Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Halloween Treat Preview

It's that time, folks...we're almost there. What am I talking about? Oh come now, let's not be coy here. It's almost time for bonfires, pumpkin candles, hoodies and jeans. It's almost time for...HALLOWEEEEEEEEEEEENNN!!!!!!!

Oh I'm excited. I look forward to Halloween/Fall so much. I mean, I don't hate the other seasons, but I just feel the best stuff of the year happens in the last quarter of the year. The weather, the smells, the feel of opening the windows of my apartment and letting the wind blow in while hiding under blankets and sipping apple cider and watching movies. Doesn't that sound great?

It's also a great time to feel youthful. Just something about Halloween that makes even the most stressed out adult feel young and carefree again. Don't agree? Go into a department store, go straight to the Halloween section and tell me you won't be trying on every mask and push the buttons of every single Halloween decoration. It's just a perfect time to be alive! Now, of course, in addition to all the previously mentioned activities and feelings, everything suddenly turns orange, brown, black and purple. Toys, clothes, and even better: food. YES!!!!! Of course the true champions of Halloween treats are Monster Cereals, ice cream, Oreos, even burgers, as tested last year!

So what's going on this year? Well, a simple trip to Wegmans for groceries revealed quite a few fun treats in store for me this coming season. No Monster Cereals...YET...but there were a few things that caught my eye that maybe you will need to run out and grab to get in the Halloween mood!

Keebler Pumpkin Spice Cookies!




Ok, not a bad way of starting off. Now, I love me some Pumpkin Spice flavored ANYTHING and the last few years have been great for fans. Now, alright, I admit it. Nothing truly tastes like Pumpkin Spice. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to find two things that taste identical. But that's ok, because much like gingerbread, it just works perfectly for the season.

Keebler offers us their Fudge Stripes cookies in the fall favorite flavor. From what I'm told, these were offered last year as well. I don't remember even buying them, but I have a hard time believing they won't be tasty. Keebler always delivers so I'm totally down for picking these up this year!



Lunchables!




What kid doesn't have great memories of Lunchables? I mean, sure, it's probably about as healthy to this entire thing as it is a Big Mac but when you're a kid and you find these in your lunchbox, you're good as gold. Almost like a Kids Cuisine for lunch and not requiring to be microwaving(doesn't hurt though!), Lunchables are not a bad way to spend your afternoon.

That said, it seems every year, Lunchables offers fun holiday themed items. Usually, containing the normal meal fare along with a Halloween treat and sometimes a Ghoul Aid(the Halloween KoolAid flavor!) with some awesome packaging. Now, while they don't have Ghoul Aid this year, they do give us a sweet little chocolate witch! I mean, I'd totally eat that cheap pizza for that sweet little witch!



Gotta love that bat and haunted house too. I feel like saving this and framing it. It's classic Halloween! Kinda reminds me of something from the late 80s/early 90s. Pretty solid, huh?


Pop-Tarts!





An annual classic. Always welcomed in my household and most likely yours. PopTarts always offers a lot of great seasonal flavors but none too greater than Pumpkin Pie and Spookylicious Fudge! Ok, the fudge flavor is around all year, but not in orange colored frosting with tiny Halloween themed sprinkles! Check it out:




The Pumpkin Pie PopTart(I did not pick it up on this trip) is always a home run. The simple taste of pumpkin (no spice!) is just absolutely delicious. There's not a lot of pumpkin offerings that are on the level of this, I mean, it's just so addicting. I've gone through one box in two days. Not proud but I've done it. Pace yourself, my friends. It'll be worth it when you're toasting these in January!


Kelloggs Spooky Cereals!




After dealing with the success of Monster Cereals every Halloween, Kellogg's finally threw their name in the Halloween game last year and seems to be at it again. Look at those boxes. Look at them! A little spookier, a little crazier but definitely in the vein of the season. Gotta love that Frosted Flakes especially. It's about time Tony was able to stretch his advertising chops. After all these years, he finally gets some spooky props to play with. And boy oh boy is he taking full advantage of it!



To add to the theme of Halloween Cereals(again, ruled by Monster Cereals), every Kellogg's cereal is given extra marshmallows. Which is odd, because Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops are perfect on their own, but it's almost like the cereal itself is dressing up for the season too. Which is nice. It's hard enough to compete with Count Chocula and the Boys, but hey, you gotta do everything you can! Kudos to you Kelloggs, a great offering!


So, let the festivities begin! Halloween is almost here and these treats are a perfect way of getting hyped!


-Chad

What I've Been Watching Vol. 2975492

We've got movie sign!!!!!







Ahhhh the American Ninja series...Cannon's amazing mixture of military and karate, action films starring Michael Dudikoff.. What really should have been the launch of Dudikoff's potential career, was really Dudikoff's one and only hit. Which is the greatest tragedy because he's very captivating on screen and could've gone on to a lot more had he not stuck with Cannon, who promised him roles after roles that just never came to fruition. 

The American Ninja series lasted 5 movies. While the 5th isn't being released on Bluray from Olive Films, you can still hunt it down. The best part of these 4 releases are the extras. The trailers, commentary even a documentary on each film detailing the production and behind the scenes stories. If you've wanted the scoop on each movie, they're a real fun way to learn. Highly suggested purchases. Yes, including part 3 and 4...






Back int he early 80's a bunch of a young kids set out to create an scene for scene recreation of Raiders of the Lost Ark, relying on memory, photos from magazines and books and whatever else they could get their hands on. It took them years to film the almost completed film, in fact, you'll notice them visibly aging throughout the fanfilm. After filming everything except the famous airplane scene, they decided to move on and accept it was just a pipe dream to complete their version.

