Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Confessions of a Gen-X Premium Cable Junkie

By Bob Ignizio

Way back in the stone age – before streaming, before DVDs, before VHS, and before cable – if you didn’t see a movie at the theater when it first came out, you had to hope it would show up on broadcast TV. And when it did, aside from having to deal with commercial breaks, the chances were good that the movie would be edited for television. 

But that began to change in the seventies. That’s when the earliest VCRs hit the market, and pay cable channels like Star Channel and HBO began showing movies uncut. While my memory is fuzzy as to the exact dates, I know my family got both cable and a VCR around 1978 or early 79. And in addition to basic cable, we subscribed to Star Channel, which would eventually be rebranded as The Movie Channel in December of 1979.

Now the main draw for Star Channel and other premium cable channels like HBO at the time was the chance to see major Hollywood blockbusters uncut and without commercials. But not all the offerings on Star Channel were major studio hits. The schedule was padded out with plenty of b-movies, misfires, and even a few foreign films. And even if I didn’t happen to see these films in their entirety, Star Channel played the trailers for them so much that they became permanently ingrained in my psyche.

For those who didn’t see these films during their theatrical run or grow up with these early pay cable services, many of these films are likely unknown. Some never had VHS releases, never mind availability on DVD, Blu Ray, or streaming. In some cases, the only way you can see some of these movies now is thanks to people who taped them off TV, later digitizing them and posting them to youtube or various torrent sites. 

So before my memory atrophies completely, I thought I’d do my best to track down the movies I can and write reviews. I’ve got a decent list of titles I’m planning to cover already, but if you have a personal pay cable favorite from back in the day that you think I should check out, feel free to let me know by posting a comment.

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