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Do You Watch TCM Underground Often?

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On 9/18/2018 at 11:28 AM, DVDPhreak said:

I watch TCM Underground pretty often but it is not "underground enough" for me.  A lot of films in the 60s and 70s pushed the envelope further than what even today's jaded viewers could imagine, especially in the Italian giallo and exploitation genres.  So I have to look for these films some other ways, such as Blu-rays, even imported ones. 

I recently watched for the first time the 1972 Italian giallo mystery film Don't Torture a Duckling.  It has a scene with a beautiful naked woman seducing a young boy, and a scene of a witch being brutally beaten to death.  Either scene would give the typical TCM viewers heart attacks.  TCM still strikes me as a "polite" film station that would never show a film like this. 

Though TCM has shown Hitchcock's Psycho and its brutal shower scene many times, it would never show the 1964 horror-mystery classic Blood and Black Lace, which has several scenes of brutal violence, such as a woman having her face pressed against a boiler.  This is a film that many of today's filmmakers have cited as a big influence, but sadly TCM viewers may never get to see it.

Non-horror films with what Americans deem as taboo subject matters would also not be shown, such as the 1974 British film Home Before Midnight, about a 14-year-old pretending to be of legal age having a sexual relation with a 28-year-old man, who does not know her real age but nevertheless is put on trial.  This is based on a real case in which the man was acquitted of statutory rape but was convicted of physical assault of the girl during an argument with her about her lying about her age.  I saw it recently on a Kino Lorber Blu-ray, currently still the only available home video version, and was impressed with it.

I could go on.

 

You make good points about "Don't Torture a Duckling" and "Blood and Black Lace" thought you'd think the latter would not be too wild for TCM by now and has been shown.

I'd also like to see the infamous Brit horror film "Frightmare" on TCM Underground but I'm not holding my breath.

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33 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Yes, I thought In Cold Blood was an odd choice for Underground, but I guess they needed something to pair with River's Edge (which itself isn't exactly a fringe movie, although it has a cult following) for a "true crime" double-header.

I'm surprised there is not a TCM festival with only Crispin Glover movies. He is the antidote to normalcy in most any setting. He was quite good in "River's Edge". I would star him in a film with Pee Wee Herman as two bloodthirsty siblings whose father is Harrison Ford, and has had them both chained in the basement for years, but let them up once and they murdered him. They are now off on a wild hunt to replicate the crimes of John Wayne Gacy and have joined a circus where they one is a clown and one a mime, who kills silently. 

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1 hour ago, CaveGirl said:

You make good points about "Don't Torture a Duckling" and "Blood and Black Lace" thought you'd think the latter would not be too wild for TCM by now and has been shown.

I'd also like to see the infamous Brit horror film "Frightmare" on TCM Underground but I'm not holding my breath.

Frightmare involves cannibalism and it is a relatively straight-up horror film.  It is still pretty disturbing for a 1974 film but not as envelope-pushing in terms of treatment of taboo subjects.  I guess eating human flesh is not as problematic as other things.  For that reason, TCM may show it.  One of the actresses' name is Kim Butcher, which is quite appropriate.

Much more shocking and controversial are the two films by the same director (Pete Walker) that involve religion: House of Whipcord (1974) is about a brutal correctional facility for young girls run by religious fanatics, and House of Mortal Sin (1976) is about an angry priest who is so sick of young women's immoral ways that he goes out at night and guts them like Jack the Ripper!  I just don't envision TCM showing these anytime soon.  All of Pete Walker's films can be found on two Blu-ray sets by Kino Lorber.  In the Blu-ray interviews, Walker said these two films were attacked by both the left and the right; the left hated the stories involving right-wing fanaticism, and the right hated the negative portrayals of religious people.  Walker was/is a conservative himself.

Another film of his that I don't see TCM airing is the underage-adult romance Home Before Midnight (1979) which I mentioned in an earlier post here.  Schizo (1976) involves a creepy man stalking a figure skater, and The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) is a horror-murder mystery set in an abandoned theater.  Both films have naughty bits and gory bits but are not as boundary-pushing, so I can envision TCM showing them.

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11 minutes ago, DVDPhreak said:

Flightmare involves cannibalism and it is a relatively straight-up horror film.  It is still pretty disturbing for a 1974 film but not as envelope-pushing in terms of treatment of taboo subjects.  I guess eating human flesh is not as problematic as other things.  For that reason, TCM may show it.  One of the actresses' name is Kim Butcher, which is quite appropriate.

