Thursday, December 30, 2010

Please Stand By... Part 2

Oh time, my cruel mistress, why do you always sneak past me?

This is what I said to her yesterday when I realized that I wasn't going to have too much free time in the next few days to post... I got some great TV swag for Christmas and would like to write about it... maybe in a few days. Right now I'm on vacation and I headed back to my homeland of Los Angeles, where the weather isn't nearly as frightful! When I get back, or get a moment when I'm not clutching a Bloody Mary in my well manicured paw, I hope to write a blog or two. Until then, my friendlies... Happy New Year! My resolution is to watch more TV movies! I think I handle that one!

Best wishes to all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ebbie (1995)

Network: Lifetime
Original Air Date: December 4th, 1995

Although ABC co-produced this gender-bend twist on A Christmas Carol, it’s a Lifetime original and let’s face it, it’s Lifetime all the way! Susan Lucci is Elizabeth Scrooge, aka Ebbie and she’s one of those humorless (but gorgeous) department store presidents that is all business and no heart. After the death of her partner in crime Jake (Jeffrey DuMunn), she seems even colder and more callous, especially during the holidays. Then, one night as she’s alone in her lush apartment, Jake comes to visit her... as a ghost... You know the drill… three more ghosts will show up and whatnot. What struck me about Ebbie is how true to the Dickens classic it is. I just read A Christmas Carol and watched the George C. Scott adaptation, as well as A Muppet Christmas Carol and Scrooged. Except for the Scott version which is almost a completely faithful adaptation, most films based on this story tend to create something fairly unique. Ebbie is in many ways completely different from the story, even if you just look at the gender of the protagonist. However, although it’s got a woman Scrooge and is told in a modern setting, the story itself is quite faithful. The sister’s death is particularly effective here, even compared to the Scott version, perhaps that's due to the modern setting. We actually watch the sister die, so it’s easy to see where Ebbie begins to close herself off. The screenwriters Paul Redford and Ed Redlich took great pains to show Ebbie’s transformation from a wide-eyed kid to a cold-hearted adult, but the film’s biggest disappointment comes when she finds redemption. It’s not as joyous as the story and ends up falling short.

Jacob Marley hits the airwaves

I don’t think I saw this movie when it originally aired but I recall watching it on Lifetime in the late 90s. What I remembered though was that Ebbie was a little funny. And it’s not funny at all. I mean, not even one bit. Perhaps that’s what was really missing. A female Scrooge in modern times should be funny ala A Diva’s Christmas Carol, and maybe that’s what the Diva film was trying to do, add some levity to an interesting twist… I dunno. I won’t even try to guess why filmmakers choose the route they do, but it is interesting and maybe I should have viewed Ebbie and Diva together. Hmmm, well there’s always next year!

The ageless Susan Lucci is great in the role and overall, I’m a fan of Ebbie, mostly because of Lucci’s performance. She manages to evoke sympathy even when she’s being relentless in the boardroom or in love. In short, she tugs at ye olde heartstrings, and what else can one ask for when watching a Lifetime Christmas movie?

This Ghost of Christmas Future doubles as a department store detective!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bare Essence (1982)

Network: CBS
Original Airdate: October 4th and 5th, 1982
Oh, 1982. It was an era where the women were women and the men were too! In Bare Essence you’ve got a heterosexual fashion stylist, a machismo laden gay photographer and an uber A-sexual heir to a fortune. What a great time for romance! Or maybe I meant confusing…

Genie Francis is Tyger Hayes and her B movie director dad has just bit the big one. Her absentee mom Bobbi Rowan (the fabulous Linda Evans) shows up at the funeral and basically rubs her ferocious glamour in poor (literally) Tyger’s perfectly round face. Bobbi invites no-frills Tyger to come visit her in New York and after some convoluted business regarding her father’s last film, Tyger grabs her best duffle bag and heads to the city that never sleeps. She meets Matt Phillips (the delish Joel Higgins), fashion stylist and all around sexy stud. She assumes he’s gay. I mean, he is a stylist and pretty freakin’ good at it, so it’s like two and two, you know? However, she soon realizes he’s straight and available and very interested and off to bed they go. While attempting to secure some kind of something regarding her father’s film, she is offered a job working under the less sexy but debonair Chase Marshall (hunkadelic Bruce Boxleitner), race car driver turned business magnate. Chase lost his father around the same time Tyger lost hers and now half of his family (most notably Lee Grant who is so bitch-perfect it’s impossible to take your eyes of her) is attempting to set him up for the fall of a lifetime. But he has Tyger as a secret weapon. As Matt transforms her into a lady of style, elegance and grace, her indefatigable gumption and spunk guide her through the treacherous and fabulous world of the perfume industry, making her a faboo force to reckon with.

