Resident Alien: The Fish Out Of Water Show That You Should Watch

“At least I’m killing them for a good reason.”

When an alien crash lands while attempting to destroy all of the humans on Earth, he goes undercover as Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle, a doctor who the alien kills in self defense in the SyFy series Resident Alien. As he searches for the device that he needs to finish his mission, he becomes the town doctor in Patience, CO when the original doctor, Sam Hodges, is found dead in his practice. Harry attempts to blend in with the citizens of the sleepy Colorado town by “researching” the show Law & Order. He forms a friendship with Asta Twelvetrees, who worked for Dr. Hodges, and eventually develops relationships, some quite uneasy, with various members of the community. Some of the primary folks that he interacts with are the local sheriff, “Big Black” Mike Thompson, Deputy Liv Baker, Mayor Ben Hawthorne, and Dan Twelvetrees, owner of the local diner and Asta’s adoptive father. Harry also becomes close with Asta’s best friend, D’Arcy Bloom, a former Olympic skier, who falls briefly for Harry.

Harry also comes into conflict with Mayor Hawthorne’s son, Max, who just so happens to be one of the few humans that can see Harry’s true form. The two go after one another with Harry attempting to kill Max on a number of occasions. Max attempts to reveal Harry’s true identity to many people in the town but no one believes him except for his young friend, Sahar, an intelligent girl who, along with Max, manages to outwit Harry on numerous occasions.

As the series’ first season plays out, Harry unintentionally begins to have feelings for the very people that he is supposed to wipe out. He forms a strong bond with Asta. They are both outsiders in their own way and they become close friends as a result. D’Arcy is attracted to Harry but they end up simply being good friends. Max has the biggest influence on Harry. Without giving too much away, the duo end up helping one another in the long run, especially when a secret agency begins looking for Harry and his spaceship. Other relationships explored in the series include the mayor and his wife, Asta and Dan, Sheriff Thompson and Deputy Baker, and Max and Sahar.

The series is full of hilarious moments. Most of the laughs are generated when Harry attempts to interact with people in the town. He gets drunk with Asta and D’Arcy, becomes ecstatic when he performs an autopsy, and is often humbled by the townsfolk when he attempts to show off his intelligence. The biggest laughs come via the interactions between Harry and Max. The pair are brutal to one another. Max makes fun of Harry’s attempts to blend in and Harry calls the young boy a ton of inappropriate names.

This is an excellent series that I discovered late last year on Peacock. Having been out of my home for almost a year due to Hurricane Laura, I missed a ton of programs on television. I played catch up in July and August and Resident Alien was a welcome surprise. It provided a much needed break from the reality of dealing with contractors, the COVID-19 pandemic, and insurance companies. The first season of the series is currently available on Peacock and Hulu. Season Two recently began on SyFy and new episodes arrive on Peacock one day later. I am not sure if Hulu is releasing the second season as of yet.

The series stars the hilarious Alan Tudyk as Harry, Sara Tomko as Asta, and Judah Prehn as Max. It also features Corey Reynolds as the sheriff, Alice Wetterlund as D’Arcy, Levi Fiehler as Mayor Hawthorne, and Elizabteh Bowen as Deputy Baker. Gary Farmer (Dan), Meredith Garretson (Kate Hawthorne, the mayor’s wife and Max’ mom), Jenna Lamia (Judy, D’Arcy’s friend), and Gracelyn Awad Rinke (Sahar) are also featured in the series. Linda Hamilton makes an excellent appearance as the director of a secret group that’s hunting Harry.

I can’t recommend this series enough. It’s funny, heartwarming, and features the perfect amount of drama and action. Tudyk and Tomko shine as does Wetterlund and Prehn. The entire cast is brilliant. Be sure to check out this series if you haven’t had the chance. You won’t regret it!

Thanks for checking out my brief look as Resident Alien. I appreciate all of you!

The Year Of KISS: Hotter Than Hell (1974)

“You’re so young and so much different than I….”

Just a few months after releasing their debut album in February of 1974, KISS’ second album, Hotter Than Hell, hit record store shelves on October 22nd. Sales of the album were worse than the group’s debut. Live shows weren’t the problem and many critics then and now believe that the album’s poor performance was due to the production quality and lack of any major promotion. In any case, the album would reach gold status in 1977 much like the debut.

The album is perhaps best known for its iconic front and back covers. The front cover features the band (all inebriated except for Gene) surrounded by Japanese images and phrases. It’s been said that in the photo Peter Criss is holding Paul Stanley up in order to prevent him from falling due his excessive drunkeness. The back cover features an illustrated mock up of all four members’ face paint and images of each member from a huge photo shoot that allegedly turned into a big orgy.

The gang having a lot of fun.

There were ten tracks on the album. Only one of the album’s tracks, “Let Me Go, Rock N’ Roll,” was released as a single. Despite this, many of the album’s tracks remained in the band’s tour playlists over the years, especially “Let Me Go, Rock N’ Roll” and “Hotter Than Hell.” The album peaked at #100 on the Billboard charts.

Track Listing:

  1. Got To Choose
  2. Parasite
  3. Goin’ Blind
  4. Hotter Than Hell
  5. Let Me Go, Rock N’ Roll
  6. All The Way
  7. Watchin’ You
  8. Mainline
  9. Comin’ Home
  10. Strange Ways

Personnel: Paul Stanley (vocals, backing vocals, rhythm guitars), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, backing vocals), Peter Criss (drums, vocals), Gene Simmons (vocals, bass, backing vocals).

