Category Archives: Movies

Wax Pack Adventures – Bill & Ted’s Most Atypical Movie Cards

[I recently bought several packs of film- and tv-related trading cards: everything from Growing Pains to Maverick.  I plan to open one pack a week and document every card, sticker, and stick of gum I find. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll discover a hologram or two.]


Title: Bill & Ted’s Most Atypical Move Cards
Publisher
: Pro Set
Year: 1991
Details: 10 Triumphant Cards || 1 Contest Scratch-Off Card


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I credit the “69, dudes!” sequence (a joke I didn’t even realize was a joke for many years) for sparking my interest in time-travel fiction where the narrative folds over on itself. In fact, I could draw a straight line from my young love for Excellent Adventure and the Back To The Future trilogy to my adult love for movies like Primer and Timecrimes.

So when I had the chance to pick up an unopened pack of “Bill & Ted’s Most Atypical Move Cards,” I didn’t hesitate. Released in 1991, the set features key scenes from both Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (a film that ranks among my earliest remembered theatrical experiences). I got several excellent cards (including two featuring George Carlin), so let’s get to it:

All We Are Is Dust In The Wind, Dude

There’s really not a bad card in the batch (actually, the Lincoln card is a bit boring). And you can tell that whoever wrote the card-back text was a fan of the films (or at least knew how to talk the talk). Just look at Card #44: Rufus drops by to see his excellent friends and brings them a surprise – the babes in savory clothes! I love that someone got paid to sit around and write these things.

My favorite of the ten cards is #94, which includes a “Bill&TedSpeak to English” dictionary. Despite the fact that I haven’t seen these two movies in at least 15 years (I’m well past due to revisit them), reading the “Bill&TedSpeak” list brings back some vivid memories from my youth. If you can read this list without hearing Bill’s & Ted’s voices in your head, you’re a better man than I:

  • Loogied – Spit
  • Station – Greetings, salutations, yes, of course, where do I sign?, way to go, hallelujah, right on, and (of course) excellent!
  • Most Atypical – Incredible, amazing
  • Metal Heads – Rockin’ musicians
  • The Floppy-Eared, Egg-Dropping, Hippity-Hopping Behemoth – The Easter Bunny
  • Reaped – Killed
  • The Ugly Red Source of All Evil – The Devil
  • Your Royal Deathness – The Grim Reaper
  • The Fugue Dude – J.S. Bach
  • Beelzebub – The Dude Downstairs
  • Miscreant – Loser
  • God’s Finest Planet – Uranus
  • The Repository of All Earthly Building Materials – Builder’s Emporium
  • Phantasmagorical – Spooky

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to work at least one of these phrases into a conversation over the next 24 hours. Report back in the comments on how it goes.

The pack also contained an Instant Win card. The grand prize – a bodacious trip to San Dimas, California – was featured on the front of the pack. Incredibly, the first prize was an entire GTE Telephone Booth. I’d love to find out the story of the kid who won that prize. I know that if I’d had an entire phone booth delivered to my parent’s house, I’d have had a lot of explaining to do.

There also was a sweepstakes you could enter to win props from the movie with “an approximate retail value of $25 (but unknown intrinsic value).” If anyone out there happened to be a sweepstakes winner, please let me know what you won!

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately given that it’d be too late to collect), I didn’t end up with a winner:

Sorry, dude! Try again.

Oh well. It’s still a most atypical set of cards.

I suspect I’m not the only Bill & Ted fan on this blog, so be sure to comment with your favorite Bill & Ted memories. You’ve got a lot to choose from… the characters have been in two movies, and an animated series, a live-action series, a comic series, several video games (NES, Gameboy, Lynx , and a PC game), a cereal, action figures, Playdoh (!), a novelization, an annual Excellent Halloween Adventure live event at Universal Orlando… and that’s just scratching the surface. Check out Bill & Ted dot Org for even more media and non-media tie ins that featured the duo.

Finally, here’s my favorite Bill & Ted clip: Alex and Keanu trying (and mostly failing) to define “bodacious”:

Until next week’s Wax Pack Adventures, be excellent to each other!

