Tag: 80’s

Elvira’s MTV Halloween Special from 1986

Back in the day before Netflix and Youtube, when good old fashioned television was all we had for our viewing entertainment pleasure, tv specials like these were looked forward to for days and weeks.  I remember watching specials like this, and considered them appointment television.  So here, in all it’s glory, is the original Elvira’s MTV Halloween Special from 1986.  Find a quite evening, turn out the lights, fire this up, and step back in time to 1986 for some Halloween fun with Elvira and cool old music videos.

Elvira on The Fall Guy?!?

Elvira Fall Guy

For those of you keeping track of this sort of thing, I recently did a whole post on The Fall Guy, and my fond memories of it, and you should check it out if you were a fan, or if you’ve never heard of it in the first place.

Anyway, I came across this ad while going through some old TV Guides, and I was blown away!  I felt pretty sure I had seen every episode of The Fall Guy, but I’ve never seen this one.  I’m doubly surprised because I was a big Elvira mark back in the day as well, and yet somehow, this appearance has alluded me.  I will be quick to remedy this situation and track down the episode somewhere, somehow, and settle in and watch it in what I am sure is all it’s glory.

Any of you guys and gals remember this episode?

Coleco Games and Hostess Snack Cakes Retro Advertisement from 1982

Man, that Coleco Football game took up a lot of hours of my youth, and I know I’ve eaten more than my fair share of Hostess Cakes through the years.  This ad from 1982 combines both of these wonderful treats in a nostalgia overload!  Seeing the old packaging for the Twinkies, Suzy Q’s, and Cup Cakes really takes me back.  And even though you can find ways to replicate the Coleco games today, nothing beats having that old game in the palm of your hands.  It makes me want to call up my cousin Tim and see if he wants to come over for an afternoon of football and Ho Ho’s.

TV Guide Fall Preview Flashback – Night Court from 1984

Night Court

I always loved reading through the TV Guide Fall Previews issues, and now that I’molder, I REALLY enjoy going back through them with a nostalgiac eye.  So what I’ve decided to do, is start sharing these snippets from years gone by previewing some of favorite shows,and also the ones hardly anyone remembers.

First up, it’s Night Court!  I loved this show growing up in the 80’s, and know that a lot of you did as well.  So enjoy this quick trip down memory lane as you look back at the first looks of the iconic show.

Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbusters!

Ghostbusters

They came, they saw, they kicked it’s-well, you know the story. Ghostbusters has become part of the pop culture Hall of Fame, spawning a film sequel, two cartoon series and a host of lines that are still quoted today- “Don’t cross the streams,” “Are you the keymaster?”, “Back off man, I’m a scientist,” ‘He slimed me!” and many more.

At the time, it was a gamble-a big-budget comedy starring a pair of Saturday Night Live alumni (Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd), a screenwriter (Harold Ramis) and Sigourney Weaver, who was still best known for her role in the original Alien.Ghostbusters would have to be a blockbuster to pay back its FX-inflated budget, at the time the highest ever for a comedy. Well, guess what…it did.

The title stars of Ghostbusters are three paranormal scientists-sarcastic “game show host” Peter Venkman, naive Ray Stantz and brainiac Egon Spengler-who just lost their university research grant. The timing could have been better. Paranormal activity in New York City is heating up, and the boys just had their first run-in with a real manifestation over at the public library. On Peter’s urging, Ray takes out a third mortgage and the three set up shop in a dilapidated old fire station, promising to fight all spooks, spirits and specters as the proton-powered Ghostbusters.

In a nicer part of town, concert cellist Dana Barrett has noticed some supernatural goings-on in her upscale apartment-eggs frying on the counter, an ancient pagan temple in her fridge, and so on. Against her better judgment, Dana makes the trip over to Ghostbusters HQ, where the womanizing Peter immediately tries to hit on her. Meanwhile, the lads have been up to their necks in ghosts, starting with a slime-trailing green blob in a fancy hotel.

Egon figures that something big is bubbling up, and Dana and nerdy neighbor Louis are inadvertently involved. The Ghostbusters hire Winston Zeddemore as their fourth member, but the whole operation is shut down by an uptight EPA official and the Ghostbusters themselves are thrown in jail. Even worse, the HQ’s “Ghost Trap” has been shut off, freeing the captured spirits to prepare the coming of the all-powerful Gozer. The Ghostbusters are freed just in time for a showdown in the Big Apple, taking on the Gozerian’s chosen form-the titanic, poofy, sugary-sweet Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Co-written by Aykroyd and Ramis, Ghostbusters was originally intended to be a vehicle for Aykroyd and pal John Belushi. Belushi’s premature death in 1982 forced a change in plans, and the script was rewritten for Murray. No one knows how the original version would have turned out, but the Murray/Aykroyd/Ramis teaming, along with Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson in key roles, was a winning combination.Ghostbusters became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and its success was heralded with toys, video games, tee shirts and Ray Parker Jr.’s #1 hit title song.

