Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have a New Year's Evil!

Read my review for New Year's Evil on Retro Slashers.

I hope everyone has an awesome (and safe) night. And let's hear it for 2009, which promises the releases of Dark Night of the Scarecrow and Dead of Night on DVD! YAY!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post Christmas Bliss

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I got LOTS of made for TV movies to keep me going well into the New Year. You will find the list below, but first some linkage…

Horror Yearbook did a look at the Top Ten Horror Films of 2008. They asked us all to write a little bit about some of the films. I had something to say about The Strangers (which did not make the cut and I argue that logic) as well as a little thing on Rambo (OK, not a horror movie but it’s there!). I was pleased to be a part of it!

Also on HYB, please look at my latest review for my Not So Basic Instincts column. I watched the tawdry Night Rhythms recently. It’s sure to warm you up on a cold night – if you know what I mean! Anyway, stop by and check it out!

And finally, my good friend Paula Haifley who had me write a review of This House Possessed for CC2K earlier this year, gave me a shout out in her look at the best (and worst) Christmas Horror Films. I admit, she’s correct that I know a bad movie when I see one! Thanks for the props Paula!

Not sure what’s up for me in the near future. I hope to get some more reviews going and I have another list I’d like to post soon. It’s not really of the TV movie persuasion, but does involve some machismo, so keep your eyes peeled folks!

OK, here’s a list of the movies I got (all courtesy of my boyfriend David who is the swellest gent a woman ever saw!):

Weekend of Terror (1970) – Oh man! This one has to be a classic! According to IMDb here’s the plot: Three nuns on a weekend trip are held hostage by escaped convicts. I think that’s all I need to say about that one! It’s going to be awesome!!!

The Invasion of Carol Enders (1973) - This is a nifty shot-on-video thriller that I saw a few years ago and have wanted to see again. Take it away IMDb: After her murder, Diana Bernard's spirit becomes trapped in Carol Enders, so she can expose her murderer.

Cry in the Wilderness (1974) – Gawd, do I remember watching this as a kid! I haven’t seen it since I was about six years old. Here is the plot synopsis, courtesy of IMDb of course: The father of a wilderness family gets bitten by a skunk, and fearing rabies, chains himself to a barn to protect his family should he go mad. He orders his son not to come near him no matter how persuasive or rational his appearance or argument. However, the creek dries up, indicating an upstream blockage and an imminent flood. Several trips upstream by the son have failed to locate the blockage and now Dad wants to be released... I’m sorry – George Kennedy goes rabid? So. Good.

Nightmare at 43 Hillcrest (1974) – This was an episode from the movie series Wide World of Mystery. Plot synopsis courtesy of IMDb: Police looking for drug dealers mistakenly raid the house of a typical suburban family. However, rather than admit their mistake and jeopardize their careers, several of the police officers decide to plant heroin in the family's house, and change the records of the raid to make it look like the family was the target of their investigation all along. Based on a true story. This movie was released on vhs some time ago and I had thought about buying it from time to time, so now I don’t have to worry about that little plight!

Winter Kill (1974) – I’ve been dying to see this one! IMDb: Someone is shooting the residents of a mountain resort town. Sheriff McNeill (Andy Griffith) must figure out the connection that links the victims and find the sniper before he (or she) kills again, and before the town council relieves him of duty. This is sure to be one of the first films I watch.

The Deadly Tower (1975) – IMDb synopsis: Charles Whitman is student at the University of Texas in Austin. He often suffers from headaches, during which he tends to violence. One night, he kills wife and mother, buys a number of rifles and loads of ammunition and takes them to the top of the tower of the university, where he barricades himself. With his long-range weapons his starts to shoot at everything that moves. Already until the police arrive, there are numerous people wounded or dead. OK, I don’t mean to be critical, but this synopsis is horrible. I wouldn’t have even used it but that last sentence needs to be seen. What exactly does it mean? Anyway, this is based on a true story and is supposed to be quite good. Unlike this synopsis.

Fire! (1977) – Made for TV disaster! IMDb: A convict starts a fire in a forest to cover his escape, but the fire goes out of control and threatens to destroy a small mountain community. Let’s hope it’s better than Terror on the 40th Floor!

Rage (1980) – There’s no synopsis for this one! Can you believe it?!? Oh, IMDb, how you’ve let me down. Anyway, Rage is about a rapist (David Soul) working out why he commits such violent acts while serving time in prison. This one looks pretty great. I have to admit I have never been a huge David Soul fan but have been enjoying revisiting of Starsky and Hutch and of course, watching Salem’s Lot helped too! He’s alright, that kid.