Even though this album has been criticized for its “sludgy” production quality, I personally believe that this sludge actually improves the album overall. There’s something rawer about this album that almost all of the other releases from KISS lack. From the plodding guitars on tracks like “Goin’ Blind” to the rapid fire lead in on “Parasite,” this album sounds like it was made by a hungry band wanting to make it big and that’s exactly what KISS was when this album was produced.

Note Ace’s half makeup. Due to an accident prior to the shoot, Ace’s face had to be altered on the album cover because he couldn’t apply makeup to the right side of his face.

I really like this album. Standout tracks for me are “Parasite,” “Goin’ Blind,” and “Mainline.” I really love the guitar work on “Parasite.” It’s a meaty rocker that, at least to me, is one of KISS’ best songs from their entire catalog. The bizarre and rather creepy lyrics of “Goin’ Blind” had me a bit perplexed, but I love how it just slowly rolls along without a care about what you think about it. It’s a cool track. “Mainline” is simply a great rock n’ roller that is only strengthened by Peter’s amazing vocals.

Oddly enough, my least favorite track is the album’s lone single, “Let Me Go, Rock N’ Roll.” The entire album is gritty and I love the sound. Gene and Paul handle most of the lead vocal duties but Peter shines on his two lead vocal performances on “Mainline” and “Strange Ways.” Ace wrote “Parasite” and “Strange Ways” and co-wrote “Comin’ Home.” Those songs feature some of his best work on lead guitar.

Another shot from the album’s photo shoot. Note Ace’s “patched up” makeup.

Hotter Than Hell best captures KISS’ raw grit and power on a studio album in my opinion. Only one other album comes close, 1975’s Dressed To Kill. I’ll be talking about that album next month. If you haven’t heard Hotter Than Hell before, I highly recommend giving it a listen. It might sound a bit off initially but, given time, I’m sure that you’ll grow to love it.

Thanks for reading my review!

Throwback Thursday: The Challenger Explosion (January 28, 1986)

L To R: Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Francis “Dick” Scobee, Ronald McNair, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka.

“I really don’t want to say goodbye to any of you people.” Christa McAuliffe

Tomorrow marks the 36th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. As a kid who was hooked on science fiction, had a subscription to Odyssey magazine, visited the Johnson Space Center, and dreamed of being an astronaut in the 1980’s, the Challenger mission was a huge part of my youth. I have fond memories of watching Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher and first civilian in space, training with NASA and getting a crash course in all things outer space. Much of her experience was documented with videos, photographs, and news articles that focused on her and her plans for the Teacher In Space Project. Thankfully I had teachers who went out of their way to allow myself and other students to consume as much information about Mrs. McAuliffe and the rest of the Challenger crew that we could get our hands on in a small town school.

1985 Barbara Morgan (2Nd From Right) Training With Christa Mcauliffe And Crew In The Zero-G Aircraft, (Photo By Nasa/Getty Images)

I idolized the crew. I wanted to be a pilot just like Michael Smith. I thought that Commander Francis “Dick” Scobee was cool and that his last name was even cooler. All of the mission and payload specialists, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, McAuliffe, and Judith Resnik, had a special place in my heart as well. I had a puppy love crush on Resnik. Onizuka, McNair, and Jarvis were all doing something that I wanted to do when I grew up. Mrs. McAuliffe was a teacher who was about to go into space. I envied her and her students.

Sadly, Mrs. McAuliffe never made it into space. As you probably all know, the Challenger exploded shortly after lift-off. There were no survivors. The space program was heavily questioned. It was also the end for NASA in many people’s eyes. Thankfully NASA is still around.

President Reagan and others look on as the Challenger explodes.

I vividly remember the day that the Challenger exploded. Myself and my fellow students along with a couple of other classes were all crammed into the library of my school. Our librarian, the wonderful Mrs. Malveaux, trucked out a TV stand and turned it on so that we could see the Challenger lift into space. I remember being shocked when the shuttle exploded. I remember the national news cutting to their studio and hearing the reporter (I believe it was Tom Brokaw) repeatedly say that the Challenger was destroyed and their were likely no survivors. I remember a few students crying and others like myself simply sitting there stunned. I will never forget that day.

The nice lady that we all claimed as our teacher, the country’s teacher, Mrs. McAuliffe, was gone. So were the other members of the crew. The awesome Michael Smith, Commander Scobee, Resnik, Onizuka, McNair, and Jarvis were gone.

I refuse to post a photo of the actual explosion. You can look that up for yourself. Instead, I hope that each and every one of you reading this take a moment to think on the lives lost on that fateful day in 1986. Think about the wonderful things that they had done prior to the mission and all of the great things that they could have accomplished had they successfully launched. Say a prayer for them and their families and any and every student who was ever inspired by a teacher or an astronaut.

Thank you for reading my post.

Finally! I’m Going To A Convention (Or Two, Or Three)

Maybe, Just Maybe!

The last couple of years have been pretty brutal to everyone. In my case and in the case of many others in southwest Louisiana, 2020 and 2021 were downright evil. From COVID-19 shutting down everything to Hurricane Laura destroying my family’s home to last year’s February freeze out that myself and my family lived through in a camper, I’m ready to have some fun.

