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Richard R.
09-17-2010, 02:40 AM
I was waxing nostalgic with an old friend the other day about watching movies on RCA SelectaVision CED as a kid in the very early 80's. CED, of course, was bizarro world retro-tech that, in the words of Roger Ebert, was "Obsolete before it was even released", and it had a very short life compaired to other video formats... however, in our (red) neck of the woods, it was the THE video format for awhile, albeit a very brief while. As kids we didn't care, to us it was magical just to watch a movie on TV.

Anyway, what's the most obscure, short-lived, or just plain strange format that you have ever watched a movie on? DIVX disc? Big-ass "U-Matic" broadcasting videotape (A couple of times I have seen this listed next to VHS and Beta as a format option in VERY early ads for porno tapes in the back of old men's magazines)? Those "Disposable DVDs" that would start to rot a short while after the airtight packaging was opened? You do not need to limit this to home video... weird movie projection set-ups or systems are cool as well.

Jens Thomsen
09-17-2010, 07:09 AM
I watched a few films on 8mm back in the late 1970's. My cousin had several 8mm projectors, the first one without sound capability and later one with a loudspeaker, and he would rent films at the local photoshop. I remember watching Disneys '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' with him one christmas. It was barely comprehensible being cut down to around 20 minutes.

Benjamin C
09-17-2010, 08:53 AM
Probably 8mm for me as well. My brother had an 8mm projector with sound and i can still remember watching Hammer´s "Horror of Dracula" and Romero´s "Dawn Of The Dead" and ton of other stuff when i was little kid. My brother still has most of 8mm films and even a projector. We still whip them out sometimes for fun on a rainy sunday.:)

Robin Bougie
09-17-2010, 09:20 AM
How about this: Some animated films that I first experienced on what might be the most obscure format EVER: the Fisher Price movie viewer!
Cinderella
Dumbo
The Rescuers
http://dev.retroland.com/files/retropedia/images_390x191/FisherPrice_Movie_Viewer_2586_390x191.jpg

Believe it or not, but I also saw ALIEN (1979) on this format (I still own the cartridge and special viewer)
http://pics.livejournal.com/mrdankelly/pic/000rayk3

... and apparently they also released THE BLACK HOLE (1979) on it as well:
http://www.toysyouhad.com/blackholeviewer.jpg

mark t
09-17-2010, 09:36 AM
Robin, thanks for bringing back some awesome childhood memories. :) Used to love those things, i remember watching Heckyl and Jeckyl cartoons on them as well.

I watched FRATERNITY VACATION on CED back...I dunno, back awhile ago. :) Also, a friend of mine just got one of those video disc players and a whack o' movies when his grandmother passed.

Keith B.
09-17-2010, 11:13 AM
I viewed some porno loops on 8mm in 1987-88. Can't remember what the titles were, just that they were in the collection of a friend's dad.

The same guy had a fair amount of Traci Lord's underage videos, but I never got the chance to check them out.

Jordan D
09-17-2010, 12:04 PM
Believe it or not, but I also saw ALIEN (1979) on this format (I still own the cartridge and special viewer)
http://pics.livejournal.com/mrdankelly/pic/000rayk3



Wow...does that say ages 5+

thats so awesome!!! you could never get away with that today.

Matt Kiesner
09-17-2010, 12:38 PM
How about this: Some animated films that I first experienced on what might be the most obscure format EVER: the Fisher Price movie viewer!
Cinderella
Dumbo
The Rescuers


Bougie, is this similar to the General Electric's Show'n'tell?
http://www.timewarptoys.com/shown.jpg
It's a record with an automated filmstrip. I have a few record/film strip packages. The weirdest ones I have are two Mr. T adventures that are probably some of the last Show'N'Tell stories ever made. The covers have a sticker from a dot-matrix, covering up the original "Fairy Tale" package. Perhaps the weirdest part is that they only use a narrator and feature NO Mr. T audio. Not even a Mr. T impersonation. What a let down!

Troy Howarth
09-17-2010, 12:51 PM
I wish I could describe it, but back in the 80s there was a little machine for kids which could run little condensed versions of movies - no sound and probably only running about 5-10 minutes. Anyway, I had Son of Frankenstein on that format. :)

Kieran M
09-17-2010, 12:59 PM
Oh shit Robin... I used to look at that ALIEN movie-viewer in the toystore circa 1980 and wanted it SOOOOO badly...

