Category Archives: Made For TV Movies
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Richard Matheson and based on his short story.
Is Steven Spielberg’s 1971 made-for-TV thriller “Duel” the prototype for his 1976 summer blockbuster “Jaws“? It would be easy to argue that that would indeed be the case. Both are adapted from another medium; “Duel” from Richard Matheson’s short story and “Jaws” from Peter Benchley‘s best-selling novel. Both feature a roller coaster ride of a plot and a silent predator that strikes without warning. In “Duel”, the hapless protagonist is David Mann (Dennis Weaver from “McCloud“) and he is terrorized by a mysterious 18 wheeler hell-bent on his demise. “Jaws” features a great white shark roughly the size of an 18-wheeler that terrorizes the community of Amity, hell-bent on devouring every last swimmer who steps foot in its ocean. Finally, both films feature men who must take desperate action to live another day.
It’s been over 40 years since “Duel” first had TV viewers clutching their armchairs and holding off on their bathroom breaks. Since then Steven Spielberg has directed a long list of some the world’s greatest movies. Some, like “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” are great simply because they provide a departure for us from our everyday worries and woes. Films like “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan“ show that while Spielberg may have the heart of a kid, he is still able to make films about subjects that are all too adult in theme.
“Duel” falls in the former category of Spielberg’s filmography. It’s a thriller of a film that doesn’t require a lot of thought on the part of the audience. It’s fast-paced fun and full blown terror colliding at 90 miles per hour down a dusty desert highway. Better yet, it’s the type of movie that makes us remember what movies are all about in the first place and that is escape.
- He Is Legend: It’s Richard Matheson’s Birthday (dangerousminds.net)
- The Night Stalker (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Read a sneak preview of the comic adaptation of the crazy trucker tale Duel [Comics] (io9.com)
- ‘Jaws’ Blu-Ray: Steven Spielberg Classic To Be Remastered; Hitting Shelves This Summer (news.moviefone.com)
- Steven Spielberg (cgvalley.wordpress.com)
- Duel (Spielberg) : the map of the road of the narration (spacefiction.wordpress.com)
- Top Blu-ray summer releases (lfpress.com)
- Inspired by the JAWS story (joanneguidoccio.com)
- Be Afraid Be Very Afraid Not To Miss JAWS Coming To BluRay For The First Time! (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Restored ‘Jaws’ to screen at 2012 Cannes Film Festival (examiner.com)
- Book Review – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories by Richard Matheson (chyrondave.wordpress.com)
- Shawn Levy Replaces Steven Spielberg and Brett Ratner To Direct ‘The 39 Clues’ (slashfilm.com)
- Stephen King and Son Embrace ROAD RAGE with IDW (newsarama.com)
Directed by Frank De Felitta
Screenplay by J.D. Feigelson
Story by J.D. Feigelson and Butler Handcock
We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks
We don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground
We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks….
Forget about this film being a TV movie; Dark Night of the Scarecrow is as scary as any theatrical film you are likely to see. This gem of a horror film about four stupid rednecks that gun down a defenseless and innocent mentally challenged man in cold blood, only to be picked off one by one by an unseen killer is the real deal. Director Frank De Felitta lets the tension build up and that only serves to make the scenes that we don’t see all the creepier. Remember, this is television in 1981; so they can’t actually show a guy getting chewed up by a wood chipper or the rotting corpse of a dead man. Everything has to be implied and that is exactly what makes this film a strong entry in the horror genre. Writer J.D. Feigelson gives us a teleplay that brought to my mind the demons that haunted my southern upbringing as I was growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The characters in the film may look different and act different, but I was reminded of the crimes of Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins and of the Gaffney Strangler, both serial murderers of the South in the past. Don’t misunderstand me; the film has nothing to do with them. It merely revives those old memories of my past.
Charles Durning is redneck sleaze as the leader of the bigoted vigilante mob that brings about an end to the life of the innocent Bubba Ritter. I don’t think there’s any part that Durning can’t play. Quite frankly I believe he was unfairly looked over for a Best Supporting actor Oscar for “Tootsie.”
Although his role is short, Larry Drake reminds us all why he was picked to play the role of Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law. Drake was so convincing in the role (as he is here), that people actually treated him as if he was slow. That is the sign of a talented actor.
Finally, Dark Night of the Scarecrow keeps us guessing as to the identity of the mysterious and unseen killer. We are given suspects, but one by one they are eliminated. That makes perfect sense. After all, doesn’t not knowing seem scarier than the truth? Oh, and not to mention a final scene that sent chills down my spine.
Strother Martin was originally scheduled to play the part of Otis Hazelrig, but passed away before the film could be made. However, a few lines of script suggested by Martin remained in the final film, but spoken by Charles Durning, who eventually played the part.
