Tag Archives: 1986

Throwback Thursday: this 1986 Laser Tag commercial!

I remember Laser Tag as an exciting but fairly brief blip in 1980’s pop culture.  A lot of the kids I knew got excited about these commercials, a lot of us asked earnestly for Laser Tag guns Christmas, and … none of us got them.  (Our parents seemed unanimous that they were too expensive.)

Ah, well.  The subsequent buzz around my neighborhood was that our parents were probably wise, anyway — we heard later that the guns hardly worked, making the product nowhere near as cool as the commercials depicted.  (I am linking below to Kevin Noonan’s Youtube Channel, by the way.)

And then the fad faded — all the hubbub around Laser Tag (and Photon, its cheaper competitor) just kinda went away.  It sort of makes sense.  Paintball was alive and well as an edgier, more subversive, and more exciting sport; I can’t imagine how these gaudy electronic products could compete with that.

The Wikipedia entry for Laser Tag had a couple of surprises for me.  For starters, the technology for the products’ infrared light guns and sensors was developed by the United States Army in the 1970’s — I guess it was an Ender’s Game-type scenario.  And the first game system using the technology was South Bend’s Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns in 1979.  (Those toys were released in conjunction with the premiere of that year’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”)

Didn’t see that one coming.  I’ll bet those toys fetch a nice price among collectors.

Anyway, there was another Laser Tag commercial that everybody talked about back in the day … it depicted American and Russian teams competing in a dystopian-future tournament, in which the Statue of Liberty was the trophy.  It’s smile-inducing.  I couldn’t find a really decent copy of it to link to here, but you can find it on Youtube.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: this 1986 commercial for “Sorry!”

I have some great memories of sipping ice pops and playing “Sorry!” with my best friend on his back patio after a long summer day.  (I believe it was licensed by Parker Brothers in the 1980’s, and not Hasbro.)  Not once did anyone ever chime in and say “sorry” during gameplay.  Because that would have been weird and stupid.

 

Throwback Thursday: “I coulda had a V8!”

These commercials were ubiquitous in the 1970’s.  If you were a small child, you could rattle off the trademark slogan without even understanding what it meant, and adults would find it extremely funny.  (The ad actually isn’t terribly funny by itself.  The 1980’s had a plenty of inspired commercials. but the few I can remember from the 70’s were generally lame.)

Anyway, fast-forward about 12 years to when I was a senior in high school … a buddy of mine actually handed me a can of V8 and dared me to pound it in one gulp.  (For those not in the know, the product is a phenomenally awful beverage concocted from vegetable juices.)  I took the dare.  And I wound up projectile vomiting like a god damned fire hose — all over the rear bumper of that 1972 Plymouth Duster that I loved so much.

I suppose that I could try to blame my lifelong abhorrence for vegetables on that experience, but I hated greens even when I was a kid.  (I was endlessly sneaking them to the dog at the dinner table; I wrote a story about it in the second grade that my parents nevertheless found amusing when I brought it home.)

The V8 vegetable drink is still around; the company is owned by Campbell’s.  Somebody should find out where it’s canned, break into the place at night and just machine-gun all the cans in the same manner as Ripley shooting all the alien eggs at the climax of “Aliens” (1986).  It would be a public service.

 

 

So I’m introducing a dear friend tonight to “28 Days Later.”

So I’m introducing a dear friend tonight to “28 Days Later” (2002).  It is possibly my favorite horror film of all time, maybe even narrowly beating out “Aliens” (1986), “Alien 3” (1992), John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), the Sutherland-tacular 1978 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and George A. Romero’s first three “Dead” films (1968, 1978, 1985).  (Whenever “Star Wars” fans refer to their “Holy Trilogy,” I muse inwardly that those last three are its equivalent for zombie horror fans.)

My friend thinks it’s funny that I refer to “28 Days Later” as “my sacred cow.”  I’ll be crestfallen if she does not like it, and I told her as much.  And that’s weird for me … I usually don’t feel let down when someone doesn’t enjoy the same books, movies or music that I do.  Not everything is for everyone.  Art would lose its mystique if it weren’t subjective.  If all art appealed to all people, it would lose all its appeal altogether.

Part of me feels, unconsciously perhaps, that “28 Days Later” is the kind of film that “redeems” the horror genre (even though no genre needs such redemption — if art is well made or if it affects people, then it’s just fine).

Most comic book fans of my generation can tell you how people can occasionally roll their eyes at their favorite medium.  (Comics have far greater mainstream acceptance today than when I started reading them in the 1990’s.)   For horror fans, it’s sometimes worse.  Horror is a genre that is easily pathologized — and sometimes with good reason, because a portion of what it produces is indeed cheap or exploitative.  I wish I could accurately describe for you the looks I’ve gotten when acquaintances find out that I’m a horror fan.  They aren’t charitable.

“28 Days Later” and movies like it are so good that they elevate horror to a level that demands respect from the uninitiated.  It is an intrinsically excellent film — it just happens to have a sci-f-/horror plot setup and setting.  It’s beautifully directed by Danny Boyle, it’s perfectly scored and it’s masterfully performed by its cast — most notably by Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson.

Moo.

 

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