In 1987, ABC debuted the long-running animated series The Real Ghostbusters, with new actors taking over the voice roles of Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston and the rest. The original cast was reunited in 1989 for a theatrical sequel, Ghostbusters II, another monster hit.

Ouija Board

Ouija

So there’s no gray-haired psychic in your town? And you can’t sneak another call into the astrology hotline without your mom noticing the long distance charges? If you need some answers in your life, and answers more specific than the good old Magic 8 Ball can provide, the Ouija Board might be your next stop. Not only, for example, can the Ouija tell you if you should go ahead and color your hair, it can tell you what color you should choose. Fortune telling was never this specific! There is much debate as to what moves the pointer around on the board-is it the players themselves or the busybody spirit world? And if you think the 8 Ball has its fair share of literal-minded, no-fan-of-anything-you-can’t-reach-out-and-grab opponents, you should get a load of the apprehension and controversy that the Ouija inspires. All of it would make William Fuld, the board’s quirkily entrepreneurial patriarch, very, very proud.

In mid-nineteenth century New York, communing with the “other side” was all the rage. Spiritualist churches were popping up everywhere, and the city’s chic hostesses clamored for authentic mediums to attend their gatherings, so that chatty members of the spirit world could speak through them. As an alternative to all that zany vocalizing, there was “spirit writing,” wherein the medium would establish contact with a spirit, grab a pencil, and let the spirit do the rest. A doohickey called the “planchette” was invented for such parlor sessions-a small, heart-shaped plank (planchette means ”little plank” in French) with a pencil at the heart’s apex. The downside to spirit writing was that the mediums, or ahem, their spirit-communicators, didn’t always have the most legible penmanship, and message transmission tended to be a bore-and nobody wants that at a seance party.

“Talking boards,” the brainchild of three Americans named E.C. Reiche, Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard, came next. This rectangular wooden slab provided a flat surface for the wooden-pegged planchette to glide over, featuring the alphabet, numbers one through ten, and words “yes” and “no.” According to some, Kennard called the board “Ouija” after an Egyptian word for good luck, and even better yet (at least better for Ouija’s sometimes purposely murky history), Kennard claimed the board itself suggested the word. In 1892, Kennard’s ex-foreman, William Fuld, took the company over, named it the Ouija Novelty Company, and began producing the board in high volume numbers.

Ouija 2

Fuld, no marketing dimwit himself, concocted his own version of the Ouija’s genesis: claiming he invented the whole enchilada himself, and that the word Ouija was actually an amalgam of the French “oui” and the German “ja”-possibly just a way to force people to pronounce it correctly. Fuld didn’t own the market on talking boards (there was Milton Bradley’s Genii, for instance), but he certainly cornered it. In 1927, Fuld fell from a factory roof in his native Baltimore-some say suicide, some accident. Fuld’s children took over after that, and then in 1966, Parker Brothers bought the company.

Today, the board is made of folding cardboard instead of wood, and the planchette glides on velvet tabs instead of wooden pegs, but other than that, it looks nearly the same as it did over one hundred years ago. The alphabet spans the board in two crescent rows, the numbers are below that, and in the corners are the words “yes” and “no,” and at the bottom, “good bye.” All this handy data faces the player who sits at the base of the board, so if reading upside down doesn’t come easy, savvy players sometimes recruit a note-taker to jot down the letters, which can then be deciphered later.

The unspoken rules that go along with this game are legion. Never play it alone. Never play angry. Never, especially in the case of permanent hair color choices, let the Ouija be the final authority. Play at night, because according to Ouija aficionados, there is less traffic in the psychic atmosphere. Decide on one person who will ask all the questions, because there is less confusion to any, um, spirits who are out there, navigating said psychic traffic. Candlelight is recommended (the spirit world having always been a big advocate of energy conservation), and two players are best. The board is best placed atop the two players’ knees, but a table is okay if the candlelight is making a jittery player’s knees knock. Warm the planchette, or pointer, up by moving it around in circles, but then stop moving it altogether. Check for white around the fingertips, which indicate someone is pressing down, and then ask a clearly stated question. Hopefully, if the atmosphere is favorable and the traffic is light, the spirits will take over.

