Halloween TV Havoc!: GHOST STORY “Elegy for a Vampire” (1972)


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NBC-TV tried to bring a horror anthology series back to prime time during the 1972-73 season with GHOST STORY, executive produced by the one-and-only William Castle . Sebastian Cabot played Winston Essex, introducing the tales from haunted Mansfield House hotel. GHOST STORY had great writers, including Richard Matheson (who helped develop the concept), Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Henry Slesar, and Hammer vet Jimmy Sangster, some good directors (Richard Doner, John Llewelyn Moxey, Robert Day), and a plethora of Hollywood talent: Karen Black, Kim Darby, Angie Dickinson, Melvyn Douglas, Patty Duke, Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes, Tab Hunter, John Ireland, Janet Leigh, Patricia Neal, Jason Robards, Gena Rowlands, Martin Sheen, and William Windom.

Despite all this, the show got clobbered in the ratings by the CBS FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE and ABC’s comedy duo of ROOM 222 and THE ODD COUPLE. A mid-season title change to CIRCLE OF FEAR (dropping the Cabot segments in the process) didn’t help, and…

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Val’s Movie Roundup #28: Hallmark Edition


Yay! I’ve cracked 100 of these Hallmark movies now and with this post I will have reviewed 96 of them. Oh, yeah! There’s more of them.

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Healing Hands (2010) – When I read the plot summary for this I thought of the movie Powder (1995). That’s reaching back to my childhood there. Then I thought of the hilarious Mad TV sketch where the Terminator is sent back to protect Jesus. In particular, when Jesus keeps resurrecting Judas because he is supposed to betray him.

Sadly, that sketch is better made and has more interesting things to say then this movie. It really is amazing the difference in quality between Hallmark movies. Same thing can be said about late night cable movies. As the title suggests, this movie is about someone who has “healing hands”. It’s about a guy named Buddy (Eddie Cibrian). Buddy works as a janitor. One day Buddy is on a roof with his friend. Buddy’s friend hurts his finger, but is stubborn about putting a bandaid on it. Buddy finally convinces him to, but then Buddy falls off the roof.

Now Buddy is in the hospital and apparently his temperature is 105, which a nurse says is the highest a body can survive. While that doesn’t sound right to me, what happens next certainly isn’t right. If this were ER they would probably try inducing hypothermia. In Healing Hands, Buddy is put in water. Not ice, but water. I’m sure it’s meant to remind us of baptism, but it looks like they’re not even trying to save Buddy. Luckily, Buddy recovers anyways, but not without a really odd musical choice first. During the fever, we get a flashback, but at this point we really have only seen Buddy and his now fiancee, since Buddy did propose, for only a few minutes. So it only has like two scenes to show because that’s all of the movie so far. During this part, it plays what sounds like Quiet Storm jazz. It’s a strange choice of music to play.

Well, now Buddy has “healing hands”. It takes him a little bit of time to figure it out, but after he heals this…

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with just his touch, Buddy knows something is up. We can also see that it is taking a lot out of Buddy doing it. I usually don’t care, but I don’t really want to spoil the surprise. I’ll just say that Buddy is adopted and that comes in to play. Of course, the news and the townfolk eventually catch on to Buddy and his miracle hands. It’s about Buddy trying to help, while the world either wants to treat Buddy as a freak of nature or just a tool, rather than a person. That’s giving it a lot of credit.

This whole movie just feels like amateur hour in every way. I don’t know of any other way to describe it. It’s like a high school production of a play called Healing Hands that a student wrote. Something like Highlander or Heroes did more with this kind of material. The movie barely does anything with it, which is a shame cause it’s not a concept doomed from the start. Too bad.

Oh, and notice the number of times I called him by his name? The movie does it even more. It kind of sucks the seriousness out of the whole thing when people keep saying Buddy over and over again.