A Long Way Home (1981) -IMDb: Many years after being abandoned by his parents, Donald sets out in search of his siblings. His biggest challenge is cutting through layers of bureaucratic red tape. He happens upon a helpful counselor who offers her assistance in locating his missing brother and sister. This is a movie I used to look at all the time when I worked at a video store, but never rented it. It’s got Timothy Hutton in his prime and is sure to make for a night of great drama. I just feel it in my heart is all.

The Las Vegas Strip Wars (1984) – IMDb: Rock Hudson (in his last made-for-TV-movie role) plays Neil Chaine, a charming Las Vegas hotel/casino owner who tries to turn his decaying building into The Strip's top attraction to avenge his outing by his former partners who run a more fancy hotel/casino just across the street. How I love movies set in Vegas. This is one I probably should have seen some time ago (it has been available on vhs), but never got around to. Sure it won’t be as good as Las Vegas Bloodbath, but then again, what is?

Silent Witness (1985) – IMDb: Michael, son of a prestigious family, and his friends rape the young alcoholic Patty in a bar in front of lots of witnesses, but everyone looks away or leaves. The only usable witnesses the prosecutors find are Michael's brother Kevin and his wife Anna. Anna is set under severe pressure from both her husband's family and the prosecution before, and even more after, her decision to testify. Hmmm, an early take on The Accused? This one might be pretty good. It’s got an R rating on the box, so I am assuming I have the foreign theatrical release, but don’t quote me on that one…

Daughter of Darkness (1990) – The only proof I have that this is a made for TV movie is because IMDb lists it as so. But the version I have has a bit of nudity. So maybe it was made for cable? I didn’t get the synopsis off IMDb because like The Deadly Tower, it’s pretty bad. I have seen this movie though and can tell you it’s an interesting take on a young woman’s search for her father who turns out to be a vampire. Directed by Stuart Gordon. That’s just cool.

I also got a Justine Bateman TV flick called Deadbolt from my friend Heidi! One last IMDb synopsis: When medical student Marty places an ad for a roommate, her ad is answered by handsome, clean-cut Alec. At first Alec seems to be a wonderful roommate; supportive, considerate and a real friend. However, Alec's affection turns to obsession as he plots to manipulate and control all aspects of Marty's life, imprison her in her own apartment and make her his.

I’m so in TV Movie Heaven! Don’t ever make me leave!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas... Kinda: Terror on the 40th Floor (1974)

Terror on the 40th Floor

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: September 17th, 1974

What's Christmas without eggnog, mistletoe and a burning skyscraper? I know, what's the point of celebrating without these? If sex, drink and death are your Modus Operandi, look no further than this tale of yuletide disaster known as Terror on the 40th Floor. OK, please look a little further, because Towering Inferno this ain’t.

Work it!

It's Christmas Eve and the office party on the 40th floor is plugging along. That drunken guy who loves to tell everyone he loves them has just given his groan-inducing speech and now the employees are starting to pair off or leave for better parties. Three potential couples and one older broad all end up in the VP's office, drinking and, ahem, spreading merriment throughout the land. Too bad a fire has started on one of the floors below. Now the smoke has reached them and it will be a true test of their survival instincts to make it through (hopefully there is a raise in there somewhere!).
Ewww, action-packed... for about 5 minutes!

The cast is full of great faces like Joseph Campanella, Anjanette Comer and John Forsythe, but the script just isn't up to par. There a couple of OMG moments, but mostly the cast just meanders around as the blaze moves through the building. To fill up the running time, there’s plenty of flashbacks and some footage of firefighters, uh, fighting fires. Anjanette is great as the swinging secretary with eyes for the VP and she looks simply stunning in her red dress. And that’s about the only nice thing I have to say about this fiasco. I know, Terror on the 40th Floor isn’t here to defend itself so I’ll just leave it at that.

Or better yet, let me just say I chose this film because Home for the Holidays seemed such an obvious TV horror movie pick. Next time, I'll go for the obvious.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TV Movie Awesomeness and One Sad Goodbye

Let’s start with the happy news first. I’ve been wanting to post this for a couple of weeks but haven’t had much of a chance with the holidays looming around the corner, but it’s a cool bit of trivia that proves our little made for television movies are still quite relevant.