Until a filmmaker came to the original cast and offered them a chance to complete their childhood project...

What followed was quite inspiring. Three friends who worked so hard on something that became a cult favorite in Hollywood, including Eli Roth who spoke very highly of the film, finally got to complete their dream. We all would be so lucky. 

The features are also quite entertaining:

Special features include more than four hours on bonus content

-Two audio commentary tracks (with Skousen & Coon as well as Strompolos & Zala)
-Deleted scenes from the documentary
-Outtakes from the Adaptation 
-Q&A footage from the Adaptation's 2003 premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX
-A photo booklet featuring storyboard art from the Adaptation 
-Free HD digital copy of the film.



I'd say if you love a good documentary, this is for you. It's a feel good story, which is what we need more of!





Mill Creek has been putting out William Castle movies for a while now and quite frankly, these two may be two of my favorites. Homicidal has one of the most shocking endings, that even found a way to make me gasp! And I thought I had seen it all! And Mr. Sardonicus, the tale of the disfigured Baron Sardonicus is just as fun, as it balances torture and the bizarre all in one movie. 

William Castle movies always felt like a Hitchcock movie meets an EC Comic. I always love William Castles goofy gimmicks and endings. They always deliver. And this collection is no different. No extra features, but hey, when it's a William Castle movie, you don't need no stinkin' features! 





Wow. My only regret in watching this movie is that I hadn't seen it before. I love me some post apocalyptic movies from the 80s(boy were there a lot!) but this one may be my new favorite. Sorry, World Gone Wild!

The story is about a group of wild teens who are trapped in an abandoned drive in by the government. They're forced live there until the government says differently. Problem is, it doesn't look like the government is going to let them go anytime soon. 

I honestly can't say how much I love this movie enough. Everything about it is fantastic. My biggest regret is not seeing before I did and quite frankly, if you've never seen it, you should really fix that. If you're a fan of outlandish 1980s movies, you'll no doubt love this!

And the extras. Oh man, Arrow packed a lot of great stuff into this release:



  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
  • High Definition (1080p) Presentation
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
  • The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith’s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
  • Hospitals Don’t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith’s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
  • Behind the scenes gallery by graffiti artist Vladimir Cherepanoff
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon



Definitely a must own. Pick it up, via Arrow, today!


See ya next time at the movies! 


-Chad

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Graham and Chad Talk Rasslin' Episode 1: SummerSlam 1991

I recently got together with my buddy Graham of The History of WWE.com to discuss one of our favorite WWF PPV's, Summerslam 1991! We also discuss our where we were at that time, my first kiss, Graham's Virgil Adventure, and much much more!

Please leave feedback, as it is our first episode together and we hope to perfect our podcasting. We hope you enjoy this podcast as much as we enjoyed putting it together!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

CRYSTAL PEPSI IS BACK, BABY!

Holy crap, we've seen a LOT of drinks of the past make their epic returns this summer. Surge, Mountain Dew Pitch Black and Baja Blast, and of course the king of the childhood drinks, Ecto Cooler. 

During all these major events, one question remained: will Pepsi have the balls to rerelease Crystal Pepsi? I mean, all these companies are going back in the corporate time machine and giving new life to these cherished drinks. But Pepsi? Would they give Crystal Pepsi another go? I mean, it was a huge failure the first time around. Let's face facts, as cool as it was, there's a darn good reason it hasn't been readily available for 23 years. As a kid, I was less than impressed and just thought it as a fizzy piss flavored drink. I just wasn't blown away. I would've rather drank anti freeze.

And no, it has nothing to do with that rad Van Halen commercial.


And I'm a lifelong Van Halen fan so I totally dig it to this day. Hagar-haters to the left...


Late last year, there were rumors flying around that maybe...just maybe Crystal Pepsi would come back. Could it be? Really? I mean, the internet sees unsubstantial rumors flying everyday. I personally had my doubts. Come on...there's absolutely no way Pepsi would even consider rereleasing this embarrassment. But that's when a teaser video hit...


Oh wow. It's officially happening.

Well, kinda. Pepsi released it by doing a giveaway via their Pepsi Pass app in January. Which meant, only a certain amount of people were given 6 packs of Crystal Pepsi. Of course people who didn't win complained that it was rigged and unfair. But uh...that's how contests work, boo.

So finally it was announced Crystal Pepsi would be released in August across the country. Canada got them first a month or so before. Which is great considering, they didn't get Ecto Cooler so ya know, fair is fair. So finally, Pepsi is giving their loyalists the drink they've been waiting for.



There it is! I still don't believe it bu it's back. This may be a bit more shocking than Ecto Cooler just because it was so universally hated. But, be that as it may, it's here alright. Live and in living...well...clearness?

I needed a little assistance. Just as I had for Mountain Dew and Ecto Cooler, I had to enlist the help of someone who could give it the proper unbiased opinion.


Ooooooooh yeah! I had to call on my buddy Circa 1992 Randy Savage to test this out! Randy's ready for any challenge, but this could be his greatest challenge! Andre The Giant, Bam Bam Bigelow, Big John Studd? All easy compared to taking on the new Crystal Pepsi. But, he stepped up and ready to rep the 90s!

So let's begin shall we?

Randy suggested I use an old Pepsi glass to get the right feel. Hey, I'm not one to turn down advice from the man who brought popularity to Slim Jim. He knows his stuff about junk food.

