Monday, August 24, 2009

Werewolf: The Series Coming to DVD!

Thanks to Temple of Schlock for reminding me that Werewolf is going to see the light of day! Although I don't remember the episode storylines that well, I certainly have fond memories of this fun riff on The Fugitive, which I found to be utterly amazing when I was a wee little Amanda By Night. Temple wrote this informative article about the show, which is due out on DVD on October 6th, and I would rather direct you there, since my memories mostly revolve around the lead actor, John J. York, who is absolutely yummy!

A tasty morsel!

I found this great Fan Site which will help you count down the days until this awesome show gets its second shot! YAY!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't Go To Sleep (1982)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: December 10th, 1982

Dennis. Weaver.

Weaver became an iconic presence in TV movies when he starred in the Spielberg classic Duel (1971) but he was always that kind of cool - He was the kind of class act that made watching television so much fun. Weaver ran the gamut on the small screen playing everything from a protective husband/father defending his clan against a gang of bikers to a cokehead real estate agent! He was also so unabashedly unpretentious, I always found him to be a totally contagious addition to whatever film or series he graced. Whether he was a big city cowboy or put-upon dad, he was just so easy to watch.

Weaver weaves a tale

In 1982 he did another awesome turn in the oft-forgotten ghostly Don’t Go to Sleep. I find that fans of made for television movies adore this film, and it certainly transcends the medium, so I find it odd that it never became a part of the casual viewer lexicon like Trilogy of Terror or the other Don’t movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Maybe it fell through the cracks because it came out after the made for television horror rage, but it definitely deserves to be on the list of the best small screen genre films of that era, and ought to be considered a love letter to a dying breed.

Weaver plays Phillip, a father who is moving his two kids (Robin Ignico & Oliver Robins), wife Laura (Valerie Harper) and mother-in-law Bernice (Ruth Gordon) to a new home. At the outset things seem fairly normal until they arrive (it might be worthwhile to note the address contains the numbers 666). We find out that they have lost a daughter named Jennifer, who was killed in a horrible car accident. Each family member carries some guilt over the death, but no one is truly willing to either discuss it or look deep enough into their feelings to free themselves. Then one night Jennifer (Kristin Cumming) appears in front of her little sister Mary (Ignico) and sinister things start happening around the house. Jennifer is one ticked off ghost, and is out for blood.

The great Ruth Gordon telling it like it T-I-IS

Like all good ghost stories, Sleep has a timeless quality to it and has aged very well, still playing as straight horror even now. Maybe it’s because it’s a wonderfully shot tale about the universal issues of loss and repressed guilt and that it hits every horror beat perfectly. But the shocks, of which there are plenty, wouldn’t have worked so much if the family dynamic wasn't so dead on (no pun intended!). Dysfunctional families have always existed in film, but rarely lived on television (at this point in time). After the end of The Brady Bunch in the early 70s, TVMs and shows definitely took a turn to the more realistic, showcasing the difficulties in keeping the unit together and Sleep really capitalizes on that struggle. Harper and Weaver are fantastic as the beleaguered, sorrow-filled parents placing blame for their child’s death on themselves and on each other. Ruth Gordon keeps things quirky, as per her usual fashion, but also elicits sympathy and of course, gives grief wherever she can.

And those death scenes! I prefer not to give too much away, but look out for a lizard, a pizza cutter and a radio (not all in the same scene!) which become awesome potential murder tools.


Sleep is a key film in the sub-genre of small screen horrors. Following the more well known cult classics like the above-referenced Dark, Sleep benefits from a pulls-no-punches attitude and sequences of straight up ghastly terror, especially during the last third.

Produced by Aaron Spelling, it would be a treat to see something like The Aaron Spelling Collection released on DVD. He had his hand in many a made for television horror film (including Satan's School for Girls, Home for the Holidays & Taste of Evil to name but a few), several of which are worth a revisit and deserve to be more than a mere footnote in Spelling’s jiggle filled filmography.

Read more reviews at:


Hysteria Lives

Read an interview with Oliver Robins at Icons of Fright!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What, Me Honest?

Wow, I’m floored. I got another great blog award called The Honest Scrap Award. It comes from a writer I do admire so, John Kenneth Muir. His blog Reflections on Film/TV is one of my favorite spots so I am just absolutely gobsmacked.

This award is given to “a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul.”

Ummm, did anyone else see the word brilliant? I know, it’s exciting!

Thank you so much John for your continual support of my blog. It is a high honor indeed, and I truly mean that.

The fun part of this award is that you are supposed to write ten honest things about yourself and then nominate seven other bloggers you admire to do the same. Well, as you know, I love talking about myself and I love spreading the love so two great tastes that taste great together make for a really fun, kind of experimental award!

Here goes:

1. I prefer vhs to DVD. There, I said it.

2. Magnum P.I. is my all time favorite show and I cry every time I watch the episode Limbo, where Magnum "dies." Luckily, the bigwigs at CBS brought Thomas back for half a season and the show ends on a much lighter note. One which I am glad they ultimately chose.

