The year is 1974 and there’s nothing more dangerous than being a hippie in Baja California. That’s because psychotic business Sam Farragutt (played by Andy Griffith!) is on the loose. Sam likes to describe himself as being a hippie himself. “A hippie with money,” Sam puts it as he waves a hundred dollar bill in the face of a hippie without money,
Actually, there is one thing more dangerous than being a hippie in Baja California and that’s being an ad executive. Once again, Sam Farragutt is to blame. He’s willing to give his business to three ad execs but first they have to agree to go down to Baja and ride around with him on their motorcycles. The three ad execs are Terry Maxon (former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner!), Paul McIllvain (former Brady Bunch star Robert Reed!), and suicidal burn-out Warren Summerfield (William Shatner!). Warren is having an affair with Paul’s wife (Angie Dickinson!) but he’s still planning on committing suicide in Mexico.
However, going to Mexico gives Warren a new lease on life. After Warren discovers that Farragutt is responsible for the death of two hippies, he becomes determined to make sure that justice is served. Soon, Andy Griffith (!) is chasing William Shatner (!) across the Mexican desert. Someone’s going to die. Is it going to be Sheriff Taylor or Captain Kirk?
Pray For The Wildcats was a made-for-TV movie that aired the same year as Savages. Both movies were a part of Andy Griffith’s attempt to change his image after playing the folksy Sheriff Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith is a good villain but the main appeal of Pray for the Wildcats is the chance to see William Shatner doing his thing. Shatner has a juicy role here, playing a man who is at first suicidal and then righteously indignant. He overemotes with the self-serious intensity that was Shatner’s trademark in the years before he finally developed a sense of humor about himself. The movie itself gets bogged down with unnecessary flashbacks and dated dialogue but the spectacle of Griffith vs. Shatner makes it all worth it.
TV Cop Shows ran rampant during the 1980’s. There were gritty street cops, female cops, Dirty Harry-inspired cops, MTV cops, debonair cops, teenage cops, and every other permutation you could think of, short of outer space cops. But for Cops With The Best Hair, it has to be… no, not CHARLIE’S ANGELS, but TJ HOOKER!
TJ HOOKER starred William Shatner (which kind of makes this a semi-outer space cop show, no?) as Hooker, a veteran on the LCPD (standing in for Los Angeles) who serves as mentor to the younger cops. Shatner, who by this time was, shall we say, follically challenged, wore a perm-coiffed toupee which never got mussed no matter how many times he ran down bad guys, got in hellacious fights, or got it tousled by his latest love interest:
As Warren Zevon would say, “His hair was perfect”!
For tonight’s episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted anthology series Thriller, we have “The Grim Reaper!”
The Grim Reaper tells the story of a mystery writer (Natalie Schaefer) who purchases a painting of the grim reaper. She claims that she’s just bought the painting as a bit of an ironic joke but her nephew (William Shatner!) claims that the painting has a violent history. Everyone who has owned it has died. At first, Schaefer is dismissive of Shatner’s story. But then, blood appears on the reaper’s scythe.
This enjoyable and fun little episode was written by Robert Bloch of Psycho fame. It was originally broadcast on June 13th, 1961.
Johnny Moon (William Shatner) is a half-breed. His father was white and his mother was a Comanche. Johnny was raised Comanche but he now lives as a white man. He is a good and law-abiding citizen but he has a problem. Johnny has a twin brother named Notah (played, of course, by William Shatner) and, hooked on peyote, Notah keeps holding up stagecoaches, killing white men, and raping white women. Sick and tired of people constantly trying to lynch him, Johnny contacts Notah and demands a final showdown. At the same time, Johnny refuses to tell anyone about Notah’s existence so everyone still wants to kill Johnny. The only person who realizes that Johnny and Notah are not the same is one of Notah’s victims, a showgirl named Kelly (Rosanna Yanni). She sees that good Johnny has blue eyes while bad Notah has black eyes.
William Shatner has described White Comanche as being his worst film, which is saying something when you consider some of the movies that Shatner made between the cancellation of Star Trek and the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Still: William Shatner as twins, one of whom spends the entire movie tripping on peyote. That sounds like it should be fun and it would be except that, for the first and only time in his career, Shatner actually gives a low-key performance. When Shatner is playing Notah, he is the Shatner that we all know and love. But when Shatner plays Johnny Moon, he tries to give a subtle and restrained performance and, unfortunately, the movie is about 75% Johnny. That’s not what we pay money to see when we watch a William Shatner movie!
Gene Roddenberry’s space odyssey first sailed onto the small screen on September 8, 1966. I can remember being allowed to stay up late (I was only 8 at the time!) to watch it with my dad, who was a big science-fiction buff. As a career Navy man, I think he related to the idea of a ship’s travels (he was also a fan of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA). Being a young’un at the time, I was more into the weird creatures the Starship Enterprise crew encountered on their “five-year mission”.
Unless you’ve been living in another galaxy the past half century, you know all the characters. There’s William Shatner as the headstrong Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, emoting as only Shatner can. Leonard Nimoy became something of a teen idol as the logical Vulcan Mr. Spock (something about those pointed ears, maybe?). DeForrest Kelly played the ornery Dr. “Bones” McCoy, forever…
Wow. It’s hard to believe that is going to be my final televised horror of the year. (Though I imagine this feature will return in October of 2016 — just in time for election season!) Well, let’s get right to it!
For our final televised horror, I have selected a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. In Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, William Shatner is a man who, though being scared of flying, finds himself on an airplane. And guess what he sees out on the wing?
This episode was written by one of Arleigh’s favorite writers, the great Richard Matheson. It was directed by Richard Donner and originally aired on October 11th, 1963.
Enjoy Nightmare at 20,000 Feet! And here’s hoping that all of our readers have had a wonderful, safe, and happy Halloween!
For today’s Horror on the Lens, we present Incubus, an odd little film from 1966. William Shatner plays a soldier who, along with his sister, visits a mysterious village that has magical, healing water. (Shatner has been wounded in battle and wants to be healed.) However, the village is also home to a succubus who wants to seduce Shatner and lead him to Hell.
Incubus is memorable for three reasons. First off, you’ve got William Shatner giving a very Shatnerish performance. Secondly, legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall gave this film a very dream-like feel. And third, this is one of the four movies to have been filmed in Esperanto, a so-called international language that has never really caught on.
That’s right! This movie has subtitles! But, so what? Who hasn’t wanted to see William Shatner act in Esperanto?