On December 4th, 2008 Ugly Betty aired a very special episode titled Bad Amanda. There are at least two Bad Ronald references! And the episode also features John Putch who you all may remember as Barbara’s lovelorn nerd pal, Bob on One Day at a Time. Wow, it’s like the 70s never ended!

You can read a fun little recap of the episode on After Elton. It’s also currently streaming Hulu and ABC’s website.

Also, you better run out and get the latest issue of Horror Hound Magazine (featuring The Exorcist on the cover) because there is a great interview with J.D. Feigelson, the writer of Dark Night of the Scarecrow! Lots of great photos too! It’s really happening, kids. The DVD is due sometime next year! I am doing a dance right now! It's hard to do that and type!

Finally, it saddens me to write here that Sam Bottoms passed away this week. He was only 53 years old. The Bottoms were the Baldwins before the Baldwins were even twinkles in our eyes. Timothy, Joseph and Sam hit their prime in the 70s, with Sam appearing in the classic flicks The Last Picture Show  (along with his bro Timothy) and Apocalypse Now. I know Sam best for his work in a little TV movie called Savages (1974) which is The Most Dangerous Game in the desert featuring a villainous Andy Griffith chasing down Bottoms. It’s a fantastic film and Bottoms was forever imprinted in my head afterwards. I don’t normally write notices when someone passes. It’s not because I don’t think it’s important, because I do. It’s just that with so much tragedy in the world, who wants to look at a blog full of more bad news. But Bottoms was a young, vibrant person who seemed like a great family man. I thought I’d like to honor him a bit. Rest in peace, Sam.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Death Car on the Freeway (1979)

Network: CBS
Original Air Date: September 25th, 1979

OK, it’s time to give the Freeway Fiddler a little love, because let’s face it, love was all he needed. Maybe then he wouldn’t have gone on to chase down independent woman on crowded Los Angeles highways. And all this time, I thought it was road rage. I mean, I live here and so I know all about road rage. You don’t gotta have a demented mommy giving you a few smacks across the face to plow down your fellow driver. So maybe I just relate a little too much to the Freeway Fiddler… just maybe… Does that up my scary factor?


In a bit I’m going to compare this movie to Black Christmas. I only mention it now because I love suspense! Can’t you see I’m a master at it?

Death Car on the Freeway stars Shelly Hack (Charlie’s Angels) as Janette, the beautiful, intrepid reporter out to find a maniac who has been dubbed the Freeway Fiddler. The Fiddler likes to taunt his victims on the freeway before he pulls a Dukes of Hazzard, which causes horrible (yet spectacular) crashes. The victims are all strong, self-sufficient women so you know eventually Janette will end up on this man’s hit list. But for now, she is too busy proving she can climb the network ladder as well as making it on her own outside the workforce, much to the chagrin of her soon-to-be ex hubby, George Hamilton (who manages to be the prettiest actor in the film!).

So close!

Death Car was directed by Hal Needham who is most famous for making Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run. A former stuntman, this man knows his way around a car! The chases and crashes are incredible, tense even. The Fiddler is the stuff of legend (see my list of Creepiest Characters from 70s TV Movies for proof), and would easily fit into any slasher story, except his car is the weapon. I just gotta say it one more time… this movie had to be an influence on Tarantino’s excellent thriller Death Proof. OK, I’m done! Needham also makes an appearance as Mr. Blanchard, the guy who teaches Janette to burn rubber!

Outta sight!

OK, back to my thoughts on Black Christmas. We may agree that the Freeway Fiddler is creepy but he’s no Billy. Also, both films could be considered a slasher (if we really extend the definition!) but to the naked eye, these films couldn’t be more different. That’s where the leading ladies step in. Olivia Hussey was great as Jessie the Final Girl in BC, but let’s face it, she was a very self-absorbed character. She never once took her boyfriend’s feelings into consideration when she revealed that not only was she pregnant but that she was terminating that pregnancy. She came across as a woman who was going to do what she wanted regardless of who got stepped on. She might not be Madonna, but still kind of a bitch. Hack’s Janette is a bit the same way. She seemed unaware or maybe she just didn’t care how her ex felt about the impending divorce. Hamilton is drawn in a (mostly) sympathetic light so half the time I was thinking how lame Janette was. And at the same time I wondered if this cold-hearted portrayal was supposed to paint Janette as “independent.”

I get confused easily.