Or will they? Some believe the board is just a reflection of the players’ inner psyches no spirits at all, just us good old fashioned, earthbound folks who guide the pointer unconsciously. Fair enough, but let’s face it, sometimes the pointing isn’t always unconscious. Those same rascals who occasionally “borrow” from the bank in Monopoly when no one is looking are also known to form words on the Ouija Board deliberately. And then, of course, we feign great surprise (with a sly mental nod to their junior high drama class teachers) as that magic planchette spells out exactly what we want to hear.

Parker Brothers likes to avoid negative Ouija connotations, but when dealing with a supposed conduit for incorporeal intelligences, there’s a certain degree of creepiness can’t be helped. The board was supposedly banned in Britain during the 70’s, and there are plenty of parents and religious groups today who’d just as soon their kids just play checkers. Of course, all the mystique just sells more boards and makes impromptu Ouija sessions feel nicely forbidden and scandalous-a feeling you just can’t get from checkers.

Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

“Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!”

These were the three words that launched the straggly-haired, bad-humored demon Betelgeuse (pronounced “Beetlejuice”) into the land of the living, to terrorize those with warm blood still coursing in their veins. Beetlejuice, Tim Burton’s darkly comic vision of the afterlife, included a “bio-exorcist,” menacing sandworms and a handbook for the recently deceased.

Barbara and Adam Maitland are a loving married couple who have the misfortune of being killed in a car accident. At first, they don’t even realize they’re dead, but a visit the offices of their undead social worker lets them know they must live in their New England dream house for the next one hundred and fifty-three years. To the Maitlands’ dismay, they come back home to find that their beloved home has been sold to an artsy New York family, the Deetzes.

Barbara and Adam try to get rid of their pesky intruders by haunting them, but they’re just too nice to actually scare anyone. The Deetzes, now aware of the supernatural presence in their new home, start making plans to turn it into a tourist attraction. Only the Deetzes’ sullen teenage daughter, Lydia, can communicate with the Maitlands, and the three of them become friends.

In despair, the couple turns to Betelgeuse, a troublemaking demon who specializes in getting rid of unwanted humans. By saying his name three times, Barbara and Adam launch him into the living world. But they realize too late that Betelgeuse is even more troublesome than the Deetzes, and also very dangerous. Complications and chaos ensue when Betelgeuse wants to marry Lydia and tries to stay in the world of the living forever.

Beetlejuice combined inventive special effects and Danny Elfman’s unique music into one of the most unusual movies of its time. Among the more memorable moments of the movie was a bizarre song-and-dance sequence, wherein the Deetzes and their guests were possessed and forced to sing “Day-O,” before their shrimp dinners jumped off their plates and latched onto their faces. Despite (or, more likely, because of) all the weirdness, Beetlejuice was a commercial success, earning an Oscar for Best Makeup and helping turn Michael Keaton (Betelgeuse himself) into a major star.

Burton created a strange world for the dead that seemed just as vibrant and alive as the world of the living, and from 1989 to 1991, that world lived on as an animated series, also titled Beetlejuice. In it, Lydia and Betelgeuse inexplicably became friends, taking part in adventures in the worlds of both the living and the dead.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins

Ghosts and Goblins

Ghosts ‘n Goblins took the baddie-battling, princess-rescuing formula and went Medieval, casting Knight Arthur in the hero’s role and pitting him against the combined forces of Hades. Strapping into his suit of armor, Arthur ran to the rescue, braving six levels of ghosts, goblins ‘n much more.

Designed as a scrolling action game, Ghosts ‘n Goblins only required three skills: running, jumping and firing. If it moved, it had to be killed. Arthur began the game armed with throwing lances, but new weapons—fire, axe, dagger and cross—were available by killing certain enemies (those carrying clay pots).

With those implements of demonic destruction, Arthur wended his way through a graveyard, a dark forest, a run-down town, a series of caves, across a bridge and on to the castle where the Princess was held. Each stage was filled with scary beasts of every kind—zombies, ghosts, giants, demons, skeletons, etc.—each capped off by a particularly hideous boss. And just to save you several hours’ worth of frustration, you can only kill that devil boss at the end with the shield weapon. Try anything else, and you’ll find yourself flying back to level one with a teardrop in your eye, bucko.