So there it is. Let's discuss the bottle. 

Look familiar? Pretty spot on, I'd say. Not 100% accurate to the original, but a perfect blend of new and old to satisfy even the most loyal Pepsi fan. The new logo isn't my favorite Pepsi logo but combining it with the old Crystal Pepsi look is a perfect combo. It works for me. We're already starting off right.

Ok, time to end this riff raff. The packaging is fine, but it's time to taste it! In the tradition of Ecto Cooler and Surge, I was expecting it to taste exactly the same taste, which if I recall properly, was like drinking straight up seltzer water. 



Before I continue, I gotta break kayfabe for a second and pull back the proverbial blogging curtain. The pic above? Shortly after this was taken, some pollen fell inside it. I actually had to throw the rest of the glass out and in the process, I accidentally knocked over the rest of the contents in the bottle. Thankfully there wasn't a lot in the bottle but that's the way the ball bounces, g.


Now, thanks to my buddy Jay of the Sexy Armpit who sent me a photo of an old bottle, I was able to see the old recipe:




And the new one:


As you can tell, there's a big difference between the original and the new offerings. Whereas the original had a very fizzy plain taste with nothing close to a taste of Pepsi, this one delivered more of what, I assume, they were going for. It tasted more like Pepsi, yes. Not 100% Pepsi but more like a fizzier Pepsi with a slight twist of lemon thrown in. Which isn't bad, really. It's a pretty good offering if you ask me.

I also gotta throw out there that it's a good time to put it out as well. As fun as it is to head down to the pool with a delicious Ecto Cooler, something about a clear soda screams "summer drink" to me. I don't know why but it does. Call me crazy.


So the verdict on this new Crystal Pepsi? I think I'm in the middle here. I don't think it's terrible. I don't. I think it's good, but it's not really Crystal Pepsi as you once knew it.. I mean it is, but only if you're going by the label. 

 I can't honestly say this makes me love Crystal Pepsi and it's history but I can appreciate this new idea of taking old drinks and putting a new twist on them. If that's the case, maybe Pepsi Holiday Spice will get a new life. If it's the original Crystal Pepsi you're truly after, there are ways to make the original I'm sure. If you want to give Crystal Pepsi 2.0 a chance, you may enjoy it. I just wasn't blown away. But I really don't see this being a flop. I think it'll be a big success. People will enjoy it for what it is. And I refuse to tell people they shouldn't enjoy it. That wouldn't be prudent.


So there it is. The somewhat return of Crystal Pepsi, if only by name. I'm sure Pepsi will be raking in that clear dough and have zero qualms about the differences between the 92 offering and now. But hey,that's the soda game. 

In closing, I do have to say if you're gonna give it a go, try it with a sandwich and chips! 






Much thanks to Jay of the SexyArmpit for the photo of the old Crystal Pepsi label. Please visit his site at Sexy Armpit for so much awesomeness!


-Chad

Friday, July 29, 2016

Experiencing Basket Case 2 and 3

So I owe Frank Hennenlotter a big apology.

Basket Case creator Frank Hennenlotter


See, many ears ago I rented Basket Case 2 and was super unimpressed. To be fair, it was one of those Wednesdays where I could rent 5 VHS tapes for only 5 bucks and I had already gone through all the previous tapes. so by the time I got to Basket Case 2(which wasn't even rewound) I watched ten minutes and decided it was stupid.

Now, that was about 15 years ago. I had a tenancy to write off movies pretty quickly. My taste wasn't as refined as it is now. Although, some may even argue that I still have pretty bad taste. Be that as it may, I found myself checking out Basket Case 2 and 3 this past week thanks to Synapse films and I'm in both Hennelotter and Synapse's debt forever.

Basket Case 2 and 3 were released in 1991 and 1992, respectively. Let's start with Basket Case 2 first. 



Basket Case 2 centers around Duane Bradley and his deformed brother Belial being locked up in a hospital after the events of the first movie in which Duane tried to kill Belial in Times Square. Follwoing those events, Duane and Belial were brought to a safe house for deformed creatures and humans by a mysterious woman named Ruth. It's when a local reporter who's willing to cash in on the hot story of the bizarre brothers and their whereabouts. But it's after Duane starts falling into old habits and starts to lose it.

The story is a pretty entertaining one, and if you've seen the first movie, it's considerably lighter than the original, which makes it a lot more fun. With that lighter tone, it also provided the creativity to come shining out when it comes to creating new creatures and characters, which were my personal favorite aspect of this movie. So many unusual and unique designs to add more members of the Basket Case family. My personal favorite was Lorenzo, the singing oversized head! Check it out!


The creatures, as outcasts as they are made to be, are certainly downright lovable. In fact if you watch this movie and don't fall in love with them, you have no soul. I mean, who wouldn't fall in love with the real life interpretations of Real Ghostbusters action figures?




The features on this disc are pretty awesome too. A full hidef transfer from the original 35mm print ensures nothing but the best viewing experience and it really brings out the beauty of this movie. The picture and sound shine through like never before thanks to this great transfer. The features are just as fun. A sit down interview with David Emge who played a creature and a behind the scenes/making of featurette including footage from the original filming are really all I need to give this my stamp of approval.



Now, Basket Case 3. Let's talk about this. Just as over the top as the original, and just like it's previous movie, picks up right where the last movie left off. The Bradley Brothers and their new family head out to the country to see Belial become a proud papa of a bunch of deformed babies! Yes, the next generation of Bradley's definitely continue! 

