Time for another batch of ‘80s and ‘90s TV commercials, pulled from my ginormous collection of half-rotted VHS tapes. Get set for Ninja Turtles, Slurpees and gratuitously creepy PSAs.
Turtle Power Hotline! (1990)
Kids! Call this special 900 number to listen to songs from the live-action Ninja Turtles movie! Add five bucks to your parents’ phone bill just to hear Partners in Kryme’s Turtle Power!
TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Yeah, it would’ve been more cost effective to just buy the soundtrack, but it’s not like we cared enough to do the math. I could totally see the me-of-then sneaking a call, and for all I know, I did.
More interesting than the hotline was the commercial for the hotline, which featured everything from mixed aspect ratios to an iffy Ninja Turtles impression. “It’s almost as cool as pizza!”
Snowbeast ABC Promo! (1984)
Snowbeast premiered in 1977 as a made-for-TV movie. Even by 1984, it was exactly the sort of film that networks would dump into late night slots, just to fill out their schedules.
It hardly warranted any promos, which is why I find this one — which aired during The Ewok Adventure, of all things — so endearing.
If you’ve never heard of Snowbeast, it’s about a yeti that terrorizes a ski resort. Opinions differ on the execution, but can we at least agree that “yeti terrorizing a ski resort” is the best possible movie premise?
Even with today’s on-demand conveniences, I still love discovering obscure movies on late night television. Those films feel like sad puppies and kittens, waiting to be adopted. Sometimes I’m convinced that I’m the only person watching them. It feels weirdly meaningful.
Chicken McNuggets Shanghai! (1987)
I was obsessed with Chicken McNuggets Shanghai as a kid. Like, obsessed enough to skip the Happy Meal. I’d still call it my all-time favorite McDonald’s promotion, even if the associated TV commercials were riddled with stereotypes and not exactly cool by 2018 standards.
It was a beautiful marriage of garbagey McDonald’s and Chinese takeout. You’d get 9 or 20 McNuggets in an ornate box, chopsticks, a “McFortune” cookie, and three different limited edition sauces: Teriyaki, Hot Mustard and Cantonese Sweet and Sour. The sauces were great, but it was the presentation that made me such a fan. This was like haute cuisine as play food.
PS: Watch the commercial closely. Yep, that’s Benji Gregory — the kid from ALF — abusing his chopstick privileges.
MovieQuik at 7-Eleven! (1986)
Back in 1986, 7-Eleven broke into the VHS rental market with MovieQuik, which was essentially a miniature video store within 7-Eleven. So cool!
The idea of dropping by 7-Eleven for a Slurpee, a movie rental and the world’s best/worst pizza sounds phenomenal. The 99¢ rental price was unusually low, but I think the point was less about profiting from rentals and more about profiting from the junk food that people grabbed with them.
Course, with MovieQuik stations being so much smaller than dedicated video stores, the selections must’ve been limited to proven hits and new releases. I doubt anyone was discovering awesome shit like Empire of the Ants at 7-Eleven, y’know?
Even so, now I’m even more pissed that I didn’t have steady access to Slurpees until the ‘90s.
Scary 911 PSA! (1990)
Here’s another example of something I’ve mentioned umpteen times: Public service announcements often felt like little horror movies, waiting to prey on any kid who dared to pay attention during commercial breaks.
This particular PSA discouraged frivolous 911 calls by demonstrating what might happen if we tied up the line. A poor old lady barely has time to hit the buttons before a masked intruder breaks into her bedroom, and my God, it is INTENSE. Like Rescue 911 meets Unsolved Mysteries.
Keep in mind, I pulled this PSA from an episode of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers.
Stuff like this didn’t affect every kid; I guess I was just one of the “lucky” ones. I’d mentally file it away, and then suddenly remember that poor old lady when I was alone and in the dark.
Thanks for nothing, Gadget Hackwrench.