I discovered a goldmine while reorganizing my old VHS compilations. One tape — sent to me almost a decade ago by Bill from VeggieMacabre — included the full broadcast of The Empire Strikes Back’s 1987 network television premiere!
Stick with me, guys. Whether you’re into Star Wars or not, the nostalgia is gonna hit you from all angles.
The film premiered as part of NBC’s Sunday Night at the Movies, on November 22nd, 1987. I don’t have total recall of my television viewing history, but I’d say that there’s a 95% chance that I watched The Empire Strikes Back on that very night.
Now okay, I probably had the videocassette by 1987. If not an official release, then at least a copy made with the trusty double-VCR trick. Didn’t matter. Then just as now, watching movies was more fun when I knew that complete strangers were watching them at the same time.
The movie’s network premiere was a HUGE deal, despite the fact that The Empire Strikes Back was seven years old by the time it happened. In fact, NBC even crafted a custom introduction for it, where Darth Vader himself broke into the usual graphics to deliver a message from the Galactic Empire. (Watch the video, up above. The voice modulation isn’t exactly movie-accurate, but I’m still pretty sure that that was James Earl Jones!)
Watching the movie in 4×3 with audio distortion and severe grain may sound a bit stupid in the Blu-ray age, but nope, it was straight-up awesome. It shot me right back into the soul of Me-In-1987. I pictured myself on our old ratty couch, watching Han snark while a jade green desk lamp did its best to keep things bright.
The distortion in the video was less a distraction and more the return of an old friend, because that’s how I remember the original trilogy: Shining through smallish, squarish television sets with muffled audio in what could only generously be described as standard definition.
Of course, this was long before the Special Edition trilogy came out, so I was also watching The Empire Strikes Back in its original form. Seeing the chimp-faced Emperor again made my heart grow three sizes.
But the nostalgia hit hardest during the commercial breaks. That many commercials from 1987 was gonna be a trip no matter what, but since the movie’s TV premiere happened so close to Thanksgiving, many of them were firmly holiday-themed. Yes! Smart money says that I spent that Sunday in our old living room, TV remote in one hand and the 1987 Sears Wish Book in the other.
Below are ten commercials that aired during the network television premiere of The Empire Strikes Back. You’d be able to find crisper versions of most of them on YouTube, but I think the grain and hiss add to the effect. If this stuff doesn’t put you in a memoria K-hole, you’re probably a lot younger than me. Read More…
As many of you know, I’m a lifelong wrestling fan. I’m also a wrestling fan with strange tastes. Most of my friends prefer wrestlers with slick attitudes and crisp moves, but I always preferred the MONSTERS.
In the decades I’ve spent watching wrestling, I’ve seen my share of them, from One Man Gang to Kamala to The Undertaker. So long as the particular wrestlers were very big and somewhat scary, I was on their side. Didn’t matter if they couldn’t move, or if their punches looked bad, or if their promos sounded like cab drivers trying to insult old ladies with G-rated language. I LOVED them. They were like B movies come to life in a wrestling ring.
Several of those wrestlers had something else in common: They were based on actual legendary creatures. Yes, there really were wrestler versions of the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster!
Collected below are six such grapplers. Let’s see how they compare to the beasts that inspired ‘em!
(Note: I’m sticking strictly to mythological and legendary creatures. That means I’m not including wrestlers who were meant to represent real animals, nor am I including wrestlers meant to mimic specific fictional characters. Basically, to be included here, the wrestler’s inspiration needed to be covered on Unsolved Mysteries.)
THE CREATURE: Also known as the Abominable Snowman, the Yeti is basically a wintry version of Bigfoot. Reports peg the creature as a hulking, ape-like monster that towers over men and stalks its prey all over the Himalayas. Save for the blue skin, Blizzard from Primal Rage is a good representation of what the Yeti is supposed to look like.
THE WRESTLER: Oh, brother. Debuting in 1995 as part of the Dungeon of Doom, WCW’s Yeti stood more than seven feet tall and looked just a bit like a mummy. (Well, no, I’m understating things. He looked EXACTLY like a mummy, and NOTHING like a Yeti. The only “Yeti” thing about him was that he debuted on live television by breaking out of a ten foot phony ice cube. For real.)
