Sunday, January 3, 2021

Wings, S01E01, "Legacy"

Joe Hackett (Tim Daly), sole owner and sole pilot of Sandpiper Air of Nantucket Island, is given a misdelivered package by business rival, Roy Biggins (David Schramm). The package is from the lawyer who handled the estate of Joe’s recently deceased father and can only be opened in the presence of Joe’s estranged brother, Brian (Steven Weber). Joe and his brother have not spoken in six years, ever since Brian ran off with Joe’s fiancée, Carol. Convinced by his ditzy employee, Fay (Rebecca Schull), and his friend/airport diner owner, Helen (Crystal Bernard), to honor his father’s dying wish, Joe agrees to contact Brian.

A few days later, free-spirit Brian blows through Tom Nevers Field airport like a hurricane. Whereas Joe keeps to the straight and narrow, Brian is a jokester who doesn’t take anything seriously. Opening their father’s inheritance, they find a safe deposit box key. Brian believes the box is filled with money, because a few months before his death, his father called him and said, “You’re rich.” Excited, the brothers head off to collect their treasure.

Joe and Brian collect a locked box from the bank and discover another key. This one is to a post office box on the mainland. They follow the trail from post office to bank to bus depot to kennel, all the while finding another key at their destination.

As they return to Nantucket with a mysterious final key, Brian reveals that he lost his job as a charter flight pilot in the Caribbean and was hoping that Joe needed another pilot. Joe refuses, citing Brian’s untrustworthiness, unreliability, and inability to take advantage of all the opportunities he’s been given in life – from flunking out of Princeton to washing out of NASA. Upon landing at Tom Nevers Field, Brian comes clean and tells Joe that Carol left him for another man.

With the brothers about to go their separate ways, Fay notices that the key belongs to one of the airport lockers. Opening the suitcase left in the locker, the brothers find, in addition to the dozen or so magic shop, spring-loaded snakes that leap out of it, their “legacy” – a photo of Joe and Brian together as children. On the back of the photo, written in their father’s hand, is the message “You’re rich.” Realizing that their father’s final wish was for their reconciliation, Brian accepts Joe’s job offer.

The first episode of Wings does everything a sitcom series opener should do in twenty-odd minutes. The characters are painted with broad strokes, allowing the viewer to quickly grasp who each person is and where they fit in the overall picture. Joe’s forthright uptightness meshes well with Brian’s loosey-goosey style. Even the characters’ wardrobes as designed by Elizabeth Palmer signify to the audience who they are and what can be expected of them.

The writing by show creators David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee is of the “set ‘em up and knock ‘em down” variety. I like to think of it as “verbal volleyball.” The characters banter back and forth until one puts the dialogue in the perfect position for the other to spike the punchline over the net and into the audience’s face. For example:

Joe: Dad was getting pretty strange the last couple of years. 
Brian: Why what do you mean? 
Joe: He used to put on an apron, go to the market, and demonstrate cheese spread. 
Brian: A lot of people do that. 
Joe: Sure, but usually the market hires them.

And this:

Brian: I know you, Joe. You're the best pilot around, but you're doing too much. You're running the office, you're flying the planes. You keep this pace up, you're gonna end up like Howard Hughes. Locked in a hotel room, sitting on Kleenex, sucking applesauce through a straw. 
Lowell: Isn't that something? All that money and his hobbies are the same as mine. 
Brian: Really? He also used to collect toenail clippings and keep them in a mason jar. 
Lowell: This is uncanny!

This style of comedic writing is as old as the hills. Listen to old time radio shows like Jack Benny or Our Miss Brooks, watch classic TV shows like I Love Lucy or The Dick Van Dyke Show, and you’ll see this same kind of structure. Please do not think that I am not knocking it. When done by professionals, sitcom writing has a wonderful rhythm and pace that is tantamount to musical theater. Angell, Casey, and Lee cut their teeth writing for Cheers, one of the greatest American comedic TV shows of all time. They also go on to create Frazier. These men knew funny. And they also knew that if it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it.

It isn’t enough to have good writing, however. You have to have the actors who can deliver those lines with verve and aplomb. Tim Daly, Crystal Bernard, Thomas Haden Church, and the others toss lines and jokes at each other with real skill. The entire cast of Wings, in fact, is very good, but it isn’t until Steven Weber shows up that things really liven up. Weber’s Brian Hackett is pure id. Watching him take down Roy Biggins’s Aeromass airlines is a joy. You can tell that Weber relished every line and situation.

