- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Prime time fright night

With Halloween just weeks away — not to mention the superstitions associated with Friday the 13th — it’s hardly surprising that much of the weekend’s TV fare is filled with things that go bump in the night.

There are, of course, the usual array of classic horror thrillers that annually air this time of year. However, for those who prefer their films straight with no chaser, cable’s Starz channel is serving up a gore fest in the tradition of Grand Guignol.

“Going to Pieces: the Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film” (at 9 tonight) traces the history of the genre from its heyday in the early 1980s to its decline a decade later — largely due, those in the documentary say, to such schlock as the “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” franchises.

Directed by Jeff McQueen, the program also pays homage to early slasher standard-bearers like the great Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) and Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) and examines the slasher film’s ascension to pop culture phenomenon (including its unconventional methods of marketing and distribution). In addition, it features interviews with such noted horrormeisters as Tom Savini (“Night of the Living Dead”), Wes Craven (“Nightmare on Elm Street”), John Carpenter (“Halloween”) and Rob Zombie (“The Devil’s Rejects”).

It’s bloody, in-your-face and not for the faint of heart.

Those who prefer less graphic chills may find tonight’s TCM lineup more to their liking.

The evening begins with “The Uninvited” (1944) — with Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey as siblings who buy a house with a ghostly secret (at 8 p.m.) — and also includes the campy Ed Wood classic, 1959’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” often called the worst movie ever made (airing overnight at 2 a.m.).

There are a few gems as well. The original 1963 black-and-white version of “The Haunting” (starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Russ Tamblyn as a group of strangers in a haunted mansion) airs tonight at 10 and may very well leave you afraid to sleep in the dark. “Poltergeist” (1982) follows at midnight. It has chills aplenty, too — and offers positive proof that you should, indeed, be very, very afraid of clowns.

Also on TCM’s weekend horror bill: “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” with Bette Davis as a wealthy Southern spinster and prime suspect in a grisly 1920s murder and Olivia de Havilland as her conniving cousin. Released in 1964, the film earned seven Oscar nominations, including one for co-star Agnes Moorehead (better known as the meddling Endora on “Bewitched”) for best supporting actress. It airs tomorrow at noon.

PBS expands ITune lineup

PBS is making several of its most popular shows, including “Nova” and “Arthur,” available on Apple’s ITunes download store, TVWeek.com reports.

Demand for past PBS features on ITunes led the public broadcaster to add episodes from its prime-time and kids lineups, said network president and CEO Paula Kerger. Other new additions to ITunes include “Antiques Roadshow,” “Now” and “Scientific American Frontiers,” plus the children’s shows “Cyberchase” and “Fetch!”

ITunes offers users more than 220 programs from more than 40 television networks.

Small world, big ratings

Good things really do come in small packages for TLC.

The cable network’s second-season double-header premiere of “Little People, Big World” delivered a healthy audience Saturday night, averaging 1.7 million total viewers, an increase of 27 percent over the series’ season one premiere, MediaWeek.com reports.

In the 8 p.m.-9 p.m. slot, “Little People” averaged 857,000 adults 18 to 49, an improvement of 24 percent in the demographic when compared to last season’s premiere.

The reality series chronicles the lives of the Roloff family — short-statured parents Matt and Amy Roloff and their four children, three of whom are of average height.

The second season finds the Roloffs on the road, traveling to Hawaii for a family vacation and attending the Dwarf Athletic Association of America games in Milwaukee.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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