Bizarre TV: A Celebration of the Weird

 

I first discovered Bizarre TV in 2014 when I was searching channels on my newly purchased Roku 2 player. It was found among the plethora of free channels (apparently, it doesn’t take much to meet requirements to own a free channel on Roku). So, free was good, and the logo suggested that something wicked would be found on my television screen.

The channel description on their Roku profile states, Bizarre TV is a 24-hour livestream of horror films. That’s a broad category, but what I came to learn was that they showed anything under that umbrella including grindhouse, exploitation, Hammer horror films, B-films from the 50s, knock-off paint-by-number slashers, forgotten bargain basement schlock and films that most likely had really cool VHS cover art. In between streams, they’d air old commercials from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. And you always knew when the next movie was about to start thanks to the recognizable beats of the “Featured Presentation” bumper. Needless to say, I fell in love.

This was a channel with bumpers that played The Cramps and The Misfits. For a time, they’d play music videos and it was where I first heard horror punk band Cancerslug.

Bizarre TV is where I learned that “Fish Heads” was more than a tune Homer sang in a Treehouse of Horror segment.

SimpsFishHeads

It was an actual song by the songwriting group of Barnes & Barnes.

I once caught a movie late at night called Stage Fright about an escaped mental patient who kills a group of actors who happened to be locked in a theater overnight for a rehearsal. He does it while wearing an owl mask. The cinematography is gorgeous as is the staging.

Stage Fright GIF

It’s shot like a nightmare; haunting and beautiful.

Stage Fright 01

Did you know that Roberts Blossom, the sweet old man with the shovel from Home Alone played an Ed Gein proxy in the 1974 film Deranged? Well you do now.

deranged 01

This film was released months before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so that makes two movies with characters inspired by Ed Gein that came out in 1974.

It’s not all grim, though. I also got to see a kooky little horror comedy called The Undertaker and His Pals.

undertaker_and_pals_2

The plot centers around three guys who run a little diner and have a square arrangement with a local mortician: They provide bodies for his business, and in exchange, they get the bodies afterwards to use as meat for their specials. Did I mention that the trio drive around on motorcycles while they hunt down their prey?

It’s a fun film as evidenced by this end credits with a catchy song. The full movie is also YouTube for free. I do recommend.

It’s not all about eating people.

Sometimes, it’s about eating people out to steal their life force.

Oh, don’t give me that look. That’s pretty much the catch of The Female Vampire, I film I kept happening across but never knew the name of because all of my Google search keywords kept returning porno. And the film is practically a porno disguised as a horror film as it concerns a vampire, a female vampire no less, who seduces her victims and delivers killer blowjobs, sucking the life out of them.

Female Vampire 01

The most egregious scene is when a blind investigator, hot on the trail of the titular character, waltzes into the medical examiner’s office where the latest victim is splayed out. He then jams his fingers into the dead woman’s vagina, feels around and discovers bite marks. AH-HA! Twas a vampire!

And I know you’re wondering, yes, I do own this on DVD now. Sometimes I prefer just knowing I have it in my collection as a conversation piece and not something I’m going to watch as a study.

Speaking of study, there is a film that I do own as well that would make for an interesting study of the constant shift in social norms and how society at large responds to them. It’s called House of Whipcord.

Whipcord

House of Whipcord is an exploitation film about a young woman who lives a “wild” party life and comes to find herself in a London dungeon where punishment is doled out to naughty women who are a tad too liberal in their pursuit of the pleasures of the secular flesh. And yes, I own this one as well.

It is an unfortunate theme in most exploitation films to feature the, well, exploitation of women. We often find them in demeaning situations, all in effort to produce what was essentially pornography and pass it off as some sort of art.

Of course, sometimes the women aren’t being objectified and are instead using their sexuality as means for revenge, such as in Trauma, also known as Expose, also known as The House on Straw Hill, also known as the film in Udo Kier’s lines were dubbed.

Trauma

The film revolves around Udo Kier as a writer who retreats to a country cottage to finish a book and hires a secretary to help him edit his notes. Except the secretary turns out to be the widow of a colleague of Kier’s from long ago. Seems that Kier had stolen the dead man’s final unpublished manuscript and passed it off as his own. The widow does everything in her power to seduce and gaslight Kier to the point of insanity, all the while she seduces and does away with anyone she encounters, including Kier’s wife and two farm boys who happen upon her in a field masturbating.

Fun fact: This film was listed as a Video Nasty in the UK.

You know what other Video Nasty I had seen on Bizarre TV? Nightmares In A Damaged Brain, a poor excuse of a slasher film that is heavy on the slasher but light on giving two shits about a coherent plot.

Nightmares 02

Did you ever wonder “What if Scorsese directed Halloween with special effects by Tom Savini?” Well, this film isn’t even fucking close but it wants you to think that the entire time. The story follows a man named George, who has been institutionalized and suffers from delusions regarding an “imagined” murder that the doctors are convinced never happened.

Nightmares 01
Yeah, those doctors are fucking stupid.

They place him on experimental meds, deem the therapy a success and release him to the wild night life of 1980s NYC, where he suffers seizures in peep shows and then decides he must kill again. Also, he apparently has family in Florida and goes on a road trip to reunite with them and possibly kill them.

Remember that Tom Savini quip I made? Well, the director got in hot water with him for saying that Savini provided all special effects for the film when all he really did was show up one day and say “You should use more blood, do I get paid?” and went home.

But not to undercut how graphic this film is, there’s definitely a lot of blood, gore, and senseless kills. It earned that Video Nasty label.

Speaking of Video Nasty…

The first time I ever saw an episode of The Young Ones was on Bizarre TV. The Young Ones is a British sitcom from the 80s about four college mates who live in a house cause a lot of chaos, and each episode features a musical guest. This particular episode featured The Damned playing their song “Nasty” which is about Video Nasties, and the plot of this episode concerned the four mates obtaining and attempting to watch a Video Nasty.

So while there was plenty of gore, there was also room for the more lighthearted fare, a bit of camp or at least goofier concepts. Like the film Basket Case, which wanted you to keep asking “What’s in the basket?”

Other late nights, I’d be lucky to catch some more trippier films, none that I can exactly recall the names of, but they were experimental in nature, psychedelic, and featured plenty of nudity. What else is new?

Of course, sometimes you could see more tasteful nudity, such as the Strip-O-Rama films featuring pin-up superstar, Bettie Page.

Bettie Page

Currently, Bizarre TV is active but off-air. This has been the norm as it switched between free to paid (one time payment), then back to free while accepting donations to continue operations and obtain rights to films (aside from old forgotten films, they have played classic films such as Halloween as well as newer horror like It Follows). The channel is run by one person. If you have the time to run through the Bizarre TV Facebook page, their struggles (both health, financial, and technical) are documented.

I have no idea when it will return to air. It has been months since I last tuned in as I’ve gotten my weird horror fill elsewhere, scouring Amazon, Netflix, and Half Price Books to cure my fix.