Pensive Tyger

Bare Essence was an extremely popular miniseries that was intended to shoot Genie, i.e. Laura Spencer from General Hospital, into prime time stardom. It had all the trappings of love in the afternoon but with a budget that could have financed several daytime shows. It was the height of glamour and the pinnacle of melodrama and of course, I loved it! It’s interesting how so many successful soaps dance with the world of fashion but don’t focus on it. The shows which did (notably Models, Inc. and Paper Dolls) were big old flops. I wonder why that is? Anyway, there’s a little Vogue-ish glamour here, but it mostly works in the boardrooms and the bedrooms. Joel Higgens is particularly giggle worthy. Who knew the father from Silver Spoons was so dang hot? OK, I've always thought he was gorgeous! Between this and his yummy performance in First Affair, I must admit, it’s love. But he’s not Tyger’s only man. There’s this wimpy French guy who she kind of manipulates and of course Chase, but none of them come close to the sexual charisma of Higgins. He was wonderful in comedies, but I think he should have played more leading men parts in soapy romances.


And another word about Lee Grant - As the greedy matriarch of the Marshall clan she is an unstoppable force. Lee only graces a few scenes of the mini-series, but probably deserved a movie of her own! It’s obvious she saw the over-the-top potential of her character and she takes it to the hilt! No Regrets Grant would be her war name.

Bare Essence is a really good mini-series. I had only intended to watch the first half when I started my viewing journey, but had to take it all the way when I got snared by the glamour! I really wish television would go back to these simple, fun and romantic dramas that globetrot the world while engaging the audience with its sexy fun.

The mini-series was popular enough that it spawned a short lived television series which aired the year after. Frakes, who plays the bad boy brother stayed on, I’m assuming partly because of Genie whom he married shortly after they met during the making of the mini-series. Bare Essence, the series didn’t captivate audiences the way the network had intended and it went by the wayside. I’d really love to see the show. I can only imagine what sexy goodness awaits me there.

This lady has S-T-Y-L-E!

Hip Hip Hooray!

We are legion, guys! I finally hit the 100 Followers mark! For me it's a personal victory because although there are many, many other blogs who have, like, a gazillion followers, I'm so happy to find that the world of TV movie lovers has now reached three digits! I thank everyone who stops by and comments... Believe it or not, it means a lot.

I'm a little behind on the polls, but I want to report that The Night Stalker once again walked away with top honors! This time he won the coveted Favorite ABC Movie of the Week poll! YAY! Darren McGavin was a one of a kind and I'm glad to see how Kolchak has endured. I had hoped for Bad Ronald to walk away the winner, and he came close, losing by only two votes, but I am happy either way!

I decided that for the next month I'll do a poll on 70s small screen scream queens (say that five times fast!) and I got the ten I chose from an article I did on... you guessed it... Small Screen Scream Queens over at Fangirltastic! This site used to be Pretty Scary, and when they changed names they changed website forms, so the article looks a bit wonky, but you can see all the horror/thriller/mystery/suspense movies these ladies starred in. The list I made is based on the number of films each actress made and there are way more women in my article than these ten, so stop by and check it out!

Also, I have a new review up at Smash or Trash for a series called The Adventures of Louanna Lee. This episode is titled Lovin' Fool and is a fun bit of regional filmmaking.

And finally, you should all read the review of Duel that John Kenneth Muir did over at his blog.

Thanks again, to everyone who has stopped by and I hope you enjoy more TV goodness via moi in 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Completely Unrelated News...

You can read the critical comparison paper I wrote on The Innocents for my Film and Lit class over at Fangirtastic!

The Assignment: Find two differing critical essays on one film or book and compare and contrast their arguments.

The essays reviewed: One discusses the ghost and a conspiracy theory and the other argues that The Innocents is a metaphor for the confused role of the female in early 60s! Wow!

Grade: ?

I won't know until the end of the month. But I am so thrilled it found a home online. Makes me look like an academic and stuff!