Micah :: Reel Distraction

Wax Pack Adventures – Fright Flicks

[I recently bought several packs of film- and tv-related trading cards: everything from Growing Pains to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.  I plan to open one pack a week and document every card, sticker, and stick of gum I find. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll discover a hologram or two.]


Title: Fright Flicks
Publisher
: Topps
Year: 1985
Details: 9 Cards || 1 Sticker || 1 Stick Bubble Gum


Many horror fans who were kids in the mid-80s fondly remember Fright Flicks, a short-lived trading card collection that combined stills from (mostly) beloved horror and sci-fi films, lame puns and silly quips, and Ripley’s-style can-you-believe-it? creepy factoids.

The pack I bought contained cards with images from Aliens, Day of the Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street I, II, & III, Poltergeist, The Fly (1986), Ghostbusters, and Predator:









Of the nine images, my favorite – based on the badass-image/non-sequitur-tagline combo -  is the “Okay, Who Took A Bite Out Of My Bran Muffin?”/The Fly card (Card #9).  I’ve always been partial to the toungue-in-phone gag from A Nightmare on Elm Street, so Card #8 is a great find for me as well.

The pack also had a striking Fright Night sticker that I’m currently in the process of finding a home for. (One problem with my day job is that I have relatively few occasions to carry a sticker-covered Trapper Keeper):

That's Slimer's chin on the reverse-side puzzle piece

Finally, this pack contained a piece of the ubiquitous Topps chewing gum:

Card-collecting readers of a certain age should get an immediate and powerful sense memory from viewing this image

Although I haven’t had a piece of Topps gum for close to two decades, seeing the stick immediately made my mouth water. Even when fresh, Topps gum wasn’t objectively good. But I remember loving it as a kid because… hey… free gum! Also, it was such an integral part of the card-collecting process (open pack, chew gum, see if you got anything good) that I never even questioned whether it was a good as a stick of Big Red or a chunk of Bazooka Joe (note: it wasn’t).

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I decided to chew the 25-plus-year-old stick while writing this post, and include my thoughts on how it tasted. Like a connoisseur of fine beer, I sniffed the gum before chewing it. I was surprised to discover that it was completely devoid of any discernible odor. I suppose it was made of iocane powder.

Undeterred, I put the gum in my mouth. I expected it to be tough and difficult to chew, but the opposite was true. Within seconds, the gum had completely liquefied, leaving behind a glaze of slightly-thicker-and-sweeter-than-normal saliva in my mouth. I don’t know what the substance was that made Topps gum chewy, but it apparently self destructs in less than two-and-a-half decades.

If I die in my sleep, please bury me under this tombstone:

Best. Epitaph. Ever.

If you remember buying Fright Flicks, let me know your favorite cards or memories of collecting them in the comments.

Micah :: Reel Distraction

[I recently bought several packs of film- and tv-related trading cards: everything from Growing Pains to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. I plan to open one pack a week and document every card, sticker, and stick of gum I find.]

The Ultra-Meta Gremlins 2 Novelization

I watched GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH for the first time a few weeks ago (I know, I know), and loved the self-referential scenes.  From Phoebe Cates’ Lincoln’s-Birthday-related “Why I Hate Christmas Speech” callback, to Leonard Martin’s criticism of the first GREMLINS movie, the numerous fourth-wall-breaking moments transformed what otherwise could have been a throwaway kids’ sequel into a film still worth discovering twenty years after the fact.

But in a film full of meta scenes, perhaps the most meta was the scene where Gremlins interrupt the movie to show clips from a cutie nudie flick, which forces Hulk Hogan to, well… see for yourself:

Shortly after I finished the film, I got online to see if I could find a copy of the novelization, which I vaguely remembered seeing classmates read when I was a kid.  I was curious to see how the novelist, David Bischoff, had handled the Hulk Hogan sequence.  After laying down $.75 + s/h (thanks Half.com) and waiting a few days, I had my answer.  And it was better than I could have imagined:

That’s right, Brain Gremlin waylays the novelist and writes two pages of a Gremlins New Capitalist Democratic Nice Folks manifesto. Click on the two images for a bigger picture, or just check out the text below:


There. The novelizer, Mr. David Bischoff, Esq., has been successfully waylaid and is now tied up in the bathroom of his Los Angeles apartment.

