February 22, 2015


I found a terrific Twitter feed called Classic HBO Guide that inspired me to go through a small collection of old HBO booklets that I bought on eBay several years ago. I was fascinated by those guides as a kid growing up in the 1980s.

I loved to pore over the schedules and identify all of the gems that would soon be airing on my TV. I was definitely part of the generation that grew up in front of the television at every waking moment.

I can recall being curled up on our dark green living room recliner, staring goggle-eyed at all of the stuff that popped up on HBO: Fraggles, Braingames, occasional nudity, Video Jukebox, some totally boring dramas (that I would somehow still sit through), "graphic violence" (seeing that listed in the guide would send shivers down my spine...what was I in store for?). Little did I realize how my tastes and personality were being sculpted by all of the weird and wonderful things that were going on in cable television.

Here are a few images I scanned in from the June 1983 issue. I'll most likely do more scans from the other issues.

Endless Love followed by Wolfen? That's an interesting double feature.

Poltergeist at 9 AM?

The HBO specials like Vanished: Missing Children would scare me beyond belief. It was an eye-opener to realize the world wasn't all fun and games...it was much more than Atari games, birthday parties and The Goonies!

I was absolutely forbidden to watch Poltergeist. This made the film an enticing mystery and, obviously, made me want to see it even more.

I didn't see the film until I was junior high school age and, even then, was appropriately shocked and horrified.

I've never looked at a piece of steak the same again.

One particular detail about the HBO guides that always intrigued me was the italicized descriptors of questionable content. I was suddenly being faced with words I had never really contemplated or understood: graphic violence, gore, nudity....rape?

As I mentioned above, seeing those words would deeply disturb me and really make me wonder what was going on in some of these movies. I imagined that some of these films must be the gnarliest, grossest, filthiest things in the world and I would somehow be permanently scarred emotionally by seeing them.