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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR #334  (Vol. 7, No. 33) This edition is for the week of August 14--20, 2006.

The Tampa Film Review for August  by Nolan B. Canova
Summer '06 in Review  by Mike Smith
Las Vegas....Small Markets....Hollywood East  by Mark Terry
Mike Douglas is Gone....VHS Grindhouse....By George -- He's a Dustman!...New York Dolls Back in the News....Screem Magazine Review (#12)  by Andy Lalino
Seen the King Lately?...Movie News....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 33: "Blazing Saddles"  by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Mike Douglas is Gone
A giant '70s icon has passed - the great Mike Douglas, who was a welcome staple in family living rooms during that great decade. The Mike Douglas Show was one that both kids and adults looked forward to at every airing. His guests included everyone from movies to TV to newsmakers to rock & roll. Fanboys will note that the cast of Star Wars made an appearance on July 20th, 1977. Other notable celbrities include: KISS, The Bee Gees + Peter Frampton (in promotion of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 11/23/77), the cast of Battlestar: Galactica on Valentine's day - 1977 (I believe the year is wrong - I think it's supposed to be 1978), the cast of Welcome Back Kotter, Penn & Teller (in '77!!), David Brenner, John Byner, Rodney Dangerfield, Billy Crystal, Redd Foxx, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, Freddie Prinz, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara (and a young Ben Stiller in '72!), Rip Taylor, Jimmie Walker (Dy-No-Mite!), Shelly Winters, Edger Bergen, Victor Borge, The Brady Bunch Kids, Victor Buono, Mel Brooks, Burgess Meredith, Ruth Buzzi, Frank Capra, Lynda Carter, Yvonne deCarlo, Susan Dey (The Partridge Family), Farah Fawcett, Barbara Feldon (Get Smart), Carrie Fisher, Peter Fonda, Merv Griffin, Monty Hall, Jim Henson, Alfred Hitchcock, Moe Howard(!), Gabe Kaplan (promoting Fastbreak?), Janet Leigh, Paul Lynde, Doug McClure (Land/People that Time Forgot), Yvette Mimieux (The Time Machine), Nimoy & Shatner, Soupy Sales, James Woods ('80), Peter Max, Spanky McFarlane, The Boomtown Rats(!!), Blondie, Captain and Tennille (what, no Carpenters?), Charo, ELO, Leif Garrett, Tony Orlando, Buddy Rich, Rose Royce, Patti Smith(!!!) - booked three times!, Frank Zappa, and countless other pop culture icons who appeal to the counterculture.

The two things to me that stand out about the show is the memorable logo - that famous bold asterisk - and that little red-haired kid Mason Reese (who starred in Underwood Deviled Ham commercials in the '70s).

How I'd love to take a week and watch all the old Mike Douglas talk shows. Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore too. It would be fascinating to take a time trip back to the mid/late '70s and recall what the climate was like.

Thanks for the memories.

VHS Grindhouse
House of Terror (1975) In the early/mid '70s, many low-budget horror films resembled the classic Night Gallery TV series. HOT is not an exception, but like the show, it's a fun, entertaining, and fairly tame horror jaunt. Bud E. Cardos was 2nd Unit Director. It plays out more like a murder mystery than a horror film, with a down-on-their luck couple scheming to rob a wealthy businessman out of his riches. A stunning brunette nurse named Jennifer (Jennifer Bishop) accepts a job as nurse/caretaker for the simpleton wife of the reclusive and rich Emmett Kramer (Mitchell Gregg). Before the interview she's met by a creepy female maid Norma (Irenne Byatt), who gives Anne Ramsay a run for her money in the looks dept. Norma takes an immediate dislike to new nurse hot stuff, as does the bitchy, bedridden Mrs. Kramer - played by an annyoying actress named Jacqueline Hyde! Jennifer actually likes her new job and digs, in an old, decked-out California mansion, but then Mark, her old bad boy flame re-enters her life, fresh out of the state pen.

Vulnerable Jennifer's still in love with the lecherous Mark, and unbeknownst to her he sneaks into the mansion and kills Mrs. Kramer, making it look like a suicide. Mark then talks her into marrying Emmett, who's fallen head over heels for her. The next step is to kill him off so she can inheret all the loot. Making that difficult is the appearance of Mrs. Kramer's twin sister - Dolores Beaudine - an aging actress. Beaudine falls in love with Mark, and they plot to kill off Jennifer. Sure, all this sounds like an episode of Columbo, but give this obscure flick a shot. It has nice horror touches: a suicide in a bathtub, a creepy maid, and blood dripping from the ceiling.

Jennifer Bishop has a proud history of horror, in addition to House of Terror, she starred in two William Grefe' films: Impulse and Mako: Jaws of Death (both shot in Florida), and also Horror of the Blood Monsters, Bigfoot, and The Maltese Bippy. Hyde was featured in TV favorites Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, The Wild Wild West, and Chico and the Man. Her horror films include: The Dark and Superstition. Arell Blanton, who played "Mark" is a veteran of the original Star Trek and Logan's Run and also appeared in the cult films Blood Mania, The Swarm, and When a Stranger Calls ('79 version).

