Throwback Thursday: Flash Gordon (1980)

“Flash Gordon. Quarterback. New York Jets.”

Entirely over the top and insanely fun to boot, 1980’s Flash Gordon is loud, brightly colored, and completely bonkers. It features a stellar cast loaded with actors who are well known in the science fiction and fantasy genres and boasts a soundtrack written and performed by none other than rock legends, Queen. The film is based upon the King Features Syndicate comic strip of the same name that was created by Alex Raymond.

In the film, Ming The Merciless has decided to toy with (and ultimately destroy) planet Earth by using a weapon to cause seemingly natural disasters on a catastrophic scale. On the planet, the brilliant and slightly mad Dr. Zarkov determines that an outside force is causing the devastating events and plans to pilot his rocket to their source in order to end the destruction. He tricks Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, fresh from a plane crash, into going with him to the planet Mongo. On Mongo, the trio quickly find themselves at the mercy of Emperor Ming. Ming orders the execution of Flash, the wiping of Zarkov’s brilliant mind, and that Dale becomes his newest bride.

All three of our heroes manage to survive their fates to some degree. Dale uses cunning to slip out of Ming’s clutches. Flash is aided by an unexpected traitor to Ming’s empire. Dr. Zarkov uses his amazing mind to defeat the brainwashing and even enhances his already powerful brain.

As the story continues, Flash attempts to unite the kingdoms of Arboria and Sky City by convincing their respective leaders that combined, they can overthrow Ming and his minions. Prince Barin of Arboria doesn’t trust Flash nor does he trust Vultan, leader of the Hawkmen in Sky City. He and Flash ultimately battle one another in a whip duel. The result of that duel (no spoilers, I promise), leads up to an attack on Sky City and the eventual bonding of Sky City and Arboria against Ming and his army. Will Flash save the day? I’m not telling you. You’ll have to watch the film for yourself!

This film is just fun to watch. It’s crazy and doesn’t really make that much sense but it doesn’t have to in order for the viewer to have a good time. This movie hearkens back to the whizbang days of early science fiction and fantasy where lasers, spaceships, monsters, and other genre tropes didn’t need to be explained. You simply accept them for what they are and move on with the film, book, radio broadcast, etc. The brightly colored costumes and sets also remind me of the days of films shot in Technicolor.

The film’s greatest strengths are found in its cast and the music by Queen. The persistent dunh-dunh-dunh-dunh of a piano gives the entire film a sense of urgency. It seems like the music is always building up to the next big explosion, battle, or fisticuffs. The cast features Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton, Mariangela Melato, Richard O’Brien, William Hootkins, Robbie Coltrane, John Morton, Kenny Baker, Deep Roy, George Harris, and many, many more stars that appeared in films that include multiple Star Wars films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, numerous James Bond films, Doctor Who, the Harry Potter films, The Highwayman, Thunder in Paradise, Game of Thrones, The Neverending Story, and countless other science fiction and fantasy films. In other words, if you’ve ever watched a fantasy or sci fi film or television show, odds are that you’ve seen a few of the faces in Flash Gordon a time or two.

This movie isn’t for everyone. It’s probably too much for “serious” fans of science fiction to really enjoy and a tad bit too insane for hardcore fantasy followers. That being said, if you can toss out logic for a couple of hours, I’m sure that you’ll become a fan of this brilliantly crazy film. If nothing else, watch it to hear the great Queen soundtrack!

Thanks for reading my post. I’ll have a few Christmas themed posts next week!

Throwback Thursday: Krull (1983)

“The Black Fortress…where does it rise?

My relationship with the 1983 film Krull is an odd one. I didn’t actually see the film when it was first released in theaters but my parents bought me the Atari 2600 game that tied into the film because I was enthralled with the movie. I also had a cousin who saw every single fantasy and science fiction film that hit theaters during those days and she bought me the Parker Brothers Krull card game because she knew that I would love it. Thanks to the video game, I had a basic understanding of the film’s plot. The card game featured some amazing artwork and made me long to see the film. For whatever reason, my parents didn’t take me to see the movie and when it was eventually released on VHS, I didn’t get to see it until I spent a summer at my sister’s old apartment in Alexandria in 1993. The local Blockbuster had a copy of the movie so I rented it and watched it over and over again.

