Friday, November 27, 2015

Heavy Metal, The Movie

Back in the early '80s, an animated movie came out based on the adult comic magazine Heavy Metal.  The 1981 movie, also called Heavy Metal, ultimately would develop a cult following and become a favorite of the late night movie circuit. Heavy Metal consisted of anthology of several animated stories, all with a style clearly geared to teen males. I love it because it serves as a wonderful time capsule of the era, in particular of the rock-oriented culture of that era, and a remembrance of what was considered cool among early '80s teens, especially males.

Heavy Metal starts with an animated space sequence, with a space shuttle (a form of space transportation then new and exciting) opening its cargo bay and releasing a corvette, which slowly descends back to earth.

A space shuttle releasing a hot sports car into space... an odd sequence that seems so obviously cool in an early '80s context, which I think would appear odd to today's youth.

The initial story involves an astronaut bringing a gift from space to his young daughter: a strange glowing orb which turns out to have great power, and which serves as a central figure in all the movie's stories.

One story features a taxi driver named Harry Canyon living a very rough, distopian future version of New York City . . .a reminder that New York of the late '70s and eraly '80s was facing its own issues of crime and decay.  Canyon's story contains a pulp fiction style with a gritty story line. 

Another story involves a zombie laden account of horror encountered by a World War II bomber crew.  As with all the stories, very teen-male oriented.

My favorite story involves a nerdy teen boy who finds the glowing orb, and takes it home to run scientific experiments on it.

The boy soon finds himself transformed into a bald, muscle-bound hero, and transported to a strange mythical land where the orb is an object of worship called the Loc-Nar.  As his new self, he calls himself "Den", and embarks on a series of adventures involving the Loc-Nar and the inhabitants of the new world to which he has been brought.

The stories in Heavy Metal includes accounts taking place in space and in strange new lands, and involving odd aliens and mythical animals. Altogether an enjoyable combination, but not too deep or complicated in its content. Its practically made for late night, leisurely viewing.

As noted, there is always a reminder of the early '80s era (with lots of leftover late '70s) which produced this flick: as in the sequence featuring drug snorting aliens, and a swinging sex-addled robot. Heavy Metal is not for everyone, but if youre into science fiction told with a pulp style, mixed with early '80s teen rock n' roll sensibility, its worth a watch.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Here's a 1987 Macy's commercial featuring Snoopy. It includes a portion where it shows the shadow of the Snoopy ballon in the yearly Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, an event that was always a treasured part of thanksgiving when I was growing up, and which remains such today.  

And here's a 1988  Metlife Thanksgiving commercial also feautring the Peanuts characters. This is a re-post of this clip, which was featured on this blog a few prior Thanksgivings . . . and it's still warm reminder of the point of this holiday. 

A Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Re-Post: Captain EO

I've got several posts in the works, but unfortunately the demands of my job, among other things, have slowed their completion. Rest assure I should have them posted soon. Keep up with this blog.

In the meantime.. here's a re-post from 2012.  Disney recently announced that it would soon cease showing the Captain EO film at its Epcot them park, so my the timing of this re-post is good.

I recently visited Epcot, at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida. 
Epcot is very dear to me because it opened in the '80s to much fanfare, and was the location of many a family visit... and of so many of my youthful '80s memories. Epcot, in so many ways was very '80s when it opened, and it was very much a product of its times... the hope and positive vibes and energy of the '80s . . . the visions of the future of that era.

So much has changed since the '80s... and in some ways Epcot's mission has changed as the decade of its birth fades into the past... and yet there are still so many echoes of the '80s in Epcot... in its architecture and some of the rides which have survived since then.

The big ball, above, for example, is actually called Spaceship Earth, and it houses a ride that existed when Epcot first opened... it has had a few changes here and there... but its basically the same.. a ride through the history of communication. Maybe I'll do a post about it some day.

I do still love to visit Epcot, in part for all these '80s memories, and also because it remains to this day a very positive hopeful place.

