Recently Rated Movies #38: Zigzag Zombie?

I don't know what happened to TCM Underground. I don't know whether Rob Zombie, who is an admittedly very busy guy these days, was only signed to present a couple months of the late-night cult movie show or whether he got tired of the job or TCM got tired of him. I haven't actually heard anything about this. All I know is that one week he was hosting the show, and the next week, there was no longer a host... AT ALL. We get Robert Osborne dishing on every single movie in the world, including other late night features like TCM Imports, so why not this one? What happened to the hosting on this show?

Look, I don't need anyone to tell me anything about any of these movies. That's not the point. I have books; I have the Internet; I have a library card. I can do my own research into films, but Zombie's presence on the show, and the fact that they started this show at all, meant so much more to me. I don't need anyone to tell me about these movies; instead, I want someone to tell me about them. I just missed the heyday of horror movie hosts, and while looking back at some of the old tapes it seems as if one hasn't really missed anything, that is just not the case. The point is to lose one's self, not just in a stupid monster movie, but to wrap one's mind completely in the experience.

I want a show with an intro that perhaps sets an eerie tone of mock creepiness, a host who describes in an over-the-top manner all the horrors in which you are about to be immersed, or through a series of jokes and skits satirizes the film that you are seeing. Viewer letters and calls, bad puns, film facts -- it's all part of the experience, and it is something that I have only been able to capture sporadically through the likes of Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 over the years. I loved all of those shows, much like as a teen I thrived on unadorned Creature Feature matinees and my beloved late-night World's Most Terrible Movies show, where I discovered the joys of Hammer and Harryhausen. And sometimes, someone will start a series like Sundance's Asia Extreme or IFC's Grindhouse, and I will get all fired up about them, even if I now own or have already seen most of the films being shown on them.

The joy is that of feeling as if I were part of some secret club, that gets together across the country to watch these crazy movies. It's the sort of club to which I actually would hesitate joining were it being formed in my neighborhood or community, and demanded personal attendance or dues. But on television, behind the glass and by myself in the dark of the living room, I strangely feel more connected to the world than if I were to actually interact with it. And if the show has a host, then that host becomes my confidante, who shares, sincerely or not, the love for this secret world with me.

I don't know where Zombie went, or if he is coming back, and I don't care if there was much criticism on the boards and blogs and whatnot regarding his "stiff performance" and the fact that he is "reading off a teleprompter". I've got news for you, posters... all of these hosts read off of teleprompters. Some people say he uses his hands too much. Hey, the guy is a rock star and a movie director. He's not holding a guitar here, which would tie up his hands, and the last time I noticed, movie directors tend to explain things with their hands... a lot. And Zombie can't help it if the producers of the show have decided to lend a "postmodern" look to the camerawork that allows for side angles which show Zombie still looking in the same direction as before, so that it becomes patently obvious that he is guilty of that practiced addiction of the television trade, "reading off a teleprompter". Oh, the horror... Robert Osborne doesn't have to put with this type of camerawork, and neither do most newscasters. If they did, you'd get the same feeling from them, as well. All I know, is that TCM should find a replacement host for him, either until he comes back, or for good.

I don't think Joe Bob Briggs or Elvira or Joel and the 'Bots are doing anything right now...

The List:
Scarecrows (1988, Showtime Beyond) - 6; TerrorVision (1986, Showtime Beyond) - 4; The Toolbox Murders (2004, Showtime) - 6; Bukowski: Born Into This (2003, IFC) - 8; Coffy (1973, TCM Underground) - 6; Foxy Brown (1974, TCM Underground) - 6; The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959, FLIX) - 7; Loch Ness (Showtime) - 5; Cherry 2000 (1987, Showtime) - 4; The Black Sleep (1956, TCM Underground) - 4; Blue Demon (2004, Showtime) - 3; Dang Kou Tan [The Bloody Fists] (ImaginAsianTV) - 5.


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