Archive for Amanda Reyes

Are You in the House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999

Posted in Books, Film, Television with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2017 by roarvis

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Many folks who grew up in the 70s and 80s were exposed to horror movies first via the television. My family didn’t have cable, and I didn’t have regular access to a VCR until the mid-80s. During this time, my fragile brain was assaulted by theatrical releases that were licensed (and heavily edited) for television, such as Deathdream (1974) and The Blood Spattered Bride (74). I also saw quite a few made-for-TV movies that haunted me for years to come.

Are You in the House Alone? pays tribute to this era. Made-for-television films like Gargoyles (1972), Bad Ronald (1974), and Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark (1973) are placed in their proper historical context, and given a fair critical analysis – many for the first time. The book also looks beyond the horror genre to include true crime, superheroes, and things that don’t fit in an obvious category (I’m looking at you, The Bermuda Depths).

Editor Amanda Reyes deserves substantial credit for raising the profile of the telefilm via her Made for TV Mayhem blog. Here she is joined by several writers, who contribute entries ranging in tone from academic to humorous. The book is broken into two sections: The first features essays on various subjects and themes, including the rape-revenge and exploitation genres. Lance Vaughan, a.k.a. Unkle Lancifer from the indispensable blog Kindertrauma, provides a chapter devoted to small-screen Stephen King adaptations. The second part focuses on reviews of some of the notable telefilms of the era.

Harvest

The films profiled are stylistically diverse, but from a geographical standpoint, the book is primarily concerned with U.S. network productions. The writers dig into the Nielsen DMA stats to convey just how successful many of these “television events” were in terms of ratings. This information is fascinating for anyone interested in American pop culture, but I’m curious if there were similar trends in Canadian television during the time. Similarly, the book mostly avoids U.K. television productions, which included terrifying films like the original The Woman in Black (1989). The British dystopian nightmare Threads (1974) is mentioned, but the works of horror/sci-fi writer Nigel Kneale are not. I’d love to see a companion piece to this book covering TV movie trends in the U.K. and other regions.

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