Return to Waterloo (1985)

Network: Channel 4, UK
Original Air Date: May 15th, 1985

Return to Waterloo
is one of those films I caught during the heyday of the Bravo channel. Believe it or not, instead of tons of reality shows and re-runs of popular American programs, Bravo aired uncut/commercial-free films from around the world. It was Bravo who exposed me to the beauty of a Merchant/Ivory Production, it was they who introduced me to the quirky world of French films as well as playing host to what would become my favorite foreign film of all time, Twist and Shout.

As a teen living in Vegas in the late 80s, I don't think I have to tell you that the city was a little short on, uh, culture. It was a town of stone-washed Guns n Roses fans, which was great - I was was all about Axl Rose - but one of the only outlets we had in our desolate little town (and yes, Las Vegas might look like a Mecca, but it was a very small place for locals), was this magnificent cable channel.

Every Saturday evening, they would show cult movies and I had the great pleasure of catching Return to Waterloo. Written and Directed by Ray Davies of the Kinks, Waterloo mixes some of the most thoughtful music of the 80s (all written by Mr. Davis) with a disturbing allegory about hidden truths and innocence lost.

The story focuses on The Traveller (Ken Colley), a man who is taking a train on his way to work. He passes people reading papers and he looks a lot like the serial rapist featured on the front page. He seems normal enough when his trip begins, but as things progress and some of the passengers come in and out of his life, we start to learn that The Traveller may in fact be the rapist everyone is looking for. And his deep secrets may also be the reason his daughter ran away and is now missing.


Told mostly through music, the lyrics that accompany the film are straightforward, simple and profound. One of my favorite scenes features the song Missing Persons and some of the lyrics are:

Now I'm sitting at home, staring at the wall.
Waiting for the missing person to call.
Waiting for the message I'm dreading to hear.
Waiting to confirm my darkest fears.
She's a missing person, I wish I could see
All of the places she might be.
Maybe I stopped her from being free.
Maybe there was something missing in me.

Davies often takes a literal approach to the lyrics, like the ones above, but other times he gets very surreal, and to great effect. There are no answers given to the viewer but piece by piece, you get a fairly good sense of what The Traveller may have done and the repercussions he's endured.

I was really moved by this movie the first time I saw it. The music and imagery is very of its time. It's obvious that Davies had to make this movie on a limited budget (and he partially funded it himself), but like so many great, underrated films of that era (Dogs in Space for instance) Waterloo is a work of art. Not only does Davies convey a real feeling dread for The Traveller's journey, but also for the downfall of England itself.

Waterloo is also one of Tim Roth's first films and his performance is quite spirited (he even sings!). In fact, this film is flooded with interesting characters portrayed by wonderful actors. There's a definite British feel to Waterloo, and it captures a place caught between prim patriotism and a country on the verge of a revolution. Davies adeptly portrays the exasperation of how the middle class lived out the decadent 80s.


For years this movie was impossible to locate, but it is now on DVD (along with eight Kinks music videos!) and the soundtrack is also readily available. You can even rent it through Netflix. You got no excuses, so get on it, K?

Ray Davies has a cameo and sort of bookends the movie. Here is a clever promo video showing what his character was doing while the Traveller was on the train:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Please Stand By...

Sorry to be such a Johnny Come Lately, uh, lately, but I'm at the critical moment in school where if I don't stop reading/writing/researching, the whole thing would have been for nothing.

Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I should say it's been hectic here with paper writing and studying. I should be able to post more in the very near future, but hate when I can't update my blog at all. So here I am.

Since it's Chistmas, I'd like to direct you to some Yuletide coolness.

I had a guest blogger a few months back and she just so happened to be the crazy-sexy-cool Joanna Wilson, who wrote The Christmas TV Companion. She wrote about a little ditty called The Gathering for me, and you should check it out.

I also interviewed her for her publisher's website and you can read it here. It's full of small screen holiday splendor. She has a new book out, which is the encyclopedia on all things Christmas TV. It's called Tis the Season, and you can buy it by clicking on this here link.

Also, I did a guest review for her blog on my favorite Holiday special, Nestor the Long Earred Donkey.

And because someone brought up Christmas Evil to me recently, I remembered - fondly even - an interview I did with the director, Lewis Jackson at Film Threat. And here's a link to the review.

OK, back to the books!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Must See Streaming Movie of the Week: The Initiation of Sarah (1978)

First things first: Thank you to Stacie at Final Girl for choosing this as the Film Club pick, and an extra big thank you to Netflix for streaming The Initiation of Sarah , which is simply a slice of TV movie paradise! For the record, my stills are from my trusty vhs print (I own the clamshell release, no less!). The streaming quality is much better! And please make sure you stop by Final Girl where you'll find links to more reviews.

