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.

 

October 28

Dark Night of the Scarecrow, 1981

Welcome back to week four of our October Halloween-Horror Binge here at Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! As has been the tradition with the fourth week of the SNMS Halloween horror cycle, J. Blake and Dion Baia pick a film that actually takes place on the day or has the holiday itself play a part in the plot… So for this go-around they’ve selected a TV movie that is a classic within the genre- Dark Night of the Scarecrow, from 1981.

Dark Night of the ScarecrowThe fellas reminisce about this often lost art, the major network horror movie, and how unique these forgotten templates were for this once-popular format on the small screen. A forgotten classic and a great example of a comeuppance tale, Dion and Blake plot the origins of Scarecrow and try to confirm if this the first example of a scarecrow character as an antagonist (or protagonist?) in a horror film. They also go into the backstory of the players involved, like the great Charles Durning and the story’s director, Frank De Felitta. The boys also discuss the differences of a story like this, where less is more and implication is the name of the game at a time when the slasher genre was in full swing, and how a movie with no gore but instead relies on terror and suspense, can holdup within that time period when blood and guts were the norm. So how does this TV movie hold up 35 years later? How does Ray Bradbury have a connection to this work? And how good is Charles Durning in this demented role? And why did they make him a mailman? Well come on down and check out our final installment of 2016’s October-horror Halloween binge here on an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS:

Check out Dark Night of the Scarecrow in it’s entirely, courtesy of YouTube!

How about checking out the film out as it aired Saturday, October 24th 1981, with the original commercials to boot, again courtesy of YouTube!

Take a look at this rare interview with writer J.D. Feigelson, courtesy of MutantvillePlayers!

And have a look at this rare interview with the late, great Larry Drake, again courtesy of MutantvillePlayers!