Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A farewell to Jim Perry

Jim Perry was one of my favorite people from the 1980s. Born in 1933, he'd probably find that amusing. Humor and kindness were the hallmarks of his hosting turns in two of NBC's classic game shows, Card Sharks (1978-1981) and $ale of the Century (NBC 1983-1989; concurrently in syndication 1985-1986). $ale is an underappreciated format that had countless incarnations around the world (sometimes known as Temptation), most notably in Australia, where it became the kind of game show juggernaut that Wheel of Fortune is in the U.S. GSN recently ran $ale for a couple of years — something of a surprise treat as the cable net sadly continues to move away from the golden age of the genre. Although his resume is much shorter, Perry, who died Nov. 20 after a long battle with cancer, deserves recognition alongside game show greats like Bill Cullen. R.I.P. Jim … and I'll buy any instant bargains you have to offer.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Chiller's Psycho marathon

As a cable network, Chiller deserves credit for being one of the few that has stayed true to its theme, even if its steady menu of direct-to-DVD caliber movies grows tiresome. The channel is getting well outside that box on Thursday, however, with a lovely Psycho marathon that will include not only the original Hitchcock masterpiece but also Gus Van Sant's 1998 scene-for-scene remake (with the addition of bizarre flashes of cows) and the sequels — Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV: The Beginning.

Even though the sequels are not particularly well-regarded films, it surprises me how rarely (pretty much never that I can recall) they show up on TV, given the endless hours of airtime filled by C-level movies. These nuggets should be of at least passing interest to fans of horror and Hitchcock. Psycho II (1983), a moderate success, offers Vera Miles and Meg Tilly in the cast; Psycho III (1986) is directed by Anthony Perkins; and the made-for-cable prequel Psycho IV (1990, Showtime) could be considered an extra rare treat: It wasn't even available from Netflix on disc when I still subscribed a couple years ago.

Each year, I anticipate the arrival of October and what few surprises the cable channels might have in store for us in terms of fun old (and by "old" I mostly mean 1980s) horror movies. And, each year, I'm disappointed when AMC's Fearfest trots out the same dozen movies it has shown for the last 10 years. Take note, AMC — Chiller is schooling you with this marathon.

(The Psycho-fest begins at 11:30 a.m. central. Bonus: If you really want to make a day of it, David Fincher's The Game and Hitch's The Birds precede the marathon. Go, Chiller!)