And yes, we even got a musical number from Ruth and the lovable creatures. Oh yes. Watch this video now. You won't regret it.



A trailer may be all we get in the way of special features but it's still worth the purchase. Especially if you're like me and love having weird movie nights. And trust me, these two movies are the perfect additions to a movie marathon with your friends!

Now, while 15 years ago I was bored, now I am in love. My biggest regret was not seeing it before, because I'm sure I would've used this as a comfort movie when I was at home sick or having a day off. But I'm glad I discovered these movies now. Especially when the creatures are just so lovable. They're both super entertaining, a lot of laughs and a lot of gore. Definitely a new classic and a new favorite in my household.

Two solid releases from Synapse, which is a company that puts all their effort into every release, so it should be of shock to no one of how great these are. You can buy both of these great releases here for part 2 and here for part 3.

Now, after these, I gotta hunt down Frankenhooker. If it's anything like this, I'm sure it'll be a new favorite as well.


-Chad

Friday, July 22, 2016

What I've Been Watching Volume 8279 Part 1

So after an adventurous weekend out of town(as detailed in my previous entry), I came home to a big pile of movies that I realized I needed to review. Thankfully, days off like today are perfect for that. And naps. Plenty of naps.

Ready to make your wallet hurt? Good! Because there's a lot here you're gonna want(and to be fair, maybe some you don't).

Batman vs Superman:





A controversial one, for sure. This movie divided a lot of fans. Some liked it, some hated it. Personally, I loved it. In my opinion it was perfect in every way. I know I'm in the minority but I enjoyed every second and honestly consider it the new gold standard for superhero/comic book movies. While I loved the theatrical cut, I must say, it loomed in my mind just what was taken out and being put in the "Ultimate R Rated Edition". Well, I certainly found that out upon receiving my copy.

Anyone who didn't like the theatrical cut of this movie, I feel like would prefer the Ultimate Cut. The "plot holes" complaints I heard about were instantly covered up. A lot of things director Zach Snyder had to go out of his way to explain(which, admittedly is super unnecessary on the part of any director) has been presented in it's fullest, true form. The scenes are also edited a lot crisper and seamlessly, which was another common complaint I heard. It seems Snyder had a little bit more control in this release and quite frankly, I love this version even more. It's an even better movie than what we got! A lot more action, more scenes added to that famous fight between the two title characters and some more dialogue added to assist in the story telling.

The features are just as enjoyable. Special looks at the characters and their roads to the big screen, a look at the new Batmobile, interviews and so much more.

A solid pick from me. If you didn't like the movie int he theater, give the Ultimate Edition another chance, you may like it more.


Return of the Killer Tomatoes:



Ok. Confession time, folks. Up until now, I've never seen any Killer Tomatoes movie. Yes, yes, yes. I know. Gimme my lashes and get it over with. I will confess to watching the animated series in the early 90s on Fox Kids, but I don't really know if that makes up for anything. Thankfully, Arrow Video is releasing Return of the Killer Tomatoes and I can start fixing my mistake there.

Now that said, as someone who is seeing it for the very first time, I must say that I expected to love it, but not love it to the point that I want to travel back in time and find a way to have seen this sooner. This movie, an obvious massive cult classic, was released in 1988, exactly tens years after the release of the original and kicked off Tomato-Mania. Well, not quite, but it certainly helped remind people of how much fun the original was and lead to 2 more sequels and the cartoon series, so it must've done something right.

The extras are even more fun, especially if you love interviews, commentary, and fun facts. Check them out!


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary with writer-director John De Bello
  • Brand new interview with star Anthony Starke
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
  • Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver

A great effort by Arrow. I'm so glad I got to see this finally, and with a great transfer and a great sound. A very recommended purchase!


The Ratings Game:




Starring Danny Devito as fast talking, fresh from New Jersey, Vic DeSalvo who's just dying to get his tv show on the air and Rhea Pearlman plays his love interest who just so happens to be in charge of monitoring tv ratings. Vic finally gets his tv show on the air, but a the cost of his morals.

Now, I was prepared to write "this is an unusual release for Olive to add the special features it did" but I gotta be honest, after watching this for the first time, I totally see why and am very grateful. Some of Danny Devito's own short films were included and are just as hilarious as this movie. An updated, more modern trailer was made for this release as well. If you're a fan of silly comedies, this will be the right one to pick up!



Sorority Babes In Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama:


Full Moon is giving us this great shlockfest classic from b-movie master, David DeCoteau. This is one of those movies I would see int he video store constantly and rent. To be honest, I rented this a few times and more than anything, thought it was a perfect movie to watch on a Friday night. Why wouldn't it? Goofy, silly, and campiness behind every turn. Plus, Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens at their hottest! Why anyone would turn this down is beyond me.

This is one of those movies that bluray does it justice and is the best way to see it. Sure,a  VHS is never a bad way to watch these movies, but really, some of those vhs copies were pretty low quality when it came to picture and sound. This takes care of both with picture and sound so crisp, you'll think you're in the Bowl-O-Rama!

As you can tell, I love features. Especially commentaries and interviews, and this comes with fun commentary featuring director David DeCoteau, Brinke Stevens and writer of the movie, Sergie Hasenecz, which provides a lot of laughs and a lot of fun stories from the making of the movie.

If you're a fan of those fun b-movies you used to rent and need a new copy, this is the copy to get!


I'll be back! While these releases were great, the others will be even better! Thanks for reading!