I love this movie. Yes, I know that it isn’t necessarily the greatest film to ever hit celluloid, but there is something extremely appealing about this movie. It basically takes Star Wars, a film that fuses fantasy with science fiction elements, and leans harder on the fantasy aspects. There’s a battle in a swamp, an oppressive army of soldiers known as Slayers who have laser firing weapons, a Cyclops, a massive spider web, fire mares (more on this later), and a cast loaded with characters that all deserve their own action figure in my opinion.

In the film, Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) is about to marry the beautiful Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) in order to unite their respective kingdoms in order to battle the invading Beast and his Slayer army (Slayerrrrrrrrrr!). Instead, the wedding is interrupted by the Slayers who kill Colwyn and Lyssa’s fathers, kidnap Lyssa, and cause general disarray. Colwyn manages to survive the attack and is aided by Ynyr (Freddie Jones). Ynyr tells Colwyn that the Beast can only be defeated by using the Glaive, an ancient and powerful weapon. Colwyn rounds up a few less than respectable outlaws to aid him on his quest, and the film plays out as a traditional fantasy questing film with a slight twist at the end. I won’t say what that twist is, but I will say that it sort of dismisses the necessity of the Glaive.

In any case, I love this film. It’s clunky but the music and special effects are very well done. The cast is loaded with popular British actors, some already established and others that would go on to bigger and better things. American Ken Marshall portrayed Colwyn and he has had a prolific career on television in guest starring roles. He also portrayed Marco Polo in the 1982 miniseries of the same name and guest starred on shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Baywatch. Much like Marshall, English actress Lysette Anthony has had a long and successful career that saw her in many supporting and guest roles. Alun Armstrong portrayed the bandit named Torquil. His career includes roles in major films such as Sleepy Hollow, The Mummy Returns, Eragon, and Van Helsing. He has also had a very successful career on television. Bernard Bresslaw, who portrayed the Rell the Cyclops, was already well known as a member of the Carry On comedy team in Britain. He was no stranger to science fiction or fantasy, however, as he had already worked on Doctor Who.

The two actors that most viewers these days would recognize are Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane. Both of these actors had relatively small roles in Krull, but they would both go on to have massive careers, especially Neeson. Coltrane is probably best known for his work in the Harry Potter films as Hagrid and his work in James Bond films. Neeson has done everything from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace to the Taken franchise to cult films like Darkman and Disney films such as the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Like I said earlier, I loved this film entirely based on how much I loved the Parker Brothers card game and the Atari 2600 video game that I was given by family. The cards were amazing and the video game hooked me with the fire mares, horses that ran so fast that they would actually catch on fire and leave a trail of flames behind them. The Beast’s castle, which doubled as a dematerializing spaceship, would randomly appear across the surface of the planet and the only way that Colwyn and his friends could get to the castle before it moved again was by riding the insanely fast fire mares.

So is Krull worth a look? It is in my opinion. It’s not a brilliant film but it is a fun adventure to watch. Plus, it’s pretty cool to see Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in two of their earliest roles. Give it a shot. I don’t think that you’ll regret it.

I want to give props to the Pop Ninja Podcast for their most recent episode that brought up Krull. That episode triggered so many memories for me that I had to blog about it. Be sure to check out their podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks for reading my post. See you again real soon!

Throwback Thursday: Willow (1988)

“You’re not warriors. You’re pigs! You’re all pigs!”

While the work of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg commanded most of my attention as a child, a third person who doesn’t get enough recognition from fandom in my opinion also took up a lot of my time. Ron Howard may not be one of the first names to register with science fiction and fantasy fans, but he has directed or produced a number of very popular genre films including Cocoon, Splash, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. He’s also responsible for directing massive hits like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Backdraft.

Howard teamed up with George Lucas in 1988 to give the world Willow. The film starred Warwick Davis (multiple Leprechaun, Star Wars, and Harry Potter films) as Willow Ufgood, a Nelwyn farmer with dreams of becoming a wizard. He’s given the daunting task of protecting Elora Danan from the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh, Upstairs Downstairs, Cleopatra, The Changeling). With the help of a skilled swordsman turned criminal named Mad Martigan (Val Kilmer, Tombstone, The Saint, Batman Forever) and a number of other unlikely heroes, Willow does everything he can to stop the evil Bavmorda from murdering young Elora.

