Thursday, July 30, 2009
One of my favorite actresses from the 80s recently consented to an interview with little ol' me. I was beside myself, I can tell you that much.
Please stop by Retro Slashers and read my interview with Lori Lethin.
TV fanatics will know Lori best as the girl who not only appeared in numerous television shows, but also starred in some great made for TV films such as Intimate Agony and The Day After. This interview really just covers the awesome slasher stuff, although I did throw in a little question about Magnum P.I. I mean, I had too!
I also did an image gallery of her slasher films, so stop by and check that out too!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Original Air Dates: September 23rd - December 25th, 1984 It must have been a very sad Christmas back in 1984, since that was the last night the completely over the top night time soap Paper Dolls aired. With only 13 episodes to its name, Paper Dolls took everything about the world of daytime soaps that I love so much and upped the budget (and neon colored clothes) to make it just that much more glamorous.
Paper Dolls' big problem is that there really isn't a bad guy. I mean, Racine (Morgan Fairchild), who owns the modeling agency is a bitch and extremely sarcastic (and afforded the best lines) and her not-so-secret lover Wesley Harper (the awesome Dack Rambo) are slightly evil, but not so horrible they'd start a war in a third world country just to get what they want, which JR did on Dallas. Still, the character of Julia Blake (Brenda Vaccaro) was definitely modeled after Brooke Shield's mom. Her stage mother aggressiveness is pretty incredible, especially when she does it in fur!
Paper Dolls was originally a made for television movie which aired on May 24th, 1982 and featured an (almost) completely different cast. I have not seen that little slice of television heaven, but it gives me something to work towards!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Let's face it, I still prefer my VCR. I'm still in the 80s and frankly, I like it there. Yeah, I own a cell phone but it doesn't have the capability to take photos, much less get me online. And I admit, I am trying to find a good spot for my ghetto blaster so I can play my cassettes properly. So imagine my surprise when I found out that the internet was more than a place to write about how much I love the 70s and 80s. Now I can watch my favorite shows from that era online too. Sometimes the modern world is good.
Right now I am currently obsessed with Eight is Enough. A little edgier than The Brady Bunch, Eight is just the right amount of schmaltz with a post-Viet Nam feel. And Susan wears the best clothes. I mean, the best.
So if you need your large family melodrama/comedy fill, please go to the Eight is Enough page at Sling.com and get your Tom Bradford-on! Uh, or something like that...
Saturday, July 18, 2009
What Are Friends For?
Original Air Date: March 19th, 1980
Original Air Date: October 5th, 1980
I think I am addicted.
The ABC Afterschool Special has some kind of crack appeal. Truly. I could watch them for hours on end, but due to the scarceness of such wonderful visual treats, I have to ration off my episodes. I was doing pretty good with the last two I reviewed, Two Loves for Jenny & Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea (better titled, Did You See How Cute Moosie Drier turned Out), you know, riding on the high of those lone two episodes. Then one Miss Jenny Day, she of the fantastic Modern Girls website and all around pop cultured gal recommended I try one called What Are Friends For and before you knew it, Schoolboy Father was filtering across the airwaves. These are the types of things that make for a great lazy afternoon!
What Are Friends For is one of those true oddities. It’s a poignant drama that relates the end of a child’s friendship to the woes of what kids deal with when their parents divorce. But it’s also got Dana Hill, who plays the neighborhood pathological liar ruling the five finger discount and dipping dolls in red water in a bizarre voodoo ritual! Never intending to be a horror film, What Are Friends For is one of the most disturbed episodes in the pantheon of the world of Afterschool Specials. There has to be some kind of award for that – if not, I’m creating one! I’ll call it The Dana Hill is One Crazy Awesome MoFo Memorial Award. Dana was such a huge part of the 80s canvas and remains a treat to watch. Her diabetes kept her looking like a child, but her overtly adult attitude usually insured she’d be the most memorable character in whatever she was appearing in. She’s creepy in this special and an odd contrast to the young Melora Hardin who plays the buddy. Melora went on to a great career (I mean, she’s in Lifetime movies for crissakes!) and I had no idea she was a child actress - Probably because you never hear about the ones who didn’t screw up.