Ghosts and Goblins

Arthur began the game with the customary three lives, but that was where the suit of armor came in handy. The first hit on Arthur’s mortal body smashed the armor off, leaving Arthur alive but wearing nothing but his Medieval skivvies. Another hit cost one life, but extra suits of armor were conveniently stashed at certain points in the game if Arthur survived that long.

A hit both in the arcades and on the then-new Nintendo Entertainment System, Ghosts ‘n Goblins won players over with its fundamental action game play and its cartoony, yet somehow still creepy graphics. A sequel, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, was released in 1988, adding flashier graphics and new power-ups (including the power-enhancing golden armor) to a brand-new story line. And yes, it did involve rescuing that perpetually victimized princess from the devil again (when will these royals ever learn?).

Sea Monkeys Were a Cool Concept

Sea Monkeys

There have been plenty of toys that allowed to children to put their natural creative energies to work. Legos, Erector sets, and countless other similar items let kids build elaborate kingdoms and complex machines to satisfy the need to create. Sea Monkeys took this process one step further and allowed more enterprising youngsters to actually create life. With the help of elaborate ads that seemed to appear in every comic book released during the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the scientific marvels known as Sea Monkeys became one of the most popular toys of all time.

Sea Monkeys are not actually monkeys, but they do come from the sea and are real living things (contrary to popular belief and urban legend). To be specific, they are “Artemia Salina,” or “brine shrimp” in layman’s terms. They were thought of as mere fish food for many years until Harold von Braunhut, a man who is famous among toy enthusiasts for inventing X-Ray Spex, discovered these marvels of the sea. He saw their potential as a pet and developed a simple, three-step kit that allowed aspiring young marine biologists to raise their own brine shrimp in a container of water.

Honey Toy Industries obtained the rights to Von Braunhut’s kit and began marketing it in 1960 as Instant Life. When it didn’t become an immediate hit, Von Braunhut came up with the brainstorm of advertising the kit in comic books. Von Braunhut also noticed that the little brine shrimp resembled monkeys when they grew to adulthood, so he added the phrase “Sea Monkeys” to the packaging of Instant Life. As a result, sales for the newly-named Sea Monkeys began to skyrocket, and Sea Monkeys ads became an ubiquitous presence in the ad pages of comic books everywhere.

By the 1970’s, Instant Life was one of the coolest toys a kid could own. As a result of its success, Honey Toy Industries changed its name to the more official-sounding Transcience Corporation. Also, Instant Life became known simply as Sea Monkeys, since the fanciful depictions of Sea Monkey families used in the ads had become the crucial selling point. Indeed, comic book-reading kids everywhere fantasized about raising their own kingdoms of these strange humanoid-looking creatures.


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Sea Monkeys gained additional hipness when they were packaged with special containers called Ocean Zoos. These mini-aquariums have since become the definitive home for Sea Monkeys. Sea Monkeys gained another home when the Deluxe Sea-Monkey Speedway was introduced in 1974. This device, which took advantage of the fact that Sea Monkeys swim against the current, included “tracks” so the Sea Monkey owner could raise champion Sea Monkeys. Another success, the Speedway led to follow-ups like Sea-Monkey Cycle Race, Sea-Monkey Ski Trails, and Sea-Monkey Fox Hunt. There was also the Incredible Sea-Bubble, a mini-aquarium on a chain that could be worn as a necklace.

The Sea Monkeys phenomenon had become an institution by the end of the 1970’s. Its success also inspired a follow-up pet from Transcience Corporation known as the Crazy Crab. They were actually hermit crabs, a land-dwelling scavenger species. Like the Sea Monkeys, they became a hit and inspired a craze. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Sea Monkeys moved on to new distributors like Larami and Basic Fun with middling degrees of success. They were no longer as hip as they were during their 1970’s heyday, but the novelty of Sea Monkeys remained strong enough to keep them selling on name-value alone.

In the mid-1990’s, Sea Monkeys made a triumphant comeback when they began being distributed by ExploraToys. Now that the toy was old enough to be retro-hip, both kids and the adults who grew up with the Sea Monkey phenomenon were buying Sea Monkeys. They have also transcended their comic-book ad origins to be sold in national toy-store chains. And as long as toy fanatics want to take their love of creating things to the next level, Sea Monkeys will allow them to “create life.”