3. Riptide might be full of hot-as-Arizona-asphalt-machismo in the way of Perry King and Joe Penny, but I always had a crush on the nerdy guy played by Thom Bray. In fact, I’ve been in love with him since I was about 13. That’s a long time!


4. I love minimalist slashers like Madman and The Prey. I think less is more in the world of slice and dice and hate when horror decides to get all caught up in its own subplots.

5. I am absolutely terrified to go back to school in the fall. It’s been almost 15 years, but it’s about time I did something worthwhile in this life.

6. I actually babysat for Karen Black when I was a production assistant on a movie. Her daughter was a very sweet girl; Karen was… something else entirely.

7. I told Gillian Anderson I liked her cleavage and she thanked me.

8. I cried a river when Bea Arthur passed away. She reminded me a lot of my mom, and died on what would have been my mom’s birthday (she passed away in 2005).

9. I wish my writing was funnier. And I mean funny-ha-ha.

10. I sometimes wish Parker Stevenson’s car would break down outside my house and he’d ask to use my phone. Yeah, you can read in-between the lines on that one!

OK, enough about me, what do you think about my hair?

Or, more importantly, here are seven incredible blogs you should be visiting every day:

Kindertrauma: One of my favorite spots, this site just keeps getting better and better.

Anchorwoman in Peril: Ross hasn’t been around to update it lately, but he’s got two other swell blogs that you can visit from the Anchorwoman site (Musty Moments and My First Dictionary). His writing is sublimely brilliant, and he’s cute to boot!

Cinema du Meep: Michael’s blog has something for everyone… and then some. For a completely unpretentious look at all things cinema, with an extra nod towards the obscure, this is your one stop shop!

Moon in the Gutter: I love this site. Jeremy, who also has a couple of offshoot blogs you can connect to through Moon (including Harry Moseby Confidential, which is absolutely incredible), knows a little bit about everything and is so openly honest about his love for film in general, he is constantly reminding me why I have had such a crush on the medium. And the layout – well, it’s fantastico! Oh yeah, and he loves Lou Grant! How I adore this guy!

Awesomeness for Awesome's Sake: Beware: This is not a work environment friendly blog, but it's a must see. Full of all things pop culture - adult and otherwise - it’s a fun, if slightly shocking, site and sometimes it’s the most fun in the world!

Tower Farm Reviews: Just discovered this blog about a month ago. It’s awesome. I mean, they give equal love to slashers and made for TV movies with Tori Spelling. Now that’s just cool.

Club Silencio: And finally, a blog I just don’t visit enough, but love every time I get a chance to pop by. You can tell by the moniker, there’s a little extra love for the Lynch, and that just wins my heart. But it’s also a very well written and beautiful looking blog. Stop by and tell ‘em Amanda By Night sent ya!

These lists are always hard because I love so many blogs out there, and I like changing up the lists a bit when I can, because I don’t want to mention the same ones over and over again. I hope no one feels omitted, because I love you all! It’s been a wild ride, an age of discovery if you will, surfing the untamed net and realizing that yeah, awesome movie lovers still exist.

And of course, please stop by John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Film/TV because it’s one of the best! Thanks again John!

Bad Ronald is Coming to DVD! Warner Archives Needs a New PR Company!

Alright, Warner Archive word of advice, PROMOTE your movies. You've got a lot of good, obscure titles available on DVD. A lot of titles you can make money by selling, but first we must know they are available. It's simple, really.

Shoot, Bad Ronald will be available starting tomorrow through Warner Archive. It's an awesome movie, one of my all time favorites. Read my review, then go pick up your copy, dig?

The Bermuda Depths is on DVD! Who Knew?!?

Someone simply posting as "Anonymous" tipped me off to the fact that The Bermuda Depths came out on DVD the same day Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was released by Warner Archives!

I have to go back to what I said the other day, nice marketing campaign! Sarcasm intended.

Big thanks to Anon for cluing me in on this. The Bermuda Depths is a visually striking and haunting poem of a film. It has struck a cord with more than one latch key kid and seemed to be one of the most elusive television films floating around the ether. Well, now it's here and hopefully it's here to stay!

Check out this news article from Dread Central. And now go pick up your DVD! Now!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Update...

Haven't had as much time to write about television movies as I would like, but I have a few fun things floating around the net if you'd be so inclined to check out...

Over at Retro Slashers I have done a review of the awesome Shot on Video slasher Boardinghouse. Truly the 80s at it's finest! I also did an accompanying Image Gallery.

If this doesn't entice you into seeing Boardinghouse, nothing will!

And I finally did a new review at Horror Yearbook for my Not So Basic Instincts column. This time I bid adieu to the Night Eyes series with the final film, Night Eyes 4: Fatal Passion. It wasn't nearly as bad as I was hoping but more entertaining then I could have ever wished for.

And finally, if you see a copy of a new magazine called Fantastique please pick it up. The article I wrote (a review of Dead of Night) didn't make the cut, but you may notice I got a nice Copy Editor credit! I did help them out on that end, and it's my first credit as a Copy Editor and makes me feel all big and stuff. I will have small piece in Issue #2, which I believe is due out any day now. You'll see some made for television love in the Nerds of the Roundtable article! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brian Clemens Thriller: Season One - In Colour!!!

