Throwback Thursday: Vintage Godzilla!!!

This is just a smattering of the early “Godzilla” movies that thrilled me as a kid.  They played on television in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s.  Hot damn, was I happy when these came on.  It was the next best thing to a holiday.

The first trailer that you see (and the photo below) is for the original “Godzilla” in 1954.  That scene where he tears through the high-tension powerlines made a big impression on me as a little boy.  I never forgot it.  I should point out that I (like most of the world) saw the Americanized version of the movie, which was heavily re-edited and released in 1956.  (That is indeed Raymond Burr that you see in the trailer.)

“Godzilla vs. Megalon” (1976) is another that I remember well — probably because I saw it as an older child.

Am I crazy, or does the “Son of Godzilla” trailer from 1969 mention “Frankenstein” for some reason?  Something got lost in translation.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Gamera vs. Guiron” (1969)!

I am still a little surprised at the harsher criticism I’m hearing of this year’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”  (It was indeed brainless, as its detractors point out, but it was still fun enough for me to give it pretty forgiving review.)

Hey … if you think the new movie was goofy, you should see the Godzilla movies that I grew up with.  No, I wasn’t alive in 1969, but these movies ran periodically on television in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  I was utterly awed by them when I watched them with my older brother.

But they are cringeworthy to any sane adult.  Take a look at the trailer below (sorry I couldn’t find one in English), and the two clips that follow it.

Okay … this wasn’t technically a “Godzilla” movie because the radioactive (?) lizard is absent.  (It might have actually been set in a different fictional universe.)  This film’s putative good-guy is the eponymous “Gamera,” who is a giant, space-faring turtle with … rockets that can deploy from the rear of his shell … from the leg holes.  And he employs gymnastics to fight his enemies.  (See the second video below.)

There was one part of this movie that scared the heck out of me as a little kid.  You see the two little boys?  They’re abducted by some sexy lady aliens whose nefarious plan is to eat their brains, thus absorbing strategic knowledge of the Earth they wished to conquer.  Seriously, they give the kids drugged donuts and plan to open their skulls, and that scared the $^%# out of me.

Still think the new movie was a mess?

 

Throwback Thursday: the 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass!

I’m almost certain that this is the exact car my family had when I was a very young child — the 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass.  It was even this strange shade of fir green.  (It’s like its designers wanted to camouflage it for some Canadian forest.)  For me, this car has one of those perplexing 1970’s designs that instills something approaching cognitive dissonance — I can’t decide if I love it or hate it.

This is a summer memory for me because this thing had vinyl seats — and damn if they didn’t get hot in the July afternoon sun.  And I mean HOT.  You had to put a blanket or a beach towel down before you got in, or those seats would burn any part of your body with which they made direct contact.  Ow.

And it didn’t have air conditioning either.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Razorback” (1984)!!

Legit question for rural Australians  — how do I kill the 30 to 50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3 to 5 mins while my small kids play?

If you’re anything like me, you’re endlessly regaled by all the viral jokes this past week referencing “30 to 50 feral hogs.”  (And if you’re nothing like me, then you’re an intelligent adult and I congratulate you.  But you can google the new trope, which I have paraphrased above, if you want to.  It is the very height of preposterous predatory animal political humor.)

The jokes made me remember this little disappointment from the 1980’s — the Aussies’ own feral hog horror movie, 1984’s somewhat lethargic “Razorback.”  If memory serves, I rented this sometime around 1986, I suppose.  I  got it on VHS from my nearest shopping center’s sole mom-and-pop video store, before Blockbuster Video’s invasion reached my area.

There are people out there who fondly remember “Razorback.”  You can find some nice compliments about it over at Rotten Tomatoes.  People  enjoy its “atmosphere.”  People like Gregory Harrison a lot.

I didn’t like it.  Sure, it had a pretty neat electronic score that seemed trippy and cool to me as a young high school student.  But that was its only redeeming quality.  It started off with its depressing plot setup, which you can see in the first video below — the titular wild boar absconds with a baby boy.  (The boar also thoughtfully burns the child’s house down as it departs, to underscore that fact that it is an asshole.)

The rest of the movie is boring, because it’s yet another one of those monster movies where you never get to see much of the monster — right up until the movie’s poorly lit climax, which takes place in a slaughterhouse, I think?  Which is supposed to be ironic or something?  Don’t quote me on this stuff; 1986 was a long time ago.  For comparison, think of the legion zombie “thrillers” always available on Netflix where the zombies are always outside, and the movie just follows the indoors arguments among three very-much-alive people inside a windowless warehouse.  I want to invoke the inevitable “wild bore movie” pun, but I’m holding back, because my friends tell me that they have enough of that sort of thing.

I used my own money to rent “Razorback,” probably earned from either my confusing stint at McDonald’s (they just didn’t get me there) or my summer job cleaning boats and lobster traps.  (I lived on an island, people.)  I remember being slightly disgruntled that I’d wasted my hard-earned cash.

