Sunday, 24 June 2012

5 Terror Filled TV Horror Films!

Oh, TV horror movie with your PG rating.  When I was young, you had no cursing, no real violence and no gore whatsoever but when you were on, we were glued to you hoping some sort of depravity would slip by the censors and push those staunch boundaries.  It's amusing to think about what is on the air now compared to what was on while I was growing up in the 80's.  Television was much more sanitized with the boundaries being check all the time but with the growth of more networks, stations and the internet offering more titles and options, I think the boundaries have certainly expanded if not exploded.

The TV horror movie from back then may seem to pale in comparison to what can be shown today even the big 3 networks but what they lack violence and debauchery, these films had in suspense, imagination and sometimes down right terror.

With that said, here are 5 Terror Filled TV Horror Films!

5. Bad Ronald (1974) - Ronald Wilby is kind of a nerdy teen, who likes writing fantasy and wants to be a doctor.  He lives with his over protective mother, who has been taking care of him since his father ditched out on them when he was a baby.  It's Ronald's birthday, he's got his cake, a tool set and some markers to draw his wizards; the only thing he needs now is a date with local hottie Laurie Matthews.  His mother advises against it and Ronald heads over to her house.  When he gets there he is totally dissed by Laurie and her friends and is clowned out of her backyard pool.  On way home, he is again dissed by a 12 year girl about being lame and he demands an apology.  Unfortunately, while roughing up the 12 year old he accidentally kills her.  Ronald returns home, tells his mother what happened and tells her that he buried the body.  The mother says it doesn't look like an accident if he buries the body, they have a cry, talk about how he'll never go to medical school and then come up with the worst plan ever to save Ronald.  Instead, of just denying it or turning Ronald in, they decide to wall up their downstairs bathroom and Ronald can hide in it until the MURDER blows over.  Great plan until the mom dies in a gallbladder surgery, the following week and a new family buys the house a week after that.  Now, Ronald has to live in the walls, trying not to get caught by Dabney Coleman, his wife and three teen daughters as he descends into madness.  Bad Ronald isn't too bad once you get past the worst plan ever bit.  You feel bad for him at first because he and his mother, played by Kim Hunter (Zira from Planet of the Apes) are so stupid and shitty things keep happening to them but near the end when Ronald goes after the people it's pretty intense.  It's only 74 minutes, funny at times and it's worth watching.


4. Someone's Watching Me (1978) - Lauren Hutton plays Leigh Michaels, a woman who has just moved to the city, because of bad breakup or something (they don't say) and is looking for a fresh start.  She moves into an expensive high rise, gets a job as a TV Director and already has a stalker. What a lucky gal!  She tries to tell the police but they don't believe her and only her lesbian script girl, Sophie and her new boyfriend Paul (whoa that was fast) can help her in this cat and mouse game of stalking and harassing phone calls.  This was John Carpenter's project after Halloween and also where he met Adrienne Barbeau who plays Sophie, which he married a year later.  It's a pretty good story and you can appreciate call display a little more after watching this.  There are some heavy scenes with Hutton and there are some chilling moments but it does drag a little.  I expected something a little more dark, especially coming after Halloween and reading that it was nominated for an award for best miniseries.  Anyhoo, still enjoyable and worth checking out if your a Carpenter fan.


3. The Night Stalker (1972) - Carl Kolchak is an abrasive reporter working for a rag newspaper in Las Vegas after being bumped from 4 different major papers.  He's investigating a case of a serial killer, who seems to have supernatural strength and is drinking women dry of their blood.  He thinks the killer could be a vampire, but he has to convince his boss, the police, the D.A and even himself.  Darren McGavin is brilliant as Kolchak, spinning this unpublishable novel into 2 TV movies and a short lived series on ABC. The story is solid and superb casting, including Claude Akins as the Las Vegas Sheriff who is trying to suppress Kolchak's writing along with the other members of the city council. It's realistic, raw as it can get for TV movie and I really enjoyed the twist at the end. I couldn't find a real trailer, but if you look on youtube...