Shout-outs to art director Roy Christopher and set decorators Tom Bugenhagen and Laura Richarz are warranted, as well. A good sitcom needs a place for its characters to feel at home. This causes the audience to feel at home there, too. Think: the Bunkers’ living room in All in the Family or the bar in Cheers. These are sets that became real places in the minds of audiences over the years. The terminal of Tom Never Field is such a place. It is a really interesting space. It has height as well as depth to it. For instance, Joe is on the second floor of the set when he meets his brother. Lowell (Thomas Haden Church) is up there later when the suitcase is found in the locker. There are doors and hallways on the sides and in the back of the set that make the viewer wonder what is happening just beyond sight. And like the bar in Cheers, the terminal needs extras to fill out the space. There are always folks waiting for their flights or ordering a meal at the counter of the restaurant. Visually, Wings is as delightful as its dialogue.

There will be more to discuss the further we go along this season (and next…and the next…and the next…). For now, let’s make sure our seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright positions, our seat belts are securely fastened, and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of us or in the overhead bins. For our next flight, we will be looking at episode two “Around the World in Eighty Years.”

Friday, January 1, 2021

Brand New Year, Same Old Resolutions

It’s the New Year, so it’s time to make resolutions that, more than likely, will never be fulfilled. My New Year’s resolution for 2021 is pretty much the same one I make every year…

Not quite, Brain.

My resolution is to write more. More letters to friends, more short stories, more chapters to my novel (which, dammit, I will finish this year). And, of course, more blog posts.

To help me with that last goal, I’ve decided to stack the writing project deck in my favor, so to speak, and review a multi-season television series. It’s a little easier to get into the groove of writing when what I have to write about next is already chosen for me.

The series I’ve chosen is Wings (1990-1997). Eight seasons of quaint hilarity starring Tim Daly, Steven Weber, and Crystal Bernard seem to be just what the doctor ordered for these COVID-crazed times.

Created by a trio of veterans from Cheers – David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee – Wings never garnered the critical or popular attention that other NBC comedies of the 1990s received. It wasn’t as hip as Seinfeld or Friends, and it wasn’t as intellectual as Frazier, but that’s okay. Like the tiny island of Nantucket, where the Hackett brothers make a go of it with their single-plane airline, Wings sits outside of fads and fashions and moves at its own pace.

Next time, there won’t be any fooling around. We’ll jump into the ol’ Cessna 402 and fly right into Season 1, Episode 1: “Legacy.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Through Naked Eyes (1983)

This made-for-TV movie is a good example of what I like to call a “diet giallo.”

For those of you not in the know, “giallo” is the Italian word for “yellow.” In 1929, Italian publisher, Mondadori, published a series of popular British and American mystery books translated into Italian. These books were printed with yellow covers. They proved so successful that other companies jumped on the bandwagon and published their own mystery series also using yellow covers. Soon, the Italian reading public was all about going down to the bookstore to pick up the latest “giallo.”

Giallos (or gialli if you want to be pedantic about it) soon made the leap from the page to the big screen. Mario Bava’s 1963 film La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, a.k.a. Evil Eye) is considered by many to be the first cinematic giallo. Its mixture of thriller and horror conventions (with a little sex thrown in) would be the well that the genre would return to again and again for the next 20-30 years.

Being a “diet giallo,” Through Naked Eyes has all of the taste of regular giallo, but without the heavy calories associated with that genre’s dependency on explicit sex and blood. The plights and peccadilloes of co-stars Pam Dawber and David Soul are toned-down variants of what one would hope to find in a Dario Argento or Brian De Palma flick.

While that may sound like a set-up for a glib dismissal, I assure you it is anything but. Through Naked Eyes is a lot more interesting and kinkier than you would expect from a made-for-TV movie. It has quite a bit to say about modern, urban life, the ways that we distance ourselves from one another, and how those distances affect the way we perceive others.

Plus, there’s peeping. And a groovy synth soundtrack. And a black glove-wearing murderer. It’s pretty much got it all!