Also like BC, the killer's identity remains one of the great mysteries of the made for television movie. That does up the creep factor just a touch you see...

The Fiddler's gruesome handywork

So maybe I’m just thinking too much about the Fiddler and his nemesis because in the end Death Car is just one fun little film. More spectacular than most tele-films of this ilk, minus one plodding scene with a biker gang, it scores on almost every count. And it’s got Dinah Shore as an a-sexual tennis player! So what if I wanted to see Janette go up in flames?

Also, check out this awesome Death Car on the Freeway fansite!!!

Billy is that you?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Satan’s School for Girls 1973 vs. Satan’s School for Girls 2000!


1973 Version –
Network: ABC
Original Air Date: September 19th, 1973

2000 Version –
Network: ABC
Original Air Date: March 13th, 2000

There was a reason that ABC was once nicknamed the Aaron Broadcasting Channel! His resume of popular television outweighs almost any other filmmaker from that time period until today. I'm still not exactly sure what spurred the remake of Satan's School for Girls, except that perhaps Spelling had hoped to rekindle the once popular TV horror movie of the 70s and 80s. And why of all of his films he chose Satan 73 is anyone's guess. I mean, the man did produce the superior Home for the Holidays! Satan 73 is a fun but weakly paced film that will be mostly of interest to Charlie's Angels fans who would like to see the pairing of Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd pre-Jiggle TV. Well, it's also of interest to those of us who adore Roy Thinnes, a stalwart in these small screen terror flicks (Horror at 37,000 Feet, anyone?). Also, Satan 2000 gave Spelling and company a good shot at updating a supernatural film that originally had to forgo effects for expense's sake. If that’s so, the 2000 version is replete with bad CGI to make up for it!

But was it worth it?

I'm not scared by that shiny blonde hair at all!

Surprisingly, although these films are extremely different - only sharing various character names and the most base of concepts - both are full of enough moxey to warrant a lazy Sunday viewing.

The original came along in the early 70s and therefore relies heavily on traditional suspense devices (stormy nights, creepy corridors, etc...) to push the plot ahead. The adorable Pamela Franklin is the daring Elizabeth Sayers, a woman who has checked into her sister's all girl college after sis hangs herself. Determined to discover the truth behind Salem Academy, Elizabeth may have gotten more than she bargained for when the horrible truth is finally revealed.

Why are all the girls looking away from Roy? You're supposed to look at him!

Besides the familiar and well-liked faces of Jackson, Ladd and Thinnes, Lloyd Bochner and Jo Van Fleet also put in good time. The allure of this film mostly comes from its salacious title, which must have perked up a few tired eyes when the ads first appeared in TV Guide! Those were the days!

Although not one of the better made for television films, it is well remembered and does have some interesting and creepy qualities. Bochner’s performance as the on-the-edge-of-a-breakdown science teacher is so over the top you swear he’ flying! There’s not much of a surprise at the end reveal, but there’s enough atmosphere to keep you hanging on…

I can make FIRE!

The remake came at a time when TV movies weren't making many waves and the violence and sex factor could be upped slightly. And upping it slightly is exactly what Satan 2000 did. A little more sexy and a bit more gruesome, Satan 2000 (oh, why don't they just make a movie called Satan 2000! I'd watch it!) works mostly because of the actors. Shannen Doherty takes over the Pamela Franklin part - this time she's the plucky Beth Hammersmith who enrolls herself into a lush New England girl’s college to uncover the secrets surrounding her sister's death. A little bit more background is given to the Hammersmiths and since Doherty had made such a splash on Charmed, Beth now has supernatural powers which she is coming to grips with. You could easily call this a supersized Charmed episode (minus the humor) without offending anyone. Still, it's a fun, watchable film... if nothing to write home about.

He's no Roy Thinnes... but close enough

I do love Shannen Doherty so, and she really holds her own here and comes across as warm and charismatic, especially with her love interest (another new twist), Mark (Daniel Cosgrove - also of 90210 but after Shannen left). Kate Jackson returns, this time as The Dean. She's not given much to work with but she does have some good screen time. I'm not sure there was ever an actress more natural than Kate. Or Miss Jackson if you're nasty.

If you had to pick one (I know, why is life so hard!), I'd go with the Satan 73 because the pairing of Ladd and Jackson remains oh-so-sweet. The original is available on DVD and the remake airs sometimes on ABC Family (!), so what's your excuse?!?

