Sunday, October 25, 2015

Become a VW Patron

In case you haven't seen it yet, there's a new addition to our Website directory that reads "Become A Patron." We thought this blog might be the best place to go into some greater detail.

We know that our readers rely on our magazine, and we doubt it has escaped anyone's notice that - in the last couple of years - we've only been able to publish a couple of new issues annually, rather than the six promised by our bimonthly schedule. This has not been due to money problems or a shortage of material. The reason for the magazine's recent irregularity is largely due to the fact that we only have one Donna. It's one of her many jobs to produce VIDEO WATCHDOG on a regular schedule, but for the past two years, she has had to focus most of her attention on the creation and completion of the VIDEO WATCHDOG Digital Archive, the object of our successful 2013 Indiegogo campaign.

That process was fraught with untold technological perils, all very time-consuming - but happily, all that is behind us now. The promises of our campaign have now been fully kept: all 179 of our back issues are now digitized, as well as our two Special Editions, THE VIDEO WATCHDOG BOOK, and even MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK.

VW's digital arm is a colossal achievement, one that has attracted a lot of  attention and won the respect of executives from much larger businesses. What we did not expect when we undertook it is that the painstaking creation of the Digital Archive would take the wind out of our primary business - which is VIDEO WATCHDOG, the print magazine.


We have considered different things we might do to keep things moving forward, and have already implemented one or two. For the last 25 years, VIDEO WATCHDOG has operated largely on its own earnings. A couple of years ago, we decided to open our pages to paid advertising. In that time, we have done our best to reinvent ourselves as advertising-friendly, but pursuing advertisers is a full-time job; we've had to take heart in the support we have been able to attract on our own merits. Our most recent digital issue, VW 179, introduced a new advertising idea that we call the "Now Playing Showcase" - an inside front cover forum that would guarantee anyone with a product the undivided attention of our very select target demographic. Like a number of things we do, it seems to have been a little ahead of the curve. We hope that advertisers, artists, musicians and authors alike will discover this feature and the wonders it could work for them. But until then...

It also occurred to us that we might undertake another fund-raising campaign, but frankly, it would be counter-productive to take the time away from the magazine to mount such a thing. We know how much time and energy it takes to run a successful campaign, and the print magazine itself must be our primary concern.

We don't want to project the image of a small business seeking charity. What we are seeking is a reliable source of ongoing support, much like SIGHT AND SOUND has the support of the British Film Institute, or FILM COMMENT has the support of the Film Society at Lincoln Center. We can only envision this support coming from our readers, perhaps from those professionals who found their careers as a result of pursuing dreams that VIDEO WATCHDOG inspired.

And so we are seeking Patrons, serious investors in VIDEO WATCHDOG - a magazine that, over the past quarter century, has changed the way that horror and fantasy films are regarded by the industry. A magazine that innovated the way motion pictures on home video are reviewed by everyone. A magazine that has inspired a generation of readers to become filmmakers, screenwriters and preservationists. A magazine whose publishing successes include what many reviewers have described as the most beautiful film-related book of all time. A company that has received the Saturn Award for Special Achievement, the Independent Publishers Award, the International Horror Guild Award and that presently holds the all-time record number of Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

We are proud of these laurels, but it's not in our nature to rest on them. We are not ready to quit - there is still so much we want to achieve! The first thing we want to do is get back onto a regular schedule, to continue blazing the trail that we feel is our special contribution to genre journalism - a consumer magazine of genuine literary quality about the genre films that were ghettoized by audience and industry alike when we started publishing in 1990. Our Digital Archive - so much more than a mere digitizing of past content, with its myriad innovations and fresh models for accommodating advertising - shows that we still have bold and surprising ideas up our sleeves. There are also other books we want to publish, and we have many, many more issues that we want to produce. All this can happen if we can connect with those special people who share our dreams and seek only the reimbursement of seeing us achieve these goals.

Sincerely,
Tim and Donna Lucas
Publishers, VIDEO WATCHDOG

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reconstructing SCREAM-IN, Starring Cincinnati's Cool Ghoul

After reconstructing the listings for 12 TALL TALES, I've turned my attention to identifying all of the films that played on WXIX-TV's SCREAM-IN, which ran from January 1969 through October 1972 and featured Cincinnati's own horror host, the legendary Cool Ghoul, played by actor and announcer Dick Von Hoene (1940-2004). The Ghoul, who feigned a Lugosi-like voice and a "bla-bla-blaaa" laugh, emerged from an upright casket at the beginning of each show, conducted conversations with an off-camera "friend" (also Von Hoene, doing a more Karloffian voice), and would pantomime to Halloween-themed records at the midpoint of each picture. Willie Mitchell's cover of the rhythm & blues standard "Slippin' and Slidin'" was the show's theme song.

