Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gary Coleman 1968 - 2010

Although Gary Coleman was a couple of years older than me, I always think of him as a kid. Unfortunately, that's how most people looked at him, and it was something that must have haunted him all these years after childhood success. He died on Friday at the age of 42, and I couldn't be sadder. As a child of the 70s and 80s, Gary was a mainstay for me and my family. Not only was Diff'rent Strokes a must, he made several awesome TV movies as well as appearing on such shows as Buck Rogers. He was friggin' adorable and had perfect comic timing. He was that kid you wanted to have as your best bud because you knew hilarious adventures were just around the corner.

I am not going to sit here and pontificate his tragic life because I think we all know a little bit about what it was like for him. For me, I'll remember him for that spunky spirit and for starring in The Kid with the 200 I.Q., which I saw about a gazillion times.

Here's a list of some of his TV movies and awesome guest appearances:

The Little Rascals (1978)
The Jeffersons: Uncle George and Aunt Louise (1978)
The Kid from Left Field (1979)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Cosmic Whiz Kid (1979)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A Blast for Buck (1980)
Scout's Honor (1980)
Anson and Lorrie (1981)
The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982)
The Kid with the 200 I.Q. (1983)
The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins (1984)
Playing with Fire (1985)

RIP Gary, you will always make me smile when I think of you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lists and Stuff...

So, Amanda By Night is on the move again! I am finally embarking on the sequel to my move across country. Tomorrow I leave my fabulous hotel and move into the new house, which has so much 70s charm, you'd swear Barbara Eden and Kate Jackson were living there! I'm not sure how much blogging/writing/whatever I can do for the next week or so, but I thought I'd throw some linkage your way.

The first link is to a great blog called Blanked as Ordered and the most recent post is about how the writer found his way to the world of slashers. The article is titled To the Kill, and apparently I helped him along the ride! This a great piece on one man's awakening to the beauty of the slice and dice. Enjoy!

And since summer is all but upon us (Oh, the humidity!), I thought I'd put up a link to an aritcle I wrote for Pretty Scary on the Top Ten Best Shark Attack Movies! The best part of this article was of course, the research!

And if that ain't enough to whet the ol' whistle, here's a link to my review of Shark Kill. TV movies at it's most biting! HA! I got a million of 'em!

And finally, here's a link to an article I wrote for Retro Slashers on the world of Psycho(logical) Slashers.

Whew! Now back to leaving my world of maid service to wood panelled awesomeness. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Amazons (1984)

Let’s face it, that Peter Scolari is cute as a button. He is! Amazons caught him somewhere between establishing himself as a great comedic actor on Bosom Buddies and finding Emmy accolades on Newhart (he was nominated three times!). Always a breath of fresh air, I think Peter is one of the greats… and awful nice to look at too!

See, he's even cute when he drives!

He has a short but fun part in Amazons. In fact, the role was small enough, I was sure it had come out before Bosom Buddies, but alas, this was a whole two years after the end of that short lived and incredibly awesome show. He plays Dr. Jerry Menzies in Amazons and finds himself “bosom buddies” (or so he hopes!) with the gorgeous new doctor named Sharon Fields (Madeline Stowe). She’s one of those nose-to-the-grindstone chicks (and says so herself!), with only the job on her mind. One of her first cases is a simple appendectomy but something goes horribly wrong and after a major freak out the patient (who just happens to be a bigwig senator) runs into an oncoming ambulance and goes splat.. Yikes! A gruff but hot detective is assigned to investigate. Lieutenant Tony Monaco (Jack Scalia) is obviously smitten with Sharon so he entertains these crazy notions she has that one of the female higher ups at the hospital, Dr. Diane Cosgrove (Jennifer Warren) has established something called Stallion Kill and is hell bent on getting rid of certain male big shots. And just who are all those six foot tall female employees who look like models and kick ass like Bruce Lee? Eventually Sharon and Tony find that there is a secret movement of Amazonian descendants who are trying to reclaim what they feel was stolen from them. They even have a school for Amazon in training tykes!