The film opens with aerial shots of Chicago. It’s the middle of the day, and a radio announcer tells us in voiceover that the city is in the midst of a horrible heatwave that will probably last the rest of the week. The mobile camera comes to rest on an apartment complex, its twin buildings connected by a large lobby. Emerging from the elevator into this lobby, an old man collapses and dies with a knife in his back.

Anne Walsh (Pam Dawber) and William Parrish (David Soul) are residents of this complex; he in the north tower, she in the south. Police, TV reporters, medics, and other residents gather below while the old man’s body is removed. William pulls out his trusty pair of binoculars and watches the proceedings. He scans the apartments in the south tower across the way. People lean from their windows to follow the action. William continues to watch the watchers when he pulls up short – there, in the apartment opposite his, a woman is at a telescope watching him!

Thus begins a very odd courtship between Anne and William. Each watching the other watch them. The movie does not disparage this arrangement, doesn’t treat it as sordid or immoral. These are two adults who willingly and knowingly engage in peeping.

Alas, the police take a dim view of William’s and Anne’s mutual voyeurism. Detectives Wylie (Dick Anthony Williams) and Scopetta (Gerald Castillo) think William is their guy. Scopetta lays out their case to police psychologist Dr. Muller (Fionnula Flanagan), but it doesn’t quite go as he, or the audience, plans:
Sgt. Scopetta: He’s unmarried. He has never been married. He doesn’t currently have a steady girlfriend. Lives alone. Makes pretty good money. His mother died when he was a teenager. Doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. His father lives in Miami. He’s in sporting goods, a middleman. It’s a lousy relationship...

Dr. Muller: Anything else?

Sgt. Scopetta: Yeah. William Parrish peeps.

Dr. Muller: What?

Sgt. Scopetta: He uses binoculars. Him and a lady friend of his, they both peep. At each other.

Dr. Muller: Sounds like fun.

Surprisingly, Dr. Muller does not see mutual peeping as a problem. This is a refreshingly enlightened attitude, especially for a TV program at the time. America had taken a conservative swing to the right with Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, and deviant sexualities were in the crosshairs. Dr. Muller goes on to reframe Scopetta’s case file on William, making him seem less of a homicidal maniac and more of what he really is – a lonely man:
He’s a professional man in his mid-thirties. Got a lousy relationship with his father. Maybe they even hate each other’s guts, but what else is new? He’s single – not ‘unmarried’ – single. He lives alone, he dates irregularly, devotes himself to his career, and on occasion he titillates his libido by practicing man’s most common sexual diversion: girl watching.

As the bodies pile up, however, Scopetta and Wylie still think William is their man. They try to drive a wedge between the young couple, who by this time have moved past peeping and into "going out to dinner" range of each other.

Unbeknownst to the everyone, however, Anne’s and William’s relationship is a ménage à trois. Someone, it turns out, is watching the watchers. Someone who likes taking pictures. Someone who likes wearing leather gloves. Someone with a set of steak knives that’s missing a few pieces.

Written by Jeffrey Bloom (Blood Beach, Flowers in the Attic, and episodes of Starsky and Hutch) and directed by “Mr. Made-For-TV” himself, John Llewellyn Moxey (A Taste of Evil, Smash Up on Interstate 5, and episodes of Mission: Impossible, Magnum P.I., and Murder, She Wrote), Through Naked Eyes has got a nice groove to it – and I’m not just talking about the synthtastic score written by Guy Melle!

There are red herrings aplenty: could the killer be William’s fellow symphony member, Karen (Amy Morton), who desperately wants William to come and stay with her? Or could it be Terry (Rod McCary), Anne’s writing agent with whom she’s been sharing more than just the customary 10% fee, if you catch my drift? Even Anne and William are painted as plausible suspects during the proceedings.

All of the actors are given a chance to shine. David Soul does good work making William seem like someone unaccustomed to human contact. The scene between William and his father (William Schallert) is poignant, with both men slowly and painfully revealing their emotional scars to each other. For those of you who only think “comedy” when you hear the name Pam Dawber – and, let’s face it, considering her excellent work in Mork and Mindy and My Sister, Sam, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that – rest assured that she plays “erotic thriller heroine” just as well. Dawber’s portrayal of Anne’s sexual confidence and vulnerability is finely balanced.