Much more shocking and controversial are the two films by the same director (Pete Walker) that involves religion: House of Whipcord (1974) is about a brutal correctional facility for young girls run by religious fanatics, and House of Mortal Sin (1976) is about an angry priest who is so sick of young women's immoral ways that he goes out at night and guts them like Jack the Ripper!  I just don't envision TCM showing these anytime soon.  All of Pete Walker's films can be found on two Blu-ray sets by Kino Lorber.  In the Blu-ray interviews, Walker said these two films were attacked by both the left and the right; the left hated the stories involving right-wing fanaticism, and the right hated the negative portrayals of religious people.  Walker was/is a conservative himself.

Another film of his that I don't see TCM airing is the underage-adult romance Home Before Midnight (1979) which I mentioned in an earlier post here.  Schizo (1976) involves a creepy man stalking a figure skater, and The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) is a horror-murder mystery set in an abandoned theater.  Both films have naughty bits and gory bits but are not as boundary-pushing, so I can envision TCM showing them.

Yes, I have a whole book devoted to films like "Frightmare" which has a good write-up on it. Saw it once but it was quite a long time ago. Noticed it mentioned for sale in a dvd catalog I get so I might buy it.


You are right...the last frontier and most taboo topic in movies, probably is religion.

Anything considered critical or even tongue in cheek humor like "Life of Brian" can stir an immediate uproar and derail a film from viewing or engagements. Thanks for your thoughts, DVDP!

Remember that Jean-Luc Godard film called "Hail Mary"?

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1 hour ago, CaveGirl said:

You make good points about "Don't Torture a Duckling" and "Blood and Black Lace" thought you'd think the latter would not be too wild for TCM by now and has been shown.

I'd also like to see the infamous Brit horror film "Frightmare" on TCM Underground but I'm not holding my breath.

TCM has shown some really wild and grotesque movies before but as I've said, I think there are some really good movies that would belong on Underground that they don't show. I wish they showed more exploitation films like Cannibal Ferox, Caligula or Last O_rgy of the Third Reich.

91HRwsSnS2L._SX342_.jpg

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22 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

Yes, I have a whole book devoted to films like "Frightmare" which has a good write-up on it. Saw it once but it was quite a long time ago. Noticed it mentioned for sale in a dvd catalog I get so I might buy it.


You are right...the last frontier and most taboo topic in movies, probably is religion.

Anything considered critical or even tongue in cheek humor like "Life of Brian" can stir an immediate uproar and derail a film from viewing or engagements. Thanks for your thoughts, DVDP!

Remember that Jean-Luc Godard film called "Hail Mary"?

 

There are a slew of films where the priest is the villain and/or killer, many among Italian giallo films.  One frequent trope in giallo films is a killer dressed in all black, which happens to be the appearance of a priest's outfit.  Sometimes their villainy is not related to religion, but sometimes it is, and that could be problematic to some viewers.  One giallo film has a priest who kills people in order to "save" them from committing future sins so they will go directly to heaven.

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

TCM has shown some really wild and grotesque movies before but as I've said, I think there are some really good movies that would belong on Underground that they don't show. I wish they showed more exploitation films like Cannibal Ferox, Caligula or Last O_rgy of the Third Reich.

91HRwsSnS2L._SX342_.jpg

The day they show "Caligula" I will eat some little boots made of licorice, just like Chaplin sorta did!

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Count me in as another fan of TCM Underground.  I always check to see what's on, as I enjoy movies that are more out there, shall we say?  I've made some great discoveries over the years, such as The Sadist, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, and The Baby.  It seems like it's been forever since they aired those first two (as double bills with Wild Guitar and Mudhoney, respectively).  I've also enjoyed goodies like It's Alive! and God Told Me To.  Of the upcoming movies LawrenceA posted, I'd love to watch Alone in the Dark, Funeral Parade of Roses, and Portrait of Jason.  I've already seen (and love) Sisters.

I'm not as interested to the slew of 80s cheesiness that's been the focus recently, though I will admit to getting a kick out of the bits I saw of Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo just last week!

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Then there are those films that are un-controversial, un-scary, un-gory, un-cinematic, un-everything...and yet they qualify to be shown in TCM Underground (or maybe they have been shown already) because of their vintage status, low production (and artistic) values, and niche nature.  Blood Mania (1970) and Point of Terror (1971) are two poorly made films about murder and betrayal, albeit done with a modicum of pizzazz that has gained them cult followings. There are probably a tonnage of films like these in that era waiting to be "re-discovered."

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20 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

I had just read a book about the crimes it was based on before I saw it, and it was interesting to see the big screen version.

Yes, The Phantom Killer by James Presley, I read that too. Though much in the film is changed. The killer in the movie is always wearing a scary looking sack-mask but the none of the survivors said that the real killer did. Only one said he might have been wearing a some type of mask but was not sure.

