Monday, June 23, 2014

Essential Batman 89 Merchandise

Well, today's the day! June 23rd marks the 25th anniversary of Batman's release. Yes, I can't believe it's been 25 years since the Dark Knight made the whole world know his presence by simply saying "I'M BATMAN". For those who weren't around, this movie was everything and superhero films were changed forever. Thank goodness too, because had it not been for Batman, we'd still have gotten a mid 90s X-Men movie with bright spandex costumes and Ethan Hawke as Cyclops. That's not a movie anyone would've needed in anyway shape or form. Unless we got Neve Campbell as Rogue. But Batman made superheroes serious again, in the same way Superman 78 made Superman believable.

Also, as explained in an earlier post, the effect it had on toys was massive. Everybody had that Toy Biz Batman with the extended utility belt and a Batmobile. We had some pretty sweet toys to look forward to on Christmas morning. But what about the other stuff? What about the other merchandise that when you turned around and saw everyone else owning? Maybe a shirt, hat, watch? Everyone that year owned at least 4 things with the Bat logo. Batmania was huge.

So let's take a look at the other stuff that maybe you had or didn't know existed!

Batman Converse:

The coolest shoes I never had. Converse always brings their A-Game and this is one of those awesome shoes that everybody wanted. The all over Batman shoes were great, but the Joker wins this one. Joker Logo? No thanks, Joker is fine with putting his ugly mug and laughing hysterically at your poor friend who's wearing Buster Brown shoes from 1978.

Batman and Joker Candy Heads:
The 1980s were an amazing time for figural candy dispensers. Alf, ET, Gremlins, Max Headroom, Freddy Krueger and now, the Dark Knight and Harlequin Hoodlum themselves get the old Topps candy head treatment. To us kids, though, the candy wasn't the important part for once. In fact more times than most, the candy tasted like Chiclets left over from the 70s. They weren't a treat by any means. I'd say day old Salisbury steak is more of a treat than this candy was. But it's obvious we want these for the figurines. As children, seeing our parents decorate their rooms with knick kancks and paintings, we figured these would be the closest things to adding a little class to our bedroom. In fact, I remember one of my friends having a Joker on her tiny, kid sized piano kinda like Beethoven on Schroeder's piano. Good idea!

Diecast Batmobile and Joker Van:

Not a fan of the action figure offerings? Think they're a little too big to keep anywhere? Or maybe you're just looking for another decoration for your desk? Either way, the masters of diecast replica, ERTL had you covered. A tiny Batmbile and Joker Van were perfect stocking stuffers as well as guaranteed victory in back yard car races. While a little more clunky, the Joker Van could provide a perfect distraction while you send the Batmobile bolting down the dirt track you and your friends made. Curse words and "you cheated!" would follow, but Joker Van or not, Batmobile always lead it's way to victory.

Sadly, even the Joker Mobile couldn't avoid cheap knockoffs...

I don't know about you but it looks like a cheap Milton Bradley game piece. On top of that, there's no Joker logo! Even bootleggers have standards, but I'm assuming this BATMANSET shipment wasn't top priority. A shame on you, a shame!

Taco Bell Cup and Display Poster:

I have to admit, I didn't know Taco Bell even existed until the early 90s, so I missed out on these promo items. All I'm aware of is the variety of 4 cups depicting Batman in 3 different poses and one Batmobile cup. These are some pretty cool looking cups, I gotta admit. But the true prize is that display poster, most likely hanging up in the dining room. Some cool images, a phony newspaper, that amazing logo and a printed autograph from Michael Keaton himself. That's a cool item I'd be on the search for.

Side note, Batman returned to Taco Bell in 1997 for the release of Batman and Robin. The cups were more interesting than the actual movie itself.

photo credit to Legions of Gotham.

Batman Trading Cards:
 In the 80s, no property went without it's own trading card set. Every band, show or movie had a set of cards. In fact, I distinctly remember owning Max Headroom and Growing Pains cards and putting the stickers on the headboard of my bed. And of course, the hottest movie of the year can't go without TWO trading card sets. Stickers and famous scenes of the movie peppered this box as well as the famous "build a mural" on the back of sticker backs.  Everyone had these, in fact I'm sure if you looked hard enough, there's most likely a Bob the Goon sticker stuck to the under lining of your dresser.

