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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2007!
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 386  (Vol. 8, No. 33). This edition is for the week of August 13--19, 2007.


Also...Birthday Hooters Pics
          Readers Comments

The Tampa Film Review for August
by Nolan B. Canova, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods
  • Our Reviews!
    by Mike Smith

    "The Invasion"

    by Andy Lalino

    Birthday Bashers .... Flash -- Ahhh-Ah!

    by Mike Smith

    Missed Birthdays .... Musical Notes .... Poison Me Elmo .... Barry Bonds .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 27: Brad Sullivan

    by Lisa Ciurro

    Book Review:
    "Fangland" by John Marks
    by ED Tucker

    DVD Review: "Godzilla Raids Again"
    It's so weird -- and sad -- that just after I post an obit about an influential talk show host's passing (Tom Snyder, PCR #384), another, equally influential talk show host passes away. I'm taking, of course, about the recent passing of Merv Griffin, 82, from complications of prostate cancer.

    Of course, Merv was much more than a talk show host. His resumé usually trumpets the wildly successful game shows he invented and produced, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, and justifiably so. (Interestingly, he was in the midst of creating another game show, Merv Griffin's Crosswords when he died.)

    My earliest memories of Merv Griffin date back to the '60s when he had his daytime talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, basically patterned after Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. His "Ed McMahon"-type sidekick and announcer was none other than the legendary Arthur Treacher, yes the Arthur Treacher of Fish & Chips fame! (Curiously I have not seen this interesting fact mentioned in any online obit of Griffin so far.) Treacher came off as an old fuddy-duddy English butler, presumably to offfset Griffin's attempt at a rich playboy image.

    I say "attempt" because, to me, Griffin always came across as someone seeking the same rareified air as the Johnny Carsons and Bing Crosbys of the world, but never quite believing he attained it. Not hard to see where such a thing came from. He was rather short. He bore a striking resemblance to another daytime talk show host, Mike Douglas (who passed away last year). He had problems with his weight. But most of all, Merv's was a legacy of frustrated ambition.

    His original job was as the frontman singer for The Freddy Martin Band, a fairly big band of its day (when big bands were the thing). Griffin would sometimes comment that after all the singing lessons his parents paid for (resulting in Merv's by-the-book singing style), his biggest hit was "I've Got a Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts" (Freddy Martin Band, 1950), a faux-English pub style novelty song.

    Whatever his identity crisis may or may not have been, Merv made up for any shortcomings big time with his ruthless ambition to become one of the world's wealthiest men, which he did, mostly through real estate, hotels (over which he sparred with Donald Trump), and as previously mentioned, game shows.

    While the nighttime version of The Merv Griffin Show failed to unseat Johnny Carson as king of late night, I must admit his later daytime '70s version ruled the roost as far as I'm concerned. Extremely interesting, insightful, and when egos didn't get in the way (an annoying weak spot of the show), some of the best interviews ever done on television. Every once in a while, Merv would have a big band reunion show, proclaiming "They're comin' back, baby!". While entertaining as far as they went, this typified Merv's never having quite gotten over the big bands' obsolesence. Still, nobody else was doing them, so good on Merv.

    Interestingly, two members of his own house band at that time were, in themselves, celebrities: Herb Ellis, jazz guitarist extraordinaire (who once performed a devastating version of "The Flintstones Theme" on the show!) and trumpet-player Jack Sheldon of '70s TV's The Girl With Something Extra.

    My fascination with TV talk shows and their hosts/formats faded somewhat during the '90s. Besides Carson retiring, cable television's saturation with talk shows diluted the playing field and increasingly became centered around celebrity tabloid fodder. But the legacy of the giants made an indelible impression on me and (if I may) influenced me tremendously on personal indulgences like The World of Nolan video series.

    Merv Griffin, entrepreneur and talk show pioneer, will be sorely missed.

