Sunday Movie:: Strange Invaders (1983) (Via Comet TV)

I’ve got a fantastic flick for y’all but I better tell you about it fast because it’s going to be on soon! At 2pm today, good old COMET is going to be airing 1983’s STRANGE INVADERS and you can watch it for free just by clicking HERE! I’m not going to lie to you, even though it’s always spot on with the smoky pastel visuals and appreciative winks towards 1950’s sci-fi, STRANGE INVADERS starts out kinda syrupy slow (I’m not down with the droopy score or milquetoast lead PAUL LE MAT)… BUT if you are patient you will be rewarded with absolutely awesome eighties make-up effects and the infatuating likes of WALLACE SHAWN, FIONA LEWIS, LOUISE FLETCHER and most importantly, the worship-worthy NANCY ALLEN! Seriously, as soon as ALLEN shows up it’s like you’re watching a whole new movie! Now if you should happen to come by this notice late, don’t fret; at 4pm COMET is airing KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE! What a great double feature!

VHSaturday :: Screams of a Winter Night (1979)

This may just be my number one most prized VHS possession! This tape may even be worth a pretty penny. Sure, it probably wouldn’t fetch enough cash to pay for a single cable bill but it’s worth something just the same! Seeing SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT on the big screen was a monumental moment in my horror education and you can read all about that business HERE but for today, let’s gawk at the VHS tape itself and all of its humble beauty…

I’ll never forget finding this puppy in a video store that was closing in the late eighties. The big deal was that this was before the Internet and so basically you either stumbled across a tape or you didn’t. If your video store didn’t happen to order a tape of a movie you wanted to see, you might not know if it was even released. I remember searching for 1981’s THE BOOGENS for years until it was mercifully distributed in the nineties. I had a similar experience with SCREAMS. I saw it in the theater and then it seemed to fall off the face of the Earth without much evidence (besides possibly a clipped newspaper ad) that I didn’t dream it. Back then you could ask around about a title and folks would just shake their heads and scowl at you as if you were begging for change. It sounds sad, I know, but there was also something poetic about allowing fate to decide which movies entered your life. You kids don’t know how easy you have it with your low hanging Google fruit (shakes cane, dentures fall out).

Back to the tape! It’s a clamshell! Oh boy, these were a bitch to shelve! It’s hard to believe that for a while, big-boxed VHS tapes fell strongly out of favor (except in the adult room) because now they are hip as hell (which reminds me, I saw a dude wearing a fanny pack the other day). Geez, they’re really courting with a Christmas card look here with the dark green background and red lettering complete with snow garnish, aren’t they? Even though there’s no snow in the movie, I do enjoy that snow font because it reminds me of a friendly motel ice machine. The central image is straight from the movie poster and I’ve always loved its swampy Golem vagueness. And I dig all of the tagline wording too because it so swiftly relays that this flick is all about the ancient art of telling ghost stories. Oh and it’s VCI Home Video! Those guys sure put out some great titles back in the early days (CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, HORROR HOSPITAL, TOWER OF EVIL) and I guess they saved a lot on ink with their penchant for using a limited color palette!

As much as I love this old tape, this is one movie that I cannot wait to upgrade on either Blu ray or DVD. Having only seen this flick in the grittiest of fashions, I’m planning on a staggering experience. What’s even better is that word on the street is that the fine folks at CODE RED are reinstalling for the first time ever, a previously excised segment of this awesome anthology! I know I can be kinda annoying with the exclamation points but:!!!!! That’s some horror Holy Grail stuff right there (at least for me)! Still, I’ll be holding on to this cherished tape. There ain’t no law saying I can’t have this longtime favorite in multiple formats.

Kinder-Gallery:: The Fine Art of Vestron CEDs

Now I might be kind of obsessed with VESTRON flavored SelectaVision CED cartridges. I’ve always appreciated a good CED (Capacitance Electronic Disc) as a decorative wall hanging (I’ve got a few like the often paired together EVILSPEAK, POPEYE and CRUISING) but the VESTRON type takes the coolness to a whole new level on account of it features that groovy futuristic rainbow stripe framing device (kinda like the side of a KEY VIDEO VHS tape)! Here, allow me to share some fine examples I scrounged up (mostly) on ebay…

Traumafession:: Unk on the Masks in A Gun in the House (1981)

I’m currently trapped in a scary mask spiral and the swirling center of said spiral seems to be the year 1981. After being reminded of the hosiery-headed creep in THE BOOGEY MAN (or THE BOOGEYMAN depending on where you live) I had a flashback to the fateful night I recorded SNL as a kid and accidentally captured the terrifying commercial for NIGHTMARE (or NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN depending on where you live) which concludes with a dude in a grubby mask hammering down a splintering bedroom door (HERE).