As you were…

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: February 6th, 1978

I love Carrie riffs. From Jennifer to The Spell to Aenigma to, yeah, I’ll say it, even to Zapped, the put-upon-nerd-gets-revenge tale is one I hate to pass on. As a goofy teen turned slightly goofier adult, I always found a kinship with the underdog and love all films where the little guy comes out big. Even if it means the massacre of everyone on school grounds! Makes me edgy. At the same time, revenge becomes totally awesome when the bad guy is of the love-to-hate- ‘em variety. It’s one thing to watch the comeuppance of a villain, but it’s even sweeter when you find yourself cheering for their downfall. As much as I love Morgan Fairchild, I truly loathe her in her bitch-perfect portrayal of Jennifer, the beautiful sorority girl who uses tight turtlenecks and her perky little nose to hide the deep shades of black lurking within. God, I love her! Oh wait, no, I hate her! Oh, I’m so confused!

I love my stanky ho-bags!

Kay Lenz is Sarah, the shy wallflower who lives in her extroverted sister Patty’s (Morgan Brittany) shadow. Sarah is adopted and although Patty is her close confidante, she feels pretty distanced from the rest of the world. Getting into the ANS house, which is the coolest sorority on campus, would mean the sisters could stay together, but because Sarah is kind of frumpy (but has great bone structure), she also pledges at the PED house, which is where the smart, out of the loop girls hang. Unfortunately, the ANS house says PED is short for Pigs, Elephants and Dogs and their utter refusal to play nice makes them the arch enemies of nerdy girls the world over. The PEDs are led by the eccentric Mrs. Hunter (Shelly Winters), who gives off an extra weird vibe when she lets on that she knows a thing or two about Sarah’s parents. She’s also known for dabbling in witchcraft and this draws Sarah in because she’s been tangling with some secret extra sensory skills herself. Mrs. Hunter uses these powers to even the score with ANS, and Sarah becomes an unlucky pawn in a dirty game of witchcraft vs. bitchcraft.

My pet Mouse

The Initiation of Sarah has a lot going for it, and like its earlier theatrical counterpart, Carrie, it works because the downtrodden are likable and sympathetic. Tisa Farrow plays Mouse and she’s so sweet and demure and sad that you just want to take her home, wrap her in a blanket and watch Facts of Life with her. Hey, when the world never seems to be living up to you dreams…

Lenz was extremely well cast in the lead. Although it’s obvious the actress is completely gorgeous, she really embodies that shy, awkward thing that many real young women possess as they try to find their way in the cold, cruel world of college. She brings the PED girls together in a way no one had been able to, so you see there is a hidden strength that doesn’t rely on telekinesis, but her inability to keep her powers at bay make her that much more tragic.

Shelley eyes the scenery she is just about to chew!

The theme of longing and acceptance permeates many teen films, and there’s obviously a reason why we keep seeing it. The added mixture of mass slaughter is a little newer, but it only demonstrates the ugly, unharnessed power of repression. And for those of us who were always last picked for the teams during P.E., there is a bittersweet feeling of victory to be gained.

Sarah is one of the better remembered Made for TV movies of the 70s, and there is a reason why. It’s got a timeless story, the acting is tops (I love my Morgans!) and I have to say it’s aged rather well. Sure the plaid skirts might look dated, but the message of acceptance and the thrill of revenge never gets old. Maybe we should be worried about that…

The revenge will be oh-so-sweet

Read my my review of the 2006 remake at CampBlood!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Must See Streaming TV: The Facts of Life!

I usually save my Must See Streaming TV moniker for any crazy good TV movies I find online, but I was so jazzed to see Facts of Life on Hulu that I thought I'd make a special post. I do believe Facts of Life has been streaming off an on for awhile, but it was just recently I re-caught my obsession for all things Blair! There are currently 22 episodes available, but what just about sealed the deal of totally crazy awesomeness was that they are running one of my all time favorite Very Special Episodes called Runaway, which featured a young Tammy Lauren as a teenage hooker attempting to lure Tootie to the dark side!

Luring young virgins, one cup of cocoa at a time

As if her teenager-y hooker-via-Flashdance look wasn't enough, this cautionary episode is so absolutely serious that when I first saw it, I quickly learned to beware of any friendly teen with feathered hair, a rabbit fur coat and leg warmers. This may have certainly saved my life.

