James: As you know already I'm a big fan of monster movies. To be a fan of anything, you have to be exposed to it first. Growing up in the 80's, there was no internet so the only way to be introduced to a movie was if you heard about it somewhere thru word of mouth, or read about it in a book, or saw it on the shelf of the video store.
But the most direct form of exposure was if the movie aired on TV, and that's where Monster-Vision helped me out. It was an all night marathon of monster movies that aired on TNT, it would usually happen on a Saturday night starting at 8 P.M. and ending at the break of dawn. I'm not sure how long ago Monster-Vision started but I first became aware of it in 1993.
I had no idea what these movies were like, it was all a surprise. Every Sunday morning I would wake up, run outside, grab the newspaper from the front lawn, dig out the TV guide, flip to Saturday and see if there was gonna be a Monster-Vision that night. When there was, oh boy, all week I couldn't wait! When Saturday would come, I'd camp out in front of that TV all night.
Announcer: The Blob!! Then, not all aliens are friendly, just ask anyone who survives their encounter with The Thing! There's a chill in the air tonight on TNT!
James: The narrator voice got me so hyped. It was never just Monster-Vision it was always "MONSTER-Vision"!
Announcer: When we turn your television into MONSTER-Vision!!
James: All those movie clips started playing! Ooh what's that from? What's that? I had to be able to identify all the clips. I was always equipped with blank VHS tapes because I had to record all the movies. I might be able to get two or more on one tape in extended record mode, but to get the whole marathon, I have to switch tapes in the VCR a few times. Sleeping wasn't an option.
Sometimes I'd drift in and out of my own dreams while the movies were playing so I'd catch little moments and sometimes couldn't remember if the movies were real or it was just part of my nightmares. There was always some kind of theme, one night it was all Harryhausen movies. Another night, it was "Small titles, big screams".
Announcer: Five weird sci-fi movies on TNT's Monster-Vision, all with one thing in common! Small titles, but big screams!
James: One time it was all about outer space and of course they called it Moonster-Vision.
Announcer: Strap yourselves in for TNT's Moonster-Vision!
James: Best of all, for a whole month, they had a Godzilla marathon! You could imagine how exciting that was!
Blue Oyster Cult: With a purpose full of grimace and a terrible sound, he pulls the spitting high tension wires down!!
James: And for one particular month every Saturday, it was hosted by magicians and comedians Penn and Teller. They were posing as security guards watching monster movies on their security monitors.
Penn: I have seen Plan 9 from Outer Space seven times personally, I am not kidding, and who do you know who has seen A Passage to India more than once except the director?
James: Before the commercial breaks they would talk about the movie, give some random trivia, and just goof around.
Penn: AAHH!! IN JUST A MOMENT! BUT FIRST- *Penn gets splashed with a glass of water by Teller* ...these messages. You know, in the movies it only takes one of those for people to relax. I always thought it'd probably take at least three in real life.
*Penn gets splashed again*
Penn: That was cold you rat bastard.
James: That was the first time I ever heard the word bastard on TV. Another time they showed Mysterious Island and who was the host? Why none other than our favorite castaway Bob Denver from Gilligan's Island.
Bob Denver: Never had the intelligence to figure out that maybe if there was one big giant thing like this on the island there might be other big giant things, ya know?
James: In 1994, Monster-Vision was less frequent. Every time I'd look through that TV guide and not see Monster-Vision, man was I disappointed. Not even for Halloween did they have a Monster-Vision, it wasn't until Christmas of that year when they brought it back. Yeah, Christmas of all nights and it happened to be a whole marathon of stinkers.
This is when I first saw movies like The Giant Claw and The Wasp Woman. Most of the worst movies I've ever seen I digested them all in one night.
Announcer: Seven movies that will scare the ornaments off you! Monster-Vision, a Christmas nightmare! Next on TNT!
James: But then in 1995, Monster-Vision came back full force with more contemporary horror films and a new permanent host, Joe Bob Briggs.