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One of the largest sources of films deserving the underground status are the entire library of Something Weird Video (official website), which comprises of vintage nude, porn, and exploitation shorts and features from the 1920s to 60s.  TCM has aired a lot of pre-code movies, but definitely not the more extreme stuff in SW's library.  The uninitiated can watch the 2013 documentary That's Sexploitation (Blu-ray review), which gives a bit of history and a clipfest of SW's library.  The Blu-ray also includes 3 1/2 hours of naughty shorts from the SW collection.

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Shockumentaries are another maligned genre that resides underground, but likely won't be aired on TCM.  These provocative and sensationalist films were apparently a big deal when the genre was birthed in 1962 with the release of Mondo Cane, which was shown in respectable venus such as Cannes, got an Oscar nomination, and was a hit worldwide, inspiring many films of this kind.  If those people knew these designed-to-shock films would one day devolved into the trashy reality shows we see today, they might think differently.  Today, these "mondo" films, as they are sometimes called, may seem tame now.  But that is only because we have been de-sensitized by all the trash we see on TV today, much of which owes its ancestry from mondo films.  See them for a bit of historical prespective and/or nostalgia (I saw Faces of Death in a theater when I was 12).

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I'd like to see TCM Underground given some new "blood", with some of the great suggestions that have been made on this thread.  Along with the fresh titles, I think a permanent host would be nice, who, along with introducing the evenings presentation, might also interview one of the stars of the film, or someone associated with the production.  Since many of these movies are more recent than the normal TCM fare, I'm sure the talent would be available (living!) and probably jump at the chance to appear on the channel.  This would cost some coin, though, and not sure TCM would be willing to pop for it.

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14 minutes ago, darrylfxanax said:

I'd like to see TCM Underground given some new "blood", with some of the great suggestions that have been made on this thread.  Along with the fresh titles, I think a permanent host would be nice, who, along with introducing the evenings presentation, might also interview one of the stars of the film, or someone associated with the production.  Since many of these movies are more recent than the normal TCM fare, I'm sure the talent would be available (living!) and probably jump at the chance to appear on the channel.  This would cost some coin, though, and not sure TCM would be willing to pop for it.

At one point heavy metal rocker/movie director Rob Zombie was the host, but I'm not sure how long he lasted. It wasn't too long, and I honestly don't recall any of his intros/outros, although I'm sure I saw a few back then.

I enjoyed Sandra Bernhard when she hosted Reel Wild Cinema back in the mid 1990's. It was basically TCM Underground but with commercial breaks and brief interviews. 

I'm not sure how "camera ready" he is, but Michael Weldon, of The Psychotronic Movie Guide fame, would certainly be an authority on the subject matter.

It's a shame Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video, died in 2014. He would have been a good, off-beat host for TCMU.

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Another noteworthy genre of films are those experimental "structural" films made in the 60s and 70s.  These films were and are often admired for their artistry, but they use the film medium in such unconventional manners that they are quite inaccessible to general viewers.  Michael Snow's Wavelength (1967) is seemingly a static shot of a room, but is in fact a very slow zoom-in to a picture on a wall.  Hollis Frampton's Zorns Lemma (1970) comprises of shots of the alphabets A to Z, with each letter replaced one by one with a picture fragment, until all 26 fragments reveal the whole picture at the end.  In Frampton's Nostalgia (1971), we hear the narrator describe not what is on the screen, but what will be shown several minutes later.  These films try to "deconstruct" the film medium and experiment with the effects, and the result is often a different kind of "grammar" of film language.  Watching them may be like being in film school, so it may not go over well with TCM viewers.  But these are very much underground films in the sense that these films and their makers were and are an insular group that don't make films for the masses; they make films to study film.  Some Blu-rays and DVDs have been released for these films, notably Criterion's box sets for Stan Brakhage and Hollis Frampton.

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2 hours ago, darrylfxanax said:

I'd like to see TCM Underground given some new "blood", with some of the great suggestions that have been made on this thread.  Along with the fresh titles, I think a permanent host would be nice, who, along with introducing the evenings presentation, might also interview one of the stars of the film, or someone associated with the production.  Since many of these movies are more recent than the normal TCM fare, I'm sure the talent would be available (living!) and probably jump at the chance to appear on the channel.  This would cost some coin, though, and not sure TCM would be willing to pop for it.

 

TCM Underground hasn't had a host in a long time, so it doesn't seem like they will bring one back.

There are so many different kinds of "underground" films that they would probably need multiple hosts, which would mean more expenses paid. 

It's better to buy the DVDs or Blu-rays and listen to the commentaries and interviews in the bonus features, which are often quite good, and probably be better than TCM or any TV station could do.

