One of my all time favorite songs is “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale. Most people will know the song from the movie Slap Shot but I remember listening to it on my tranistor radio during 1976, so every time I hear it on the radio today it reminds me of that year. The song is peppy with a Motownish sound and the strings are killer.
During my childhood, one activity we could afford on a regular basis was going to the movies. On March 13th, Disney comes out with “Race to Witch Mountain (2009)”, which is a retelling of “Escape from Witch Mountain (1975)”. “Escape” was and still is one of my favorite films from the 1970’s.
In Findlay we had the Jerry Lewis Theater (later called Twin Palace), Cinema World, and during the summers we had two drive-ins – the Millstream and the Findlay Drive-In (I think that was the name. It was located across from where the present Liberty Benton High School is now). When I was even younger we had the old State Theater downtown where I saw “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)”.
“Escape from Witch Mountain” starts out with the haunting theme music and the superimposed images of the twins Tony and Tia running from dogs and it doesn’t let up. Donald Pleasence was one of the bad guys. The special effects look dated today but for little kids before Star Wars came out they were wild.
Tia was played by Kim Richards and I still have a crush on her to this day. Kim was the smart girl next door who had a decent career before she decided to leave acting to raise a family. She recently returned and one big role was playing Christina Ricci’s mom in Black Snake Moan (2006). Kim has a cameo in the new Witch Mountain film. She has been compared to another Disney product – Lindsay Lohan (in a good talent way). Little known fact is Kim is Paris Hilton’s aunt.
Tony was played by Ike Eisenmann. Like Kim, Ike showed up in all kinds of movies and TV shows in the 1970’s. He moved into voice acting for animated films. He also has a cameo in the new film.
Disney started remaking their old live action films. “Herbie the Love Bug” was fun if a bit off and reading the press on the new Witch Mountain film had me worried. I’ve seen the trailer and seeing they aren’t just redoing the old film makes me feel better. I also learned that the source book by Alexander Key was much darker and more hard core sci-fi which also helps. The original was pretty sugary since it was Disney and the director of the current movie said Disney had no problem with a darker retelling.
If [Director Andy] Fickman has his way, the film will be accessible, but bold. “We want this to be a movie that anybody can go and see and have a great time,” he says. “But I wanted to feel edgy, too. It’s dark and creepy. I went back and read the original Alexander Key book, Escape to Witch Mountain, and it’s a very heavy sci-fi novel. It’s all about questioning authority, hiding in plain sight, and you don’t know who to trust. I loved it. I respect what they did in ’75 at Disney — they had a coat rack attacking people — here we just wanted to make it more intense.”
When asked for a film that he’d compare Witch Mountain’s tone to, he surprised us with the 1982 Eddie Murphy flick 48 Hrs. “The humor in 48 Hrs. came from a very natural place, but the movie itself was a very dark in tone adventure. And that’s sort of where we land. It’s also very inspired by ’70s action movies. The camera angles, the zooms — the way the action was shot.”
But my heart will still be with the 1975 version. Here is a clip of the first 6 minutes of the film:
In an earlier post on the history of MTV I mentioned that the idea evolved from a successful music video program on the Qube network in the late 70’s.
Qube was the first try at interactive television and debuted in Columbus in 1977. It was a demonstration project from Warner Cable (now Time-Warner Cable).
The subscriber used a large remote box that plugged into their set-top cable box and allowed them to pick from the 30 channels available and it included 5 buttons for the interactive part. Programs on Qube could ask poll questions and users would pick their answer and the results would be collected then displayed during the program.
Qube had a live local component that originated from a studio in Columbus. I remember that local TV personality Flippo the Clown had a show on Qube. When Qube was installed in other cities (like Dallas and Cincinnati) there were shows that were shown nationally like Sight and Sound (the prototype of MTV) and Pinwheel, a children’s program that evolved into the Nickelodeon channel.
For a more geeky version of the history of Qube check out the following link: