Cocoon – tape 672

OK, so nobody’s perfect. But with computers, there are ways of spotting your mistakes.

I was doing some work on my tapes database, and I noticed a few anomalies with the data. First, I noticed that a lot of tapes that I knew I’d written blog entries about weren’t marked as blogged in the database. I have a semi manual process with the database, where I have to periodically tell it to scrape the blog feed, see which entries are new since it last looked, and store details about those entries in the database. But it turned out there was a big hole, close to a hundred entries that were in the blog but hadn’t been marked in the database.

I think it was due to the way I scrape the feed – I just look at the RSS feed for the blog, and that is limited to a fixed number of entries. So I clearly left the manual updating process so long that a number of unlogged entries dropped off the end of the feed.

So that was fixable, with another bit of blog scraping.

But today, I noticed that another part of my data, the records showing archived tape filenames and data from the hard drives I’m using, seemed to have some wrong data – the filestamps on the files were wrong, so some of the data was in slightly the wrong order. But that, again, was easily fixable just by uploading a new scan from the drive.

Then, I looked at the database, wanting to get an idea of which archived tapes were coming up, so I eliminated all the blogged tapes, then put them in order and I discovered that there were a couple of archived tapes that I’d actually missed when going through the hard drives. I’ve no idea why, since it’s fairly easy to keep track of the order.

So here is one of those missing tapes, as an extra treat, since the Three Tenors tape was a short one, and it’s a lovely movie, Cocoon.

It concerns the residents of an old people’s home, populated by some great actors of bygone days.

There’s Don Ameche

Wilford Brimley

and Hume Cronyn.

The trio regularly break into the empty house nearby to swim in their pool. But their plans are spoiled when a group of strangers, led by Brian Dennehy, who want to rent it for 26 days.

They also rent a boat from Steve Guttenberg, and go diving off the coast, pulling up some strange rocks from the ocean floor and storing them in the swimming pool.

But the old men keep swimming, and start feeling literally rejuvenated. Hume Cronyn even finds his cancer in remission.

But aboard the boat, while spying on young Tahnee Welch (daugher of Raquel) Steve Guttenberg discovers the true nature of Dennehy’s group.

When Guttenberg finally calms down, Dennehy explains that, yes, they are aliens, and they’ve come back to Earth because they had an outpost here thousands of years ago, but had to leave in a hurry, and part of the crew were left here, cocooned in the strange rocks they are excavating.

Soon after, the old folks are swimming in the pool when Dennehy’s group returns early, and while hiding in a closet they too see the true nature of the group.

Their swimming routine is curtailed, and soon Cronyn’s cancer is back, so Brimley begs Dennehy to let them swim again, and he reluctantly agrees. Soon, the group are full of vigour again, although it’s not always positive – Cronyn is so invigorated, he goes and cheats on wife Jessica Tandy.

Steve Guttenberg gets to have alien sex with Welch.

But the lusty old folk are attracting too much attention from the other residents of the home, and they figure out where their rejuvenation is coming from, and descend en masse on the pool. They even pull out a cocoon and start banging it on the side. Dennehy returns and orders them all out, but two of the cocoons are damaged, and one of the occupants dies in his arms.

The influx of old people has drained the pool of its lifeforce, and Dennehy and his team can no longer revive his crew.

There’s a heartbreaking scene, with Jack Gilford, and his senile wife Herta Ware. He’s been against the idea of using the pool from the beginning, but then his wife dies in bed, and he takes her to the pool, trying to revive her.

Brimley and his friends help Dennehy return the cocoons  to the ocean before their spaceship returns, and as a thank you, Dennehy offers the old folks passage on the ship, where they would potentially live forever. “You’d be students, but also teachers.”

There’s a slightly contrived dramatic ending, as a boatful of old folks heads out to sea, pursued by the US coastguard, but they get away thanks to fog created by the incoming spaceship, featuring some classic old-school ILM cloud tank effects.

I’d almost forgotten how great this film is. It just shows you what dividends you get when you cast a movie with older actors. All the performances are exquisite and feel real, and it’s not surprising Don Ameche won an Oscar for his part.

It’s lovely to see a film that just has goodness at its core, with no villains. And it’s great to see a film that deals with aging in a fairly sensitive way. Ron Howard is a director who, I feel, doesn’t get enough credit for the fine work he does. I’ve enjoyed his movies right back to things like Splash and Night Shift, and Apollo 13 is my favourite film of all time. Hell, I even enjoy the DaVinci Code movies. It’s not surprising that Disney turned to him when they needed someone to take over on the Han Solo movie after they parted company with the original directors.

After this, recording continues with an ITN bulletin. The lead story is the discovery of a bomb under the car of a British serviceman in West Germany.

Also, trouble at the Notting Hill Carnival. There’s also a report about the launch of the BSB satellite.

Then, the tape runs out during Hollywood Ghost Stories, much like the recent Hammer programme. It’s hosted by John Carradine.

It features contributions from Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, about a haunting on the set of the film.

It’s quite a fun programme, which also features Frank De Felitta talking about the ‘events’ that led to him writing The Entity.

Actress Elke Sommer talks about the haunted house she lived in for a time. It attracted media attention, although perhaps this magazine isn’t the most reputable, given the story immediately above hers.

Also covered here is the Amityville Horror. The tape ends before the programme does.

And literally seconds after the recording stopped, my young son came into the living room to tell us he thinks the house is haunted, because he heard a voice upstairs and the bathroom door opened slightly with nobody there. He had no idea I was watching this programme as he’s been in another room with headphones on.

I don’t believe in ghosts. But if I’m murdered by one in my bed, avenge me.


  • Maxwell House
  • UniBond All Purpose
  • Persil
  • M&Ms
  • trail: Hollywood Ghost Stories
  • White Label
  • Cook Electric
  • Anchor Butter
  • Togs
  • Bernard Matthews Turkey Drummers
  • trail: French Fields
  • Nat West – I thought adverts were supposed to be aspirational. Who’d aspire to be this person?

  • Kodacolor Gold
  • Timotei
  • Marathon
  • Tetley Round Tea Bags
  • Hamlet
  • trail: War & Remembrance
  • Tennent’s LA
  • See No Evil Hear No Evil in cinemas
  • Kellogg’s Common Sense Oat Bran Flakes – were these later rebranded as Fruit & Fibre?
  • Pizza Hut
  • Sun Maid Raisins
  • Diet Lilt
  • Esso Superlube Plus
  • trail: Hollywood Ghost Stories
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Skittles
  • One Day Travelcard
  • Diet Coke
  • National Power
  • trail: Klute
  • trail: Hollywood Ghost Stories
  • Shell
  • Clorets – Hale & Pace
  • Persil
  • Domestos
  • Now 15
  • Herta Frankfurters
  • White Label
  • TV Times
  • trail: Hollywood Ghost Stories
  • The Insurance Service
  • Radox Shower Fresh
  • Creda
  • Herta Frankfurters
  • Wisk
  • The 10 Water and Sewage Businesses of England and Wales
  • Get Ready for ITV
  • Nescafe
  • Persil


  1. To bad about “Cocoon: The Return” – an utter bummer in SO many respects (not least since Steve Guttenberg’s character going from Raquel Welch’s daughter to Courteney Cox is a serious downgrade). I saw it on a double bill with another sequel that disgraced the original, “The Fly II.”

  2. Ron Howard is a safe pair of hands, maybe too safe for my liking (I find Cocoon awfully schmaltzy), but Rush was an excellent film, probably the best about motorsport ever made (maybe that’s not saying much, but it is really good).

    Don’t worry about ghosts, a ghost has never murdered anyone.

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