Sunday, February 22, 2015


I've not left the apartment the last few days because of the snow, I've gotten so stir crazy that tonight's movie didn't seem bad.

Flood, or as imdb and wikipedia put it, Flood!(1976), yes,  including the exclamation point.

Irwin Allen for television production values, cast of dozens.  It's bad.

Martin Milner plays the hero, the city councilman who knows the dam is going to break.

Robert Culp plays his flyboy pilot buddy.

Young Barbara Hershey plays Milner's girlfriend and daughter of the mayor, who know the dam will break as well, but won't do anything to spoil the fishing.

Roddy McDowell is there for the fishing.
Seriously, post credits helicopter pick up and drop off, with exposition about how the rain has flooded the lake... then he's gone.  Such a waste.

The problem with this particular disaster is a classic one:  water doesn't scale very well.  When the dam breaks and the waters start, it's not impressive.

Of particular joy for me were small appearances by Whit Bissell (Creature from the Black Lagoon) and Gloria Stuart (The Invisible Man, The Old Dark House, and, oh yeah, Titanic).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Old Comics Wednesday

Recently,when I talked about trade paperbacks, I mentioned the mass market collections that I loved back then.  Here they are!
I didn't have all of these when I was a kid- heck, at the time I wasn't even a fan of Conan- but the ones I did actually came in a slipcase- two of the Spidermans, The Fantastic Four, and The Hulk. 

They're from Pocket Books, the same publisher that did the trade paperbacks, and they shrank the comic book page from standard comic size to the dimensions of a paperback.  I now just look at the pictures since my oldman eyes can't read the 12pt typeface.  The exception is the Conan book, published by Ace presumably since they had the rights to the Robert Howard Conan stories.  They- wisely in my opinion- just removed the panels from the context of the comic page and put them, closer to their original size, on the paperback page (the exception to this, of course, is the splash page, the first, full sized page that starts most stories.) 

Because of the format Conan used, they only got three issues per book, while the Pocket Books usually got six- a little more for Doctor Strange since his stories didn't take up a whole issue, he was sharing Strange Adventure with The Human Torch for most of that.

Next time I'm at my parents house, I'm going to have to dig my original copies out of storage, the last book I need to finish the collection, Spider Woman, is boxed up in the attic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The 1971 Tonys

I'm needing something... light, distracting.  We've been running around for work and it's getting a little exhausting, so I type 1971 into the youtube search bar.
What from 1971?  There's ball games (baseball and football) and races and variety shows and... awards shows.
Holy cow.  Someone has uploaded whole award shows to youtube.
and... there's Tonys.
Tonight's choice was the 1971 Tony Awards (3.28.71).  Hosted by  Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Anthony Quayle, Anthony Quinn, it was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the award, so they did a year-by-year retrospective of Broadway musicals, often sung by the people who earned them the award.
The standout in the this stellar company is Yul Brenner doing Shall We Dance from The King and I with Patricia Morrison.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Title card, yanked from a fansite.
I love detective shows and murder mysteries, in fact it's almost like the seventies were sort of a golden age of television murder mysteries- Columbo, McMillan and Wife, Ellery Queen.

I wasn't familiar with Longstreet until fairly recently- it's not on dvd and doesn't show up in reruns that often.

James Franciscus plays Mike Longstreet, a blind insurance investigator.  He lost his eyesight when a bomb exploded, killing his wife as well. 

He spends the pilot learning to deal with his blindness and figuring out who was behind the bomb.

It actually works well as a comic book style origin story- his training involves not just blind navigation and echo locution, but a workout montage as well.  He gets a radar cane and a sidekick- Pax, a white German shepherd.

I'm going to follow up with episodes later because he even gets a mentor- a self defense instructor played by Bruce Lee!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Now, this is why I'm doing this, movies like last night's Avalanche (1978) starring Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow and Robert Forster.

It was awful.

Standard set up, people arrive at a ski resort, relationships are defined, the threat is recognized, then all hell breaks loose.