Anyway, I digress. What Are Friends For revolves around Amy Warren (Hardin) who has relocated to California after her parents divorce. She gets chummy with her neighbor, Michelle Mudd (Hill) - You just know with a name like that, you’re talking Coo Coo for Coco Puffs time! - or rather Michelle kind of abrasively forces Amy to hang out with her, threatening her own death when Amy doesn’t. Michelle’s parents are divorced too and based on that, they seem to have enough common ground to maintain some kind of friendship, but whenever Amy gets a hankering to hang with some more “normal” girls, Michelle gets all schitzo. Somebody needs attention, no?
I have to admit, the filmmakers had to practically hit me over the head to get me to understand the subtleties of their friendship, but What Are Friends For is an affecting tale of how we move in and out of each other’s lives, and how we learn to accept it. I swear, I never thought a little girl in KISS makeup would have such a profound effect on me, but there you go.
The second episode on the disc is called Schoolboy Father and stars Rob Lowe before he was Rob Lowe. He’s pretty good as Charles Elderberry in this tale about a semi-responsible teen who makes the mistake of being totally irresponsible with Daisy Dallenger (Dana Plato) one night at camp and getting her pregnant. Whoops! Daisy never told Charles and so hears about it via a birth announcement in the local paper. Whoops #2. He visits Daisy who throws a big hissy (this girl is all about the hissy!) and tells her he wants to marry her. She obviously thinks that is the worst idea she’s ever heard… well, until he tells her he’s going to take care of the baby when he finds out she’s putting him up for adoption. Thusly, Charles life as a teenage is severely altered. I mean, he can’t go to a party! Gasp!
Despite my churlish synopsis, Schoolboy Father is delicately handled and rather moving. They don’t give Charles any shortcuts and you really get as irritated as he does with his plight. And it’s all kind of sad. I mean, he meant well and all… It’s an interesting point of view. When we’re so inundated with terms like Deadbeat Dad, here’s a movie that shows the man isn’t a deadbeat, he’s just simply not capable of taking care of a kid. It was a total Kleenex moment.
So for now, my Afterschool obsession is satiated, but for how long? Don't you love the drama?
Sunday, July 12, 2009
What a week this has been! I am pleased to say that I got tagged again with the You Are a Great Read award! This time the honor comes from not only a blog I often frequent, Reflections on Film & Television, but from an author I have long admired, John Kenneth Muir. I feel all touched and stuff!
Thank you so much John! It is truly appreciated!
To look at my Great Read choices, click here.
In other awesomeness news, which I should have mentioned earlier, an essay I submitted for a book called Butcher Knives and Body Counts: Essays on the Formula, Frights, and Fun of the Slasher Film coming out through Dark Scribe Press in 2010 has been accepted! My essay will be on one of my all time favorite slashers, Prom Night. I'd like to throw a big shout out to Vince Liaguno (author of the incredible novel The Literary Six and editor of this book) for taking a chance on a little kid like me!
OK, as you were!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Original Air Date: December 8th, 1970
From 1969 – 1975 the ABC Movie of the Week owned the airwaves. For six glorious seasons, ABC took a gamble on movies consisting mostly of horror and/or thrillers like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dying Room Only and this little potboiler called Weekend of Terror. Lacking in any real qualities to give it a cult status (aside from completists like myself), it’s still a fun and well made kidnap suspense story to make it worth a visit.
First off, let’s start with the positives. Uh, Robert Conrad, anyone? You’d think Conrad would be too much machismo for the small screen, but it was here that he flourished in some great films (Five Desperate Women, Smash Up on Interstate 5… lots of fives). Partnered here with the indomitable (and equally beautiful) Lee Majors, just a couple of years before he became the Six Million Dollar Man (all these numbers!), it’s kind of perfect match. Add three lovely women, Carol Lynley (hands down one of my all time favorite actresses), Lois Nettleton and the forever dignified Jane Wyatt as… nuns! OK, so Lois and Jane seem to pull it off, but Carol? I mean, she’s just way too gorgeous to be a nun.
Anyway, Conrad and Majors are Eddie and Larry, two small time con artists who pull off a rather large kidnapping, only to accidentally kill their cash cow. At a nearby train station, Ellen (Nettleton) is waiting on Sister Meredith (Lynley) and Sister Frances (Wyatt). Ellen is a recovering nun, thinking maybe she doesn’t need to recover after all. The Sisters have come to help her re-find her calling when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Conrad offers Ellen a ride and quickly finds out she’s with guests - Sister Meredith (Lynley) & Sister Frances (Wyatt). He takes them back to his desolate house and then tells them he is keeping them hostage until he can get some money that’s coming to him. The plan – to make Ellen look enough like the dead heiress so they think she’s still alive. Of course, Sister Frances is a take no prisoners kind of nun (but not nearly as aggressive as Mother Superior in Silent Night, Deadly Night! That would be a whole other movie!) and things are tough – but not impossible for the two criminals. One night, Ellen overhears Eddie telling Larry that when all is said and done, there will be no witnesses, so it’s up to Ellen to figure out a plan for her & her Sisters. Can Ellen convince Larry to help them escape, or is she willing to pay the ultimate price to save her friends?
