Showing for one weekend only!
July 16, 2007 6:00 PM   Subscribe

If you watched a lot of television in the 70's, you'll recognize this ad. An authoritative baritone informs us of a startling new motion picture about psychic phenomena, the Bermuda Triangle, near death experiences (with fittingly, a sequel), Bigfoot, the Shroud of Turin, the Lincoln Assassination, or Noah's Ark. "Showing for one weekend only!" (More beyond the door...)
posted by McLir (25 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Sunn Classic Pictures from Utah has gone by many names. In fiction, they brought us "Grizzly Adams." In additional fiction, they brought us the most irresponsible pseudo-documentaries of the 70's. In the early 90's, they partnered with CBS for retreads of Biblical literalism. Then Sun got busted by a prank.

To their credit, Sunn's innovative market research (“which of the following movies would you see based on the title alone?” ) quickly became standard in Hollywood. They cut out the middle-man by "four-walling." And their narrators included the talents of Brad, Crandall, Peter Graves, Darren McGavin, Dennis Weaver and Raymond Burr. Sadly, their early examples of pseudoscientific hokum are very difficult to find on the Internet or any other medium. (Can anyone post more 70's Sunn ads on YouTube? "In Search Of..." can be found online, but it's just not the same.)

Recently, TriStar founder Lang Elliott invested $2B in Sunn Classic Pictures. Coming soon, Tim Conway will reprise his famous role in the new film, "Dorf U.S.M.C." and Sunn is developing their own Studio/Theme Park.
posted by McLir at 6:10 PM on July 16, 2007

AIP was actually doing this this stuff (especially the market research bit) long before Sunn Classic.

posted by dhammond at 6:14 PM on July 16, 2007

Apparently no documentaries are in the works. So Sunn's past cult status as the bane of Roger Ebert, skeptics, and even any potential interviewee (well worth a read) may be over. But the Jammal Ark Hoax will endure in legend. It does have the distinct advantage of being true.
posted by McLir at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2007

Done yet?
posted by dhammond at 6:19 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yup. (First post for me so I'm getting used to the interface.) Have at it.
posted by McLir at 6:28 PM on July 16, 2007

Wasn't Spock the host of In Search Of...? Or am I thinking of some other pseudo-scientific nonsense?
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on July 16, 2007

I remember this shit running at the drive-in. Oh god, I'm so oooold.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:49 PM on July 16, 2007

I seem to remember these Sunn Classic movies were released with a companion book that my mom would buy for me at our local Alpha Beta. I had the Lincoln one.
posted by Tim McDonough at 6:49 PM on July 16, 2007

Or maybe I don't. Might have dreamed it.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:50 PM on July 16, 2007

My Dad took me to see the Bermuda Triangle movie in the theater. The only part that sticks with me is a shot of ufo's zipping by underwater.

And yes, Nimoy was the host of In Search Of... Now that was some classic stuff.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:55 PM on July 16, 2007

From the IMDB entry about Noah's Ark:
User Rating: 7.8/10 (6 votes)

This documentary on Noah's Ark was fascinating. It took you through the story and explained why the Biblical account of Noah is accurate. It explained the three sources the flood waters came from, where the Ark is today, how Noah and his family were able to take care of all those animals for such a long period of time, and other lingering questions. I watched this program repeatedly until a friend accidentally taped over it.

One of the men interviewed on the program who said he had actually been to the Ark showed a small piece of wood that he said came from the Ark. If my memory is correct, he was later proved to be a fraud, but overall this program was excellent. I would love to have it on tape or DVD!

In light of the last link, this is bemusing.
posted by absalom at 6:58 PM on July 16, 2007

I remember watching ISO as a kid just because Spock was on it. I was all "OK....when is the punchline coming? When do we get the rational response to what is clearly just a dot of light in the sky?"