Video Dispenser:

In a hurry? Don't want to run around the store looking for a gift for your brother in law? This beautiful tape dispenser has you covered. Filled to the brim with the years hottest tape, all you had to do is grab the tape and head to the register. WB definitely pulled a great idea here. Hanging from the wall, you could get shopping over and done with in no time. It's a shame these dont exist anymore, I'm sure they would solve a lot of headaches at the register. Plus, it just looks cool.

Batman and Joker Posters:

Yes indeed. Even before the movies release, Batman posters were stolen from bus stops and walls of buildings in inner city. It's easy to see why. It's an amazing logo and a piece of late 80s art(and my current iPhone wallpaper). Having this hang in your room put you in a class of cool all itself. The logo still is remembered dearly and holds a spot in many poster collectors.

However, if you were just looking to spruce up your party pad, you needed to own this Joker poster. Look at how relaxed he appears to be at the beach. That's where you want to be. Maybe not with a can of Smilex, but it looks like he's having the time of his life. This poster summed Joker up in one frame and was seen in every boys room for years.

Batman The Cereal:
First off, the box sold the cereal. Look at it! It's nothing more than the movie poster itself which was already an attention grabber. But add a bunch of Captain Crunch in Bat form, and you just sold millions of boxes.Of course, most remember the bank that was attached to the front as an awesome givewaway that we ALL remember. The cereal was pretty good, but if you're looking to taste it again, just grab a box of Captain Crunch.  If you're looking to find the bank, just head to the flea market, you'll be able to find one. And if you're lucky, you'll find a full box still sealed just like I did back in March!

There you have it! These are definitely some of the best of the best items that had a Bat logo on it! There's literally thousands more but these were my personal favorites. Did I leave some out? Please add your picks!

Happy 25th Anniversary Batman! 

Love that Joker!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Celebrating 25 Years Of Tales From The Crypt

Hello, boils and ghouls! Today marks a very important anniversary! Yes indeed. Today, June 10th 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the very first episode of Tales From the Crypt hitting the airwaves!

It was 1990. My Aunt Kay came over a weekend to watch my brother and I while my mom was out of town. My Aunt Kay was the "fun" aunt. She was the aunt that let my brother and I drink soda after 8 pm, let us watch R Rated movies, and most importantly, one fateful night, let me watch Tales From The Crypt.

Yup. Tales From the Crypt. Along with Creepshow, the reason I love anthologies so bloody much. I mean, what's cooler than a crazy corpse telling different stories week in and week out? All it took was me not being able to sleep and joining my Aunt on our couch while she watched the episode "Four Sided Triangle" that involved Patricia Arquette falling in love with a scarecrow. I don't know why but something drew me in and after that night, I was hooked. My mother, on the other hand, wasn't the biggest fan and she had a rule that the first episode that terrifies me, I'm done. Realizing what a gamble that was, I agreed. Thankfully, as long as we had HBO(a few years), I never got scared and I was able to enjoy the series as long as I could. Great retellings of the old EC Comic comics in which evil is always met with a sweet demise or cruel and ironic fate. It was like actually watching a real life comic book and that definitely appealed to this young lad!

With the biggest stars including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Michael J Foxx, just to name a few and the biggest directors hoping to become a part of this successful show, it's easy to see why it remained so popular for years well after it's cancellation. The series was released over the years on vhs in many volumes which included 3 episodes per tape. And finally, in 2005, the first season was released on DVD, with the following 6 season to follow over the span of a few years. Yours truly was there to pick up every season on the day it was released every single time and they currently sit on my shelf proudly. To this day, I consider it my favorite show of all time. No matter what series, I can sit, marathon and proudly enjoy it every single time. 

