Weekly World Monstervision - Week of January 12, 1998
Poison Ivy (1992)
YOU'RE GONNA NEED AN OCEAN OF CALAMINE
When it comes to playing blonde bimbos,
former child star Drew Barrymore has pretty much cornered the market on
this stereotype. Just take a look at her filmography starting with Far
From Home (1989) in which she's stranded in a trailer park with
assorted creeps, weirdos, and psycho killers. Then there was that Joe Bob Briggs favorite,
Doppelganger: The Evil Within (1992), The ABC made-for-television
drama,The Amy Fisher Story (1992), Guncrazy (1993), and
Bad Girls (1994). Probably her most definitive role as a jailbait
femme fatale, however, is Poison Ivy (1992). In this entertainingly
trashy melodrama, Drew plays a devious teenager who befriends a lonely
classmate (Sara Gilbert) at school, eventually moving in with her family.
Once ensconced inside Gilbert's luxurious mansion, Barrymore begins to
work her seductive charms on each family member. What does she want?
You'll just have to tune in to find out, won't you?
Sunday, January 11, 1998
"Poison Ivy" is available on video and on DVD
THE DAY IT RAINED BULLETS IN
It happened on a hot summer day on August 1,
1966 at the 300 foot high observation tower of the Austin Campus of the
University of Texas. A twenty-five year old ex-Marine marksman by the name
of Charles Whitman, armed with several guns and ammunition, climbed the
observation tower. In addition to the guns, he carried with him
sandwiches, peanuts, toilet paper and a transistor radio. When he reached
the 27th floor, he encountered a receptionist whom he killed with the butt
of his rifle. He then barricaded the stairway, shooting down two people
who were attempting to climb the stairwell to the roof. What the police
had yet to learn was that Whitman had murdered his mother and his wife the
evening before, leaving at the scene a rambling note which railed against
his father along with cryptic statements like "I am prepared to die" and
"Life is not worth living."
At approximately 11:40 a.m. Whitman began shooting at pedestrians and
students below, killing 13 people (some accounts list 15 fatalities) and
wounding 33 others within a ninety six minute span. After several failed
attempts by low-flying aircraft to dislodge him, police officers staged a
raid on the barricaded stairway. In the ensuing fracas, Whitman was shot
to pieces. A later autopsy showed that Whitman had a tumor in the
hypothalamus region of the brain but doctors expressed some doubt whether
this was the cause of Whitman's rampage.
In The Deadly Tower
(1975), the film version of this horrific incident and one of the
creepiest features ever made for prime time television, Kurt Russell plays
Charles Whitman. Until his peformance in this film, Kurt was best known
for his wholesome presence in such Walt Disney fare as Superdad
(1974), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and The Strongest Man in the World (1975). The Deadly
Tower definitely shows you another side of this former child actor. By
the way, there was another film inspired by the Charles Whitman bloodbath
entitled Targets (1968). It was Peter Bogdanovich's feature film
debut and it featured a psychotic sniper (Tim O'Kelley) who goes on a
shooting spree, eventually winding up at a drive-in theatre where he
suffers a complete breakdown in the presence of aging horror star Boris
The Deadly Tower (1975)
January 13 at 2:00 a.m. ET
THERE IS NO WRATH LIKE A WOMAN
Clint Eastwood of Play Misty For Me discovers this the hard way in
The Beguiled, his third collaboration with director Don Siegel and
one of the most offbeat films of his career. Set during the Civil War era,
this atmospheric thriller features Eastwood as a wounded Yankee soldier
who is taken in and cared for a small group of Southern ladies after he is
discovered outside the gates of their finishing school. Once inside their
domain, the Union soldier proceeds to charm and seduce the women for his
own purposes, creating an atmosphere of sexual tension and paranoia. But
the women have the last laugh in a memorably ghoulish finale. Geraldine
Page, Elizabeth Hartman, Pamelyn Ferdin, and Jo Ann Harris are among the
deadly Southern belles in this gothic horror film photographed by the
great Bruce Surtees.
Thursday, January 15 at 8:00 p.m.
George Armitage, a protegee of exploitation
king Roger Corman, directed Vigilante Force, an action-packed tale
about a backwoods California town overrun by a gang of vigilantes. When
the townspeople hire a bitter Vietnam vet (Kris Kristofferson) and his
buddies to protect them, they get a nasty surprise. The new defenders turn
out to be worse than the oilfield roughnecks who started all the trouble.
Jan-Michael Vincent of Damnation Alley, playing Kristofferson's younger brother, eventually
emerges as the town's true leader but not before a bloody shootdown
between the two siblings. Look for Victoria Principal, Bernadette Peters,
and Andrew Stevens in supporting roles.
Friday, January 16 at 1:30 a.m. ET
PAINT THE TOWN RED
That's what Clint Eastwood does in High
Plains Drifter (1973) in which he pays homage to the spaghetti
Westerns that made him an international star. It is also the first Western
Eastwood ever directed. In a role which fits Eastwood like a glove, he
plays a mysterious gunslinger who rides into the frontier town of Lagos,
forever changing the lives of its citizens. He makes the townspeople paint
the buildings red, renames the town "Hell", and then proceeds to exact a
strange revenge which has a devastating effect on the town. However, with
few exceptions (Verna Bloom and Billy Curtis), the people of Lagos
deserve what they get, particularly troublemakers like Geoffrey Lewis,
Marianna Hill, Jack Ging, and Mitchell Ryan.