    Birthday Boy, Hooters Pics
    OK, OK, I am red-faced about this. Last Sunday, August 12th, was targeted as my "birthday Hooters" gathering. I didn't realize until I got to Hooters that my camera's batteries were nearly dead, so I only mananged to take three pictures before it tanked. Chris Woods had brought his camera, but a blinding rainstorm outside discouraged any attemtps to bring it in before or during the festivites. I thought I had secured a pic of Joel D. Wynkoop, but alas, his pic didn't take (sorry Joel). But the six of us there had a great time: Andy Lalino, Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods, Joel D. Wynkoop, Ron Canova, and, of course, the birthday boy himself, yours truly, Nolan B. Canova. I turned 52 years old the next day.

        Click on images to enlarge. A new browser window should open.
    I didn't think Clearwater horror film legend and PCR contributor Andy Lalino would show for this, but he surprised me. That's him on the left, talking with my brother Ron Canova. Andy was caught in the terrible rainstorm we had, but he made it anyway. Thanks, Andy. My biological li'l bro', Ron, on the left, with my figurative li'l bro', the dark one of filmmaking, Terence Nuzum on right. I pixelated his "love salute" here, but its in full glory in the enlargement. One day I'll remember to move the !?@*$#! paper towel spindle before snapping shots!! Our old friend, the !?@*$#! paper towel spindle is back in view, while I listen to Andy spin some filmmaking tales. St. Pete filmmaker and PCR contributor, Chris Woods, right, washes down some chicken wings! Joel Wynkoop was sitting next to Chris. I tried to get a pic but my batteries died. Sorry, Joel.

    Readers' Comments

    The Readers' Comment Section of this issue of PCR is closed. To continue to interact, please use the Message Board or send a Letter to the Editor! Comments listed below start with the msot recent. Thank you.

    Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.
    cwoods [18-08-2007 11:32] 
    Hey Terence, that was USA Saturday Nightmares. They use to show tons of good and bad horror films.
    Joel D. Wynkoop [18-08-2007 08:03] 
    Hey Nolan, that's okay I'm not camera worthy anyway. Hey I did give you two cool movies for a Birthday present. Terrence it is always cool to see you even if you do flip off the camera. Chris it was GREAT seeing you again, we should do it more often. Andy, Andy, Andy, we don't see you enough, it was a BLAST talking with you!! And Ron, (Nolan's brother) you're a cool guy and it was fun having you there, keep coming man. Hopefully we'll see everyone tomorrow at the comic con.

    terence [17-08-2007 16:49] 
    what was the name of the show on USA either on friday or saturday nights that played horror movies? it used to start out like going through a gallery with images of Freddy etc. i saw one of my favorite worst movies i have ever seen there when i was like 12. it was called Grotesque and it involved like a biker gang that kill and rob this old man in the beginning and then are hunted down by a mad plastic surgeon. god it was bad but just one of those moments from childhood you wouldnt trade for nothing.
    cwoods [17-08-2007 16:36] 
    Nolan, great write up on Merv Griffin. I remember I use to watch his show from time to time back in the 80's. Also, I remember he had a cameo in the Steve Martin film, "The Man With Two Brains".

    Also, Nolan, had a great time at Hooters for your birthday. I wish I brought my camera in for I could get some pictures of the event.
    cwoods [17-08-2007 16:31] 
    Hey Paul, I think I remember that intro to the show. I use to watch Up All Night as well. I remember that replaced Night Flight in '89, I think.
    Paul Guzzo [17-08-2007 07:24] 
    Remember the old opening for USA Up All Night ... the guy on the motorcycle ripping through the city? That was my friend's older brother. No joke. They paid him a little bit of cash, a steak dinner and a hotel for a night in the city - I believe it was NY, but it was so long ago it could have been Philly or Chicago.
    Odds [17-08-2007 07:21] 
    I'd like to echo Chris Woods and Ed Tucker's sentiments on the USA Network of the '80s. It was awesome. Night Flight and Commander USA were two incredible shows. Where else could you see "The Psychotronic Man" on TV? Well, maybe (at the time) Movie Macabre. I used to work with a guy who produced Night Flight segments. I'll have to interview him some day. Oh, and don't forget USA "Up All Night" with St. Pete. resident Rhonda Shear.
    Nolan [17-08-2007 07:03] 
    Nah....too much work for too large an area and it wouldn't look right anyway. I'm much more upset I didn't get more pictures. However, next time I think I'll be more conscious of table clutter.
    Odds [17-08-2007 06:59] 
    Couldn't you Photoshop out the paper towel spindle?!?
    Nolan [17-08-2007 04:35] 
    To all PCR writers: another excellent issue, gang. Thank you all very, very much. You guys (and grrls) rock. Mike's Rant is still on the way.
    To Andy: Branjo and I decided to bail on The Nanny Diaries in favor of The Bridges of Madison County. Geez, where do you get this stuff?
    To John Matheny: Sorry for the confusion, I'll make a note on the TFR page.
    To Paul Guzzo: I guess "first time" is the way Chris heard it. I'll make a note on the TFR page.
    To ED Tucker and Lisa Ciurro: I don't remember the last time we had such successful launches of new columns! Fantastic! Keep up the great work.