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Freshman Father (2010) – Ah, college. Six yeas of education at a junior college, then three years of suicidal inducing hoop jumping at Cal. But at least I passed first semester calculus on my first attempt. Cause apparently, when you go to Harvard at 18, married, and with a baby, the hardest thing will be passing first semester calculus. No joke, this movie inspired by John Wand, a guy who actually did go to Harvard with a wife and baby in tow, makes almost the entire movie about him passing first semester calculus. It’s kind of a disgrace to John Wand. Especially when they were even to lazy to copy some actual Calculus problems from a text book, but instead we get this.

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You see part d! It says find and simply f(0) when f(x) = (x+1)(2x+1)(3x+1)(4x+1)(5x+1). In other words 1*1*1*1*1 = 1. Also, c which says here’s a function, don’t take the derivative of it, but just write it again. This after a question that spells out exactly what the subscript on the function means. And look at the rest of that test. I see no summations anywhere. Those are just derivatives. The test layout doesn’t makes sense. None of it makes sense. If they couldn’t even get that right, then wow!

Before we lay more stuff to bare, let me tell you the setup. It begins at senior prom where we meet John Patton (Drew Seeley) and the future Kathy Patton (Britt Irvin). Notice they didn’t use John Wand’s actual name nor do they say it’s based on, but only inspired by a true story. Of course she gets pregnant and they get married. After her mom tells her the key to marriage is a “happy boss”, it’s off to Harvard on a full scholarship to the nicest apartment ever for a student on scholarship, married, with a kid, going to a very expensive school.

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Yeah, in what world does this movie take place? In a world where this is Calculus 101. On the first day if I’m not mistaken.

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I love when she brings home a fan and he says they can’t afford it. Sure, because it’s the fan that doesn’t make financial sense here. None of this would matter if the whole film wasn’t about this kid overcoming the very things that are totally misrepresented. And it never gets better. The only thing I can say in it’s defense is that it does get across that the kid cares about his child. However, I would bet John Wand has a few choice words for how they present his ex-wife. She barely exists except to complain about how the baby doesn’t seem to like her, confess she got herself pregnant, then she just abandons the baby with him. You thought they would explain how she got herself pregnant? Of course not! That would possibly make John Patton seem like an idiot for not wearing a condom. And no, I don’t think she poked holes in a condom she gave to him like in the movie Your Sister’s Sister (2011).

Oh, and this is another one of those Hallmark movies that censors itself. The two of them are at a theater when she starts having contractions. She curses and the movie bleeps it. This is one of several Hallmark movies that censor words as innocent as “butt”. Sometimes inconsistently like in The Last Cowboy. If they can’t air it that way, then why is it shot that way? There must be something to the process of making these movies I’m not aware of or there is that much of a disconnect between the producers and the network.

He keeps trying to do the herculean task of passing first semester calculus, which seems like it takes him several semesters. The timeline in this movie isn’t exactly clear. It must go more than one semester though because we see he celebrates Halloween and appears to be at a Christmas party with his calculus professor. Also, I believe she has the baby during the holiday break.

Yeah, we meet two of his professors and they are remarkably kind to him. That part isn’t misrepresented. I did encounter several professors who were very nice and personable people when I went Cal. I can even say that’s it’s not unheard of for a professor to give you a passing grade when you should fail because it isn’t important that you actually passed. That happened to me. Granted there were health circumstances involved, but you get the point.

Which reminds me, my upper division computer science courses still had way more students in them then his first semester calculus class. The only time I saw classes that small were labs and discussion sections. Those two things are also oddly missing from this movie. It makes it seem like it’s just you, the professor, and the material. I doubt things were that different 7 years before I went to a four year college. This movie takes place in 2000.

There’s also this ridiculous back and forth with the dean as if she is there anytime you need to talk to her. Granted he is a rather unique student that she would be aware of, but it comes across as pretty ridiculous. Especially when he says to her that he thinks she got her PhD in 5 years, but she corrects him and says 6. Really? 6 years? Seriously? That’s pretty quick to get a PhD in physics. A simple Google search says 8.2 years. I mean it takes 4 just to get a bachelors, how is possible to get two degrees higher with only two more years? Makes no sense.

