The Harry and Reba Swiff Collection: Family Celebrations (1956-1958)

Watch on Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Institution: Texas Archive of the Moving Image
Collection: Harry and Reba Swiff Collection

Running time: 16m 30s
Source film:  color; silent
Year: 1956 – 1958
Camera: Harry Swiff


When I was young — particularly during adolescence — the holiday season from roughly October through January seemed to unfold as a series of discrete events, each celebration marked by its own sights, smells, sounds, and flavors. The rest periods between them (i.e., school) always crawled at a snail’s pace, allowing the anticipation for each to build to proper crescendo. In adulthood, though, that illusion has eroded with each passing year. These same holidays now occur as a blurry blob of celebratory activity, with beginnings and endings almost entirely indistinguishable if not for the correlating bank statements and smartphone images that neatly divide by monthly markers.

Continue reading The Harry and Reba Swiff Collection: Family Celebrations (1956-1958)

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Christmas Rhapsody (1948)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 11m 00s
Source film:  16mm; b&w; sound
Year: 1948
Production: Encyclopaedia Britannica Films; Milan Herzog
Music: Charles Henry


Loneliness, sugar crashes, and increased alcohol consumption can all exacerbate the blue feelings that many people feel during the winter holiday season. As evidenced by the sad musings of the central character in the 1948 short Christmas Rhapsody, it can also be a real thing for at least one species of evergreen tree.

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Trust Your Instincts (1994)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Ephemeral VHS

Running time: 24m 00s
Source film:  VHS; color; sound
Year: 1994
Director: Chris White
Production: Central Productions
Writer: Tucker Barnes
Photography/Camera: Kaye Cruz
Narration: David Arias
Technical Advisor: Det. Buzz Griffeth

Cast: Ashley Greer, Jeanette Longoria, Marj Hadnott, Norma Gutierrez, Cary Garza, Rene Lagunas, Marty Mathews, Keith Hartsfield, Joel Cabello


In the time it takes to read this review, criminals across the United States will have committed roughly three robberies, half of a rape, and about 12.5% of a murder. All this, it should be said, is calculated according to the crime rates used (without citation) at the beginning of the 1994 self-defense video, Trust Your Instincts. I feel as though about 80% of videos like this one start off with ghastly statistics about violent crime, and of those, about 50% reinforce their bullet-point precautions with title cards in ALL CAPS. This video utilizes 100% of the aforementioned techniques during its 24-minute run-time.

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The Occult: An Echo from Darkness (1972)

Distribution: A/V Geeks
Featured on: O is for Occult

Running time: 48m 00s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1972
Director: Tom Doades
Production: Pyramid Films, ECRF Production, Mal Couch
Writer: Tom Doades, Marshall Riggan
Photography/Camera: Jerry Callaway
Narration: Martin Brooks
Editor: Jim Ferguson

Cast: Hal Lindsey


Years before it was a hotbed of technological innovation and unaffordable housing, the San Francisco Bay Area was the “headquarters of occult and metaphysical activity in the United States.” This was a startling history lesson to me, but just one of many assertions by the creators of the 1972 religious short film, The Occult: An Echo from Darkness. If you like your anonymous talking head documentaries with ominous music and a hearty side of hard-line Satanic panic propaganda, this is the film of your factually dubious dreams.

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Football: A Woman’s Guide (1999)

Distribution: Borndreamer
Collection: Private

Running time: 35m 00s
Source: VHS; color; sound
Year: 1999
Production: Borndreamer, Rebecca Ayers
Director: Rebecca Ayers
Writer: Rebecca Ayers
Camera: Bob Ayers
Lighting: Bob Ayers
Sound: Bob Ayers
Graphics & Editing: Motion City Films, Santa Monica, CA
Audio Editing: Marty Blasick

Cast: Nancy Barnes, Bob Ayers, Gene Moore, Nick Ayers, Brian O’Brien, Jewell Holmes & Raymond


When the American news cycle starts to contain stories of catastrophic injuries and failed adherence to concussion protocols, it means the NFL season has arrived. Often lost in the deluge of bloviating talking heads and game highlights are the rule changes approved by team owners during the league’s offseason (there were seven this year alone). Such changes — which occur nearly every offseason — can affect everything from player safety to the pace of the game itself. With so much turnover in how the game is played from year to year, how does a football fan keep track of it all? And more important, how can someone married to a football fan keep track of it when they are: a) not a fan of football; and b) a woman? Filmmaker Rebecca Ayers sought to assuage all gender-specific, football-illiterate fears with her 1999 educational film, Football: A Woman’s Guide.

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