Special edition of 1927 film distributed by Parufamet Films.
Special edition of 1927 film distributed by Parufamet Films.
Are these the coolest Valentines goodies ever?!?! That is a Himalayan Salt Lamp up top and that’s a big shiny lapel pin on the bottom. I think the lamp looks like one of the Sankara Stones from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984).
And I think the anatomically accurate heart looks like one of the metal hearts created by Dr. Jacob Farmer in my horror tale, “At the End of the World, My Daughter Wept Metal.” My Valentine didn’t even mean it that way — she just thought the pin was funny … which just kinda makes it awesomely, ominously meta.
Now whoever sees me in my overcoat is forewarned that my hubris will destroy the world. (Clock’s ticking, people.)
“It occurred to Winston that for the first time in his life he was looking, with knowledge, at a member of the Thought Police.”
— George Orwell, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”
1) Take the number of days you’ve quarantined.
2) Add the number of times you’ve washed your hands today.
3) Divide by Covid-19.
4) Multiply by the number of typos you found in Donald Trump’s last tweet.
5) Subtract by the number of times you tried to scratch your nose through your mask today, because you are an IMBECILE.
6) Multiply by Steely Dan’s “Hey 19.”
7) Add 1984.
8) How do I love thee? (Count the ways and then add them.)
9) Divide and conquer.
10) Goto Line 10.
11) Add a hominem.
12) Explain the steps you took, it in the voice of a muppet vampire who LOVES TO COUNT.
13) Integers. Or something.
14) Cube 2: Hypercube.
15) Subtract Matchbox 20.
16) Snap your fingers wearing the Infinity Gauntlet — so that it’s perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
17) Explain the math of this to Private Rieben. (Show your work.)
18) If your answer is all mixed up by 311, you’ve got to trust your instinct and let go of regret. (You’ve got to bet on yourself now, Star. ‘Cause that’s your best bet. WATCH ME NOW.)
Here’s the 81-year-old Clara Peller performing her iconic line for Wendy’s restaurants, “Where’s the beef?!” This was arguably the most memorable ad campaign of the 1980’s.
The commercials are pretty funny — the first two are, anyway. All three aired in 1984. Peller, who had emphysema, went on to star in other commercials, including those for Prego spaghetti sauce, Praise dog food, and Ben’s insect repellent. All were allusions to her breakout role for the restaurant (and were presumably unauthorized); Wendy’s then ended its relationship with her.
Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.
What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.
We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.
One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.
― from George Orwell’s “1984”
There are few movies more quintessentially 80’s than “Gremlins” (1984). To this day, I still think it was a strange movie because of its successful juxtaposition of elements.
On the one hand, it was a family film with a sense of wonder and the kind of wholesome sentiments about the American family that you would associate with Steven Spielberg. (I was surprised to discover that though he was executive producer here, “Gremlins” was written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante.) It takes place in a small town on Christmas, and follows a Spielberg-esque, young, good-natured, male protagonist.
On the other hand, the violence and black humor were pretty unexpected for a mainstream blockbuster feature film. (If you’ve seen the movie, you can vividly remember the titular monsters being dispatched by the blender and the microwave, for example — and the murder of an elderly disabled woman is maybe the film’s biggest sight gag.) Even the monsters themselves (which were skillfully rendered in this era of pre-CGI practical effects) were a little too scary for younger kids. It was this movie, along with 1984’s “Indianan Jones and the Temple of Doom,” that led to the MPAA to establish its “PG-13” rating — for films that didn’t quite merit a hard “R,” but were still more intense than a mere “PG rating.”
What’s remarkable to me, though, is that these disparate elements were woven together more or less seamlessly. “Gremlins” isn’t “Casablanca” (1942), but it’s a fairly decent goofball movie that kinda works.
A little trivia — the department store where the heroic Gizmo finally dispatches the villainous Stripe is a Montgomery Ward, which modern audiences would not recognize. The chain went out of business in 2001. (The eponymous online retailer has no relationship to the old brick-and-mortar stores.) I last remember being at a “Ward’s” at Spotsylvania Mall in Virginia in the 1990’s.
Happy Halloween! “C.H.U.D.” (1984) was another science fiction-horror movie that I and the kids on my street really enjoyed back in the day — it was a bit of a legend in my peer group, and it actually scared me a little. The monsters were a lot of fun. They were gross and ferocious, and they popped snarling out of the shadows of the New York City sewer system, and that’s the sort of thing that holds a middle school boy’s attention.
The movie boasts a young John Heard and Daniel Stern among its leads, and none other than a pre-fame John Goodman in a minor role as a cop. (It was only his fourth film role.)
I’d love to hunt this flick down and revisit it. I have no idea how well it’s held up since the 80’s, but I can’t say I’m hopeful — its audience score over at Rotten Tomatoes is just 32%.
“Willard” (1971) and its sequel, “Ben” (1972), were another pair of 1970’s movies that got plenty of airtime on 1980’s television. I read both books when I was a kid too.
First I picked up Stephen Gilbert’s Ratman’s Notebooks at a yard sale, because that’s how you found cool horror books during summer vacations when you were too young to drive. (Sometimes adults had few compunctions about what they sold to minors too. I bought a vampire book in gradeschool that was full of nude photos, for some reason, and that led to what I’m sure was an interesting conversation between my parents and the neighbor-proprietor down the street.)
Anyway, I absolutely loved Ratman’s Notebooks (despite its lamentable absence of nude photos) and I finished it in a day or two. The novelization of the “Ben” film by Gilbert A. Ralston was somewhat less impressive, but I still enjoyed it.
If you’re a comics fan, like I am, then it might occur you that “Willard” and his army of trained rats seem to inspire a villain in Batman’s rogue’s gallery — Ratcatcher. Ratcatcher has been a minor league villain since he debuted in DC Comics in 1988, but he’s a pretty neat bad guy when placed in the hands of the right writer.
I feel certain that anyone will recognize Ernest Borgnine in the first trailer below– his face and voice are impossible to confuse with those of another man. If the disaffected, spooky, eponymous Willard looks familiar to you, that’s none other than a young Bruce Davison. He’s a good actor who’s been in a lot of films, but I think a plurality of my friends will know him as Senator Kelly from the first two “X-Men” movies (2000, 2003).
You’ll note the presence of flamethrowers in the trailer for “Ben.” Flamethrowers were a staple of 70’s and 80’s horror films; it was just part of the zeitgeist. They were handy for heroes fighting any nigh-unstoppable nonhuman baddie — think of “The Swarm” (1978), “The Thing” (1982), “C.H.U.D.” (1984), “Aliens” (1986), and “The Blob” (1988), for example. Hell, 1980’s “The Exterminator” featured a vigilante using a flamethrower to kill criminals. It was a weird time.