But for my money the scariest 1981 masks of all just might be the ones found in the TV movie A GUN IN THE HOUSE. Although AGITH ends up being rather wishy-washy and long-winded, it sure has its share of harrowing moments especially for a small screen affair. I mean, if I never see SALLY STRUTHERS being forced to crawl on her knees while masked intruders (whose relationship seems directly lifted from THE HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980)) laughingly pour peach brandy on her head again, that will be fine by me. There’s no doubt this dramatization of the perpetually hot topic of the pro and cons of gun ownership was strongly influenced by the plethora of masked slashers then currently stalking cinemas (one of the masks even looks like it could be a left over prop from the previous year’s TERROR TRAIN). In any case, I know I was one kid who got a little bit more freaky strife than he bargained for tuning into to this flick way, way back in the day. So let’s make your old UNK squirm in his seat and check out the frightening masks from A GUN IN THE HOUSE below….

Name That Trauma:: Jackball74 on a Blue Glass Ghost

One fine Saturday morning back in the early ’80s I jumped out of bed, bolted for the living room and promptly switched on the TV, thinking I would get in a couple of cartoons before everyone else woke up – the usual weekend routine. This morning, however, I was met with a jolt.

The (color) image that faced me showed a man, then cut to a woman, both looking somewhat surprised. I cannot recall who the actor and actress were, but they were middle-aged and the setting looked to be a nicely-appointed house sometime in the ’30s or ’40s. There was a knock on the door, and one of the individuals turned and answered it.

Standing on the threshold was a ghost, but, instead of seeing a semi-transparent actor, the phantom looked like it was made of blue glass and had very vague features (there were no eyes, for instance). And man did it freak me out. I jumped up, ran to my parents’ bedroom and began yelling about what I had seen.

I can’t recall a good deal about the details, other than that the movie seemed to have been made several decades before. It was also probably playing on our old local South Florida channel, WCIX 6. Was anyone else startled by this scene?


Sunday Streaming:: The Boogey Man (1980)

Hold up now, did you realize that there is absolutely nothing to stop you from watching 1980’s THE BOOGEYMAN for free on super swell and generous CRACKLE (HERE)? Please don’t tell me you’re one of those people trying to rewrite history and claim this movie doesn’t rule. That’s nonsense. C’mon, if being derivative of HALLOWEEN and THE EXORCIST is a crime than you’re going to have to lock up my entire movie collection! I know director ULLI LOMMEL went on to squander his talent churning out lamentable chaff but I’m going to forever contend that there’s some creepy as hell miasma emanating from this partially silly motion picture. The opening theme alone is enough to make me feel like I walked into some sleazy, unfathomable supernatural hive of unmitigated wrongness. Plus, what about that crazy shish kabob car kill? What about that annoying kid being rightfully guillotined in the bathroom window? What about that scary dude with the panty hose on his head? Eh, I give up. Watch it for the soundtrack alone for heavens sake! So good!

VHSaturday:: The Incubus (1982)

Hey, let’s start a new feature around these parts! I get super lazy without structure! Without structure there’s absolutely nothing to stop me from sleeping. Do you think death will be like sleeping forever? I sure hope so. Anyway, VHSaturday will be all about me sharing my love of VHS tapes! I even wrote a theme song for this super new feature that should be sung to the tune of Tracey’s Ullman’s “They Don’t Know”.

“And I don’t listen to their Blu-ray lies, if I adjust your tracking, I can see you fine.‘Cause they don’t know about VH-us and they never heard of love.”

I’m working on it. It’s a process. Anyway, today I want to talk about my lovely VHS tape of 1982’s THE INCUBUS. I doubt it’s worth very much in the world of collectors but since I’m never in a million years going to sell it, that doesn’t matter a lick. You can read a review for this wonderful movie that has altered the course of my life in a multitude of ways HERE, presently I just want to appreciate the tape itself as a one of a kind objet d’art!

Is there anything more adorable in the world than this “Horror” sticker? Why is it pink instead of the usual green and why are there two stickers? Was the sticker below the top sticker not doing its job properly? What weirdo decided to place the sticker over the cast credits when there is so much empty space that can easily be utilized? Did they have some deep seeded subconscious disdain for John Cassavetes?