-Chad

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Maryland Adventure

So I had a little time off and went down to Maryland this past weekend for a few reasons. The biggest reason was to meet one of my all time favorite wrestlers and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, The Icon STING!!!! Sting was appearing at the Shane Shamrock Cup event at MCW Pro Wrestling outside Baltimore. The Stinger has been on my "must meets" of wrestlers for a very long time now. In fact, I've had multiple opportunities to meet him, but every time, something popped up. Car issues, money issues, whatever. Well, not today. Saturday July 16th, I was going to make this happen no matter what!


Yes, Sting was sitting down for all the photos. I'm 6'6, so that's why it looks rather unusual, size wise. He also wasn't in makeup, but I made up by bringing some props. My friend's WCW US title belt and a bat were perfect props for this photo. Best part is, Sting had no problem posing with them. Sting was a class act, shaking everyones hands, smiling and just happy to be there. It was a real pleasure and I couldn't be happier with the photo and how this event turned out.

Also appearing at the show was Sting's WCW tag partner and best friend, Lex Luger. While Sting had a very, very long and tiring line, the Lex Express certainly had it's big share of fans as well. It was a pleasure to not only meet the Stinger, but Luger as well. Two wrestling legends in one night!

My friend Andrew, Luger and myself.





While that event was indeed a lot of fun and was indeed the main reason I came down, something just as exciting happened the day after. See, when I lived in Maryland, there was this old used book/movie store called "Wonder Book and Video" I used to stop by almost every Saturday night. I'd go to buy VHS and old comics, come back home and have a pint of Ben and Jerry's to watch SNL. Yes, while most of my friends were out at bars and down at the beach, I was searching for vhs copies of Mother's Day and The Baby. There's also a Roy Rogers across the street, so my dinner would consist of the greasiest and most delicious fried chicken allowed at a fast food joint.

As old as that store is, the front hasn't changed since I discovered it.

So why am I telling you this? Well, it's been YEARS since I've gone back. Four years to be exact. Even then, my last visit was not a successful trip. I mean as you can imagine, not every trip was a home run, but most were. However, this trip meant more than just videos and comics. Oh yes. This was the meeting point of three bloggers. Myself, William Bruce West of West Week Ever and Shawn of Branded In The 80s. William and Shawn have been two voices in pop culture blogging that I have had nothing but the highest respect for over the years and every time I've driven down, my goal of meeting up with them have usually been put off due to being busy. But not today. No sir. Driving down to MD afforded me the luxury of making my own schedule and not rushing.

A few weeks ago, I sent out the call to my FB friends to see if anyone had any Ecto Cooler and Shawn responded that he indeed had some. Coincidentally, I was coming down so I would finally be able to meet Shawn. Then it hit me that I could also meet up with William. I originally suggested a flea market outside Baltimore, but since both of these two love comics, movies and books, I knew Wonder Book was the perfect spot.





I arrived about 15 minutes early and found that the entire stock of VHS had been relegated to a small table outside. Which was weird to see, considering just 12 years before, the aisles in the store were packed the gills with VHS intermingling with DVDs. In fact, when I first discovered this store in 2004, I feel like the VHS-DVD ratio was a good 75/25. But ya know, that was 2004, dvd hadn't hit their peak and bluray certainly wasn't a thought. Times are a changin'! Gotta move on. The fact that VHS were even available is more than unexpected.


So Shawn showed up a little after 12. A hearty handshake and hug started off our adventure. Almost immediately, we clicked as we discussed vhs, books, blogging and podcasting. After picking out a few tapes, we go in and immediately search for some movie adaptations, a big favorite in the pop culture community and something Shawn has a lot of expertise in. While we laughed at the ridiculous novelizations and traded anecdotes about collecting, a wild William West appears. Finally, the trio is together and if Shawn and I had a fun time geeking out and talking 80s before, it just got kicked up a notch.

more books!!!!!

Let me tell you, I thought I knew a lot about pop culture until I met these two. I feel like I discovered new stuff I never knew before thanks to these guys. I even discovered an unreleased scene from Karate Kid in which Johnny shows remorse for the way he acted. You can learn something new every day!



We journeyed through the store and discovered more gems and shared laughs. If you've never heard William read the back of a cheesy scifi novel, you've never lived.

We headed over to the comics section where William found some great graphic novels and all three of us had a real fun discussion on comics, which is something all of us grew up loving. I've been out of comics for some time now but have been looking to get back in. Admittadly, that's easier said than done, but to just chat about comics past was a lot of fun.



William's exact quote "Those just scream doctors office to me".
Betty has been a cornerstone of this store even before I discovered it. Glad to see her again!


Wonder Book has always had a fridge full of delicious refreshments. Glad I picked some up! 



After looking at dvds, discussing anime and finding a copy of Chipmunk Punk (you read right!), and picking up some weird soda's, it was time for us to part ways. but not before Shawn walked out with a stack of movie adaptations, William walked out with some comics and I walked out with that stack of VHS. All of us also bought some of those weird sodas you see above. It was pretty awesome seeing these two bloggers purchase and discuss the things that I've only heard them discuss on podcasts and on their blog in person. All three of us certainly picked out the items that suit we're best known for, I'd say!

It was time to go, but not before I was gifted two more than generous items by both of my friends. 


