Calcasieu SerialFest Chapter 8!

Welcome To The Jungle!

Calcasieu SerialFest made its triumphant return to Sulphur, LA on July 30th! After a small event in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and no event at all last year due to the total destruction of the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur after Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana, retro film fans were hungry to visit classic serial cliffhangers. The Henning House hosted SerialFest this year in place of the Brimstone. Both buildings are part of the same property, so while we definitely miss the Brimstone, the Henning House was a wonderful place to hold the event.

Deacon William Necessary was in attendance yet again and he brought along a number of his classic cosplays. Throughout the day, Deacon Necessary suited up as The Phantom, Captain Africa (below, next to a dashing jungle explorer), Captain Marvel, The Green Hornet, and the Lone Ranger. Between chapters of serials, Deacon Necessary would give the audience historical information and trivia tidbits, all while in costume. He also posed for pictures with anyone that asked and was happy to discuss how he created each costume.

This year’s event was the best attended ever if my memory serves me correctly. We had a number of visitors throughout the day who watched serials, ate popcorn, and talked about their favorite characters and serials. They also helped themselves to some wonderful freebies including stickers, 8″x10″ prints of The Phantom, Phantom rings, Green Hornet rings, and festival masks. They also got a sneak peek at a few of the items that will be on display during the Henning House’s upcoming Chaos Theory art event. I won’t post any photos of the Chaos Theory display, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone that plans on attending the event.

This year’s lineup of chapters.

Calcasieu SerialFest continues to grow and I’m proud to say that Ken’s Alternate Universe was a sponsor in kind this year and will remain so for as long as the event takes place. If you’re in southwest Louisiana in July, be sure to swing by and check out this wonderful event!

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real 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!

The Pop Ninja Podcast

From Punxsutawney To The Swamp Lands Of Louisiana

If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s like I did and have fond memories of those decades, you should be listening to the Pop Ninja Podcast! Hosts Lisa Everetts and Patrick Bennett take listeners on a journey back in time to the days of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, Air Supply, Manimal, and so many more wonderful TV shows, films, and musical groups. Most episodes feature a favorite film, musical artist, and television show from Lisa and Patrick, who riff off of one another as they talk about each subject. Some episodes focus on specific topics, such as favorite Christmas toys, and a few even feature interviews with celebrity guests!

Just one of the many guests to be featured on the Pop Ninja Podcast, Billie Rae Bates!

Some of my favorite episodes include interviews with author Billie Rae Bates and film stars Adrienne King (Friday the 13th) and Paul Kelman (My Bloody Valentine). Other excellent episodes include interviews with Stella, the Maneater of Manayunk, and producer Dick Atkins.

Karen Scioli, better known as Stella, The Maneater of Manayunk.

Every episode includes a giveaway. In order to be eligible for the giveaway, you have to listen for the secret word mentioned during each episode. Past prizes include signed DVDs and books (I won an autographed copy of Let’s Roll, Kato by Billie Rae Bates), exclusive prints, and even a bag handmade by Charlotte Steward from Little House On The Prairie!

Manimal.

Be sure to check out the Pop Ninja Podcast on social media and on their webpage. The webpage is very active as is the Facebook page. You can find the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podbean, Overcast, and just about anywhere else you get your podcasts.

Thanks for checking out my latest post. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me, so I’m sorry for the delay in posts. I’ll try my best to post more often in the coming weeks.

Calcasieu Serial Fest: Chapter Four!

The 1940’s

I’ve been a fan of classic serials for pretty much my entire life.  I remember watching classic movies from the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s on Sunday afternoons after going to the Calcasieu River with my family.  We would get home in time to watch a series on our local PBS affiliate.  I believe that it was called The Afternoon Matinee or Sunday Matinee, but I am not sure.  All that I truly do remember is watching the adventures of characters like Tarzan and the Lone Ranger.  I was captivated by these classic black and white films.

Part of the program also included classic cartoons, news reels, and a few chapters from serials.  These serials featured superheroes, cowboys, and gangsters.  There was always a cliffhanger ending to each chapter in the serials to hook viewers into returning the next week to the local theater to find out what happens next.  The quality of the stories and the acting varied, and many of the episodes had deteriorated so badly that some of the chapters couldn’t be fully restored.  Still, I tuned in religiously to see these heroes in action.

On Saturday, July 22, Calcasieu Serial Fest: Chapter Four took place at the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur, LA.  Last year the festival celebrated the work of Buster Crabbe, best known as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan.  This year the festival’s focus was on the career of Tom Tyler, who was the first person to portray a comic book hero, Captain Marvel, on the big screen.

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While Tyler is best known for his role as Captain Marvel, he portrayed numerous other heroes (both real and imagined) over his career.  One of my favorite characters was portrayed by him, The Phantom, as was Buffalo Bill Cody, Bob Raymond of The Phantom of the Air, Frank James in I Shot Jesse James, and numerous other lead and supporting roles.