Do not attempt to adjust your book.

We have control of the programming.

Please excuse the rudeness. You have previously known me as the “Gremlin that drank the brain fluid” – or, as Bischoff quaintly called me, Mr. Glasses. Believe it or not, in the screenplay, I am referred to as BRAIN GREMLIN.

I want to take this opportunity to talk to you about our philosophy toward life, so that we will not be misunderstood and branded as “monsters.”

Yes, but faithful novel readers, I do not intend to cheat you. In the movie presentation, Gremlins take over the movie theater (ah, what a delicious conceit – excellent, Joe – was that you?) and Hulk Hogan comes to the rescue.

I do believe that Kenneth Tobey of THE THING is somewhere in there.

However, let us deal with more intellectual matters.

In the great paradigm of anti-intellectualism that is the vast American untermenchen, there needs to be a seismic quake of thought, a veritable avalanche of anarchy, to wake you somnambulent beings from your couch-potato torpor.

May I offer you the services of we Gremlins. You may hereafter refer to us as the New Capitalist Democratic Nice Folks.

Already our numbers are spreading out from the heart of America to aid you in this endeavor and although you may be viewing this physically for the first time now (except for those lucky citizens of Kingston Falls who received a foreshadow some years ago) our intellectual forces have been at work for some time, albeit embodied in human form.

According to my contacts with our crypto-CD’s the Church of SubGenius it is generally not know, for instance, that the entirety of network television is programmed by proto-Capitalist Democrats.

However, the past is merely prologue, introduction, forward, with some long footnotes thrown in.

Our time is now!

So, my dear readers (oh, the few, the chosen literate who have been intelligent enough to purchase this volume) prepare for a New Age of the New Capitalist Demo -

Oh dear. Mr. Bischoff seems to have successfully axed his way out of the bathroom.

Methinks I need to fly and return this temporarily liberated keyboard to his suburb, urbane and witty prose -

Back I fly to the Clamp Cent…


Wow… those few paragraphs – which contain references to the novelization, the GREMLINS 2 screenplay, Kenneth Tobey and THE THING, Joe Dante, and the Church of SubGenius(!), among other things – are even more meta than the cinematic sequence they’re replacing. Kudos to Mr. David Bischoff, Esq. (apparently he’s a lawyer, as well as an author) for putting waaaay more effort into the novelization than he had to.

If you’re ready to join me in the New Capitalist Democratic Nice Folks party, sign up in the comments.

Micah :: Reel Distraction

VHS Covers I Love: The Other Hell (1981)

The Other Hell - Front Art

The Other Hell - Front Art

THE OTHER HELL is the U.S. title for L’ALTRO INFERNO (1981), a nunsploitation flick directed by prolific Italian genre director Bruno Mattei (credited on the back of VHS box as Stefan Oblowsky) and co-written by Mattei and Claudio Fragasso (he of TROLL 2 fame). Interestingly, Mattei and Fragasso were shooting a second nunsploitation film – THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA (1980) – at the same time, in the same building, and using most of the same cast and crew.

The Other Hell - Full Artwork

The Other Hell - Full Artwork

THE OTHER HELL infamously features a scene where a nun boils a baby to death. But don’t worry… the baby gets even:


Goblin provided THE OTHER HELL‘s score, albeit inadvertently: Mattei and Fragasso lifted most of it from Joe D’Amato‘s BEYOND THE DARKNESS (1979). Still, it’s put to good use, as seen here (wait for the catchy groove to kick in at the 30-second mark):

This VHS was released by Inter-Light Video, and primarily uses just four colors (white, black, blue, and reddish-orange) to achieve a simplistic but striking end product. The blood-splattered nun in the bottom right corner is clearly terrified, and I like that it’s unclear whether the nun in the center of the box shares – or is the source of – that terror. The lightning bolt off the tip of the enlarged sword is another nice touch. Incidentally, the artist’s depiction of the terrified nun is a fairly accurate rendition of the source material, as shown below:

The Other Hell - Nun Comparison

The Other Hell - Nun Comparison

More information about THE OTHER HELL can be found at the excellent (but NSFW) Nunsploitation.net.

