Once again, whilst on a mission to de-clutter, I found myself completely diverted from my mission by a chunk of clutter. In a four drawer file cabinet that has a whole story of it’s own I uncovered a forgotten folder marked ENTERTAINMENT. Inside of the folder I found a bunch of clippings from newspapers and magazines and the little HBO guide pictured above.
Storer Cable which was our cable TV company in South Jersey included these schedule booklets with the monthly bill. It measures 5″ x 6.625″ and dates from a time before HBO ran 24 hours a day. Back then they would start their “broadcast” day at 6:00PM and run to about 1:30AM.
The appeal of Home Box Office or PRISM which was the local competitor at the time was that they showed movies and entertainment specials without commercials and completely UNCUT! That means that you got the entire (pan-and-scan) movie complete with cusswords and nudity. As a teenager and movie freak, I was in Heaven, but my Depression-era parents were horrified. I remember one particularly uncomfortable evening where we as a family all hunkered down to watch the cable TV premiere of Hardcore.
Hey, it had George C. Scott. He was in Patton. I could hear my Dad saying, “He’s a hell of an actor!”
How bad could it be?
It was like having sewage pumped through the screen. Yeah, I’ve seen worse movies since then, but not with my Mom and Dad! I thought I was going to crawl under the carpet. I’m surprised my parents didn’t cancel the subscription, but they were fairly indulgent, and broadcast television seemed to be at it’s nadir in and around 1979. Home video setups were still outrageously expensive, and rental libraries weren’t all that deep.
As far as November of 1979 is concerned, the most important movie to me on cable at the time was a little movie by Don Coascarelli.
I remember a writer at the time describing Phantasm as an Afterschool Special that has gone off the tracks which is apt. It features amateurish acting, special effects that range from obviously fake to terrific, gorgeous sets and cinematography that’s better than it should be. The script feels like it was hashed out by high schoolers over a week of study halls. It sounds awful, but the film has a detached Euro-horror feel like the films pouring out of Italy into America’s grindhouses at the time. It feels like dreams, and that’s why some of the shortcomings in the script are forgivable. Dreams have no logic. Why should this? It feels like my dreams and is one of my favorites.
So why do I have all of this clutter? It was well before the arrival of the internet, and as an illustrator, you were only as good as your reference files or morgue were deep and obscure. I was going to go into art school, and I knew I had to start building my own collection of visual reference. I think this collection got pared down a couple of times in moves from one apartment to another. As you can see, I still have a lot of crap.