I got to attend the Lake Charles Film Festival late last year, but the venue that normally hosts two other events that are near and dear to my heart, the Calcasieu Short Film Festival and Calcasieu Serial Fest, was literally wiped out by Hurricane Laura. That venue, the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur, LA, is still recovering from the hurricane. The Lake Charles Civic Center, which hosts CyPhaCon and a number of other events throughout the year, was also heavily damaged by the hurricane, but enough of it has been repaired that some events are going to take place.

With a few things finally getting back to normal, I plan on attending CyPhaCon in April. Most of the guests that were originally going to attend the event that was postponed two years ago are returning including Doug Jones. Also in attendance will be one of my favorite bands, The Suzaku 7! As usual the event will be heavy on anime so if that’s your thing, be sure to attend CyPhaCon in the early spring. I’ll be there with my good friend, Patrick Bennett, to help him promote the Lake Charles Film Festival, Calcasieu Serial Fest, and the Calcasieu Short Film Festival. We’ve submitted a panel and hopefully it will be approved.

CoastCon will make it’s triumphant return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on March 4-6th. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year’s event but it looks like it’s going to be amazing. Not only will Jason Carter be in attendance, but my good friends, THE Rob Cerio and Rafe White will be guests as well! CoastCon always feels like a family get-together for me as many of my best friends attend that event. I have some personal things to take care of in February and early March that will prevent me from attending, but I hope to make it next year.

Louisiana Comic Con almost happened in 2020 when COVID-19 first reared its ugly head, but the event was cancelled at the last minute. Then it was abruptly cancelled again in 2021 whenever Hurricane Ida threatened the area. Plans are in motion to have the event return in 2022, but no dates nor any guests have been announced yet. I attend this convention every year and have presented panels at the last two events. There were plans for me to present panels at both of the cancelled events as well. I look forward to submitting a panel to the convention again this year and hope to attend this great event.

One event that I’ve never been able to attend but have also wanted to check out is the Houston Horror Film Fest. It has taken place during the summer for the last couple of years and I’m hoping to attend this year. Why? Because Rachel True will be in attendance. She starred in one of my favorite films of all time, the very 90’s The Craft! There will be many other awesome guests in attendance and there are going to be some great horror films to watch as well. I’ll keep all of you posted if and when I make it to this event!

I cannot wait to get back into the swing of things with conventions! I’ve missed attending these events for over two years now! Get ready for coverage of each event that I attend and be sure to look me up if you attend any of these events. Tell me hello and let’s hang out!

Thanks for reading my post. It’s FINALLY convention season again!

The Year Of KISS: KISS (1974)

“Out on the streets for a living….”

Formed in 1973 from the ashes of a band called Wicked Lester, KISS began recording their debut album, KISS, in October of that same year. Just a few months later on February 18, 1974, the album was released. Despite heavy promotion from Casablanca Records, the album only managed to sell around 75,000 copies. It wouldn’t achieve gold status until 1977. Poor album performance was a trend that KISS and Casablanca would experience with the band’s first three studio albums. Only their massively successful live album, Alive, in 1975, would save them and Casablanca Records from falling to the wayside.

L to R: Ace “Space Ace” Frehley, Peter “Catman” Criss, Gene “The Demon” Simmons, and Paul “Starchild” Stanley.

There were nine tracks on the original album. Most of them would go on to become staples of KISS’ live shows. “Kissin’ Time” was added to later presses of the record in July of 1974. Three singles were released and the album peaked on the US Billboard Chart at #87.

Track Listing:

  1. Strutter (single)
  2. Nothin’ To Lose (single)
  3. Firehouse
  4. Cold Gin
  5. Let Me Know
  6. Kissin’ Time (single released in May of 1974, added to track list in July, 1974)
  7. Deuce
  8. Love Theme From “KISS”
  9. 100,000 Years
  10. Black Diamond

Personnel: Paul Stanley (rhythm guitars, vocals), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, backing vocals), Peter Criss (drums, vocals), Gene Simmons (bass, vocals).

This is one of my favorite KISS albums. Of the ten tracks that were on it, seven of them have consistently been played by the band on tour for nearly fifty years. I keep waffling between which track is my favorite on the album. Some days I say that “Black Diamond” is my favorite song and then I’ll turn around and say that “Strutter” is my favorite one. All that I know for sure is that both of those songs feature amazing drum work from Peter Criss and great vocals by Criss on “Black Diamond” and Paul Stanley on “Strutter.” Another song that I really love is the Ace Frehley penned “Cold Gin” that is sung by Gene Simmons. The bass on “100,000” years is also amazing. For lack of a better term it’s just a sexy groove. Ace really shines on all of his solos on this album, especially on “Black Diamond.” “Love Theme From KISS” is a surprisingly solid instrumental track. “Firehouse” is a sludgy rocker that signals the sound for KISS’ next album, Hotter Than Hell.

The album and the band are unique in that three of the four band members sang lead vocals. Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Gene Simmons all sang lead vocals. In some cases, they would trade off vocals in the same song. Ace Frehley would eventually take the lead on “Shock Me” in 1977 on the album Love Gun.

There really isn’t a bad track to be found here. It should be noted that I am biased in my opinion because KISS is my favorite band. I hope this little review helps out anybody that might be interested in the group. If you like gritty, punchy hard rock, KISS is for you.

Thanks for checking out my review!

Throwback Thursday: 1983 Kenner Star Wars Speeder Bike

“Go for help! Go!”