Charles Durning did most of his own stunts of the climatic chase scene when he’s running away from the tractor. A double can be seen for a few shots with darker hair.
All the nocturnal scenes were shot night for night.
- When A Stranger Calls (1979) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
- Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (cayobuay.wordpress.com)
- Nicolas Cage Almost Played Scarecrow in BATMAN (geektyrant.com)
- Scarecrows and school. (drunkonplanes.wordpress.com)
- Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Sunday Salon! (idhbic.com)
- Swamp Devil (2008) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
- Night Terrors Becomes Anthology Feature Film In The Dark (dreadcentral.com)
- How to: Stat a Scarecrow in Zombie d6-lite from KORPG Games ” Roleplaying game (RPG) (korpg.com)
- “I Love Me Some Rednecks!” (valleywx.com)
- The Skinny On Sam Raimi’s Oz: No Singing, No Scarecrow, And… (perezhilton.com)
- The Skinny On Sam Raimi’s Oz: No Singing, No Scarecrow, And… (lukewilliamss.wordpress.com)
- The lady hiding in the redneck (greatpoetrymhf.wordpress.com)
Directed by Steven C. Miller
Written by Anthony C. Ferrante
Story by Anthony C. Ferrante and Jacob Hair
BAD MOVIE!! BAD MOVIE!! Sorry, I had to smack this one on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. The damn thing pissed all over my carpet. I guess that’s what I get when I watch a movie with the SyFy label on it. Fucking trickster; it had the After Dark label on it, too. That’s what made me give it a chance. It’s like George Bush said: After Dark kind of good, SyFy very bad.
A bunch of Irish Knights from the 12th century trap a banshee and a group of dumbass archaeological students and their professor let it loose in this piece of shit movie. After they let it loose they have to figure out how to trap it. That’s the whole damn plot of this movie. This thing is so bad my mind began to wander all over the place. Scream of the Banshee is directed by Steven C. Miller so I thought Steve Miller and was hoping they would play ‘Jet Airliner’ or maybe ‘The Joker’ in the movie. I see Lauren Holly and start thinking about the very first time I saw her on Picket Fences. She was wearing a black bikini and bringing chocolate cake in a dream to the sheriff’s son. That memory caused an odd side effect that I will not go into further detail about. Oh, look, Lance Henriksen is in this movie. The DVD box says “Lauren Holly and Lance Henriksen”; so you would think he would be in the damn movie for more than five minutes.
The banshee looks like the Wicked Witch of the West after somebody dropped a giant box of oatmeal on her head. Yes folks, it is official; this movie sucks worse than a Kardashian on date night. Who said that? I said that!
- The World’s Most Powerful Non-Destructive Magnet Screams Like A Banshee (gizmodo.com.au)
- Official Aggression Scale Trailer Takes Aim (dreadcentral.com)
- Vocal: Banshee’s Wail (dansartblog.blogspot.com)
- The World’s Most Powerful Non-Destructive Magnet Screams Like a Banshee [Video] (gizmodo.com)
- Get Aggressive With These new Stills from The Aggression Scale (dreadcentral.com)
- Get on The Aggression Scale in May (dreadcentral.com)
- Dan Barrett (dansartblog.blogspot.co.nz)
- San Diego Comic-Con 2010: After Dark’s Ghoulish Plans! Win a 32 Gig iPad! (dreadcentral.com)
- San Diego Comic-Con 2010: Inside the After Dark Originals Booth (dreadcentral.com)
- Fifteen injured as passenger jet is forced to land at Gatwick (express.co.uk)
THE NIGHT STALKER-Made for TV-United States-1972
Note: Clip is for the opening theme of the TV series. I could not find a trailer for the 1972 TV Movie.
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Teleplay by Richard Matheson
Based on the book by Jeff Rice
January 11, 1972-A made for TV movie called The Night Stalker would become the most widely viewed TV movie of its time and would make a 10 year-old boy with a love for scary monsters very happy.
The Night Stalker is the story of a reporter who uncovers the biggest story of his life only to have it covered up at every turn. Is there a vampire loose on the streets of Las Vegas? Of course there is and reporter Carl Kolchak knows it. There’s only one problem. Who in the blue hell is going to believe him?
To me, the appeal of The Night Stalker was not in the vampire, but in the fact that both our beliefs and disbeliefs in the supernatural were represented in both the character of Carl Kolchak and in the powers that be that attempted to thwart him every chance they got. We believe that there is no such thing as vampires, that there is no such thing as werewolves or zombies. Yet we want so badly to believe. We are Carl Kolchak, reporter and believer. We are the doubters who cry ‘insanity!’ at the mere mention of the things that go bump in the night. Does that make sense? I hope so because I don’t know any better way to put it.
One more thing; The Night Stalker precedes another show about a man who believed in the unknown; and the people around him who try to shut him down at every step. It was called The X-Files and without Carl Kolchak and company to pave the way it probably wouldn’t even exist. Now, can you believe that? I certainly can.