By George -- He's a Dustman!
While I'm thrilled New Wave icon Boy George is getting press (even negative press is sometimes good) concerning the community service he's obligated to perform for his drug conviction in NYC, I'd much rather see him in the news promoting a new solo CD, a Culture Club reunion, or perhaps an in-studio collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys, since 1993's The Crying Game was such a great single. In a way it's sad - and pathetic - that the only time international press focuses on the troubled rock star is when he's down. Not that he doesn't deserve it. George (real name: George O' Dowd), no one likes a forty-something junkie. You've had your brain-blasting fun in the early '80s - not to mention tremendous riches and worldwide success as one of the '80s best-known bands - compared to a lot of other people who are a lot worse off than you, you're not one that needs to drown your low self-esteem and inner demons with drugs and alcohol. It's your life, Boy - take control of it and get back to making great alternative music. You've been silent for way too long.

New York Dolls Back in the News
In yesterday's edition of the St. Petersburg Times, they actually ran an article (courtesy of the AP) on the groundbreaking band largely responsible for influencing the Punk/New Wave movements in the '70s: The New York Dolls, in recognition of their first studio album in 32 years. It's true they were a crappy band, but one has to admit that they were pioneers in the image dept., setting the stage for future gender-bending acts such as Culture Club and The Eurythmics. Front man David Johansen, now 56(!), sports incredible long shaggy hair, and I have to admit it's great seeing the band together again after all this time. Actually, their "reunion" came together in 2004, with Johansen and other original member Sylvain Sylvain teamed up in association with a group of new musicians (who have that mid/late '70s black-clad NYC look) and began touring and recording. Their 2004 reunion concert is available on DVD at Borders and similar stores. I also had the privilege of catching a performance from Manchester, England in a music fest arranged and promoted by Morrissey (on cable TV, that is!).

The other famous ex-members of the Dolls have passed on; Johnny Thunders in 1991 of a heroin overdose, and drummer Jerry Nolan of a stroke in '92. Bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane joined the Dolls reunion in 2004, but died shortly thereafter from leukemia.

Apparently the reunion was well-received by generations of Dolls fans and newcomers interested in discovering how Punk broke out, proving even big boys play with Dolls. So much in fact, that the Dolls will continue touring the country and plan on recording more albums in the future.

Screem Magazine Review (#12)
I was in a Books-A-Million store in Palm Harbor and came across a horror magazine I had heard rumblings about at conventions: Screem. It was one of those 'zines wrapped in plastic so you couldn't thumb through it, though that inconvenience came with a mildly interesting bonus: a preview DVD of "Tartan Asia Extreme" catalog of films. I'm not the world's biggest fan of Asian horror, and was actually more excited about checking out a new fanboy rag on the stands. The cover isn't exactly a graphics masterpiece. The painting (of a ghoul face) is humdrum, as is the drippy logo. What helped sell me were exclamations about the contained articles regarding some cool horror films: Equinox, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, and "Killer Kid Movies" (The Children, Bloody Birthday).

I ripped through the pesky plastic sleeve, and was diappointed to find that all the inside pages were in B&W (the exceptions are the f & b covers), though, they were at least glossy and not newprint. After shelling out $8 for it, I felt a little slighted, but reminded myself I got a "free" promo DVD. What Screem lacks in graphics and color, however, it makes up in good, solid essays and reporting. Editor Darryl Mayeski's heart's squarely in the right place, as it's obvious he's delighting in constructing a beefy, content-driven magazine with real substance.

The first article is a skimpy pseudo-interview with fanboy fave Alan Ormsby, screenwriter extraordinairre (CSPWDT, Cat People, Popcorn, My Bodyguard). The interview bytes are few and far between, and the facts about his famous cult films were really nothing I hadn't known already. I would have liked to have heard more about what Ormsby was doing in-between film projects and a more lengthy expose on the script creation for the underrated '82 version of Cat People.

Other articles/interviews include spotlights on Mexican horror star Abel (Alfredo) Salazar (who Captain USA introduced me to in the mid/late '80s), an interview with ex-Amicus director Lawrence D. Foldes, Werewolves on Wheels director Michel Leuesque, a chat with MST3K star Mike Nelson, an essay on the great Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, avante-garde filmmaker/actor (and Eli Roth's darling) Giuseppe Andrews, yet another interview featuring Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster/Poltergeist/Return of the Living Dead star James Karen, a toy box full of DVD/theatrical reviews (both vintage and current horror) and best of all, an incredible, ultra in-depth article on the cult horror fantasy favorite Equinox by Lorne Marshall, who actually compares (with time codes and everything!) different incarnations of the film on various formats (VHS, DVD, cable TV versions).

One thing that caught my attention while collecting info on past issues was that Screem magazine seems to have a bent for Punk and New Wave. Included in select DVD reviews were concerts/videos by alternative faves Kate Bush, The Smiths, The Velvet Underground, Debby Harry, Mick Jones, and others. Issue #5 features Lydia Lunch, and #11 Klaus Nomi! Screem magazine knows it's way to Oddservations heart. No better combo than New Wave and Horror.

Despite the price and lack of inner-pages color, Screem is substantial, ambitious, and addictive. Given time, it may rise to the leagues of the big boys that are Fango and RM.

"Oddservations" is ©2006 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.