Posted in: Art, Horror Hosts

My Letter on Creature Features

Creature Features Artwork
Host Vincent Van Dahl holding the home made artwork from my kids.

I’ve talked about my enjoyment of the show Creature Features before. It is a program presented by a “horror host” that shows a… not so high brow movie (i.e. affordable to programs on a shoestring budget). But sometimes these are the best movies. They are cheesy and rare. Sometimes watching a “horror host” show like Svengoolie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark or Creature Features is the only way to see some of these weird and wonderful films. Yea some are bad enough that I probably wouldn’t give them a second viewing, but that’s what the hosts do. They make a bad film entertaining.

Creature Features has this segment where they read viewer mail. Some fans have sent them packages with gifts, others have provided artwork or letters with criticism/kudos. On Father’s Day, my kids created a home made Father’s Day card with the cast of Creature Features as the main part of the card. I had to scan the card and send it into the show. On Saturday, July 17th while airing the movie “The Titan Find” (an 80’s copycat of Aliens) the cast read the letter and showed off the artwork I had scanned. My kids were tickled pink that their work (and their names) were aired on the show. I even had a few friends buzz me that they had seen the segment.

For those of you who don’t know, every new episode of Creature Features is broadcast live on their YouTube Channel every Saturday night. You can also watch past episodes that they have done from the past 4-5 years. In most breaks from the movie, host Vincent Van Dahl is interviewing a special guest. They also post the “Letters to” segment as a separate video later in the week. Here is the segment with just the letters. My letter is the last letter in the video.

Posted in: Horror Hosts, Humor, MST3K, Quotes, Reviews, Star Trek

MST3K: The Movie 25th Anniversary

On April 19, 1996, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie was released into theaters riffing on the sci-fi classic “This Island Earth“. Unfortunately, it was only twenty six theaters on the opening weekend. I remember wanting to watch this movie the moment I heard the news about this special show. I don’t recall when it finally came to Utah, but I was there when it made it’s Beehive State premier at a Salt Lake City art theater. MST3K: The Movie was shown at The Tower Theater on 9th and 9th. It may have been one of the many cult midnight movies that this theater was known for showing. I went with a group of friends who were all excited to see the movie. In typical MST3K fashion, we riffed the movie in the theater. The one I remember the most was at the start when Michael Nelson was in the hamster wheel. While he was jogging, we all started singing the theme from Rocky. Da-da-daadaa Da Da da…. Gonna Fly NOW!!!!! We were constantly quoting lines from this movie at various opportunities. One of the more unique ones is when the crew sings “normal view. Normal View. Normal View! NORMAL VIEW!!!”. We were playing the Star Trek: Customizable Card Game where one of the cards was titled Mortal Q. You can guess what we sang.

mortal q. Mortal Q. Mortal Q! MORTAL Q!!!!

I remember getting excited when the movie was finally released on DVD. I called my bother (another MST3K fanatic) and let him know it was out since I didn’t know the stores had it at the time. After purchasing, watched this movie over and over again. I had only wished that the original MST3K: The Movie DVD had the original film as one of the extras. It wasn’t until Svengoolie had shown This Island Earth on The MeTV Network several years ago that I had a chance to watch the uncut version of the film. Svengoolie even mentioned the MST3K movie as one of the first introductions to this movie that a lot of people had experienced. There was 30 minutes cut from the original film for the MST3K. Because of how many times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve had some RPG homebrew ideas for the Metalutians. When I get the examples done, the Metalutians will be one of the demo aliens that I’ll be creating.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary today, I found the DVD I had watched a million times and put it into the DVD player. I took some notes while watching for this blog. I loved how the opening scene (after the Rocky run) was an escape attempt and explanation of why Mike and the bots are on the SoL. This gave movie viewers who hadn’t seen any MST3K episodes a quick guide into the setup of the show. I’ve always thought that the “bow down” scene was a little disturbing. Yea we want to show that Dr. Forrester is EEEEVVVVIIILLLL (and a bit of a dickweed) but that always seemed to bother me for some reason. The only reason I can think of is that he was never that nasty on the TV episodes. Yea he was evil, but not “kneel before Zod” evil. I wonder how many people watching the movie now will get the “John Sununu goes for a haircut” joke? I liked how they used the film breaking to give Mike and the Bots a chance to do a skit. Just breaking for a skit like they do in episodes may have confused audience members not familiar with the show. I don’t know why I never noticed that the switch activating the manipulator arms is marked “Manos” (as in Hands of Fate). Good job on that one. The names of the “invisible pilots” are Claude Rains (who played the invisible man) and Harvey the Rabbit (another invisible character). Another item that was different in the movie compared to the TV shows is the crew riffed the end credits to the movie. And I also counted, there were eight Star Trek references in the film.

