December 8

The Night They Saved Christmas, 1984

Welcome back to another episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! With the holiday season in full swing, J. Blake and Dion Baia have delved quite deep into the video store racks, and found a lost Christmas classic, the ABC made-for-TV movie, The Night They Saved Christmas, from 1984, directed by the great Jackie Cooper!

The Night They Saved Christmas

This lost gem starring Art Carney, Jaclyn Smith, Scott Grimes, Mason Adams, June Lockhart and Paul Williams has largely and sadly fallen through the cracks of history and subsequently been lost to time – but not forgotten by the SNMS boys! After Dion and Blake reminisce about some of the classic holiday specials they grew with, the boys jump right into this fabulous film, which the fellas jokingly argue might be the ‘lost’ or ‘unknown’ sequel to the last film they covered on their previous episode, William Friedkin‘s 1977 masterpiece, Sorcerer. They take a deep-dive into this 80’s TV-movie classic and marvel over all those mythical, usually unanswered question regarding the Santa legend, that this film tackles with ease. The guys are equally astonished by the SFX within the film, be it matte-paintings, stop-motion and/or miniatures. And Blake and Dion also offer up some of their unique musical suggestions for the holiday season, to help make the ultimate 2017 Christmas mix-tape. So which one of the boys actually has a huge affinity for Hallmark Christmas movies? Did the boys actually forget to mention that Jackie Cooper was a Little Rascal? Does this film achieve that “Christmas Spirit” that so many look for in a holiday movie? And who the heck is this unseen super-villain Gaylord we keep hearing about?! Well, all these dire questions will be answered in this fun, hilarious and warm, feel-good holiday edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Check out this original promo for the ABC premiere of The Night They Saved Christmas!

Here’s another original TV promo for The Night They Saved Christmas!

 

October 27

Hocus Pocus, 1993

Welcome back to week 4 of Saturday Night Movie SleepoversOctober Halloween Horror Movie Extravaganza! To bring to a close SNMSmonth of horror, J. Blake and Dion Baia decided to take on a fan favorite, particularly a cult classic for the ladies. The fellas are getting on their brooms and heading to Salem, Massachusetts, as they cover Walt Disney‘s Hocus Pocus, from 1993.

Hocus PocusThe boys get right into it by setting up the backstory of the film, and how it was originally pitched as a Disney television movie, then languished in developmental hell for ten years until it was brought in front of Bette Midler. They debate the theory of how some seasonal-themed films become cult classics, holiday staples because of repeated viewings on television and cable. They analyze the elements within the film that showcase another example of Disney tip-toeing into somewhat dark, erotic material- cleverly disguised inside a light-hearted fairytale. Dion and Blake unpack the historical context of this story, briefly summarizing about how Wiccan and Pagan religious ideologies were deemed to be akin to being in league with the devil, and the horrible witch-hunts that swept through Salem, Massachusetts, at the end of the 15th Century. They also compare the tone of Hocus Pocus to other properties at the time, like Eerie, Indiana and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. So, what is the fan speculation behind this story: going to the How and the Why of the Sanderson Sisters becoming witches? Was Leonardo DiCarprio once considered to star in this movie? Playing their own What if Game, could this film have been envisioned as a Tim Burton/Danny Elfman vehicle at the time? And are the fans finally going to see a sequel to this film, and why would Disney actually not be interested in making a sequel/reboot to this beloved property? Well, you better make sure no virgins are trespassing and lighting any candles, hide your children, and actually listen to that black cat trying to talk to you… because the boys are back with the Halloween-specific episode of SNMSOctober Halloween Horror Movie Extravaganza!

EXTRAS!

Check out this original trailer for Hocus Pocus, that contains shots from scenes that weren’t included in the final cut of the film!

Here’s a fantastic episode of the 1990’s Discovery Channel Show Movie Magic, devoted to the impressive EFX wire-work that is showcased in Hocus Pocus, courtesy of YouTube!

Take a listen to the John Debney score to the film!

This is the Bette Midler, Disney MGM Studio Commercial short entitled The Lottery, that was talked about in the podcast from the early 1990s, courtesy of some guy on YouTube, so enjoy!

Here is the 1973 book mentioned in the podcast that digs excessively into among other things, the history of Wiccan, Pagan and Witchcraft religions, entitled The Devil and all his Works, by Dennis Wheatley.

Also referenced in the podcast, for more information on Ed Gein, click here; for H. H. Holmes‘ and his house of horrors click here; and for information on the 1913 Villisca Axe Murders, click here.

And lastly but far from least, for more info on the 1977 John Carpenter‘s Halloween Michael Myers House that is now a museum, click here.

October 24

Garfield in Disguise AKA Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, 1985

Welcome to a surprise installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepover’s October Halloween Horror Movie Extravaganza! J. Blake and Dion Baia decided to do an impromptu episode and look back at their childhoods, particularly during the Halloween season. More specifically, they wanted to cover a television special that has endeared itself to an entire generation of cat-lovers, who secretly would love nothing more than to sit around all day watching TV, while being served pasta and lasagna. That’s right, the boys are talking about everyone’s favorite orange & black house cat, Garfield and his cult classic, Emmy award-winning primetime special, Garfield in Disguise, or more widely known as Garfield’s Halloween Special, from 1985.

