<![CDATA[ Classic Nerd ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com https://www.classicnerd.com/favicon.png Classic Nerd https://www.classicnerd.com Wed, 29 Jun 2022 17:11:03 +0000 60 <![CDATA[ Name the TV show: "And to our future. No matter who it may take us up against or where." ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/name-the-tv-show/ 62bb53cfffefeb003dfa11f9 Tue, 28 Jun 2022 19:24:58 +0000 There’s nothing quite like staying up until 2 a.m. on a random night in the middle of summer binging reruns of a classic sci-fi show. Can you name this TV show based on a quote?

Click START to answer.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ The 10 best cereals that only existed in the 90s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-10-best-cereals-that-only-existed-in-the-90s/ 62b9c63bd974a4004d43c4cf Mon, 27 Jun 2022 15:02:25 +0000 Let’s be real for a second: the ‘90s were peak-cereal era.

No decade prior or since has even come close to the level of pure madness going on in that industry. Companies were basically throwing as many insane ideas at the wall as they could to see what stuck.

Sure, most didn’t, but there were also plenty that should have.

While they might be considered bowls of child abuse by today’s standards of what qualifies as food, it doesn’t change the fact that these 10 cereals that never made it out of the ‘90s were highlights while they lasted.

We’d say you should grab a bowl while you check this list out, but … you know.

Here are the 10 best cereals we were only able to taste in the 1990s.

Hidden Treasures

Cereal is amazing, don’t get us wrong, but it usually can’t be described as “exciting” from bite to bite. That is, unless, you’re eating Hidden Treasures during the precious two years it was available.

Every sweet corn puff may look identical, but some were filled with fruity fillings like cherry, grape, or even nothing at all! In the end, that didn’t matter much when shoveling them in our gullets by the spoonful, but still made each bite a new taste adventure.

French Toast Crunch

Toast-flavored cereals are dominated today by Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which is top-tier cereal, no doubt, but this unique spin really tried to sell the idea that you were eating a shrunken version of straight-up french toast.

The cereal itself was shaped like bread and had a healthy maple flavoring that turned the milk into thick molasses that could probably rot a tooth on contact.

Count Chocula

Because what doesn’t scream chocolate cereal better than a vampire?

Chocolate cereal is already an impossible-to-screw-up formula since it’s basically a two-for-one: chocolate cereal and bowl of chocolate milk to wash it down.

The vampire was just to stand out, and it worked because who doesn’t remember Count Chocula? Technically this horror-themed cereal first rose from its coffin in the 70s, but everyone remembers it for the ‘90s version of the mascot.

Urkel-Os

Really, is there anything more ‘90s than Urkel-Os?

Whoever thought this one up either deserves a promotion or to be locked up in a mental asylum. Somehow, this cherry and banana ring cereal stuck it out for longer than Urkel was even on the air, again showing the power of cereal.

Berry Berry Kix

Let’s face it, basic Kix suck. They’re just corn puffs with sugar, but Berry Berry Kix adding in purple and red mini-clusters with berry flavors turned out to be the kick in the tastebuds this cereal needed. It was like adding in the marshmallows to Lucky Charms.

And hey, they had to be somewhat healthy since they were shaped like fruit, right?

Good news (for some of you at least): Berry Berry Kix recently made a comeback. It’s not really quite the same, but good enough to take a trip down memory lane.

Dino Pebbles

Fruity Pebbles is the defacto Flinstones cereal, but simply shaping the fruity chunks into dino-shapes made it hit way different — in the same way animal crackers or animal-shaped chicken nuggets just taste better.

Oh, and the marshmallows certainly didn’t hurt either.

Pop-Tarts Crunch

This is another one of those ideas of taking an existing breakfast food and turning it into cereal. Somehow, those almost always turn out amazing, including Pop-Tarts Crunch.

It’s exactly what you expect, and just as delicious — shrunken down frosted Pop-Tarts.

It only came in brown sugar cinnamon and strawberry, which is a shame because there are so many other Pop-Tart flavors that we’d love to pour a bowl of.

Oreo O’s

Oreos are already marketed as being milk’s favorite cookie, so this idea was a no-brainer. Really, though, this cereal just said F pretending cereal was anything more than a bowl full of cookies.

And you know what? We appreciate their honesty almost as much as we blame them for staining our teeth.

While it disappeared from American shelves, apparently it is still available in some Asian countries.