Micah :: Reel Distraction

Alex Pardee Signing December 1st At The Ritz! New Tremors and Basket Case Posters!

UPDATE: If any posters or shirts remain after the signing on December 1st, they will be made available to our online fans on December 2nd.

We are thrilled to announce that world famous artist and horror aficionado Alex Pardee will be at the Terror Tuesday screening of TREMORS Tuesday, December 1st at the Alamo Ritz. TREMORS is one of Pardee’s favorite movies and he is flying in to watch it and to also sign the new BASKET CASE and TREMORS posters he did for us IN PERSON before the show! The signing will start at 7pm and end at 8:30pm, so get there early as these posters are super limited!

tremors_RVSD

BCPosterFinal copy

Alex also did a crazy shirt for BASKET CASE that will also be released at the Tremors show on December 1st. Alex’s signings are always memorable (and sometimes blood soaked), so if you miss this, you obviously hate fun.

BasketCaseShirt2

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
320 E 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701

P.S. You can also read Pardee’s far superior blog posts about the event HERE and HERE.

-Justin

Weekend Triple Feature: Revenge of the Redskins

chief

Even though I think it’s a stupid holiday, it’s pretty easy to just go along with Thanksgiving. The whole family gets together, awkwardly sits in silence while grandparents give some hooray-America prayer of thankfulness and then everybody eats a bunch of delicious yams and stuff. There is pumpkin pie at the end and also probably a Big Game, giving the sports fans an excuse not to have to sit around and make forced conversation with the rest of us. The food is good and everything, but Thanksgiving is really one of those unpleasant and morally bankrupt celebrations of hypocrisy that always makes me kind of uncomfortable. I’m not going to protest and refuse to eat the turkey, but I think that sometimes it’s important to remember that we’re living on occupied Indian territory and that our country was responsible for the long and slow holocaust of the indigenous peoples of America.

But beware, for the graves of the ancients do not rest easy and the vengeful spirits await their chance to return and repay the wrongs done against them! Here are three of my favorite Indian revenge movies.

manitou

The Manitou (William Girdler, 1978)

Director William Girdler is an exploitation wizard who conjured up many excellent films during his brief career. They include Abby (The Black Exorcist), Grizzly (Jaws, but it’s a bear), and Day of the Animals (one of the craziest animal attack movies ever, with a master performance from shirtless Leslie Nielsen). The Manitou was his last film before dying in a helicopter crash at age 30 and also possibly his greatest. It tells the tale of a young woman played by Susan Strasberg who is shocked to discover a giant tumor growing on her back, and even more shocked when she finds out from an old Indian shaman who lives in New York and talks with a Yiddish accent that the tumor is actually the fetus of another old Indian shaman who is reincarnating himself inside of her so he can take his revenge on the white man. The thing eventually births itself out of her and the naked little guy covered in goo that runs wild through the hospital is played by Felix Silla, the tiny actor responsible playing Cousin Itt on the Addams Family and climbing inside a million and one little monster suits over the years. This guy can flay the skin off people’s bodies with his mind. The film climaxes with Tony Curtis channelling electrical power from an enormous old computer into topless Susan Strassberg as she floats in the fourth dimension and shoots lighting bolts out of her fingers. I never imagined that the spirits of the elders would be so good at fighting laser battles until I watched this gem.

scalps

Scalps (Fred Olen Ray, 1983)