I was only 12 when SCREAM-IN premiered, and though it had been only two years since 12 TALL TALES had been cancelled over at WKRC-TV, it felt like eons since there had been any kind of horror movie package being shown on Cincinnati television. Of course, at 12, I was also hitting puberty and with puberty comes that heightened level of mania that made the Beatles possible. It was at that level I connected with SCREAM-IN and its syndicated movie packages from AIP-TV and Columbia. The Ghoul initially did the show live - I know, because a friend and I called the station as soon as his first broadcast ended and he kindly spoke to both of us (in character) for at least 10 minutes. We were his first fans, and we became his first fan club - not that we ever sought other members; there were just a few of us who would get together on Saturday nights to watch the show. Calling the station with post-mortem reports became a weekly ritual for a little while, and Dick (who started speaking to us in his real voice by the third call) seemed to enjoy hearing from us - so much that he actually gave me his home number when the show began videotaping his segments, a decision I'm sure that he later regretted. He invited me to the station one afternoon to meet him and watch him tape a show (I wish I could remember which film he showed that week), and some time later, another fan and I worked up some kind of make-shift award and presented it to him on the set. It was just a homely, framed piece of cardboard with a 12 year old's calligraphy on it, but he recognized our sincerity and had a station photographer come down to commemorate the moment - and then showed the photo on the air a week or two later. He was a very patient, very nice man, very knowledgeable about motion pictures (he introduced me to Stanley Kubrick, actually), and we kept in sporadic touch right up to the end. In the last years of his life, he was a regular customer at the bakery where my mother worked, and one day - as a gift from him - she presented me with that station photograph of me and my friend Jim, presenting the Ghoul with our award, which I had only seen once, briefly, on television about 30 years earlier and never, ever expected to see again.  

But besides the Ghoul himself, SCREAM-IN was like my most important education in horror movies in the years prior to my becoming a writer. It offered me my first serious, knowing exposure to Italian horror and, when WXIX came into possession of the Shock Theater package from Universal in the fall of 1970, it became my first (young) adult access to those films, as well.

WXIX-TV, Channel 19, was Cincinnati's fourth commercial television station and its first independent channel. It began broadcasting at 3:00pm on August 1, 1968. One of their most interesting early programs was a Sunday night film series called FOR ADULTS ONLY, a somewhat sensational title for a serious package of films including the likes of LORD OF THE FLIES, LA DOLCE VITA, ALPHAVILLE and numerous Ingmar Bergman titles. I hold Channel 19's early programming almost entirely to blame when I have to explain why my interest in horror and art films has always seemed to run neck and neck. Judging by the listings given in the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER archives, Channel 19 aired a handful of horror titles in the last month of 1968, at 9:00pm on Saturday night, but it did not become SCREAM-IN or hosted by the Cool Ghoul until January 11, 1969. Once the Ghoul stepped in as host, threeof those four early films were immediately reshown.

Here is the near-complete schedule of SCREAM-IN offerings, as best I have been able to reconstruct them.  
THE ANGRY RED PLANET.
1968
Dec 07 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET
Dec 14 - THE BEAST OF MOROCCO (THE HAND OF NIGHT)
Dec 21 - CRY OF THE BEWITCHED
Dec 28 - THE TERROR

At the beginning of 1969, the horror film slot was bumped slightly back to 9:30pm.




1969
Jan 04 - CRY OF THE BEWITCHED
Jan 11 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET (first SCREAM-IN broadcast)
Jan 18 - THE BEAST OF MOROCCO
Jan 25 - JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET
Feb 01 - THE TIME TRAVELERS
Feb 08 - NIGHT STAR, GODDESS OF ELECTRA (WAR OF THE ZOMBIES)
Feb 15 - IN THE YEAR 2889 (this listing was apparently in error, as it was repeated in the following week's listings; this week's broadcast was likely another Larry Buchanan film like ZONTAR THE THING FROM VENUS, also known to be in the AIP-TV package being shown through Aug 30)
Feb 22 - IN THE YEAR 2889
Mar 01 - MASTER OF THE WORLD
Mar 08 - PYRO
Mar 15 - MASTER OF THE WORLD
Mar 22 - GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER
Mar 29 - INVASION
Apr 05 - THE WIZARD OF MARS
Apr 12 - THE INVISIBLE CREATURE
Apr 19 - DESTINATION INNER SPACE
Apr 26 - IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA
May 03 - THE SON OF DR JEKYLL
May 10 - TERROR IN THE CRYPT

TERROR IN THE CRYPT.
Beginning May 17, SCREAM-IN finally settled into its standard 9:00pm time slot on Saturday nights.

May 17 - DIE MONSTER DIE
May 24 - DR ORLOFF'S MONSTER
May 31 - BILLY THE KID VS DRACULA
Jun 07 - THE FACE OF TERROR
Jun 14 - THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER
Jun 21 - BLACK SABBATH
Jun 28 - THE EYE CREATURES
Jul 05 - CIRCUS OF HORRORS
Jul 12 - ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE
Jul 19 - Pre-empted by the Miss Indiana Beauty Pageant (boo!)
Jul 26 - CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE
Aug 02 - THE TERROR
Aug 09 - FROZEN ALIVE (considered by the Ghoul to be the worst film he ever showed!)
Aug 16 - THE MAD MAGICIAN
Aug 23 - TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE
Aug 30 - CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Sep 06 - FRANKENSTEIN
Sep 13 - WEIRD WOMAN
Sep 20 - MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
Sep 27 - Unlisted
Oct 04 - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Oct 11 - THE FROZEN GHOST / Unlisted (double feature)
Oct 18 - Unlisted
Oct 25 - THE INVISIBLE RAY
Nov 01 - DRACULA
Nov 08 - THE WOLF MAN
Nov 15 - THE MUMMY
Nov 22 - THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
Nov 29 - THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET
Dec 06 - MAN-MADE MONSTER
Dec 13 - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dec 20 - THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Dec 27 - PILLOW OF DEATH

