Sunday, September 1, 2013
Finding Genre Films: Addendum update.
I originally wrote most of this a few years ago... and I have a few new thoughts to add and it was something on my mind recently.
When I was young, the local television networks offered a strong variety of kung fu, horror, and sci-fi feature films for Saturday and Sunday matinee and late night viewings. It was my gateway to cult movies, the world of monsters and aliens and chop-socky action. When my life seemed rough, I could always look forward to Saturday afternoons or late night weekend features where people ran around in rubber costumes and beautiful women fainted at the sight of the latest creature to come stalking their way. It was a warm comfort to find a safe outlet for my fears, my angers, and my hurt. In an odd sort of way, it helped me feel less lonely on some levels. There were other people who wanted to watch the same stuff, and I became friends with some and found a sense of camaraderie in the world of The Strange. And, as I got older and video stores began to stock my favorite titles… I moved on to the next big scare, the next gross out, the next hollow drop from the center of my stomach. My world seemed a lot simpler when I imagined myself as a Great Vampire Hunter or the Slayer of Demons. I grew up with an introduction to the genre, caught by chance while skimming channels for something to while away the day and spend an afternoon escaping the madness of a fairly rough childhood.
With the advent of DVD I’m able to own almost all of my favorite child-hood titles and purchase the new ones with very little investment of real cash value. So I can watch Army of Darkness with the press of a button, throw on Curse of Frankenstein, sit down for The Curse of the Werewolf, or check out the newest Eli Roth gore fest any time I want. It’s nice to have this kind of technology at my fingertips, but it’s also a bit of a shame in some ways. What had been a treasured discovery for me is all but lost to the next generation of fans to the genre.
Flipping through channels on a Saturday afternoon or late in the wee hours of the night results in an endless stream of reality based programs and infomercials. Celebrities talk about their hair, their love lives, their pets, cars, houses, and scandals in an endless bleating of self-importance. Stupid kids attempt to emulate the moronic stunts they see on various MTV programs where some kid runs around and slaps his Uncles fat stomach, builds a skate ramp in his mothers’ house, and laughs at his friends when they suffer one injury after another attempting to one up each other with an bizarre string of stupid antics. Singing competitions, dance contests, wives in one county after another, and criminals doing bad things while families crumble for the sake of entertainment. It will always be cheaper to put these people on the air for a major network, so the executives have no concerns about story or substance or even the cultural value of presenting classic genre work to a younger audience.
The Horror Host Underground continues their own proud traditions by investing their time and resources into providing a gateway for many fans, young and old. Using the technology made available through cable television, Horror Hosts use public access channels to broadcast the genre gems that have fallen through the cracks to the Public Domain. It’s a labor of love for many of these heroes and they support one another through a network of websites and tape trading. The Local Access availability was a measure passed by congress and the Senate many years ago, created to help local people present their own artistic visions in a format where the bottom line wasn’t a commercial profit. Too many people ignore their public access television access and the shows available. In Monterey County, Local Access allows Remo D to present the Manor of Mayhem on a weekly basis with a Friday and Saturday night screening. Like many hosts, he also uses his allotted time to feature shared programs from other hosts. I’ve appeared on his show a number of times and I continue to support the show and I absolutely love the genre he chooses to present in his slot. It offers me hope that somewhere there’s a young kid watching another host, laughing and getting scared in the comfort of their home and finding a means of escape from the dreary reality we all find ourselves.
My roku box gives me access to a number of "genre" channels offering a sort of broadcast.... films in the public domain, rare indie films, and other such stuff. There's also a bunch of snarky reviewers I found through www.thatguywiththeglasses.com who introduce people to varioius films, with reviews and synopsis riffing and so on so forth. My favorite reviewer is The Cinema Snob, played by Brad Jones- an independent film maker and radio personality. Fantastic stuff right here with that guy, as he brings a number of interesting films to a new life and provides plenty of comedy to fans of the original material. My big suggestion for people who enjoy his work is that they also follow up a review by maybe looking for the source material of his projects and give it a view of their own.
So yeah... finding Genre films and bizarre shit: It ain't always easy, but there are going to be people out there willing to share what they find. And there are blogs like this one... one little voice in the world wide web willing to talk about random shit and blather on with these bits and pieces.