Below are five more ancient TV commercials, plucked from my ginormous pile of dusty tapes. May they make you 10% happier for 2.5 minutes.
Child’s Play 3! (1991)
In terms of horror, the Child’s Play franchise was my first love. I was a late bloomer with a weak stomach, but Chucky always did it for me, even back when I was too scared to sample his peers.
The first movie was an early fave, but I was obsessed with Child’s Play 2. I rented it dozens of times, before finally rigging up two VCRs to make a perfectly legal duplicate. (Complete with crude homemade label, of course.)
When Child’s Play 3 premiered in the summer of ‘91, I knew no appropriate parties to take me to see it. Had to wait until it turned up at Blockbuster. I liked the movie well enough, but coming off the high of Christine Elise and a yardstick death scene, it couldn’t maintain the momentum.
Child’s Play 3 still feels like the “lost chapter” of the series. Aside from due props over its way-cool finale set in an amusement park, I rarely see anyone talking about it. If you skipped over this one, it’s worth your time, if only to see Don Mancini’s final attempt to write anything resembling a “conventional” horror movie before going batshit-in-the-best-way.
Action Park! (1986)
It kills me that I never visited Action Park before it closed in ’96. Course, had I visited it, there would’ve been a small yet not insubstantial chance that Action Park would’ve killed me.
Yes, this is THE Action Park — New Jersey’s infamous water/amusement park, known for its dangerously berserk attractions that would never fly in 2018, and frankly shouldn’t have flown back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, either.
Just watch that commercial, and remember that the park was wearing its “Sunday best” for advertising purposes. The rides in Action Park were notoriously rough and often plain unsafe, which, if we’re being honest, was a big part of the draw.
While there were several fatalities as a direct result of in-park mishaps, most visitors escaped with scraped knees and crooked necks. According to many who experienced Action Park, the ambiance was like Pleasure Island by way of Lord of the Flies. Ambivalent attendants, occasional brawls and a park-wide perfume of cheap beer were just some of the unadvertised bonuses.
Here’s a documentary about Action Park, if you’re interested in learning more. (And yeah, that recent Johnny Knoxville movie — Action Point — was totally inspired by this place.)
Rabbit VCR Multiplying System! (1986)
Well here’s something you haven’t thought about in forever! The Rabbit was a “VCR multiplying system” that broadcasted the signal from your VCR onto an unattached television, thereby eliminating the need to relocate your VCR every time you wanted to watch rentals in another room.
Research tells me that the Rabbit retailed for around $70 in 1986. That might sound expensive, but at the time, a solid VCR could cost over $400! (Hell, even that “budget” VCR I bought with birthday money in the early ‘90s was over $200.)
My family never actually owned a Rabbit, but I have such fond memories of spotting it in electronics stores. The box featured a live white rabbit as the mascot, and when you were a kid in a store filled with so much boring black plastic, a cute little bunny really popped!
Shark Bites Fruit Snacks! (1990)
This particular Shark Bites commercial highlighted limited edition “sharks’ teeth” fruit snacks. (And yes, I’ve covered those before, but when I found this ad hiding on an old compilation of DuckTales cartoons, I knew I couldn’t waste it.)
It’s a shame that today’s Shark Bites have such a faint pulse, because those fruit snacks used to be the shit. Arriving just as previous faves like Fruit Wrinkles and Fun Fruits were losing steam, Shark Bites became the definitive lunchbox desserts of their time, always welcomed and never regretted.
Adding “chaser” pieces like these fruity teeth only made the snacks more desirable. As I recall, they were distributed liberally enough to guarantee at least one per pouch, but you still felt like you’d struck gold whenever they popped up.
Milford Plaza! (1986)
This ad for Manhattan’s Milford Plaza hotel was constantly on TV throughout most of the ‘80s and a fair portion of the ‘90s. For us couch potatoes, it was as synonymous with New York City as Spider-Man and Stay Puft.
I grew up thinking that the Milford Plaza was Manhattan’s best hotel, which was probably never true, but definitely not true by the time I stayed there in 2003. I was working from home and desperately needed a few days away, and booked the Milford on a whim.
It was… not great. The rooms were absurdly tiny and not especially clean, and the whole place just felt excessively stale. On the bright side, it really did look like the “old Milford” from this commercial, albeit without such cheerful employees. Had the same marquee and everything!
The Milford Plaza closed in 2009, and given its reputation on Yelp, I think that was for the best. Oh well. We’ll always have that great jingle to remember it by.