Sprinkle Spangles

If the name and obnoxiously loud box of this cereal don’t scream ‘90s to you, nothing will.

The only accurate way to describe this cereal is as being star-shaped cakes covered in sprinkles — and they tasted just as good.

Sometimes you just need a big purple genie and a box of sugar-coated sugar to make a great cereal.

Rice Krispies Treats Cereal

Like Oreo O’s, the main draw here was taking an existing candy product, shrinking it down, then saying it counted as breakfast because we put it in a bowl with milk.

This was the laziest in terms of execution since we’re 99% sure they just took existing Rice Krispie Treats, broke them into smaller chunks, and shoved them in a box.

These actually recently resurfaced, but with a new formula—which is apparently so bad there’s a petition to change it back to the original … with over 17,000 signatures so far.

]]>
<![CDATA[ What was the highest-grossing movie of the 90s? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/what-was-the-highest-grossing-movie-of-the-90s/ 62b0e3ead974a4004d43c452 Mon, 20 Jun 2022 21:24:44 +0000 The '90s were all over the place in terms of movies, but boy, there are some good ones—and many that made A LOT of money.

But only one topped the box office. Do you remember which one?

Click START to play.

 


Go VIP before June ends to get entered to win an Xbox Series S, plus automatically entered for collectibles and other VIP-only giveaways from there.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 5 retro cars you can play in Rocket League ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-5-retro-cars-you-can-play-in-rocket-league/ 62af765cd974a4004d43c43b Sun, 19 Jun 2022 19:22:22 +0000 For a game that’s free to play, Rocket League sure is good at getting me to give it money.

In large part, that’s because they do a really great job of creating scarcity. The item shop only has a limited number of items each day, so if you see something you want, you feel the pressure to buy it right away.

Then there’s the licensed content—aka, my Achilles heel. Sometimes it’s tied to a specific promotion, like the 007 cars, or sometimes it just seems to pop up out of the blue.

And when I see a nerdy, retro car out there with only a limited time to buy it? It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

Here are the five retro cars from Rocket League that were totally worth the money—keep an eye out for them coming back around or, if you must, you can peruse third-party sellers to get your hands on one.

The Back to the Future DeLorean

Complete with the OUTATIME license plate, the chance to drive the DeLorean circa 1985 is one I refuse to miss.

It also comes with some fun little Easter eggs, like the fire tracks when your car demos, or how the wheels move under the car ala Back to the Future II when you go airborne.

But the DeLorean is also a really solid car in Rocket League. The shape of the car (aka, the “hitbox” in RC lingo) is better than you’d think for playing defense, and it controls surprisingly well. It’s not just fun, it’s actually a great car.

K.I.T.T.

This was one of those that just popped up one day for no apparent reason, and took me back to when I must have been maybe 5-years-old, visiting Universal Studios in Hollywood, sitting in a replica K.I.T.T. car and talking to the real KITT.

At least, that’s how I remember it.

While falling short of my dream to one day own K.I.T.T. in real life (hopefully without having to fake my death and get a new face), this is a pretty solid substitute.

It doesn’t have the best hitbox, so it’s less practical—but that’s not really why you’re going to buy it anyways, is it?

1965 Mustang Shelby GT350R RLE

The only car on this list that you could actually buy in real life (well, in theory if you have roughly $300k lying around), owning a ‘60s era Mustang of any kind in any form is a good call in my book.

There are fewer customization options with this bad boy, but who cares? The bundle comes complete with an accurate engine sound, so rev it up to your heart’s content.

Like the DeLorean, this car is also surprisingly easy to play and effective in the game—not just a pretty body.

Sadly, it recently left the item shop, and since it’s branded with Ford, it’s hard to say when it will come back. But it’s well worth keeping an eye out for.

1989 Batmobile

This is probably the least practical of any of the cars on this list in terms of actually playing competitively in Rocket League, but who cares when you’re pretending to be Michael Keaton from Tim Burton’s 1989 masterpiece?

The insanely-long front end of the car makes maneuvering generally pretty difficult, and even a simple dodge is a bit of a struggle.

But again, if you purchase this car it’s not really about doing well in the game, is it?

Ecto-1

Who you gonna call? That’s right, yourself!

Live out your bustin’ dreams with the Ecto-1, which was briefly available in 2019 and again in 2020. You never know, they might bring it back to the item shop to celebrate one of the next sequels.

