7/9/09

Cinema #: When Late Night Movies Ruled

Late night movies in the 1970’s and early 80’s kicked ass. You can take that statement to the bank. This is not an opinion; I say it with mathematical certainty.

Turn on your TV tonight with your 250 channels and TiVo and find something to watch that’s off the beaten path, some long lost gem from the 60’s or 70’s. Actually, don’t bother – you’ll just embarrass yourself. Sure, TCM does a fairly good job of bringing you older films from around the 40’s, but if you’re wanting to find something like Corvette Summer (1978) or The House that Dripped Blood (1971)… you are probably going to be SOL.

Here's a snippet from a TV guide from July 1981. The image shows a small portion of the schedule … with just a few channels to choose from. Yet, night after freaking night the stations were overflowing with awesome retro goodness!



Take a long hard look at the schedule. You’ll find these trash and treasures to choose from:

Can't Stop the Music (1980) – This is a disco movie starring The Village People, Steve Guttenberg and Bruce Jenner. Need I say more?

The Clones (1974) - The first movie to ever use the term "clone" in its title. I’ve never seen this, and likely never will. It’s not on DVD.

The Castle of Fu Manchu (1968) - Christopher Lee plays an evil Chinese mastermind!

Hot Stuff (1979) - Starring Jerry Reed, Dom DeLuise and Susan Plachette (pictured at the top of this post)... look me in the eyes tell me you don't want to see this.

Short Walk to Daylight (1972) - James Brolin is trapped in a subway after an earthquake, he and the other passengers must find their way out. Good luck trying to find this jewel on DVD… it’s gone, baby gone.

White Line Fever (1975) – One of the best trucker movies ever made.

Tales from the Crypt (1972) – One of my all time favorite horror anthology movies. Joan Collins is great in it. You’re lucky to find this on TV even around Halloween nowadays.

The Omegans (1967) - A VERY obscure science fiction movie filmed in the Filipino jungle starring Ingrid Pitt!

And this is just a small block of time!

Today, you’ll find flicks like Enemy of the State or Tommy Boy on TNT, AMC or TBS… but where are the trashy trucker movies? Where are the gritty grindhouse horror movies? Where’s the manic cocaine fueled disco movies? Gilligan wants to know.

22 comments:

  1. You are very right mister! Where are the Japanese monster movies??? Those are the ones I stayed up late to watch - even on a school night.

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  2. You are definitely right. I've got cable with tons of channels. Most of the time I spent flipping. I can't find anything on. When I was growing up, we had the three network channels and PBS. I never had a problem finding something cool to watch no matter the time of day or night.

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  3. You got it so right! TV movie selections SUCK, for the most part. Boring old craptacular movies time and again. BLAH!

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  4. I actually dig these trashy movies, at least they make me laugh!

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  5. Sometimes you can find a trashy gem even on cable. A few months ago I stumbled across the 1988 movie, John Carpenter's They Live! staring Roddy Piper. Aliens have infiltrated earth society but Roddy's got a pair of magic sunglasses that lets him see them for what they really are. It was truly awful but I couldn't stop watching.

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  6. I agree with you, capewood, that if you look long enough you're liable to stumble onto some oddball trash... but my point is, that late nights used to be FILLED with garbage. Look at the page from TV guide on this post - the 1981 cup runneth over with obscure crap.

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  7. I miss those days, you got movies you never heard of and sometimes tv shows that didn't make the network's primetime like the New Avengers.

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  8. Tuesday night at 9:30 on channel 7. That could have been the long lost 'Monroe got raped by a couple of fat chicks' episode of "Too Close for Comfort". Who's to say? Since it was in July, it would have been reruns from the first season.

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  9. The closest thing I've found to those the days when late night movies ruled is Flix movie network and the On Demand movies on my digital cable. I agree wholeheartedly with you.

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  10. Infomercials ruined it for all of us. Thank the gods for bit torrent...watching the craptastic Laserblast right now...soaking it up like biscuits and gravy. Why is everything good or cool in my past?

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  11. Excellent point, Cal. I neglected to mention the role of infomercials in all of this. The demise of the local late night horror hosts (i.e. Vampira, Elvira, etc.)coincides perfectly with the onset of infomercials. It's a lot more profitable to slap on a diet pill infomercial than pay the costs of running a locally hosted creature feature.

    (shaking fist in air) Damn you, capitalism!!

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  12. I rented The House that Dripped Blood (1971)a few weeks back.

    Cheesy goodness!

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  13. Dr. Monkey, I agree. Flix is awesome... about as close as it gets to watching a midnight movie on Channel 12 in 1979.

    Hairball - I love those old Amicus horror anthology movies. I liked the segment with Ingrid Pitt.

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  14. Funny this post should hit, just as I opened today's Netflix jewel: Race With The Devil - 1975 trashy horror flick with Peter Fonda, Warren Oates and Loretta Swit. Can't wait to roll that one tonight!

    Gotta get Hot Stuff next...

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  15. I love Race with the Devil! The movie contains one of my favorite car chases of all time (towards the end of the film)- an RV doing battle with a bunch of cars, all with guns ablazing!

    BTW the movie Fuzz comes on the Flix channel this weekend.

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  16. Hot Stuff! What a great movie! REALLY! How could you NOT love a movie with one of the great quotes ever uttered by a bit player?! "YOU'RE the reason for BOITH(birth) control!" uttered in a NY Yiddish accent no less! One of my favorite guilty pleasures. If you wanna know what this movie is about, I'll clue you in: Cops + sting + hilarity. They just don't make them like this anymore!

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  17. I love the movie "Hot Stuff". I found an old VHS copy of it on Ebay.

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  18. Hot Stuff, when the Black police chief played "the Godfather." "You know, from when Italy invaded Ethiopia."

    Great movies then, a lot of fun to watch.

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  19. Those were the days ! I was a kid prone to insomnia and am still something of a night owl today, used to get up at all hours and watch great movies. I cancelled my cable, there is nothing on anywhere any more, even the pay channels keep re-running the same stuff over and over.

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  20. Try visiting http://www.grindhousehorrormovies.com for some rare grindhouse style movies.

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  21. AnonymousMay 26, 2011

    Movies from the 70's are almost non-existent on television anymore, though it's a little better now with digital broadcast tv. Wonder what TCM will do when the audience for 30's and 40's movies is extinct.

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  22. I wrote an article about this exact thing for Shadowland magazine (issue 4) last year... and yes, I very much miss late night movies. I worked at a UHF station for many years and even then when they got something interesting like The Howling or Shaft (yes Shaft) they played them on Saturday afternoon, it kind of missed the point.

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