A talking Hulk Hogan and a promotional Ecto Cooler box. Now, first off, let's talk about this promo box. These early samples were sent to a number of bloggers and websites for review. I wasn't one of them but I was still very happy for my other buddies who did. It was nice to know Coke was staying in touch with the fanbase and reaching out to those who were the true fans. Shawn, knowing I didn't receive one and was trying to stockpile as many Ecto Cooler I could, gifted me his. What a very, very overwhelming gift. I'm still in awe. 



Now this. THIS!!!! A Hasbro Talking Hulk Hogan! Wow. One of the best Hogan likenesses and probably one of the best figure representations of the Hulkster. He says a couple of his goofy phrases and all, but I'm just excited to finally own this. It's an item I would've loved to have gotten this much sooner to put in my Hasbro collection, but I've never been able to find it. Thankfully, knowing what a fan of WWF merch from the late 80s/early 90s I am, William hooked me up! This is so great!



I was sad to leave my friends, especially when we could've just gone on and on, but I had a very long 7 hour drive back to Rochester so, I had to. But I can't help but want to just drive back down just for another geek session with these two. Maybe a trip to Roy Rogers will be on me next time, gentlemen!


Thanks for the fun trip. Some great memories and great friends. What more could I really want?


Oh yeah, my haul. Some soda, VHS and TWO rare Ghostbusters books. Not a bad haul. Very happy with this lot of awesomeness.

So once again, thanks to my friend Andrew for driving me up to Baltimore to attend the MCW event, and thanks to William and Shawn to join me at Wonder Book! It was a great time had by all and I look forward to hanging out again sooner than later!

William, myself and Shawn in the parking lot of Wonder Book


-Chad

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Just Desserts BluRay Review






Creepshow has such an amazing influence on so many peoples. Many have become comic artists, special f/x artists, writers and actors. Most importantly, a lot of people become fans of horror thanks to Creepshow. It's very easy to see why. The horror, the humor, the colors, the special f/x, the amazing cast that pulls you in and a soundtrack that plays so eerily over the film. It's a win-win. It's a perfect movie, and in fact, the reason I'm a horror fan now. If I hadn't seen this in the basement of my babysitter's house at an early age, I probably wouldn't be talking to you. I pretty much owe my entirely livelihood to Creepshow.



Now of course with documentaries being the product these days, it's of no surprise that a documentary on Creepshow had to be produced. Of course! The behind the scenes stories of a movie this monumental to so many horror fans has to be documented. Thankfully our wishes were granted. In 2007, Red Shirt Pictures produced a full documentary called "Just Desserts" to be included as an extra on the UK release of Creepshow (by and far the best release of Creepshow to date). The documentary soon became an selling point for many of the fans, yours truly included. But for those who didn't want to order a different region dvd, it seemed they were left out in the cold. Until a crowdfunder began that is!

Synapse Films saw the crowdfunding effort by Michael Felsher of Red Shirt and picked up the project for distribution. With Synapse behind this, now it's gonna be a real keeper.

The Documentary itself is what was on the UK DVD. For those who don't own it, you get a LOT of behind the scenes stories, footage, and revealing interviews from those involved. George Romero, Tom Savini, Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau and so many others are involved in this and their stories are just as entertaining as Creepshow itself.  The story of Tom Savini geeking out and grabbing Vivecas Lindfors' face and proclaiming "you were the Queen", a reference to her portrayal as Queen in Don Juan, was pretty fun to hear.

The ONLY major name missing is of course Jody Verrill himself, Stephen King. Not that I expected him to appear, but it would've been nice. Still, don't allow that to be a turnoff. A lot of fun Stephen King stories are included by all involved.

So many aspects shouldn't be ignored in the documentary either. The stories of Leslie Neilsen's practical joking and how they made the effects on "Something To Tide You Over" was pretty captivating to hear from a special f/x point of view. Also, something I never knew was that Tom Atkins originally wanted to audition for the Jordy Verrill role until he was informed that King took it instead. But hey, it worked out for Atkins, eh? Perhaps my favorite segment out of the entire documentary is how Adrienne Barbeau talks about how she's the opposite of her character and how much fun she had playing the drunken loon and let's be fair, we could all use more Barbeau. Just call her Billie!

This documentary was clearly a labor of love, as all stops are pulled out and it shows. This is the kind of documentary every fan will want to watch over and over again. For everything it is, it deserves a 10/10. It's a flawless documentary and the review could end there but it's Synapse, baby! They're not done yet!


The extras are even more overwhelming than the actual documentary. Buckle up:

  • Audio Commentary with Director & Editor Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary featuring interviews with Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, and Make-Up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci
  • Creepshow Days An interview with Director of Photography, Director Michael Gornick
  • Extended Interview Segments with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and Bernie Wrightson
  • Behind The Screams A compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini
  • Horror's Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark
  • Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects with Optional Audio Commentary with Tom Savini
  • Vintage 1982 Evening Magazine Segment shot on the set of the film, featuring rare cast & crew interviews
  • Behind-The-Scenes of CREEPSHOW Photo Gallery









Yup. You read right. A lot of great stuff. My personal favorites may be the 1982 news report segment from the set. I always love seeing stuff like that. A behind the scene photo gallery and behind the scenes test footage are also huge highlights.



A new episode of Horror's Hallowed Grounds starring big time horror geek and convention all star, Sean Clark, in which he examines the current states of the filming locations of the movie. There's a lot fans who love visiting horror locations but none more fanatical and knowledgeable than Sean Clark. 