Those of you who like to play the “Hey, it’s that guy!” game should be on the lookout for John Mahoney and Dennis Farina. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) claims that Donald Moffat (“Garry” from The Thing) is “Patrolman #4,” but the name of the actor in the end credits is actually Don Moffett. Seems like a totally different guy.

Through Naked Eyes plays like a giallo, that venerable Italian cinematic genre that was a potent mixture of mystery, violence, and sex. Because it’s a made-for-TV movie, however, it can’t rely on gory set-pieces or explicit sexual content. Instead, it focuses on some of the Hitchcockian tropes that were also a part of the DNA of gialli, such as featuring a protagonist who is forced to venture where the police fear to tread in order to investigate a series of horribly violent crimes.

The most important Hitchcockian trope on display is voyeurism. Watching and being watched is at the heart of Through Naked Eyes. The harmless peeping that Anne and William engage in isn’t the only voyeurism dealt with here, however. Through Naked Eyes shows the viewer (inside and outside the movie) just how compartmentalized modern life really is.

We see life happening from afar, whether it’s through our binoculars or our TV sets, and we make judgments based on those observations. Because of the distances between us, we can’t tell what other people are really thinking or feeling, so we project emotions and motives onto them. We think we understand other people, but we really have no idea what another person is all about until we interact with them.

Everyone in Through Naked Eyes engages in some form of voyeurism and comes to a wrong conclusion because of it. Anne and William watch each other, but they don’t have a real sense of who the other person is or why they are being watched in return by them. Anne sees William and his father argue, but she doesn’t know why. She sees William get angry, but doesn’t realize that it’s because he wanted to open up to his father, but didn’t take the chance. Her fears that Sgt. Scopetta may be right about William color her perceptions.

Sgt. Scopetta, too, is engaged in voyeurism. He watches William from afar and assumes that he is a pervert and, therefore, the murderer. Dr. Muller takes Scopetta’s views of William and builds an entirely different person from them.

The viewer, too, is a voyeur. (You aren’t getting off that easy!) We see the characters and make snap judgments about who is guilty or not based on what we see or our experiences with the genre.

In a review that I found on-line, it was pointed out that since the word “Naked” was in the title there should have been some nudity. The reviewer was perhaps being a tad facetious, but I think it’s an important point. Why is it called Through Naked Eyes, after all?

I may be stuffed full of wild blueberry muffins, but I think the use of the word “Naked” in the title is a cry for us to set aside our telescopes, binoculars, and cameras. To see with “naked” eyes means that we don’t need the eye of the camera to see. We’ve closed the distance to other people and can better see their lives as they really are. It’s the first step on the road to understanding.

Of course, that may just the mad musings of a Film Studies major. Through Naked Eyes is currently on Amazon Prime and YouTube. Peep on it for yourself and let me know what you think. I'll be watching...

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Coming Attractions

After a month of writing 400 to 600 words everyday (a feat of extraordinary willpower by a lifelong procrastinator, if I do say so myself), I thought that my post-Halloween blogging life wouldn’t begin again for another week or two.

Such is not the case!

I feel as though I’ve exercised enough for the past month that any substantial time off will result in a loss of conditioning. I’ve built up some writing muscles that I don’t want to see fall away to flab again any time soon. I’m may be more Bill Bixby than Lou Ferrigno, muscle-wise, but that’s no reason to stop now.

So, I thought I’d put together a kind of a “snipe reel” of coming attractions for LARPing Real Life to keep me focused. Here’s what you can expect to see over the next few months.


First up, I wanted to use the past month blogging as a springboard to spend the next month writing a novel.

Full disclosure: I’ve had an outline and the first four chapters of a giallo-esque novel sitting around in various notebooks and Word docs for a couple of years now. My National Novel Writing Month project, therefore, won’t be something brand new that I’ll be writing from scratch. I may or may not count the words I’ve already written towards the goal of 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo that I’ve set for myself. We’ll have to see how I’m looking productivity-wise as we close in on 1 December.

Still, I think I can get a lot done this month if I use my experiences blogging in October in a positive way. Whatever the outcome, I’m hoping to have The Statue with the Crimson Shadow in good shape by the end of November. Stay tuned to this channel for updates. If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo, too, then look me up on their website. You can find me here.

