Saturday, December 02, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Far Out Space Nuts: "Fantastic Journey" (September 27, 1975)

In “Fantastic Journey,” the fourth episode of Far Out Space Nuts (1975), Barney (Chuck McCann) is still working hard to repair the lunar lander, but a one-eyed giant cyclops -- Big Fuzzy -- approaches the ship and pries off an antenna…which it proceeds to lick like a lollipop.

Barney realizes they can’t return to Earth without the antenna, and in the space buggy he, Junior (Bob Denver) and Honk (Patty Mahoney) pursue.  On that pursuit, however, they stumble upon a trap by laid by a mad scientist, Kayla (Kay E. Kuter).

He has materialized in their path a “Molecutron” that only the greatest minds in the universe can determine how to operate. Barney and Junior -- the universe’s biggest morons – figure it out quickly, and are beamed to Kayla’s lab.  

He wants them to decipher the rest of his machinery, which was actually stolen from two other scientists, the mad Dr. Drone (Stanley Ralph Ross) and Dr. Rundspock (Whitney Rydbeck).

The space nuts help Dr. Drone overcome Kayla, but must travel through time and space to recover Rundspock.  Unfortunately, Kayla is not out of the game, either, and materializes a cyclops -- Little Fuzzy -- to chase down his nemeses.

The Far Out Space Nuts’ descent into slapstick continues with the fourth episode, “Fantastic Journey” a scattershot show that employs Keystone Cops-styled fast-motion chase scenes, and the most over-the-top guest performance of the series.

In terms of the former element, the climactic chase through the alien laboratory is edited into a fast-motion, breakneck chase. It plays like a live-action version of a Scooby Doo denouement, with the pursued becoming the pursuers, the prey pretending to be statues, and other cartoon gimmicks.

In terms of the former, Stanley Ralph Ross plays Dr. Drone. He portrayed Dr. Frankenstein in an episode of The Lost Saucer (1975) too, but here he not only goes over the top, he launches over the top at escape velocity and soars to the heights of camp humor; the likes of which is rarely seen.  Not that he is bad.  Actually, his nutty deliver and bizarre performance is fully acknowledged in-story, and that actually makes it funny. After a while, Barney and Junior just accept Dr. “Daffy’s” behavior, and his over-the-top demeanor becomes comedy fodder, especially in the coda.

It is funny to note that in a span of four episodes, the series has descended from creepy comedy to outright slapstick madhouse. As the series started, Barney and Junior were inept, but they faced serious threats.  By “Fantastic Journey” -- no relation to the 1977 series, The Fantastic Journey by the way -- even the bad guys are being treated as a joke.

I liked the original take better. I was always delighted when Saturday morning television of the 1970’s took on a creepier, more adult air.  Think about, for a minute, how many people remember Land of the Lost (1974-1977), and what they remember from it.  Primarily, of course, it’s the creepy, hissing Sleestak.  I suppose I would have preferred for Far Out Space Nuts to maintain that balance between dopey slapstick heroes and a legitimate, frightening threat.

Next week: “Tower of Tagot.”

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Challenge of the Super Friends: "The Giants of Doom" (October 21, 1977)

Bizarro devises a plan to transform his fellow members of the Legion of Doom into giants using a strange ray device. Toy Man, Sinestro and Captain Cold grow to gigantic proportion and go on a crime spree, terrifying the world. Captain Cold even freezes the Parthenon.

The Super Friends are then trapped in a giant test tube and sent to their “frozen doom” on Saturn, leaving the Legion of Doom to revel in its new power over Earth.

But the Super Friends discover a way to turn the tables on their nemeses. 

“The Giants of Doom” may be the most nonsensical episode yet of Challenge of the Super Friends (1977).  Logic, science, and reason are nowhere to be found in this particular cartoon half-hour.

For example, Sinestro and Bizarro crack the moon open. They literally crack it in half. This action has no impact on Earth, apparently. No tide changes. Nothing.

Fortunately, Superman uses his heat vision to “weld” the two lunar chunks back together.