    cwoods [16-08-2007 16:42] 
    Ed, just wanted to comment again on the "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" review. You mention USA back in the day. I use to watch it all the time in the mid to late 80's. The use to show some cool stuff back then. Commander USA, Night Flight, Saturday Nightmares, Sci-Fi Friday. USA network was where I saw tons of the classic horror films that I love for the first time.
    cwoods [16-08-2007 16:34] 
    Lisa, very cool review on the book, "Fangland". Sounds very interesting. Would like to see that as a film. It's also cool that most of it sounds like it takes place at a news station, since I work for a news channel.
    cwoods [16-08-2007 16:32] 
    Andy, cool article on Nolan's birthday bash. Glad you were able to come. I had a good time at Hooters.
    cwoods [16-08-2007 16:30] 
    Hey Ed, just wanted to let you know I've enjoyed reading your articles. I've been meaning to comment on few but just haven't gotten around to doing it until now. Enjoyed this weeks one about the Godzilla film. Use to watch a lot of them when I was a kid, haven't seen any of them in a long time.

    I really liked your first article on different toys of the 70's. I have some of the Shogun Warriors. Got them when I was a kid. Have few of the small action figures that were diecast metal and I had one of the tall ones too. I also had Ernie puppet too.

    Also enjoyed last weeks article on "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark".
    Odds [16-08-2007 15:08] 
    I know BranJo's going to take me to task for saying this, but it's going to be hard to resist staying away from "Invasion" because I love the "Body Snatchers" concept so much. Plus, as you noted in your review, Veronica Cartwright's in it, playing a similar role from the '78 remake, which she was great in.

    Some lady on the radio bashed it this morning, but you never know if these people actually see the movies or not.

    I'm willing to give this one a shot, mainly due to the source material and the presence of Ms. Cartwright. I can certainly do without Kidman.
    Michael [16-08-2007 14:32] 
    Andy, In my review I meant that it was the third remake of the original film, not of the novel. That takes into account the 1978 film (I still shudder when I picture original 1950s hero Kevin McCarthy's face on the body of the dog.), "Body Snatchers" (1993, I think) and this one. I don't like the new DVD cover either. There were at least 10 different one sheets produced for the 1978 film and you'd think they would have used the art from one of them.
    Terence [16-08-2007 13:48] 
    Thanks for the correction John. Sorry about the mix-up.
    John Matheny [16-08-2007 11:36] 
    A clarification on the reviews of the Rodman Dam Murders. The movie "A Ludicrous Tale" was not produced by the FMPTA. John Matheny did that movie totally independent of the FMPTA.
    Odds [16-08-2007 10:21] 
    I think I own the same (cheap) Goodtimes VHS edition. I can't recall if it was titled "Gigantis..." (it probably was). It was a movie I had always wanted to see, but one that managed to elude Tampa Bay TV watchers in the '70s and '80s. Even during Channel 44's "Godzilla Week", I don't ever recall them playing "Gigantis...". At times, they could be funny about broadcasting B&W movies & TV shows.