Honestly, though, I was a credulous kid when it came to a movie’s marketing.  When I read the back of the VHS boxes, I took things at face value.  I also had my heart set on something called “The Alien’s Deadly Spawn” (1983), which I realize now was just a no-budget early mockbuster ripping off Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979).  (It was always out.  I finally caught snatches of it on Youtube this past spring, and it looks pretty unwatchable.)

 

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Throwback Thursday: Carvel Ice Cream in the 1980’s!

I was actually very surprised when I discovered this week that Carvel Ice Cream wasn’t a small, local chain that inhabited only my native Long Island.  I hadn’t heard word one about Carvel since I was a kid; I always assumed that the strange, ubiquitous TV and radio ads for “Cookie Puss” and “Fudgie the Whale” were strictly a New York thing.  But there were 865 stores throughout the United States in 1985; my friend in Texas even recognized the name.

I think my confusion is easy to understand, considering the weird ads that I mentioned above.  The first thing that most people remember about Carvel usually isn’t the chain’s crude looking novelty ice cream cakes.  The first thing they remember is founder Tom Carvel’s voice, which you can hear in the videos below.  It … did not please the ear.  Polite people almost always describe it as “gravelly;” the less charitable remember it with descriptors such as “phlegm-filled.”

The latter folks are not wrong.  Seriously.  I cringed when I heard it as a kid, no matter how much I loved the store’s wares.  (And I did love it; it was an absolute treat when my parents took me there.)  It sounded like a man dying of a chest cold was trying to sell me ice cream.  I even remember my parents talking about it.

Carvel was a independent personality who insisted on recording the ads himself since 1955, and he recorded them unrehearsed — even going so far as to set up a production studio at his company’s headquarters, according to Wikipedia.   Carvel Ice Cream was a true small-business success story, and many credit the brand’s popularity with Carvel’s  extemporized, conversational voiceovers — even if they were awkward.

And that kind of makes sense.  The commercials were memorable.  Maybe the owner’s voice evoked images of Stephen King’s superflu in “The Stand,” but that didn’t dissuade you from visiting a store for its trademark soft-serve ice cream.  (You figured he wasn’t actually working the counter, where he could cough into your dessert.)

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Twin Pops!

These are just another fun memory from the 1980’s — twin pops were damned tasty.  I still remember seeing them at the right rear of the freezer in the house where I grew up.

If you weren’t careful, you lost maybe 25 percent of a twin pop on a hot summer day.  The two sides inevitably came apart when you were eating it, then the two separate individual halves started sliding off their sticks.

There was kid in the neighborhood whose mother would quite frugally break off half of a twin pop for him on a hot day, and just call it an ice pop.  They were on a budget, I guess.

[Update — after writing this blog post, I discovered that 80’s-era twin pops have been making a comeback this summer?  Primarily because Justin Bieber, of all people, tweeted a request at an ice pop company?  And then someone started a petition?  But he and huge portion of the world keep referring to them erroneously as “double stick popsicles?”  It’s a weird world.]

 

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Throwback Thursday: Rutger Hauer in the 1980’s

If you’re acquainted with this blog at all, then you’re already aware of the sheer reverence I have for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982).  So I won’t belabor that subject yet again in order to note Rutger Hauer’s passing this past Friday.

Hauer was a prolific actor, and his fans can remember him fondly from any number of roles.  Below are the trailers for my three favorites.

The first is 1986’s “The Hitcher,” which might have been the first modern, adult horror film that I truly loved.  (This is leaving aside Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 “The Birds” and various monster movies aimed at kids.)  I’m a little concerned that the trailer below misrepresents the movie, though.  “The Hitcher” aspired to be a serious film, and was truly a great horror-thriller, in my opinion.  It was moody, atmospheric, thoughtful and methodically paced (although it didn’t lack blood and violence either).  It was far better than the 80’s action-horror boilerplate movie that the trailer seems to depict.

Hauer was terrifying.  (If you are wondering, that is indeed C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh costarring.  And if you watch the trailer very closely, you can see Jeffrey DeMunn — who contemporary audiences will recognize as Dale from “The Walking Dead.”)

The second is movie is 1985’s “Ladyhawke,” which saw Hauer co-star with none other than Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer.  It had far more mainstream appeal, and it reliably kicks up nostalgia every time it’s mentioned on social media.  (Seriously, go try it.)

The third is one that far fewer people will remember –1989’s “Blind Fury,” which rode the tail end of the decade’s martial arts craze.  It was zany stuff, and it didn’t hold back on the 80’s-era cheese, but it had a lot of heart and was surprisingly earnest.  Some of the action sequences were damned impressive too.  (And if you were a nut for 80’s ninja movies, you’ll of course recognize Sho Kosugi as the acrobatic villain here.)