Blast From The Past- The HBO Movie Guides
Although HBO launched in 1975, it wasn't until 1980 that the service found itself carried by a more significant portion of U.S. cable providers. During these early days of expansion, your subscription to HBO included a 10-page movie guide that came in the mail, along with your bill. Printed on the flimsiest paper available on planet Earth at the time (the same stock that was used by publications such as The National Enquirer), it was nonetheless an essential tool in planning out your movie watching for the month.
Understand that this was before such stalwart publications as TV Guide began including cable TV programming in their weekly editions. It was a full decade before the familiar scrolling cable guide channel would show up on everybody's cable service regardless of whether they lived in the city or the sticks.
During the early years of HBO and cable TV in general, the subscriber needed to be made aware of what programming was in store. So, HBO (as well as Showtime) began publishing monthly movie guides to keep their subscribers up to date on what was being offered up. Over time, the cable providers themselves would publish movie guides that highlighted selections from all of the popular subscription services and the basic cable staples.
How necessary was this type of movie guide?. Well, for young film fans such as myself, it was absolutely a must-have. Not only did it serve its intended purpose of letting us know what was playing and when, but it doubled as a movie geek keepsake once the month had ended. More than once, I recall rescuing a discarded cable TV movie guide from the kitchen trash can. I remember shaking off the coffee grounds and using some famous 2-ply paper towels to dab away the water blots that threatened to mar this junior encyclopedia of film. Despite asking my mom a million times to "Save them" for me, more often than not, it was up to me to keep a vigilant look-out for an accidental discarding of what was arguably a piece of trash to my parents, but a cinematic treasure to me.
I had more than one buddy back then who would save these movie guides, cut out the Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy film entries, and then paste them into some weird pastiche utilizing multi-colored construction paper. Because these movie guides were absolutely throw-away items, it is remarkable that so many fellow movie geeks have saved these mini archives of televised movie exhibitions.
Fortunately for all of us, some of these little tomes of movie-dom have survived several tumultuous decades. Some are available to buy via eBay but we will focus on just three issues from Summer 1984 to Fall 1985, that made their way onto the massive time vampire that is The Internet Archive and best represents their ilk.
Within that tangled maze of history, the Lost Library of the Atypical and Unobtainable stands out among those maddening crowds. The three HBO Movie Guide's available there are worth the risk of getting nothing done for several hours and getting lost in 80s nostalgia.
But why point you in the direction of where to obtain these nuggets of cinematic gold without providing you with a kick-ass PDF that adjoins all three issues together?
Well, we did just that my friend.
It Came From Hollywood is proud to offer up a massive 37 page PDF of the Lost Library of the Atypical and Unobtainable's versions of the HBO Movie Guides. We've straightened the whole Magilla out, made it easier to see, and wrapped it up nicely for you to download at your leisure...