As far as fantasy films go, Willow is a very straightforward tale. With winks and nods to everything from the Bible and Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings and Gulliver’s Travels, the story by George Lucas (screenplay by Bob Dolman) doesn’t stray very far from the basic formula of a fantasy. Willow is an unlikely hero given an impossible task with all of the odds stacked against him. He gathers a ragtag bunch of heroes and rebels to help him defeat the evil queen and her army of black armored warriors who are led by the monstrous General Kael (Pat Roach). He faces off against trolls, a two-headed dragon, and a master sorceress. A forbidden love story is even thrown into the mix whenever the queen’s daughter, Sorsha (Joanne Whalley), falls for Mad Martigan and joins Willow’s forces against the Nockmaar army. It’s fantasy by the numbers, but it works very well.

The film features some fairly decent special effects for 1988, although earlier films from the decade like Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, which featured the same effects company (Industrial Light & Magic), looked much better. That being said, the digital morphing effects used in Willow are directly responsible for massive advancements in CGI.

James Horner’s score is pretty good, but this isn’t his best work in my opinion. For someone who has composed music for films such as Titanic and The Rocketeer, this film’s score was lackluster. Horner was known for borrowing and/or tweaking the work of other composers in many of his films, and it’s extremely evident in Willow.

The film featured a number of actors that genre fans recognize. Davis has had an outstanding career in science fiction, horror, and fantasy. He’s one of the most easily recognizable faces in fandom. Val Kilmer was riding a building wave of success when he portrayed Mad Martigan. He would go on to become a massive star in his own right. Patricia Hayes (Fin Raziel) appeared in many fantasy films including The Neverending Story and The Terrornauts. Joanne Whalley was recently a part of the Netflix/Marvel series Daredevil. The legendary Billy Barty had a small role as The High Aldwin, the village wizard, and had plenty of other genre roles in films like Legend and Masters of the Universe. Tony Cox, Malcolm Dixon, Phil Fondacaro, Mark Northover, and David J. Steinberg, all Nelwyns in the film, have portrayed multiple memorable characters in fantasy and science fiction films. Of special note is Pat Roach as General Kael. Known for portraying multiple characters in the same films, Roach is probably best known for his role as the ill-fated Nazi mechanic that Indiana Jones battles in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also portrayed a Sherpa in that film and had the rare opportunity to die twice in the same movie.

In the toy world, the film’s accompanying toyline is considered to be one of the worst in film history. Made by Tonka, the line featured stationary figurines of many of the film’s key players. The figures were trapped in an eternal pose and in actuality looked more like mini statues or game pieces than action figures. That being said, I owned a few of them as a child. I remember having Willow, one of the rebel soldiers, and General Kael. In all honesty, the Kael figure looked awesome. I loved his skull mask and his black armor. He looked like Skeletor on steroids!

Was Willow a great film? Nah, but it was a surprisingly fun formulaic movie. It triggered my imagination and has managed to hold my attention every time that I watch it. It doesn’t get as much recognition as a lot of other fantasy genre films, but I wouldn’t say that it deserves it, either. There’s talk of a new film and/or a television series coming in the near future and I’ll probably watch it for nostalgia’s sake, but the original film will always be my favorite.

Thanks for reading. If there are any films, books, TV shows, music, or other things that you’d like to see featured in Throwback Thursday, let me know in the comments!

Toss A Coin To Your Blogger…

The Witcher Spins A Wonderful Tale

Outside of the occasional advertisement for the popular video game based upon it, I was completely unfamiliar with Andrzej Sapkowksi’s book series, The Witcher. I knew that the game looked cool, but I’m not much into modern gaming as I am the old school console games, so my knowledge of the series began and ended with the advertisements.

When I discovered that Netflix was going to be producing a series based on the novels and the games, my interest was piqued. I became especially interested whenever I found out that Henry Cavill would star in the series as the title character, better known as Geralt of Rivia.

When the series became available for streaming, it took me quite a bit longer than some others to view it. Why? Because of its mature content, which includes strong language, nudity, violence, and gore, it was a tad difficult for me to watch the series since I am not ready to expose my youngest child to those things. (I have yet to watch the entirety of Game of Thrones due to this as well).