The festival primarily focused on Tyler’s work, but also featured Superman cartoons from Max Fleischer, Gordon Jones as The Green Hornet, John Carroll in Zorro Rides Again, other classic serials, and two modern takes on the old cliffhanger style in Thirty Second Doom and festival coordinator Patrick Shawn Bennett’s own The Adventures of Gorilla Bob.

Cosplayer and serial lover Bill Necessary was also on hand for the event.  He introduced many of the serials and went in depth on the actors, the production, and some of the characters that inspired these classic works.

Admission to the event was free, as was popcorn to snack on while watching the serials.  Lunch was also provided free of charge!  Freebies were given to all in attendance.  These included an exclusive print of The Phantom for the event (artist unknown), a lanyard featuring Tyler as Captain Marvel, a magnet of Tyler as The Phantom, and a button of Tyler as well.  Reproductions of classic film stills and a Flash Gordon paper model kit were also given to all in attendance.  A few lucky folks (myself included) went home with door prizes!  I won DVDs of Tyler as Captain Marvel and The Phantom.

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Calcasieu Serial Fest is an extremely unique and extremely fun event.  It’s family friendly, free to attend, and the festival crew works extra hard to make the event a wonderful thing.  Hopefully word will spread about this event and it will continue to grow.

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Next year’s event will focus on the career of Kirk Alyn, the first man to portray the Big Blue Boy Scout, Superman, on the big screen.  If you find yourself in southwest Louisiana during the summer, be on the lookout for classic heroes, classic serials, and classic fun at the Calcasieu Serial Fest!  I can promise you that I’ll be there, and I hope to see many of you there as well.

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As always, thanks for reading.  See you all again real soon!

 

A “Serial” Killer Event!

Sulphur, LA

Over the weekend I had the grand opportunity to check out Calcasieu Serial Fest.  While most of the conventions that I attend are generalized comic, science fiction, and/or pop culture based events, Calcasieu Serial Fest is a niche event that focuses on the classic cliffhanger serials from the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s.  These episodic stories would be played along with cartoons and news reels prior to the feature films.

This was the third year for the festival, and my second time to attend.  It was a free event that took place in the excellent Brimstone Museum in Sulphur, LA.  Along with free admission, free drinks and popcorn were given to all of the attendees and a free lunch was served as well!  It’s tough to beat free admission and food, especially when the entertainment includes serials featuring characters such as Flash GordonThe Lone RangerThe Green Hornet, and the crew of the Sea Hound.

This year was a celebration of Larry “Buster” Crabbe.  The event opened with Buster Crabbe as Tarzan, and went on to highlight his work as Red BarryBuck Rogers, and Captain Silver of the aforementioned Sea Hound.  Serials featuring The Long Ranger, The Green Hornet, and Captain Marvel were also viewed.

Attendees were treated to two episodes of each serial.  Each one, in true serial fashion, ended with a cliffhanger, and some of them featured a teaser for the next episode at the end that promised resolution to the climactic events next week at this theater!

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Photo taken by Ken Fontenot.

Between serials, attendees were invited to take photos of and with cosplayer Bill Necessary.  Mr. Necessary brought a three legendary characters to life and I jumped at the chance to take photos of them.  He portrayed The Green Hornet, Captain Marvel, and The Lone Ranger.  It was really fun to watch each serial with the character in it sitting in the audience with all of the rest of us.

The event ended with a feature-length presentation of the Flash Gordon serial Rocket Ship.  It starred Buster Crabbe as the golden boy, Flash Gordon, and Charles Middleton as the sinister Ming The Merciless.  It was a great send off to an excellent event.

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Photo taken from the Calcasieu Serial Fest Facebook page.

Paper Heroes, a Lake Charles, LA comic book shop, provided a great stack of classic comics as door prizes.  There were also paper models of Flash Gordon’s ship available to take home.  I was lucky enough to snag some excellent comics as prizes and grabbed a few of the ship models as well to build at home with my kids.

Calcasieu Serial Fest was an extremely fun event.  I can only hope that it gets larger next year and draws an even bigger crowd.  Serials are an art form in their own right, and feature some excellent stories and solid special effects (especially considering the time in which they were made).  Sure, we may laugh at the hokey sets and sometimes questionable acting, but these stories are fun and extremely entertaining.  I want to thank Patrick Bennett and everyone else involved with keeping this classic storytelling format alive, and can’t wait for next year’s event.  Be sure to visit the festival’s Facebook page here and be sure to also check out the Lake Charles Film Festival, another excellent event that Patrick puts on each year.

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Photo taken by Ken Fontenot.

As always, thanks for reading.  I plan on posting another round of Ten Burning Questions again in the near future, and as of right now, the only other conventions or events that I plan to visit this year the Lake Charles Film Festival in Lake Charles, LA and Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA in October.  If you have an event coming up and think that I’d have fun attending, let me know and I’ll see what I can do about making it to the event.