Cinema 3

Late Night Thrills and Afternoon Chills...


The first great wave of concentrated film interest in my life was between the ages of 12 and 16 -- before the VCR, Elvira, and cable television came to rule my existence -- through the latter half of the 1970s. Left with few outside resources such as having a local movie theatre in our hamlet of Eagle River, Alaska (we had to drive fifteen-plus miles to see one on a big screen in "big city" Anchorage), my burgeoning film hunger was fed largely by four movie programs that aired on local network affiliates broadcasting from Anchorage.




Monster Matinees

First was a weekday matinee show that ran at 3:00 pm on CBS affiliate KTVA-11. I don't remember the name of the program or if it even had a title. This is strange because the films it showed were never to be forgotten by me. The program aired classic (or non-classic, depending on your viewpoint) horror and science-fiction movies, and chiefly from Universal, AIP and Toho. As a result, this is where I got my basic education on the films from those studios. It's where I finally got to see those Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon films I was reading about in the then-waning days of the original run of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. I also was able to catch the bulk of the original Showa period of Godzilla and other kaiju films from Toho. Other favorites which I would first see on this program were The Manster, The Werewolf, The Monster that Challenged the World, Fiend Without a Face, Son of KongThe Green SlimeThis Island Earth, and most importantly, The Thing from Another World. And yeah, this is where The War of the Gargantuas became such a thing for me. 




The CBS Late Movie



Found on YouTube.

Late nights (post 11 p.m.) on KTVA-11 during weekdays and weekends was The CBS Late Movie program. The name was something of a misnomer, because in later years, the programming mostly consisted of television series episodes. But some of those series were profoundly influential to me, such as The Avengers (Oh, Emma Peel...), The New Avengers (I was likewise in love with Joanna Lumley as "Purdy"), The Saint (with Roger Moore, who was by then the current James Bond), Return of the Saint (with Ian Ogilvy, whom I didn't like nearly as much as Roger Moore), and best of all, the super-scary (for then) Kolchak the Night Stalker, which I never saw in its original run due to how young I was (I think that I would remember it even if I had seen it that young). 

But it was the movies that I saw occasionally in this time slot that had me staying far too late in my early years. Some of my favorites were Killdozer, Help!, A Hard Day's NightNight of the Lepus, HeadMako: Jaws of DeathWillard, Frogs, The Giant Spider InvasionBen, Yellow Submarine, Sssssss!, Who's Minding the Store?, The Disorderly Orderly, and Tarzan and the Great River.



The Lucky 13 Movie


Running in matinee form on another channel, ABC affiliate KIMO-13, was The Lucky 13 Movie, which I could only watch on summers off from school (or when I was sick or faking sick), since it aired at noon. I remember two separate hosts of the show mainly: Lois Blessington and Beverly Michaels. (I had a sort of puppy love crush on Ms. Michaels, even though she was decades older than me.) The run of films was decidedly more pedestrian on this program; there were few science fiction films, though the ones they showed stuck with me, and zero horror films, at least as I can recall. Still, this matinee show played a rather secretive part in my development, as I was yet to realize that I was a film fan. 

Because I started watching this show much younger than the other programs, I often saw it due to the kindness of assorted babysitters (including the great Mrs. B) in my younger years. As I mentioned, the films were more mainstream at times (they showed a lot of melodramas, and there were many that I never cared for, which would inevitably cause me to wander off to play instead). But the ones that caught my attention did so in a magical way. 

My main introduction to the films of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, and a lot of westerns was due to The Lucky 13 Movie. Favorites for me included Stanley and Livingstone, The Crimson PirateVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, When Worlds CollideThe Naked Jungle (with those scary army ants!), The Court Jester, Irwin Allen's version of The Lost World, Five Weeks in a Balloon, Boy's Town, Jim Thorpe: All-AmericanA High Wind in Jamaica, and the movie version of the Batman TV series, a show which had been my favorite series since I was toddler. (Not joking -- the proof is in my baby book...)




And, finally...

The World's Most Terrible Movies


But the greatest show in the world for me in those days, also on KIMO-13, was The World's Most Terrible Movies. KIMO had surprisingly incredible movies showing on Saturday nights beginning at 10:00 p.m. It's where I met up with the incredible Professor Fate and his henchman Max squaring of against the Great Leslie in The Great Race time and again. It was where I first saw The Birds (my first Hitchcock), War of the Worlds, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying MachinesWhatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Jason and the Argonauts, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Valley of Gwangi

But somewhere between midnight and 1:00 a.m., depending on the length of the 10:00 p.m. feature, The World's Most Terrible Movies would start. I have written about The World's Most Terrible Movies at length on this website. Doing so put me in the acquaintance of an individual who was responsible for the show back in that time, Richard Gay, who contacted me and eventually sent to me a disc full of old promotional clips from TWMTM and some others (such as The Lucky 13 Movie) with which he had responsibility on the station at the time.

To read my full ongoing articles about this show, click on the following titles:


Comments

rickygee said…
If I ever unearth that original footage of the film discoveries in the Anchorage Municipal Landfill, you will be first to know! I promise! -RG

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