The star, his royal creepiness himself, the CryptKeeper

 It seemed the 90s belonged to the CryptKeeper. He was everywhere! The manaical host, played amazingly by hysterical standup and voice actor John Kassir, became a household name thanks to merchandising that That includes the Tales From The Cryptkeeper cartoon, which I hated even as a kid because I thought it was nothing more than a horribly watered down cartoon. At the same time. it was good to see The Crypt Keeper on tv and being so widely available to all age groups. A game show on CBS in 1996, Secrets of the CryptKeeper's Haunted House, would follow. I liked that a little more than I liked the cartoon. I don't know why, but I did.

I gotta admit though, there's something super awesome about having a twelve inch talking Crypt Keeper doll on my shelf spouting out goofy lines and right below the shelf is a cassette tape of the Christmas themed "Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas". So many other items including trading cards, action figures, Budweiser bar items, shirts, and so many other items  that I could sit and list but we don't have that much time. I suppose stuff like that also helped it to become my all time favorite tv series.
A sample of my Tales From the Crypt collection!

Tales From The Crypt debuted on June 10th 1989 and I don't think anyone truly knew how huge it would become and what an impact it would have on horror as a whole. But, it's legacy of being this generations Twilight Zone is a description that speaks for itself. So, happy 25 years to such an amazing show, Boils and Ghouls!

-Chad, The BBQ-Keeper

The Paperboy Delivers!

If you were around in the mid-90s and watched cable television at any point in time, you'll recall the movie The Paperboy. It's a movie that revolved around a 12 year old paperboy, Johnny McFarley (played by young Canadian actor Marc Marut) who falls in love with his former neighbor(played by Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul. Good taste, Johnny!) and essentially, after being turned down and told she didn't want him around, he loses it and practically goes on a neighborhood-wide killing spree.

 So, I know what you're thinking. That's it? Yeah, pretty much. But, the first time I saw it in 1996, I was pretty entertained. It wasn't the biggest budgeted, didn't have the biggest stars, but everyone seems like they were putting out their best and it was actually pretty entertaining. While I've heard others write it off as a bad Lifetime movie, it's been a movie that I've been watching close to 20 years now and a movie I can still watch and enjoy. There's a lot of clever deaths, including Mrs Rosemont's death in which she has a heart attack watching Johnny supposedly beating her dog to death(Surprise, he was beating a bag of ribs and sauce.). And honestly, the story makes sense if you think about it. The kid was very, very imbalanced and Marc Marut played it well. It was a pretty fun movie that should be watched at least once. The only thing that saddens me as a fan is the fact that it hasn't been released on DVD or BluRay. And at this point, I have doubts it will be. But thanks to VHSPS, I have a special copy on my shelf.
Johnny, played by Marc Marut. 1994.

Coincidentally, this year celebrates it's 20th anniversary. Who knew! 20 years later and it's still one of my go-to movies when I need something to watch in a marathon or cleaning the house or just want to enjoy something. So, after months of trying to figure out how to celebrate properly, I snooped around and discovered Marc Marut on Facebook and decided to reach out and HOPE to get an interview. Apparently, Marc doesn't get on FB very often, so I was worried he wouldn't get it in time or just have no interest. Thankfully, a short while passed and I got a response from him saying he'd be happy to participate in a quick interview.

Marc, current day.

 Horror Movie BBQ: So, how did you get involved in Paperboy?

Marc Marut(Star of the Paperboy): Anne Tait (who I knew from Road to Avonlea) was the Toronto casting director, and she called me in to audition for the role of Johnny McFarley. Doug Jackson was there, and it was great to meet him - it's always nice to audition with the director present. Everything went well, and I couldn't help but feel I had got the role as soon as I walked out of the room... I guess my instincts were right.

BBQ: How were Frances Bay, William Katt and Alexandra Paul?
MM: Frances Bay was a complete sweetheart, rest her soul. She did a great job playing a witch of an old lady, but in real life she was the most pleasant person to deal with. I never really saw much of William Katt - he spent most of his time in his trailer, but when he was on set he was pleasant enough to work with. Alexandra Paul is absolutely fantastic, and we had a lot of fun together! You couldn't find a nicer woman.

BBQ: I met William Katt years ago and discussed the Paperboy and he recalled how cold it was during filming. Did that cause any problems?
MM: It may have felt cold to someone from California, but to me it felt like a typical Montréal summer... I was wearing a t-shirt.