Let’s face it, this box is beautifully, perfectly weathered. It has just the right amount of natural well-earned wear and tear. Don’t you hate it when folks try to do fake erosion in photoshop and they go overboard and it ends up looking like a remnant of the Johnstown flood? I keep this particular tape in a clear plastic squeezable container so that its aging process is thwarted as much as possible. I only have about a dozen of said protective containers so if you are a VHS tape in my house, it is a coveted and illustrious fate as to be shielded in one.

Look at this VESTRON label! So simple, so pure! Such a relaxing muted taupe-grey! Do we really believe that THE INCUBUS (Simply INCUBUS in the opening credits) is a precise 90 minutes long? That seems a bit convenient if you ask me (IMDb says 93). The tape itself is tightly wound and mostly uniform with little to no sign of warping or (God forbid) mold. They really knew how to make sturdy tapes back then. This baby is built like a tank! We can conclude from the genre-identity label on the front that this is a formal rental but notice there are no paranoid security labels and no bossy threat stickers. I like that! I’m going to assume that this tape enjoyed life in a very trusting and casual video store environment. It had to be a mom and pop shop. Do I even remember where I got this tape? No, I don’t. It’s always been with me.

Let’s check out the back and admire how VESTRON keeps it classy yet again. They throw the official tagline up top in bold in case that’s all you have time for and below there is a more detailed description that respects the director’s previous work and avoids making outlandish promises the film itself may not be able to keep. Sure, maybe the ending won’t actually have viewers “sitting on the edge of their seats” but it could! Ya never know! I can see it happening. Kudos on the lone image that gives nothing away and for the mentioning of Paul Mazursky‘s THE TEMPEST, I love that movie!

Finally, let’s close out with some general appreciation of the art transferred from the movie poster/ ad campaign. That font really captures THE INCUBUS’ personality as an against the grain gothic shocker at the height of the slasher boom. I’m again going to award high marks to the folks at VESTRON for keeping it simple and not crowding the cover with desperate bids for attention. This almost looks like an ancient tome of some sort, which fits the movie to a T. There, that’s the end! I love you, INCUBUS VHS tape! You know I do (kisses it)! Will I return next week for another addition of VHSaturday? It’s all up to the chemicals in my head! We’ll have to wait and see.

Sunday Movie:: Mom (1991) (Via Comet TV)

My name is Unk and I’m addicted to COMET TV. I can’t help it because they’re always showing the best stuff. And I love watching on my bunny-eared TV with clothes hangers and aluminum foil wrapped around the antenna. God help me, I even like the weird commercials that rudely assume I’m in golden years and have somehow fallen and can’t get up (that’s actually an assumption that gets more accurate with each passing day). Sorry, that fancy TV downstairs can go ahead and just stew in its HD juices, for all I care. My little TV is literally huggable. I don’t know, maybe I’m really addicted to nostalgia. It was always a treat for me as a kid to watch TV from under a blanket with my cat and now that my cat has been reincarnated, we still enjoy it! Anyway, you don’t need a TV to watch COMET TV, you can watch it on your computer anytime you like!

Anyway, I figured today for our weekly SUNDAY STREAMING shindig we’d try something different and I’d alert you to a movie that’s airing live tonight on COMET TV! At 6pm you can hit COMET TV and watch a strange little flick from 1991 called MOM. Have you seen this one? I avoided it for years because the VHS box made it look like some boring French comedy of some sort but it’s actually a straight up monster movie! It kind of reminds me of THE FLY (1986) a bit because it explores the limits of loyalty when a loved one progressively transforms into a toxic nightmare who threatens to drag you down with them. Making it even more worrisome is that it stars JEANNE BATES who triggers the hell out of me due to her mortifying presence in MULHOLLAND DRIVE (especially when she gets all miniaturized). Seriously, I did a terrified spit-take when she materialized in DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER just this past holiday season! That old broad is scary (incidentally MOM features yet another DIE HARD 2 actor, ART EVANS, what does it mean?).

In closing, click HERE at 6! You’re going to be terribly convinced that MOM is going to be a goofy laugh riot from its cheap look and then by the time it’s over you’ll be all shocked at how strangely tragic and quietly unsettling it ends up being. MOM also stars the excellent BRION JAMES (THE HORROW SHOW) and ginger royalty MARY BETH McDONOUGH of THE WALTONS, MORTUARY (1983) and MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS (1981) fame! Furthermore, please remind me on a yearly basis that MOM is both a great Christmas horror movie and a great Mother’s Day horror movie! Thanks!