You can’t customize this car at all, but why would you? It’s pretty much perfect as is. It’s a bit bulky, but its size and shape actually make it a pretty good car for playing defense or just demoing opponents into the afterlife.

***

Which retro car, real or imaginary, do you want to see Rocket League offer?

]]>
<![CDATA[ What does ALF stand for? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/what-does-alf-stand-for/ 62a9f30dd974a4004d43c35e Wed, 15 Jun 2022 15:01:12 +0000 You may already be aware of my take on ALF, so I’ll leave you to it. Let’s see what you know about this ‘80s sitcom from a golden era of TV.

Click START to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ 5 retro movies to celebrate AI (probably not) becoming conscious ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-retro-movies-to-celebrate-ai-probably-not-becoming-conscious/ 62a90a3524ab94003d9ecb6b Tue, 14 Jun 2022 22:24:07 +0000 Here at Classic Nerd, the news that a Google engineer thinks the AI chatbot he’s been working on has become sentient wasn’t shocking or scary. That’s because we’ve been preparing for this moment for decades.

Whether or not it actually is (almost certainly not really) sentient, it’s clear we’re at a point where this conversation is going to come up in real ways in real life. We have a couple options: unplug all the computers, or celebrate getting one step closer to becoming the pets of AI. An outcome that honestly doesn’t sound so bad …

Here are the retro movies we’re pulling up tonight to celebrate artificial intelligence’s (very unlikely) newfound consciousness.



2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

This film may single-handedly be responsible for implanting a healthy fear of AI in our collective consciousness. And all thanks to the most diabolical name of all time: HAL.

No offense to anyone named Hal out there, but you scare the crap out of us.

While not the only theme explored in Stanley Kubrick’s seminal movie (hi Time Baby), the HAL 9000 computer that goes on a killing rampage and fears death is one of the greatest depictions of artificial intelligence in film history.

Here’s hoping laMDA is a little nicer to Dave.

Also, read the book if you haven’t yet—the movie is fantastic, but boy it all makes so much more sense when you read it.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

MoviestillsDB.com

What’s the first reference when talk turns to AI? Yep, Skynet.

Admit it, a future where robots wage war against humans was the first thing you thought of when you read about the Google story. ADMIT IT!

And there really is no better depiction of AI in the Terminator series than the T-800 learning how to smile.

This isn’t only the best Terminator movie, or a great movie that deals with AI, it’s one of the best movies ever made.

Short Circuit (1986)

Look, we’d be convinced that laMDA was sentient if somewhere in those chat logs we saw the following:

“laMDA is alive! laMDA is ALIVE!! No disassemble!”

Johnny 5 became conscious the old-fashion way: getting struck by a bolt of lightning, like we used to do back in the good ol’ days before all this algorithm and social media nonsense.

Also, Google should add an obsession with the Three Stooges to its checklist of AI sentience.

Westworld (1973)

Boy, have we got a vacation for you!

Sidenote: Did you know Michael Crichton, yes that Crichton, directed this movie? That was news to me. Anyways…

Are the androids in Westworld or Future World or Roman World etc. sentient, or are they just imitating human actions?

That question becomes central to this movie when robots start “malfunctioning” by doing things like saying no. Rude! Also, shooting people, which is worse.

The good news is that it turns out that to stop the machines you just need to throw acid on them. So, if you’re worried about laMDA, I guess stock up on, uh, acid.

D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Way before Haley Joel Osment was poisoning other children’s minds in A.I. Artificial Intelligence (such a clever movie title), filmmakers were exploring the idea of an AI designed to both look and act like a child.

Like most things in the ‘80s Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform, aka Daryl, is designed by the military as an experiment to eventually build a bunch of super soldiers. Instead, he learns to play baseball.

One thing I always wondered about this movie is what happens to Daryl at the end—spoiler alert (I think 1985 is a long enough buffer), but everyone ends up thinking Daryl is dead, even though he isn’t, so he can ultimately return to live with his foster family.

But, like, does he grow up? Does he stay 10-years-old forever? Pretty weird if you ask me.

****

Which old-school movie will you be watching in honor of laMDA? Let us know—there’s a lot we had to leave off this list, but hey, we’re only human.


]]>
<![CDATA[ Every dinosaur in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies — ranked ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/every-dinosaur-in-the-jurassic-park-and-jurassic-world-movies-ranked/ 62a8f0e1dba09c003d15fc29 Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:36:58 +0000 There’s something about dinosaurs that just takes you right back to childhood.