THE MUMMY'S GHOST.
1970
Jan 03 - THE MUMMY'S GHOST
Jan 10 - SON OF DRACULA
Jan 17 - Unlisted 
Jan 24 - DRACULA'S DAUGHTER
Jan 31 - DEAD MAN'S EYES
Feb 07 - Unlisted (shown at 5:30pm - 9:00 slot pre-empted by Basketball game)
Feb 14 - THE BLACK ROOM
Feb 21 - THE MAD GHOUL
Feb 28 - FRANKENSTEIN
Mar 07 - THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Mar 14 - THE TOWER OF LONDON
Mar 21 - Unlisted  (10:00 "as Movie" - possibly pre-empted by Basketball finals)
Mar 28 - Unlisted
Apr 04 - Unlisted
Apr 11 - ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
Apr 18 - Unlisted
Apr 25 - Unlisted
May 02 - WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY
May 09 - Unlisted
May 16 - Unlisted
May 23 - Unlisted
May 30 - Unlisted
Jun 06 - Unlisted
Jun 13 - Unlisted
Jun 20 - THE MUMMY'S TOMB
Jun 27 - BEFORE I HANG
Jul 04 - Unlisted
Jul 11 - Unlisted
Jul 18 - Unlisted
Jul 25 - BLACK SABBATH ("The Telephone" segment cut)
Aug 01 - THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN

The unlisted titles shown during the preceding period would have included such titles as THE MUMMY'S HAND, THE MUMMY'S CURSE, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, NIGHT MONSTER, CALLING DR DEATH, NIGHT KEY, THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET, THE CAT CREEPS, and SON OF FRANKENSTEIN from the Universal Shock Theatre package; BLACK SUNDAY, BURN WITCH BURN!, CIRCUS OF HORRORS (shown uncut only once), THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (likewise), THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW, STRANGLER OF THE TOWER, PLANETS AGAINST US, THE FLYING SAUCER from the AIP-TV package; THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE, THE CURSE OF DRACULA, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA and 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH from the Columbia package, among other titles known to have aired on SCREAM-IN. I also recall seeing Del Tenney's THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH and THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE on the show at some point.

By August 1970, the Cool Ghoul's popularity was such that WXIX expanded Von Hoene's duties to encompass Saturday night prime time from 7:00 - 11:00pm. This was done with the introduction of a 7:00 movie, initially called SHOCK IT TO ME but later changed to CREATURE FEATURE, which also happened to be the name of a Sunday afternoon broadcast that ran from 5:00-7:00pm. The Cool Ghoul did not host SHOCK IT TO ME/CREATURE FEATURE, but Von Hoene did "host" the program as an announcer, using the Karloffian voice he created for the Ghoul's off-screen companion, whom he always addressed as "my friend."

UNEARTHLY STRANGER.
Aug 08 - DEATH ROBOTS / THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE HIMALAYAS (evidently incorrect, as this SCREAM-IN listing was repeated the following week)
Aug 15 - UNEARTHLY STRANGER / THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE
HIMALAYAS
Aug 22 - RETURN OF THE FLY / BEHIND THE MASK
Aug 29 - JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET / SON OF DR JEKYLL
Sep 05 - THE APE WOMAN (cancelled at the last minute as Von Hoene considered the film too "sleazy" for young audiences, replaced with the non-horror WC Fields feature YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN!)/ THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943)
Sep 12 - BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER / MY SON THE VAMPIRE
Sep 19 - THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (shown uncut for the first and only time!) / HOUSE OF DRACULA
Sep 26 - KONGA / HORROR OF DRACULA
Oct 03 - THE EYE CREATURES (single feature)
Oct 10 - CREATURE WITH THE ATOMIC BRAIN / THE GIANT GILA MONSTER
Oct 17 - DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL / THE TERROR
Oct 24 - INVASION EARTH 2150 AD / PYRO
Oct 31 - GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER / HOUSE OF HORRORS
Nov 07 - THE DEMON PLANET (PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES) / JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER
Nov 14 - ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE / RETURN FROM THE PAST (DR TERROR'S GALLERY OF HORRORS)
Nov 21 - THE TIME TRAVELERS / HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM
REPTILICUS.
Nov 28 - PLANET OF BLOOD (incorrect, relisted the following week) / Unlisted
Dec 05 - PLANET OF BLOOD (QUEEN OF BLOOD) / Unlisted
Dec 12 - Unlisted
Dec 19 - Unlisted
Dec 26 - Unlisted