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally managed to watch the entire series and I really enjoyed it. Yes, some bits were rather predictable, but for the most part the series was a solid entry in the fantasy genre. Henry Cavill carried most of the series on his broad shoulders as he grimaced, grunted, and growled his way through each episode. Anya Chalotra, who portrayed Yennefer of Vengerberg, commanded each scene that she was in as well, partly because she did an amazing job in the role and partly because she is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Freya Allan was very good as Cirilla, The Lion Cub Of Cintra, who is the primary motivation for pretty much everything that happens in the series.

For those that are unfamiliar with the series, Geralt is a witcher, a paid monster hunter that is tied by destiny to the fate of Cirilla, whenever he saves her future parents and a lot of other folks at a wedding gone wrong. Yennefer is a powerful mage who gives up something (I won’t say what that something is) in order to become beautiful. She uses her beauty and her magic to manipulate others in an attempt to reacquire what she gave up. Along the way she encounters Geralt and their fates also become tied together.

While the series slowly fuses the destinies of Geralt, Cirilla, and Yennefer, plenty of other adventures occur. There are a number of villains in the series, but the one that stands out the most in my mind is Cahir, the Black Knight who commands the Nilfgaardian army. Driven by his desire to capture Cirilla for his emperor, Cahir (Eamon Farren) takes his army from the North and burns across the realm leaving a path of destruction in his wake. Aided by the mage known as Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni), Cahir decimates Cirilla’s home of Cintra and continues his hunt for her whenever she escapes during the assault. This leads to a great battle at the end of the first season.

Geralt, Cirilla, and Yennefer also run into a few allies off and on throughout the series. Mousesack (Adam Levy) is loyal to a fault to Cirilla, willing to do anything to protect her. Cirilla also befriends a young elf named Dara (Wilson Radjou-Pujalte), who helps her while she is on the run from Cahir. Yennefer forms strong bonds with some of her fellow mages such as Triss (Anna Shaffer) and also has a strong love/hate relationship with her rectoress, Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), who attempts to guide Yennefer down the right path. Geralt runs into many colorful characters such as Borch Three Jackdaws (Ron Cook), a stranger that convinces Geralt to join him in a dragon hunt along with his two aids, Tea and Vea (Adele Oni and Colette Dalal Tchantcho). He also comes into contact with Jaskier (Joey Batey), a somewhat annoying minstrel who tags along with Geralt on a few of his adventures. He’s also the source of a few of Geralt’s problems.

The series also features a number of monsters. Most of them intend to do harm, but Geralt knows that sometimes the monster isn’t necessarily the most beastly looking character. This adds quite a bit of depth to Geralt, as he doesn’t kill merely for profit. He attempts to save the monsters in some cases and this goes a long way in developing him as a character.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable series. I look forward to the second season. I might even pick up some of the books that the series is based upon and read them if and when I ever get the time. Check out the series if you enjoy excellent fantasy.

Thanks for reading!

The Next Chapter Is Coming!

Sulphur, LA

For the sixth year in a row, the cliffhangers of yesteryear are returning to southwest Louisiana at Calcasieu Serialfest! This free event will once again be held at the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur.

You’ll get to watch selected chapters from serials of the 1930’s and 40’s featuring such heroes and adventurers as Spy Smasher, Captain Marvel, and the Lone Ranger. There will be free popcorn and drinks served at the event and even a free lunch!

The festival always highlights specific individuals that had an impact on serials over the years. Usually this is an actor such as Buster Crabbe or Tom Tyler, but this year Serialfest will celebrate the work of two pioneering special effects artists, the Lydecker Brothers! Howard and Theodore Lydecker became known for their effects work using large and detailed props. They were nominated for two Emmys during their time in film, with Howard winning the Individual Achievement in Cinematography for his work on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Some of the serials that will have chapters shown at the event include Adventures of Captain Marvel, Darkest Africa, Undersea Kingdom, The Crimson Ghost, and The Lone Ranger. Be sure to also keep an eye out for Gene Autry in The Phantom Empire.

A special surprise for attendees will be a viewing of selected chapters from Mystery of the Bat-Man. This lost serial, recently “uncovered” in 2015, is a tribute not only to Batman’s first comic appearance, but to serials as a whole. Director/producer/actor Ryan Bijan will be in attendance. Be sure to check out all of the available chapters of this serial on YouTube.