Everyone already knows that some of the coolest toys to ever grace a peg or a store shelf were the 3 3/4 Kenner Star Wars action figures and all of the playsets, vehicles, and blasters that came with them. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent playing with those action figures. Each film brought new characters (which meant new figures) and vehicles so I was always hoping to get my hands on at least a few of them.

Not my old Speeder Bike and Biker Scout.

I never had a lot of the vehicles or playsets. I mainly received figures. Of the few vehicles and playsets that I did receive, almost all of them were exclusively from Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi. One of my absolute favorites was the Speeder Bike that was featured prominently in the film on the planet Endor. Much cooler than the pod race on Tatooine and better than most of the battles in space in my opinion, the Speeder Bike chase had me dreaming of blitzing through dense forests with massive trees (and Ewoks). When I received the toy for Christmas circa 1983 or so, I was captivated.

The Speeder Bike came in three pieces: 1) the long extended front piece, 2) the control panel with handlebars, and 3) the rear piece with the legs and engine flaps. You simply snapped those three pieces together and took off on an adventure! When you lifted the bike off of any surface, the engine flaps would swing open. They would close whenever you “landed” your vehicle. The handlebars moved and the turret gun on the underside of the bike swiveled. When it was time to blow up the bike, you simply pushed a button on the rear piece (disguised as a pack) and the three pieces would fly apart. Snap them back together again and your ready for more action!

I still have my Biker Scout action figure (and his blaster) but have no idea what happened to my Speeder Bike. I wish that I still had one in my possession as I loved that toy. There have been model kits, a Power of the Force version, and even a Black Series version of the vehicle released over the years but I’ve never broken down and purchased one. Who knows? Maybe I’ll snag one someday and it will be 1980-something all over again.

Thanks for taking a stroll down memory lane with me today. See you again soon!

Scream (2022)

Yep, the killer really is on this poster!

“Do you like scary movies????”

This is a spoiler-free review. Read on with no worries.

Taking place twenty-five years after the events of the original Scream, the new Scream film is a surprisingly well done sequel. It could have easily been just another whodunit that trucks out Sid, Dewey, and Gale. Instead, it brings those characters back along with a couple of other characters from prior installments and then swirls them around with a new batch of teenagers ripe for slicing. The basic plot remains the same as it is in all of the other sequels: a new killer (or killers) dons the Ghostface mask and systematically takes out members of a tight-knit group of teens. Those teens in turn attempt to discover the identity of the killer(s) and tries to stop them, usually with the help of Sid, Dewey, and Gale. In this new film, however, there are ties that bind all of the victims and potential victims and ghosts of Scream sequels past that also come into play.

As with the other films in this series, Scream pokes fun at other horror franchises, tropes of the genre, and itself. Despite this, there’s a much darker tone to this film. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett do a brilliant job of generating some decent scares, doubt about the killer’s identity, and making Ghostface a legitimate and looming threat. This was the first time that I watched a Scream film and was actually impressed by the menacing presence of Ghostface. Sure, the villain trips, stumbles, and takes a beating from his/her victims, but Ghostface is much more sure of himself/herself this time around. This movie bumps the masked villain up a step or two in my opinion.

For folks like myself that saw the original film in theaters, this film is something of a love letter. Yes, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are back, but we also get to see another old friend pop up. I won’t mention who that is, but at the end of the film that character’s presence and influence leaves things wide open for the next sequel if one is ever made. There are other things that pop up in the film, some that are hiding right in plain site, that tug a little at the hearts of the older crowd. As far as their performances are concerned, Campbell, Cox, and Arquette knock it out of the park. They could have easily phoned in their performances but they put a lot of heart into their roles and it shines through in this film.

The new batch of victims and suspects…..uh…..actors and actresses that appear in this film do solid jobs. You’ll get to know some of them better than others. Melissa Barrera stars as Samantha Carpenter, the estranged older sister of Tara (Jenna Ortega) Carpenter that is drawn back to Woodsboro after her sister is attacked. Samantha is accompanied back home with her new boyfriend, Richie (gamely played by Jack Quaid) and the two of them (with eventual help from our beloved original film trio) decide to fight the killer(s) and end the threat to Woodsboro. The list of suspects include a pair of twins named Chad and Mindy (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown), Amber (Mikey Madison), Liv (Sonia Ben Ammar), and Wes (Dylan Minnette). Kyle Gallner appears as Vince. Heather Matarazzo and Marley Shelton reprise their respective roles of Martha and Judy. Shelton gets a much more expanded role in this film. All of the cast do a great job, but I have to say that Mikey Madison delivered the best performance of the bunch.

This is a really enjoyable film. It’s the best sequel in the Scream franchise in my opinion and it blows another recent sequel, Halloween Kills, completely out of the water. Scream is a sequel done right. It gives fans all of the familiar scares, kills, and humor that’s expected of it, but it also makes the villain more impressive and tosses in a few pieces of dynamite to leave plenty of room for newer and spookier growth. It’s no masterpiece, not at all, but it’s a fun ride that breathes new life into a franchise that was on the verge of becoming stale and predictable.

Thanks for checking out my post. Go see this film in a theater and enjoy it. You won’t regret it!

The Year Of KISS: The Band

“You Wanted The Best! You Got The Best!”

