IN THE MIDDLE 1980s/ WAY DOWN ON LEVEL 31 …
Before MST3K there was The Texas 27 Film Vault! In Balladeer’s Blog’s latest look at this mid-1980s cult show from the Lone Star State I’ll examine “The Dallas Double-Feature” from May 10th, 1986.
My research through VERY old newspapers and other sources has uncovered several episodes where exact broadcast dates can be determined.
THIS DOUBLE FEATURE FIRST BROADCAST: Saturday May 10th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 2:30am.
IF THE ONLY BAD MOVIE SHOW YOU KNOW IS MST3K THINK OF: Attack of the the (sic) Eye Creatures.
FILM VAULT LORE: Usually The Texas 27 Film Vault ran 2 1/2 hours, from 10:30pm to 1am, and would feature machine-gun toting Randy Clower and Richard Malmos presenting (and mocking) episodes of old Republic serials followed by a cult movie. The previous Saturday night our “Film Vault Technicians First Class” showed the 12th and final episode of Radar Men from the Moon followed by the film Queen of Blood.
The night of May 10th Randy, Richard, Tex, Joe “The Hypnotic Eye” Riley, Laurie Savino and the rest of the Film Vault Corps (“the few … the proud … the sarcastic”) presented a special called The Dallas Double Feature. The episode dispensed with a serial and showed (and mocked) two films made in Texas, one by Larry Buchanan and the other by Russ Marker. Also featured was an interview with good old Bill Thurman, a Buchanan regular who also appeared in the Russ Marker film Night Fright. Thurman was also promoting his latest film appearance, in the low-budget horror film Mountaintop Motel Massacre.
MARS NEEDS WOMEN (1967) – Texas’ Larry Buchanan is known for low-budget remakes of many AIP schlock films, from Zontar the Thing from Venus (a remake of It Conquered The World), to Attack of the the (sic) Eye Creatures (a remake of Invasion of the Saucermen) and others.
Mars Needs Women sports many scenes beloved by all of us bad movie geeks. Think of the army translating a message from space with the tech saying “Sir … the message reads three words … Mars … Needs … Women.” Think of an alleged expert on space medicine, played by Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig, delivering a lecture titled “Sex and Space” to a leering male audience. Think of the ridiculous alien uniforms worn by Tommy Kirk and his colleagues, outfits that make Christopher Lee’s duds in Starship Invasions seem dignified by comparison.
I could go on and on but if you haven’t seen the movie it’s more fun discovering these scenes yourself. As the title says, Mars does indeed need women to overcome their reproduction crisis. Tommy Kirk, as Dop, the Captain Kirk of the Martians, first tries to teleport various sultry women onto the space ship but we’re told they all died in transmission over the “transponder”. Since transPORTERS are for transporting and transPONDERS are for radiowave transmission that might be why, but who am I to second-guess superior Martian science?
The stymied Dop next leads his crew through Earth’s defenses and we get lots of Plan 9 style stock footage of the armed forces supposedly trying to shoot down the Martians. Dop and company land, sporting flashlights and harpoon guns that the movie tries to pass off as Martian weaponry. They plan to slip into Earth clothing and infiltrate us for a night, hypnotizing, kidnapping and cryogenically freezing women on their ship so they can return to Mars with fertile women in tow. (Don’t laugh, today this would be a reality tv show.)
Expect the usual Larry Buchanan fun, from relentlessly inane dialogue to hysteria-inducing special effects to LOTS of footage of Texas. Naturally, Dop falls in love with Yvonne Craig’s character, Dr Marjorie Bolen, setting up the predictable ending. Bill Thurman, of course, turns up along the way as he does in almost all of Buchanan’s flicks. If you can endure the forces of entropy that are always at work in a Larry Buchanan film you will absolutely LOVE this movie.
NIGHT FRIGHT (1967) – This flick was originally released in 1964 under the title The Demon From Devil’s Lake. Russ Marker also wrote The Yesterday Machine so you can guess what we’re in for. Randy and Richard’s guest Bill Thurman is moonlighting in this non-Buchanan film and portrays Deputy Ben Whitfield. His Sheriff is Clint Crawford, played by THE John Agar, the Sonny Tufts of his generation.
A downed experimental NASA craft was carrying a menagerie of animals to study the effects of space travel on them. The cosmic radiation that caused the craft to crash-land in Texas also caused all the animals to merge into one big monstrous creature that supposedly has the characteristics of all the animals on board. The filmmakers obviously never bothered to correct those kinds of statements in the script because the monster looks like just an ape with a kind of armadillo head. The budget must not have permitted the creature envisioned in Marker’s original script but no low-budget filmmaker can be expected to remember to adjust the script to match the finished creature, now can they?
There’s also Agar’s love interest, who is so bland and is so lacking in chemistry with Agar that their love scenes are as passionate as two mannequins parked in each other’s vicinity. Anyway, Agar’s Clint Crawford and his men are trying to stop the composite creature’s reign of terror, well, more like reign of mild distress in this lackluster excuse for a monster movie.
The good guys are aided by a character named Roger Ready, who, despite his name, is NOT a porn star but is actually a scientist. Toss in all the usual goodies like wooden and awkward attack scenes, suicide-inducing dialogue and some of the WORST and most frequent day-for-night shooting in cinema history. Naturally the monster is destroyed in the end and the characters return to their grey, listless lives.
IN THE NEAR FUTURE BALLADEER’S BLOG WILL PRESENT MORE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT MILESTONES. Be here to share the Film Vault Corp’s mission of “safeguarding America’s schlock-culture heritage”.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFO ON THIS SHOW – https://glitternight.com/texas-27-film-vault/
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