Friday, July 30, 2010

The Real Late Show

Remember the so-called good ol' days when local TV stations would show movies (with commercial breaks) into the late hours instead of reruns of sitcoms and infomercials? I've always been a person who woke up in the night and would turn on the tube and watch a film clunker or gem, get tired and fall back asleep again.

Very often this was when films that would become favorites of mine would be shown.

Here are a few...

When I first saw The Blob, it was on WGN Channel 9 in Chicago. I was familiar with what the movie was, thanks to Famous Monsters of Filmland, but when I finally saw it... well, it was better than I thought it would be with its snappy color, wacky theme song, great low budget FX and Steve McQueen... and The Blob, itself.

Hot Rods to Hell was a regular late night feature on WGN. Dana Andrews gets into a car accident on Christmas Eve and retires to run a motel in a desert town. There, he is forced into tussling with young hot rodding punks fearing that a back injury has weakened him too much. He gets the balls up at the end and just about pounds a kid's head in with a tire iron. Blisteringly bad in a boffo way. Word has it that this flick was originally shot as a TV movie, but the end product was so lurid compared to banal shows like My Three Sons, MGM tossed it out to drive-ins... but, of course, it ended up back on TV.

The Severed Arm was on the nearly forgotten WSNS Channel 44, when it was an English language channel. It's a dreary but effective 70s horror flick, heavy in late night quiet creepiness and low in budget. It's typical 70s trash with no humor (I think) and even less hope of a happy ending. It may have been the first sort of gore movie I ever saw.

Is The Vulture really all that bad? Most of the film is an entertaining little horror flick with the story of a giant vulture killing people, including a boozed up Broderick Crawford. It all has something to do with an atomic experiment and a wacky mad scientist played by Akim Tamiroff. I was a sucker for the film even though the ending was so goofy it had me laughing. Heck, I still am!

Sadly, this film is not on You Tube... but here's the movie poster.

They Came From Beyond Space was a lot like The Vulture with enough to keep you awake until the end ... and an end that was so goofy you wish you hadn't. Hey, hold on there... both films also star Robert Hutton, who starred in a lot of these marginal low budget flicks as a hero, including Invisible Invaders (a rare cowardly, unlikable role) and The Slime People. If I stumbled onto any of these films, I left 'em on.

Anybody out there still awake? Speak up, everyone! What are those late night gems you stayed up watching through bleery, bloodshot eyes? Let me hear from you!

Are there any TV stations out there still showing movies at night? Thank goodness, Svengoolie is still at it in Chicago. It would seem to me that there may be a market to put together a package of low budget junk ready to feed late night fiends like me.

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