Watching ‘Halloween 2’ (1981) on the big screen the other night brought back lots of memories.
Apart from generating a few more scares than I had remembered first time around (though co-writer/co-producer/’ghost’ director John Carpenter once described it as ‘not my proudest moment’), it also brought back the very real excitement of the late-night cult movie.
‘Moviedrome’ wasn’t a cult movie but a series of cult movies transmitted on Sunday nights by the Beeb between 1988 and 2000.
Pre-internet, there was a real curiosity to this collection of lost classics. Your parents had gone to bed. It was just you and the TV. What forbidden wonders were about to be unfurled?
‘Moviedrome’ was initially presented by director Alex Cox (‘Sid And Nancy’, ‘Walker’, ‘Repo Man’), and just a glance at the running order of the first two series should certainly excite movie fans of a certain hue:
The Wicker Man
Electra Glide in Blue
The Last Picture Show
The Hired Hand
The Parallax View
The Long Hair of Death
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Fly (1958)
One From The Heart
The Man Who Fell To Earth
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
The Thing From Another World
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Night of the Comet
The Grissom Gang
The Big Carnival (Ace in the Hole)
The Buddy Holly Story
Five Easy Pieces
Sweet Smell of Success
Many of these films are etched upon my brain 30 years on, particularly ‘THX 1138’, ‘Electra Glide In Blue’, ‘The Man With X-Ray Eyes’, (‘Pluck it out! Pluck it out!’), ‘Five Easy Pieces’ and ‘The Parallax View’.
In later series, they showed uncut UK premieres of ‘Bad Timing’, ‘Scarface’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’, amongst others. Checking in to watch ‘Moviedrome’ on a Sunday night gave you the feeling that you were a member of a very small but select club.
Cox’s introductions were highly original bits of film criticism in themselves, with his arch sense of irony and keen eye for detail (bit-part actors, weird editing, striking set design). He even had the audacity to present his own movie ‘Walker’ during the series.
Later Mark Cousins brought a more serious tone, an intriguing accent and also some intelligent, subtle analyses. Watching a few of these intros just make me want to watch the movies again. If only there was such a widely-seen yet distinctly ‘cult’ film club as ‘Moviedrome’ these days.