And Then a Step to the Right

TV Eye

The Rocky Horror Picture Show on VH-1 all Hallowe'en night.

Ken Lieck insists upon calling the holiday "Hallowe'en," which I find ludicrous but have always honored. (I once openly rebelled against another editor here who insisted on using "rock 'n' roll" instead of "rock & roll." That's the USA Network of spellings.) So, for Ken's sake, let's call it Hallowe'en.

Hallowe'en is a very special day for TV programmers, an excuse to trot out all those Seventies and Eighties slasher films, to show the Hallowe'en episodes of your favorite reruns, or simply consider what the regular schedule offers in a horrifying context ó Live with Regis & Kathie Lee (KXAN; 9am), for example. Gives me the willies just to think about it! Or how about this revolting little statistic: Between WGN and WTBS, you can see Saved by the Bell and Family Matters for four episodes in a row! Every day! That's almost as scary as the two hours of The Dukes of Hazzard (TNT; 5pm, 6pm). Brrrr.

Let's talk good Hallo-we'en fare. Let's talk Night of the Living Dead (KVC; 1am). KVC is getting the Great Pumpkin Award this year for cannily placing director George Romero's 1968 B&W horror classic front and center. (My personal favorite Hallowe'en lineup would have to include the original The Pit and the Pendulum, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and The Innocents.) Some might argue that JFK (HBO; 1:35am) is a mystery, and I don't know that I'd argue with that except to say that I prefer more classic Hallowe'en offerings. That would include The Lodger (AMC; 6:30am), a nifty little 1944 melodrama based around Jack the Ripper, and starring Merle Oberon and George Sanders. It's your first chance at some genuinely classic cinematic horror, something that will be sadly lacking the rest of the day with few exceptions. To wit: Halloween (KVC; 10am) will splatter across the screen but I'd likely flip to the Michael Keaton double feature of Mr. Mom and Multiplicity (HBO; 10:30am). Fittingly, Halloween II (TNT; 11am) comes on only an hour after the first one, and on a different channel.

I think AMC should get a Great Pumpkin Award, too, for their lineup for the day. After The Lodger comes Isle of the Dead (12:15pm);Invasion of Body Snatchers (1:30pm); and The Colossus of New York (3pm). 1958'sColossus is a longtime favorite of mine, an incomprehensible story about a giant robot with the brain of a little boy. Don't ask, just watch ó highly recommended for complete brainwash of your daily woes. It (AMC; 4:15pm) follows, then The Curse of Frankenstein (AMC; 6pm), with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, should put the right chill into the air. Some of you may wish to consider Ghost (MAX; 4:45pm), that 1990 weepy thriller with the yeah-right pottery scene. Others of us will be queuing up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Party (VH1; 5pm; 8pm; 11pm).

In the world of television, the witching hour is 7pm, when prime-time viewing starts. So does the onslaught of Hallowe'en-appropriate films. Witches Brew (KNVA); Freddy's Dead (WGN); A Vampire in Brooklyn (MAX); and another, more modern classic, Carrie (WTBS).

Somewhere in there, let me recommend Biography (A&E; 7pm), a profile of the great Boris Karloff, which includes clips from his 1931 Frankenstein and 1945's The Body Snatchers. You'd have to juggle and use a VCR to catch all this ó Karloff will lurch throughThe Mummy (AMC; 7:30pm) andMonster Mania (AMC; 9pm) follows. Look for the Jack Palance-hosted Monster Mania to be a hoot with its horror clips from the silent era through Bram Stoker's Dracula, then stay tuned for The Horror of Dracula(AMC; 10pm). Or not.Bad Moon (MAX; 9pm) and Teen Wolf (WTBS; 9:15pm) will vie for your attention as will Sorceress(MAX; 10:30pm). But you classic horror fans check out The Real Frankenstein: An Untold Story (TLC; 11pm), in which the myriad manifestations of Mary Shelley's novel is examined.

There's pretty ho-hum programming from there on in. Bad Moon (Max; 9pm) and Teen Wolf (WTBS; 9:15pm) will rise on your screen, as does Sorceress (MAX; 10:30pm). There's a little satire with Repossessed (WTBS; 11:10pm); slice-n-dice with the first three Friday the 13th (MAX; midnight) films back-to-back, and Ed Wood's gawd-awful Plan Nine From Outer Space (KVC; 1:30am).

But here's your real Hallowe'en treat, and why AMC deserves it's Great Pumpkin Award: Blacula (11/1; 12:30pm) ó uncut, uncensored, and in all its blaxploitation glory. Trick or treat!

Call the Lawyers: That made-for-TV movie coming up Sunday night, Murder, She Wrote: South By Southwest (11/1; CBS; 8pm), is not, contrary to what you might think, a murder mystery set in Austin during the annual music festival. (I just can't picture Angela Lansbury running through Zilker Park being chased by a cropduster, although it's not hard to imagine the Jessica Fletchers playing Emo's). It does start out in Texas but El Paso is as close to Austin as it gets. What it really does is remind us that November TV ratings sweeps are happening, so expect more of those bitchslap-fests on Beverly Hills 90210 (how about the way Donna smacked Titsy?) and Melrose Place (or the Party of Five version of it, where the males get into it instead of the females.)

Informal Survey: Are you a cartoon-watching adult? What kind of cartoons do you watch? The same ones as when you were young? Have cartoons gone to hell in a handbasket or were Ren & Stimpy saviours of Toonheads everywhere? What about Beavis and Butt-head? South Park? SpaceGhost Coast-to-Coast?Write me at and let me know. Hmmm... why does the idea of a "TV Eye" chat room sound like fun? AOL or the Net?

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