This is called ass kicking

Wow. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore. Amazons is told without one ounce of humor. That’s a bold decision, considering the material. This was Paul Michael Glaser’s first directing job (yup, Starsky made a movie! He’s actually a pretty successful director) and he employed the great Dean Cundey (Halloween, Roller Boogie, The Fog and oodles more) as the director of photography. The look of the film is fantastic. There are many beautiful, flowing and artistic shots and it pushes the film and helps keep it moving. I liked the way they chose to present this film because the women come off as sexy and cool and not overtly angry or annoying. Tamara Dobson from Cleopatra Jones plays one of the Amazons, and she steals every scene. If ever there was a woman perfect for the role of of an Amazon, it was Tamara. Also, Jennifer Warren’s character is thoughtful and caring; she adds a sympathetic element to the clandestine operation. She’s intent on taking over, but believes all women, not just the Amazons, should look out for each other. This creates quite a riff with the other girls when she tries to spare Sharon.

Making babies with Amazons is dangerous

Amazons is an odd film. I don’t think everyone would enjoy it because it is so openly serious. There’s no sense of irony here and it was obviously a labor of love for Glaser and Cundey. This is one of those movies that will probably find most of its audience with the already established group of TV movies fans (all four of us!), who appreciate the difficulty of making wild, over the top movies into something of mass appeal. I think this one falls a little short of the mass appeal, but remains charming all the same.

Quite possibly one of the greatest shots in a TVM

Monday, May 17, 2010

Toe Tapping with One Life to Live

OK, so everyday I ask myself, "Where did the 80s go?" Turns out my answer was it went to ABC's One Life to Live! Recently, the show has started an annual tradition of making musical episodes. They are incredible. I'm hooked on this years' episode, which surrounds Starr X'ed Lovers. The second r in Starr is for the main teen actress on the show and the Xe'd is just to look cool. And it does! Anyway, this girl has all kinds of problems and it's hard for me not to be engaged in her story because I've watched the actress, Kristen Alderson literally grow up before my eyes. And of course, she's not the only one with major drama issues. How can I not love it?!?

I've watched One Life to Live for about 28 years. I've seen Mitch Lawrence come back from the dead a dozen times, I've witnessed two Todd Mannings, two Max Holdens, a secret underground city called Eterna, watched Nora Hannon's name change from Nora Hannon Gannon to Nora Hannon Gannon Buchanan (no joke!), I've seen Sam get shot in Blair's bed, I've drooled while Nathan Fillion spread his acting chops, I've seen Patrick recite poetry to Marty, I watched Asa get married 14 times, I balled my eyes out when Megan died and I've seen about a gazillion of Vicki's crazed personalities. What works about this show (and most soaps) is the characters' immense ability to be resilient to anything life throws at them. It's meant to be over the top and outrageous, yet at the same time it says if they can get up every morning, so can we.

But what does this have to do with the Go-Go's, Journey or Pat Benatar, you ask? Everything, because last Friday they started Day One of their musical episodes and whoever put this gig together chose some great tunes to cover. I loved all of the renditions here, and thought it really added to the storylines of the show. Here are the songs:

The Girls get down to Our Lips Are Sealed

Brody just wants to Keep On Loving You

Starr and Hannah both let Cole know We Belong

You can catch these episodes in their entirety for just a few days on so go on now, get to toe tapping!

I still miss you Asa

Sunday, May 16, 2010

TV Movie Books You NEED!

I’m not quite as rabid a reader as I am a TV movie nut, but I do enjoy cutting my teeth on a good book. Or a trashy book. Whichever. But I digress… My love of made for television movies doesn’t just involve trying to find the films, it also involves reading as much as I possibly can on the subject. And believe it or not, there is a vast amount of reading one can do if they look hard enough. I have to admit, I’ve acquired quite the collection of good (and bad) books on the genre, so I thought I’d compile a short list of the books I’ve enjoyed the most. All of the title links will take you Amazon just in case you feel like feeding your obsession!

The ABC Movie of the Week Companion by Michael Karol: Michael’s book is small and there are no photos, but you’ll find awesome factoids. For instance, did you know that the esteemed TVM director Boris Sagal was the father of Katy, Liz and Jean Sagal? Well, I knew that, but that's cuz I’m a nerd. Anyway, there are tons of fun reviews and this is a handy reference book that is great for pure nostalgic entertainment. Plus, it’s ridiculously affordable, how can you say no?

