As if the deluge of network reruns didn't make summer TV viewing bad enough, some of the worst movies ever made are also coming to the home screen in the months ahead.
It's the "Canned Film Festival," featuring such classic turkeys as "The Slime People" (1963), "Ski Fever" (1967), "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (1964) and "Las Vegas Hillbillies" (1966), starring Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren.
The 13-week series, developed as a late-night advertising vehicle for Dr Pepper, premieres locally June 21 at midnight on KHJ-TV Channel 9.
The soft drink company is hoping to attract young viewers who will find the films "wonderfully bad," in the words of David Millheiser, manager of brand development for Dr Pepper.
He said he envisions teen-agers gathering in groups to watch and make fun of the movies. "The series celebrates that sort of viewing," he said.
What's the appeal?
"I can't really put my finger on it," Millheiser said in an interview. "Some of it is outright funny. Some of it is just so bad that you marvel at who could have put these things together. Really, I'm almost flabbergasted."
Other films in the series are "Bride of the Monster" (1956), "Robot Monster" (1953), "Project Moonbase" (1953), "The Crawling Hand" (1963), "Robot Attack USA" (1959), "Untamed Women" (1952), "The Terror of Tiny Town" (1938), "They Saved Hitler's Brain" (1964) and the Mexican-made "Doctor of Doom."
Millheiser said that the concept for the series was developed for Dr Pepper by the Young & Rubicam advertising agency as "a media solution to an advertising problem"--namely, how to break through the commercial clutter and reach the soft drink's target audience: consumers between the ages of 12 and 24 who are receptive to Dr Pepper's efforts to position itself as an innovative, slightly wackier alternative to its larger cola competitors.
To enhance the appeal of the films, and to counteract the fact that some of them have been seen on pay-TV services (including the Z Channel), each telecast will include specially produced comedy sketches.
Laraine Newman, formerly of "Saturday Night Live," stars in the new tie-ins as the usher at a family-run movie theater that, much to her delight, specializes in showing these classic films. She interacts with a regular cast of five characters who don't exactly share her enthusiasm for the movies.
"On their own, some of the films would be hard to take," Millheiser confessed. "By adding the comedy material, we thought we could be a lot more entertaining--and that makes it more merchandisable for us."
Naturally, Millheiser doesn't think his company is adding to the summer TV doldrums.
"I think by taking it a step further and laughing at ourselves, we're making it a little better," he said.