Hudson owns the resort and is building a home on the mountain. Farrow is Hudson's ex.  Forster is a friend of Hudson.  Hudson wants to build on the mountain, Forster warns him against it.  Building and removing the trees makes the mountain more vulnerable to avalanche. 

Someone made a house payment thanks to this thing.

The effects were... cheap.  When you realize it was a Roger Corman production and they'd managed to get the budget for Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow, the effects were practically Star Wars caliber.  Apparently, the majority of the footage of the avalanche was stock footage. 

Now, I've got to find a copy of Meteor from 1979, since they use that stock footage as well.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A New Car! The New Price is Right, Match Game '73 and Adam-12.

I've been away for a few days. I'm learning Russian - I finally got Rosetta Stone to work and that coupled with discovering Hulu has picked up Russian shows- including The Day After, a Russian zombie sci-fi thriller show that I watched all twelve episodes of.  I'm back on track now.

The New Price Is Right (2.14.73) Well, this episode was kind of odd- all the contestants were women, as opposed to the standard ninety-eight or so percent female contestants they usually have, on account it being Valentine's Day.  Bob gave a rose to each of them.  They do have some holiday inspired descriptions..."If you have a lovers quarrel you can go your separate these two cars!" They were 1973 Toyota  Corolla sedans.  So romantic.

Match Game '73 (11.12.73) was a little... surreal.  I mean, I never got Gene Rayburn.  I always had a mental disconnect about him. It was a treat to see Cass Elliot as a panel member.  She was promoting a television special, and it's nice to hear her say anything, including "hello." (She was awesome on Scooby Doo).

Oh.  I was playing along at home and I was getting some of the answers... they were given the clues "________ alley" and "__________cup".  My guesses were "Tin Pan" and "Loving" and I was right.  Perry found this amusing, as I was getting cultural references that are... let's say out of date and leave it at that.

I also watched a couple of episodes of Adam-12, mostly because we eat dinner in front of the television and it's mindless entertainment. Venice Division (10.10.73) was a little disturbing, as a young woman was getting obscene phone calls and the officers suggested that she close her curtains while exercising in a leotard.  The implicit slut shaming was disappointing in what I've found to be a pretty progressive show.
The procedural format was broken in Log 24: A Rare Occasion (2.14.70) when Reed has Molloy over for a cookout and they deal with a neighborhood kid who's gotten high.   It was worth watching for the wallpaper in Reed's house.

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Do I feel lucky?"

Here's another movie I'm sure I'd seen, but as I'm watching it... nope, no recollection. 
But Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry (71) is totally a seventies movie.
That's a the plus.  The main thing is I've seen David Fincher's Zodiac, about the Zodiac Killer in San Francisco, at least half a dozen times.  Harry Callahan was inspired by Inspector Dave Toschi, and Scorpio, the killer in Dirty Harry, was inspired by the Zodiac killer.
The end of Dirty Harry was used in Zodiac, as one of the characters there to meet Toschi at the San Francisco movie premiere.

Honestly... I think I enjoyed Zodiac more than it's fictional counterpart.

There's something dreamy about Fincher's pacing that I can almost fall asleep to it- I'm a horror fan so my idea of relaxing might not be everyone elses.

The work that went into recreating the San Francisco Chronicle offices, the attention to period detail, it's practically perfection.  My favorite part is the time lapse building of the Trans-America Pyramid.

That said, I'm glad I finally saw Dirty Harry.  Eastwood is the archetypical badass cop, and Andrew Robinson is disturbingly manic as Scorpio.  All those police procedural cliches, watching this you see where they come from.

I'll be watching Magnum Force and the Enforcer at some point as well.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Shout Factory does dvd's.  They're famous right now for attempting to secure the rights to much of the original music that was used on WKRP in Cincinnati for the dvd release, something that had worried fans since the show had gotten chopped up during syndication as music rights lapsed.
Now, they've got into the streaming game, with a selection of their stuff- Dennis the Menace, Father Knows Best, MST3K, and many others- available for free on Shout Factory TV via Roku, computers and other devices.  It's a nice line up if you don't want to pay for the content through Hulu.