When some anthropology students go digging up Indian artifacts in the California desert despite the warnings of some old man, one of them gets possessed by the spirit of a crazed warrior named Black Claw and starts killing off his classmates. The movie is a fairly straight forward slasher with some good Indian themed kills involving tomahawk decapitation, bow & arrow to the eye and at least one particularly gruesome scalping. I am not a fan of director Fred Olen Ray, his movies tend to be way too intentionally campy for me to enjoy. But he’s going totally straight-faced into horror with this one and he pulls it off pretty well. One unique touch is the weird disembodied head of Black Claw that sometimes flies around looking like a murderous Jambi. You could call the movie a rip-off of Death Curse of Tartu since it has pretty much the exact same plot, but the director of that film, William Grefe, was a sort of mentor to Fred Olen Ray so you’ve got to imagine that he intended this more as a gory tribute. It has a sort of sincere quality to it, like he’s still hungry to prove himself, as opposed to the cynical irony of some of his later movies. Along with The Manitou, it has no understanding or interest in actual Native American culture. But by at least acknowledging that the students are doing something bad, it implies that Native history is something which can only be disrespected at the peril of losing your scalp.

1

2

3

Savage Harvest (Eric Stanze, 1994)

Another camcorder triumph from the world of anti-budget SOV horror. A bunch of profoundly unattractive young people gather in the Missouri woods to go camping and begin telling tales (unendingly long tales) of ancient Indian demons. They say whatever magic incantations are necessary and summon forth the whole collection of animal-themed entities. Each one infects and controls a camper, hideously transforming them into some backyard Island of Dr. Moreau disaster and causing them to hunt and kill their friends. The appeal of homemade horror movies like this is found in the raw and undistanced realness on display (it’s like peaking in on some homely teen’s home movies from that one sad time all the unpopular kids went camping together) and the level weirdness which is discovered in the depths of unrestricted imagination. Just look at the make-up jobs on those possessed campers in the pictures. The monsters are all genuinely creepy in surprisingly unexpected ways. And a lot of the camera techniques are so weirdly abrasive that almost seem intentionally avante-garde. But the film as a whole is so poorly put together and filled with so many agonizingly boring parts that the thing as a whole creates this incredible, uneasy dissonance that’s both unnerving and fascinating. This is good stuff and once again pays no heed to the reality of historical myth, coming up with its own totally insane idea of Indian spirits.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, but try to remember whose land we live on and the people and cultures that have been lost. And not only because they may one day come back for bloody revenge!

mccrea

VHS Covers I Love: Pinball Summer (1980) [Swedish Edition]

Pinball Summer VHS Boxart

Screw You, Exploding 1-Up Lady!

This is the Swedish VHS boxart for PINBALL SUMMER, aka PICK-UP SUMMER, aka FLIPPER GIRLS. Or, as the Swedes like to call it, GÄNGETS HÅRDA SOMMAR, which as near as I can tell means “Hard Gang Summer.”

As you might gather from the artwork, PINBALL SUMMER is an ultra-specific pinball-based teen sex comedy. When I reviewed the film three years ago, I had this to say:

What makes Pinball Summer different than other teen sex comedies is that even the clichéd teen sex comedy scenes all have at least a tangential connection to the world of pinball. You’d think it’d be hard to come up with 100 minutes of pinball-related activities, but director Mihalka somehow manages to do it. It’s pretty amazing actually. There’s pinball challenges to determine who pays for dinner, make-out sessions in a pinball factory, strip-pinball parties, alpha-male demonstrations of pinball prowess… there’s even pinball-related double entendres like “I wanna tilt you on the machine!”

Yeah, it’s a pretty enjoyable film.

We’re all about the learning here at Mondo, so here’s your Swedish lesson for the day. According to Google Translate, the phrase “FULL RULLE! BRUDAR * BILAR * BÅGAR * FLIPPER” means “FULL REEL! BABES * CARS * ROLL * PINBALL” in English.

Click here for a shot of the back of the box, which contains bonus excellent-sounding Swedish words like knutte-gänget (biker-gang), sammandrabbningar (clashes), flipperturner (pinball tournament), and flipperdrottningen (pinball queen).