With my first official album review in The Year Of KISS coming next week, I thought that I’d give a very brief glimpse at the band’s lineup changes over the years. I’ll start with the original members and make my way to the newest one. I’ll list the primary personnel on each KISS album review as well.

Paul Stanley/The Starchild

Along with Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley exited the band known as Wicked Lester and formed one of the most iconic groups in rock history, KISS. While all members of the band take turns on vocals, Paul is the primary frontman for the group. He does almost all of the talking between songs during live shows and often takes charge in interviews. Stanley is, in my opinion, the most talented member of the band overall and the true heart of KISS. He sings lead vocals and backing vocals and plays rhythm guitar.

Gene Simmons/The Demon

Considered to be the face of KISS and the one member that everyone in the world seems to be most familiar with, Gene Simmons has used his makeup and his mind to make a ton of money off of the brand that is KISS. Simmons tromps around stage, apes to cameras, breathes fire, vomits blood, flies into the rafters, and sticks out his iconic tongue. Simmons and Stanley are the only members that have been in the band for its entire existence. Simmons plays bass and sings lead and backing vocals.

Ace Frehley/Space Ace

Ace Frehley is a founding member of KISS. He designed the band’s iconic logo. He’s also considered by many to be the “sound” of the band because of his unique playing style. He left the band in 1982 for a solid solo career but eventually reunited with all of the founding members in 1996. He remained with the band until he exited a second time in 2002. Frehley has often stated that he is an unorthodox guitar player who has never taken a guitar lesson. Despite this, Frehley is considered to be one of the most influential guitarists in rock music. Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), and Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) are just a few of the many guitarists that consider Ace to be one of their biggest influences. His playing style is only made more memorable by the fact that he rigged his guitars to smoke and shoot rockets during live performances. Ace was the band’s lead guitarist and sang backing and lead vocals.

Peter Criss/The Catman

Peter Criss was the first founding member of KISS to exit the group. He left the band in 1980, rejoined in 1996, left again in 2001, came back in 2002, and made his final exit in 2004. Criss is best known for his raspy vocals that can be heard on some of KISS’ most popular tracks like “Black Diamond” and “Hard Luck Woman” and my personal Criss favorite, “Getaway.” He’s also the vocalist and co-writer for the band’s biggest charting track, “Beth,” which made it all the way to #7 on the Billboard Charts in 1976. Criss played drums and sang backing and lead vocals.

Eric Carr/The Fox

Eric Carr replaced Peter Criss in KISS in 1980. Of all of the “new guys” to join the band, Carr seems to be the most beloved. Carr went out of his way to connect with fans of the band and according to numerous interviews, he was the most approachable member of the group. He brought a loud, pounding style of hard rock to the band that would carry them through the 1980’s. He sang lead vocals on Criss’ tracks that were performed live but only some of the time. His best known original vocal contribution to the band was “Little Caesar” from 1989’s Hot In The Shade. Carr stayed in the band until his death on November 24, 1991 due to heart cancer. His death was sadly overshadowed by the death of another famous rocker, Freddie Mercury, of Queen. Carr played drums and provided backing and lead vocals.

Vinnie Vincent/The Ankh Warrior

Something of an anomaly in KISS, Vinnie Vincent joined the band officially in 1982 with the departure of Ace Frehley. A wizard on guitar, Vincent immediately had an impact on the band in both good and bad ways. Vincent was a prolific songwriter and cranked out tons of material that the band used including tracks like “Lick It Up.” He was also heavily used as a guitar player on Creatures of the Night despite not being featured on the album cover. Vincent was known for playing unplanned extended solos that disrupted many of KISS’ shows. He supposedly locked horns with members of the band, especially Paul Stanley, and would never sign a contract with the group. This and other things led to his exit from the group in 1984. He formed Vinnie Vincent Invasion that same year with Robert Fleischman, Dana Strum, and Bobby Rock. He would eventually return to the band as a songwriter with 1992’s Revenge. Since that time, Vincent has made sporadic public appearances, released an EP, and did a few interviews. Vincent played lead guitar and provided backing and lead vocals.

Mark St. John

After the unceremonious exit of Vinnie Vincent, KISS quickly replaced him with Mark St. John. St. John is the shortest tenured member of the group, lasting less than a year in 1984. He appeared on the band’s 1984 album, Animalize, but is the only member of the group to have never been featured on an album cover. Apparently St. John clashed immediately with the group. That and the fact that his reactive arthritis made him only able to play two live shows meant that his time in the group was cut short. Eventually St. John would form the band White Tiger. St. John’s incarnation of the group lasted from 1985 to 1989 when St. John attempted to form another band, The Keep, with former KISS drummer Peter Criss. Unable to secure a record deal, the group dissolved. St. John made a few more attempts at recording and forming bands but eventually faded into obscurity. He made a few limited public appearances, got in trouble with the law, was severely beaten and stabbed in prison, and eventually passed away at the age of fifty-one on April 5, 2007. His story is perhaps the most heartbreaking in the band. St. John provided lead guitar and backing vocals.