Shelf Reading

I’ve got a lot of books. Some are more interesting than others. It could be fun to dive into my personal library and share some titles with you. I’ve got a great edition of Daphne Du Maurier stories and a growing collection of George Baxt “celebrity detective” mystery novels that I’d like to show off in the coming weeks.

Movie Reviews

I think the main focus of this blog will always be TV shows and movies. I’ve had notes and a few false beginnings of a post about the made-for-TV movie, Through Naked Eyes (1983). It’s got David Soul and Pam Dawber who live in opposing apartment buildings. He’s a flautist. She’s magazine writer. They peep on each other. Oh, and there’s a black-gloved killer stalking the corridors. Through Naked Eyes is an example of what I refer to as the “diet giallo” genre. It’s a made-for-TV movie, so it can’t get as violent and weird as an Italian crime picture (know the world over as a giallo), but it does exhibit some of the tropes of the genre: voyeurism, stalking, paranoia, a mystery, and a knife-wielding killer whose POV the audience sometimes shares. So, in a sense, you get the taste of giallo, without all the calories. It’s new and improved Diet Giallo!

I’ve also got a look at the many versions of Carl Stephenson’s 1938 short story, “Leiningen Versus the Ants.” At the beginning of the shelter-in-place portion of the COVID pandemic, I spent a lot of time fighting an ant invasion in my apartment. I thought a lot about Them! (1954), Phase IV (1974), It Happened at Lakewood Manor (1977), and this Stephenson story. Like some of my posts during October, I’ll be sharing links to and discussing the short story, the radio show, and the movie. It’s a classic “humanity v. nature” story that I recall reading in junior high. It should be fun to write about.

…and the rest

I’m brainstorming some other ideas. I’ve got a couple short stories that may make it in this space. I’d like to take a turn at some music review writing. And there are always more TV shows and movies to watch and write about.

So…go grab some treats from the concession stand…make yourself comfortable…and stay tuned!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Today is 31 October. It is Halloween.

Well, kiddies, we made it. It is the 31st of October – Halloween!

There were a few close calls, times when I didn’t think I’d get my blog post written in time, but like a good horror movie hero, I made it to the final reel in one piece – hopelessly insane, but in one piece.

How to end the month, then? Who or what is going to see us out as we move from Halloween to All Saint’s Day? It should be something scary (natch!), simple, and a little melancholy.

W. W. Jacobs’s short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” is a stone-cold classic of the genre. I can remember reading it in my junior high school English class, and being very taken by it. I also recall reading a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and even "Leiningen Versus the Ants," so kudos to my 7th grade English teacher!

The story is simply told: at the turn of the 20th century, an English family is visited by a friend just back from serving in India. The visitor has in his possession a souvenir from his time there: a shriveled, mummified monkey’s paw. He tells the family that it allegedly grants three wishes, but those who tempt fate through the paw’s powers are forever sorry they do so. The visitor tries to toss it onto the fire and burn it, but the paw is saved and kept by the family.

What does the family wish for? Do they get what they want?

What follows is a tale of terror and bitter irony that still sends a shiver up my spine. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a marvel of construction, simple, but with powerful moments leading up to its heartbreaking climax.

If you’re brave enough, you can read W. W. Jacobs’s short story here. You may also listen to Roslyn Hicks read the tale at HorrorBabble.

There have been quite a few movie adaptations since the story was published in 1902. Many, however, are considered lost. There is a British-made film from 1948 that doesn’t quite stick to the simplicity of the source material. More faithful adaptations have been made for TV and as short films.

It should come as no surprise, however, that my personal favorite adaptation is a radio drama. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio series, Nightfall, was a very late entry in the radio drama game, but then again, radio drama never quite disappeared from the air in the Great British Commonwealth the way it did in the United States. Produced from 1980-1983, the series aired 100 episodes of supernatural horror.

“The Monkey’s Paw” was the second Nightfall episode to be broadcast. It is a very creepy version with wonderful performances and terrific sound design. The chanting that is slowly potted up as the sergeant-major tells his story is so spooky and perfectly chilling that it is guaranteed to haunt your dreams.

So, for now, I bid you adieu. The past month has been a lot of fun, but it is time to say good night. So, wear a mask, enjoy the horror-thon, don't forget to watch the big giveaway afterwards, and…Happy Halloween

Friday, October 30, 2020

It is 30 October. There is 1 day until Halloween.