Steve R
09-17-2010, 02:39 PM
There was a series of flip books that were sold like bubble gum cards.
A few to a pack. The size of half a cigarette pack.
You flipped the pages and got to see animated scenes. They
had a lot of the classic Universal monsters .

Frankenstein's monster coming out of the bushes
Mummy reaching for you with the hand
The Creature jumping out of the water onto the boat
Chaney turning into the Wolfman.

Wayne Schmidt
09-17-2010, 03:02 PM
Probably 8mm for me as well. My brother had an 8mm projector with sound and i can still remember watching Hammer´s "Horror of Dracula" and Romero´s "Dawn Of The Dead" and ton of other stuff when i was little kid. My brother still has most of 8mm films and even a projector. We still whip them out sometimes for fun on a rainy sunday.:)Did that version of Horror of Dracula come with a soundtrack record?

I remember the American Super 8 digest had a flexidisc 33 1/3 rpm that you could sync up (!) to the projector by running it to a certain frame, stopping and waiting for a audio tone on the record playback to start the projector again.

Yeah, that worked real good. :D

John M. Bernhard
09-17-2010, 03:07 PM
I used to have a 2 part HORROR OF DRACULA Super 8 that came with a plastic lp disc.
It had a beep on it and you sync the film at a certain spot to the beep and then watch the film with it's audio coming from your record player. The sync wouldld aways drift but it was the mid 70's and seeing HORROR OF DRACULA was near impossible where I lived ( it aired only once in Boston that I was aware of in the mid 70's).
I also used to buy cassettes from the back of a mag from some guy who recorded the audio from movies run on TV ( had a HORROR OF DRACULA complete audio track committed to memory before I ever saw the film in any form).
I also had a nice collection of the Castle and Ken 8mm horrors and used to run them at parties in college in the late 70's...but that HORROR OF DRACULA was my fave.

Toomas Losin
09-17-2010, 03:09 PM
Back in the late 70's my elementary school got a machine that could record and play video. Blew me away since I'd only had experience with an audio cassette recorder. This could do video, it was so cool! In class we were shown movies that had been recorded from local TV, effectively time-shifted. I remember Ben-Hur was one, in three parts. It's a favourite so I watched each part on TV when it was broadcast and then saw it again the next day repeated from tape in school.

Years later I was wondering what model it had been and just recently found a photo identifying it as one of the Sony VO-2600 series. I had always thought it was Beta but, no, it was U-matic.

I've never personally played with a weird format, and that makes me feel like I've missed out on some fun.

Richard R.
09-17-2010, 03:43 PM
Believe it or not, but I also saw ALIEN (1979) on this format (I still own the cartridge and special viewer)
http://pics.livejournal.com/mrdankelly/pic/000rayk3



This is awesome beyond words. I assume this was a heavily censored and condensed version? How long was it?

I love the little cartoon ALIEN symbol with the Alien in the little orange pod. His "Expression" seems to be saying "Hey kids! Ain't I just the cutest 'lil biomechanical Lovecraftian rape symbol ever? "

Wayne Schmidt
09-17-2010, 03:47 PM
I used to have a 2 part HORROR OF DRACULA Super 8 that came with a plastic lp disc.
It had a beep on it and you sync the film at a certain spot to the beep and then watch the film with it's audio coming from your record player. The sync wouldld aways drift but it was the mid 70's and seeing HORROR OF DRACULA was near impossible where I lived ( it aired only once in Boston that I was aware of in the mid 70's).
I also used to buy cassettes from the back of a mag from some guy who recorded the audio from movies run on TV ( had a HORROR OF DRACULA complete audio track committed to memory before I ever saw the film in any form).
I also had a nice collection of the Castle and Ken 8mm horrors and used to run them at parties in college in the late 70's...but that HORROR OF DRACULA was my fave.Are we cross posting or do you have me on ignore? :D