Micah :: Reel Distraction

Weekend Triple Feature: Confessions Of A Thug

Thuggee cults. What are they?
thuggee

I don’t really know. And apparently neither do most writers or filmmakers. I’ve been given the impression that the activities of these Indian outlaws encompasses everything from highway banditry to assassination by yellow scarf to ritual sacrifice unto the four armed goddess of time, change and destruction–Kali!
kali

They’ve appeared in fictional form torturing British prisoners in Sherlock Holmes stories (Adventure of the Crooked Man), squaring off against Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and trying to prevent Kobra from bringing on the apocalyptic Kali Yuga in the pages of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad. Here are three great films about thuggees with debatable historical accuracy.

gunga din
GUNGA DIN (Dir: George Stevens, 1939)

Three rowdy BFF’s, Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Victor McLaglen, yuk it up as soldiers jauntily brawling around colonialist India looking for adventure. The screenplay is written by the “Shakespeare of Hollywood” Ben Hecht and his sometimes writing partner Charles MacArthur. A lot of it is pretty much just a period reworking of their classic and frequently-filmed play The Front Page. Fairbanks plays the roll of the boozy chauvinist torn between a respectable marriage and debauched fortune and glory with his buddies. But then the group runs into trouble with a cult of Thuggee and their evil guru, only escaping with the help of their lowly companion Gunga Din (and also the entire British army). The movie has almost nothing to do with the Rudyard Kipling poem from which it takes its title, but it does have a ridiculous scene at the end where a fictionalized Kipling sees Gunga Din nobly sacrifice himself and decides to write about it. Despite an overabundance of stupid humor this movie is massive classic Hollywood adventure.

stranglers
THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (Dir: Terrence Fisher, 1960)

This is one of Hammer Films’ all too rare non-horror movies, though it was still somewhat notorious for its bloody violence. Members of the British East India Trading Company have for years been getting kidnapped and murdered by a mysterious cult. Guy Rolfe shows up to get to the bottom of things and has almost as much trouble getting the British to cooperate with his investigation as he does with the evil Thuggees who stake him to the ground and unleash a vicious cobra on him. In terms of Thuggee menace, this movie really steps it up. The cult is vicious and gruesome, disemboweling, cutting off or gouging out stomachs, hands, tongues and eyes. Of course, they also strangle. But the film seems to be intensely critical of the imperialist British as well. It doesn’t condemn colonialism outright, but it shows most of its enforcers to be stupid, selfish assholes. It’s a weird balance between criticizing the ignorance and injustice of colonialism and presenting this totally fantastical, implicitly racist vision of stereotype villains. This movie isn’t as swashbuckling as the other two on the list, but it is definitely just as entertaining.

molaram
INDIANA JONES & THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (Dir: Stevie Spielberg, 1984)

“Drop them Dr. Jones! They will found! You won’t!” This is where the Thuggees cross the line. No longer are they just murderers. They now enslave entire towns of children and their leader Mola Ram somehow has the ability to tear out sacrificial hearts while keeping his victims alive long enough to lower them into a vast pit of fire. He even has the hypnotic power to get Indy to strangle his charismatic little Chinese friend. This movie is pure class. I hesitate to say it, but in some ways I like this one even more than Raiders of the Lost Ark. They wisely changed things up for the sequel. It’s more pulpy, more gruesome, more in the spirit of an actual old-time serial. It’s definitely better than the still respectable third one and in a whole different class from the horseshit new one. The only thing that brings it down is Kate Capshaw’s obnoxious performance. As a little kid, home sick from school one day, I walked down the street to Stadium Video and rented this movie on VHS. It scared me so bad that I had to call my mom at work and ask her if someone reached into your chest and tore out your heart, would it really just heal up like that? And if so, if you then caught on fire would your heart also erupt in flames? And do people really eat chilled monkey brains and living baby snakes recently cut out of the bellies of big dead snakes? I don’t think her answers were very satisfying because I had to watch the movie several more times that day. Thuggees officially became nightmare material.
mug

-Tommy