1971
Jan 02 - Unlisted / INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Jan 09 - Unlisted
Jan 16 - FRANKENSTEIN
Jan 23 - IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA / Unlisted
Jan 30 - Unlisted / THE RAVEN (1935)
Feb 06 - REPTILICUS / EARTH VS THE SPIDER
Feb 13 - Unlisted / MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
Feb 20 - Unlisted / THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
Feb 27 - Unlisted / THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Mar 06 - Unlisted / THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Mar 13 - THE WIZARD OF MARS / THE VIKING WOMEN AND THE SEA SERPENT
Mar 20 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET / TEENAGE CAVEMAN (shown at 10:00 after
basketball)
Mar 27 - GHIDRAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER / THE SCREAMING SKULL
Apr 03 - THE FLYING SAUCER / TERROR IN THE CRYPT
Apr 10 - WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY / HORROR OF DRACULA
Apr 17 - THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (cut) / THE FROZEN GHOST
Apr 24 - DIE MONSTER DIE / THE SON OF DR JEKYLL
May 01 - JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET / DRACULA
May 08 - DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE / THE WOLF MAN
May 15 - INVASION EARTH 2150 AD / THE INVISIBLE MAN
May 22 - THE INVISIBLE RAY / SON OF DRACULA
May 29 - THE MAD MAGICIAN / THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (shown at 10:00)
Jun 05 - TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE / BLACK SUNDAY

HORROR CASTLE.
One of the unlisted films from the preceding period would have been HORROR CASTLE (1963) with Christopher Lee, which received complaints from some viewers at the time of its first broadcast about a scene in which a rat cage was attached to a woman's face, resulting in half of her nose being eaten by the hungry rodent. Thereafter, Von Hoene became more sensitive to the needs of the younger members of his audience and he screened each film personally prior to broadcast and cut any scenes that he felt might be too sleazy or too violent for his following. (THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE, CIRCUS OF HORRORS and THE FLESH EATERS are a few films found guilty on both counts.) In the opening minutes of his June 5 broadcast of Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY, he announced that part of the beginning of the movie would be slightly cut, so as not to upset the "little ones," but that the scene would be shown uncut at the end of the broadcast, when the little ones would be asleep, so that those who could take it could see it.

RETURN FROM THE PAST.

Jun 12 - TOWER OF TERROR / CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Jun 19 - I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by Boxing
Jun 26 - HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER / I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN
Jul 03 - VOODOO WOMAN / THE HAND
Jul 10 - IT CONQUERED THE WORLD / THE HEADLESS GHOST
Jul 17 - THE SHE CREATURE / THE UNDEAD
Jul 24 - ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by Boxing
Jul 31 - STRANGLER OF THE TOWER / BURN WITCH BURN
Aug 07 - A BUCKET OF BLOOD / SCREAM-IN pre-empted
Aug 14 - PLANET OF BLOOD / DR ORLOFF'S MONSTER (likely cut)
Aug 21 - JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by
Boxing
Aug 28 - DEMENTIA 13 / RETURN FROM THE PAST
Sep 04 - EEGAH / THE WEREWOLF
Sep 11 - MY SON THE VAMPIRE (Allan Sherman prologue cut) / THE INVISIBLE BOY
Sep 18 - THE NEW INVISIBLE MAN / THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Sep 25 - DR WHO AND THE DALEKS / REPTILICUS
Oct 02 - PYRO / 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH
Oct 09 - MAN WITH A CLOAK / HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (cut)
Oct 16 - THE PHANTOM PLANET / HORROR OF DRACULA
Oct 23 - THE BEAST OF MOROCCO / DAY THE WORLD ENDED
Oct 30 - THE WIZARD OF MARS / IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Nov 06 - BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER / THE DEVIL DOLL (1964, cut)
Nov 13 - DEMENTIA 13 / THE TERROR
Nov 20 - VOYAGE TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE / BLACK SABBATH (the "Telephone" segment cut as "too adult")
Nov 27 - THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (cut) / DESTINATION INNER SPACE
Dec 04 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET / THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN
Dec 11 - THE KILLER SHREWS / CRY OF THE BEWITCHED
Dec 18 - KONGA / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by Basketball
Dec 25 - THE GIANT GILA MONSTER / THE 5000 FINGERS OF DR T

The next year began with a showing of BURN, WITCH, BURN! (UK: NIGHT OF THE EAGLE), a British film starring American actress Janet Blair, with whom Von Hoene was evidently very taken. Every time he presented the film - he had shown it at least once before this - he would touchingly alert his viewers to "pay close attention" to the leading lady in the movie "because she is very, very pretty."

