Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Haunting Of Room 635

Sometimes guests in Room 635 claim they see mysterious links hidden in dark corners or behind the heavy drapery. Others have insisted they've seen them reflected behind them in the bathroom mirror, but, when they turn around, there's nothing there. One guest, 'Joel Cairo' -- who I believe was besotted -- told the maid that he received a particularly disturbing phone call in the middle of the night by one such link. He insisted the phone call was coming from INSIDE his room! Now, I personally don't believe in such childishness. However, I have compiled a list of some of the most ghoulish sitings that have been reported to my extremely gullible staff. Until we can gather enough money to hire those Ghost Hunters people, you'll have to judge for yourself. Click if you dare.

Just in time for Halloween home viewing, Rod Serling's 1969 series, The Night Gallery. There are many episodes on YouTube and a few choice links can be found on this Metafilter post. Guest stars include John Astin, Carl Reiner, and Joan Crawford (the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg).

Also at Metafilter: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater is now online in both streaming and downloadable formats. The original Metafilter post suggests some holiday titles.

Gary Larson's brilliant comic, The Far Side, was made into a 1994 Halloween special for CBS (that somehow I don't remember)! More information about the short-lived Tales From The Far Side can be found at Wikipedia. Vinnie Rattolle's blog has download links (and spoilers!) for the television version of the special, but I didn't watch it (so download at your own risk).

What does Garfield have in common with Michael Scott? Apparently, they have the same greatest fear (not the bankruptcy of Sbarro's). In 1989, a series of Garfield strips was published where Jim Davis posited a sort of parallel universe where Garfield was left in a dark, cold house devoid of Jon and Odie. What results is an unsettling and surprisingly philosophical story arc that seems as much a hallucination to the reader as to the lasagne-loving cat himself. As Garfield plunges into the the depths of madness, he begins to question his very existence. Not since the 'Nermal is Dead' (complete with various 'clues' surrounding his death and its cover-up) plot of the previous year had the Garfield strip delved into such murky waters. Read the original stories here (and at the Retro Junk link above). And follow up with analysis from Jim Davis at Boing Boing.

Secret Style Icon: Edward Gorey and Everyone He Has Ever Drawn. Interesting post from an up-and-coming post-Sassy Sassyesque magazine. Warning: Teenage clothes and pictures of Edward Gorey covered in sleeping cats.

How To Make Magnetic Googly Eyes. (see also: All Googly: The #1 Source for Pictures of Things with Googly Eyes)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 30 - November 4)

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Dial M For Murder (1954) 2:00 PM
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1966) 10:30 PM

Monday, October 31, 2011
Village Of The Damned (1960) 8:00 PM - Interesting movie to have coinciding with mobs of sugar-addicted kids banging on your door
The Innocents (1961) 12:15 AM
The Haunting (1963) 2:00 AM
Repulsion (1965) 4:00 AM - I've wanted to see this Roman Polanski movie for a long time. Stars Catherine Deneuve, who - can you believe it - just turned 68! Q: What follows Repulsion? A: Tension! (see Tuesday)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 (theme: hilarity?)
Tension (1950) 4:00 PM - 'A man who had planned to murder his wife's lover becomes the prime suspect when somebody beats him to it.' I feel like I've seen this movie a thousand times, but it sounds good and stars Cyd Charisse.
The Big Sleep (1946) 6:00 PM
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) 8:00 PM - Hilarious movie with Gene Wilder as the great Sigerson Holmes, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman. Hey, it's better than the terrible new steampunk franchise!
Sleeper (1973) 9:45 PM
Modern Times (1936) 1:15 AM - Eating Machine! Eating Machine!
Jour de fĂȘte (1949) 3:00 AM - 'A small town postman tries to adopt modern efficiency techniques.' Jacques Tati

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 (theme: Battle of the blondes - Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield)
Niagara (1952) 8:00 PM - Excellent film noir starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten. I never really appreciated Marilyn Monroe (with the exception of the next movie), but I've since realized what an underrated actor she was. She not only had comedic talent but also remarkable dramatic abilities. I was especially impressed with her performances in Niagara and Don't Bother To Knock (with Richard Widmark). Apparently, she was something of an intellectual, too. She was not just a pretty face! Surprisingly, I think I'm most disappointed that we have been denied seeing what Marilyn could have achieved in other mature acting roles.
Some Like It Hot (1959) 9:45 PM - Billy Wilder's classic

Thursday, November 3, 2011 (theme: Hit the deck with Doris Day)
Screen Directors Playhouse: The Life of Vernon Hathaway (1955) 4:00 PM - 'Meek daydreamer starts living his dreams in real life.' TCM will be showing many episodes of Screen Directors Playhouse over the coming months. This one sounds interesting if a tad Mittyesque (or, if you prefer, Billy Liar). This one stars Alan Young (yes, Wilbur!) and Cloris Leachman (geez, how old IS she!?). Many of the stories and cast lists sound very interesting. It's hard to imagine a time when such high calibre programming was on television.
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) 6:15 PM - Smart gentlemen, anyway.
Romance On The High Seas (1948) 8:00 PM
April In Paris (1952) 10:00 PM

