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"The B-Movie Cast is a podcast and forum devoted all things B-movie and cult move related.
On this podcast we will talk about B-Movies, Cult moves, Interviews, Art house, Independent, Drive-In, Horror, Biker Euro Trash, DVD, Magazines, Music, Tradeshows, Expos, Italian thrillers, Exploitation, Vintage TV, Gear and Pop Culture”
Paper Man (1971)
Well done little TV thriller
This is actually an enjoyable little computer thriller that shows off the popular perception of computers in 1971. Aside from enjoying Dean Stockwell's great early-70s hair, it's great to see the characters gather around a hard copy terminal as they enter input, and shuffle through the piles of printed output. Taking advantage of a computer error, a group of college students create computer records for a fictitious persona to use an untraceable credit card - an early attempt at identity theft that becomes dangerous when the students start dying one by one. I am a big fan of these 1970s TV movies, and this is a decent example with the mystery keeping my interest throughout.
Good episode, made more interesting by the presence of Bob Ballard
A good example of In Search Of... and its fairly credulous approach to the paranormal and fringe topics that were so popular the 70s. Great narration from Nimoy, good music, and a reasonably documentary approach to the various groups and individuals looking for the monster of Loch Ness in the summer of 1977. I enjoyed the show as a kid, and it is fun to watch it nostalgically (and far more skeptically) as an adult. It actually has much better production values and a more grounded approach (relatively speaking) than most of the similar shows that currently pop up on the History Channel.
What I found most interesting was that the episode includes an interview with and coverage of Bob Ballard, the distinguished ocean explorer who discovered the Titanic in 1985, who in 1977 was leading a National Geographic expedition to Loch Ness. It was probably the time when the subject was closest to being taken seriously by the mainstream.
Creepy and memorable
I'm another person who spent years trying to identify this pretty obscure show, about aliens from another dimension trying to enter ours through an old TV in an attic, and preying on an insecure teenage girl who just returned from a mental institution. I vividly remember watching it on late night TV when 10 or 11 years old, and as another person commented, I remember how creepy it was when the girl saw that the inter-dimensional aliens had seized Jude (her cousin I think) and now had him on the other side of the TV. To me the ending was pretty clear - the aliens had crossed into our dimension, and nothing would stop them.
Well-written little piece of late-night TV arcana. And I was fascinated to see that it starred Kate Mulgrew! I see there is a clip on youtube, it would be nice to see a DVD of this.
The Andromeda Strain (2008)
Simply horrible: overblown made-for-TV-movie melodrama, poor acting, silly makeup effects and production design, bad direction. And a script that foolishly adds multiple, painfully obvious plot lines to the original story so that the taut and gripping plot of the novel is almost completely obscured. Despite having more running time than the 1971 movie, this soggy mini-series seems rushed to cram in all the stupidity it can.
Watch it at your peril, if you want a satisfying, chilling, and intelligent movie, rent the well-crafted Robert Wise version; it is one of the great SF movies of the 1970s. It is one of the rare movies that really shows science at work, and the scenes of death at Piedmont will always stick with you.
Fun Kids Movie
As a parent forced to endure a fair amount of kids entertainment, it is always a relief to find something that is at least tolerable to an adult. When my son became infatuated with the Care Bears, I had sit through the painful Care Bears Movie (1985) a number of times, and then through some excruciating videos of episodes from the mid-80s TV show.
But then we got the DVD of Journey to Joke-a-lot, and the opening song by Jane Siberry immediately caught my attention. Then the story turned out to be engaging, and not too cloying, with enjoyable songs. And there's even a parody of scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey! So I can say it greatly exceeded my expectations and I can recommend it as something at least passably entertaining to adults as well as children.
The White Dawn (1974)
Fine Movie that Deservies a Wider Audience
Looking back from the 21st century, it is obvious that from the moment Columbus set foot in the new world the indigenous peoples of the Americas were doomed. It is equally obvious to a thoughtful viewer from 2005 that a movie made in 1973 about three shipwrecked whalers who are rescued by a band of Inuit and the resulting culture clash is going to end in tragedy. I knew the conclusion of "The White Dawn" as soon as I read two sentences of it's description on Netflix.
But we shouldn't really hold that against it. Because "The White Dawn" is a very good movie and I am shocked that more movie aficionados haven't heard of it. I never did, and I am a fan of Philip Kaufman and Timothy Bottoms and movies of the 70s, and I have an interest in the arctic. This movie seems to have been buried under a rock somewhere, despite fine performances all around, beautiful cinematography and direction, and fascinating subject matter in the Eskimos.