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4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

At one point heavy metal rocker/movie director Rob Zombie was the host, but I'm not sure how long he lasted. It wasn't too long, and I honestly don't recall any of his intros/outros, although I'm sure I saw a few back then.

I had forgotten about Zombie hosting Underground! He wasn't bad, either. Just straight forward; nothing more. I found about 11 YouTubes of his intros/outros, so, yeah, not too long of a gig.

Here's one, for anyone interested.

 

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5 hours ago, DVDPhreak said:

One of the largest sources of films deserving the underground status are the entire library of Something Weird Video (official website), which comprises of vintage nude, porn, and exploitation shorts and features from the 1920s to 60s.  TCM has aired a lot of pre-code movies, but definitely not the more extreme stuff in SW's library.  The uninitiated can watch the 2013 documentary That's Sexploitation (Blu-ray review), which gives a bit of history and a clipfest of SW's library.  The Blu-ray also includes 3 1/2 hours of naughty shorts from the SW collection.

Agree, Something Weird Video, has quite a few gems mixed in with a lot of off beat stuff. Their "Six Weird Noirs" DVD set is a must have for titles Girl on the Run, The Seventh Commandment, and Stark Fear the rest,  Fear No More, Fallguy and The Naked Road are very cheapo but watchable.

Ray Dennis Steckler's films would be an interesting addition also. Rat Pfink a Boo Boo,  
The Thrill KillersThe Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? and others.

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5 hours ago, darrylfxanax said:

I'd like to see TCM Underground given some new "blood", with some of the great suggestions that have been made on this thread.  Along with the fresh titles, I think a permanent host would be nice, who, along with introducing the evenings presentation, might also interview one of the stars of the film, or someone associated with the production.  Since many of these movies are more recent than the normal TCM fare, I'm sure the talent would be available (living!) and probably jump at the chance to appear on the channel.  This would cost some coin, though, and not sure TCM would be willing to pop for it.

I too have long thought it would be nice to have someone introduce the TCM Underground features, even if it's just Ben (or Alicia or Dave).  Some of these movies could use a little context, so any bits of info would be appreciated.  But I would absolutely love if they chose someone who "fits" the theme, like a cult filmmaker or critic (a la Eddie Muller on Noir Alley).  I have fond memories of Joe Bob Briggs hosting Monster Vision on TNT in the 90s, though I fear his brand of humor would be too politically incorrect today (hell, it was incorrect back then!) and a bit blue for TCM.  Elvira's still around!

5 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I enjoyed Sandra Bernhard when she hosted Reel Wild Cinema back in the mid 1990's. It was basically TCM Underground but with commercial breaks and brief interviews.

That was a great show!

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50 minutes ago, Feego said:

I too have long thought it would be nice to have someone introduce the TCM Underground features, even if it's just Ben (or Alicia or Dave).  Some of these movies could use a little context, so any bits of info would be appreciated.  But I would absolutely love if they chose someone who "fits" the theme, like a cult filmmaker or critic (a la Eddie Muller on Noir Alley).  I have fond memories of Joe Bob Briggs hosting Monster Vision on TNT in the 90s, though I fear his brand of humor would be too politically incorrect today (hell, it was incorrect back then!) and a bit blue for TCM.  Elvira's still around!

 

How about Tim Burton?

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Burton is still pretty busy these days.  I think someone along the lines of Joe Dante would be good, as he is both a director of several cult films and generally knowledgeable about some of the older ones.  In fact, his Trailers from Hell series, with contributions from various filmmakers and writers (including TCM favorite Illeana Douglas) is already a step in the right direction.

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Wasn't Rob Zombie a former TCM Underground host?

Yes he was.  Sagebrush posted a video of one of his intros a few posts up.

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20 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Agree, Something Weird Video, has quite a few gems mixed in with a lot of off beat stuff. Their "Six Weird Noirs" DVD set is a must have for titles Girl on the Run, The Seventh Commandment, and Stark Fear the rest,  Fear No More, Fallguy and The Naked Road are very cheapo but watchable.

Ray Dennis Steckler's films would be an interesting addition also. Rat Pfink a Boo Boo,  
The Thrill KillersThe Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? and others.

They showed THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED ETC. a loooooong while back. I remember because this website at the time had an interesting section dedicated to TCMunderground and someone drew an excellent comic strip inspired by the movie wherein the hideous gypsy fortuneteller Madame Estrella kills the horribly unfunny warm up comic Who introduces the dancers on stage.

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TCM has also shown Rat Pfink a Boo Boo. It is about as bad as it sounds, but at least the film does provide a public service. When Rat Pfink and Boo Boo are chasing the bad guys, and have to pause at an intersection, Rat Pfink reminds Boo Boo to "always look both ways before crossing the street."

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