The series that triggered my passion for cult films and TV!
OK, so I'd been watching classic horror and particularly sci-fi films for as long as I can remember, but this, along with the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film and the 1982 film 'It Came from Hollywood' got me into the cheesy side of Hollywood film and introduced me to the TV series that remains one of my all-time favourites.
It was shown on BBC 2 and started in October 1991 and ran for 10 consecutive weeks up until Christmas. I watched every episode. In fact, I'd go as far as to say this was the highlight of my viewing week while it ran.
The show was presented by Richard ('Rocky Horror Picture Show') O'Brien, who dressed in a long black coat and fedora. It was set in a dark, deserted subway with plastic mannequins dotted around.
The memorable opening sequence featured O'Brien running through the sinister subway. On arriving at the train doors, the words 'Mind the Doors' were announced over the Tannoy system, before O'Brien would turn around to reveal a skeletal face (the sequence was probably inspired by the end of 'Dr. Terror's House of Horrors').
O'Brien would ramble on for a bit, usually talking in metaphor about something loosely linked to the next item. First up was always an episode of the classic 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker', a series I can't possibly recommend more. The ten episodes featured were mostly from the first ten to originally air (although not in the same order), but the 'The Sentry', the last ever episode of Kolchak, was shown in the last edition.
Between episodes of Kolchak and the main feature, O'Brien would introduce a couple of weird and wacky animations. The most memorable were '25 ways to quit smoking' and 'Dimensions of Dialogue' (which included two heads doing horrible things to each other), which were quite amusing. In fairness though, I saw these as an intermission and would pop out to make a cup of tea.
Finally, O'Brien would introduce the main event, a cult classic from the 1950s. These included such sci-fi greats as 'Invasion of the Saucer Men', 'Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman' and 'I was a Teenage Werewolf' but also included the legendary teen flicks 'The Cool and the Crazy' and 'The Dragstrip Girl', all of which I had my first exposure to here! I became hooked on cult films forever after seeing these.
As 1992 came round, I hoped that 'Mystery Train' would return with more cult classics and the rest of Kolchak. Sadly, it never happened. Really disappointing, as I thought this show was great (out of interest, the final ten episodes of Kolchak were shown on the same channel in early 1992).
A little anecdote to finish on this series almost killed me! The fuse of my TV went during the screening of 'The Undead'. I changed the fuse but, in my desperation to get back to watching it, I stupidly put the plug back into the wall without replacing the back cover of the plug! Result I was blasted across the room! After flattening my hair back down, I resorted to watching the rest of the episode on a portable. The desperate lengths we went to before the internet and catch-up TV!
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