Clearly the winner

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hey You!

Well, what is happening?

For me, not much. I just wanted to let you know that I have a new review up at Horror Yearbook for my Not So Basic Instincts column. This time I take a look at this oddity called Play Nice, starring Robey from Friday the 13th TV series. Oh yeah, and she also did a crazy version of One Night in Bangkok. You really need to YouTube that!


My friend has a tatoo on her arm which says Don't Let the Bastards Keep You Down in Latin. I'm doing my best to follow that bit of advice. Not a great week thus far.

However, I am almost done with two more reviews and also have an idea for another article for my beloved Made for TV Mayhem blog. Plus What's Happening has kept me in stitches all week! Thank you Rerun, Raj, Dwayne and Dee!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

House on Greenapple Road (1970)

House on Greenapple Road (1970)
Network: ABC
Original Air Date: January 11th, 1970

Anyone who frequents this blog is well aware of my undying love for Christopher George. When I read other’s descriptions of him I often hear the words “dependable” and “reliable” but those simple terms don’t seem to encompass the great talent he possessed. He often brought up the production of a film just by showing up and doing what he does best. Luckily, he didn’t have to do all the work in the excellent cop procedural House on Greenapple Road, but that beautiful face of his is an extremely welcome addition to this unyielding mystery.

A peek into chaos

As much as I love this man, he’s not the first image that comes to mind when people remember this thriller. House begins with a very young Eve Plumb (Jan on the Brady Bunch) coming home from school. She walks into the house expecting to find her mother but the house is empty. She enters the kitchen and walks past the broken dishes and puddles of blood and heads next door to her aunt’s (Julie Harris). It’s a harrowing segment that sets the scene for a dark look at the life of a missing housewife.

A little beauty amongst the chaos (and I don't mean Ed Asner!)

George is Lt. Dan August, a plain clothes cop with a nose for solving twisted mysteries. Think Sgt. Joe Friday with a touch of (intentional) humor. He is called onto the scene with his steadfast partner, Sergeant Charles Wilentz (Keenan Wynn who is always a pleasure). August is sure there is something more involved to the violent crime scene, but without a corpse he begins his routine investigation by looking for the missing housewife, Marian Ord (Janet Leigh looking divine).

Chrissy Snow's dad showing some machismo... Oh and Janet Leigh!

Of course, the husband is always the first suspect and the spineless traveling salesman George (Tim O’Connor) does nothing to prove his innocence. August digs deeper and we find that Marian was not the most faithful of wives. August uses several photographs he found hidden in Marian’s dresser to identify several men. Each one writes Marian off as a lonely housewife, but a series of flashbacks reveals that she left quite an impression on them. Also, we find that Marian was desperately seeking some kind of confirmation that she was still a desirable woman and not just an aging mother.

She don't take no shit. Don't even ask...

To say House is gripping would be an understatement. The expert cinematography, suspenseful script and A list acting will keep the viewer on the edge of their seat (and guessing) right up to the end. George is fantastic here and even gets to share a small scene with his wife (then still cast as Linda Day without the George). She plays a pot smoking receptionist who doesn’t like to take shit. Even Ed Asner shows up as the befuddled sheriff who unwittingly has one of the biggest clues right at his fingertips. In fact, this movie is all about clues. Everything that is said and done by the supporting players offers a bit of revelation about Marian’s disappearance so keeps your eyes and ears peeled when watching it.

Dan August at your service

The rest of the cast is amazing and I would feel amiss if I didn’t mention that House also features Walter Pidgeon, Julie Harris, William Windom, Peter Mark Richmond (Chrissy Snow’s dad!) and the always likeable Lawrence Dane.

House is a Quinn Martin Production. Martin is most famous for several police procedural television series such as The Fugitive and my personal favorite, The Streets of San Francisco. You won’t find any of the grime here from Streets (arguably one of the grittiest shows of all time), but you will catch Martin's signature top notch writing and themes of the “nothing is what it seems” kind. I would highly recommend anything that has the QM Production logo attached to it.

Tim O'Connor in an excellent role

House was so popular it spun off a series called Dan August starring Burt Reynolds (George had prior obligations and couldn't do the series). It ran just one season from 1970-1971 and I have never seen it. But if the movie is any indication of the quality of the series, than this is one show to keep an eye out for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


In case you all had forgotten, Parker is dreamy!