Dan Erdman
09-17-2010, 03:50 PM
Back in the pre-VHS days, I'd "preserve" TV showings of movies I was particularly fond of by pushing an audio cassette recorder up against the speaker and taping the soundtrack. My parents had HBO and Cinemax at the time and I had a late-70s/early-80s kid's taste in movies, so I was able to make "copies" of STAR WARS, RAIDERS, the Mike Hodges FLASH GORDON, BEASTMASTER (it's been suggested that HBO really stood for "Hey, BEASTMASTER's on!") and the like. Sure, my little system wasn't perfect - film being a visual medium and all - but dialogue, sound effects and music can be a pretty powerful stimulus to the imagination, and I'd think nothing of telling my friends on the playground, after having spent the previous night huddled under the covers with the tape recorder pressed up against my ear, that I'd "watched" STAR WARS again last night. My only regret is that I wasn't old enough to stay up past 9PM at the time and so wasn't able to do this with EMANNUELLE or other Cinemax After Dark offerings.

Did anyone else used to do this?

RichardDoyle
09-17-2010, 05:36 PM
How about this: Some animated films that I first experienced on what might be the most obscure format EVER: the Fisher Price movie viewer!
Cinderella
Dumbo
The Rescuers
http://dev.retroland.com/files/retropedia/images_390x191/FisherPrice_Movie_Viewer_2586_390x191.jpg

Believe it or not, but I also saw ALIEN (1979) on this format (I still own the cartridge and special viewer)
http://pics.livejournal.com/mrdankelly/pic/000rayk3

... and apparently they also released THE BLACK HOLE (1979) on it as well:
http://www.toysyouhad.com/blackholeviewer.jpg

I had this too ... and I had Dumbo. I also had some Mickey Mouse cartoons.

RichardDoyle
09-17-2010, 05:42 PM
Back in the pre-VHS days, I'd "preserve" TV showings of movies I was particularly fond of by pushing an audio cassette recorder up against the speaker and taping the soundtrack. My parents had HBO and Cinemax at the time and I had a late-70s/early-80s kid's taste in movies, so I was able to make "copies" of STAR WARS, RAIDERS, the Mike Hodges FLASH GORDON, BEASTMASTER (it's been suggested that HBO really stood for "Hey, BEASTMASTER's on!") and the like. Sure, my little system wasn't perfect - film being a visual medium and all - but dialogue, sound effects and music can be a pretty powerful stimulus to the imagination, and I'd think nothing of telling my friends on the playground, after having spent the previous night huddled under the covers with the tape recorder pressed up against my ear, that I'd "watched" STAR WARS again last night. My only regret is that I wasn't old enough to stay up past 9PM at the time and so wasn't able to do this with EMANNUELLE or other Cinemax After Dark offerings.

Did anyone else used to do this?

I used to have the audio from my VCR piped through my stereo amplifier, so I could record the audio on cassette tapes if I wanted. I used to stick some of these recordings in the middle of mix tapes I gave to friends.

When I was a kid, I had the "Star Wars" LP that had a greatly condensed version of the soundtrack. I recently bought a used copy of the record, so I own it again.

D.Wilt
09-17-2010, 11:41 PM
I can top the "cassette recorder recording audio" story--I used to record audio of horror movies from TV on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and not one of the large ones, but ones with tape reels about 2 inches in diameter. The microphone was circular and had a clip on the back (I suppose to clip on your lapel?).

I'd be willing to bet I still have some of those reels, somewhere...probably in the same box with my 8mm and Super 8mm Castle films.

I also remember watching U-matic versions of films, in school and uni settings.

Oh, and I've watched 35mm prints on a flatbed Steenbeck editing machine. Not to edit, just to watch (that's what the Library of Congress used to have for scholars who came there to view films--they would bring out a stack of film cans, show you how to thread the machine, and walk off!).

For that matter, I had a little home-movie editing machine with about a 4-inch screen that I'd watch 8mm and Super 8mm films on. You had to crank a lever to watch the movie, but you had more control than you did with a regular projector and you could freeze-frame, go backwards, slow-mo, etc.

Dan Erdman
09-18-2010, 01:39 AM
Nice -- I might have access to a Steenbeck in a few weeks; I've always wanted to play around on one.

The only interesting film tidbit I have to add is the fact that my 16mm print of WEEKEND - which, as you'll recall, bills itself as "a film found in a trash bin" - was actually found, by me, in a Dumpster.