There's a few of the classic episodes streaming right now, but this is the only one I've been able to sit down and enjoy. I'm really looking forward to watching Fear Strikes Back, which is the infamous Natalie-dresses-like-Chaplin-and-gets-accosted episode! Good stuff indeed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a Happy Waltons Thanksgiving!

I know I keep losing my horror cred whenever I get all schmaltzy, but that's part of my allure (I hope!). I love a feel-good TV special just as much as the next guy and there is nothing, I repeat, nothing, better than what the Waltons can serve - Turkeys and all! Apparently, the math of the kid's ages is all screwy so they could set the TV movie in 1963, around Kennedy's assassination, but when it comes down to it, who cares? It's the Waltons! Oh and John Boy is a reporter. Does he go by John Boy? One can only hope!

Anyway, that was just my long-winded way of saying Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Special Report: Streaming TV Movies!

I am so glad that I love to surf the net! Yesterday I was looking for information on something completely unrelated to the awesomeness I stumbled upon. There is a wonderful website called and they are streaming some pretty awesome TV movies! The set up is still a little bit scatterbrained, so let me direct you to where I found the bulk of the films. Simply go to their Drive in Movie section and scroll down to Tube Star Theater. This is where you will find the bulk of the awesomeness, including Who Killed Joy Morgan, Paper Man and Shell Game (yay!) among many others. But poke around, there's some fun stuff to found in almost every nook and cranny!

I was so thrilled to come across this site and then, things got about 1,000 times cooler when I read this press release announcing that is producing new episodes of Celebrity Bowling! I mean, I'm not so into new celebrities, but I love the idea of it! It looks like TV4u is one to watch!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yet Another Faboo Poll!

Just in case you missed it and were curious, The Night Stalker blew away the competition in last month's John Llewellyn Moxey poll! At first, it looked like Home for the Holidays might create some waves, but then the Kolchak fans came to the rescue and left the rest in the dust!

The Night Stalker is back and this month's theme is The ABC Movie of the Week! I did my best to narrow it down to the 10 I felt were the most famous and/or popular. I won't even try to guess how this one turns out! This poll runs through the entire month of November. That gives you just enough time to revisit any film you may not remember!

Beg, Borrow or Steal (1973)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: March 20, 1973

Mike Connors is Vic, a down on his luck paraplegic Vietnam veteran who hits hard times when he’s let go from a swanky security job at the local museum. He lives with Cliff (Michael Cole), who has no hands and Lester (Kent McCord), a blind man. Cliff uses mechanical hands, and with excellent dexterity I might add, but he weirds out his employers and has to jump from job to job. Only Lester has any kind of steady work, and that's a gig collecting parking money at the beach. Because Vic knows the museum and because he knows how a good security system is devised, he decides he’s going to steal some jewels from a new exhibit. He plots this caper with Cliff, and eventually (and begrudgingly), they bring Lester into their fold. The plan is definitely risky even if these guys weren’t dealing with handicaps, but they also know there’s not much ahead for them work wise. The trio had once owned a laundromat and this is their last chance to grab that dream again.

That's Ron Glass as The Heavy!

Beg, Borrow or Steal is an excellent ABC Movie of the Week that has everything from serious social commentary to a nail-biting bank heist! And they did it all in 74 minutes! The story immediately throws the viewer into the plight of the three men, yet they never make them seem pathetic. Even down on their luck, they are given a lot of dignity, brains and charisma. The most sympathy arises when Cliff is let go from his job. He’s a good worker, but once he sees “the look” in his boss' eyes, he knows he’s down for the count, and he’s resigned to it. There’s not much backstory given to the characters' time in Viet Nam, but there’s no doubt it was a horrific experience, and their survival instinct emerges in the form of an elaborate robbery!

The heist itself is the high point of the movie; it’s extremely suspenseful and seriously brilliant. While I was watching these men work their magic, I wondered how this TV movie would wrap up the story. I didn’t feel like they could make them criminals who skirt the repercussions for stealing, no matter how sympathetic the characters were. And indeed the filmmakers agreed. I thought the conclusion was probably the weakest part of the film, although I didn’t really mind the sweet and unrealistic ending. Those guys deserved a break!

Plot hatchin'!

David Lowell Rich, who had his hand in many made for TV movies (Crime Club, Satan's School for Girls), directed Beg, Borrow or Steal with a lot of heart, from a story by Paul Playdon and Grant Sims. With the minor quibble regarding the ending aside, this movie makes the characters sympathetic without pandering to their disabilities. They are also extremely likable and you’ll be totally rooting for them to get those jewels!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All Random!