But my personal favorite is the inclusion of the Scream Greats: Tom Savini, which was a vhs put out by our friends at Fangoria in 1986. It's a unique, behind the scenes look at Savini at the time and the projects he's worked on and were working on at that time. Greg Nicotero also appears, as he was a frequent collaborator with Savini. Even better? Savini adds commentary to the feature. It's really a fascinating look at how practical effects worked back then and the test footage that is being featured is the things every horror fan dreams of. This was an extra special touch to the release.


The extras included are a 10/10. But if I had to be truthful, they're really a 100/10. I'd really have to invent a number to properly exclaim how much I love these. So I will: A bakillion/10. 

There. 

If you're a fan of Creepshow, George Romero, Tom Savini, or horror in general, this is no doubt a must own. Hands down. It's available starting today and it can be yours by visiting our friends at Synapse Films!


-Chad

Thursday, July 7, 2016

nWo 4 Life




Wow...20 years today...



"WELL THE FIRST THING YOU GOTTA REALIZE, BROTHER, IS THIS RIGHT HERE IS THE FUTURE OF WRESTLING. YOU CAN CALL THIS THE NEW WORLD ORDER OF WRESTLING, BROTHER"



And with that, wrestling was changed...FOREVER.



This week is a very important weeks for wrestling fans. Especially for fans who were watching the very stale and overly cartoony era of pro wrestling of the mid 90s. See, at that time, wrestling was not the fun and risky industry it later became. In fact, aside from production costs skyrocketing, if you watched an episode of WWF or NWA ten years before, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. For both companies, the gimmicks and story lines were so hokey and stupid. The matches, for the most part were boring. You had maybe a handful of people in each company who could put on a really great match but the terrible gimmicks shined too bright.

Until Spring 1996, that is.


Until heading to WCW, Hall and Nash had been big stars for Vince McMahon. Nash as Diesel, would be the world champion for about a year, as well collecting every title in the company in a 3 year span. Hall, under the Razor Ramon gimmick, had been a multi time IC title and put on some of the greatest matches a fan could hope to watch. But it was time to tempt fate and see what they could do in WCW. While both men admitted it was a very difficult decision, it paid off big time monetarily and historically.

Hall showed up quite infamously on WCW Nitro in May 1996. Coming out of the crowd, stealing the house mic, Hall stopped a rather nondescript match between The Mauler and Steve Doll. He announced "You know who I am but you don't know why I'm here." Fans were dumbfounded; they had just watched Raw the week prior and saw one of their favorite Superstars with no exit announcement, (which WWF never did, but fans assumed they'd see Razor pop up later on Raw or Superstars).

Hall went on to harass WCW President Eric Bischoff later in the show. He announced he had a big surprise and that "they" were sick of hearing of him run his mouth for 6 months - alluding to Bischoff giving away the results of Raw, mocking the product and pretty much using WWF as his personal punching bag. Well, Hall delivered on his word a week later when Big Daddy Cool himself came out and confronted Bischoff. The look of shock on the head of the company said it all:


Fans were shocked and confused. Why are two of the biggest WWF stars showing up on WCW? Did Vince send them to destroy it? While it's hard to believe now, that certainly was the mindset of a LOT of fans. Many fans, myself included, believed that this was no storyline and both men were ready to destroy their number 1 competition. Kevin Nash finished up by saying "the measuring stick just changed around here, buddy. You're looking at it.".

This wasn't an empty threat. Hall and Nash would appear in the next few weeks either in the crowd or interrupting matches. Finally, they revealed that they aren't the only two that WCW had to worry about. But they weren't naming names. Which lead to Bischoff being on the receiving end of Kevin Nash's jackknife power-bomb on the Great American Bash. If the invasions weren't enough to tell you they were serious, this was. They simply did not care who you were. If they're taking out the WCW President, you know they mean serious business.


Finally after prodding and pleading on WCW's part, Hall and Nash proclaimed they'd reveal their third man at Bash at the Beach 1996. They also challenged WCW to send their best 3 men to battle. Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man were sent to defend the name of WCW against the newly dubbed Outsiders.


The whole wrestling world was watching this event as if everyone's life depended on it. Fans were going insane trying to figure out who the third man was to be. I actually distinctly remember a site saying it was Mabel. Safe to say that website didn't last long after that.

The most popular prediction was Bret Hart, who appeared to be taking a small break from WWF after losing to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12. It seemed to a lot of fans that he would be the most logical choice. Spoiler alert, it wasn't him.

After a pretty lackluster show, the moment everyone waited for had arrived. Well...kinda...

Hall and Nash came out alone, sending announcers, fans and the wrestlers themselves into an immediate panic. Who was the third man? Where was he? Was he in the crowd? Or was he standing across the Outsiders in the ring on Team WCW? Well, whatever the case, so many questions were being asked during the match and it took one person to answer it. After knocking Lex Luger out cold and sending him to the back, it was now two on two. But after being on top for a little while, it became clear that Hall and Nash were too much to handle for Sting and Randy. These two men were downright decimating the heroic forces of WCW. The company was doomed. Until one man came out and saved the day...



The face of WCW was here to clear the ring and show those two bullies from up North who the true Big Boys were. Hulk Hogan, the king of wrestling and the great American hero. Mr. Babyface. The man who disposed of evil and championed the power of good would not let a bunch of ratty invaders take over his company and send them back to Uncle Vinny. No sir. In the words of Jim Ross "business is about to pick up!" The Hulkster entered the ring and intimidated those bastards from the WWF. And after tearing his shirt, pushing the ref out of the way and...wait...what is he doing?



No.


No...

NOOOOO!!!!!