The biggest impact the announcement had on me was "hey, I haven't watched Dennis the Menace in decades."  Another piece of my syndicated childhood, I used to love that show- especially the imagery of child as whirlwind in the opening credits.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Old Comics Wednesday: The Demon and Omac

When I was a kid, I read comics, mostly Superman, with Curt Swan's classic art,  Batman, featuring Dick Giordino's pencils, and Justice League of America, with art by Dick Dillin.
These guys had clean lines and were doing pretty much the same thing, masterfully so, month after month.

So when I encountered Jack Kirby's artwork, again as a kid, there was a disconnect, it was odd.
His characters weren't Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent handsome.
And his ideas... they were big.   And kind of out there.

Like OMAC.  Buddy Blank is a corporate cog nebbish at Psuedo People Inc when he's chosen by faceless representatives of the Global Peace Agency to be their instrument of peace.  His first adventure deals with the Build-A-Friend women Pseudo People produces- killer intelligent bombs.  Really.

Then there was the Demon.  From Camelot to Gotham City, Merlin's weapon against Morgaine Le Fay, Etrigan the Demon, shared the life of an immortal knight, Jason Blood.

Kirby let himself go wild on projects like these, and his magnum opus, The Fourth World Saga, epic ideas that he wrote and drew as a solo artist after over a decades worth of collaboration of work at Marvel with Stan Lee.

Since then, I've read and re-read Kirby's work for DC, and I'm impressed every time.  I just wish it hadn't taken me thirty years to get there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Something for Everyone

Holy cow.  How have I missed this gem?  "Something for Everyone" (1970) is a one of those movies where a stranger ingratiates himself with a rich family.  The stranger in this case is Michael York as Konrad, and the rich family is that of Countess Herthe von Ornstein, played- to the hilt- by Angela Lansbury. 

He'll do anything he has to get to live in the von Ornstein, including maim, kill and seduce.  In that order, actually.

York is coldly detached as a master manipulator, while Lansbury  is over the top, yearning for her lost glories.

It was directed by stage director Harold Prince, with a screenplay Hugh Wheeler, three time Tony Award winner, and score by John Kander, of Kander and Webb (Chicago, Cabaret), so there's more than just a little Broadway to it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Chariots of the Gods

The well of the seventies's pseudoscience never seems to run dry.

1970's The Chariots of the The Gods is a special kind of magic, based on books by Erich Von Däniken, proposing that aliens have been visiting earth and influencing human development.

It's really a dreamy sort of movies, narrated in a droney, NPR sort of way, almost as a travelogue- here's Iraq, we go to the South Pacific, here in Mexico, in Egypt.  Lots of exposition about historical sites and how obviously humans couldn't have done (this) or (that) without help.

The treat is the soundtrack, it's this electronic, new agey Music from the Hearts of Space from German composer Peter Thomas.  It's so soothing, coupled with the narration,  I've actually fallen asleep watching this.

Ok, confession:  I use this to fall asleep.  Set the timer on the tv set,  so that it turns off automatically, and start the movie.  Better than Nyquil. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It Happened At Lakewood Manor

Tonight's movie was It Happened At Lakewood Manor (12.2.77), something I hadn't even heard about until I discovered the list of natural horror films on wikipedia.  Ants.  Killer ants.
Myrna Loy owns a hotel with her grand-daughter, played by Lynda Day George.  It's under seige by killer ants.
It's that simple.
The "why?" is even simpler- pollution!
It's a basic nature amok, seige movie.
Suzanne Somers plays the girlfriend of a developer looking to buy the hotel.  She shows more character development in the 100 minutes of the movie than she did in all her seasons of Three's Company.
I surprised Perry because everytime Myrna Loy's character came on screen, I'd comment, a la MST3K, "I had a man flogged once," referring to The Mask of Fu Manchu.  He finally picked up on it and asked "is that Myrna Loy?  How old was she?".  Which at the time, she was 72.

That's one of the cool things about doing this... stars of the golden age were still active- like Gloria Swanson in Airport 1975.