There's some really fun retro TV stuff going on right now.

Some friends of mine who are the go-to-girls for all things Jon-Erik Hexum put together a ridiculously incredible tribute site called Tenafly Guy. I suggest you stop by and click on the Making of a Male Model page, where you'll see some quotes from a review I did! Thanks ladies!

In other news (well, not really news...), a couple of weeks ago I went to the Chiller Theater con in New Jersey and got to rub elbows with the likes of Linda Gray, Larry Hagman and Roy Thinnes (Norliss Tapes, Horror at 37,000 Feet)! Of course meeting Sue Ellen has probably been the greatest achievement of my life, and I have to say, she was completely wonderful! We had a very nice chat and I said a lot of stuff like, "I love you," and "I admire you," and she managed to make it an interesting conversation anyway! I did ask her about the makeup job for The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan and she told me they had to shoot her "old lady" scenes in one day and the makeup itself took four hours! Stan Winston was brought in to do this and Linda said they put the mold on her face and did that straw in the nostril trick and she got extremely claustrophobic! I was so pleased she gave me so much info about it.

I just watched the movie and am hoping to review it soon. By the way, The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan is on DVD, so go get it now!

Fangirltastic posted some early stills from the Woman in Black remake, featuring Daniel Radcliffe looking all growed up! I'm actually pretty excited about this movie. According to the article, it's going to be fairly faithful and of course, it's produced by the revamped Hammer Studios! All of this spells rockin'!

And just because it's on my mind, does anyone else here remeber the short lived NBC soap opera called Generations? It ran from 1989 - 1991 and featurned a predominantly African American cast. I aquired six random episodes at Chiller (yes, I bought a bootleg of a soap opera at a horror con... I'm complex, you know) and just adored the pilot. The first few minutes are set up to be some of the most over-the-top antics on daytime and then we see it's really just a soap within a soap! Clever, kiddos! I wonder why this show only lasted two years? It was pretty groundbreaking stuff, and actually probably would be today as well.

Intimate Agony (1983)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: March 21st, 1983

Intimate Agony is one of those movies that seem to be begging for ridicule. I mean, it’s about an epidemic of herpes amongst the locals of an island paradise! However, there are two things about this movie that kept me from putting on my Mock Hat: 1. It’s actually a very well made and acted piece of film and 2. It harkens back to a time when the worst sexual disease we had to worry about was herpes. Dreaded at the time, it felt like a death sentence and Intimate Agony came out right before the woes of the then-unknown killer HIV began making headlines. Although this film is often of work of morbid fantasy (a herpes epidemic at a resort?) and takes every possible ugly situation and uses it for dramatic purposes, it’s still a time capsule that takes a rather straight faced and often moving look at the last of our sexual innocence. Didn’t expect me to get so serious, did you?

Harmon making the moves!

Anthony Geary is Dr. Kyle Richards, an up and coming medical rebel who takes a job at a tropical tourist hot spot for the summer. He runs into his old friend Tommy (Mark Harmon with a silly machismo-laden mustache), who is the local tennis instructor and town stud. He’s only interested in one thing and if you’re not willing to put it out, he wants you to get out. There are some other unrelated locals as well, such as the na├»ve and pretty Katy (Cindy Fisher) whose father, Dave (Robert Vaughn), runs the show on the island. Her parents are all about what it looks like rather than how it actually is, which until now hasn’t bothered Katy one bit. There is also Nick (Brian Kerwin) who is working on the island for the summer and he’s brought his very pregnant wife (Lori Lethin) with him. And there’s Judith Light who is a single mother working as a waitress, and constantly turning down Tommy. Although not connected in any substantial way for the most part, each one of these characters will be deeply affected by their new disease.

Melodrama at its best!