What would a month-long celebration of Halloween be without a mention of those men and women who take it upon themselves to further the case for horror films to generations of TV (and now internet) viewers?

I am speaking, of course, of the TV horror host.

The TV horror host was born in the early 1950s, when Maila Nurmi first pulled on her skintight black dress and, as Vampira, screamed into the cameras of Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

Things didn’t really start to gain traction nationwide, however, until Screen Gems released the Shock! horror film collection to TV stations in 1957.

Shock! (and later Son of Shock!...and, later still, Creature Features) was a package of movies that clearly needed some adult supervision. So, what TV stations began to do was take a page from radio’s playbook. They created hosts to keep the audience company during the broadcasts. Similar to the hosts of such radio shows as The Witch’s Tale, Inner Sanctum, and Quiet, Please, the TV horror host wasn’t just a neutral, uninterested voice at the head and tail of each show. No, sir! The TV horror host was a part of the show, commenting on the movie during commercial breaks with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Sometimes, like Zacherley at New York’s WABC-TV, comments were made during the actual movie! Heck, most of the time, the movie was so lousy, it was only the host segments that kept your attention and kept you from switching over to studio wrestling or the off-the-air test pattern.

Every major and minor market in every city seemed to have their own horror host. Usually employees of the station itself, these men and women were, like poor old Larry Talbot, just ordinary weatherpersons or newscasters by day, but by night (one assumes when the moon was full and the wolfsbane bloomed) became creepy ghouls and ghoulies. Mundane TV studios were turned into castle dungeons and mad scientists’ laboratories.

[We interrupt this blog post for a Film Studies nerd interlude…

[It’s kinda fun to imagine the Jekyll & Hyde aspect of TV Horror Hosts in those early days. The TV station was seen as a wholesome, if stodgy, source of information and entertainment. It was the first place the community turned to when trouble reared its ugly head. Yet, at the same time, at night, when everyone had gone home for the day, these spaces mutated into breeding grounds of anarchy. And at the center of this midnight massacre of rules and regulations was a person who, only a few hours earlier, dressed neatly in a coat and tie or a conservative blouse and skirt, had soberly delivered the day’s news. Only now they were dressed up as a beatnik ghoul and chucking firecrackers at their cameraman. Incredible! There’s another blog post there somewhere…

[Back to our regularly scheduled program…]

In Pittsburgh, our horror host was none other than Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille. Some of you may know him as the on-location news reporter in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Chilly Billy (and other late-night horror hosts in other markets) was so popular in the 1970s that Saturday Night Live was pre-empted and shown after Chiller Theatre. Executives at WIIC-TV certainly knew who paid the bills in Pittsburgh, and it wasn’t John Belushi.

Sadly, by the time I was old enough to stay up and watch (and, more importantly, appreciate) shows like Chiller Theatre, Chilly Billy was taken off the air. Local TV stations, thanks in part to the Reagan Administration’s FCC, were no longer required to air their own programming. Instead, they opted for infomercials and syndicated programming to fill the late-night hours.

What was a burgeoning monster kid to do?

Thankfully, cable television in the early- to mid-1980s was still kind of a wild west show. There were plenty of channels that thought the late-night time was the right time to air the outré. It may surprise some readers that the USA Network was ground zero for weirdness. USA showed Kung Fu Theatre, Saturday Nightmares, The Ray Bradbury Theater, Night Flight, and, my personal favorite, Commander USA's Groovie Movies!

The Commander was a wise-cracking superhero, who, from his secret headquarters beneath a local shopping mall, brought viewers some of the greatest and crummiest movies ever made. And the Commander was always on the side of the movie. He may have joked about them, but he was always enthusiastic about his movies. And so was Lefty, the Commander's right-hand man.

Like, tonight’s movie. It's a special Halloween episode of Commander USA’s Groovie Movies replete with commercials and promos and all sorts of VHS goodness. The Alligator People (1959) has got a bit of everything: Beverly Garland, cheapjack hypnosis, alligator men wearing pants, and that scene-stealer extraordinaire, Lon Chaney, Jr.!

So enjoy the festivities and remember to keep your nose to the wind and your tail to yourself!