Andrew Ellis
09-18-2010, 03:35 AM
I did the audio-recording thing too. And I once MADE a feature-length movie with Super-8 film (and some 16mm). However, I can't say I've ever WATCHED anything but a home movie on Super 8 (even that film we made we transferred to video for editing).

This really isn't all that obscure, but when I lived in the backwaters of Turkey, if you wanted to watch the newest theatrical movie releases, you could wait months for them to come to the rustic local theaters or you could buy VCD bootlegs which would skip, freeze-up, etc, and usually had to be put on more than one disc (or so I've heard--I, of course, wouldn't have dreamed of violating American copyright laws by watching one). Even among bootleggers that technology is now outdated. And it came and went so fast I don't know that anyone even has nostalgic memories about it like I do (I mean, like I would have if I had watched any of them, which of course I didn't. . .).

Ian Miller
09-18-2010, 07:47 AM
I also did the audio taping thing, starting with BENNY HILL and SCTV episodes, but found later that recording with nearly-dead batteries causes playback on normal equipment to be a little speedy!

Later had a cable hook-up through the stereo and taped lots of MONKEES episodes, without the speedup.

Robin Bougie
09-18-2010, 08:03 AM
This is awesome beyond words. I assume this was a heavily censored and condensed version? How long was it?

I love the little cartoon ALIEN symbol with the Alien in the little orange pod. His "Expression" seems to be saying "Hey kids! Ain't I just the cutest 'lil biomechanical Lovecraftian rape symbol ever? "

I just watched mine and timed it. It is just a few seconds short of 3 minutes long. So yeah, you could certainly say it is a condensed version. ^_^ It's more like watching the trailer for the movie.

It is actually quite scary though. This has to be one of the most inappropriate toys made for kids from that era.

paul h.
09-18-2010, 10:48 PM
Nice -- I might have access to a Steenbeck in a few weeks; I've always wanted to play around on one.

The only interesting film tidbit I have to add is the fact that my 16mm print of WEEKEND - which, as you'll recall, bills itself as "a film found in a trash bin" - was actually found, by me, in a Dumpster.

I had a 16mm print of HIGH ANXIETY, but I was missing 1/3 of it (the middle). And a load of really boring Traffic Safety films. I also had a few episodes BATMAN on 16mm.

Daniel M
09-18-2010, 10:55 PM
Not only did I do the audiotape thing, but I remember setting up my Super 8 camera AND my cassette recorder in front of the TV so I could film/tape ELO on the Midnight Special in the mid-70s.

Man, did I have fun trying to manually sync the soundtrack to the image when I ran the footage through the projector....

John K
09-18-2010, 11:21 PM
I guess U-Matic - I had to show it for a class screening once in college. Thankfully only once, because after I got the tape out, the machine never worked again!

I just got a betamax, which is exciting. Not obscure when they were released, but at this point, it definitely feels quite wacky to be watching things on it.

I've viewed parts of movies on a Steenbeck 16mm bed, too. Then I chopped them up for an art project (it was a warped old print of IMITATION OF LIFE)

Andrew Ellis
09-19-2010, 04:17 PM
Not only did I do the audiotape thing, but I remember setting up my Super 8 camera AND my cassette recorder in front of the TV so I could film/tape ELO on the Midnight Special in the mid-70s.

Man, did I have fun trying to manually sync the soundtrack to the image when I ran the footage through the projector....

That's a cool idea. Besides the sync problems, you probably had TV scan lines too though. And if it was something long you'd have to change film reels a lot (or have two different cameras) because I've never known a Super 8 reel to be longer than ten minutes.

I'd actually like to try this, even though it would be completely pointless today. But if I could somehow communicate with my 1970's self. . .

Daniel M
09-20-2010, 12:32 AM
^ The good news is the reels clocked in at about 3:30 running time per reel, so the performances of "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic" each clocked in at just under one reel.

The bad news included both the scan lines and the sync issues. By the time I was working with Super 8 Sound, my family had purchased our first gigantic, top-loading VCR, so, for better or worse, problem solved.

Will B
09-20-2010, 07:33 PM
Back in my Navy days (late '80s/early '90s) I briefly considered purchasing portable video cassette player I had seen in a magazine ad. I can't remember if it played standard VHS or a more compact tape or really any other details. I do remember the design being roughly similar to modern portable DVD players (obviously much bulkier).