Garfield's Halloween Special

Another special near and dear to Dion‘s heart, the boys start off by discussing their memories of the Jim Davis comic strip. They discuss other popular comic strip stars, Garfield‘s primetime television specials, and the many other holiday specials of the era. The boys reminisce about their own childhood Halloween memories, the old costumes they wore, and what other thoughts come to mind when discussing this spooky Autumn holiday. They get into creator Jim Davis‘ original inception of Garfield the cat, the evolution from newspaper comic strip to book form, Davis’ genius in merchandising his creation and Garfield‘s journey to Primetime television. They chat about the eerie narrative theme recur in the various Garfield specials–where a child is lulled into a false sense of security until the third act goes completely off the rails, and becomes anything BUT what you’d think would wind up in a children’s cartoon special. So how scary was this for children growing up? Did this special actually push the limits of what the CBS Broadcast’s Standards and Practices would allow in a children’s cartoon? And how do the boys feel about this compared to the other holiday specials of the era? Well you better get your Halloween costume’s together, make sure you have your partner to go trick-or-treating with, and be careful not to trespass on any small islands that contain abandoned houses with cursed pirate treasure…on the exact night when said pirates’ ghosts are rising from the dead to claim what is their’s…because Blake and Dion are back with a special surprise edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers’ October Halloween Horror Movie Extravaganza!

EXTRAS:

Check out Garfield’s Halloween Special as it aired for only the 2nd time on CBS, on October 23rd, 1986, courtesy of YouTube, original commercials included!

Here is Garfield’s Halloween Special minus the commercials, in HD, again courtesy of YouTube.

Take a look at this great 2017 interview with creator Jim Davis, as he talks about the creation and longevity on the Garfield character, in this short called Jim Davis- The Man Behind the Cat.

Have a look at this CBS Television Special from May 17, 1988 called Happy Birthday Garfield!, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of Garfield the cat, courtesy of YouTube

And check out this Jim Davis-hosted 2012 short about the modern process of Garfield comic strip is drawn

December 16

SNMS Presents the Side-Cast:Tracking Down that White Elephant at Christmas

To add to this festive Christmas season, Dion Baia ended up tracking down and recording a special Side-Cast edition Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers, enlisting his old friends Brian Zino and J. Marcus, the cohosts of his former podcast The Podwits. Now to get them together for a recording, Dion knew there was one topic that would coincide with this season and something the boys could go on and on about: TOYS!

SNMS Side CastSo for this SNMS special, Dion brought back his old cohorts to have a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the toys they grew up with and a time that children nowadays sadly may never know about: how awesome it was growing up in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s- a time when kids had a gun aisle in their local toy store, and could go buy candy cigarettes they could then ‘smoke’, just like their parents. The trio begin with chatting about the cartoons they grew up on, and some of the toys that came out of those francheses. They talk about the Mego toy empire of the 70s that had a monopoly on everything, and the segue that occured in the 1980s with the unstoppable titans Mattel, Hasbro and Kenner and their strong hold over the market, before others like Playmates and Galoob moved into the field. Along with toy figures, tThe Podwitshey also chat about building sets like Legos, Construx and Girder and Panel, and even touch on model-making and specifically superhero and movie character models, and the exciting products that were put out by companies like Aurora in the 70s and later on by Horizon in the mid 1990s. They also challenge each other by posing the ‘white whale‘ question: was there a toy they always wanted and never received? And how about the toy(s) that in theory were great but practically, either because of design or toy-playing, was frustating and annoying to say the least. Yes, they’re all over the spectrum in this special, Christmas time edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepover‘s Side-Cast. Come have a listen today!

Extras:

*The small battery powered 4×4 vehicles that Dion could not remember the name of from the early 1980s were called STOMPERS.

Check out J. Marcus in a segment where TV’s American Toy Scout Joel Magee drops by J’s apartment to take in the eclectic collection that is on display for all to see.

Here is the A-Team B.A. Baracus figure discussed in the podcast.

This is what the 1983 film Krull‘s weapon The Glaive actually looks like, that Brian attempted to make himself as a child. And here it is in the film.

As discussed in the podcast HERE, and HERE are the Star Trek, Laser Tag-esque game called Star Trek Phaser Battle.

And speaking of Laser Tag-esque play sets, here’s the imitation game Dion‘s parents got him called Phaser Force.

Straight out of J. Marcus vault, here are 2 UNOFFICIAL phasers: HERE is a resin Star Trek TNG Phaser 1 replica, and HERE is a working TOS Phaser 1 replica.

Now take a look at an OFFICIAL Star Trek TNG Playmates Communicator, next to a TNG Tricorder (Note the size difference!).

For more podcasts and specials with Brian Zino, J. Marcus and Dion Baia, check out Podwits.com.

