Category Archives: Forgotten Television

TEXAS TWENTY-SEVEN FILM VAULT: THIRTY-SECOND ANNIVERSARY

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

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Filed under Bad and weird movies, Forgotten Television, humor, Movie Hosts

SHADOW THEATER (1990-1991)

 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

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INCREDIBLY STRANGE FILM SHOW (1988-1989)

incredibly-strange-film-showThe 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

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DARK INTRUDER (1965): LESLIE NIELSEN IN A HORROR STORY

dark-intruder-2DARK 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.

dark-intruder-4Brett 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

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Filed under Forgotten Television, Halloween Season

HEIL HONEY, I’M HOME (1990)

Heil Honey I'm HomeTo 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

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THE CHRISTMAS CAROL (1949)

1949 A Christmas CarolTHE 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

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CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2016 BEGINS: FRENCH TV VERSION (1984)

TF1 logo

TF1 in France

Yes, regular readers know that the Friday after Thanksgiving every year kicks off this tradition! Balladeer’s Blog’s 7th annual Christmas Carol-A- Thon begins with one of the most visually enticing versions ever made. Unfortunately, it’s also virtually impossible to obtain for people who lack my nearly psychotic drive to track these things down.

TF1 Television in France first aired this version of A Christmas Carol, which could be described as a Carol for the arthouse crowd. Not a put-down OR a compliment, just an observation.

The performances are even more low-key than in the George C Scott version and the direction, by Pierre Boutron, is very inventive, bordering on a surrealist approach .The overall effect is like A Very Jean Cocteau Christmas or something. 

As with the Spanish Leyenda de Navidad this French production keeps the story in 1843 London and stars Michel Bouquet as Scrooge and Pierre Olaf as Bob Cratchit.

This 90 minute version of the Carol is one of the tiny handful that depict Scrooge at Marley’s funeral, like the 1969 Australian cartoon version. Marley’s Ghost has the look of a bearded badass, but delivers his warning to Scrooge with a cold and calculating air that is almost more chilling than Continue reading

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