Saturday, October 12, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Made for TV Movies

Yesterday's Midnight Offerings made me want to search a little more a movie that has been "haunting" me forever.  This movie is about witches and the occult; satanism in particular.  It was on TV on Halloween night. It had to be between 1977 and 1982, I know a huge time frame. I think it was a made for TV movie. The movie had a girl with psychic powers or witchcraft; they were often synonymous in the late 70s.  There is a scene near the end of the movie of a girl (not sure if it is the same one) lying on an altar.  Either she about to be sacrificed OR this is supposed to give her powers.  All I can remember was there a long progression of cultists going up a circular staircase up in a tower and each one put a drop of blood on the girl's forehead.  That is the clearest thing I remember.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what the movie was.  But I have been trying.

So I spent the day searching and here are the fruits of my labors.

Spectre (1977)
First up is Robert Culp, John Hurt, and Majel Barrett in Spectre a great little tale of Asmodeus and Lilith in modern times. Culp plays a criminologist who now studies the occult.  Gig Young play Dr. Hamliton; Watson to Culp's Holmes.  He gets attack by a succubus, whom Culp manages to send back to hell. This leads to an investigations of the Cyon family in England where we get to see a young John Hurt.  Turns out the family are cultists and they are playing to sacrifice the daughter, whom the succubus had taken the form of, to Asmodeus.
We do get a scene of cultists and a woman being sacrificed.  But that is about as close as we got.
The movie comes to us from Gene "Star Trek" Roddenberry. I guess it was supposed to be a pilot movie for a new series.  It might have been fun to be honest.  The story is good and the acting fine but somehow it just doesn't come together right.  Ah well.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for.

Stranger in Our House / Summer of Fear (1978)
Our next choice is a Linda Blair starring TV movie Stranger in Our House, based on the book Summer of Fear.  A housekeeper, inhabiting the body of a suspected dead cousin (Lee Purcell) is taken in by Rachel's (Blair) family and strange things begin to happen.  How do we know Julia is a witch?  Her penchant for black flimsy dresses and her white and red eyes.
This was Linda Blair's next movie after the critically panned Exorcist II.  This one in truth is not much better, but I have soft spot in my heart for Blair.  Still we get a decent enough Wes Craven film here.  I had forgotten how much cars exploded all the time in the 70s. Actually, this is something my dad and I always watched for when we would watch these terrible movies together.   Near the end of the movie Julia's car explodes before it is even half-way down the mountain.  The whole thing has a serious Stephen J. Cannell vibe about it.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for. The fact that it premiered on Halloween night 1978 on NBC I was sure this was the movie.

Moving on.

Alison's Birthday (1981)
On paper, this sounds like it is it.  Girls playing with an Ouija board and discover that a strange fate meets Alison on her 19th birthday.  It even has an evil coven of witches.  I had high hopes for this one but a couple of things let me know right away that this was not it.  First, the movie is Australian. I am not sure about a lot of things when it comes to this vague memory but I think I would have remembered that.  Plus I am also sure this was not a made-for-TV movie.
Now there is a scene at the end with cultists, but no girl with psychic powers to speak of.

Verdict: Nope. Not the movie I was looking for. Some of the elements are right, but not enough of them.

Invitation to Hell (1984)
Let's see.  It's 1984 and I need an attractive TV actress to paly a hell-spawn.  That's right! It's All My Children's Erica Kane, aka Susan Lucci playing Jessica Jones (!!) in Wes Craven's next made for TV film, Invitation to Hell.   It starred Robert Urich (one of those actors you never heard a bad word about) and Joanna Cassidy as a couple moving into a new town. Here they join a new Country Club but discover it is actually a doorway to Hell.  Which makes it like most Country Clubs I have dealt with.

Soon Matt's (Urich) wife and son become posessed and he has to put on a space suit to get them from Hell.  You read that right.  This also features Soleil Moon Frye, aka Punk Brewster, as the daughter.

Anyway, the movie is kinda all over the place and fairly forgettable.  I'll admit to nodding off a couple of times to rewind it.  But Urich saves his family in the end.  No one was going to win any Emmys for this one though...oh sorry Susan.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for. But I also suspected it wasn't.  It's a little outside of the time frame I was thinking it should be in and this movie is solidly 80s.  Hell, it looks like it was filmed in the same suburb as Poltergeist.

While I am thanking my Roku for all these gems. I am getting blind here staring at my TV screen.  Plus these are all beginning to blur in my memory now even as I write this.

Maybe I will continue my search next week.   Maybe I can also find some good witches for a change.

I think with these four though I have some good ideas for the Cult of Asmodeus I was working on.

Watched: 15
New: 10






5 comments:

Dr. Theda said...

We love the movie (made for TV) ..."Specter" !!

Glen Dixon said...

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Talysman said...

Could it be The Initiation of Sarah (1978)?

Not certain myself... the scene with the blood on the forehead seems familiar, but I'm not sure I've ever seen The Initiation of Sarah.

knobgobbler said...

I gave The Initiation of Sarah a quick scan and there is one scene, near the end, where Shelly Winters put something blood-like on the psychic girl. It was outside, not at the top of a stairway, and only Shelly did it.

I was wondering if it might not be The Mephisto Waltz... there's no blood marking but there is this strange blue goo that is put on a little girl to make her sick and die... and it's used later in a couple places. There's a curving stairway too.

Cross Planes said...

I miss made for TV movies. :(

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