If that sequence isn’t strange enough, the astronauts on Moonbase #1 wear Starfleet delta shields, and Batman -- for this episode alone -- must wear an air/breathing mask over his costume mask while in outer space. Yes, he has been in space several times before “The Giants of Doom,” but never required a mask.  Also, Batman has no need for a pressure suit. Just the mask.

Meanwhile, Superman gets what may be one of the most unintentionally funny lines of the entire series. “From the looks of it, I’d say we’re somewhere in the gaseous interior of Saturn.” 

There, in that gaseous interior, the superheroes battle a gas monster. But how would Superman know, just from surveying the terrain that they are in the gaseous interior of Saturn? Has he been there before? Does it look different from the gaseous center of Uranus?

Another element that doesn’t make any sense: Superman traps Sinestro in a yellow force field, but the villain should be able to escape all energy that is yellow, right? (The way Green Lantern was able to penetrate a green energy force field in an earlier episode). Miraculously, the yellow force field traps Sinestro.

Finally, our “That’s what you think” exclamation of the week goes to Green Lantern, who makes the comment to Sinestro.

Next week, a much more intriguing episode: “Secret Origins of the Super Friends.”

Friday, December 01, 2017

Happy Horror-Days: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Santa Claus begins his yearly Christmas Eve journey before too long, and so it seems like an ideal time to remember a modern holiday-themed horror movie that I’ve come to consider a new classic: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010).

Like the best holiday-themed horror films, Rare Exports makes the most out of its premise by juxtaposing the “good tidings” and happy vibes of the holiday season with a far more cynical and sinister reality. 

In this case, the horror in the scenario arises from the presence of an ancient Santa Claus demon, but also the fact that his arrival has caused economic blues for the film’s central family. That family, already dealing with grief, contends with a financial setback that could adversely impact it for a year.

This economic element of the narrative is crucial to the film’s success, and an acknowledgement of the fact that Christmas holiday has become tied, perhaps irrevocably, to commerce and capitalism.

Without enough money to spend, is a Merry Christmas even possible in this day and age?

Rare Exports also functions as a quirky coming of age tale, at least of sorts. The film’s young hero, Pietari, can no longer close his eyes to the reality of his life (or his father’s profession as a butcher). 

Similarly, Pietari forcibly has his young eyes opened to the true nature of Santa Claus as a monster that dispenses not gifts, but punishment for naughty children. Therefore, the Christmas holiday depicted in this Finnish film from Jalmari Helander is not one in which Pietari gets to remain a kid, but one in which he earns his father’s respect as an adult.

Although all of this analysis undoubtedly makes Rare Exports sound like a weighty polemic, the film is light on its feet, and extremely funny, too. The film’s horror is real, but leavened by the comedic elements.

The Coca-Cola Santa is just a hoax.”

A mining company working in the Korvotunturi Mountains in Finland discovers evidence of something buried deep within one rocky outcropping. Dynamite is utilized to blow up the mountain, but the explosion releases an ancient horror…the real Santa Claus.

In this case, Santa Claus is a giant horned demon, tended to by an army of mindless elves, really filthy, naked old men with long beards. These are Santa's Helpers.

A boy, Pietari (Onni Tommila) who lives with his father, Rauno (Jorma Tommila) suspects the truth; that a monster has been unloosed in town. Pietari is unable to convince his father of this fact, however, until after discovering that a herd of valuable reindeer have been massacred…and fed upon.  

When one of “Santa’s Helpers” is captured, Rauno realizes that his son’s story is true, and that a dark force has infiltrated the town.

But it may be too late to stop Santa. All the children of the town -- save for Pietari --- have disappeared and been replaced with creepy straw dolls.  

Now, Pietari and Rauno must save the children, destroy Santa, and stop the onslaught of Santa’s helpers.

“Close your eyes, son. Daddy’s working.”

One delightful aspect of Rare Exports is that it plays like a seasonal (and satirical) version of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Specifically, something ancient and awful is awakened from a long slumber beneath the Earth’s surface, only to go on a reign of terror.  In both situations, the monster emerges (or nearly emerges) from a block of ice.

