By John Seal
April 2, 2012
From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.
12:30 AM Cinemax
The Funhouse (1981 USA): Director Tobe Hooper became a cult hero in the wake of 1974's Texas Chainsaw Massacre and parlayed that fame into box office success with 1982's Poltergeist. In between those films (and in the wake of his 1979 TV movie Salem's Lot), he made this obscure horror flick about a carnival concealing a dark secret. The story revolves around four teenagers enjoying a wild night at the fairgrounds, where they plan to hide out in the funhouse and spend the wee hours smoking wacky tobacky and engaging in unprotected, pre-marital sex. Their plans go awry after they witness a murder and find themselves being stalked by a killer wearing a Frankenstein's Monster mask. As in most slasher films, the protagonists are so annoying and clueless that you end up rooting for the killer, but The Funhouse benefits from impressive set design and an all too brief appearance by William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise) as magician Margo the Magnificent. Also airs at 3:30 AM.
1:45 AM Fox Movie Channel
Footsteps (1972 USA): Originally scheduled to air on March 26th, Footsteps didn’t, but appears again this morning on Fox’s online schedule. We’ll cross our fingers and assume this time the schedule doesn’t lie. Here’s what I previously wrote about the film:
Here’s another pretty decent made-for-TV movie, this one especially of interest to fans of American football. Despite the fact that I’m about as interested in football as I am in Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movies, I’ve noticed that gridiron flicks are almost always entertaining, as are baseball movies. Basketball, on the other hand, is not a good movie sport - and unless we’re talking about Talladega Nights, don’t even get me started on NASCAR. Anyhoo, Footsteps stars Richard Crenna as Paddy O’Connor, a coach hired by a small college to improve their pigskin program. Paddy’s up for the task, but hasn’t reckoned on the local mobsters, however, who need his team to keep failing. Nominated in 1973 for a "Best TV Movie" Golden Globe, Footsteps co-stars Ned Beatty, Joanna Pettet, Clu Gulager, Forrest Tucker, Robert Carradine, and - in one of his very first roles - James Woods.
3:05 AM Starz
African Cats (2011 USA): I’m generally a pushover for nature documentaries, though you probably wouldn’t know it from reading TiVoPlex as such films rarely air on premium channels. The exception that proves the rule, African Cats is a stunningly beautiful Disney doc shot with state-of-the-art high def cameras and featuring narration by Samuel L. Jackson. Best part: when Jackson speaks on behalf of a leopard stalking a pair of springboks, stating “normally, both your asses would be dead as fucking fried chicken, but you happen to pull this shit while I'm in a transitional period so I don't wanna kill you, I wanna help you.” Okay, maybe he doesn’t say exactly that, but it’s close. And he does refer to a giraffe as a “skinny-necked motherfucker.” Okay, that part’s not true, either. Sorry. Trust me, though, this is one impressive looking nature flick. Also airs at 6:05 AM.