BURN WITCH BURN.
1972
Jan 01 - THEATER OF DEATH / BURN WITCH BURN
Jan 08 - BEDLAM / PSYCHOMANIA (cut)
Jan 15 - THE CURSE OF DRACULA / HORROR CASTLE (cut)
Jan 22 - THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS / THE DIABOLICAL DR Z (cut)
Jan 29 - THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD / CORRIDORS OF BLOOD
Feb 05 - INVASION EARTH 2150 AD / GHIDRAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER
Feb 12 - BATMAN / MARK OF THE VAMPIRE
Feb 19 - DESTINATION MOON / I BURY THE LIVING
Feb 26 - MIGHTY JOE YOUNG / MASTER OF THE WORLD
Mar 04 - THE HAUNTED STRANGLER / THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Mar 11 - WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY / THE TIME TRAVELERS
Mar 18 - THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN / INVASION EARTH 2150 AD
Mar 25 - I BURY THE LIVING / HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (cut)
Apr 01 - IN THE YEAR 2889 / THE EYE CREATURES
Apr 08 - FIRST MAN INTO SPACE / DESTINATION INNER SPACE
Apr 15 - THE NEW INVISIBLE MAN / THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (cut)
Apr 22 - THE UNDEAD / CAT PEOPLE
Apr 29 - JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME / PANIC IN YEAR ZERO
May 06 - CRACK IN THE WORLD / THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
May 13 - PSYCHOMANIA (cut) / THE FLY
May 20 - RIDER TO THE STARS / DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
May 27 - THE CREEPING UNKNOWN / DONOVAN'S BRAIN
Jun 03 - THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE / THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE
WORLD
Jun 10 - SHE DEMONS / FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER
Jun 17 - ZONTAR THE THING FROM VENUS / TERROR IN THE CRYPT
Jun 24 - SPACE MONSTER / THE TERROR
Jul 01 - REPTILICUS / THE WEREWOLF
Jul 08 - VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN / EARTH VS
FLYING SAUCERS
Jul 15 - THE MAD MAGICIAN / THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Jul 22 - DR ORLOFF'S MONSTER (cut) / DEMENTIA 13
Jul 29 - DAY THE WORLD ENDED / CIRCUS OF FEAR
Aug 05 - DAGORA THE SPACE MONSTER / CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Aug 12 - CIRCUS OF HORRORS (cut) / THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER
Aug 19 - THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN / THE BEAST OF MOROCCO
Aug 26 - GODZILLA VS THE THING / KONGA
Sep 02 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET / TERROR IN THE CRYPT

The September 2 broadcast marked the end of the road for CREATURE FEATURE, but SCREAM-IN would continue through Halloween, preceded by the Boris Karloff series THRILLER.
 
Sep 09 - TOWER OF TERROR
Sep 16 - THE TERROR
Sep 23 - HORROR CASTLE (cut)
Sep 30 - THE FLESH EATERS (cut)
Oct 07 - BLACK SABBATH
Oct 14 - CURSE OF THE FLY
Oct 21 - X THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES
Oct 28 - THE INVISIBLE MAN

Though WXIX's increasingly familiar package of horror and science-fiction films continued to run in the Saturday night time slot for quite some time to come, Dick Von Hoene left WXIX at the end of October 1972 and took a job as a news announcer at radio station WUBE-AM. The Cool Ghoul continued to make personal appearances in the greater Cincinnati area.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Remembering Cincinnati's 12 TALL TALES

Granted, it's an odd name for a horror film package, but WKRC-TV's short-lived 12 TALL TALES is a fond memory for those of us who oversaw its brief timespan. The name of the show was derived from the then-ABC affiliate's nickname of "Tall 12," which was owed to it having the tallest transmission tower in the Greater Cincinnati tri-state area.

One receptive May night, at 11:55pm, 12 TALL TALES suddenly appeared, with probably the moodiest, creepiest horror montage I've ever seen cut for a local television station. I wish I could link you to it, but I'm assuming the footage no longer exists - unless it's tucked away in a WKRC archive over at Union Terminal. I have select memories of this opening, but MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES producer Joe Busam - who, unknown to me at the time, was watching every broadcast along with me - committed it to his memory much more vividly. I offer his reconstruction in orange bold with my own fine-tuning inserted:


The opening started with a twilight shot of the Cincinnati skyline as Glenn Ryle intoned sinister happenings taking place and mentioning specific Cincinnati locations... A lightning flash then CUTS to the turrets of the old Castle façade entrance to Eden Park beside Cincinnati's old Museum of Natural History...


..., followed by a CUT to a subjective view as we pass through its archway to a wooded path... CUT to a POV of  an unidentified character wearing rubber monster glove hands prowling through a thicket in Eden Park. Then CUT to a wide exterior of the opening to the Cincinnati subway along I-75 near Central Parkway...



CUT to a closeup of the gate as two monster hands open the gate... The camera zooms into the darkness... As the darkness fills the screen, MATCH CUT to footage of Steven Ritch's character in THE WEREWOLF popping up from lower screen, transforming and drooling...


This was then followed by a montage of stills (one of which I recall as being Bela Lugosi in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN) accompanied by a woman's scream on the soundtrack finally DISSOLVING to a night shot of the 12 tower...


... and maybe a final flash of lightning and the words 12 TALL TALES. 

Once Cincinnati's Monster Kids got a load of this, we were hooked. What was especially wonderful about this opening, with its crude 16mm B&W newsreel photography and its incorporation of classic monster images and local landmarks, was its creepy suggestion that there might be scary things lurking just under the surface of the city where we lived. The show also struck at just the right time for me, personally - I was 9 years old when it started, going on 10, summer vacation was nigh, and what better excuse than 12 TALL TALES to arrange a Saturday night camp-out with a friend on your, or their, living room floor? Also, as I recall, because these films were being shown in a 90-minute time slot, they came with a promise of limited commercial interruption after an initial 5-minute cluster of commercials at the top, ensuring that the films themselves began at the Witching Hour.

I recently became a subscriber to THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER's online Archive, and it has more or less swallowed me whole. I've been using its various ads and listings to identify and chronologize the movie-viewing of my childhood at favorite haunts like the Plaza Theater in Norwood, the Mariemont and Keith's (where the Disney films played), and the weekend triple bills at the Twin and Oakley Drive-Ins. One of the easier tasks for me to complete was the following complete chronology of 12 TALL TALES broadcasts:

Basil Rathbone in THE MAD DOCTOR.