If The Thing shattered all of our happy illusions about friendly aliens in the summer of E.T. (1982), Rare Exports works to similar ends regarding Santa Claus, drawing on the character’s ancient origins as a figure of menace and mischief.

As Pietari learns from his research (a book called The Truth about Santa Claus), The Coca-Cola Santa is a figure of rational, capitalist modernity, a figure designed to sell products. 

The truth, according to the film, however, is that Santa is something much more sinister; something that possesses a hatred for children and takes glee not in rewarding them, but in hurting them.

All the children in the town are abducted by Santa’s minions, which means that all have been classified as “naughty.”  Pietari realizes that he too is vulnerable, or naughty (because of his actions cutting open a fence near the mountain).  By recognizing his own bad behavior, Pietari also realizes a human truth.  

There isn’t one of us who isn’t naughty occasionally, at least by Santa’s standards.

And that means Santa’s “nice” and “naughty” list is a swindle. There is no nice list. 

Again, this is a crucial piece of Pietari’s coming of age; his viewing of the world in an adult, or mature way, separated from the fantasy and simple-mindedness of fairy tales.

Pietari’s distinctly un-romantic discovery of the truth is mirrored by the film’s unromantic approach to traditional Christmas symbolism. 

A beautiful field of snow is marred by the carcasses of 433 massacred reindeer, for example.  When the dead animals are first seen, one of Rauno’s co-workers notes, cynically “Merry Christmas.”  

He is upset, however, not because the beautiful animals – which in mythology pull Santa’s sleigh -- are dead.  No, he is upset because “85,000 dollars” of merchandise have “rotted away.”  The butcher and his co-workers were going to sell reindeer meat for the holidays. Now their livelihood is threatened.

Pietari, who has closed his eyes to what his father does -- working as a butcher -- opens his eyes to everything in the film. He opens his eyes to economic realities, and the reality of Santa Claus as a monster.  He sees that the “whole Christmas thing” is “just a bluff” to enforce good behavior on the part of children. He takes responsibility for himself, for his father, and for ending the threat posed by Santa Claus.

Accordingly, on Christmas day, Pietari grows up. 

He fights to save his fellow children, blow Santa Claus to kingdom come, and harness the minions of the demons as an economic boon to his family. These minions are trained to be “Coca Cola” Santas and shipped, world-wide, to serve happy children.  

It is no coincidence that the barn holding the giant demon, Santa, is marked in the same way that Pietari’s holiday advent calendar is. But on the final day of the holiday -- on Christmas Day -- Pietari does not open presents like a child would. Rather his gift is his ability to perceive the “truth” of the world.

He has opened not a sickly-sweet, sentimental token of childhood. He has opened up the responsibilities of maturity.

Rare Exports is a delightful film, with some moments of extreme violence. For the most part, however, the horror is merely suggested through its aftermath. The field of dead reindeer is one example, and the wolf pit trap (which snares a minion) is another.  

Although we never see Santa in action since he is locked in a block of ice, the early sections of the film -- which recount the ancient legends -- do a terrific job of instilling fear not only in Pietari, but in the audience too.

A great Christmas horror film like Krampus (2015), Gremlins (1984) or Rare Exports (2010) -- succeeds because it punches holes through the mythology of the Christmas season, and sees another truth instead, about the nature of the holiday in the modern era. 

Rare Exports is so much fun, so sharp in its observations and humor about this most beloved of holidays that it is anything but the proverbial lump of coal in the stocking.

Movie Trailer: Rare Exports (2010)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cult-TV Blogging: Star Maidens: "Hideout" (1976)

In “Hideout,” Star Maidens (1976) takes us back to Earth for the first time in a few episodes.  Adam (Pierre Brice) and Shem (Gareth Thomas) are still on the run from Fulvia (Judy Geeson), and Earth’s police hunt them down.

Adam and Shem hide in an apartment complex, but Adam is captured by authorities. This leaves Shem to befriend a lonely woman, Rose (Corny Collins), who has just suffered a break up with her boyfriend.  Shem heals Rose, providing an example of what a loving, supportive man can be like.  