One place that has changed a lot over the years is the pavilion which, at least back in the '80s, was known as Journey Into Imagination. Although the exterior looks very much the same (thankfully! I like it), the rides and shows inside have gone through a major evolution through the years.

Which brings me to what this post is really about. Back in 1986, when Epcot was still new, at the very height of the vibrant '80s, the Journey Into Imagination pavilion featured a new 3-D sci-fi space film by George Lucas, and starring Michael Jackson, called Captain Eo.

Captain Eo premiered at the very peak of Jackson-mania, when Michael Jackson's image was full of the very hope and positivity of the '80s decade, before his later troubles, and before the world seemed to become a less optimistic and less hopeful place. At least that's how I perceive it.

Recently, after a long absence, Captain Eo was brought back to Epcot, to the very same Imagination pavilion that originally featured it... and providing a wonderful '80s flashback to those who well remember that era.

And here it is, above.

This wonderful short film showcases so much of the good of the '80s: the optimism, the wonderful sci-fi fantasy which so dominated the era, the color and vibrancy... and Micheal when his music and message was a ray of hope that couldn't help but make you smile.

I enjoyed seeing Captain Eo again at Epcot, and am grateful to Disney for bringing it back.

When the world sometimes seems to be growing darker, maybe we need a wonderful flashback like this to remind us to see things in a positive light, and to look for the best in others. Thank you Michael Jackson and thank you George Lucas, for this, and thank you Disney for first presenting this to us, and for bringing it back again just when we need it.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Alice Cooper: Teenage Frankenstein

Happy Halloween everyone! Here's something for the holiday: Alice Cooper's "Teenage Frankenstein" from his 1986 album Constrictor.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sly Fox: "Let's Go All The Way"

"Let's Go All The Way," the 1985 hit by Sly Fox.

Contrary to popular belief, this song is not about sex, but about the human condition and frustration with politics.  Listen to the lyrics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back To The Future Day

Its finally here: October 21, 2015, the date in the "future" that Doc Brown and Marty McFly visited in Back to the Future II (1989).

Happy Back to the Future Day to all.  


Check out the hit song from the first Back to the Future (1985), "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News, along with some clips from that great '80s flick.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Re-Post: E.T.

This is a re-post of a post originally appearing in 2011.

I remember when my parents took me to see E.T., '80s sci-fi classic from Steven Spielberg.

The movie came out in June 1982, so this must have been mid to late late '82. I was a somewhat nerdy, awkward 12 years old loner, often in living in my own odd dreamy world. The fact that I was also an only child added to my solitary nature, I suppose. But I was quite close to my parents, although sometimes I even felt misunderstood by them as well, and this would occasionally lead to conflict in my teen years. But this memory was one of being close to them, and I treasure it now as I sit here writing about it.

We went to see the film at a small, one theater cinema in the downtown of our small home town. It was an old theater that had been there seemingly forever, and was still there in the '80s. It was in the very midst of the fan mania that developed over the film, and there was a long line that stretched around the entire front of the small theater and around the side to the parking lot out back.  

We took our place in line, and when we got inside the theater was packed to capacity, with every seat filled.  At that age, I was not yet used to going to see movies at the theater, so the whole thing was quite new to me. I remember we got some popcorn and Coke, and took our seats in the crowded theater. I also remember that in the midst of the movie, someone spilled a drink a row behind us. But I remember the experience fondly.

I remember the pleasure I got in seeing this beautiful film.  There was a tangible warmth about it, there were so many different details that seemed to shine through about the film. I remember the funny scene where E.T. inspires the young protagonist, Eliot, to come to the rescue of the frogs which were to be used during his school's science class, and he proceeds to cause havoc by freeing all of them in the midst of class. I also remember that my mother cried when E.T. briefly appeared to die, and I remember the joy that came when he miraculously revived and was alive.  

It felt like I was part of some wonderful phenomenon that all of America was participating in, and maybe beyond our borders to the world.  I somehow felt like I identified with the young protagonist Eliot, played by actor Henry Thomas. But then, didn't we all identify with young Eliot at that young age, befriending this wondrous being from another world.