Intimate Agony is an effective film. I know it gets some flack because, let’s face it, anything made in the 80s always meets some sort of “ironic” antagonism and because the premise is admittedly pretty out there. Yet, I found it to be moving. It’s full of swinging singles (and some swinging marrieds!) in discos, on tennis courts and just about any place a swinging single should be located. If HIV had never happened, maybe this movie would seem more absurd but as it stands, it’s a very bittersweet film about a devastation that was soon to become not so devastating. Anthony Geary is fantastic as the doctor trying to contain the virus as it spreads to his friends and strangers and Mark Harmon is great as the superficial hot guy who has to let go of the one thing that gave him any kind of sense of self. I also really liked Cindy Fisher as the teenager whose life comes to a complete stop and, to top it off, the pregnancy storyline with Lori Lethin almost made me cry. I know, call me Softie! I thought the subject matter was very well handled and of course at the time, this hot button topic was making some serious waves. I distinctly remember an Afterschool Special called A Very Delicate Matter where they wouldn’t even use the word herpes, because back then it was just too controversial. At the time most sexually transmitted diseases were referred to as V.D. on the tele, regardless of the severity of it.

Maybe I should have said something, I dunno, maybe nine months ago...

It’s always interesting to see prime time movies featuring a lot of daytime soap actors. This type of melodrama, which was so popular back then, is perfectly suited for this type of acting style. It’s engaging, even if it’s sometimes a little over the top. There’s an art form there, one I find truly underrated, and Intimate Agony is a good example of why melodrama is so compelling.

According to my all time favorite book Movies Made for Television by Alvin H. Marill, Intimate Agony was originally called Lovesick the Herpes Story. I think it’s safe to say that this review might have been slightly different had they kept that title!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 31 - Summer of Fear

Originally, I was going to do several TV movies, all of which would have aired on this day back in time... but since I'm out of town and didn't have as much time to prepare as I would have liked, and because I'm at a Chiller convention where I was about 5 feet away from Linda Blair, I thought I'd choose this NBC film which aired on this day in 1978.

Linda is cute as a button here as the beleaguered but spunky teenager who thinks her cousin is an Ozark witch! I really like Summer of Fear aka Stranger in Our House. It's got a lot of energy, a great cast and it shows the early potential of Wes Craven who helmed this little flick. It's not my favorite of his TV movie horror films, that would be Chiller, but it's a lot of fun and a movie I find myself enjoying more with each viewing. It's horror-lite, but perfect fodder for a relaxing Hallow's Eve!

And wouldn't you know it, Summer of Fear is on DVD! There is a commentary track with Wes and it's just fantastic. Well worth the price of the disc.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 30 - Death Cruise

Terror on the high seas was never this glamorous! This ABC Movie of the Week which premiered on this day all the way back in 1974 has managed to elude me, even though it had a vhs release. It sounds a little bit like Love Boat meets Ten Little Indians, only there's six Indians here. But you get the picture. Three couples win a contest they never entered and find themselves cruising towards... you got it... death. And check it out - this is yet another Aaron Spelling movie! Death Cruise just reeks of awesomeness, don't it? Another one to add to the must see list!

And like yesterday's post, this is in honor of the late Tom Bosley who stars here alongside such wonderful actors as Kate Jackson and Richard Long. Bosley will always be known as Mr. C, but he was so great in anything he popped up in. RIP Tom.

Here's a brief clip:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 29 - At the Midnight Hour

I sort of struggled with whether or not I should make this CBS movie, which premiered on this day in 1995, my choice for Scary TV Movie of the Day, but I decided on it for two simple reasons.

The first one is probably obvious... Amanda By Night adores her gothic thriller/romance hybrids. Especially when it's produced by Harlequin! You heard me, the trashy paperback romance company produced some really great little movies back in the 90s. OK, maybe great is overstating it a bit. I mean, it's no Shades of Love or Romance Theater or anything, but they really do fit the bill when you want some love and suspense. I had not heard of this movie until I made this list and the random reviews I've read have been fair to middling, but what can I say, I'm a sucker.

The second reason I picked At the Midnight Hour is because I have been wanting to pay a little tribute to Simon MacCorkindale who passed away on October 14th at the age of 58. I mostly love Simon because he was Manimal, but he also starred in one of my favorite Shades of Love movies (there goes that title again), called Sincerely, Violet. He was always a great romantic lead with that suave accent and Jeff Bridges like features. And let's not forget, he was downright sexy in Jaws 3!

So there's two great reasons to give this movie a go. Sexy and scary! YAY!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 28 - KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

Although it's considered a big ol' train wreck by pretty much everyone involved (and some of the viewers as well!) I still think KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park is pretty wonderful. This NBC movie which aired on this day in 1978 is kind of magical. There, I said it. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, it's pure childish fodder, but instead of a big cartoon bear you've got Gene Simmons. Sure he's smarter than the average bear but he says things like "Star Child!" too! How I love thee! Actually this movie is one of the most fun TV movies of the decade. It's got ultra-silly sound effects and it features the band as superhero types out to foil Anthony Zerbe, aka the Phantom of the Park. He's making certain park patrons into robot-zombie types who will do his evil bidding! Does it get anymore awesome than that? I mean, seriously. Plus Peter Criss' Beth is one of the best songs of all time. It just is.

