In the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 …
Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult show from the 1980s by way of my research through VERY old newspapers, my interviews with series co-star and co-creator Randy Clower and emails from my fellow fans of this program.
EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday February 22nd, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.
*** NOTE: I’ve now received a different account saying that this episode really aired earlier in February and was accompanied by the final chapter of the serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. Any clarification would help us.
SERIAL: Before showing and mocking the movie machine-gun toting Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, as members of the fictional Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) showed and mocked Chapter Two of the Republic Serial Radar Men from the Moon (1952).
FILM VAULT LORE: Our Film Vault Technicians First Class would pull the usual Movie Host duties like providing background info on the films and serials, and would also do comedy sketches centered around their fictional Film Vault Corps before and after commercials. They protected their duty station from menaces like giant rats, cellumites and other threats.
That duty station – Level 31 Core 27 of the Film Vault System was accessed via an industrial park behind KDFI Channel 27’s headquarters off Highway 183 near Dallas. The show was directed by Karl Newman, who often good-naturedly bemoaned Randy and Richard’s tendency to ad-lib. Sometimes in print interviews Newman would joke that if they used a script they would need far too many takes for Clower and Malmos to read their lines right, hence the ad-libbing.
THE MOVIE: Blood Beach (1980) was one of the least effective horror films of the 1980s. It had a half-decent premise – a monster beneath the sand at a California beach sucking victims down into its hellish maw – but squandered that premise with incredibly slow pacing. The inane dialogue spouted by the annoying characters didn’t help matters. Continue reading
THE NEW PEOPLE (1969) – It’s another Balladeer’s Blog look at a forgotten television program.
The New People was part of a brief and very odd experiment with television programs that ran just 45 minutes INCLUDING commercials.
These shows were always paired with a sister program that also ran 45 minutes total, thus the two back- to- back programs filled a total 90 minute block. In the case of The New People that sister show was The Music Scene.
The New People was sort of like “Lord of the Flies Meets the 60’s Counterculture”. An airplane crashes on a desert island in the Pacific. Only one adult survives the crash but even they eventually pass away. Continue reading
If you enjoyed Robert Shaw’s freebooting turn as the pirate Red Ned Lynch in the 1976 movie Swashbuckler you’ll love him as Captain Dan Tempest in this series from the 1950’s. Shaw was equal parts Errol Flynn and Jack Sparrow on the program, which featured him as the captain of the Sultana.
Tempest and his crew were former pirates pardoned and sent to sea as pirate hunters and as privateers against the Spanish, but they still found time to foil the sinister machinations of corrupt British authorities in the Bahamas, Jamaica and elsewhere. Fans of derring- d0 who are bored with the countless retellings of the Robin Hood story are sure to embrace the crew of the Sultana and their rousing adventures.
All 39 episodes of this series are available on DVD and offer a terrific mixture of storylines:
You want tales of our swashbucklers coming to the aid of the oppressed? The Buccaneers featured Captain Tempest and his crew raiding a slave ship then buying the slaves’ freedom with money from the slave ship’s own coffers.
You want semi- historical adventures featuring real- life Buccaneers? This show had episodes with figures like Blackbeard, Woodes Rogers and the famous female pirate Anne Bonney. Continue reading
(This blog post is dedicated to my sister Debbie, who first introduced me to the Sherlock Holmes stories, which led me to the Raffles tales. )
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