It never came. I guess he used up all his logic on Star Trek.
posted by DU at 7:00 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Threw a bit more of the original post inside. Carry on!
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:10 PM on July 16, 2007

You mean people actually paid to watch those? I got to watch those movies for free. Every Sunday, after a light appetizer of The Little Rascals and The Three Stooges, I'd turn to Channel Five for the day's entrée, a couple hours of high-octane edutainment. Moses and Noah and UFOs and the Bermuda Triangle, all mashed together in a sugar-cerial-fueld slurry of a young child's imagination.
posted by lekvar at 7:11 PM on July 16, 2007

I have fond (if somewhat fuzzy) memories of ISO, but then again I liked Chariots of the Gods when I was a kid too.

And that last link really is interesting...I always figured they made the opposition expert the patsy through editing, not by actually scripting them into it.

That's a whole lotta IMDB, McLir. Nice first post though.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:12 PM on July 16, 2007

dhammond, I didn't know AIP did that too. cortex, thanks for the edit (duly noted). lekvar, I have the same kind of memories and I was so ready to believe it all too. JaredSeth, I wish I could have posted video clips but they just don't exist. The imdb comments are fun, re: absalom's post and other less credulous responses.

Does anyone recall "Strange Universe" in the 90's? It was the daily (!) news magazine of the paranormal. Dependable comedy. (A friend and I tried to concoct a hoax for the show but it became prohibitively elaborate.)
posted by McLir at 7:27 PM on July 16, 2007

Great post. I used to believe all that stuff. I don't recall that ad in your first link, but I remember seeing the Noah's Ark and the Bermuda Triangle ones and buying some paperbacks based on those too. Fun stuff.
posted by marxchivist at 7:50 PM on July 16, 2007

Confessionfilter: Chariots of the Gods? was one of the major catalyzing influences toward my coming out as an atheist. I think I bought into it for about a month. Then I started reading comparative mythology and it was all over. von Daniken was like a gateway drug to stronger, better stuff.
posted by lodurr at 7:55 PM on July 16, 2007

Wow. I'm gobsmacked by what we have to look forward to from Sunn ... is any of it actually meant to make money, or is it all just a vehicle for tax jiggery-pokery?

Honestly, even their photoshopped merch pages show a lack of damn-giving, and if there's a special child on your Christmas list whom you think deserving of a schoolyard beatdown, I can think of no better gift than this fine jacket.
posted by mumkin at 7:56 PM on July 16, 2007

I grew up with this stuff in the late 70s and 80s. Ancient alien astronauts, music with the power to conjure Satan. Stories of playing Stairway to heaven and pink floyd albums backwards. "Occult" sections of bookstores featuring only one copy of the fabled Necronomicon, and no internet to fact-check any of it.

Suburban America was truly a demon-haunted world.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:26 PM on July 16, 2007

Jesus Haploid Christ, you folks are cracking me up! Thanks for the compliments and GREAT responses.
posted by McLir at 8:47 PM on July 16, 2007

I'm speechless...
posted by gc at 9:22 PM on July 16, 2007

Wow. I didn't realize Garth Marenghi is a producer of Pinocchio in the Hood. I'm sure it can't compare to Leprechaun in the Hood, but then it isn't that kind of movie. But it does look promising.

I'm looking forward to "Is It Them?" which I am assuming is either giant wasps from Holland or biblical angels on a roaring rampage of revenge against unbelievers.
posted by infowar at 5:26 AM on July 17, 2007

Suburban America was truly a demon-haunted world.

Is the Internet-enabled present really any different? It's just a bigger world; sure there's more space to lose the demons in, but there are a lot more demons, too. And a lot more room for fact jiggery-pokery. (I think that's my new favorite phrase for the day...)
posted by lodurr at 6:26 AM on July 17, 2007

Does anyone remember another 70s paranormal show whose intro featured an animation of a primitive wheel becoming a wagon wheel, then perhaps a car wheel, and finally a ufo? That show scared my 4 year old mind. Didn't help much when I asked my mom, "Are UFOs real?" and she said "Yes, but they won't hurt you." !
posted by pantufla at 7:44 AM on July 18, 2007

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