Rose, in turn, hides Shem from the authorities, demonstrating her love and affection for him.

When Rose is nearly killed by going down a waterfall at a local park, Shem risks exposure to save her life. The police capture him and bring him to the angry Fulvia. But Shem and Rose have shared something beautiful, despite the relationship’s outcome.

I was set, at the start of “Hideout” to slag the episode as a champion time-waster, a return to the early slapstick car chases and “run around” shows at the start of the season. But, as “Hideout” went on and the narrative developed, I began to see how it might function as one of the best episodes, actually, of Star Maidens.

Overall, this cult series functions by showing us mirror dysfunctional images. We see a human male and female from Earth try to contend with Medusa’s matriarchy, in some episodes, specifically those featuring Liz and Rudy.  And then we see a Medusan woman and man, Fulvia and Adam, deal with Earth’s patriarchy in the episodes set here, on our planet.

Both worlds and both situations are imperfect. In fact, both are highly imperfect. “Hideout” therefore functions as this little grace note, this little “carve out,” if you will, of what a strong male/female relationship could look like, on either planet.  

In particular, Shem treats Rose with respect, loyalty and love. He helps her endure during the times she is weak, and he helps her to be strong. Rose responds in kind, housing Shem, trusting Shem, and choosing to help him when she could simply turn him in to the authorities. They develop a perfect symbiosis. 

If you look at the relationship, it is clearly one of give and take, not of set-in-stone matriarchy or patriarchy. Shem and Rose independently take the lead in the relationship when there is a void to be filled; but they do so to heal and fill the deficits of their opposite number. The Shem/Rose relationship is perhaps the only positive male/female relationship we witness in the entirety of Star Maidens.

This fact makes “Hideout” of great significance. There is so much political, sex role maneuvering in the series, between Fulvia and Adam, even on Medusa between Rudy and Octavia. There is absolutely none of that here. This story is simply about two people attempting to be together in a world that is out to destroy them, and their love.

This story features almost no science fiction trappings, but it doesn’t matter. “Hideout” is the episode about the fact that men and women can get along. In a series about the war between the sexes, the commentary it offers is vital.

Next week: “Creatures of the Mind.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Blogging: "The Naked Now" (October 5, 1987)

Stardate: 41209.2

The U.S.S. Enterprise-D under command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) approaches the S.S. Tsiolkovsky, a Starfleet science vessel monitoring a collapsing red giant star.

After an “accident” which seems to kill the entire crew, an away team led by Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) investigates the situation.

What the away team soon finds on the Tsiolkovsky is strange and unsettling. One crew member seems to have intentionally exposed the bridge to the vacuum of space.

Meanwhile, Lt. Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) enters a crew person’s quarters where the temperature has dropped to freezing, and someone died taking a shower with their clothes on.

The away-team returns to the Enterprise and is decontaminated by the transporter, but Geordi begins to show signs of a high fever, and Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) worries that the Tsiolkovsky “infection” is spreading.

When Geordi escapes from sickbay, he passes the strange disease – by touch -- to Security Chief Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), who soon grows lusty.

Commander Riker recalls reading about another incident of someone showering fully clothed, and asks Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner) research it. The android finds such an historical example from the Constitution class U.S.S. Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, nearly a century earlier. That Enterprise was also investigating a cosmic body (a planet, not a star), undergoing radical gravity shifts.

A ready-made cure is sent to Dr. Crusher via the computer, from the old Enterprise, but it doesn’t work this time.

Tasha infects Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis), and then Data, by engaging in sexual contact with him. The android reports being “fully functional.”

Soon, young Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) is contaminated by Geordi, and he takes over Engineering using a voice-synthesizer that imitates Captain Picard’s voice. There Wesley erects a force-field around the section and refuses to let others enter. 

