Spoiler alert! If you loved the Friday night and Saturday afternoon horror movies on your TV, especially back in the days when rabbit ears were state of the art in reception quality, you will love Movie Vault. If you are a high def snob who won’t watch Tarantino’s Grindhouse because of the dust on the Blu-Ray print, you should avoid this app.
One of the great things about childhood was the fact that we could celebrate Halloween all year long with the Friday night midnight horror show. At least one network in every city had one, with names like “Creature Feature” and “Midnight Madness.” They broadcast movies from the network vaults and public domain that we believed to be classics at the time.
Now we shudder to admit that we ever enjoyed some of them. There were a few that survive today and remain watchable. Creature from the Black Lagoon, Earth vs. Flying Saucers, Kronos. Well, I think they’re watchable. Carol rolls her eyes.
I have to admit Carol has good taste in movies. She can watch Bruce Willis kick ass without a hint of irony, she wouldn’t be caught dead watching either version of Sex in the City (or any of the Twilight movies for that matter) and she refuses to see “date movies” until they’re on cable. Even then she often ends up with her finger down her throat.
But she seems to be blind to the joys of old black and white horror movies. Maybe it’s because she never spent Friday nights with her friends, eating pop corn, drinking herself silly on pop and belching and farting and telling dirty jokes during the commercials as soon as the parents slipped back to the bedroom to do nothing fun that we could imagine.
I mean, yes, the jokes we cracked during commercials were jokes about things our parents did, but they involved traveling salesmen, sailors and other broadly stereotyped characters. But in those days we could never imagine our parents would never even think of doing that stuff themselves.
Except for Delbert Thrash. Delbert not only imagined what our parents were doing, he imagined what dogs were doing, and those girls smoking cigarettes on the street corner were doing, and girls in clubs were doing and made sure we knew we should be interested in that stuff ourselves.
I don’t know where Delbert is now. He’s either a Pentecostal Evangelist or listed on one of those registries that parents get nervous about.
Those were the good old days, when every boy wanted duck tails and could recite the lyrics to “Speed Ball The Wild Motorcyclist” by heart. When we still had our coon skin hats in the closet even though we were too old to wear them, and when there were no action figures and dolls were for girls.
The Creature Features are gone and duck tails with them. We had a decade of pot to wean us, but even that’s been taken away from us everywhere but California. Even the SyFy channel’s weekend marathons play not just on Halloween but Christmas, New Years, Labor Day and Valentine’s Day. And the movies played on these marathons make I Was a Teenage Zombie look like something by Tarkovsky, Bunel or Fellini.
One Halloween iPad app brings back the joy of creature features, Hollywood Movie Vault. For two dollars you get instant access to several dozen cheesy horror movies that have passed into the public domain. Best of all, there are no streaming pauses, and no commercials that force you to try to remember those terrible dirty jokes you used to tell.
Except for the one about the Indian and the Bees. I still get a kick out of that one.
Delbert told it to us.
Oh, and the one about the sailor in adult sex ed. I still think that’s hysterical. “Pardon me,” he says. “There’s a hundred and two.” Delbert told us that one too.
Are some of these films terrible? Absolutely. You can waste away an evening with titles like Blood-o-Rama, Atom Age Vampires and two identical versions of Roger Corman’s well-forgotten Swamp Women with Mike Conners who used to play Mannix in the Sixties.
Those titles may not excite you. They don’t even excite me, although I’ll watch them. But the Hollywood Movie Vault also contains such gems as Carnival of Souls and the original Night of the Living Dead. You will also find marginal classics like House on Haunted Hill, A Bucket of Blood and the wonderfully bad original Little Shop of Horrors with Jack Nicholson’s cameo visit to the dentist.
Just look at some of the films you’ll find.
You’ll also find an early version of Sweeny Todd, Svengali, the silent classic The Golem, and Murnau’s Nosferatu and Faust. And several dozen more.
Is the quality good? Not even close. But it’s almost as good as the snowy screens we used to watch when state-of-the-art home theater systems included fifteen inch black and white TVs with knob dials and rabbit ears. And best of all, no commercials. This means even the really bad ones are over in seventy minutes.
You can’t get quality like this on Blu-ray.
You can also scrub back and forth to different scenes in the movies, just in case you want to catch those terrible rubber creature effects again, or skip past the lovey-dovey stuff. What it doesn’t do is remember the last point you watched a movie if you have to close the app because your boss walks into your office and he’s one of those guys who thinks you should actually work while you’re earning your pay check. Once he’s gone, you’ll have to scrub back to the point where you left the movie.
But this is a mild inconvenience. If you like cheesy horror movies, Hollywood Movie Vault is a gem. If you like kitsch, Hollywood Movie Vault is a gem. If you expect quality high definition replay, you didn’t live for much of the last century.
Jenny Manytoes rates Hollywood Movie Vault
Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Hollywood Movie Vault. Actually, she could care less about the movies. But late at night, when Carol’s asleep and I’m watching Swamp Women and listening with my Jabra Halo headphones, Jenny likes to curl up on my shoulder and make biscuits on me.