The apocalyptic snowstorm never arrived, but we still got enough to slow life to a crawl. And to make the process of shoveling feel like it should’ve ended with an awards ceremony.
It seemed like a good day to get organized, so I attacked my eighteen bins full of old videocassettes, separating everything into “keep” and “trash” piles. The Lost World in a lenticular box? KEEP. Four episodes of Swans Crossing taped off of WPIX in 1992? KEEP.
The “trash” pile was tiny, I admit.
In the process, I rediscovered a bunch of videos that mean a lot to me, for reasons as varied as their subject matter. Below are five of them. So I guess tonight’s challenge is to make an article about five old videocassettes interesting.
Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue!
A notorious television special, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue definitely earned its reputation. Whether from me or elsewhere, I’m assuming that most of you have at least heard of it.
Starring oodles of the time’s hottest cartoon characters, this 27 minute anti-drug PSA was about a teenage boy overcoming the lure of drugs with the help of Garfield, Slimer and Winnie the Fucking Pooh.
An animated special that starred everyone from the Ninja Turtles to the Muppet Babies was bound to be weird, but hearing those characters speak out against drugs was downright bizarre. Ironically, with its frenetic pace and unstoppable parade of unrelated characters, the effects of watching Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue aren’t entirely dissimilar from the effects of everything it preaches against.
It’s absolutely worth seeing once, and lucky you, the whole thing’s on YouTube.
I hope I’m not the only one who likes this movie. Based on Todd McFarlane’s comic, Spawn is the story of a dead guy brought back to life by the devil, in a pact that goes awry once the dead/living guy decides to use his newfound supernatural powers to do good instead of evil.
The story is something like that, at least. I don’t know, it’s hard to pay attention to the finer details when you’ve got John Leguizamo dressed as a 400 pound psychotic clown, eating rotten pizza between cheerleader bits.
In tone and flavor, the movie is somewhere between Darkman and The Crow. It’s gritty, gross, bleak and cynical. I’m not sure why I like it so much — I was never into the comics — but I bet it has something to do with where I first saw it. Back in high school, a friend and I randomly ended up at our city’s worst movie theater, and just as randomly decided to spend Saturday night watching Spawn on the big screen.
That theater was super dark, super messy and altogether trashy. If you needed to pick a movie theater to do things that you should never do in a movie theater, this was the one. You didn’t feel safe within three blocks of the place. Everyone near it was sketchy at best. Of course, that created the perfect ambiance for a movie like Spawn!
WWF Piledriver Music Video!
One of the World Wrestling Federation’s many attempts to be more than just wrestling, I’ve long had a soft spot for The Wrestling Album II, a collection of rock songs purportedly performed by our favorite in-ring grapplers.
The best song on the album was Piledriver, sung by Koko B. Ware. As a wrestler, Koko rarely won matches, and was as much of a non-factor as a man carrying an enormous live parrot could be. But as a singer, he was… pretty terrific, actually. (In the years since, several wrestlers have told stories about Koko making life on the road more bearable with his impromptu hotel bar performances.)
Whether you’re a wrestling fan or not, there’s no denying that Piledriver’s music video was cheesy as hell. At the same time, doesn’t it sound like a pretty legit single? By 1987 standards, at least?
A few years back, Koko was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Many fans questioned the decision, believing that such a low-on-the-pole wrestler didn’t deserve such an honor. I never agreed. Andre the Giant may have been halfway responsible for filling the Silverdome with 93000 people, but Koko B. Ware sang Piledriver. To me, that’s balance.
Game Player’s Gametape: Power Glove Secrets!
I’ve never watched this and can’t remember how such an oddball tape came to be in my possession, but if you wanna spend 45 minutes on a Nintendo Power Glove tutorial, someone threw it on YouTube.
I’m only including it because I love the box art. Say what you will about the Power Glove, but it inspired some seriously impressive promo materials. It’s not hard to understand why everyone wanted one. With liberal use of lightning effects, every advertisement made the Power Glove look powerful and futuristic — and like the kind of thing that’d make you seem the same way.
While met with disdain for its poor functionality, I think such complaints miss part of the point. Yeah, the idea of playing Nintendo games with a weird glove was interesting, but I think the bigger draw was just wearing the glove. It’s a good thing I didn’t have one back then. I so would’ve been the idiot to wear a Power Glove to school.
Burger King Kids Club Presents: TMNT!
Oh God, I looooved these tapes. In 1990, Burger King sold four different Ninja Turtles videos for just $3.49 a pop. Since I was a TMNT lunatic, I of course snagged all four.
While I had several other TMNT videos by then, something about those Burger King tapes really grabbed me. Each video had two episodes, and I watched them all constantly. No hyperbole — I seriously watched them all 2-3 times a day, for months. I can still recite every line from Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers.
I’m not sure what it was about those specific tapes. Maybe the fact that I worked for them made them special to me. (Of course, “work” in this case just meant making my mother take me to Burger King to buy videos. Doy.)
At the time, being a Ninja Turtles fan meant you had to collect everything. No stone could be left unturned. If the TMNT logo popped up on a box of Ellio’s microwave pizza, you needed that shit. If you thought pudding pies were gross, too bad, because now they were green and fresh from the sewer.
I guess getting the Burger King tapes was just another step towards Total Turtleness.
Thanks for reading about old videotapes. Did you notice that Sub-Zero was hiding in all of the photos? I don’t know why.