I’ve always been a little slow on the uptake. People have been telling me that there is this thing called cable... Hmmm, interesting. But even more interesting is that the first season of the excellent early 70s British anthology series Thriller is (and has been) available on DVD and through Netflix!

The series, which was created by Brian Clemens, who also penned most of the episodes, aired from 1973 – 1976, lasting six seasons (the British have shorter seasons). In my town, the episodes aired as stand-alone TV movies, often showing up on the weekend matinees on the local station (how I miss you, channel 5!), but were also apparently part of the ABC Movie of the Week towards the late 70s.

Lord knows it's hard being evil!

The series is notable for all of the familiar American faces, including the hunkadelic Gary Collins, Barbara Feldon (who is in the first episode) and erstwhile Small Screen Scream Queen Donna Mills. It’s also noteworthy for its ability to be frequently suspenseful. The shot-on-video soap opera look does not hinder the quality of the storytelling or the excellent acting. In fact, I sometimes think the play-like attributes help to give the show a sense of dignity and sometimes (and more importantly) an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia.

Clemens is most famous for being the man behind the other excellent British series The Avengers, but with Thriller he proved his proficiency in subtle tension. Several of the episodes found a home on video in the 80s, including the awesome episode I’m the Girl He Wants to Kill (Season 3) but now the entire first season is available. I believe the complete series is available on Region 2, but for those of us who are still getting used to this whole DVD movement (like, what’s Blu Ray?), this is the best way to get a taste of a show that deserves not just a second look, but a third and a fourth.

And by the way, the clothes are fabulous!

Scared and fab. Just how I like 'em!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Coming to DVD... Tomorrow!

Whoa Nelly! Did I hear that right? The ultra-obscure, much sought after little TV horror film is finally getting its chance at the audience it deserves and no one knew about it?!?

Well, never you mind, because the cat is out of the bag now. Looks like Warner Bros. Official Online Store is currently taking pre-orders for the DVD coming out tomorrow! Sheesh. Nice marketing campaign.

I suggest you all go out and pick up a copy and support those little demon creatures because life in a bricked up fireplace isn't all that grand.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Power of the Stream...

I'm sure it's just me living in my lovely little made for television fantasy world, but watching TV movies online reminds me a bit of the good old days when you had your little set placed somewhere on your kitchen counter. You know the days when you sat on that rickety ol' stool watching your tiny TV. Now if only I could get it to stream in black and white!

In other words, there's something kind of retro about watching your retro television online. And I'm loving it! Screw this whole HD thing, which really just makes all these great old movies look bad anyway. Watch 'em they way the internet gods intended!

A little while ago I found some great TV movies streaming online. I have a few more to add to the list:

The Must See Streaming TV Movie:

Cocaine: One Man's Seduction: Fancast is streaming this awesome cult drama about a mid-40s real estate agent (Dennis Weaver) who shucks it all away when he finds a taste for snow. A totally un-hip take on how anyone can get hooked on the stuff, this is fairly well made film that might not push the envelope but certainly makes a good case that anyone, and I mean anyone can ruin their life with just one toot. And check out Pamela Belwood in a great turn as a casual cokehead.

More on Fancast:

Absolute Strangers: According to IMDb, this movie is about "a husband tries to keep his comatose wife alive by allowing doctors to terminate her pregnancy. Hearing about this, anti-abortion protesters start a legal campaign to gain legal custody of the fetus." This stars Henry Winkler and Patty Duke and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy (Outstanding Director). Wow, glad I stumbled across this one!

The Ambush Murders: According to the Ny Times this movie which is "traces the case of an outspoken black activist accused of murdering two white policemen in Lindero, Calif." Hmmm, maybe a little too dramatic for me, but it does have machismo-on-a-stick James Brolin!

Deep Dark Secrets (aka Intimate Betrayal): Yet another James Brolin TVM, according to IMDb this one gets all crazy when "a woman finds hidden truths when her husband disappears and is presumed dead." Ah, Lifetime before Lifetime. I'm loving it!

Secret Lives of Second Wives: Total drama action, this is a 2008 TVM about a woman who "finds that marriage the second time around is far from idyllic when the ex wife and her children return to manipulate her husband Jack." OK, this was made for Lifetime, but I love that stuff too! So what of it?

Also, Netflix recently added a Made for TV Movies section under Watch Instantly! YAY!

Tip: Go to the last few pages to find the juicy older made for television movies.

The Recommended Watch Instantly TVM on Netflix:

Baby Sister: Phoebe Cates is the object of affection for her older sister's boyfriend. The sister is played by Pamela Bellwood (again!) and the mancub in question is played by the uber-hawt Ted Wass. Made in 1983, this is a fun, if slightly misleading, romantic drama about a lost little girl in cut-off shorts. It was totally good. Go watch it now!

Now, why would I need cocaine when I've got made for TV movies?!?