Filmed on location on Baffin Island in what is now Nunavet, the Inuit territory of Northern Canada, "The White Dawn" portrays the story of the three whalers - Timothy Bottoms, Louis Gossett Jr, and Warren Oates as they live with a sympathetic and friendly Inuit band over the course of a year, and how ultimately the interaction of the two world views leads to tragedy. It is based on the novel of the same name by James Houston, who lived with the Inuit for many years and based his novel on stories handed down through the generations of an actual event of 1897. In a fine performance, Bottoms is sensitive and open to the Eskimo way of life, falling in love with the woman Neevee. On the other hand is arrogant and exploitive Oates, who comes to represent the worst of "civilized" man's attitudes towards the Eskimo. He is dramatically counterbalanced by the equally manipulative Inuit Shaman, who pronounces that the whalers are bringing evil to the band of Eskimos.
While the ending might seem preordained, "The White Dawn" is full of texture as it examines the meeting of cultures. And beyond the story itself, it is full of vivid and powerful images of Eskimo life, presented with apparently absolute realism by the amateur (but very good) Inuit cast. The joys and sorrows of the native's communal life are conveyed as they travel and hunt through the seasons. The highlights of the movie include a seal hunt, later a more desperate walrus hunt, and a winter dance in a large igloo, featuring the strange and wonderful throat chanting of two Inuit girls.
A note for animal lovers - according to the commentary track, while seals and walruses were killed in filming, they were only killed if they would have been killed anyway, and the slain animals were completely utilized for food and fur by the Inuit (who do still hunt and rely on seals). The polar bear used in filming was not injured in any way.
If you are a fan of the cinema of the 70s or movies in general, and are willing to accept the grim nature of the story, I highly recommend "The White Dawn". Certainly it should gain a wider audience and not be forgotten.
House M.D. (2004)
Hugh Laurie is fine, the show flirts with awfulness
Having been a fan of Hugh Laurie for a long time, it is fun to see him on American prime time TV. And as usual he submerses himself in the role, and is always entertaining and watchable.
The problem is the show that's built around him. It is a mediocre mishmash of current medical TV show clichés, and the premise is so tightly constructed - medical diagnosis mystery of the week - that it seems unsustainable. After watching two episodes it seemed repetitive. And after the "realistic" portrayal of medical analysis in ER/CSI, etc, the constant scenes of the medical team sitting around in a conference room throwing out ideas seems somehow quaint. I would like the show to succeed, would like to see more of Dr. House, but the show will really need to grow to keep my interest.
creepy, if only in my memory
I remember watching this on late night TV when I was a kid, and it really has stuck in my memory. It has that classic setting for a horror tale, a remote base in the arctic - part of the "Distant Early Warning" system of radar stations to detect Soviet missiles coming over the North Pole. But of course the real threat has a more distant source and is more insidious. As a sixth grader I really liked the play on this concept in the title.
This is one of those shows I'd like to see again after all these years, to see if it holds up. Some do ("Gargoyles"), some don't ("Logan's Run").
As I recall, this was part of a weekly late night horror anthology. The other show I really remember involved a sinister TV which somehow interacted with people watching and could suck people into the frightening TV world.
not as good as it could be
A nice attempt at 1980-ish social commentary, but never provides the laughs and poignance it should have given the cast and situations. I found the unsympathetic characters, zany physical humor (see the poster), and somewhat lugubrious satire at fairly easy targets just didn't mix well. But it is a movie of it's time, so if you like the movies of the late 70s - that assume an intelligent audience that wants to be challenged - check it out.
The Dunwich Horror (1970)
Not Too Bad Mix of 1970 Psychedelia & Lovecraft
If I had watched this with a bunch of friends, we would have laughed and thought it was awful. But when watched alone at night, without a critical attitude, it is creepy and effective as only an old, cheap horror movie can be. Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee give low key, almost distracted performances that, intentionally or not, contribute to the eerie tone, and presentation of Dean Stockwell's unearthly twin was very atmospheric and evocative - a good example of how to play on the viewers' imagination (a lost art in most of today's horror movies). The movie has a titillating sexuality (which seems very 1970 but quite un-Lovecraftian but it has been a long time since I've read his stuff) with a few quick almost subliminal nude shots.
Part of my enjoyment of the film was nostalgia - it reminded me of tv shows and movies I enjoyed as a kid in the early 70s. Dunwich Horror is very similar in style to the Night Gallery tv series (which was rarely successful, but I still enjoy watching it if I get a chance).
So - not a great movie, but good if you like this sort of thing and are in the right frame of mind. The DVD looked pretty good, especially the color.