BBQ: Was there any room for improvising and were you comfortable enough to improvise on your own?
MM: Yes, there was actually quite a bit of leeway. Doug Jackson was really good at letting the actors run with the scenes (although we didn't stray too far from the written dialogue), and Rodney Gibbons was a phenomenal DOP and contributed a lot to the film. Sometimes we just winged it - for example, the low angle shot where I'm hitting my bed with the baseball bat before collapsing to my knees - that was my idea :)
Not a bad choice, Johnny!

BBQ: Your character of Johnny was obsessed with Melissa Thrope but I have to assume it was easy to fall in love Alexandra Paul?
MM: Alexandra is the most sincere, kind and down to earth person you could ever meet. Yes, very easy to fall in love with. I wouldn't try to stalk her, though...

BBQ: What was your relationship with the older cast as opposed to the younger cast?
MM: There was really no difference, we all treated each other as equals. It was a good set to work on.

BBQ: Did everyone get along on set or were there any conflicts due to age and experience?
MM: No conflicts that I can remember...

BBQ: Paperboy didn't get the best promotion when it hit movie stores. Was there any promo items that were given out or any promotion on the part of the cast?
MM: If I recall, the movie was mostly intended for TV (HBO) so we didn't do a lot of promotion and it only had a short run in the cinemas. Because I was 14 at the time and it was rated R, I actually wasn't even allowed to see my own film in theaters... even though I really wanted to just randomly show up at screenings and freak out the audience! Oh well.

BBQ: Did you keep any mementos? Perhaps the golf club you took down your own father?
MM: I actually didn't keep any mementos from the shoot, but it's funny you mention the golf club - Barry Flatman is a real trouper! The golf club in the movie was a retractable putter, the shaft being made up of three sections held together only by an elastic string in the middle. When we shot that scene the stunt coordinator had already been sent home, and it didn't occur to any of us NOT to use the retractable putter... sure enough, when I swung the club hard the string snapped, sending the club head flying right into Barry's hand! Despite having two broken knuckles, he insisted on finishing the scene before going to the hospital. I felt really bad, but fortunately there were no hard feelings. We ran into each other a few years later and had a good laugh about it!

BBQ: Has it ever bothered you we never got a proper dvd release?
MM: Not really, after all I think it's up on youtube now. It's so cool how these days you can just watch it on your phone if you want to.

BBQ: Did you get a lot of attention after the movie was released and offers?
MM: I was really busy with work at that time, so if it did get me extra attention I honestly didn't notice. I also started shooting TekWar that summer, which is sort of funny because Brigid's brother Jacob and I became good friends. We later got to work together when he played the kid lawyer Eugene Leopold in TekJustice.

BBQ:Was the movie a bigger success upon it's video release or afterwards when it was  shown on USA Network?
MM: I honestly couldn't tell you since I wasn't responsible for any of the distribution of the film. Sorry.

BBQ:How do you feel about your role in The Paperboy?
MM:Everyone's their own worst critic, but overall I'm proud of my performance as Johnny McFarley. I got to reach deep down and embrace my inner psycho - kind of a dream job!

Thanks to Marc Marut for his assistance in this entry. The pleasure was all mine! For more info on Marc and his career, you can visit his site by going here.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

NOW Is The Time For Ecto Cooler To Return!

 It's been years since we've had a taste of the REAL Ecto Cooler. HI-C discountinued Ecto Cooler around 2000 or so, and since then, it's flavor was given a new name, "Shoutin' Orange TangerGreen" and "Crazy Citrus Cooler". Sadly, it became a disaster to try and find and in 2007, HI-C withdrew the flavor completely.

It's been 7 years since it's complete discontinuation. Try as they might, HI-C wasn't able to silence us forever. We remember the taste of Ecto Cooler, either coming out of a juice box or those giant metal cans that weighed just as much as a bowling ball. The juice itself tasted like a heavenly blend of oranges, a dash of lemonade and a full punch of Slimer's magic touch. The juice was introduced in the late 80s and was only meant to promote the second movie, but it was so delicious that it stuck around a lot longer. And it worked! To this day, there are online petitions, fanmade recipes(both alcoholic and non alcoholic), even people making bottle labels. packs of Ecto Cooler even go for well over 500 dollars on ebay when they(very, very rarely) pop up! It has definitely made an impact on my generation and it's something we never have forgotten. You ask anyone who tasted this lovely concoction, and you'll get the reaction along the lines of "Oh man, I totally remember the taste of that! I wish they would bring it back!". That goes to show you how much we loved it!

