As many of you will remember, back in the 1980s and 90s there was a huge increase of interest in old B movies. People of my generation who had grown up watching “Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster” on rainy Saturday afternoons, or snuck down to the TV room to catch Creature Features on the late late show, were now in college or work and had money to spend. Suddenly VCRs across the nation were being filled with monster films, 1930s exploitation films, Italian Mondo films, and every other kind of vintage oddity. It was a wave of ironic nostalgia that put the later hipster movement to shame.
Magazines like Psychotronic Video and Cult Movies Magazine were crammed with articles about obscure directors and their output, along with lots of great movie stills and posters. There were also ads for various film distributors, one of the most popular being Something Weird Video.
An animated Sandra Bernhard gets some fashion tips from Betty Page.
It took some time for mainstream media to notice, but by the middle of the 90s we had MST3K and, thanks to Something Weird Video, a show called Reel Wild Cinema. Hosted by Sandra Bernhard, it featured clips from Something Weird Video’s catalog, plus a heavily edited main attraction that cut down some feature length z-movie to a presentable 15 minutes. With most of those flicks, there was only about 15 minutes of good stuff anyway.
Every episode also had an interview. Some of these were banal, like that with Dweezel and Ahmet Zappa in the “Teens Run Wild” episode. Some are enlightening, like the one with Vampira in the “Nudie Cuties” episode. Other guests include pioneering female adult movie director Doris Wishman, Roger Corman, and Russ Meyer.
And the movies are so much fun. You get everything from a gang of delinquent teenage girls wrecking a school to help international Communism in “Gun Girls” to a damn Yankee bring rolled down a hill in a barrel full of nails in “Two Thousand Maniacs!”
Reel Wild Cinema ran for one season on the USA Channel in 1996 and then disappeared. For many years this was one of those classic shows that you couldn’t find legally online. I don’t use torrents because I don’t want to
go to hell get a virus, so I was happy to see that late last year Something Weird Video put up the entire run on their Youtube channel. Since the show was basically a big teaser for their catalog anyway, I wonder what took them so long.
So if you’re looking for some trashy fun, check it out. It’s not safe for work, but Puritans will be happy to know everyone’s best bits get covered in episodes like the “Nudist Camp Night.” Ta-tas get covered with happy faces and front bottoms with Stop signs!
In the immortal words of Sandra Bernhard, “Good midnight to ya!”
Sean McLachlan is the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and several other titles, including his post-apocalyptic series Toxic World that starts with the novel Radio Hope. His historical fantasy novella The Quintessence of Absence, was published by Black Gate. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page.