Cosplayer Bill Necessary will also be in attendance. He’ll be dressed as some of your favorite classic serial heroes. Mr. Necessary has become a fixture of Calcasieu Serialfest, and it’s always great to see him bring many of these amazing characters to life.

The event will take place at the Brimstone Museum located at 900 S Huntington Street in Sulphur, LA on Saturday, July 20th. Serials will begin playing at 10 AM and continue until 5 PM that evening. As already stated, free popcorn and drinks will be served throughout the day and a free lunch will also be offered to attendees. There will also be door prizes given out at the event.

I’ve been a huge fan of Calcasieu Serialfest since its inception. I’ve attended the festival every year save one where other things got in the way. If you are in or near the Lake Charles/Sulphur/southwest Louisiana area, make plans to attend this great event. See the earliest live action versions of some of pop cultures biggest heroes.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my latest post. Feel free to share it with others and be sure to leave a comment as well. More great things are coming to Ken’s Alternate Universe very soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled!

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year: A Visit To The Texas Renaissance Festival!

Way Back When

I always purchase at least two tickets to the Texas Renaissance Festival every year during their spring sale.  Last year, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit TRF.  This year, my daughter and I decided to make a spontaneous trip to the festival (with two tickets in tow).  We arrived about thirty minutes later than we wanted to due to traffic, but that didn’t stop me from getting my first photo with the king!

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Despite going to the festival for ten years now, this was the first time that I ever took a photo with His or Her Majesty.  Next year I hope to get a photo with the Queen!

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The first show that we watched was The Great Rondini!  This was our first time to watch his performance and we’re glad that we did.  Rondini is a superb magician and an excellent escape artist.  After seeing him, we visited the Magic Garden where we ran into some fairies, a dancing class, and a topless girl from Texas!

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She’s topless!!!

After the garden, we headed to the Agora to watch Cirque Mythos and the Gypsy Dance Theatre.  This was also the first time for my daughter and I to watch both of these groups, mainly because we spend so much time watching other shows.  This year we decided to visit shows that we hadn’t seen before and we’re glad we caught both of these acts at the Agora!

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As the day continued, we visited a few of the shops and ate and drank plenty of delicious things.  I ended up purchasing two of the Gypsy Dance Theatre CDs and an adult beverage.  My daughter got a Henna tattoo and some jewelry.

 

We also watched the Birds of Prey show (a first for me) and two of our favorite shows:  The Fire Whip Show and Clan Tynker!  All three of these performances were brilliant.  As the years have passed, watching Adam Crack amaze audiences with his multiple whips has never grown old.  Each year he continues to wow me, my daughter, and the crowds.

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If I haven’t seen Clan Tynker perform, I haven’t been to TRF as far as I’m concerned.  They were the first act that I ever saw at TRF and I’ve watched them every year ever since.  They are family friendly and extremely fun to watch.  This year I took a selfie with Santiago.  If you ever go to TRF, I highly recommend checking out Clan Tynker!

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One other new thing for us to experience was the Museum of Cruelty.  It featured many devices of torture from the Dark Ages and even a few more “civil” torture devices such as the Guillotine and the Pillory.

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I walked around the festival grounds with a massive grin on my face.  It felt so good to be back “home” after having missed last year.  Sooner or later I plan to camp at the festival to get the complete faire experience.

Here are a few other photos from our trip to TRF.

 

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As always, thanks for reading my post.  You might have noticed that I didn’t post anything for last week’s Throwback Thursday, and that’s because I was rather busy over the last week.

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Expect posts covering DC Universe’s Titans real soon as well as other DC Universe offerings.  I’m also going to throw in a few Christmas themed posts as well as we near that wonderful holiday.

 

Throwback Thursday: Dragonheart (1996)

In The Days Of Dragons

Just over twenty years ago, Dragonheart was released in theaters.  It told the story of Bowen, a knight of the Old Code, and Draco, believed to be the last living dragon on Earth, who join forces to take on the evil King Einon, a tyrant that has a unique connection with both Bowen and Draco.  Along for the adventure are Kara, a peasant girl hungry for revenge against Einon, and Brother Gilbert, a monk who records Bowen’s adventures in the hopes of becoming a great poet.

