From time to time I’ll find an artifact from the old days of broadcast television on Youtube, and I’ll share it in a Throwback Thursday blog post — people really seem to enjoy the clips. (And the credit for that belongs to the Youtube users who originally uploaded them, not me.) One of this blog’s readers asked me about the intro for WOR-TV’s (Channel 9) “Fright Night” movie series.
Here it is below, courtesy of FrightNight7387 on Youtube. (Unless I’m mistaken, this would have been seen only by viewers in the New York metropolitan area between 1973 and 1987.)
I’m … actually not sure I remember this program. The music feels more familiar than the (pretty neat) visuals, and I think I’d recall a montage like that. I’m running it here for those who do remember “Fright Night” and might enjoy the clip.
Anyway, if you want to know more about Channel 9’s show, Jim Arena developed a terrific rundown on it over at DVD Drive-In.
It should not be confused with that other “Fright Night” of 80’s lore, the 1985 film starring Jonathan Stark, Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowell. That movie also depicted an in-universe movie series named “Fright Night,” which … apparently bears no relationship to the very real eponymous series that ran in New York. (Kinda weird.) The 1985 movie was a lot of fun back in the day, though if it feels mostly forgotten today — even after it spawned a a damned cool 2011 remake.
Boom! Studios. Trade paperback.
It’s true what they say about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019) — its script is almost completely brainless. It’s got about as much depth as the old “G.I. Joe” cartoon (1983-1986) that played after school when we were kids.
But I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t enjoy this. And I’m sure you know why — the big-budget, big-MONSTER special effects. They were spectacular — and sometimes they approached being unexpectedly beautiful. (It’s hard to explain here, but our eyes are treated to more than skyscraper-tall brawls between “titans.” We get a light show too — thanks to some confusing, thinly scripted, but nonetheless dazzling energy-based monster powers. It was really damned good.)
Add to this a generally excellent cast, and you might be able to forgive the screenplay for insulting your intelligence. I know that most people would name Ken Watanabe as the actor who truly classes up the joint. And there’s plenty of truth to that, but I myself would name Charles Dance as the movie’s biggest standout. The man’s craft is goddam Shakespearean, and I think he’s equal of the likes of Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen. And I’d like to think that his throwaway line, “Long live the King,” was at least partly a fan-service reference to what I’m guessing is his best known role — Tywin Lannister on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (2011-2019).
Based on my own enjoyment, I’d rate this movie an 8 out of 10 — with the caveat that I’m a kid at heart when it comes to giant monsters. If you’re the same way, then “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” might just become a guilty pleasure that you return to more than once.
“Vanishing on 7th Street” (2011) kicks off with an extraordinarily good start — it’s begins as an especially frightening supernatural apocalyptic thriller. Nearly everyone in the City of Detroit disappears at once, leaving only several survivors to cope with ubiquitous shadow figures that wish to visit the same fate upon them. The opening scenes completely intrigued me, and one early moment made me jump.
Hayden Christensen is good enough in the lead role — he actually is a competent actor, despite the movies for which he gained infamy in the early 2000’s. (And I won’t name these widely panned films in which he starred, because I don’t want to start any wars with its ardent fanbase.) Thandie Newton is predictably quite good, John Leguizamo is predictably awesome, and the young Jacob Latimore is terrific too.
How sad, then, that this creatively conceived thriller so utterly loses its way. The film stumbles completely by the end of its first hour. We spend far too much time listening to four characters bicker in an isolated stronghold while the failing lights flicker around them. We also visit the same basic scare sequence a bit too often. (It’s pretty damned scary when the shadow figures encircle our protagonists at first, only to recoil when they’re repelled by the light. But it gets progressively less scary after the fifth or sixth time the movie shows this happening.)
There are enormous logistical questions about the plot’s setup and elements, too. Virtually all are left unanswered by the movie’s somewhat ambiguous ending. Was this … intentional? Was the movie intended as some sort of open-ended abstract art film, instead of a complete horror story? It certainly didn’t seem that way from its detailed and effective early scenes.
I can’t actually recommend this film. But it’s … different and interesting, I’ll grant it that. Based on the parts of it that scared me and piqued my interest, I’d rate it a 5 out of 10.