Friday, November 4, 2011
Gold Diggers Of 1935 (1935) 9:30 PM - While this is not as good as '33, this is the one with the fifteen minute spectacular 'Lullaby of Broadway' sequence. 'Lullaby of Broadway' was Busby Berkeley's masterpiece.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pop Culture Documentary #5: A Flea Market Documentary

A Flea Market Documentary is a cross country celebration of cool junk and the people who frequent these ragtag tag sales. The documentary was made for Pittsburgh's WQED PBS by my favorite pop culture filmmaker, Rick Sebak. His series of regional documentaries, including Sandwiches That You Will Like and A Hot Dog Program, have more warmth and depth than similar shows featured on the Food and Travel channels. This is his most exciting work to date.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 24 - 29)

TCM is looking to disturb your sleep this week with several nights of terror, intrigue, and, of course, the macabre. Will you be brave enough to make it through this schedule?

Monday, October 24, 2011 (A night of TERROR!)
Carnival Of Souls (1962) 8:00 PM - I'm not a fan of the zombie genre, but I recall liking this title a bit better than Night of the Living Dead.
Strait-Jacket (1964) 12:00 AM
Pit And The Pendulum (1961) 1:45 AM
The Masque Of The Red Death (1964) 3:15 AM
The Devil's Bride (1968) 5:00 AM

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Irma La Douce (1963) 3:00 PM - One of the two great movies pairing Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Bad Seed (1956) 5:45 PM - Ooooh, this movie is GOOD! Weird but good.
Undercurrent (1946) 3:30 AM - 'Sheltered woman realizes either her husband or his mysterious brother is a psychopath' - Interesting cast for such a plot: Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum

Thursday, October 27, 2011
Screen Directors Playhouse: No. 5 Checked Out (1956) 4:15 PM - Teresa Wright stars as a deaf woman confronting desperate crooks using one of her resort cabins as a hideout. The premise reminds me of Wait Until Dark (worth watching for Alan Arkin's manic performance!).
Fiddler On The Roof (1971) 8:00 PM - I've still never seen this musical, and there's probably no justification for that.
The Boy Friend (1971) 11:15 PM

Friday, October 28, 2011 (The night of a thousand evil twins)
Dead Ringer (1964) 8:00 PM 'Woman murders rich twin and tries to take her place' - Sounds like the new CW show, Ringer? Well, hopefully it's a little better since it stars Bette Davis.
The Black Room (1935) 10:00 PM - 'Evil twin disposes of his enemies in secret death chamber on his estate' - Boris Karloff
The Other (1972) 11:15 PM

Saturday, October 29, 2011
Cat People (1942) 8:00 PM - Recommended!
Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton: The Man In The Shadows (2007 documentary) 9:30 PM
The Body Snatcher (1945) 11:00 PM
Bedlam (1946) 2:00 AM
The Seventh Victim (1943) 3:30 AM

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 17 - 22)

Monday, October 17, 2011 (Horrors!)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948) 2:15 PM - If people are wondering why you're watching a movie in the middle of the afternoon on Monday, you can tell them you're doing a little tarrrrr-get practice.
Horror Of Dracula (1958) 8:00 PM
House On Haunted Hill (1959) 9:30 PM
The Tingler (1959) 11:00 PM - Scream, ladies and gentlemen! Scream as loud as you can! (also, read my review of Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story)
House Of Wax (1953) 12:30 AM - If you've got your 3-D glasses on, make sure you don't get hit by the paddle ball.
Curse Of The Demon (1958) 2:15 AM - I've never seen this one.. It's a Jacques Tourneur film starring Dana Andrews as an anthropologist investigating a devil worshipper. Typical Dana Andrews movie!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
On Moonlight Bay (1951) 3:00 PM - A fun Doris Day / Gordon MacRae musical that will delight fans of Oklahoma! and Meet Me In St. Louis

Friday, October 21, 2011
She (1965) 8:00 PM - From the H. Rider Haggard book

Also, 'the vacationing Robert Osborne' will return in December!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures

The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1,001 Things You Hate To Love by Sam Stall, Lou Harry, and Julia Spalding (Quirk Books, 2004) is the most opinionated and infuriating pop culture encyclopedia I've ever read.

The book is meant to be a satirical compendium of bad taste which plumbs the depths of trash culture and regurgitates the curiously popular bits. I found the writers' descriptions of the skewered subjects to be shallow and misguided and the writing style to be unnecessarily scathing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 9 - 14)

Boy, was American Horror Story creepy or what? I don't know that I can watch any more of that. Oh well, at least there's always the trusty TCM. Here's their very laudable October 2011 schedule.

