Extreme Cinema! “Stop Talking and Start Driving”

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Tonight, we kick off our premiere episode of Extreme Cinema!  Action and Exploitation Movies with Andrew La Ganke & David Lawler with David A. Prior’s action thriller, “Deadly Prey” from 1987, and then we discuss the 2013 sequel, “The Deadliest Prey” starring his brother, Ted Prior.

Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs

Running Time: 1:32:37

Film Is My Oxygen (interview with Ted Prior and David A. Prior, 2013)

BZ Film (interview with Ted Prior, 2011)

Cinedelphia (interview with Ted Prior, 2013) 

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

This episode and this podcast, as a whole, is dedicated to the memory of David A. Prior.
(1955-2015)

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Vintage Cable Box: “Wavelength, 1983”

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“Iris, they gotta put something on.  We can’t run around with three naked kids.  Not even in Hollywood.”

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Wavelength, 1983 (Robert Carradine), New World Pictures

Wavelength plays out almost like a hallucinatory daydream, seen through the eyes of a ghost-like Cherie Currie (who is always illuminated by key blue and green lights). She tells the story of how she met burned-out rock star Bobby Sinclair and consequently, a trio of aliens, whom can communicate with her telepathically. Cherie plays Iris Longacre, an earthy artist who hooks up with Bobby, and starts hearing strange whale-like sounds (like cries for help), somewhere buried within the Hollywood Hills. They take a walk around the neighborhood and come upon an enclosed structure, built like a fort, with barbed-wire fences.

Intrigued by her claims, Bobby takes her to meet an old miner (Keenan Wynn) who had assisted in the construction of a top secret Air Force base in the Hills. The reasoning being no one would ever suspect a compound in such a bizarre location. Wynn shows them a network of elaborate tunnels that lead to the base. Bobby and Iris make their way inside, and as they get closer, the cries get louder. As it happens, scientists are conducting an autopsy on what appears to be an alien, recovered from a crash site in the desert. It is this alien that is crying. Iris freaks out and screams in a kind of sympathetic pain. They are caught and arrested.

Examinations reveal Iris to be a twin (interesting in that Cherie indeed has a twin sister, Marie – who appeared with her in The Rosebud Beach Hotel), which scientists theorize give her latent psychic abilities. Iris and Bobby are reunited and then confined to the laboratory where alien canisters are being stored. The Government orders the base evacuated and sealed, effectively sentencing the kids to death. Bobby opens the canisters. The aliens come out. They look like naked, bald children. They have superhuman strength and preternatural powers, and they break down the doors, engineering Iris and Bobby’s escape. In a clever twist, the Government tells authorities to launch a dragnet for three missing “kids”, presumably abducted by Bobby and Iris.

The alien crash site is causing all the land around it to be subsumed in a poisonous environment. Witnesses and base personnel are dying off, and plant life is eroding. Iris and Bobby (with the help of Wynn and a pair of intrepid Native Americans) transport the remaining three aliens to their crash site. The movie (and the climax) bears some striking similarities to John Carpenter’s Starman (for which director Mike Gray coincidentally co-created the TV series spin-off), released a year later, especially with the revelation of the alien spacecraft: a mirror-like glowing sphere that casts a reflection.

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While obviously a low-budget science fiction, Wavelength is a beautifully-shot, impeccably edited (by Mark Goldblatt, who would go on to become Hollywood’s premiere action movie editor), swiftly-paced (yet thoughtful and sublime) and atmospheric film. Even in the murky, old VHS version, I can still appreciate the photography, but I would love to see an HD transfer. Robert Carradine shows he can act without having to dress up like a nerd. Cherie Currie is photographed like a gorgeous ghost, and at times, her performance is flirtatious, solicitous, and downright creepy. I love her face in this film. Director Mike Gray had previously co-written (with James Bridges and T.S. Cook) the screenplay of The China Syndrome, as well as an excellent documentary about artist Marc Chagall, The Gift from 1973. Gray passed away in 2013.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month. Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Parallel Planes”

Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Andrew La Ganke
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering
Introduction Music: “Smash The Mirror” by The Who (from 1969 album, “Tommy”).
Audio Clips: Family Guy “Love Thy Trophy”, Star Trek “Mirror, Mirror”, “Mirror Image”, “The Monster Are Due On Maple Street”, “The Misadventures Of Sheriff Lobo” (Jimmie Haskell) by Frankie Laine.

Recorded December 13, 2015

© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2015 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Running Time: 37:10 Direct Download

Vintage Cable Box: “Endangered Species, 1982”

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“A little paranoia never hurt anybody.”

Endangered Species, 1982 (Robert Urich), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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Too often, we forget the joys of R-rated films. Staying up late on a weekend to watch horror and science fiction movies from the late 70s to the early 80s on cable television was more fun than any 11-year-old deserved. HBO has a long-standing policy to prohibit viewing of R-rated films before 8:00 pm, Eastern time. The Movie Channel showed R-rated movies all day; they didn’t care. They figured if you were paying for the service, you should get to see movies for adults. Back in those days, there was no PG-13 rating (the uncomfortable middle ground of excessive violence in films made for kids). Which leads us to this week’s movie, Endangered Species, which, if it were released these days, would most definitely have received a PG-13 rating.

Robert Urich is a chain-smoking, alcoholic New York cop, tough-as-nails. He’s a Mets fan in 1982, so he has to be disillusioned as well. He takes his reform school, tom-boy daughter off on a vacation to beautiful Wyoming, but they get sidetracked along the way. JoBeth Williams is a hot small-town sheriff named Harry (short for Harriet) investigating a series of grisly cattle mutilations. Organs seem to be removed surgically. Soon, suspicion points to satanic cults, devil worship, and little green men and unidentified flying objects. The script takes great pains to show that JoBeth is hard-as-nails, though the locals do tend to marginalize her for being a woman, otherwise this a strong female character. It doesn’t take long for Urich and Williams to lock eyes.

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Robert Altman protégé Alan Rudolph seems an odd choice to direct a science fiction potboiler like this, if you don’t consider his first films were the trippy cult genre pieces, Premonition and Nightmare Circus. If you removed the cattle mutilation plot and conspiratorial tones involving germ warfare, there are some very quirky, very charming character beats, which is probably what appealed to Rudolph in fleshing out the story by Judson Klinger and Richard Clayton Woods. There is a nice visual analogy at the beginning of the film comparing cattle out in a field to New Yorkers bustling about in the streets.

Endangered Species follows a typical B-movie trajectory, where you have the insurmountable problem or epidemic, the no-nonsense law enforcement, the concerned scientist, the nosy journalist (played by Paul Dooley), and the corrupt politician (Hoyt “Joy To The World” Axton!), which makes for economical storytelling. This is an ambitious movie made on a small scale, with an interesting message about politics in Urich’s desperate harangue: “If what’s going on around here is organized, you don’t wanna go up against it! The government. The right wing. The left wing. Mercenaries. The mob. It doesn’t make much difference if you get in their way!”

Alan Rudolph went on to direct several high-profile movies, but basically served to propel conversations between cineastes who liked to throw his name into the mix to show they understand modern cinema. Films like Mortal Thoughts and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, while interesting, are not terribly entertaining. JoBeth Williams is rightly considered the mother and wife of the burgeoning horror movement of the eighties due to her presence in movies like Poltergeist. Robert Urich, appeared in Soap, Vega$, and Spenser: For Hire. He died, tragically, at 55, from synovial cell sarcoma.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.