Tag Archives: 1972

Throwback Thursday: “I coulda had a V8!”

These commercials were ubiquitous in the 1970’s.  If you were a small child, you could rattle off the trademark slogan without even understanding what it meant, and adults would find it extremely funny.  (The ad actually isn’t terribly funny by itself.  The 1980’s had a plenty of inspired commercials. but the few I can remember from the 70’s were generally lame.)

Anyway, fast-forward about 12 years to when I was a senior in high school … a buddy of mine actually handed me a can of V8 and dared me to pound it in one gulp.  (For those not in the know, the product is a phenomenally awful beverage concocted from vegetable juices.)  I took the dare.  And I wound up projectile vomiting like a god damned fire hose — all over the rear bumper of that 1972 Plymouth Duster that I loved so much.

I suppose that I could try to blame my lifelong abhorrence for vegetables on that experience, but I hated greens even when I was a kid.  (I was endlessly sneaking them to the dog at the dinner table; I wrote a story about it in the second grade that my parents nevertheless found amusing when I brought it home.)

The V8 vegetable drink is still around; the company is owned by Campbell’s.  Somebody should find out where it’s canned, break into the place at night and just machine-gun all the cans in the same manner as Ripley shooting all the alien eggs at the climax of “Aliens” (1986).  It would be a public service.

 

 

Throwback Thursday: “Gargoyles” (1972)!

“Gargoyles” (1972) was a fairly corny made-for-television creature feature that’s still remembered fondly by a lot of older horror fans.  Despite its predictably campy nature, this weak-premised ABC Movie-of-the-Week just … inexplicably worked.  There are still people today who comment about how badly this scared them when they were kids.  It didn’t exactly terrify me when I saw it rebroadcast in the 1980’s, but I definitely found it pretty thrilling when I was in the second grade or so.

I think that there are a few elements of this apocalyptic monster flick that combined to make it effective — at least for impressionable youngsters.  The first was its garish costuming by Thomas S. Dawson; the film’s eponymous monsters looked kitsch, but nonetheless creepy.  The second was the movie’s sound editing — the bad guys’ grunts and electronically distorted voices could get under your skin.  The third was film’s dark, desert setting, and the fourth was director Bill L. Norton’s choice to film the attack sequences in trippy, 70’s-tastic slow motion.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think that “Gargoyles” is frightening by today’s standards.  But back in the day, it was unusually good for a made-for-TV horror film.  (You can find the entire movie for free on Youtube if you want to see for yourself.)

Postscript — that is indeed a young Scott Glenn in the trailer as one of the movie’s heroes.

 

Throwback Thursday: “Willard” (1971) and “Ben” (1972)!

“Willard” (1971) and its sequel, “Ben” (1972), were another pair of 1970’s movies that got plenty of airtime on 1980’s television.  I read both books when I was a kid too.

First I picked up Stephen Gilbert’s Ratman’s Notebooks at a yard sale, because that’s how you found cool horror books during summer vacations when you were too young to drive.  (Sometimes adults had few compunctions about what they sold to minors too.  I bought a vampire book in gradeschool that was full of nude photos, for some reason, and that led to what I’m sure was an interesting conversation between my parents and the neighbor-proprietor down the street.)

Anyway, I absolutely loved Ratman’s Notebooks (despite its lamentable absence of nude photos) and I finished it in a day or two.  The novelization of the “Ben” film by Gilbert A. Ralston was somewhat less impressive, but I still enjoyed it.

If you’re a comics fan, like I am, then it might occur you that “Willard” and his army of trained rats seem to inspire a villain in Batman’s rogue’s gallery — Ratcatcher.  Ratcatcher has been a minor league villain since he debuted in DC Comics in 1988, but he’s a pretty neat bad guy when placed in the hands of the right writer.

I feel certain that anyone will recognize Ernest Borgnine in the first trailer below– his  face and voice are impossible to confuse with those of another man.  If the disaffected, spooky, eponymous Willard looks familiar to you, that’s none other than a young Bruce Davison.  He’s a good actor who’s been in a lot of films, but I think a plurality of my friends will know him as Senator Kelly from the first two “X-Men” movies (2000, 2003).

You’ll note the presence of flamethrowers in the trailer for “Ben.”  Flamethrowers were a staple of 70’s and 80’s horror films; it was just part of  the zeitgeist.  They were handy for heroes fighting any nigh-unstoppable nonhuman baddie — think of “The Swarm” (1978), “The Thing” (1982), “C.H.U.D.” (1984), “Aliens” (1986), and “The Blob” (1988), for example.  Hell, 1980’s “The Exterminator” featured a vigilante using a flamethrower to kill criminals.   It was a weird time.

 

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