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The film featured an amazing cast including a few well established actors such as Dennis Quaid (Bowen), Julie Christie (Queen Aislinn, Einon’s mother), and Sir Sean Connery as the voice of Draco.  Many of the other cast members were just beginning to make their mark in cinema.  David Thewlis (Einon), Pete Postlethwaite (Gilbert), Jason Isaacs (Lord Felton), and Dina Meyer (Kara) would all go on to establish solid careers of their own within the next few years after being in Dragonheart.  The movie also featured some solid supporting work from character actors Brian Thompson (Brok) and Terry O’Neill.

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With CGI still in its infancy, the film was considered a technical wonder.  Combining practical effects with CGI, Industrial Light & Magic, under the guidance of Phil Tippett, did a wonderful job of bringing Draco to life.  Yes, there were obvious moments in the film where Draco looked fake, but the dragon’s overall look and actions were very convincing for 1996 and hold up well to this day.  The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Best Visual Effects, losing out to Independence Day.

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I remember watching this film at the theater.  There was a childlike wonder to it that seemed to be missing in other contemporary action and fantasy films in the 1990’s.  This was a fun movie that didn’t attempt to take itself too seriously but was still enjoyable to watch.  It wasn’t a perfect movie, but the acting was solid and the effects were amazing for their time.  The music was inspiring and the action was well-paced as well.

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The film cleared 115 million dollars in returns, making back just a little more than double its production costs.  As the years passed, it built a cult following that became large and vocal enough to warrant a direct-to-DVD sequel entitled Dragonheart: A New Beginning, and then two prequels would follow, keeping the Dragonheart name in the back of fans’ minds.  Rumor has it that Universal is fishing around for ideas about a remake of the original film.

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Dragonheart is a fun film that deserves a second look.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, it’s currently available on Amazon Prime and on Blu-ray/DVD.  You won’t regret watching this film if you love fantasy and adventure.  It’s also an excellent film to watch with your family.

As always, thanks for checking out my post.  For my fellow U.S. citizens, happy Thanksgiving.  I plan on posting about my recent trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival very soon and be on the lookout for my review of DC Universe’s Titans in just a few days!

Throwback Thursday: The Goonies (1985)

They Are Good Enough

1985 will go down in history as one of my favorite years.  The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was test marketed in the United States, eventually leading to a countrywide roll out early in 1986.  Artists such as Duran Duran, Madonna, The Cure, and Bruce Springsteen had huge hits on pop radio.  Transformers and G.I. Joe dominated my toy box.  Some of my all time favorite films were released as well.  A few of them that were released in 1985 were Back To The Future, Ladyhawke, Enemy Mine, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, and Fright Night.

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There was also a little film called The Goonies that was released just a few days before my birthday.  With names like Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, and Richard Donner tied to it, you pretty much knew that it was probably going to be a great film.  In hindsight, the film’s screenwriter, a guy by the name of Chris Columbus, was also a pretty important part of the puzzle, as he was fresh off of writing Gremlins (1984) and would go on to direct some of the most popular films in history including Home Alone, the first two Harry Potter films, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

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The film centered on a small group of kids who set out to find a legendary pirate’s treasure, hoping to save their families’ homes from foreclosure.  If the families fail to make payments, the group of kids would be split up as they would all have to move away from the “Goon Docks” of Astoria, Oregon.

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The group bites off more than they can chew as they find themselves being chased by a family of outlaws known as the Fratellis.  The criminals hope to cash in on the pirate treasure as well, and will stop at nothing to get their hands on the prize.  The kids risk their lives as they take on multiple booby traps set by One-Eyed Willy, the pirate that hid the treasure along the Oregon coast, and try to stay away from the Fratellis as well.

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The film featured a stellar young cast, most of whom would go on to bigger and better things.  This was the feature film debut for the movie’s star, Sean Astin, who played Mikey Walsh, the unofficial leader and lone optimist of the Goonies.  Astin would go on to have a long and steady career that is still going strong.  He has had starring and supporting roles in films like Rudy (1993), Toy Soldiers (1991), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), and Memphis Belle (1990) and television roles in shows such as Stranger Things (2017) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012-2017).  Josh Brolin portrayed Mikey’s older brother, Brandon.  Like Astin, Brolin has had a solid career that continues to this day.  Some of his work includes roles in The Young Riders (1989-1992), W. (2008), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Jonah Hex (2010).

