Maybe borderline off topic, since I’m talking about more than just cheesy movies, but… where did YOU find your weird, non-mainstream movies as a kid, especially in the pre-internet days? Independent video rental stores? Local PBS affiliates? A sketchy but cool neighbor? Parent’s locked drawer of R-rated movies you jimmied open?
Growing up in northern Vermont we didn’t have cable, etc. but we were close enough to Montreal that we got a couple of French language stations if we jiggled the rabbit ears enough and didn’t mind squinting through the static. And if you set the VCR to record overnight, you got some truly WEIRD offerings it would take me decades to identify. My top four, pictured here:
I think the first super freak out I saw was Un Chien Andalou. I was in my early teens, a tween(?) and was slacked jawed and amazed by it, by the unfettered imagination, and how creativity didn’t have to adhere to strict, established rules. It acted as an inspiration personally, as it threw off all chains on my own creative efforts.
I was drawn to the surreal after that… I remember my first Bergman, Wild Strawberries, had some offbeat moments as well, so anything like that, I’d think, “well I need to watch more of this director or screenwriter.”
Then Eraserhead was released in '77, I’m not sure how I came to that one, it wasn’t in theaters where I lived… probably VHS?
So that’s where it began. After that, streaming made it easier, you had greater access to experimental cinema like Dreams That Money Can Buy from 1947.
I grew up without cable. Sometimes I’d just surf the 7 or so channels we had. You never knew what you’d find, back in the 80s. And unless you happened to see the beginning you’d never know what the heck you were watching, either. I’ve occasionally remembered a few of them and had surprising success identifying them via Google.
My experience isn’t much different from what’s already been mentioned. As a tyke in the '70s and early '80s, you might stumble across something on late-night TV, especially on one of the independent stations.
Cable and VHS in the '80s really changed things as it provided more opportunity to actively pursue more unusual fare.
All of them came out of Nashville (we did not live in TN, btw) and one of them would show old B-movies right after school. I saw SO MANY movies that later showed up on MST3K (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Beginning of the End, etc. etc.)
They did show some good old comedies after church on Sundays (Abbott and Costello, WC Fields, etc.) so it wasn’t all just B stuff, but boy, was there a lot of B stuff.
In honor of the first moon landing, they showed 12 to the Moon.
When Channel 4 launched in the UK in 1982, they positioned themselves as the eclectic independent channel, as opposed to ITV, which was very much the opposite. This meant they showed offbeat/arty films every now and then.
In 1988, though, they launched Moviedrome, a dedicated, regular late-night movie slot. Initially presented by Alex “Repo Man” Cox and later (Season 8-12) by movie critic Mark Cousins, I saw some interesting stuff. You can see the seasons and movies listed on Wikipedia and there’s a mixture of B-movies, arty films, foreign films, classic noir and the occasional better-known title.
I’ve said a million times before that my father was a film historian. He was constantly taping things off of the TV. We had cable with all the movie channels as soon as it was available in the early '80s. We had a Sony reel-to-reel recorder before VHS came out. It only worked with one model of Trinitron and only recorded an hour. So that was the first place. Not only did he show me lots of the classic films he loved, many of which were definitely weird, he quickly realized how much I loved weird movies and old sci-fi movies and such and would tape them for me all the time. That’s how I’ve seen Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason and Pat Boone dozens of times and I love every single awful second of it. It’s also why I used to be able to literally quote the entirety of Yellow Submarine. I still know huge swaths of it by heart.
The second place was a video store called Classical Film and Music on the town square, which catered to the academic crowd, so it had a lot of old, independent and foreign films.
The third was a video store that opened later called Plan 9 Video. I’m sure you can guess what sort of movies they had. I’m still Facebook friends with the guy who ran that store.
Also, @schraffster- did you have the French version of La Planete Sauvage or the English dub? I actually quite like the English dub, although I admit I saw it first. But it has this very weird sort of ethereal quality to the dubbing which I’ve never heard used in another film.
Pretty sure PBS was the only venue for arty/non-linear/foreign films when I was little, though I don’t remember watching any with the folks. Unless it was in that annoying way in which you get to see the first third of something and then they chase you out of the room just as it starts to get interesting. Maybe that’s why I didn’t commit to watching anything out of the mainstream until I went to college.
You could watch B-Movies on the regular networks if you stayed up 'til the wee hours, but that wasn’t really my thing even then. I needed my sleep.
When I first saw it it was in French because, y’know, Montreal. I’ve since tracked it down in English, which helped the comprehension. Not speaking French definitely added to the strangeness of that first viewing tho
I don’t speak French either. I’ve just seen it subtitled. Rene Laloux made two other interesting animated features- The Time Masters and Gandahar/Light Years. The dub of the latter being the first time, as far as I know, that you hear Teller of Penn and Teller speak. He has one line.
Well, I grew up in the 70’s, and we didn’t have to go anywhere to a watch a weird movie back then. We would just stay home, turn the TV to one of the major broadcasting networks and watch made-for-TV classics like SST Death Flight or Superdome or San Francisco International or The Stranger (aka Stranded in Space).