Disaster looms, however, as a chunk of the collapsing star approaches the Enterprise, and Engineering is useless…

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s (1987-1994) first season gets off to an extremely shaky start with this first episode after the pilot, an homage to The Original Series (1966-1969) hour, “The Naked Time.” In both episodes, intrepid crew members suffer from an infection that makes them act intoxicated, or drunk, and in the process reveal hidden aspects of their personalities.

In “The Naked Time,” audiences witnesses Mr. Spock’s guilt and shame about not being able to tell his human mother that he loves her. We see Mr. Sulu’s true nature as a mad swashbuckler, unveiled. We even witnessed Captain Kirk’s almost pathological obsession with commanding the Enterprise, and the way that this obsession isolated him from a normal emotional life. And we also learn Nurse Chapel is secretly in love with Mr. Spock.


In The Next Generation we discover that the three leading females in the series -- Dr. Crusher, Counselor Troi, and Tasha Yar -- all have sex on their brains. 

Crusher’s inhibitions fall and she unbuttons her uniform seductively, telling Captain Picard that she has been denied the “comfort” of a husband for too long. Tasha seeks sexual intercourse from Data. And Counselor Troi interferes with Riker’s attempts to reclaim engineering, babbling that she wants to be “alone” with him, in his mind.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with women characters expressing sexual interest or desire. So let’s get that out of the way.

Women are sexual beings, as men are, and should be able to express that in life and in drama.  However, it is rather alarming that for “The Naked Now” the choice is made to have all the women -- when released from their inhibitions -- express a desire, primarily, for sex.  It’s insulting that there is apparently nothing deeper to explore in these characters, beyond their desire to get it on with the male command crew. It's as if a desire for sex is the end-all and be-all of these three career Starfleet women.

Riker, when drunk, becomes a boring workaholic (“I can’t afford to get this!”). Geordi longs for human sight, even though it is inferior to what his VISOR can provide him. When he is “infected,” he doesn’t long for sex, he longs for a deeper emotional connection to Tasha.

But the women? 

It’s all the desire for sex with the male characters, whether Picard, Riker, or Data. I just must believe that 24th century women, officers aboard the flagship of the Federation, would be more interesting than that. Why are the women all defined by their sexual desire for the male characters? Why can’t one of them be driven by ambition, like Riker, to command a ship?

The final line of the episode is a travesty, too.

Captain Picard notes that the Enterprise shall have a fine crew, if it can “avoid temptation.”  This is certainly a dig against the women officers, who -- when drunk – wanted to have sex with the men, keeping them from accomplishing their necessary life-saving tasks, essentially. The men weren’t grappling with temptation, after all.

That line is wrong for so many reasons. 

First, it is demeaning to the female characters, since they were the ones who acted according to secret physical desires. 

Secondly, it makes no real sense to “avoid” temptation, given that the Enterprise is a ship of families. If there is such physical desire, and it is mutual, why not indulge in romantic relationships? Why not get married and have families?

At the same time The Next Generation attempts to move forward into a world where families can be space explorers, it seems to be mired in the 1960’s parochial notion that one can’t be both an officer and a family man (or woman). This idea reaches its nadir with an upcoming episode, “Haven,” wherein Counselor Troi must choose between being a Starfleet officer and getting married.

Why not simply have both a career and a family, especially in Star Trek’s enlightened future?  This is a notable and embarrassing example of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) not being any more evolved than its predecessor had been, twenty years earlier. It is easier to excuse the original series, being a product of the sixties. By the 1980’s, everyone knew this kind of thinking was backwards.

Thirdly, it is terrible that Captain Picard has to utter this line, coming across as an arrogant prude. Why would he say this at all, knowingly embarrassing his female bridge officers? And secondly, why is he such a shut-down prig? Between his dislike of children and families, his near-constant surrendering of the Enterprise (“Encounter at Farpoint,” and “The Last Outpost”), his hectoring of the crew here, Picard isn’t yet coming across as a very capable or likable captain.

Of course, that changes over time.

Also, it is a terrible shame that “The Naked Now” arrives so early in the series continuity when it is abundantly clear that the (rewritten) script has no idea what character traits Captain Picard may be burying, or hiding from his crew.