Bruce Kulick

With Mark St. John unable to perform live and due to his frequent clashes with the band, KISS needed a reliable performer to take his place quickly. That performer was Bruce Kulick. Kulick joined the group officially in September of 1984. He was already playing with the band prior to that time. He toured with the group along with Mark St. John and whenever St. John couldn’t perform, sometimes mid-concert, Kulick was brought in to take over guitars. Both Bruce and his brother, Bob, had auditioned with KISS prior to getting hired. Bruce Kulick would go on to perform with the group until the original lineup’s reunion in 1996. Kulick is noted for being able to put his own spin on the memorable solos performed by Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent, and Mark St. John but still making it sound like traditional KISS tracks. Since 2000, Kulick has been performing with Grand Funk Railroad and has done many more projects, including solo albums, over the years. Kulick is also noted for being a very easygoing guy who is very approachable. Kulick provided lead guitars, backing and lead vocals, and keyboards.

Eric Singer/The Catman

After the untimely death of Eric Carr, KISS hired journeyman drummer Eric Singer. Don’t let the title “journeyman” fool you, Singer is perhaps the most technically gifted drummer the band has ever had in its lineup. Singer has performed with some of the biggest acts in rock music such as Brian May, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and Lita Ford. He’s also extremely versatile, being able to play numerous musical styles. Singer joined the band during their “unmasked” period but was the first person to take on the persona of a previous member of the group when he donned the Catman makeup in 2001. This has resulted in many members of the KISS Army disliking Singer and Tommy Thayer, who took on the Space Man persona. Singer has been with KISS longer than any other member of the band except for Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Singer also has his own group, ESP, that he performs with when he isn’t behind the kit for KISS or any of the many other bands he performs with when KISS has some downtime. Singer provides drums, piano, backing vocals, and lead vocals.

Tommy Thayer/The Spaceman

We’ve arrived at the final member of KISS. He’s been with the band longer than any other member except for Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Eric Singer, but he’s still considered the “new guy.” He’s also both loved and hated for his tenure with the group. He’s Tommy Thayer and he’s one of the most solid guitarists that KISS has ever had in their lineup. After Ace Frehley’s final exit from KISS in 2002, Tommy Thayer took up Space Ace’s guitar and his persona. This enraged many fans even more than when Eric Singer took on the Catman persona. This is probably because Ace Frehley is one of the most beloved members of the original group. It also might be due to the fact that Thayer not only played in a KISS tribute band but that his involvement with the actual group goes all the way back to 1989’s Hot In The Shade where he did session work and co-wrote some of that album’s tracks. Thayer was something of an “every man” for the group. He did whatever functions Gene and Paul requested of him including production, videography, and being a gofer for the band. He went as far as reteaching both Ace Frehley and Peter Criss their original parts from KISS’ classic tracks so that they could perform them on the Reunion tour. When Frehley eventually left, Thayer slipped right into the role as the Spaceman. Since then, Thayer has contributed to the band’s last two albums, Sonic Boom (2009) and Monster (2012), providing songs and playing guitars. In my opinion, Thayer is an excellent guitarist who is only hindered by the fact that many people consider him nothing but a cover artist who got lucky. The fact of the matter is that Tommy Thayer can play all of the KISS tracks exactly as they sounded nearly fifty years ago, comes across as a nice guy despite how some people see him, and he put in a ton of work to get where he is today. Thayer provides the group with lead guitar and backing and lead vocals.

In Summary

Well, there you have it. I’ve listed all of the members of KISS from the group’s history. Sure, there are a few players that appeared on albums who were never officially members of the group such as Anton Fig and Bob Kulick, but I’ll mention them in reviews later this year. I just wanted to give everyone a brief introduction to the faces and personalities that turned KISS into the juggernaut that it has become over time.

Thanks for reading! The first album review hits next Friday!

Throwback Thursday: The Dirt Bike Kid (1985)

Magic Wheels

Although he’s best known for 1983’s A Christmas Story, Peter Billingsley was actually a very busy child actor in the 80’s. Not only did he appear in the aforementioned Christmas classic, but he also starred in the thriller Death Valley (1982), Russkies (1987), Beverly Hills Brats (1989), and a few other films as well. His face was all over television, starring or guest starring in numerous shows such as Punky Brewster, Highway To Heaven, Little House On The Prairie, Real People, and many more. One of the quirkiest films that he appeared in was The Dirt Bike Kid (1985), a film about a kid who buys a magical bike that helps him fight off a motorcycle gang, a greedy banker, and also helps him save his friend’s business. Crazy, right? It’s still a fun little flick.

In the film, Billingsley portrays Jack Simmons. Jack is mesmerized by motorcycles, motocross racing, and BMX bikes. His single mother (Anne Bloom), who is struggling to make ends meet, gives Jack their last fifty dollars for groceries while she goes for a job interview. Jack happens to go to a local race and ends up purchasing a beat up old dirt bike with the money instead and also has to trade his BMX bike as well. With nothing but a filthy and banged up motorcycle to show for his troubles, Jack’s mom punishes him and sends him to his room for the night. Once the lights go out, Jack sneaks out to the garage and cleans up the bike. It magically fixes its own dents and scratches and takes Jack for a wild ride that has him fighting a motorcycle gang and eventually flying over the city to safety back at home.

As the film continues, we learn that a local banker, Mr. Hodgkins (Stuart Pankin), has plans to demolish the local hot dog stand in order to make way for a new bank. That hot dog stand is owned by Mike (Patrick Collins), Jack’s good friend and baseball coach. From there the movie becomes a battle of wits and wheels between Jack and Mr. Hodgkins as Jack begins to uncover the real reason why Mr. Hodgkins wants to put his new bank on the spot where Mike’s Doghouse currently stands.