    I've been hearing good things about the new "20 Million Miles to Earth" DVD too. It includes a "colorized" version - Harryhausen states that he originally wanted to do the film in color.
    ED [16-08-2007 10:09] 
    Andy, thanks for the kind words. I don't ever recall seeing Gigantis on Creature Feature. I never recall having seen it on cable at all until Showtime had a Godzilla marathon one weekend in the 80's. It was around the same time I picked up the Goodtimes $10 VHS with the box title Godzilla Raids Again but the print was titled Gigantis. You have to love those old budget tape distributors.
    Paul Guzzo [16-08-2007 10:00] 
    As always, well thought out reviews of the TFR. One correction, though - the Gred Baldi film was not his first. He has shown films in the past that were very well made and received high marks from everyone. He explained at TFR while introducing the film that they made this one on a spur of the moment and in a few hours because they were bored.
    Odds [16-08-2007 08:51] 
    Oh, and Ed...great piece on my personal fave "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", which, along with "Let's Scare Jessica to Death", gave me perennial nightmares of the most ecstatic kind.

    For those who haven't yet read it, it was in the last PCR edition.
    Odds [16-08-2007 08:47] 
    At Borders last night I noted that there's a new DVD edition of the 1978 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (a classic), I guess to cash in on "Invasion". Some very nice extras, but the cover is insultingly awful. I couldn't even tell which version it was!

    Also, I think there's a correction in Mike's review (a similar error I heard today on the radio); "Invasion" is not the third interpretation of Jack Finney's novel, it's the fourth. Famous grindhouse director Abel Ferrara did "Body Snatchers" in the '90s.
    Odds [16-08-2007 08:41] 
    Great write-up on the "Godzilla Raids Again" DVD release. I saw it, for the first time, on (a cheap) edition VHS a few months back. Despite the cheezy packaging, the print they used was actually good. Angurus is actually my favorite monster, and it's interesting to note that he was the Big G's first adversary.

    Do you remember "Gigantis The Fire Monster" ever playing on Creature Feature? I do not. It's hard to believe this was one that I missed during my childhood. Glad I finally got to see it. I'll look out for the DVD, though I'm a big cheapskate.
    Odds [16-08-2007 07:43] 
    What can I say...great write-up on Merv. It almost makes up for your inexplicable longing to catch 'The Nanny Diaries' with your 2007-loving cine-toady BranJo.

    To me, Merv's game show exploits will always take a back seat to his great '70s talk show (though I love "Jeopardy"). If you recall, the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon" depicted Griffin on screen (with Kaufman as guest).

    Did you know that both Merv Griffing and Mike Douglas died at 82?

    Damn, those guys ruled...Tom Synder and Carson/McMahon too. Just another example of how the '70s are infinitely superior.
    ED [16-08-2007 05:03] 
    Terence - so far I have only seen Classic Media's versions of the original Godzilla and Raids Again. Both of these are great and I am planning to review more. From what I understand, they only own the rights to a sampling of the films in the original series, mainly the earlier entries. It's a shame because I would love to see this delux treatment extended to some of the later films like Godzilla Vs. Megalon that have never had a decent US home video release. I am also looking forward to CM's releases of Frankenstein Conquors the World and War of the Gargantuas.
    terence [15-08-2007 17:54] 
    hey ed. i got that dvd plus Mothra vs. Godzilla. they are indeed great releases. i have been wanting to see the japanese language versions for years. next up i have to buy Ghidorah and Monster X and of course Gojira. the first film really is the only one thats a masterpiece. its defintely a work of art that is a great comment on nuclear war and may be the best document of japan post-hiroshima on film. too bad america had to censor most of the message and add raymond burr.
    Nolan [15-08-2007 16:19] 
    Due to work schedule conflicts, the PCR got up a little late this week, folks -- sorry! Whew. ZZzzzzzz.
    [31-12-1969 16:00] 
    End of Comments    

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    "Mike's Rant" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith    "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino    "FANGRRL" is ©2007 by Lisa Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2007 by ED Tucker      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova    
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