He becomes a goofy, skipping lapdog to Dr. Crusher, but no real inner character is revealed. Perhaps, Picard could have revealed how he lives in fear of the day that he knows is inevitably coming; when a child aboard the Enterprise dies because of a choice he made. 

Or perhaps he could have revealed the guilt and shame he feels, every time he looks at Dr. Crusher, because he is attracted to her, but he is also responsible for the death of her husband (clearing the way for a romantic relationship).

But “The Naked Now” lacks that level of depth. 

It lacks it in regards to Wesley Crusher too.

Being drunk for Wesley means acting goofy, and also complaining about adults. No real emotions or deep truths about him are broached. He’s a typical kid. What might he feel, realistically? Resentment towards Captain Picard for the decision that killed his father.

Perhaps, the Enterprise could have been Jack Crusher’s ship? How does Wesley feel living near Picard?  Why give characters this tragic, difficult background if there is no intent to exploit it in the drama?

The way that “The Naked Now” treats Wesley Crusher is actually really terrible, and absolutely did Wil Wheaton no favors with fans. Wesley’s behavior in the episode, and the way it reflects on the command staff, by extension, does no character any favors.

Basically, the untrained genius kid saves the ship with his inventions, while intoxicated.

The entire command crew, with the resources of the Federation flagship to command, look inept by comparison.  Wesley’s brilliance, even under these circumstances makes fans hate him (The Will Robinson Adric Syndrome). But the fact that a wet-behind-the-ears teenager can save the ship, while Riker, Worf (not…even…intoxicated!), Geordi, Picard, Troi, and Crusher can’t do so is a tough one to parse. It doesn’t say much about the quality of Starfleet training in the 24th century.

Also -- let’s get real -- there are over a thousand crew members on the ship. They can’t all be sick.  No one else can help out in a pinch?

This episode also presents the audience with the first in a series of rotating chief engineers. Brooke Bundy plays Lt. Commander Sarah McDougal, an engineer who is outperformed and out-smarted by an untrained civilian teenager. I remember Brooke Bundy fondly from a guest role in Land of the Lost in the 1970’s, and she does just fine in this episode, but McDougal’s potential as a character is destroyed by the way this episode treats the character. The chief engineer of the Enterprise should be the greatest engineer in the fleet. Not an unimaginative officer who can be so easily outmaneuvered. The low point for the character occurs when McDougal notes that something is impossible and Wesley asks her why she can’t just see the answer in her head.

Wesley should just become captain, chief engineer, and CMO, apparently, of this starship Enterprise, if we are to go by the competence of the command staff in “The Naked Now.”

In terms of Star Trek continuity, I am of two minds regarding “The Naked Now.” I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of hearing the name "James T. Kirk," as part of an official historical record. On the other hand, the audience just got a great Original Series homage in “Encounter at Farpoint,” with a lovely guest appearance by De Forest Kelley, and this is something that shouldn’t be a pattern, as the new characters need development so badly.

The new crew has enough problems, in this episode without reminding viewers of how Captain Kirk handled a similar experience.  “The Naked Now” is, in the final analysis, a deeply inferior copy of a classic, and a poor selection for an early episode.

Still, on it's own, the scene between Tasha and Data is quite wonderful. 

If we don't look at as part of the pattern -- three women pining sexually for the male officers -- and just as a unique character moment between the android and the Security Chief, the scene is amusing, and returns to take on additional resonance in stories such as "Skin of Evil," "Measure of a Man," and "Legacy."  

And indeed, this is one realm where The Next Generation truly excels. Instead of abandoning aspects of the series that don't work well (like the Ferengi, or Q), it returns to the characters and ideas, deepens them, and in the process, redeems them.  The relationship between Data and Tasha, as viewed from a later juncture, in some way, ends up redeeming "The Naked Now."

Next week, from bad to worse: “Code of Honor.”

Monday, November 27, 2017

Memory Bank: Epi-Log Magazine (1990 - 1994)

When I was living away from home at college, at the University of Richmond in the late eighties and early nineties, I would often trek (on foot) from the campus to Dave's Comic's Comic-Book Shop in a nearby shopping center. 