I'm really curious if anyone here can provide any more info this thing. At the time it seemed like a really cool thing to bring along on long deployments but it was just too expensive and space was a big issue too.

RichardDoyle
09-21-2010, 05:18 PM
I just watched mine and timed it. It is just a few seconds short of 3 minutes long. So yeah, you could certainly say it is a condensed version. ^_^ It's more like watching the trailer for the movie.

It is actually quite scary though. This has to be one of the most inappropriate toys made for kids from that era.

Is it mostly Brett and Parker complaining about the bonus situation?

Jim R.
09-24-2010, 08:59 PM
I had one of those toys where you hand cranked a cartridge like the ALIEN one, but I had a View Master version, and I watched Disney cartoons. I also had a flashlight-like device were you pushed a button to see the next image like a slideshow. I had a SPIDER-MAN slideshow. Speaking of View Masters, do they count? They're not like really watching a movie, but they're slideshow movies.

I also used to use a tape recorder to record audio from my favorite music videos.

But here's a story about watching movies on an old format that I always enjoy telling. I wrote it for my introduction for a children's writing course I took.

"Pulling The Rug From Under A School" By James Reed

The biggest prank I ever pulled was when I was in the fourth grade. I don't remember much about that year of my life, and I don't know if this was the best year I spent in elementary school. All I remember is the pre-Christmas "treat" that I was responsible for.
I went to East Elementary School. Rose Baublitz was the principal as well as the fourth grade teacher. She was very pretty, and young, having short blonde hair, blue eyes behind round-lensed glasses, and a thin figure underneath the tight green sweaters she preferred to wear. A lot of the boys at East thought she was the prettiest teacher at our school.
Mrs. Baublitz had the responsibility to select a movie for the entire school to watch on the last day of school before Christmas vacation. Being in the principal's class had its advantages, such as when she asked her class what movie we'd like to see for our Christmas treat. This was 1980, after all, so she had to order an actual print of the movie to be put on a projector and displayed on a screen located in the gym / lunchroom / auditorium (hey, it was a small school). Mrs. Baublitz read off a list of G rated movies which we were to vote on. I suggested the movie SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER, which I recently had seen on HBO at a friend's house. Over the next few days we re-voted, and I somehow managed to convince enough people to vote for this movie.
Soon came the cold December day that the whole school gathered in the gym for a great movie - and I came for a great joke. The PM kindergarten kids were there, as were grades one through six, all the teachers, the secretary and the school nurse. There were twenty-odd children in each class, so there had to be 150 or more people present. The fantastic fantasy with special effects by Ray Harryhausen had begun.
Everything proceeded normally for a while, as I expected. Then came the moment in the movie where a troglodyte disrupts the sunbathing heroines played by Jane Seymour and Taryn Power. Both women are seen topless for a few fleeting moments - which caused an uproar! The teachers got up and waved their hands in front of the screen until Mrs. Baublitz stood in front of the projector - all for a scene that lasts five seconds. Some of the kids were laughing, as was I. Not everyone found this amusing, though. As unbelievable as it seemed, a G rated movie actually contained topless female nudity. And I had pulled the rug from under the feet of 150 or more people! Not bad for a fourth grader, huh?
I later told Mrs. Baublitz that I had seen the movie on commercial TV and the network did not show the nudity of course. I must've said it with a straight face because I think she believed me!

Marshall Crist
09-24-2010, 09:41 PM
How about this: Some animated films that I first experienced on what might be the most obscure format EVER: the Fisher Price movie viewer!
Cinderella
Dumbo
The Rescuers
http://dev.retroland.com/files/retropedia/images_390x191/FisherPrice_Movie_Viewer_2586_390x191.jpg

Believe it or not, but I also saw ALIEN (1979) on this format (I still own the cartridge and special viewer)
http://pics.livejournal.com/mrdankelly/pic/000rayk3

... and apparently they also released THE BLACK HOLE (1979) on it as well:
http://www.toysyouhad.com/blackholeviewer.jpg

I had the ALIEN one and a KISS one. I busted open the cartridges and watched the films on my projector.