Leonard Maltin’s TV Movies 1985 – 1986: This is an interesting book because it’s not really a review guide just for made for television movies. Rather, it’s a look at all movies that have aired on television, theatrical or otherwise. There are random factoids to be had, like a description of the different versions of Salem’s Lot, which vary in time lengths and overall, it’s a good guide to some movies that have since been forgotten about.

Movies Made for Television by Alvin H. Marill: Quite simply, this is my bible. There are several editions to this book, and you can find ones cheaper than this with fewer years, but you simply must get a copy. This book is essential. It has every TVM and mini-series, with a brief synopsis and some cast and crew info. Besides being the ultimate reference book, the stills are amazing. I often just thumb through the book to see all those wonderful photos.

Stay Tuned: An Inside Look at Making Prime Time Television by Richard Levinson and William Link: Read about the world of television movies as told by the guys who wrote and produced some of the greatest examples of the genre (i.e. Columbo, The Execution of Private Slovik, Rehearsal for Murder). This is as inside a look as anyone can get without going back in time and becoming a writer for TV movies. There’s a lot of information about the process as well as look at the lives of my two favorite TV guys!

TV Party (TV’s Untold Tales) by Billy Ingram: Not so much a book on television movies (although there is scant mention), this is still an essential book for any lover of the genre. You can read about the history of Bette Davis on television as well as look at old time kids shows among many other wonderful topics. It’s simply a must! And don't forget to check out their awesome website, which does have a section dedicated to The Movie of the Week!

Monday, May 3, 2010

More TV Movie DVD News

It finally looks like Dark Night of the Scarecrow is going to see the light of day! After being tossed about here and there, the kind folks at VCI Entertainment have seen fit to give this incredible horror film a legit release, complete with director & writer commentary! Release date is scheduled for September 28th, 2010! Pre-order it through Amazon now!

In other, slightly less exciting news, Warner Archive has added a TV Movie & Miniseries tag to their site. Buying TVMs has never been easier! And they've got lots and lots of wonderful stuff...

The day just got a little brighter!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TVM Inspired: Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985)

I don’t mean to quote Blood Diner (yes, I do!), but Trilogy of Terror is one of those movies that sneaks up on you surreptitiously and bites you on the shorts. Guaranteed that if you saw this movie as a kid (as I did one fine Saturday afternoon), you remember every second of it. Well, maybe not every second of the first two in the infamous trilogy, but the third installment, simply title Amelia featuring a creepy little Zuni Fetish doll chasing Ms. Karen Black (creepy in her own right) around her horrendously wallpapered apartment was unforgettable. The end shot is the stuff nightmares are made of.

That little old Zuni doll sure did resonate with people and even inspired a sequel many years later (although the story took place on the very same night). The follow-up is essentially a remake and might have been a total loss if it weren’t for that dang doll. But a direct sequel isn’t the only inspiration that came out of that apartment. In 1985 a small regional filmmaker unleashed Attack of the Beast Creatures, which is a wonderful, mostly undiscovered, treasure trove of a film. I picked up my copy because I’d stumbled across an incredible review on Bleeding Skull and I just had to get a better look at those Zuni inspired beasties. I was not let down. Shot with a cast made up of what I assume were local theater actors, this movie is a period piece, features decent costumes, mixed but generally respectable acting and about 100 of those little dolls. In that respect, it actually one ups Trilogy (granted, the puppetry does leave a little something to be desired). It’s so much fun watching these little things attack… and attack… and attack. Why not take a look for yourself:

And they pray to their god!


As far as I know Beast Creatures was only ever released on VHS, but it’s not too hard to find and I got my copy off of Amazon. If you love small budget horror (and who doesn’t) and have always wanted to feast your eyes on a gaggle of imitation Zuni Fetish dolls, Beast Creatures is must for you!

Attack of the Beast Creatures Image Gallery:

Gotta love that Zuni:

Note: While I was researching this post I came across this awesome review. Great minds think alike!