RAFFLES (1975-1977) – A. J. Raffles, the master thief and star Cricket player was created by E.W. Hornung – the brother-in- law of Arthur Conan Doyle. As all Raffles fans know, A.J. and his bumbling assistant Bunny Manders were intended as a tongue in cheek criminal answer to Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
The camaraderie was similar, the Victorian to Edwardian Age setting was similar, the use of the sidekick as a device to have the expert character explain things to the reader was similar and good GOD, was the unintended homo-eroticism similar.
Raffles was portrayed by a long line of suave, debonair actors, from John Barrymore in Silent Movies on up through David Niven and others in Talkies. In my opinion, this 1970s British television series served up the best rendition of the iconic character.
Anthony Valentine perfectly embodies the sly, charming bon vivant whose public fame as a first-rate Cricket player helps conceal his secret avocation as a master jewel thief. Christopher Strauli does the best that any actor can be expected to do with the thankless role of the baby-faced, naïve and often inept sidekick Bunny. Continue reading
Happy Anniversary to The Texas Twenty-Seven Film Vault, one of the pre-MST3K Movie Host shows. Yes it was Saturday night February 9th, 1985 that this program debuted in Dallas, Texas, in the same studio that would later be used for Joe Bob’s Drive-In. Here is an encore presentation of my EXCLUSIVE 2011 interview with Randy Clower, one of The Texas Twenty-Seven Film Vault‘s co-creators and co-hosts.
Clower (right) with co-host Richard Malmos as “Film Vault Technicians First Class” on The Texas 27 Film Vault
Before MST3K there was THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT! Before Joel and Mike lovers of bad movies had Randy and Richard! Before Pearl there was Laurie Savino! Before Devil Dogs, Observers and Deep 13 there came Cellumites, giant rats and Level 31.
In the mid 1980s The Texas 27 Film Vault was the show to watch on Saturday nights for wry mockery of Golden Turkeys preceded by episodes of vintage Republic Serials like Radar Men From The Moon and Canadian Mounties vs Atomic Invaders.
The Texas 27 Film Vault is one of the great unsung Movie Host shows of the 1980s and I was thrilled to get this exclusive interview with Randy Clower, co-star and co-creator of this legendary cult show from the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. “The Film Vault Guys” as they were often called by us fans, or “Vaulties”, established the pattern that a few other Movie Hosts have since followed. Continue reading
Shadow Theater was a terrific series hosted by Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund. Everyone over the age of 30 remembers a time when you couldn’t just go to the internet to get your fix of info and footage from fringe and/ or obscure horror films. This program was a nice once-a- week documentary look at movies for the Psychotronic- minded.
An additional plus about the show was the way it treated viewers to behind-the- scenes facts and rare interviews with some of horror’s most daring filmmakers without having to attend a fan convention. (It’s a joke! Lighten up!)
Robert Englund displayed the same macabre charm he would employ when hosting the Horror Movie Hall of Fame ceremonies later in the decade. He didn’t copy his patented Freddy routine, but rather Continue reading
The Incredibly Strange Film Show and Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show are must-see viewing for any fan of bad and weird movies. They were originally produced in England and weren’t shown here in the U.S. until the early 1990s when the Discovery Channel aired them.
This program’s fun, witty approach to the subject matter made a huge impact and helped inspire interest in bad movie culture.
A large part of the charm of this show came from its wonderful host, Jonathan Ross, back in the days before he was in constant need of a haircut and a thorough shampooing. Even Ross’s lisp added somehow to the cultish atmosphere as he would welcome viewers to “this week’s instawwment of The Incwedibwy Stwange Fiwm Show”.
Rather than do a scattershot look at some of the staples of the bad movie subculture this program did an oeuvre by oeuvre examination of many of the legendary directors of cult movies. Ross’s off-kilter sense of humor and infectious playfulness were especially effective in the interview segments, which were anything but dry. Continue reading
DARK INTRUDER (1965) – This thoroughly enjoyable piece of Forgotten Television was a failed pilot for a series. Supposedly the network passed on it because they thought it was too scary and gruesome for tv viewers of the time. Instead they released this 59-minute black & white gem to theaters as the second title for double features.
The story is set in 1891 San Francisco with Leslie Nielsen himself starring as Brett Kingsford, an occult expert and investigator. If this had been picked up as a series the title was going to be The Black Cloak and apparently would have been a forerunner of The Norliss Tapes, Kolchak and Spectre. In my opinion the period setting would have given The Black Cloak the edge, though.
Brett Kingsford maintains a quasi-secret identity. On the surface he’s known in San Francisco as a bon vivant and ladies’ man and when the police want to consult him over something supernatural he dons various disguises to rendezvous with them. That way nobody in his usual social circles is made aware of his connections with the cops. Continue reading
To paraphrase master satirist Stan Freberg’s ad line for Hogan’s Heroes let me just say “If you liked World War Two you’ll LOVE Heil Honey, I’m Home! The premise of this study in cosmic-level bad taste makes it sound like a comedy sketch lampooning the staggering callousness of television executives. Or maybe like a Springtime For Hitler– style moment from a satire on television’s desperation for getting ratings through calculated outrageousness.
Unfortunately this program was an honest-to-God attempt at launching a sitcom in the U.K. in 1990. Eight episodes were filmed but after the pilot aired for this failed attempt at dark comedy the ensuing outcry ensured the show’s immediate cancellation.
This one-shot wonder was a self-styled “Hitcom”, the producer’s technical term for “Hitler comedy” as opposed to “Sitcom” for Situation Comedy. Are you laughing yet? Heil Honey, I’m Home! depicted Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun as a typical apartment-dwelling couple in 1938 Berlin putting up with the standard sitcom trope of annoying neighbors … in the form of Jewish couple Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. Are you Continue reading
THE CHRISTMAS CAROL (1949) – This relic from the VERY early years of television was a syndicated production. It was also one of THREE productions of the Carol to hit the airwaves in 1949.
This version’s biggest claim to fame is the on-screen presence of a bearded (despite the picture to the right) Vincent Price as the story’s narrator. For my fellow bad movie geeks the one and only Robert Clarke portrays Nephew Fred to Taylor Holmes’ Scrooge.
Price is the very best element of the production, which is so haphazard that it repeatedly presents Scrooge’s first name spelled “Ebeneezer” instead of “Ebenezer” like it should be.
All things considered, this is a reasonable (but bland) presentation given its brief 25 1/2 minute running time and technical limitations. With no special effects the tableau of Marley’s Ghost walking through a solid door is accomplished by Continue reading