“We want you to be nostalgic about the future again.”
Even I, a man so tight he wouldn’t buy a pair of shorts for a flea, broke down over the holiday weekend and purchased a $35 Roku streaming stick.
And what, you ask, prompted this uncharacteristic liberality? Some athletic contest to be broadcast on a Roku station, perhaps? A Fourth of July H.R. Pufnstuf marathon? Or was it one of those deals where we only had 24 hours to save the orphanage from the wrecking ball and the whole town came together to peddle stolen A/V gear, raising just enough money to foil the evil millionaire’s plans as the old clock tower struck twelve?
No, it was something far more wonderful: the OSI 74 network. Launched last Halloween, Outer Space International brings together all the late-night TV and VHS-collector weirdness that has been missing from my life since public access vanished and I indignantly cancelled my Time Warner subscription. “We’re channeling the great pioneers of UHF, home video, and early cable,” network host Mr. Lobo says in one of their bumpers, and not a moment too soon! As far as I know, OSI’s only rival in this territory is the resurrected Night Flight, also available on Roku for $2.99 a month. (OSI is currently free, and every show has a virtual “tip jar.”)
So far, I’ve only watched a tiny fraction of OSI’s goods. A glance at their schedule reveals a massive hoard of fun: episodes of Criswell Predicts, Friday night movies hosted by GWAR manager Sleazy P. Martini (Sleazy Pictures After Dark), a soap opera starring drag sensation Bunny Galore (Pantry Manor), a Saturday morning rock ‘n’ roll monster dance party (Ghoul A Go-Go), a conspiracy show (Paranoia Magazine Presents), the pilot for a new cartoon series (The Paranormal Idiot), Monster Creature Feature, Cult Movies TV, Monster Madhouse, Cinema Insomnia, Midnight Frights...
But if you want to know what really squeezed the $35 from my wallet, it’s the significant portion of OSI 74’s programming that’s dedicated to the video ministry of the Church of the SubGenius. In addition to classics like the recruitment video Arise, the network’s got deep SubGenius weirdness such as the entire 1984 devival at which J.R. “Bob” Dobbs was assassinated, a compilation of news and talk show appearances called As They See “Bob,” and a retrospective episode of the Dallas public access show The Hypnotic Eye. Perhaps the greatest treasure in the SubGenius collection is The Obvious (Sex and Violence), an absolutely insane one-hour megamix of tits and squibs from 1980s softcore, action, sci-fi, and horror movies that must be seen to be disbelieved. There’s also a weekly feature film chosen by the Church, the “Bulldada Movie of the Weak” [sic]. Recent offerings include Wojciech Has’ The Saragossa Manuscript and The Hourglass Sanatorium and Shaw Brothers’ The Super Inframan.
Some of OSI’s programming is up at Vimeo. If you have a Roku, the station is listed under “Streaming Channels”; alternatively, you can follow these instructions to add it to your home screen. Linked here is a 30-second, very NSFW clip from The Obvious (Sex and Violence)
More after the jump…