Along for the ride are Jack’s best friend, Bo (Chad Sheets), Mrs. Clavell (Sage Parker), who works for Mr. Hodgkins but secretly loves Mike, Big Slime (Weasel Forshaw), leader of the local biker gang, and a crew of bumbling cops that attempt to stop Jack because Mr. Hodgkins has them in his pocket. It all sounds really silly but it also works perfectly on the same level as films like Meatballs. Basically there are enough dirty words in the film to make parents cringe a bit but there are also so many sugary sweet moments and completely silly action that parents let the bad words slide. There’s almost no sexual references in the film with the exception of Bo being captivated by a young woman’s bouncing bosom at the beginning of the film and Mr. Hodgkins unsuccessfully attempting to seduce Jack’s mom and eventually a second woman as well.

The film’s cast is loaded with faces that most 1980’s and 1990’s kids will recognize. Though none of them may register as a star, all of the core cast has either starred in at least one major film or has been a guest star or star on the small screen. The actor who plays Mike, Patrick Collins, has been in an amazing amount of films, television shows, and commercials. From the mid 1970’s on, Collins has nearly sixty credits to his name, many of which were as recurring characters on shows such as Gimme A Break, Law & Order: SVU, and Checking In. Anne Bloom has had a long career much like Collins. She starred in the series Not Necessarily The News (along with The Dirt Bike Kid costars Stuart Pankin and Danny Breen and director Hoite C. Caston), and went on to appear on shows such as Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Doogie Howser, M.D., Airwolf, and Johnny Bravo. Stuart Pankin has had probably the most prolific on screen career of the film’s stars. According to IMDb, Pankin has 163 acting credits to his name including roles in films such as Arachnophobia and Fatal Attraction and a ton of TV roles including starring, recurring, and guest roles in shows like The Golden Girls, The Power of Matthew Star, Barney Miller, Knots Landing, Night Court, and Suddenly Susan. He has also done a ton of voice work on shows like Dinosaurs, Superman: The Animated Series, and Higglytown Heroes. Sage Parker has also featured in a number of popular films and television shows but most folks will probably recognize her as Tyler, one of the scientists that works on Robocop in the film of the same name. Chad Sheets’ career was sadly cut short. He passed away at the age of twenty-six due to colon cancer. I vaguely remember the children’s series that he starred in called The Real Adventures of Sherlock Jones and Proctor Watson. What I really remember him from are films like Meatballs II and his guest roles on shows like Magnum, P.I. Billingsley found his true calling behind the camera. He has produced, co-produced, executive produced, or directed numerous films and television series including Four Christmases, Sullivan & Son, Couples Retreat, and Iron Man. He still gets in front of the camera as well, mainly in cameos or small guest roles such as in films like Spiderman: Far From Home and Elf.

The Dirt Bike Kid is currently available on home media and multiple streaming services. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime or Peacock, the film is included for free on those platforms. Pluto TV and Tubi are two free streamers that also have the film available for viewing. If you have a kid between the ages of eight and twelve, this is a great film to watch with them. There’s a bit of bad language and the aforementioned bouncing bosom (fully clothed), but not much else that will make a parent worry about what their kid is seeing on the screen. I believe that you’ll enjoy this movie as well.

Thanks for reading my post. See you again soon!

Rank: Top Ten Favorite TV Vehicles

Nope, Automan didn’t make the list, but this was a sweet ride!

Full Disclosure: I totally ripped off this idea from Jamie Ray’s Fave Five From Fans podcast. Be sure to check out his podcast and let him know that yours truly sent him your way! Click this link to find out more!

“Chicks dig the car.”

Okay, so “chicks” might not be the proper term to use these days but it’s a well known fact that back in the day, plenty of chicks were attracted to certain vehicles on television. Some of those vehicles were actual cars and trucks that you could buy off of a lot (so long as you had a ton of money in hand) and some were either customized stock vehicles or entirely new fabrications for a series.

In this list I’ll be ranking my top ten favorite vehicles from television. I’m limiting myself to vehicles on television, so no 1989 Batmobiles or Christines. I’m also limiting myself to vehicles that actually have wheels. This eliminates the awesomeness that is Airwolf and the Riptide boat. I’m also not what you’d call a “car guy,” so I’m not getting into the technical aspects of the vehicles. With that in mind, let’s waste no more time and get to the list!

Number Ten: 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTB/4

Sure, this ride wasn’t actually a Ferrari, but it looked awesome and was, at least in my opinion, the coolest car on Miami Vice. The exterior panels were Ferrari, but the engine was from a Chevrolet Corvette. This replica vehicle infuriated Ferrari, and they ended up giving the series two brand-spanking new 1986 Ferrari Testarossas. Popular Mechanics has an awesome article about this and many of the other vehicles used in the series here. I always preferred this black Daytona Spyder over the Testarossa and hated to see it destroyed on the show.

Number Nine: The General Lee

I spent many hours of my childhood pretending to be Luke Duke (I always thought that he was cooler than Bo). I rode all over my yard and used any and every piece of wood, clump of dirt, or any other items as a launching point for my bicycle which I pretended was the 1969 Dodge Charger known as the General Lee. Dukes of Hazzard was one of my favorite shows as a very young child and Daisy Duke was one of my earliest crushes. With the rebel flag on top and that orange paint all over, I thought that this was the baddest vehicle on the planet. I understand that this vehicle has become somewhat controversial over the years but for its time, nothing could beat the General Lee.