Weekend of Terror crams a lot into it’s short run time, but like most television movies, it does its best to get all the bang for its buck it can. Conrad is fantastic as the really-bad guy and Majors is very good as the not-so-bad guy. The actresses aren’t given as much meat as the guys, but Lynley is wonderful during the “twist” towards the end.
So, if you find you need your fill of nuns & guns or muscles and mustaches, then Weekend of Terror just might sustain your made for television addiction. I mean, we all have one, right?
Love me two times baby, know what I'm sayin'?
I'd like to throw an awesomely huge shout out to my online bud Jeremy Richey at Moon in the Gutter for putting me on his list of blogs he finds to be a Great Read! I swear, I coulda cried when I saw he included me on this list.
I don't know a lot about this honor except that I can mention however many sites I'd like to turn you all onto. I should probably direct you to the list I did when I got the Premio Dardo Award in February. The five blogs mentioned in that post (and of course Kindertrauma, who nominated me for the award), make part of my daily online pitstops.
I decided to keep my new list at five as well. Hey, sounds like a lucky number! Please, if they are sites you aren't aware of, visit them now!
House of Self Indugence: I don't know who you are or where you came from, but I love you!
She Blogged By Night: Like Amanda By Night, this girl is a connoisseur. Well, 'cept she's a connoisseur of all film, not just the small screen delights. It's a fantastic blog that is as beautiful to look at as it is awesome to read!
Temple of Schlock: These guys are fanatics! Informative, interesting and like the award says, a great read!
Destructible Man: Although a little less text driven, this blog is an incredible look at the world of dummy death in film. It sounds weird, but it's fascinating and full of great insight on some incredible films by wonderful filmmakers like Lucio Fulci, who deserve a honest, passionate and unique look at.
Bleeding Skull: Quite possibly the best horror website going. If anyone is stuck in the 80s, it's the guys who run Bleeding Skull! An honestly hilarious review site with some fantastic stills from many a long forgotten obscurity, you will want to see every film mentioned on this site. And you'll want to read every review. Trust me, these guys are gods!
Plus one honorable mention:
Movie Morlocks: The Turner Classic Movie Blog: I really only came to this blog within the last few months, and how grateful I am to have found it! Aside from Richard Harland Smith, who is one of my favorite writers, the authors of this blog are esteemed writers, and more importantly, unpretentious. You'll find awesome posts like "Loving Betty Garrett" (and who doesn't love her!) as well as "Frank Sinatra, Buck Owens and Merle Haggarad on the Moon." Good stuff indeed!
I hope no one feels omitted. I love so much of what is out there and truly feel there is so much community here online. And I hope if you are unfamiliar with any of these blogs/sites that you'll stop by and tell them Amanda By Night sent ya!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
My Prey retrospective rages on! Check out my post about the lead from The Prey on an episode of the Dating Game! Ron Howard was the guest date! My word!
Going through my Dating Games, I came across this:
Going through my Dating Games, I came across this:
Monday, July 6, 2009
Original Air Date: January 2nd, 1977
For those of us living in Los Angeles, we may or may not be aware that the local station KDOC, who refer to their station as the place for "Endless Classics," ain't joking. And they play the endless classic episodes in order, which works out really well since this faboo Quincy takes place on the 4th of July. Just as I was finally getting rid of that nasty hangover, Quincy raised a glass for the holiday, and threw a little murder in for good measure. And I'm drunk all over again!
This particular episode about a jewel heist, was 70s television goodness, which is why I wanted to mention it. Available on DVD, it would behoove all of you retro nuts to check out this episode because it is replete with 70s machismo and all kinds of other awesomeness. May I present my case?
Rediscovering this show has been a real treat. To read more about Quincy and the series, please stop by this awesome fansite and get your TV groove on!
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Both Ben and I are very happy about it!