Sunday, October 9, 2011
Critic's Choice (1963) 4:00 PM - 'A Broadway critic must write a negative review of his wife's play' - Fun with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball!
Limelight (1952) 1:30 AM - I've been interested in seeing this late Charles Chaplin movie which features Claire Bloom and Buster Keaton

Monday, October 10, 2011
Fiddler On The Roof (1971) 4:45 PM - It's hard to believe, but I've never seen this.
The Uninvited (1944) 9:15 PM - This is a really good Ray Milland supernatural thriller.
Dead Of Night (1945) 11:00 PM - Another good British supernatural movie. This is like a gentler Simpson's Treehouse of Horror (various vignettes weave together into a central psychoanalytical story).
Cat People (1942) 2:15 AM - Excellent Simone Simon tale
The Curse Of The Cat People (1944) 3:45 AM - This is a sort-of, kind-of sequel to Cat People, except it really has nothing to do with the first movie. Personally, I found it to be much more haunting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The Glass Key (1942) 12:15 AM - You can't go wrong with this film noir starring one of the best duos of the genre, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. The plot is taken from a Dashiell Hammett book. Stay tuned for next month's airing of my (2nd) favorite, THE BLUE DAHLIA!
All The King's Men (1949) 2:00 AM - I read the Robert Penn Warren book in high school but never saw the movie. I've read nothing but rave reviews of Broderick Crawford's portrayal of Willie Stark.

Friday, October 14, 2011
The Third Man (1949) 8:30 AM - It's a favorite and I'll recommend it every single time it's on!
Some Like It Hot (1959) 10:30 AM
The Apartment (1960) 12:45 PM - Poor Jack Lemmon..
Far From The Madding Crowd (1967) 5:00 PM - A fine collection of actors: Julie Christie and Terrence Stamp (inspiring the 'Terry and Julie' lyrics of the Kinks' Waterloo Sunset?), Peter Finch, and Alan Bates (who was quite good in the Merchant Ivory movie Quintet)!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the... Television in... October

Right about the time when the air starts to give off a satisfying chill, so too does the television, in the form of Halloween specials, horror movies, and monster marathons. I love this time of year and all its corresponding thrills, and my interest is piqued by a few new shows airing this month. I don't know much about any of them, and I'm not fond of being spoiled, so I haven't looked at a lot of clips or websites about any of them. In fact, it can be said that I know next to nothing about any of these series, but what I have seen has me anticipating some high quality creepiness. First up is American Horror Story. I know little about FX's new horror series which debuts tonight [Wednesday, October 5 at 10:00 PM] (other than the fact that it stars Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton), but I've read some positive reviews. I hope it will live up to the hype! I've also seen intriguing ads for NBC's Grimm, which appears to be a darker, more adult fairy tale (though not to be confused with the new ABC series Once Upon A Time?). Grimm officially airs on NBC on Friday, October 28 (I'm not sure when Once Upon A Time makes its debut), but it looks like Syfy might be showing the pilot episode on Monday, October 24 at 8:00 PM. Check your local listings!

The trusty TV Tango has posted its Halloween/October programming list. Here's the best stuff I've gleaned from the list. Cartoon Network's better sibling, Boomerang, is doing a Super-Spooky Weekday Block all month. Various Scooby-Doo incarnations, The [Animated] Addams Family, The Munsters, and Funky Phantom will be shown from 10:30 AM to 3 PM every week day. Also, it looks like Boomerang has an Addams Family/Munsters marathon scheduled for Monday, October 10 (6 AM to 5:30 PM). Wish I still got that channel! AMC and TCM will be showing a LOT of horror movies all month. TCM is, naturally, the channel you want to tune to for the best in classic thrills and chills. FYI, here is TCM's October 2011 schedule (I haven't watched too many movies for a few weeks, but next week's schedule is really packed.)

O-o-o-oh Ro-o-o-ob!

On the less terrifying side of the dial, I discovered that TV Land is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of one of the best comedies ever, The Dick Van Dyke Show, with a week of marathon programming. Check your local listings. The channel advertises hour blocks starting at 7:00 PM, but I've seen alternate airing times, as well. Unfortunately, I already missed one day's worth of programming since I didn't check their schedule! Don't miss this rare occasion of TV Land actually showing a classic show! Edit: There will be a two-day marathon on TV Land starting at noon on Saturday.

Televisual Miscellanea

My favorite television show of all-time, The Wonder Years, is now on Netflix Streaming. This is great news for anyone who has that service and/or has not been watching it religiously on The Hub.

The modern classic Arrested Development will could return by 2013 with ten new episodes (each focusing on one of the whacked out Bluths) (a premise that sounds more webisodic to me) and culminating with the long-promised movie. I fear resurrecting something as close to perfection as Arrested Development will be the biggest little mistake Mitch Hurwitz could make. Check out the New Yorker Festival's Arrested Development reunion panel where these unholy promises were made.

Here's something to look forward to: Stephen Fry, Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd), and David Mitchell and Robert Webb (the duo behind Peep Show and The Mitchell and Webb Look/Sound/etc.) are collaborating on a new show for the BBC called The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff. It's a Dickensian spoof by Mark Evans that will air in the UK around Christmas. I got a chuckle out of Robert Webb's quote in the linked press release: "I'm really looking forward to working with my all-time hero David Mitchell. Apparently Stephen Fry is in it too, which is nice." The premise sounds very promising and the cast is a guarantee for quality street comedy. I just hope it makes it into wider release eventually (ie BBC America, the Internet).