Thursday, August 06, 2020

Come on and Join Our 'Convoy'



I can’t really talk about my nostalgia for Sam Peckinpah’s 1978 film CONVOY without first talking about what, for many Clevelander’s of a certain age, is the definitive film version of C.W. McCall’s 1975 hit country song. I’m talking about the version of “Convoy” made for airing on the Saturday afternoon Cleveland area movie program hosted by Superhost aka Marty Sullivan (you can read my interview with Marty here). The short, silly little music video Supe and his crew came up with for “Convoy” is about as perfect an adaptation of the song as one could hope for.

It was in no small part due to Supe’s version that I wound up watching Peckinpah’s CONVOY when it premiered on Star Channel, most likely sometime in 1979. And while I doubt there was any way it could have topped the Superhost version for my younger self, I do nonetheless remember enjoying the feature for its numerous fight scenes and car crashes.

Friday, July 31, 2020

'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' Delivers the Groceries


Despite this being a little more high profile than most of the movies I’m going to be covering in this series, it was in many ways the definitive “Star Channel” movie for me. So at the risk of ruining a perfectly nice bit of childhood nostalgia, I bought a digital copy and sat down for a trip down memory lane. To add even more pressure, I coerced my 9-year-old son into watching it with me. Would either of us find this seventies artifact, a movie often spoken of as one of the worst films ever made, entertaining in the 21st century? Let’s find out!


I was 9 or 10 when I first saw ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, which is just about the perfect age to watch a movie like this. At that age, one is old enough to understand some of the inappropriate jokes and feel like they’re getting away with something, but still young enough to yuck it up at the silly, immature gags that made all the serious, adult critics of the time groan.

But who cares about the critics, especially when you’re a kid? For me, this movie was comedy gold. I made sure to get in a couple of repeat viewings while it was in rotation on Star Channel. I knew the theme song by heart. I drew crayon masterpieces of tomato carnage in art class. I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t been for STAR WARS, I would have told you at the time that ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES was the greatest movie ever made.

But as such things happened in the late seventies, ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES was eventually removed from Star Channel’s schedule. I got older, and saw many other, arguably better films along the way. Eventually I watched the film on VHS and found it to still be reasonably amusing. I also saw the so-called “director’s cut” released in 1995, only this time I wasn’t quite as amused. Mainly that was due to the alterations rubbing me the wrong way.

I haven’t seen the movie since. Until now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Cover your ears for 'The Shout'


By Bob Ignizio


It may seem odd to begin a series of blog posts aboutnostalgic movie memories with a film I didn’t actually see until just a few days ago, but allow me to explain. When my family first got Star Channel, the trailer for THE SHOUT seemed to be played almost constantly. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on in this trailer, but it sure looked freaky. Must have looked freaky to my parents, too, as they made it clear I would not be watching this movie. And since I hadn’t quite yet worked out how to “sneak watch” movies I wasn’t supposed to see (that would come soon), I was out of luck.

Nonetheless, the trailer made an impression.

Given this fact, you’d think I would have rented the movie on VHS at some point in the eighties. But while Columbia did release the film on tape at some point, I don’t recall ever seeing it on the shelves of any of my local video stores. As for DVD, I don’t believe the film ever had an official release in the U.S. on that format. Across the pond, England got a DVD in 2003, and again in 2007, and there was a Blu Ray release in 2014. But aside from the fact that these releases just weren’t on my radar, they were all region coded, and I don’t have a region free player.

Thankfully, THE SHOUT is (for the moment, at least) available to stream in the U.S. on Amazon Prime, which is how I finally got around to seeing it.