 

 

December 9

Star Wars Holiday Special, 1978

Happy Life Day and welcome back to an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Well with Christmas time here, Dion Baia and J. Blake have decided to cover maybe their most controversial topic to date and the most anticipated event of the 1978 Holiday season: the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, that aired Friday November the 17th, of that year.

Star Wars Holiday Special

So to cut right to the chase, why is this television special so controversial for the boys at SNMS? Well probably because of the stance Blake and Dion take on this almost universally-panned time capsule from ’78. After the boys chat about last week’s podcast with guest host Mike Vanderbilt, and a dive into Dion‘s food allergies, the fellas get right into the seasonal topic at hand. They set the table and interject the context of the latter half of 1978, a year after the original Star Wars had been released and almost a year and change before the sequel Empire Strikes Back would come out in 1980. Along with a ‘variety show’ template and the majority of the original cast of 1977 film reprising their roles, we get some pretty astounding cameos by such stars as Art Carney, Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, performances by Diahann Carroll, the rock band Jefferson Starship, and even a pint-raising song by Ms. Arthur herself. The television audience was also treated to a 9+ minute cartoon that introduced one of the most legendary Star Wars characters of all time, the mysterious bounty hunter Bobba Fett. So why is this special so universally hated by critics and fans alike? How involved was George Lucas really (especially since afterward he completely disavowed himself and completely berated the special)? Why was the aforementioned Bobba Fett introduced in cartoon form, in this holiday special anyway? Another dirty little secret, was Han Solo actually supposed to be married to a wookie?! And to get right to the most controversial question: in the context of the era, was this special really as bad as everyone likes to remember…considering what else was going on in 1978? Well it could be a very interesting podcast to say the least for some hardcore Star Wars fans, as SNMS delivers another all new, holiday edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS!

An indispensable asset for any fans of the Holiday Special, here is an amazing website directly solely to the 1978 TV Special.

Check out this Black & White footage of the first screen test from 1978 of Bobba Fett.

Take a look at one of the BEST QUALITY versions of the Star Wars Holiday Specials SNMS has ever seen, in it’s entirety, courtesy of YouTube.

And here are all the original commercials that aired during the Holiday Special.

And speaking of rotoscoping, here is the ultra-rare and never released pre-MTV 1979 music video Tom Waits did for his song “The One that Got Away” with director John Lamb (who would go on to do American Pop with Ralph Bakshi). It was done as a test, using the pioneering ‘video rotoscope’ technology and then converted to animation, a technique that producers then brought to Bakshi to sell him on the concept for his next film, which audiences would see 2 years later in 1981, in the aforementioned, American Pop. The short ended up winning an Oscar in 1980 for Scientific and technical achievement.  More information about this story can be found here.

 

December 23

Gremlins, 1984

Welcome to another episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Dion and J. Blake are taking on another holiday classic for their Christmas viewing this season, and have decided on an iconic genre mash-up. It’s a film that really goes to show you the 1980’s was a time when you could practically market anything you wanted to children, even a dressed up Horror film parading as a cute, Christmas/Comedy that subtlety pokes fun at American and Western culture in general. Of course we’re talking about Joe Dante‘s classic, Gremlins, from 1984.

Gremlins

The trifecta of Chris Columbus writing, Steven Spielberg executive producing, and Dante directing, gave us one of the most interesting and fun films of the 1980s. Blake and Dion try to flesh out the back story of this love letter to Frank Capra, B-Horror films of the 1950’s, and Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes cartoons, among a slew of others, while trying to wrap their heads around some terrifying concepts layered within. How much darker was this film originally supposed to be? Does this movie really convey themes like anti-technology, as well as lament about the ignorance of Western society as a whole? Have some critics read into the film and actually injected elements of supposed racism which surprisingly, doesn’t even have to do with the culture that is presented within the story? How has the movie held up after 30+ years, as both a genre mash-up and holiday film? And is this a movie that could even be attempted in 2015 without severely changing the story itself and its primary antagonists? Well the boys are wearing their Santa hats and have their sleigh bells ringing in this all new, Christmas installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

(We’d like to give a shout out to Jason Derenick for recommending Gremlins, and we’d like to apologize for not remembering his name during the podcast. Thank you!)

(When speaking about New Line Cinema, Blake mistakenly said Friday the 13th, when he was actually referring to Nightmare on Elm Street.)

Extras:

Jason’s name isn’t the only thing we forgot this time around; we’d like to share straight out of the SNMS Archive, a clay Gremlin bust sculpted by Rick Baker‘s SFX team for Gremlins 2: The New Batch, something we completely forgot to bring up, and something we will touch on at the beginning of the next Podcast. Check out this bad-boy here, here, here, here, and here.

Check out the original theatrical trailer!

Take a look at the 1943 Merrie Melodies Bug Bunny short Falling Hare, which is credited by director Joe Dante as an influence on his 1984 film Gremlins.

Also mentioned in the podcast, please watch the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED documentary on the artist, animator and auteur Chuck Jones, entitled Extremes and In Betweens: A Life in Animation.

Go read the HUGELY RECOMMENDED book Outrageous Conduct, which examines the events