Corey Feldman was already a veteran of television and film, having had roles in Gremlins, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), and multiple appearances in commercials and supporting roles on television including episodes of Cheers and Mork & Mindy.  His star would continue to shine in films such as Stand By Me (1986), The Lost  Boys (1987), and a number of highly successful films with Corey Haim including Dream A Little Dream (1989).  Feldman’s career would quickly spiral out of control due to alleged sexual abuse he suffered as a child actor and drug abuse.  Feldman eventually cleaned up and has managed to gain a number of roles in film and television (including a reality series with Haim) and has written a memoir and also released multiple albums.  Feldman also became an extremely vocal advocate for child actors.

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Martha Plimpton, who played Stef, started her career as a model prior to appearing in The Goonies and went on to have a very steady and successful career in film in television.  She has had multiple film roles over the years including work in Parenthood (1989), Running On Empty (1988), and I Shot Andy Warhol (1996).  She has also starred in television shows such as Raising Hope (2010-2014) and The Real O’Neals (2016-2017).

Jonathan Ke Quan was fresh from his role as Short Round in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when he took on the role of Data in The Goonies.  He would go on to star in final season of the television series Head of the Class (1991) and had a few more roles in both film and television. Quan would also find work as a stunt rigger and coordinator.

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Kerri Green (Andy) starred in the hit film Lucas (1986) just one year removed from The Goonies but would not star in another hit film.  She had a few more starring roles and minor roles in film and television, but would eventually take a break from acting in order to attend college.  She now appears occasionally on screen in small roles and has a production company.

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The man who gave us the Truffle Shuffle, Jeff Cohen (Chunk), had just a few roles outside of The Goonies.  He had roles on Family Ties, She’s The Sheriff, Amazing Stories, and a few others, but would turn his attention to college and eventually become a respected entertainment lawyer.  He eventually opened his own firm in Beverly Hills.

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I could go on about this film and how much I love it, but I would rather you go out and watch it for yourself.  The film was very successful and has become a favorite among folks around my age.  From Sloth’s signature “Hey, you guys!” to Data talking about his “slick shoes,” The Goonies is one of those films that stuck with pretty much everyone from my generation.

Honestly, who didn’t love this film growing up in the 1980’s?  Who didn’t have a crush on Kerri Green or Josh Brolin?  Myself, I had quite the crush on Martha Plimpton.  Still do.  I wanted to go on adventures like these kids and find pirate treasure.  The Goonies was the perfect film for 1985, and it’s still perfect today.

Thanks for reading.  If you loved this film, let me know in the comments.  Also, feel free to share this post with anybody that you know who loved this film as well.

 

Throwback Thursday: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

What’s This?

I apologize for posting two Tim Burton related Throwback Thursday topics in a row, but with Halloween right around the corner, you really can’t blame me.  Also, The Nightmare Before Christmas celebrates its twenty fifth anniversary on October 29th of this year, so it’s a perfect time to highlight this wonderful classic.

For those of you unfamiliar with this film, it’s the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town who, despite loving Halloween, has “grown so tired of the same old thing” as he states in Jack’s Lament (more on the music later).  He manages to find himself in Christmas Town and upon returning to Halloween Town, decides that he and his citizens will take over Christmas that year.  Things go terribly, terribly wrong, and Jack has to save Santa Claus from the dastardly Oogie Boogie so that Christmas can be fixed.

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I’ll admit that I didn’t actually watch The Nightmare Before Christmas until just a few years ago when my son fell in love with the film.  After multiple viewings I, too, became a huge fan of the film.  The story features a sweet romance between Jack and Sally, and the other characters in the film, particularly Oogie Boogie, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, and Zero, were wonderful.

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The film has some very light scares for youngsters and is the perfect film to introduce children to the world of Tim Burton.  Burton produced the film, allowing Henry Selick to direct.  Burton developed the concept for the story around a decade prior to production.  It started as a poem and eventually morphed into Selick’s film.  It featured the voice talents of Chris Sarandon as Jack Skellington, Danny Elfman as Jack’s singing voice, Catherine O’Hara as Sally, and Ken Page as Oogie Boogie.  Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), O’Hara, and Elfman joined forces to portray the evil trio of Lock, Shock, and Barrel, respectively, as well.

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Danny Elfman also took the reins on the film’s music.  Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation) provided narration for the prologue and epilogue.  The film featured a number of songs that have become very popular on their own including the aforementioned Jack’s Lament, This Is Halloween, Making Christmas, and my personal favorite, Kidnap The Sandy Claws.