After helping his monstrous friends beat up Hulk Hogan, somebody at WCW realized that a guy covered in ill-fitting bandages probably wouldn’t survive a match without pulling back the curtain too far. Thus, when it was time for the Yeti to actually wrestle, he randomly sported a ninja costume instead. (The throwaway explanation provided by the announcers was that he “thawed out.”)
WCW’s Yeti did not last long, and is largely considered one of the most hilarious offenses in wrestling history. I don’t care. It was a giant guy covered in paper towels who looked like a mummy but was called “Yeti.” I don’t see how sane, rational people wouldn’t love that. Read More…
Most of you aren’t ready to go full tilt with the holiday season, but if you wanna get your feet wet, I have just the thing: Awesome toys from a really old Christmas catalog!
Below are nine highlights from the 1983 Consumers Distributing catalog. If you’ve never heard of Consumers, it was like a looser Service Merchandise. (Better yet, learn more in my coverage of the Consumers 1984 catalog, which includes another bunch of amazing toys!)
These items will help you a remember a time when nothing in the world mattered more than four bucks’ worth of plastic… an idealistically simple view that helps to explain why so many of us still collect action figures over 30 years later!
G.I. Joe Three-Packs!
Price: $7.97 each
Because bad guys get the best lines and the coolest clothes, I’m more enamored with the three-pack on the right, featuring the original Cobra Commander, Destro and Major Bludd figures. Bludd’s just kinda tagging along, but the other two are among my generation’s most adored action figures, from any line.
Here’s a kick in the balls: To collect those same three figures in their original packaging now would run you somewhere in the area of a thousand bucks. No exaggeration. I want you to sit there and think about every toy you had as a kid, and how many private islands you’d own today had you not opened any of them. Read More…
Welllp, it’s here. HALLOWEEN. May your day be filled with candy and costumes and the last vestiges of that pumpkin spice candle you bought last August.
Thanks so much for being a part of Dino Drac’s 2015 Halloween Countdown! Just one more piece of business left for the season…
Yes, it’s the special Halloween edition of The Purple Stuff Podcast! This week, me and Jay from The Sexy Armpit celebrate by determining the official ABCs of Halloween. (Meaning, we take turns assigning Halloween stuff to each letter of the alphabet. All 26 of them! Yes this show is longer than usual!)
Give us a listen by clicking on the big ass play button down below. You can also access/download the MP3 directly by clicking here. The Purple Stuff Podcast is on Podbean and iTunes and Stitcher, too!
The big question: Will we be continuing the show after Halloween? You’ll have to listen to find out, but since I’m gonna encourage people who like the show to write us a review on iTunes, you can probably guess! Read More…
With mere hours to go before Halloween, Madd Matt managed to eke out one last video…
This time, he’s reviewing Animal Planet’s Bigfoot Playset. You’ve seen it before, yes?
I’m a huge sucker for the entire Animal Planet collection. Some of the toys lean heavily on a sense of realism, but the best of them toss truth out the window to provide playsets where little men battle against house-sized cobras.
The line’s lack of “collectible flair” means that most adult fans pay zero attention to Animal Planet. HUGE mistake, guys! Read More…
What, you thought I’d let a whole Halloween Countdown slip by without a new edition of Vicious Videocassette Boxes? NOPE.
Down below: Another five horror videos from my personal collection, which I’ll admit are mostly used for decorative purposes these days. So what? They’re cheaper than paintings, and it’s more fun to decorate shelves than walls.
All five should help you remember a time when trips to video stores felt like trips to theme parks, filled with things you couldn’t wait to ride… and things you would’ve ridden if you weren’t such a fraidy cat.
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
This one performed well enough at the box office, but I’ll never understand how it hasn’t garnered a bigger following in the years since.
If the film came out today with not a single thing changed, it’d be a HUGE deal. The web has allied millions of horror fans who were previously doomed as strangers, and I have little doubt that a movie this beautifully bizarre would spend a solid month as a Twitter talking point.
If you’ve never seen the movie but were a fan of the TV series, the film was — tonally speaking — much different from the show. Actually, it felt much more in league with Tales from the Crypt. (Less cerebral, but loud, gory and in-your-face.)
Presented as an anthology, it’s really four short movies, featuring everything from killer cats to brutal gargoyles. Loaded with cult favorite actors (name another movie with William Hickey, Buster Poindexter and Blondie), the film’s highs spiked way harder than its lows, and I just can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for something to round out your Halloween movie marathon, please consider this one! Read More…