Sunday, January 18 at 5:55 p.m.
ZEN AND THE ART OF BOOT CAMP
Hippies versus marines. What we've got in former MonsterVision movie
Tribes, a classic 1970 made-for-television movie, are duelling
lifestyles. Jan-Michael Vincent, in one of his first starring roles, plays
a flower child who doesn't want to play war games with his
tougher-than-nails drill sergeant (Darren McGavin). A hip update of Jack
Webb's The D.I.for the Viet Nam era, Tribesis remarkable for
its refusal to take the side of either the hawk or the dove. Instead,
viewers are left to ponder the philosophical issues on their
And here's what Joe Bob Briggs, America's greatest drive-in
movie authority, has to say about this fave rave from the seventies:
"Tribes." In the great tradition of boot-camp movies. A lot of
people love that movie "An Officer and a Gentleman." "An Officer and a
Gentleman" isn't diddly-squat compared to "Tribes." Jan-Michael
Vincent is the free-love hippie who gets drafted. Darren McGavin is the
old-school Marine drill sergeant who tries to whip him into shape. Earl
Holliman is the OTHER drill sergeant who likes to stick his nose in other
people's problems. And THIS is the greatest boot-camp picture ever made.
Other boot-camp pictures TRY to be this good. All right, let's look at the
drive-in totals on it:
No dead bodies.
One skinhead platoon.
Brutal haircut montage.
Massive Push-up Fu.
Four stars. Check it out
and...watch this opening speech in the movie. This may be the greatest
opening drill-sergeant speech in the history of film. It goes on so long I
don't even know how he memorized the thing. Amazing.....By the way, if you
recognize the barracks in this movie, it's because it's the same set used
as a hospital ward for the movie "Myra Breckenridge." Wouldn't you like to
ask Earl Holliman, the drill sergeant, what he thinks of sex-change
Monday, January 19
at 12:00 p.m.
HI, I'M SETH. FLY ME!
Quick, name the film that featured this
remarkable scene: A tiny fly with a human head is caught in a spider web.
As the spider closes in for the kill, the fly begins screaming in a
cartoon voice, "Help me! Help me!"
Who doesn't remember the 1958
version of The Fly starring David Hedison (he later changed his
name to Al Hedison) as the unfortunate scientist and Vincent Price as the
man who puts him out of his misery with a well-aimed rock. With a
surrealistic climax to rival Salvador Dali's best work and some of the
most memorable gross-outs effects of fifties sci-fi (Remember Mister
Insect Head hiding under his napkin and slurping his dinner?), The
Fly is justifiably considered some kind of camp classic -
unintentionally hilarious at times but rarely scary.
Cronenberg's 1986 remake of The Fly, however, is a different
matter. Intense, disturbing, and repellent, it tells the story of one Seth
Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a scientist experimenting with molecular
teleportation. After perfecting the process of transferring matter through
space using baboons, Seth decides to teleport himself. All goes well
except for one thing - an unseen fly enters the teleportation chamber with
Seth and guess whose genes get scrambled up during the transfer? For the
duration of the film, we watch as Seth slowly metamorphoses into a 185
pound fly while his lover, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), stands
faithfully by his side, searching desperately for a solution to the
But let's look on the positive side. Some of Seth's
changes are for the better. Like, he can now walk on walls and ceilings
and take on any challenger in a barroom arm-wrestling match. The downside
is that his physical mutation from man to fly isn't very pretty. He loses
his teeth, a ear falls off and he begins to lose various bodily functions
like normal digestion. This is where Joe Bob said the film starts to
The Fly (1986)
January 21 at 11:00 p.m.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL
Imagine you are at the football stadium
watching your favorite team in action and in the middle of an exciting
play, a sniper, perched high above the grandstand, starts firing bullets
into the crowd. That's the premise of this psychological thriller which
came out the same year as Black Sunday, the John Frankenheimer film
in which terrorists attempted to explode a shrapnel bomb over Super Bowl
fans in Miami. The surprise twist in Two Minute Warning is that the
sniper is not a psychopath but a professional gunman hired to create mass
hysteria at the game. Now who would go and do a thing like that? Would you
believe a gang of international art thieves? We know it sounds crazy but
there's a method to their madness.
The cast of Two Minute
Warning includes the usual suspects from similar disaster-type flicks
like Airplane and Earthquake. Charlton Heston plays the
police captain, Martin Balsam is one of Chuck's law enforcement buddies,
John Cassavetes heads up the swat team, and Jack Klugman plays a
compulsive gambler in trouble with the mob. We also have Gena Rowlands and
David Janssen as bickering lovers, Beau Bridges and Marilyn Hassett as
innocent bystanders, Joanna Pettet as an unscrupulous art dealer, and
Brock Peters as an unlucky security guard. Look for cameos by Howard
Cosell, Frank Gifford, and Merv Griffin - who sings the National Anthem!
Two Minute Warning (1977)
Thursday, January 22
at 11:00 p.m.
"Two Minute Warning" is available on DVD
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