Ian Berriman wants the BBC to resurrect a muchloved cult movie slot
there’s still a place for the act of curating
Bring back Moviedrome! If you love exploring the obscure backwaters of cinema and are of a certain age, your heart probably just leapt in your chest. But for the benefit of younglings, I’d better explain.
Moviedrome was a slot which ran on BBC Two from 1988- 2000. The format was simple, with a cult movie ( not always a genre flick – though many were) or a themed double bill preceded by a short introduction. In the slot’s first incarnation ( 1988 to 1994), these were provided by filmmaker Alex Cox. Later on ( 1997- 2000), critic Mark Cousins took the baton.
I also hold David Pirie’s 1973 book A Heritage Of Horror, Michael Weldon’s Psychotronic Encyclopedia Of Film and Jonathan Ross’s TV series The Incredibly Strange Film Show responsible for my enduring passion for cult cinema, but it was Moviedrome that actually gave me the chance to watch these movies rather than simply have them described to me. It was there I first witnessed Edward Woodward’s fiery death in The Wicker Man, Grant Williams battling a spider in The Incredible Shrinking Man, and Ray Milland blinding himself in X: The Man With X- Ray Eyes.
Of course, the cinematic landscape has transformed in the last 15 years. Cult films have never been easier to access, thanks to DVDs, downloads and specialist channels. But in the face of all that data, it’s easy to be swamped. There’s still something to be said for the act of curating; still a place for a knowledgeable guide who can place a film into context, and provoke you to think about it in a different way. That’s what made Alex Cox’s tenure as host particularly satisfying. He always had a stimulatingly skewed perspective – even when he was dissing the movies! Decades later I still treasure battered photocopies of the booklets the BBC produced to accompany the series ( and see http:// bit. ly/ moviedrome).
I’d love to see him take the gig on again, ideally on a channel with the reach of BBC Two. But failing that, maybe a slot on BBC Four, with someone like Mark Gatiss at the helm? If you’re out there, Channel Editor Cassian Harrison, how about it?
How many of the 20 had you seen?
Ray Milland’s clearly missing Moviedrome too.