Throwback Thursday: “Movie Monsters From Outer Space,” 1983

This was another book during my grade-school days that really fed my excitement about monsters — Jerry A. Young’s 1983 children’s book, “Movie Monsters From Outer Space.”  (Why does the author’s name sound so much like a pseudonym to me?)

I’m sure it’s obscure by now.  If memory serves, this was another title I ordered from those classroom bulletins put out by Scholastic Book Clubs.  (I was in the third grade, I think.)  It gave kids a brief, fun run-down of a bunch of space-based baddies — those are the Cylons from the original “Battlestar Galactica” (1978) on the cover.

It featured a bunch of older B-movies too.  I remember really wanting to see “Forbidden Planet” (1956) after seeing a picture of its monster there.

I also seem to remember reading about Ridley Scott’s original “Alien” (1979), although I suppose that I could be recalling another book.  (It would be odd if Scott’s masterpiece were described here, because it was … kinda not for kids.)

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Tourist Trap” (1979)

This movie scared the PANTS off me when I was a little kid.  It was released to theaters in 1979; I would have seen it a few years later when it played on broadcast television.

It made such a terrifying impression on me that I’m a little surprised I never developed even the mildest phobic response to mannequins.  (I’ve met other adults for whom they are just too creepy.)  They don’t bother me in the slightest.  I feel the same way about clowns.

 

Getting into the spirit of things …

I just need a Halloween horror playlist, though.  I’ve already seen this year’s “Castle Rock” and (of course) the second season of “Mr. Mercedes.”

“Vampire” (1979) and “The Last Broadcast” (1998) both come highly recommended by some horror-fan friends that I truly trust.  I also believe that I have never seen any of the classic Universal Studios monster movies in their entirety.  I’ve watched bits and pieces of a couple of them on television when I was a young kid, including “Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954) and “The Invisible Man” (1933).  When I was a tot in the very late 70’s, the studio’s Gothic monsters were still very much a part of the zeitgeist … my older brother even had the Aurora model kits.  I finally enjoyed F. W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” for the first time a couple of years ago, but of course the 1921 German film preceded the Universal movies, which re-imagined Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” entirely in 1931.

I’ll probably start first by trying to hunt down a copy of “The Wolf Man” (1941).  That’s the one that other everyone always recommends.

 

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“Throwback Thursday: “Bigfoot and Wildboy” (1977 – 1979)

“Bigfoot and Wildboy” (1977 – 1979) is another obscure TV show that is perhaps best forgotten.  It was a segment on something called “The Krofft Supershow” in 1977, I think, before the segments were re-edited into a half-hour program.  I became a fan of it as second grader in the fall of 1979.  (Or maybe I watched its reruns in third grade, in 1980 — to be honest, this was so long ago that I hardly remember.)

They don’t make TV shows like they used to.  And that’s a good thing.  “Bigfoot and Wildboy” seemed to rely heavily on three ingredients: an utra-cheesy 70’s score; truly terrible special effects (even for the time); and lots of shots of its two title characters either jumping, or running at the camera in slow motion.  (I actually just watched a few minutes of the full episode you see posted below.)

I was pretty preoccupied with “Bigfoot and Wildboy” when I was very young.  I remember having to make journal entries in the classroom, in which we could write and illustrate anything we wanted.  (It was precisely the sort of open-ended journal writing exercise with little academic value to which I’d be subjected, occasionally, throughout my school career — even in my college poetry class.)  But we were allowed to select our own topic in the second grade, and that was at least some fun for an imaginative kid.  The nuns (it was a Catholic school) sometimes prodded us to write about real-world events; 1979’s Space Shuttle Columbia, for example, was high on their list of suggestions.

Given a blank slate, though, I tended to write almost exclusively about imaginary characters and monsters — peppered, perhaps, with intermittent entries about dogs.  I distinctly remember drawing Bigfoot and Wildboy one day.  (If memory serves, we wrote and drew in our journals after recess, maybe to get us refocused.)  I drew them leaping over a fence and running toward the viewer.  (Seriously, the show had a lot of shots like that.  Check out the opening credits below.)

I remember a nun looking over my shoulder and inquiring delicately about the giant hairy humanoid and the half-naked boy … when I explained the characters to her, she suggested with (uncharacteristic) patience, “Tomorrow, let’s try to write about something from the real world.”

 

Throwback Thursday: NBC’s “Cliffhangers” (1979)

We were chatting about obscure TV shows a couple of weeks ago after I shared a post about “Manimal” (which I was surprised to find lovingly remembered by some otherwise sane people).  I was shocked when someone else remembered “Cliffhangers,” which ran for a single season on NBC in 1979.

Dear God, did I love this show when I was a first grader.  I hollered whenever it came on; I’m pretty sure my Mom was amused by that.  I think this is technically the first prime-time show I was ever a fan of.  (Yeah, I ended that last sentence with a preposition; it’s my damn blog.)

 

Throwback Thursday: “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” (1979 – 1981)

When I was in the first grade, I absolutely loved “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”  It was, technically I guess, a dystopian science fiction story in which a contemporary astronaut is frozen for 500 years, then returns to a post-nuclear earth.  Its feature-length pilot was created by Glen Larson, who also wrote the pilot for “Battlestar Galactica” the preceding year.  (Weird trivia — Wikipedia informs me that this was released theatrically, along with “Battlestar Galactica” in limited theaters.)

Of course I didn’t realize this at the time, but “Buck Rogers” was pretty bad.  It was horribly bad.  Indescribably bad.  It was even bad by cheesy 1970’s TV sci-fi standards.  You can actually find full episodes on Youtube, and I started one, just on a lark.  I could only watch about one minute, maybe less — plus that soul-deadening clip of “Twiki” in the second video below.   Seriously, it’s as though Larson was intentionally giving the worse script he could come up with to NBC as some sort of prank.  (After being told to resuscitate the heroic Buck, one advanced futureperson advises another, “He’s liable to be not too coherent.”)

About Twiki — that little guy fascinated a lot of very young kids in 1979.  For a while, it was all the rage for us to do our “deeby-deeby-deeby” Twiki impressions.