Number Eight: 1983 GMC Vandura

Let’s be honest, outside of the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, vans haven’t been sought out that much for transportation on television. While the Mystery Machine didn’t make my list, the coolest van in the history of television did: The A-Team‘s GMC Vandura. Sure, it had a ton of gadgets and weapons in the back, and always the right ones for whatever job the gang was working, but this van is cool because it was black, had a red stripe on it, was almost always driven by B.A. Baracus (Mr. T), and had a freaking spoiler on top! A van with a FREAKING SPOILER ON TOP! If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!

Number Seven: Black Beauty

The blacked out, souped up 1966 Chrysler Imperial Crown that is best known as Black Beauty from The Green Hornet series is exactly that, a black beauty. When I first saw this vehicle in reruns of the classic Hornet series, I immediately fell in love. The dark coloring made the green headlights pierce the night and it just screamed “cool.” Throw in all of the weapons that were in the vehicle and you’ve got the sweetest superhero ride on the block that is second only to the iconic Batmobile.

Number Six: The Highwayman Truck

The short-lived 1987 series The Highwayman is just one of a long list of shows that were cancelled too soon in my opinion. It starred Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) and “Jacko” Jackson (Energizer Battery commercial star in the U.S.) as a duo of crime fighters in the near future. The Highwayman rolled around a very Mad Max like desert area battling bad guys in a heavily modified 1980 Kenworth cab-over. When I say highly modified, I meant it. The “cab” of the truck was actually a helicopter that could be used for aerial assaults. The vehicle had a number of impressive weapons, a handy car stowed away in the rear, and could also become invisible when needed. The Highwayman’s buddy, Jetto, also had a cool ride that included an awesome car, but that truck didn’t make this list.

Number Five: 1973 Dodge Open Road

Batman has the Batmobile. The Green Hornet has Black Beauty. Panthro has the Thunder Tank. So what stylish ride would you expect one of the most powerful superheroes of all time to roll around in fighting crime? If your answer was a 1973 Dodge Open Road, you’re correct! From 1974 to 1976, Billy Batson, who with one magic word would become Captain Marvel, and Billy’s mentor named….um….Mentor, would travel from town to town looking to right wrongs. Outside of the sweet lightning bolt on the front and a tricked out communicator that allowed Billy and Mentor to speak with the mystical elders, there’s nothing special about this vehicle. It’s just really cool and deserves the five spot on my list.

Number Four: Magnum, P.I. Ferrari 308 GTSi

Tom Selleck actually drove three versions of the Ferrari 308 GTSi during Magnum, P.I.’s eight season run. The 1981 version was used the longest, seasons 2-6, with the 1979 card being used only in the first season and a 1984 model used in the final two seasons. All three of the cars were gorgeous and looked great while cruising around Hawaii. Of course, Thomas Magnum is an iconic character, so he deserved an iconic car.

Number Three: 1951 Ford F1

On the surface it doesn’t look like much, but the red 1951 Ford F1 pickup truck was used by a great “collector” and his “coordinator,” Lamont and Fred Sanford of Sanford & Son Salvage. Fred is the “Sanford” and Lamont is the “Son” if you weren’t already aware. I always loved this beat up old truck because I grew up around a lot of folks that drove beat up old trucks. This pickup cruises into the three spot on my list simply because I love Redd Foxx and Sanford & Son so much. It appeared in the opening credits of every episode and was shown during almost every episode, usually parked and always full of junk.

Number Two: The Batmobile

No vehicle is as iconic as the Batmobile. Whether it’s the 1989 version, the “tumbler” from the Dark Knight trilogy, or any other version of this car, there’s simply no other ride on the planet that is memorable as the Batmobile. Outside of the 1989 Michael Keaton Batmobile, the best known version of the car is the heavily modified 1955 Ford Futura concept car used by Adam West in the classic 60’s Batman TV series. It was teeming with amazing gadgets that included the Bat-magnet, Bat-scope, Bat-phone, Bat-ray, Bat…..well, you get the picture. It even had an inflatable decoy! This car is simply amazing and it definitely deserves the top spot on my list…..except one vehicle outshines it in my sweet little 1980’s heart. That vehicle is……..

Number One: KITT

KITT easily tops this list as the most iconic TV vehicle of all time. Only the Batmobile comes remotely close to KITT’s awesomeness. Driven by the always-cooler-than-you Michael Knight (an icon himself, David Hasselhoff), KITT was a self-aware vehicle that could speak, drive itself, and do a ton of other things. KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) had a medical scanner, a chemical analyzer, flame throwers, a nearly indestructible body, oil squirters, and so much, much more. In Knight Rider‘s fourth and final season, KITT received an update that added even more gadgets and weapons to his arsenal.

KITT was sarcastically voiced by William Daniels. You might know him from St. Elsewhere, but younger generations will know him as Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. KITT had an evil twin named KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot) who was originally voiced by Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime. Both vehicles were 1982 Pontiac Trans Ams.

I had the opportunity of seeing a replica of KITT on two occasions. I simply love this vehicle. KITT is amazing. He showed up in my life at just the right time to captivate me and I love that car with all of my heart. I hope to one day meet David Hasselhoff, William Daniels, and Peter Cullen. As a child I wanted to be Michael Knight and as an adult I STILL want to be Michael Knight!

I hope that you enjoyed my list. Let me know some of your favorite vehicles in the comments section. Thanks for reading my post!