Both Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg cited their own childhood fascinations with dinos as what sparked their passion for Jurassic Park. It is pretty incredible after all to think that these beasts—both the gentle giants and not so gentle giants—once ruled the Earth.

This summer’s Jurassic World: Dominion explores the tantalizing question of what it would look like if humans and dinosaurs inhabited the Earth together. Sort of a 21st century One Million Years B.C., if you will.



A whole lot of dino species have popped up throughout the five Jurassic films so far, and Dominion is set to introduce more unseen dino species than ever before. They’ve all been pretty rad, to be honest—they’re dinosaurs, how can they not be?!—but as always, some are fan favorites, some cool cameos, and some barely on screen long enough to make an impression.

Where did your favorite dino wind up on this perfectly objective ranking of the Jurassic dinosaurs? That’s what we’re about to find out.

I’d warn you not to move a muscle but you’ll need those to scroll. So just don’t go lighting any flares. Seriously. Especially if you’re indoors. That’s actually probably never a good idea.

So I’ll just say hold onto your butts as we embark on the ultimate ranking of every dinosaur in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies.

26. Ceratosaurus

In the first Jurassic Park, Grant calms Lex by telling her the brachiosaurus is kind of a big cow. If they had encountered a ceratosaurus instead, he might have said, “Just think of it as a big, pink unicorn that wants to devour your flesh.” Grant’s good with kids that way.

Luckily for the intrepid heroes of Jurassic Park III who are the first to encounter one, they happen to be surrounded by spinosaurus poop, and if you smell like spinosaurus poop you basically are a spinosaurus yourself. Small blessings everywhere.

The ceratosaurus blinks twice, makes a disapproving noise, and wanders off (similar to my own reaction after watching JPIII for the first time). All in all, a memorable if not exactly spectacular JP debut.

25. Corythosaurus

Another dino that’s unique to JPIII, the corythosaurs get their big moment in the spotlight when a raptor pack drives them into a stampede along with some grazing parasaurs. While I’m sure the corythosaurus was a perfectly lovely animal in person, in the film they’re little more than orange blurs for the human cast to weave between.

24. Allosaurus

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo during Fallen Kingdom’s big stampede, a juvenile allosaurus pulls up alongside Claire’s gyrosphere to ask for directions and gets taken out by a flaming projectile from the volcano.

You gotta feel a little bad for the guy. He’s just running for his life, same as everybody else (and maybe hoping to catch a quick bite along the way).

Despite the amount of character packed into those three seconds of screen time, it’s hard to rank Allie higher than #24.

23. Dimorphodon

The dimorphodons turn up briefly in Jurassic World, kicking it with the pteranodons in that sweet aviary of theirs until the indominus breaks in, setting them loose to wreak havoc on the main drag.

The dimorphodons look like somebody transplanted the head of a T-rex onto the body of a baby pterodactyl, and it doesn’t help either that they behave like a bunch of hyper spazzes. But they sure are memorable.

One comes close to taking a bite out of Chris Pratt before meeting with the butt of Claire’s tranquilizer rifle.

22. Mamenchisaurus

Just why InGen would want to breed multiple species of sauropods when each one of these majestic animals would go through 160 tons of food a year and produce a commensurate amount of waste is anyone’s guess, but in The Lost World the brachiosaurus was replaced by mamenchisaurus as the longest neck in town.

The mamenchisaur’s size is put on full display when one of Ludlow’s men races between its legs on a motorbike like a snow speeder through the legs of an AT-AT. For a dino with such little screen time, the mamenchisaur admittedly makes a very cool entrance.

21. Sinoceratops

The Swiss cheese of ceratopsids, the ‘90s jeans of horned herbivores, sinoceratops is basically a triceratops with holes in its headgear.

While not nearly as iconic as its three-horned cousins, sinoceratops has definitely got spunk. In Fallen Kingdom, one takes on a full-grown carnotaur in the midst of a volcanic explosion. It just flips the brute like a side of bacon and goes on its way.

The perfect embodiment of nonchalance, sinoceratops is the honey badger of the dinosaur kingdom. Salivating carnotaur at your 9 o’clock? Sinoceratops don’t care.

20. Apatosaurus

The apatosaurs most notably appear as a slaughtered herd that fell victim to the rampaging indominus in Jurassic World.

One even gives Titanic’s Jack and Rose a run for their money when it expires in Chris Pratt’s arms to slow piano. This just might be the hardest the death of an animatronic has ever hit.