*Joe Bob's Monster-Vision intro starts to play*
James: He was so great that most people don't even know Monster-Vision even existed before Joe Bob came onboard. He is the hero of all lovers of monster movies, he made the movies more fun by describing how ridiculous the plots are.
Joe Bob: Some goons in San Francisco's Chinatown are gonna steal Kurt Russell's truck and shoot fire outta their fingernails and turn a whole heck-a lot of 30 foot somersaults in the air for no reason.
James: He was always overflowing with trivia and he's the first person I've ever heard to able to articulate why lasers are so cool.
Joe Bob: Lasers, swords, you know same thing. Anything that's just basically aiming a blast of deadly light at somebody.
James: And of course, there's his trademark, the drive-in totals where he tally's up all the best parts of the movie. He always counts the dead bodies, the breast, there's always something gratuitous, heads roll, then plenty other things roll that normally couldn't roll and then there's all kinds of different Fu.
Joe Bob: Kung Fu, Infant Fu...
James: And he always finishes up by giving the movie 4 stars.
Joe Bob: Four stars, four stars, four stars, four stars! ...Half stars, so check it out.
James: Whenever he says roll the picture, it never happens right away he keeps talking.
Joe Bob: You know the other thing that happens-
James: You never know what he's gonna do! One minute he's talking out the window to somebody who we never see.
Joe Bob: Yeah, ok. Well, you're entitled to your own opinion.
James: It feels loose and unscripted, at least it feels unscripted and that's what made it so fun to watch. Another thing about Joe Bob, he's a big fan of the old stuff. He loves the drive-in, he calls everything else indoor bullshit, and he'd always make fun of the internet.
Girl: You don't even know the website address!
Joe Bob: I know the website address!
Girl: No you don't.
Joe Bob: Yeah, it has .com or net.com or something like that.
James: One time he hosted a Friday the 13th marathon, but they didn't have the rights to show part 4 and that really pissed him off.
Joe Bob: How can part 4... be missing? What is going on around here?
*We see Joe Bob talking to the guys running the inner workings of the set*
Guy: I-I'll get it, I'll get it!
Joe Bob: There's crucial plot points in part 4!
James: He was straight up honest about his creative differences with the network and most specifically the censorship.
Joe Bob: 10 breasts, shame on you TNT censors for taking those out.
*We see another segment where Halloween 2 was being played*
Joe Bob: Every other word you say is either hell or hell or damn!
*A clip from Halloween 2 plays with all the curse words taken out and replaced with Hell and damn*
Joe Bob: Why do I think there's an extra hell in there? And then Brad says "Well sorry, I guess I just --- up all the time!"
Brad: Well sorry, I guess I just --- up all the time.
Joe Bob: Why didn't they make him say "Sorry I guess I just hell up all the time", or "Sorry, I guess I just damn up all the time"? See I figured it out, the TNT censors don't like cuss words that can be used as verbs. Which means you can never show a good Jack Nicholson or Jack Warden movie on TV because they're the experts in the art of transitive verb declarative sentences if you know what I mean and I think you do!
James: The biggest problem was the lack of gore. What's the point of showing slasher movies without showing the kills? That's why Monster-Vision was better when they where showing older black and white movies, because with those movies, they didn't need to censor anything. Now, the only point of watching Monster-Vision wasn't for the movies, but for Joe Bob.
For me, personally at this time, I just worked my way up with the classics and now I was more mature and ready to see some more modern horror flicks, it was part of my own progression. So if I wanted to see these kinda movies uncut, it meant renting them from the video store. Watching them edited on television was pointless.
So, that's one of the reasons I think Monster-Vision went downhill. The only reason to watch it was for Joe Bob, but even he couldn't save that fact.
Monster-Vision went off the air in 2000. Since then, with the abundance of DVD's and the ability to find out about movies through the internet, we're no longer dependent on television. Still I dream and hope that in some form or another, Monster-Vision will come back. But I know it's not gonna happen.
No more Monster-Vision. But there will be... Monster Madness.