1966

May 21 - THE MAD DOCTOR (1941)
May 28 - AMONG THE LIVING (1941)
Jun 04 - THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)
Jun 11 - THE ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU (1957)
Jun 18 - THE WOMAN EATER (1956)
Jun 25 - VOODOO WOMAN (1957)
Jul 02 - Unlisted
Jul 09 - Pre-empted by THE AMERICA GAME

Jul 16 - I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957)
Jul 23 - I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957)

Since each of the broadcasts from May 21 through June 18 were from a Columbia TV syndication package, the unlisted July 2 broadcast was very likely Fred F. Sears' THE WEREWOLF (1956), which is conspicuous in its absence from the list - particularly considering its contribution to the show's opening montage. Furthermore, I feel certain that I saw the entire film one night on 12 TALL TALES. As for the recurrence of that last title, I sense a misidentification in the scheduling; I suspect that the July 16 listing was in fact I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, otherwise there would have been no need to repeat the TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN listing. Also, I have a memory of seeing I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF around this time.

I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN.
For some reason, 12 TALL TALES then vanished from the WKRC-TV Saturday night line-up. I remember checking the newspaper TV Magazine listings for that time slot in vain, week after week, until I finally gave up. Coincidentally, the Cincinnati area's only other horror-themed movie block, the long-running SHOCK THEATRE on WCPO-TV (Channel 9), lasted only another six weeks and was then replaced by the Cleveland-based rock 'n' roll show UPBEAT. The Monster Kids, I guess, were growing up.

About seven months later, if the listings are correct, 12 TALL TALES returned to Channel 12 on the evening of February 11, 1967. The name of the program is there but the page doesn't otherwise identify the inaugural feature; it simply resumed without fanfare. The fact that the first two return broadcasts didn't specify a feature, that the program was again soon pre-empted by network content, and that its starting time soon became unpredictable, suggests that different factions at the station may have disagreed about the show's value. The 11:55pm start time held firm until the April 15 broadcast, from which time the show's start time alternated between 12:45 and 1:00am, once going as late as 1:45am, until it expired for the second and last time. This irregularity in itself would have proved destructive to the ratings because an important part of 12 TALL TALES charm is that its original timeslot guaranteed that the movie would end in time for you to switch over to WCPO-TV in time to catch the opening of Bob Shreve's SHOENLING ALL-NITE THEATRE, which always reliably started at 1:30am.

Allison Hayes in ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN.

1967

Feb 11 - Unlisted
Feb 18 - Unlisted
Feb 25 - ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958)
Mar 04 - CALTIKI THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (1959) - my first-ever Mario Bava movie!
Mar 11 - INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (1956)
Mar 18 - Pre-empted by Basketball
Mar 25 - FROM HELL IT CAME (1957)
Apr 01 - HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1958)
Apr 08 - THE DISEMBODIED (1958)
Apr 15 - THE PHANTOM OF CRESTWOOD (1932)

Apr 22, 12:45 - WORLD WITHOUT END (1958)
Apr 29, 12:45 - THE PHANTOM OF CRESTWOOD (1932)
May 06, 1:00 - THE LEOPARD MAN (1943)
May 13, 12:45 - EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS (1954)
May 20 - Pre-empted by another movie running overtime
May 27, 12:45 - THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959)
Jun 03, 12:45 - THE TINGLER (1959)
Jun 10, 1:45 - CURSE OF THE DEMON (1957)
Jun 17, 12:45 - Unlisted

THE GIANT BEHEMOTH.
Fortunately, the second round of Unlisteds aren't too much of a brain-teaser. These almost certainly included Roger Corman's THE WASP WOMAN (1959), Edgar G. Ulmer's DAUGHTER OF DR JEKYLL (1957), Bert I. Gordon's THE CYCLOPS (1957), and Monte Hellman's BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE (1959) - there's your four Unlisteds right there! - as these were all part of the same Allied Artists TV package as the other titles shown in the first half of the program's 1967 slate. The TV prints of these B-pictures were padded for telecast - in some instances with additional footage, but also with interminable introductory scrolls that, in those days, were a charmingly hokey way to psych yourself up to watch a horror movie. Check out this 2006 Video WatchBlog entry for an example.

Looking back from a nearly 50-year vantage, it's startling for me to realize what a short-lived thing 12 TALL TALES actually was. Seen - lived through - at that time, when many of these movies were still new to me, or being viewed for the second time for the first time, when I was a sponge soaking up all this information, the experience seemed quite vast and its souvenir images of Vincent Price's suave menace, Butcher Benton's baggy eyes, Caltiki's blobby rampage, and a giant Allison Hayes howling her libidinous lust for two-timing Harry would only swell to greater proportions in the cathedral of my memory.

But a couple dozen movies. That's all it was - plus the anticipation and the living and the ritual sharing of 12 TALL TALES. How starved for this stuff we must have been!



Thursday, October 08, 2015

10 Years A Blogger, 30 Years A Watchdog

You may have noticed that I've been busily adding new material to Video WatchBlog all week. And with good reason! My sudden show of industry was all building up to today, when I can remind my followers with some sense of accomplishment that it was 10 years ago tonight that I first launched this eclectic blog - which now extends to 1,172 postings that have enjoyed well over 1,165,000 page views.