I have a new review on my Lifetime Kills column at Pretty Scary. Stop by and read about the Lifetime-a-licious flick Her Only Child.

Btw, Kindertrauma has been spreading the TV Movie love and have new reviews for Killdozer and Deadly Lessons. For comparison – because you are so analytical - you will find my review of Deadly Lessons by clicking Retro Slashers and take a look at my stills gallery for the slasher Home Sweet Home (you will also find a link to my review on Retro’s main site)!

I mean, is there a better way to celebrate the holidays than with a big, plump turkey?

Have a great holiday folks!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mr. Roarke Said There'd Be Days Like This: Part II

When I say "days like this" I mean his BIRTHDAY! Congrats and many happy wishes to Mr. Roarke himself who left such an indelible mark on me. Fantasy Island could be funny, sad, amusing and pretty damn scary.

Ricardo Montalban was born on November 25th, 1920 in Mexico. It was inevitable that his good looks and beautiful voice would lead him to acting and in 1958 he was nominated for a Tony for his Broadway performance in Jamaica.
So handsome... and talented....and cool!

In the 50s, Montalban was one of the only working actors who was Hispanic and often played Asian characters! That is probably what inspired him to start a non-profit organization called Nosotros in 1970 (the word means "us" or "we"). The goal of Nosotros is to help Hispanics forward their career in films and television.

That's totally noble and all, but it was his role on the Aaron Spelling show Fantasy Island that really put him on map (for me anyway). His charm was undeniable and the chemistry he shared with Herve Villechaize was unforgettable.

One of my favorite episodes is called The Devil & Mandy Breem/The Millionaire. This one features Mr. Roarke going toe to toe with Satan (Roddy McDowell) and does not disappoint!


Of course, Montalban is also famous for his portrayal of Kahn in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn and later as the Grandfather in Spy Kids, but I'm sorry, Mr. Roarke just trumps them all! Montalban continues to work to this day. His last project was in 2008. He supplied one of the voices on a Family Guy episode titled The Cow.

Montalban has stayed true to his roots and remains a Mexican citizen.

Happy 88th birthday, Ricardo! And here's to many more!

Could there be two hotter people?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dead of Night coming to DVD!

Thanks to David Fullam who gave me a heads up on the upcoming DVD release of the creepy TV Movie anthology Dead of Night. I just got this in my email from Dark Sky Films:

Legendary producer-director Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker) presents a thrilling trilogy of spell-binding stories with mystery-horror writer Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Twilight Zone). Dead of Night includes three short stories: Second Chance, No Such Thing As a Vampire, and Bobby, in addition to the extra feature A Darkness at Blaisedon and 100 minutes of bonus material, all available for the first time on DVD!

Wow, an extra made for tv movie! That’s too awesome. I did a cursory check on IMDb and discovered that Darkness at Blaisedon aired on August 26th, 1969 on ABC and was co-written by Mr. Curtis. Here is the IMDb synopsis:

Investigator Jonathon Fletcher and his assistant Sajeed Rau investigate supernatural incidents that the local authorities either cannot or will not tackle.

Holy Cheese! This is awesome! This is due to be released on January 27th, 2008.

Mark ye old calendars kiddies!

Here’s a little bit of the good stuff (Darkness at Blaisedon):

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Even Sexier!

I have a new post over at my Not So Basic Instincts column at Horror Yearbook. Since I enjoyed Night Eyes so much, I reviewed the sequel, Night Eyes II. Good stuff. Good stuff, indeed.


And since we’re on the subject of salaciousness, check out this article on TV and the 70s Sex Revolution . It references everything from Love Boat to Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway.

Double enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Top Ten Creepiest Characters of the Made for TV Horror Films of the 70s

If I may be so bold and speak for the silent masses of made for television movie nuts (I know you’re out there!), I think one of the reasons why these movies remain so enduring is that the scares are predominately organic. No bad computer effects (well some, but in that fun, kitschy way), and a lot of reliance on tradition made these films simple but good. Maybe simple isn’t the right word, let me say classic. And who wouldn’t take Audrey Hepburn over Kim Kardashian? I mean, really

Thing is these movies might have had to confine themselves to stricter guidelines but they still managed to be effective. Even more so, the era of the made for television movie spawned some pretty freaky characters. When I made this list, I had well over ten. But at the same time, narrowing them down was child’s play (and I don’t mean the game show with Bill Cullen!). It was pretty apparent which ones left the most unforgettable impressions on this latch key kid. I hope you agree with some of them!

