The series intertwined the activities at the Ritz Theater with the showing of old horror movies. The plot was that Laraine was trying to bring life back into the theater through the showing of these old movies. As new customers would come to the theater, they would become regular cast members. The show only lasted 1 season and ran from 21 June 1986 till 13 September 1986, airing 13 episodes. Written by
Paul Gerard Kennedy
SKI FEVER (1969), SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964), ROBOT MONSTER (1953), THE CRAWLING HAND (1963), DOCTOR OF DOOM (1960), UNTAMED WOMEN (1952), BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955), LAS VEGAS HILLBILLIES (1966), PROTECT MOONBASE (1952), ROCKET ATTACK USA (1960), THE SLIME PEOPLE (1962)
What did these titles have in common? Every week in the summer of 1986, one of these was the offering of "so bad it's good" cinema on this thirteen episode syndicated show. If for nothing else "Canned Film Festival" was invaluable for introducing people to the realm of the golden turkey movies, which had had a renewed interest in recent times. However, even in the dawn of the video age, a lot of these titles were hard to come by. Therefore, anyone who dared got a good crash course on the best of the worst in the summer of 86. Now if only summer school was THIS beneficial...
However, rather than just present the films on their own, some producer saw fit to insert wraparound segments featuring former SNL comedienne Laraine Newman as an usher in this representative set of a movie theatre, who also discuss the film in question with the regular bunch of goons that show up there every week. Considering this theatre was only filled every week with these five or six geeks, it's no wonder the Canned Film Theatre only stayed open thirteen weeks!
Someone forgot that the true laughs of this show came from the films in question, and not, certainly not, from the pathetic "comedy" offered up by the twerps in the theatre. Sample dialogue (from the episode which programmed SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, featuring a very young Pia Zadora):
Twerp: Pia Zadora?!?! Does she take her clothes off?
Laraine Newman:She's only eight years old.
Barrel of laughs these folks are. One wonders what Starbucks they work at now.
This "comic relief" might be forgivable if it didn't cut into the programming that people really came to see. Because "Canned Film Festival" was made for a 90-minute timeslot, that left roughly 72 minutes of show, including the new footage in the theatre. Therefore, the films were cut down to barely an hour. ROBOT MONSTER was missing all the bizarre dinosaur footage, and the immortal jukebox segment from THE CRAWLING HAND was missing in action.
Even so, as the video age opened the doors of bad cinema to a new generation, "Canned Film Festival" was a noteworthy little primer that is still well remembered by discriminating insomniacs.
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