I woke up this morning to find that Richard Harland Smith of Movie Morlocks, the Turner Classic Movie blog, mentioned Made for TV Mayhem on his latest post!
Oh. My. God.
It would be an understatement to say it made my entire day. Hell, it made my weekend!
Not only am I excited to see my site mentioned so lovingly on a website as esteemed as TCM's but to be acknowledged in such an awesome way by a writer I have admired for so long now (Richard has also written for one of my all time favorite magazines, Video Watchdog) just means more than words can say. Thank you so much Richard!
Please pop on by and read his post. Along with my beloved blog, you will also find many reasons to read other cool stuff at places like Cinebeats and Destructible Man (that is, if you aren't already).
Thank you so much Richard!
In other news, I totally forgot to add linkage to my newest groove at Retro Slashers. I'm really getting into the world of Shot on Video slashers and have written several reviews (and have a couple of image galleries. Please stop by and look at these:
Las Vegas Bloodbath
Las Vegas Bloodbath: The Images (I just know you want to look at this one! And yes, that's sarcasm!)
Woodchipper Massacre (so far my favorite)
Sledgehammer: The Images
And I gave the greatly underrated Mortuary a little love too with a review and an image gallery.
OK, now it's time for Ben and I to have some alone time, dig?
Check out my newest review for my Not so Basic Instincts column at Horror Yearbook. This review is for a little low budget thing called Mistress of Seduction, which was far more entertaining than it had any right being!
So stop on by and sit a spell, ya'll!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Original Air Date: December 1st, 1979
Why not end the 70s with a bang? The greatest decade in made for television movies really started pushing the envelope by this point, providing audiences with slightly more tawdry affairs. Besides Island, 1979 also saw the release of Sooner or Later, which featured a naughty love tryst between a 13 year old girl and a 17 year old rocker dude, and the awesome thriller A Vacation in Hell, which featured too much stuff to go into here! So it seems apt that as the world grooved into the neon drenched, sex filled 80s, that the 70s ended in high, sexy fashion.
Island begins with some stock war footage interspersed with a bunch of little girls and some nuns boarding a plane. Jump ahead about 25 years later to another plane. This time among the passengers is Clint Walker (he of the expanded chests), Peter Lawford and Steven Keats - en route to the “main land.” Walker has done something devious or illegal, but it’s never really made quite clear and Lawford is his ex-employer, and owner of a huge conglomerate, of which we have no idea what it is. The rest of the group include Lawford’s guard (the great Guich Koock from Carter Country!), a guy who is going blind (but we’re not sure why) and an alcoholic pilot. After an electrical storm, all of the equipment dies and the pilot loses his destination - Oh yeah, and maybe he’s drunk. He safely lands the plane near a beautiful uncharted island and much to the surprise and joy of the men, they are not alone. This island is populated with several hot chicks who have the mental capacity of five year olds. Seriously, what more could you want? Unfortunately, some native type men, affectionately referred to as “head choppers” by the idiot-woman-child-supermodels, often stop by for a bit of raping and pillaging. Obviously leery of any males, can they trust the new civilized guys to rid them of the nasty jungle men, or will they have to lay stake to their land by killing them?
Only in the 70s, my friend. Only in the 70s. Leave it up to the most audacious decade in film to attempt to bring true exploitation to the small screen. Co-written by Gary Sherman and Sandor Stern (who was an extremely prolific force in made for television films of that era) & directed by the equally awesome Joseph Pevney (who directed the famous Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles) and featuring many awesome small screen faces (including Jayne Kennedy as a character named Chocolate!), Island has a lot going for it. It gets off to slow and rocky start (literally!), but kicks into full gear before the first half plays out, and becomes an interesting little film. Riding high on gorgeous women in loincloths, there is still some harrowing stuff, like the reveal of how the girls got to the island and how their leader Lizbeth (Jamie Lyn Bauer) comes into power. And there’s a cool off-screen decapitation for you horror nerds.
Clint Walker doesn’t have much to do or say about this island of lovely ladies, which is a shame. But the great Peter Lawford and the always likeable Steven Keats get to spend the most time with the girls. True to made for TV form, the exploitation ends at bikinis. Maybe it’s because I’m getting a little older, but I liked the simplicity of their situation and I also liked that the women weren’t completely objectified. The romance between Keats and Kathryn Davis (who is a blonde named Snow! I love this stuff!) is really sweet. Some might call it predictable but I call it charming.