- A Director Found for Disney’s The Night Stalker Reboot with Johnny Depp (dreadcentral.com)
- Johnny Depp and Edgar Wright to adapt “The Night Stalker” for Disney (houseofvampires.wordpress.com)
- Edgar Wright To Direct Johnny Depp in Disney’s THE NIGHT STALKER (geektyrant.com)
- Daily Deceased Fun Fact: Darren McGavin (May 7, 1922 – February… (thedailydeceased.com)
- Edgar Wright Set to Direct Johnny Depp in ‘The Night Stalker’ (slashfilm.com)
- Edgar Wright to helm Johnny Depp supernatural film ‘The Night Stalker’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Wright set to direct Johnny Depp in The Night Stalker (guardian.co.uk)
- Edgar Wright to Direct Johnny Depp in ‘Night Stalker’ Reboot (screenrant.com)
- Now Here are the True Facts: Kolchack: The Night Stalker (tor.com)
- Edgar Wright to Helm Disney’s ‘Nightstalker’ (screenphiles.com)
- Edgar Wright and Johnny Depp Join Forces for ‘The Night Stalker’ (filmophilia.com)
Directed by Dan Curtis
Screenplay by Richard Matheson
Based on the short story “Prey” by Richard Matheson
It was 1975, I was 13 years old lying on the couch watching the ABC Movie of the Week. It was a little film called TRILOGY OF TERROR and it starred Karen Black in the role of three very different, tormented women. There was Julia, the schoolteacher; Therese and Millicent, the twins; and finally, Amelia. The first two stories were so-so and to be honest I was going to change the channel if it didn’t get any better. I decided to stick it out and after it was all over I found myself wishing that I hadn’t. I was afraid to get off the couch for fear that I would feel needle sharp teeth biting into my leg; or the sting of a tiny, razor sharp spear jabbing into me. I was scared that if I went to the bathroom that the Zuni Fetish Warrior doll would find me, just like it did Amelia in the last story of the movie. She was a grown woman and even she couldn’t kill that miniscule monstrosity after the binding chain dropped from its waist and it came back to life to hunt her and possess her. How the hell was I, a 13 year old boy, going to fare against this diminutive demon warrior from the Aborigine tribes? Hell no, I was not going to get off that couch! I’ll sit here until doomsday if I have to. Well, until then, or at least until mom yells at me to get my butt to bed. Then, when I’m hauling ass to bed I’m going to break the land-speed record getting there. That little bastard isn’t getting me.
Alright, so I guess you can see that the final story in the movie TRILOGY OF TERROR made a truly lasting impression on me. Even 36 years later I still find myself looking under the bed to make sure that little doll isn’t waiting for me. The story is based on a short story by the legendary Richard Matheson. Matheson was a jack of all trades novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. If you’ve been to the movies at any time in your life then chances are you’ve seen something based on his work. A STIR OF ECHOES, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, THE OMEGA MAN , I AM LEGEND and REAL STEEL are just some of the films based in his novels. Oh, and lest we forget, he was the man responsible for giving William Shatner a “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” on the old TWILIGHT ZONE TV series. It was also Matheson who wrote the story that made the world take notice of a young director named Steven Spielberg with his road rage made-for-TV masterpiece DUEL. However, it was “Amelia”, the final story in that little 1975 TV movie TRILOGY OF TERROR, written by Matheson and based on his short story “Prey” that gave me the first sleepless night of my life.
If I ever see Richard Matheson, I’m going to walk straight up to him and I’m going to look him in the eye and I’m going to say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”
Featured below, in three parts, in the entire story “AMELIA”. I apologize for the film quality. It was the best I could find.
Karen Black contributed much to the 3rd segment “Amelia”. She re-wrote her first conversation with her mother on the telephone. Black wanted to emphasize that the mother was controlling and manipulative. The original words made the mother out to be too nice. Making the mother controlling of Amelia would make the audience more on her side when we realize what is going to happen to the mother when she comes to visit. Also when the doll is trying to escape from the suitcase the effects men could not figure how to show that Amelia is cut. Black thought to have them place the blood on her finger which she would hide from the camera until it was time to reveal the bloody finger.
The original Zuni doll puppet owned by director, Dan Curtis, was used for the new sculpts of the Zuni doll for the sequel, Trilogy of Terror 2.
The idea of grinning and showing fang-like teeth similar to the ‘zuni’ doll – the final and arguably the most chilling image in the film – actually came from Karen Black herself.
- Richard Matheson Says ‘Real Steel’ Is The Real Deal (screenphiles.com)
- Top Five Horror Writers (weareliterarycritics.wordpress.com)
- Interview: Author Richard Matheson On ‘Real Steel’ (screenrant.com)