This column section of The Horror Times, has for the most part gone unused, and while it started out for a focus on merely television series, it overlooked a larger portion of the market, the TV Movies, or made for TV productions. These primarily originated from the 1970s with a large portion dwelling of witchcraft and devilish/demonic conjuring, now if you don’t recall them no problem this article will serve as an introduction and allow you a wonderous jumping off point to this highly campy and untouched world, that existed long before Syfy, Chiller (now defunct), AMC or even TNT or USA. Ready?
It was a time before video stores existed and these VTV movies mainly horror existed to entertain and inspire many, creating a rampant genre market to exploit from the small screen, comics, books, an era consisting of twisted bizarre productions and much of it filled with very bad acting. This all came about from the studios in the 1960s seeing television as an alternative to the entertainment value they sought, and hence charge increase premiums fees for their movies. Soon enough the networks started to create their own longer content of 2-hrs in the late 60s and continue into the 80s, before the cable division completely took over. However, what might have aided them in their decision process, Alfred Hitchcock for example funded his movie Psycho (1960) for $800,000 and used his television crew of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to make the film. A TV-movie cost on average $350,000 with commercial breaks every 12 to 15 minutes, made for a successful enterprise.
These movies excelled more in the 80s during the ‘sweeps’ season, and the month of May became the Mayhem and Massacre month, a glorious time indeed. Nevertheless, back to the main focus, some television movies, most overlooked, starred notable individuals for from quality filmmakers (whether established or upcoming) such as the famous ABC Movie of the Week Duel (1971) from director Steven Spielberg that starred Dennis Weaver in perhaps the first road rage movie. This film went on to earn a limited theatrical run in April of 1983.
As previously mentioned, the 1970s launch many occult movies, from The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976) and a slew of cheesy horror creations, with suggestible erotic themes, good girls corrupted, and plenty of witchcraft; the Satanic Panic filtered into the early eighties with reference to dark movies and music. These movies earned sometimes many bad reviews some deserving of the production quality, hurried schedules, leading the audiences complaining about commercials, low values, but these movies reign supreme for nearly two decades. The horror present with Crowhaven Farm (1970), with Hope Lange inheriting a farmhouse in Salem, Massachusetts begins having nightmares of the previous owner, all conveyed through a very wretched screenplay, translate nightmarish pleasurable fun trip. Satan’s School for Girls (1973) played right into the hands of the satanic tales and occultism occurring at the same time in the country, and guess what – it got remade 2000. Near the end of the 70s a decent story entitled The Initiation of Sarah (1978) captured many fans’ attention as it advanced the basis of Carrie (1976) into the college arena, this TV-Movie, found itself remade too in 2006 again for television audiences.
As noted the horror continued in the eighties with Bay Coven (1987) starring a young Woody Harrelson, and in 1991, The Haunted aired, which based itself on Ed and Lorraine Warren. By the late 90s and in until now the Syfy market dominates the output of these films, for example Arachoquake (2012), although up to December 2017 Chiller TV work in the grouping with their notable contribution of Dead Souls (2012) and Animal (2014).
However, television movies have garnished some of the greatest audiences ever, in 1978, Battlestar Galactica: Saga of a Star World, premiered to over 60-million people and five years later on November 20, 1983 The Day After aired to at least 100-million people, a frightening movie about a nuclear holocaust war between America and Soviet Union (Russia). This second movie caused the exclaimed which one often sees before certain movies and shows on television air because of the extreme depiction of the lack of civility with regard to humanity, ghastly imaginary and subject material.
Therefore, every month including January 2019, (which is Satan’s Triangle ) and going forward a television movie (or made of TV-movie) shall be included in The Horror Times. While the nature of them often times, a tad on the weary side or wretched in acting or style often enough readers stumble upon one of the monstrosities and often entertain themselves with laughter or groans.