It was also 30 years ago this month that Video Watchdog itself was first launched as a regular column on the last page of the October 1985 issue of VIDEO TIMES magazine. Illustrated at left is that very first column, which was inspired by a coincidental viewing of HERCULES with Steve Reeves on home video and a cable television broadcast. "Tipper," a goof on then-self-styled media watchdog Tipper Gore and Nipper, the RCA Records mascot, was dreamed up by someone on staff at the magazine and did not tag along for the idea's subsequent residences at OVERVIEW, GOREZONE or VIDEO WATCHDOG.

Due to the construction of the Digital Archive and subsequent digital editions and books, it's been a couple of lean years for the print magazine. We're not happy about it, and we apologize - two-person operation, and all of that. I have now edited nearly all the contents of VIDEO WATCHDOG 180, which has shaped up to be an issue of concentrated quality, much like 179, as we've been able to cherry-pick from a rich accumulation of material. We intend to be at the printer by the end of the month.

In closing, if you follow this blog, if you enjoy the material I freely post here, please consider investing in some of the amazing products at our website! Thank you.

Years 11 and 31 start here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Things From the Attic: THE LOVE REBELLION (1967)

PORNOSPIELE MIT STOCK UND PEITSCHE
"Porno Games with Stick and Whip"
1967, Candybox, 79m 58s, E21.71, DVD

Reviewed by Tim Lucas

This German import is a lovingly restored release of Joseph W. Sarno's THE LOVE REBELLION, evidently the first film ever distributed by Cannon Films and long considered lost. Unusually, it resurfaced a year or two ago as a dubbed German-language print released in a strictly limited, numbered edition of 500 copies. The upswing of this anomaly is that the spoken dialogue plays with more dramatic inflection than Sarno's live soundtracks usually have. It's a shame the original track is lost, but in this case certainly not detrimental to the film.

The story begins with one of Sarno's trademark "returns," as Wendy Fletcher (Gretchen Rudolph acting as "Ginger Stevens") returns to New York City after completing college to live with her widowed mother Jo (Melissa Ford), who runs an industrial supplies shipping company. Jo is having a guilt-ridden affair with her head of sales, Don Halleck (Nick Linkov as "Nick Dundas"), which becomes more difficult to manage once Wendy occupies the other bed in her oddly barracks-like bedroom. Jo's employee Barbara (who conveniently occupies the apartment above hers) soon invites the friendless, sullen Wendy upstairs to her parties, which unabashedly feature dancing, stripping and orgiastic lovemaking. Wendy is soon deflowered on a bed full of gawkers by young, orphaned artist Bill Carpenter (Jeremy Langham), but she catches the eye of beefy, goateed Hank Wiggins (Alan Hoff), who's in an intense sadomasochistic relationship with Nancy Near ("Cleo Nova" aka Peggy Steffans - Sarno's future wife) and won't accept Wendy's lack of interest. Unrequited love proliferates as the needy Bill succumbs to the dusky maternal charms of Jo, affecting both Don and Wendy, who seem poised to embark on their own adventure when the deranged Hank shows up at the office to terrorize his heartthrob with a gun.


While this DVD represents an important and exciting recovery, the film itself is not one of Sarno's best. Like his other 1967 pictures, BED OF VIOLENCE (presently lost) and MY BODY HUNGERS, it underplays his trademark psychological content in favor of some uncharacteristic and not particularly persuasive "roughie" content. It's also economically produced to a fault, with nearly every scene's camera set-up having an exact counterpart somewhere else in the picture. While it's hard to judge the performances in this context, the cast is generally attractive and intriguing. Bruce Sparks' shadow-mottled monochrome cinematography, on the other hand, is properly moody and Pir Mirini's dance music works well. This German print credits only "Ginger Stevens" (Rudolph, who bears a mild resemblance to Rebecca Brooke, had made a half dozen earlier films with Sarno, sometimes acting under the name "Jan Nash") and the erotic content shows Sarno still harping on the burlesque aspects of earlier 1960s Adults Only cinema, with topless twist parties, while starting to move toward the sexual candor and experimentation of his post-INGA pictures.

Packaged in a nifty clamshell case designed to resemble a sordid paperback, this DVD (which unfortunately does not include the original English track as an alternative) is available from Amazon.de. A copy or two may yet linger at Diabolik DVD, priced at $28.99.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Things From the Attic: I, MARQUIS DE SADE (1967)

I, MARQUIS DE SADE
1967, Baywater, 69m 30s, $19.99, DVD-0

Reviewed by Tim Lucas

Long feared lost, this penultimate feature from writer-director Richard Hilliard (THE LONELY SEX, screenwriter of Del Tenney's VIOLENT MIDNIGHT aka PSYCHOMANIA) supports his reputation as one of the stranger 1960s poets of dark erotic obsession.