Now, Sony announced Ghostbusters will see a theatrical re-release. So, wouldn't this be a perfect time to see Ecto Cooler? You can't deny that it's a huge piece of Ghostbusters history. The legacy of Ecto Cooler has lasted just as long as the movies it represented. I mean, come on! Surely it would be a great idea to release it as a limited run in the theaters that are showing the movie as a special limited time fountain drink option? Or maybe just bring it back to somewhere like Target every Halloween in throwback packaging ala Monsters Cereals throwback boxes last year. I mean, that would satisfy fans and at the same time not wear out its welcome and become overdone while looking forward to it every Halloween.

I'm no business major, I'm just a blogger hoping to see it come back, at least, for a very limited run. I certainly hope Minute Maid who know owns HI-C, will consider bringing this delightful treat back for the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters. It would definitely benefit us who would love nothing more than to have something tasty to drink while watching our childhood heroes take on that mean Stay Puft!



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Batman Comes To The Dryden

It goes without saying, Batman 1989 is my all time favorite movie. I'm a lifelong fan of Batman as a whole. To me, Michael Keaton is Batman and Jack Nicholson is the one and true Joker. As great as Christian Bale was as Batman, nothing touches the first Tim Burton movie. Nothing. Everything about this movie is perfect in my mind. The design of both Gotham City and The Batmobile, the one liners delivered by every character, the poster, everything. All those actors and actresses involved really put out their best effort and truly put on a memorable show.

Lest we forget, we also got an amazing soundtrack and score by Prince and Danny Elfman respectively. Without this movie we would've never gotten Party Man. Just imagine how awful life would be without this song...

As much as I love this movie, it's always been my goal to see it on the big screen. I kinda had a chance in 1989 but circumstances made that goal impossible. My family, especially my father, were  huge Batman 66 fans. I wrote about that in an earlier entry, so I won't go further into details. Batman was always being played in my household so when we found out a new Batman movie was being released, we had to see it. Problem is, I was 6. So, my father decided he would see it first to make sure it was appropriate for me. The commercials alone made it look darker, so obviously my parents had some concern. They weren't over protective or anything, but they were kinda concerned it was a little too dark for my young mind. Sadly, I never did get to see it with my father because he died later that year. So, we didn't get to see Batman together, but I did get to see the three following Batman movies on the big screen. Minus Batman and Robin(Oh Alicia, why?!?!), I've seen three out of the four Batman movies on the big screen.

Batman has fully taken it's place in my life as the number 1 movie simply because it's followed me my whole life and I've still been able to be entertained by it. Much like Terminator 2, Creepshow and Lost Boys and Billy Madison(yes, really), it's a movie I can watch a million times, recite lines and still be highly entertained and satisfied. Maybe its because good wins, maybe it's the designs, maybe the music. It's probably a combination of all those things. I don't know. All I know is that I love this movie more than any other. Yes, it even gives Freddy a run for it's money. If only I could have said I saw it on the big screen...

But wait!

Local theater, the Dryden at the George Eastman House (historians will note George Eastman was the man who founded Kodak. So without him, we wouldn't be talking would we?) will be showing it on the big screen on July 11th at 8 pm! Announced on their Facebook page!
This is huge for me. I'm very excited. I was pretty much ready to go through the ceiling when I found this out. I'll finally be able to achieve one of my geek bucket list items. And it'll be in 35mm, no less! I'm hoping to July 11th will get here quick, because I'm already counting down the days til my favorite movie on the big screen!

Maybe I'll finally get that answer to the question "Where does he get those wonderful toys?".

For further information on Batman 1989, head over to 1989 Batman and for an earlier entry I wrote about the history of Batman's 89-190 toy lines, click right here!