There, I would catch-up on the latest issues of Cinefantastique, Starlog, and this magazine: Epi-Log.

You couldn't miss Epi-Log, because of its distinctive design. The covers always had a bright red logo, surrounded by bright yellow border.  The latest issue would, I recall, literally seem to pop off the shelves, beckoning to me.

I was obsessed, even at ages nineteen and twenty, with cult-television, and more importantly, the cataloging of cult-television history.

Today we have web sites, the IMDB, and other places where we can research episode titles, writers, and casts for TV programs, but in 1990 the best source for all that data was Epi-Log magazine. 

Each issue of the magazine featured several episode guides, and often grouped series together in a kind of specific theme. For example, I seem to recall an issue that compiled most of the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series. There was another issue I loved, that gazed at horror series such as Dark Shadows, and Ghost Story.

Epi-Log was the brainchild of editor-and-chief William Anchor, and his Star Tech Publications. Each issue was sub-titled "The Magazine of Television Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure," and more than forty issues were published in all, from the years 1990-1994.

Epi-Log was, for me, nothing less than a miracle. It was generally very well-researched, and it covered obscure TV series with guides that featured air-dates, titles, writers, and plot synopses.  And corrections were often made in revised editions of the magazine.

It's true that I rarely agreed with the publisher's commentary on specific series (he loved Lost in Space, but hated Space:1999), yet each issue provided a wealth of hard-to-find, incredible information.

I found this information especially valuable while I was away at college, and not able to keep up with some TV series that I was fond of, including Beauty and the Beast (1987-1991), War of the Worlds (1987-1990), and Freddy's Nightmares (1988-1990).  With these issues, I could often see what I  had missed.

The last issue of Epi-Log I remember purchasing at Dave's Comics was one covering the first season of Deep Space Nine (1993-1999).

By the time of Star Trek: Voyager's (1995-2001) premiere, Epi-Log magazine was gone, but for me, never forgotten. I still have my collection of issues in my home office, right behind my desk.

Cult-TV Theme Watch: The Cabin in the Woods

As the 2012 meta-horror movie Cabin in the Woods reminds us, there is no greater -- or more isolated -- locale for terror than, well, a cabin in the woods.

One of the greatest horror films ever made, The Evil Dead (1983), charted that particular territory brilliantly, but the subject of this blog post involves TV series that utilize the location.

The isolated cabin in the woods is the central battlefield, for example, in the classic The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) episode, “The Invaders,” which involves a lonely woman (Agnes Moorehead) attacked by tiny, malevolent beings. These monstrous invaders turn out to be human astronauts.

A memorable episode of Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (1972-1973) called “Doorway to Death” involves two children taking a mystical doorway from a haunted city apartment in San Francisco to a wintry landscape. There, in the woods -- at a cabin, naturally -- a killer is seen chopping wood with an axe. The doorway is literally, a portal to death.

One of the greatest The X-Files (1993-2002) episodes of its first season, “Darkness Falls,” finds Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) trapped in a cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest as flesh-eating, prehistoric insects attack. The bugs emerge at night, but are repelled by light. In a suspenseful scene, Mulder and Scully must depend on a single, dangling light bulb, and a faulty generator, to keep them alive.

In Chris Carter’s Millennium (1996-1999), the leader of the Millennium Group played by R.G. Armstrong is seen to be living in a remote cabin in the woods in the early second season episode, “Beware of the Dog.” Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) is sent by the Group to encounter him.

A cabin in the woods has also been a sanctuary, on more than one occasion, for the living, during the zombie apocalypse in AMC’s original series, The Walking Dead (2010 -- ), and of course, Ash vs. The Evil Dead (2015 - ) has revisited the notorious cabin in the woods where all the horror of Sam Raimi’s Deadites first began.

The Cult-TV Faces of: Cabins in the Woods



Identified by Chris G: Twin Peaks



Identified by Chris G: Lost





Identified by Lonestarr357: Ash vs. the Evil Dead.