A kind of roughie version of Buñuel's THE CRIMINAL LIFE OF ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ, it stars Sheldon Pearson (who looks remarkably like the young Roger Corman) as Donald Marquis (an allusion to the creator of Archie and Mehitabel?), a translator of the Marquis de Sade's works who, while awaiting and fearing the results of a biopsy test, indulges in fantasies of abandoning the bookish life and acting out the more violent philosophies of Sade on a series of women. He meets a wealthy, overweight yacht-owner (Cindy Ellis) and becomes her gigolo, setting his sights on amassing enough money to have "all the girls." One fateful afternoon, intending to find and torture a beautiful stranger, he meets an English woman (Ann Grant) on the beach, who responds to his philosophical regurgitations and picks him up, but soon proves herself the more experienced Sadist. After returning to his cashcow, he invites two other women back to her place, only to discover that their lesbian proclivities exclude him. He then attempts to exact more control by hiring a rented soundstage for an afternoon stripshow-cum-tryst with Russ Meyer starlet Babette Bardot (was this the only time a known actress portrayed herself - as a prostitute?), but even she finally snubs him after an unexceptional hump. After this, Donald becomes more violent, attacking his benefactor and determining to avenge himself against the earlier dolly bird, who he sights in the parking lot of the bank where he's cashing one last forged check.

Opening with credits lipsticked onto the body of a compliant model, this movie is consistent with Hilliard's earlier themes about the disadvantages of sensitive, creative men in the face of abusive female sexual power, but it is unusual for the ways it blends such dark bitterness about male-female relationships with passages of experimentalism and surrealism and puckish humor. It's also pre-Cronenbergian for the way it subtly suggests that Donald's derangement could be based in a tumor that produces extreme fantasies disassociable from his reality, and certainly pre-VIDEODROME in that it includes scenes the viewer likewise cannot readily identify as fantasy, dream or reality. But nowhere else are you likely to find a film that sabotages its protagonist's sexual self-image quite so viciously, with Ann Grant's psycho tease revealed as the far more dangerous character.

According to internet reports, a 35mm print of this film was recovered in Scandanavia. This clean-looking, if not entirely sharp 1.66:1 release (copyrighted by Retromedia Entertainment) runs somewhat shy of that print's reported running time of 73m, indicating that it may stem from a PAL tape conversion master; it does not appear to be missing any footage. An unrelated nudie short, "Hollywood Beauties", rounds out the package.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Things From the Attic: THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN (1982)

THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
Der Zauberberg
1982, Koch Vision, 624m, DVD-1
included in THE THOMAS MANN COLLECTION

Reviewed by Tim Lucas

Included in the seven-disc box set THE THOMAS MANN COLLECTION (2007, now out of print) with Franz Peter Wirth's epic 10-hour miniseries of BUDDENBROOKS and Franz Seitz's three-hour feature of DOCTOR FAUSTUS (starring Jon Finch as composer Adrian Leverkuhn) is this frustrating but nevertheless remarkable three-part miniseries directed by Hans W. Geissendorfer, based on Mann's splendid 1924 novel.

It's the story of Hans Castorp (Christoph Eichhorn), a young engineer who ascends a mountain to a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland where his cousin Joachim is being treated for tuberculosis. Intending to stay for only three weeks, impressionable Hans finds himself affected by the elevation, which diverts him from his schedule to undergo treatment himself; various characters who undertake the reshaping of his malleable personality; and the reassuring routine of the place, which abstracts time, each day following the pattern of those previous, and causes him to become passive and detached even when confronted with the first, and possibly only, great love of his life, a fellow patient named Clavdia Chauchat (Marie-France Pisier, miscast but not fatally so). As the story continues - with Hans remaining at the sanitorium a full seven years, until the outbreak of World War I - the clinic becomes an increasingly surreal metaphor for the European passivity, decadence, morbidity and surfacing territorial hatreds that climax in an almost biological need to purge itself through a declaration of war.


Even at slightly under seven hours, this epic can't begin to cover all the ground as the novel and inevitably disappoints, obviously cutting back the tense philosophic and political debates between Settembrini (SUSPIRIA's Flavio Bucci) and Naphta (Charles Aznavour) and sometimes rewriting character interactions to the detriment of its suspense. (In the novel, Hans and Clavdia have no direct interaction prior to the Mardi Gras party; here, she actually reprimands him for gazing soulfully at her.) However, approached as a complement to the novel, the film reproduces more scenes and settings with fidelity than one would ever believe possible and, by virtue of some serendipitous casting, allows some of Mann's fuzzier characters blossoming into unforgettable characters. Particularly noteworthy in this regard are Ann Zacharias as the luminous medium Elly Brand (in Prt 3's séance sequence, one of the most convincing possessed women ever filmed), Fassbinder favorite Kurt Raab (THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES) as the closet occultist Dr. Krokowski, and most of all, Gudrun Gabriel as Marusja, Joachim's unspoken love. (Her moment at the end of Part 2 is heart-rending, and made me think Marusja went on to marry Mr. Crich, becoming the character Catherine Willmer played in Ken Russell's WOMEN IN LOVE.) Rod Steiger also turns up in the final third as the pivotal Myneer Peeperkorn, but what appears to be an inspired performance is undercut by German dubbing and English subtitles that complete what should be a chronic inability to form coherent sentences.


Lensed by later Scorsese collaborator Michael Ballhaus, THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN is preserved by this 2007 release in a dated, standard, analog transfer that stutters during panning shots, yet it remains the definitive release to date. A 2010 stand-alone, two-disc release from E1 Entertainment, which looks worse, also condenses the production to feature length (153m) with disastrous results. A four-disc edition, with supplementary materials, was issued in Germany last year that I've heard renders a more definitive presentation and includes a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer of the feature version - alas, it's not English friendly.