None of this makes any sense. It guts, flattens, and trivializes what this guy did in real life. At least they didn’t show some footage of the real John Wand at the end like The Blind Side (2009) did just to make sure we knew how much they screwed up. Don’t put yourself through this.

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Portrait Of Love (2015) – And don’t put yourself through this either. Although this is just boring rather than almost offensive. This is just absolutely paint by numbers Hallmark. Just like the movie Chance At Romance is. A woman who is a successful fashion photographer is offered a job in Paris. Take a minute and see if you can guess what happens next?

Did you think she goes back to the small town she came from because of a flimsy excuse by the writers so she can reconnect with an old flame? Of course you’re right. I really wonder how many of these Hallmark movies are the exact same movie.

Oh, and how small of a town?

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So small it’s just called Bank. How hard is it to just come up with a fake name for things like this? I’ve seen them do it in other Hallmark movies. In Second Chances they needed an author for a book so they took one of the screenwriter’s names that worked with the producer Larry Levinson and just dropped the ‘c’ in Rachel to get Rahel Stuhler.

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See! It’s not that difficult.

When she arrives it turns out there is an art contest going on and all you need to know is that he has a daughter who helps to push them back together. You know how it plays out. There is a little bit of nice genuine emotion near the end that the film does deserve credit for. However, the rest feels like it was made by zombies with their aspiring acting zombie friends. There’s a continuity error at one point and this horrible go to out of focus transition that is used at least twice.

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And it’s not short either. It hurts the eyes. Also, the same director who did this uninspired film did the uninspired Just The Way You Are. I’m almost 100% positive that he even uses this exact same shot in that movie as he does in this movie.

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I’m beginning to feel for the directors of these movies. They must be handed some awful scripts, shoestring budgets, and very little time in order to make these movies. I refuse to believe that these same directors would make these kind of stupid mistakes or take such generic stuff if they had any choice in the matter.

Won’t kill ya, but it may put you to sleep.

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A Kiss At Midnight (2008) – Thank goodness I watched this film for this batch of Hallmark movies cause it’s actually enjoyable. No, not because it’s script is any less generic. No, not because they get computer screens correct. It’s because of the actors young, middle aged, and old. The kids do a good job. Faith Ford is funny. Hal Linden of Barney Miller is in this and is a welcome presence. Even if he does make a sexist joke that is meant to be sexist, but is oddly out of place. But most importantly, it has the Got Milk? guy.

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Just like the games Truxton and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are running jokes on Classic Game Room and AVGN respectively, I take every opportunity to reference Tammy And The T-Rex, in which he gets killed in by a T-Rex with Paul Walker’s brain in it.

But back to this movie. The plot is that the boy and girl run competing dating websites. The girl, played by Faith Ford, signs up on the guy’s site to bring back information that his computer dating site doesn’t work. Of course, the guy has two little girls who get involved to ultimately bring them together. Also, Faith Ford’s mom and Hal Linden get married as a little subplot. It’s all just well acted and pleasant enough to be an enjoyable, all be it forgettable, hour and a half or so. I think that’s all anyone asks of a Hallmark movie. It’s just remarkable how illusive that can be at times.

Amazingly, this is by the same director, Bradford May, who brought us Elevator Girl, Healing Hands, Jack’s Family Adventure, Dad’s Home, Operation Cupcake, and Chance At Romance.

This one did have computer screen screw ups or at least stupid attempts to make generic versions of Google.

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Clearly, GMail is dead and we should all be using Toogle Mail. Also, notice that it looks like you are seeing a screenshot of a browser being looked at within a browser.

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Of course Toogle is also a search engine.

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The religion listed in this dating profile is “Spiritual”. They didn’t have a problem showing a dating profile saying a person was a Christian earlier, but then there are two of them listed as “Spiritual”. I’m guessing those people are Satanists and don’t want to scare away potential sacrifices. At least that seems to have been the logic that went into the video Katy Perry, the Super Bowl and Satan based on the quote in it’s description.

Out of the four here. This is the one to go with. It’s a good time.