New Kids on the Block – The Original Boy Band

New Kids on the Block

New Kids On The Block was the original ‘boy band’ of 90’s. They sold records by the millions with their r&b-inflected; bubblegum pop, filled concert halls with screaming girls wherever they went, and dominated teen magazines with their hunky yet clean-cut image. They also set the tone for future boy groups like the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync by introducing rap and funk elements to the teen-pop sound.

This group was formed by Maurice Starr, the music impresario behind the early success of New Edition. He chose the five members-brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood, all Massachusetts natives-and supervised them as they undertook a year of intensive voice and dance training. The group released their first album in 1986 and began touring the U.S, including a stint as the opening act for Tiffany’s 1988 tour. The non-stop concerts would pay off in early 1989 when “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” a rap-styled slice of dance-pop from their second album, Hanging Tough, became a #3 hit. The New Kids had officially arrived.

Hanging Tough quickly became a #1 hit album and stayed on the charts for two years. It also spawned two #1 singles: “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” was a sweetly harmonized ballad, while “Hanging Tough” was a combination of pop and rap spiced up with an infectious ‘Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” chant. The group continued to tour, including visits to both Disneyland and Disney World, as they began to dominate MTV and teen magazines. They scored additional Top-10 hits with “Cover Girl,” a remake of the soul classic “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time,” and the Merry, Merry Christmas album.

1990 began on a high note for the New Kids when they won the Favorite Group and Favorite Album honors at the American Music Awards. They also scored a Top-10 hit with a lush ballad called “This One’s For The Children.” New Kid dolls were put out by enterprising toy company and sold by the millions as the group went on another highly successful tour. That summer, they released Step By Step, which quickly shot to #1. It produced another two hit singles in the danceable title track and “Tonight,” a typically smooth New Kids ballad.

By 1991, the New Kids were a phenomenon that had inspired books, comics, videotapes, a recorded-message hotline, and even a Saturday morning cartoon. Their next release was No More Games, an album of remixes (along with the original title track) that became a Top-20 hit. The New Kids embarked on their first international tour and scored major successes in England and Japan. In between all this activity, Donnie Wahlberg found the time to write and produce the #1 hit “Good Vibrations” for his brother, Marky Mark. Meanwhile, the New Kids continued their seemingly endless touring until late 1992.

After a well deserved break, New Kids On The Block (now renamed NKOTB) returned in 1994 with Face The Music. A new song called “Keep On Smiling” was also featured on the soundtrack of Free Willy. That summer, NKOTB stunned their international fan base by disbanding. Since then, Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre have gone on to successful solo careers, while Donnie Wahlberg has found success acting in films like Payback and The Sixth Sense. But wherever they end up in the future, Jon, Jordan, Joey, Donnie and Danny will always be remembered for inventing the idea of “the boy band” with New Kids On The Block.

Jem – It Was More Than Just a Girl’s Cartoon

Jem

Long before The Spice Girls, Jem and the Holograms had Girl Power and then some. Underwritten by Hasbro, who wanted an MTV-influenced doll line to rival Mattel’s Barbie, Jem came on the scene as part of the Super Sunday block in 1985. The segment proved so popular it was spun off into its own half-hour syndicated series the following year.

Pink-haired Jem was the alter ego of Jerrica Benton, head of Starlight Music and the charitable Starlight Foundation. Jerrica’s father, Emmet, created a hologram-projecting computer called Synergy to provide 3D accompaniment to Starlight’s music videos. After Emmet’s death, Synergy contacted Jerrica through a set of specially-designed earrings Emmet had given her. With Synergy’s holographic capabilities, Jerrica transformed herself into rock star Jem. Sister Kimber and a pair of orphans from the Starlight Foundation’s orphanage were holograpically disguised as Jem’s group, the Holograms (an additional member joined later on). Rival all-grrrl band The Misfits constantly sparred with the group.

Jem/Jerrica was a true 80’s woman. She had it all: two careers, a smart and sexy boyfriend named Rio, and the zeal of a social activist. All proceeds from Jem’s music business went to the Starlight Foundation, and episodes dealt with such topical issues as drug abuse, poverty, and illiteracy. The show also mixed in MTV-style videos from both bands (and later addition The Stingers), perfect right down to the group/title/label tags in the lower left corner.

The franchise became a mini-industry, including a line of dolls and accessories, compilation records and tapes, even a contest inviting wannabes to sing the Jem theme song over a special “1-800” number. She may not have had the staying power of Madonna, but for a few years, Jem was the most “Truly Outrageous” rock star in Toontown.

Also Check out What You Didn’t Know About Your Favorite 80’s Cartoons