Yup. With one leg drop, Hogan became the third man. For the first time in over 15 years, Hogan flushed the yellow and the red down the toilet. And how appropriate was it that he turned on his heroic, good guy image by dropping the leg drop on his on again/off again best friend Randy Savage? As if seeing Hogan turn bad wasn't bad enough, he had to drop it on the man who so many people said was actually his superior.

This was not what fans expected. Despite the revisionist history some will present to you otherwise, this was the biggest moment in wrestling at that point. This was the wrestling equivalent to Doomsday. Plain and simple. Hogan can't turn bad. He just can't.

Although, if you think about it, it made perfect sense and fans should have seen it coming. In fact, one could argue the FANS actually caused it! Since Hogan's entry into WCW, the majority of hardcore, older fans had been booing Hogan's stale good guy image and same old nonsense. They'd seen it! It'd been DONE. We didn't care anymore. In fact, what was Hogan doing before this? Well, Hogan took a few weeks off to film a movie but in 1995 and early 1996, he was deep in battle with the very goofy and super silly Dungeon of Doom, which featured wrestling's answer to the Roger Corman monsters. Don't believe me?


Yup. That's what the big storyline in WCW at the time was. They had seen it already. The little Hulkamaniacs who grew up loving Hogan had nothing new to care about. So, every time Hogan hit the ring, they'd boo him. So, Hogan took the mic and told the fans to stick it in one of the most memorable promos in pro wrestling history:



Those fans who booed Hogan weren't as open to welcome the new attitude of their original hero. They were essentially told from Hogan that he never cared about them and it was all about the money and publicity. That stung. Especially for the young fans who modeled their lives to live by Hogan's mantra of "Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, train everyday". This was too much to handle. The ring immediately filled up with trash and even a drunk fan thought he could take his chance in taking down the newly formed trio by running in to the ring until he was stopped by Hall and Nash with a series of big boots to the skull.

Fans everywhere were beyond stunned as they went to sleep that night. No doubt, some fans even cried. The stakes were high. The ramifications of this event were even greater. This single event changed EVERYTHING in wrestling. The bad guys were now the heroes. The cool guys were the ones that broke the rules and made their own. They'd show up when they want and beat up whoever they want. This trio wasn't to be messed with. If you didn't side with them, you were their enemy. If you weren't wearing an nWo shirt, you were in their way and in deep trouble.

Now, that was just the original incarnation of the nWo. The group grew in members considerably in the next year. Great names such as Randy Savage (and Liz!), Rick Rude, Curt Hennig, Ted Dibiase, Sean Waltman, and even some WCW lamewads such as Marcus "Buff" Bagwell and Scott Norton, who became bigger stars as apart of the group. If you put an nWo shirt on, you were a made man. Not just in America, but the world. New Japan stars The Great Muta and Masahiro Chono also became part of nWo Japan.




To run down their entire history is something I'd love to do, but quite frankly, that first year and a half of nWo domination was something that really should be remembered. It was spontaneous, dangerous and just so cool. Wrestling finally became cool again. Kids, teens and adults could happily call themselves wrestling fans without fear of being made fun of by their peers. The entertainment industry was calling on members to guest star and promote shows and events. From MTV to ABC to Cartoon Network and everywhere in between. Even celebrities put that black and white shirt on...



Yup. One of the most controversial stars in any form of entertainment, NBA standout Dennis Rodman joined the nWo and even wrestled a few matches!



On top of just being so cool on TV and off, they also had a memorable theme song!




It goes without saying, the nWo had a huge impact on me personally. My entire room went from random WWF and WCW posters to self made nWo flyers and posters, (plus a Kimberly Page poster). My normal wardrobe was an nWo shirt and jeans. I was never a fashionable kid, but for the first time in my life, I felt a shirt could make me one of the cool kids. At that time I was going through a lot. I had left public school in fall of 1996 because of depression caused by bullying, so I needed something to keep my confidence boosted. That's where the nWo shirts (and nWo themselves) came in handy. I had the confidence to wear that shirt and I could make friends with fellow fans and strangers who knew what those three letters meant. In fact, I had to get another nWo shirt after wearing it out very quickly. For the first time in my life, I was actually part of the cool crew and wrestling was the "in" thing.

Me circa 1997 after a WCW Nitro at the Baltimore Arena.


My friends and I would constantly be on the phone during Nitro and Raw - which, in 1997, was a little harder to maintain if there were only two phones in the house and someone was using the internet or needed to use the phone. But it didn't matter. My friends and I would actually call the matches like the commentators and would also exchange wrestling rumors, gossip and predictions. Raw was getting better but if the nWo was on, that's where our priorities were. Also, handshakes? Forget those. It was just a bunch of wrestling nerds "Too Sweet-ing" each other. A hand gesture still used today by a lot of fans and wrestlers themselves. See: The Bullet Club.




I have yet to accept any other group in pro wrestling as lovingly as I did the nWo. The Nexus came close, but we saw how "great" that went after a few weeks. Raven's Flock became my tream because of my adoration for Raven but it didn't last long enough in WCW. Evolution? Pffft. Please. Blue World Order? Uh...yeah, ok. Close enough. Despite the arguments from a lot of my friends and fellow wrestling fans, I still retain that they are the greatest group in pro wrestling history even to this day. I'd love to see if another team can overtake them but it would take a lot. But just to feel that same feeling I had for the nWo at age 13 all over again would be amazing.


So, happy 20th birthday to the team that changed wrestling forever for the better. Without them, we'd probably be seeing an evil longshoreman as world champion today.











-Hollywood Chad