2. The Night Of The Scarecrow (1981) - Postman Otis P. Hazelrigg for some reason does not like people who are mentally handicapped.  He doesn't trust them, so when he sees Bubba Ritter playing with the Williams little girl, Marylee, that just gets his ire up.  Unfortunately for Bubba, on the way home from playing, Marylee breaks into someone's yard and gets attack by a dog.  Bubba rushes her home and runs away, with the whole town including old Otis P. Hazelrigg thinking that Bubba was the one who attacked her.  Otis rounds up a three man posse and goes to the Ritter farm aiming for some lynchin.  Bubba's mom, Mrs Ritter tells them he ain't there and to get off their land.  The mob of four, led by dogs head into the corn field and find themselves in front of a scarecrow. They realize it's Bubba hiding there and execute him, only to find out minutes later that the Williams girl was attacked by dogs and Bubba had saved her.  After lying and being set free from the law, Mrs. Ritter lets them know there are other ways of justice and being douche bags, Otis and friends laugh at her.  Shortly, after lynch mob member, Harliss finds a scarecrow on his property, freaks outs, and confronts Skeeter and Philby, the other 2 members of the mob about playing a bad prank on him.  They deny it and the three of them head over to Otis's boarding house to let him know about the scarecrow.  Otis tells them, to keep it together and it's probably the D.A trying to rile them up.  They all go home and Harliss is dead the next morning! dun dun dunnnn! Now, they're scared, don't know if it's the living or the dead trying to get their revenge and who will be next!  They used to play this every Halloween when I was a kid and the shots of the scarecrow always creeped me out.  Larry Drake is excellent playing the mentally Handicapped Bubba character and went on to play Benny on L.A Law.  Also Charles Durning does a eerie job of playing the sadistic Hazelrigg and after watching again the character (not Durning) has some awful overtones towards the Marylee in the film.  Great ghost revenge plot, scary scenes and a lot of camp stuff that never gets old.  One of my favourites and a must see.


1. IT (1990) - After the gruesome death of a little girl, librarian, Mike Hanlon finds a picture of his friend's departed little brother at the scene of the crime.  He puts 2 and 2 together and realizes that the evil clown Pennywise has resurfaced and he must contact his friends, who helped him defeat the evil clown when they were young.  As he calls each friend, they have flashbacks of how they all came together, their own personal experience with Pennywise and how they fought and thought that they defeated this evil monster. Now, that they know that Pennywise has come back, they must ban together as adults again and destroy this monster once and for all.  This was a fantastic mini series and one of the better reworkings of a Stephen King novel in the 90's.  Tim Curry brings the evil Pennywise to life and creates the scariest clown ever.  Bringing with him, some of the most memorable lines, like "Everything floats down here" and "Beep Beep Richie".  John Ritter (RIP), Harry Anderson, Tim Reid, Seth Green and number of talanted actors put this TV Movie together in an unforgettable way.  The ending may be up in the air for some people, but it's an all around creepy film that I'm able to watch again and again.

 

It's nice to look back and see television horror of a simpler time.  Where the monster was the enemy and there wasn't so many shades of grey.  There were dozens of films that i waited for the weekend to see and would hope to come back.  Now with studios putting out everything on disc or file, I don't have to wait any longer than the time it takes to go to the store or to download.

6 comments:

  1. Love revisiting these, Erin, thanks! It took me back to some other TV movies of the 70s, like CROWHAVEN FARM, and I clearly recall a scene where some Puritan spirits (I think) drop Hope Lange in a grave and slowly kill her by placing heavy rocks on her...

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    1. No problem, Derek! I'm glad you dig it! I haven't seen Crowhaven Farm but after looking it up, I'll have to see if I can find it! Thanks man!

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  2. All great picks. I need to revisit Night of the Scarecrow soon and Carpenter's film as well. I have never seen Bad Ronald. Gotta check that out.

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    1. Thanks! Night of the Scarecrow is definitely worth watching again. Love that movie.

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