Just cuz: The band still slams the movie to this day, but I met Peter Criss briefly in the early 90s and I asked him to sign my trusty vhs copy. He looked at it and said, "Cool!" I think we all have a soft spot for this Phantom!

Read more about KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park at TV Party!

Check out this awesome promo for the movie:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 27: The House that Would Not Die

Oh man, you've got a creepy house, Barbara Stanwyck, John Llewellyn Moxey and Aaron Spelling... This ABC Movie of the Week made its debut on this day in 1970 and looks sooooo good. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't seen it... yet.

The House that Would Not Die is based on the creepy Barbara Michaels novel called Ammie Come Home, which I am somewhat familiar with. I remember the house in the book isn't Amish, and it's located fairly close to other homes. I've been curious to see how this adaptation worked out and I'm just crazy about movies with seances! This is a definite must see!

Read about The House that Would Not Die over at Kindertrauma and CampBlood!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 26 - In the Deep Woods

Serial killer madness struck NBC on this day in 1992! In the Deep Woods is probably best remembered because it was Anthony Perkins' last film (he died about one month before it premiered). It looks like many of those early 90s crime thrillers which brought the TV movie world to a halt, but from what I've read, it's a really fun whodunit and you know, that Perkins guy can do no wrong. Here he plays a cop hot on the trail of a killer and he creates an aura of paranoia around Rosanna Arquette who starts to think she may know the culprit. Also, Kimberly Beck, D.W. Moffat and Will Patton all show up and probably look very cool in that early-90s-Melrose-Place-kind-of-way! Me likey! This movie is available on DVD through Amazon

Halloween Countdown: Day 25 - Bay Coven

Bay Coven aka Bay Cove aka Eye of the Demon aka Strangers in Town aka The Devils of Bay Cove (got that?) premiered on this day on NBC in 1987 and sounds like a last-bastion attempt at the glamorous world of TV horror movies, with all kinds of neat witchcraft and Pamela Sue Martin and stuff!

I have a copy of this movie... somewhere. Back in the early 2000s when I first met my main mancub, he gave me a copy of Bay Coven because he knew the way to my heart was through my vcr. I can't say I remember much now, but by reading some stuff about this movie, I've been re-encouraged to take the Nestea plunge and give it another go. Lord knows where it is in this house, but I see you can buy it for cheap on vhs. YAY!

Read my review of Bay Coven here

Also, you can read this great review of Bay Coven at Killer Kittens from Beyond the Grave.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Countdown: Day 24 - Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Halloween doth approachith... or something like that. As the holiday heads to ground zero, the movies get scarier... Although it's doubtful that anything will be able to top this genuinely terrifying horror film about the vengeance of an idiot-manchild-done-wrong! I know, I'm not really selling it with my pithy synopsis. But seriously, if you haven't seen this super scary TVM, which premiered on this day in 1981 on CBS, then you need to see it now. And as luck would have it, Dark Night of the Scarecrow just got released on DVD! I picked it up, but have only been able to watch bits, and I can tell you the transfer is fantastic and it also features a commentary by the writer and director! Wow, I should drop out of school, cuz it's obvious time is not on my side! Anyway, please support your TVMs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Countdown - Day 23: Bad Ronald

I'm not exactly sure else I can add to the discussion of this movie that I didn't already say in the review I did when I first started ye olde blog. Bad Ronald is simply ABC Movie of the Week awesomeness and will forever stand as a grand example of the small scale brilliance TVMs could attain when done right. As I see it, this 1974 shocker is just about perfect... and I'm not just saying that because Scott Jacoby is so damn cute. But, of course, that makes it that much better!
Bad Ronald is now on DVD at Warner Archives!

I'm feeling all charitable so I thought I'd throw out this title too. Mind over Murder aired on this day in 1979 on CBS. It's got Deborah Raffin, Bruce Davidson, Andrew "super hawt" Prine and Robert Englund! Kind of funny Englund appears here as this one is about deadly visions! It was released on vhs under the title Deadly Vision and I can't believe I haven't seen it yet! You can read a hilarious review of it at Camp Blood (that buzz cracks me up!).