump action conversion option.

The SPAS 12 featured a folding stock made from stamped sheet metal. At the end of the stock was a metal hook with a particularly odd purpose; to loop around the arm so that the shotgun could be held and fired with a single hand. Now if this sounds silly, don’t worry because it is silly. Fortunately the hook could be removed, and most likely it was. 

Sights consisted of a ghost ring rear sight and a simple blade front sight. The barrel is surrounded by a vented heat shield for cooling. When fired in semi automatic mode the forearm is locked forward an immobile. Pressing a button underneath the forearm unlocks it, turning the forearm into a slide for pump action mode. Depending on model, the SPAS 12 had a 5, 6, 7, or 8 round tubular magazine.

 The SPAS 12 was marketed to law enforcement in particular, however it failed to garner many sales. Some law enforcement and military organizations purchased the shotgun, however most gave it a pass due to it’s $1,500 retail price. Most police organizations saw no need to pony up that much money when a simple pump shotgun could be bought for a quarter of that price, yet be just as effective for law enforcement purposes. A few military organizations purchased the weapon, but only in small quantities as military shotguns have a very narrow purpose. In an attempt to garner more sales, Franchi introduced the shotgun to the civilian market, renaming it the “Special Purpose Automatic Sporting” shotgun in order to attract the attention of sport shooters and trick governments into thinking it was just another civilian sporting shotgun. However, this bid failed when most governments banned the shotgun as an assault weapon, and in countries where it was legal it attracted little interest from civilians. After manufacturing 36,000 shotguns, the SPAS 12 was discontinued in 2004.

While the SPAS 12 was unsuccessful on the law enforcement, military, and civilian markets, it would become famous because of the entertainment industry. Due to it’s “tacticool” design and aesthetics it became a common staple of action movies and video games. It first made it’s way onto film in the hands of Arnold Schwarzeneggar with the movie “The Terminator” in 1984, and ever since then has been featured countless times in movies, TV, and video games.Perhaps it’s most memorable role was as the standard issue firearm of InGen personnel working at Jurassic Park, a must have weapon should the dinosaurs happen to escape. One of my favorite scenes from the movie features Jurassic Park gamekeeper Robert Muldoon stalking a raptor. The tension rises as he slowly and deliberately unfolds the stock of his SPAS 12 shotgun, then carefully takes aim…

Great Movie Cavalry Charges from British History

Poster for “Mystery of Sex” designed by Osvaldo Venturi, c. 1950s (film directed by Lothar Golte, Austria, 1933).

Via Heritage Auctions.