Some of the lines that stood out in the film.

“Service engine soon” I wonder what that’s all about?

Science and Industry! See big men sticking screw drivers into things – turning them – AND ADJUSTING THEM!

Well believe me, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid… and I went ahead anyway.

Now place your hands above the rail [hands suddenly attach to the rail] … they’re magnetized. And if your hands were metal, that would mean something.

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around!

Are you in Europe? Do you need an adapter?

Offer void in Utah.

It was great to watch this movie again. If you are a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, they are currently running a Kickstarter to make more episodes. You can support them at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mst3k/makemoremst3k

Posted in: Horror, Horror Hosts, Movies, Science Fiction, TV Review

Creature Features 50th Anniversary

I was very happy to complete the Character Creation Challenge last month. It was an actual challenge that I didn’t know if I could complete. And there were a few days I was wondering if I would make the deadline. It took up quite a bit of time just to make sure I didn’t miss a day. One of the things that ended up getting pushed off to the side was the other blog entries that were not related to the challenge, but I wanted to post. I was able to sneak in a review of Wonder Woman 1984, but there were several other subjects that I wanted to cover. Here is one of my catch up posts that would have been posted last month.

Creature Features 1970's
Creature Features then…
Creature Features 2020's
…and Creature Features now.

I enjoy watching classic and cheesy horror films. From the Universal Classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy to the British studio that released the Hammer Horrors. Some of these horror films can also be quite cheesy and funny such as Killer Klowns from Outer Space (boy that’s a lively one). I’m not big into the mega-slashers or the buckets of blood films. If you have to rely on too much splatter-gore special effects to make up for bad writing, it tends to turn me off. But even the smallest film with a shoe-string budget can be enjoyable if done the right way.

There are several shows that help me find some of these classics and clunker horror/science-fiction films. The one I wanted to talk about today is Creature Features from the San Fransisco bay area which just celebrated the 50th Anniversary of it’s first showing. I had discovered this show sometime in 2018 on the show’s YouTube channel and quickly added it to my Saturday night TV lineup.

This is a “horror host” show that was popular in the 70’s and continues today. Television stations would receive batches of films that they could air that were real clunkers. What certain stations in different cities did to attract an audience is to have an employee of the station dress up in a costume come up with a punny name and be the host for some of these z-grade movies. Even if the movie was a bomb, audiences would tune in to check out the host. Sometimes skits and parody songs would be performed while others hosts had interviews and trivia. Everyone had their own spin on the idea which helped made them unique. I head learned about these “horror hosts” from a wonderful documentary called American Scary. Creature Features has had three runs. The first by host Bob Wilkins, the second by host John Stanley and the current run that started in 2016 with Vincent Van Dahl, Mr. Livingston and Tangella.

On January 9, 2021, Creature Features aired a 50th Anniversary Special of the original Creature Features hosted by Bob Wilkins. A special tribute to Wilkins was shown along with the first film from that night “The Horror of Party Beach”. Van Dahl interviewed John Stanley and director Tom Wyrsch. There were several old interviews shown from Bob Shaw who was one of the producers of the original show. They even had the outro from Bob Wilkins to wrap things up. As for The Horror of Party Beach, let’s just say that it was bad enough that I kept expecting the heckling robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000 to show up to make fun of the film. The creatures that menaced the teenagers looked like they had hot dogs hanging out of their mouths. Yea it was gloriously bad. And probably not one I’d watch again.

If you get a chance, check out the Creature Features YouTube channel. I watch it on the YouTube app on my television. They air the show live online every Saturday and they have past shows available as well. Besides showing the classics (that they can afford to show) they have also shown some recent fan films (somehow they got a foreign Star Trek fan film) and small budget studio releases that they were able to get their hands on. The variety has been very interesting. I also like the interview format that they have. 99% of the guests have been very entertaining to listen to ranging from actors, special effects artists, cosplayers and more.

Congratulations to Creature Features for reaching a 50th Anniversary. I hope you guys can continue to bring us many cheesy horror and science-fiction films for many years to come.