10. Death Car on the Freeway (1979): The Freeway Fiddler – If any director knew his way around a racing car, it was Hal Needham who directed this, Cannonball I & II as well as Smokey and the Bandit. Here we’ve got a serial killer who uses his car as the weapon (I said it before, but you just know this movie had some kind of impact on Quentin Tarantino’s excellent thriller Death Proof!) and it’s up to one spunky reporter (the lovely and talented Shelly Hack) to capture our elusive killer. My good friend buzz at Camp Blood wrote a pretty great little capsule synopsis of it, so let me direct you there for more info!

9. Satan’s Triangle (1975): Eva – Without giving anything away Eva (Kim Novak) made this list based solely on the last few frames of the criminally underrated (and oft unseen) tele-film Satan’s Triangle. The film as a whole works even without these chilling moments, but those last seconds are guaranteed to put you over the edge!

8. Night Terror (1977): The Killer Night Terror might be the worst movie on the list. Well, there’s no might about it… It’s portrayal of hapless Valerie Harper is silly and plodding at best, but Richard Romanus’ depiction of a character simply named “The Killer” is unforgettable and terrifying in every way imaginable. A neat bit of characterization – The Killer speaks with a vibrating larynx box. This movie scarred me for life! And I loved it!

7. Salem’s Lot (1979): Kurt Barlow – Our small screen vamp evokes the unforgettable image of the original Nosferatu in all the right ways. In this cherished Stephen King adaptation, Reggie Nalder's creepy Barlow is the money shot worth waiting for.

6. Duel (1971): The Truck Driver Duel topped my Top Ten Must See Made for TV Films of the 70s. I mean, it would be nuts if it hadn’t. Duel is by far the most appreciated, revered and enduring of television horror films and that is thanks in large part to the malevolent truck and its unseen driver. You never know why its following Dennis Weaver across a desolate highway, but it's also impossible to peel your eyes away from one single frame.

5. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973): The Demons – I swear this list doesn’t totally mirror my Top 10 TVM list, but there are a lot of similar titles represented here. How could I face myself in the morning if I skipped these little demons that look like they are wearing hard hats covered in latex? They are adorable and totally freaky all at the same time. With the use of simple camera trickery, these little guys made a big impact on me in my younger years. And just imagine how Sally (Kim Darby) felt about them!

4. Gargoyles (1972): The Gargoyle – Bernie Casey wowed and terrified audiences as the main Gargoyle in, you guessed it, Gargoyles! The incredible costumes and make up (some of which was supplied by the late Stan Winton) remain untouchable in a world of overused CGI. Simple, a little traditional and extremely effective, Casey disappeared into the character with his fantastic get-up and a little futzing with his voice. When he says “Read to me Diana, your voice pleases me,” you’re a little bit petrified and a little bit in love with the intelligent creature who is just trying to survive. Click on title for the whole review.

3. Bad Ronald (1974): Ronald Bad Ronald also made my Top 10 TVM list, and again it was the character of Ronald that landed it squarely on there. Scott Jacoby’s mesmerizing performance of a disturbed lost soul was just one of several amazing performances he lent to the small screen, which also included Smash Up on Interstate 5 and That Certain Summer (for which he won an Emmy). As Ronald, he scares the pants of you while also eking out a weird sense of compassion for him. With his deep sense of instability comes a longing to fit in and to still be loved by his overbearing mother. Click on title for a full review.

2. Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975): Lizzie Borden – An unforgivable oversight on my other list, I decided I would not make the mistake twice and had to include Elizabeth Montgomery’s absolutely chilling performance of accused killer Lizzie Borden here. The movie methodically lays out the evidence against Ms. Borden and takes it one step further, showing what may or may not have happened on the fateful day that Borden was rumored to have taken an axe to her father and step-mother. Not only did this movie mesmerize viewers, it gave Liz Montgomery a new lease on her acting career and she dove deeply into dramas afterwards.

1. Trilogy of Terror (1975): Zuni the Fetish Doll – I keep saying it, but perhaps no other creation has left such an indelible mark on young horror fans as the Zuni Fetish Doll. Featured in the last segment of Trilogy of Terror, Zuni was one bad ass dude who would stop at nothing to end Miss Karen Black. I know we’ve all felt that way one time or another, but this guy meant it! Trilogy also landed on my Top Ten Made for Television Films of the 70s, and this little creature is what got it there.