The music was so popular that in 2008 Disney released an album of covers of the music from the film.  Marilyn Manson, Korn, Flyleaf, and The All-American Rejects are just a few of the artists that covered songs for the album.  The album is called Nightmare Revisited.  I own a copy of it and highly recommend it to anyone that loves the film or any of the artists involved with the project.

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One unique aspect of this film is that it can be viewed as both a Halloween film and as a Christmas movie.  My son and I basically watch it once a week from the beginning of September to Christmas Eve every year.  We love this film that much.

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If you’ve never seen this film, be sure to do so as soon as possible.  I regret not watching this film earlier than I did but am glad that I finally broke down and watched it.  Every year during Halloween and Christmas, there is plenty of paraphernalia to collect featuring characters from the film.  This year, a number of stores have exclusive collectibles celebrating the twenty fifth anniversary.  Walgreen’s always has some excellent exclusives and this year they have Funko Mystery Minis featuring characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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I hope you enjoyed this brief look at one of my favorite films.  Let me know in the comments if you agree (or disagree) with me.  Also, let me know if there’s a specific film in the horror vein that you’d like me to review in an upcoming post.

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll be posting again real soon!

Calcasieu Serialfest Chapter 5!

Sulphur, LA

If you’ve ever enjoyed watching films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Rocketeer, Star Wars, or almost any of the current crop of superhero films, you owe a little debt of gratitude to the classic serials of the early twentieth century.  Almost every aspect of modern action and adventure films has been influenced by these cliffhangers.  From special effects to storylines, these films set the foundation for the popcorn flick of today.

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A celebration of these serials took place in Sulphur, LA over the weekend at the Brimstone Museum.  Calcasieu Serialfest celebrated its fifth year (or chapter) by highlighting the career of Kirk Alyn, the first man to ever don the cape of Superman in a live action film.  Episodes from some of his most popular serials including Blackhawk, Radar Patrol Vs. Spy King, and Federal Agents Vs. Underworld, Inc. were shown and cosplayer Bill Necessary offered up some interesting facts about Alyn between episodes.

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Other serials featured included The Adventures of Captain Marvel, The Perils of Pauline, and The Fighting Marines, among others.  Necessary would give historical information on many of these as well, often in the costume of the hero that was being featured.  He changed into multiple costumes during the event, including Superman, Captain Marvel, and the Lone Ranger.  He happily posed for photos with attendees of the event as well.

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The event was entirely free, which is rare in today’s world.  Free popcorn and drinks were offered throughout the showing of the serial chapters, and lunch was provided as well.  Numerous door prizes were also handed out.  These included comic books featuring heroes that found success in cliffhangers such as Flash Gordon and The Green Hornet, and serial posters.  I was lucky enough to win quite a few of the comic books, and there were also some free prints available to everyone at the welcome table.  My favorite print was of Alyn and Noel Neill as Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

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At the end of the event, a few of us hung around in order to play Fortune & Glory, an RPG that takes place in the same universe where classic serials occur.  In other words, there were tons of Nazis, mobsters, robots, monsters, and cliffhanging moments to deal with during the game.  It was really fun to play, and I look forward to playing it again.

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Photo by Patrick Bennett

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This year’s event drew the largest crowd that I’ve ever seen.  From what I was told, people traveled from all over southwest Louisiana and even parts of east Texas to attend the celebration.  That’s great news to hear, as this wonderful event deserves more attention than it has been getting in the local area.  It offers up something that doesn’t get much attention from most mainstream pop culture and comic con events as they focus on what’s popular at the moment and not so much on what actually set the foundation for it all.

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Next year’s event will focus on the work of Howard and Theodore Lydecker, masters of miniature work and special effects.  Considering that most of these productions were done on a shoestring budget, the Lydeckers did a brilliant job with what little money and technology they were given at the time.  I can’t wait to see and learn more about these men.

I want to personally thank Patrick Bennett, Bill Necessary, Thom Trahan, and the Brimstone Historical Society for putting on such an excellent event.  Each year gets better and it’s great to see these often forgotten films get some attention from a group that appreciates them and the artists that brought them to life.  I also want to thank all of my readers for taking a little time out of their day to read about this event.  I’ll have more posts coming later this week!