Still, for all the pathos to be found in that field of death, the apatosaurs’ top moment has to go to the baby in the petting zoo that just looks overjoyed to be getting a hug. Either that or it can’t breathe.

(How is that petting zoo not a gigantic stack of lawsuits waiting to happen anyway?)

19. Carnotaurus

The cinematic debut of the carnotaurus was long anticipated by fans after it first appeared in Crichton’s 1995 novel sequel, The Lost World, where it had the ability to camouflage and was feared even by the raptors.

The camouflaging attribute was given to the indominus in Jurassic World, depriving the carnotaurs of one of their cooler features, and they weren’t given a whole lot to do when they did finally turn up in Fallen Kingdom. In fact, they mostly just got whomped on by the T-rex. But though underused, the bull-horned predator still made a chilling impression.

18. Spinosaurus

On paper, the idea of a 50-foot apex predator with a visually impressive back sail and terrifyingly long crocodile jaws sounds like one of the coolest ideas for a JP dino, and indeed Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was intended to replace T-rex as the biggest and baddest dino around.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans...

Having the spino totally trash everybody’s favorite non-human character was clearly not the way to endear fans. The uneasy blending of animatronics with CGI had the further effect of making JPIII’s star attraction come off a bit goofy-looking in scenes where it’s meant to be terrifying.

Spinosaurus is still a great candidate for future entries in the JP franchise and it may one day get its due, but for now, it’s probably most fondly remembered for being the skeleton the T-rex triumphantly smashes through on its way to take down the indominus in Jurassic World.

17. Gallimimus

With dinos that can camouflage, fling venom, or obliterate jeeps with any manner of naturally growing body armor, there’s nothing that particularly stands out about the humble gallimimus.

The ostrich-like omnivores do however feature in one of the most memorable and stunning sequences in Jurassic Park when a whole herd of them flock toward Grant, Lex, and Tim and run afoul of the T-rex hiding in the trees.

It’s the first time we were really shown the scale of what CGI could accomplish in one of these films. It’s one thing to show a lone brachiosaur munching on some trees or a tyrannosaur exiting its paddock, but to portray a whole herd of squawking and stampeding dinosaurs with human characters moving within their midst was something else entirely.

For the sheer movie magic of it all, the gallimimus flock will always hold a special place in my heart.

16.  Indoraptor

Following Jurassic World’s body count-stacking Indominus rex, something always felt a bit 2.0 about the indoraptor in Fallen Kingdom. Another lab-cooked hybrid superpredator in place of a real dino that hadn’t been featured yet? Seemed like a bit of been there, done that. But the indoraptor proved to be more than a rehash.

It’s actually pretty cool how Fallen Kingdom’s main antagonist harks back to the classic Universal monsters: first Frankensteined to life in the dungeon of a creepy old manor, then found lurking under a full moon like the wolf man and invading a bedchamber through the window like a prehistoric Dracula.

Points have to be docked for behaving a bit too human at times (such as the Bugs Bunny games it plays with Wheatley in its holding cell), but for the most part, the indoraptor was a devilishly designed and chillingly ruthless new killing machine. Its battle with Blue inside the house and across the rooftop is one for the ages.

15.  Parasaurolophus

The parasaurolophus has a long history in the Jurassic Park franchise. Alongside brachiosaurus, they’re the first dinosaur to be fully seen in the original, and they’re one of the few species to have appeared in all six films so far (the other three being triceratops, velociraptor, and T-rex).

True, they have never really had a standout scene of their own. They feature most prominently in the roundup scene of The Lost World, where they’re dubbed “Elvis” by a frustrated Roland Tembo on account of their backward-swooping head crests. But the parasaurs are majestic-looking animals nevertheless and an undeniably iconic part of Jurassic Park’s dino lineup.

14.  Ankylosaurus

Ankylosaurs are very much the giant turtles of the prehistoric world, except instead of being able to hide inside their shells they have 50-lb. tail clubs that can shatter the shinbones of a T- rex.

So in that sense, they’re kind of more like tanks that run on plants.

It took a cool minute for the ankylosaurs to make their way into the films. They cropped up as part of the scenery in JPIII before director Colin Trevorrow, who cited the armored herbivores as his favorite, gave them some truly awesome action in Jurassic World.

When Zach and Gray go off-roading in their gyrosphere, they get caught up in a battle between the indominus and four grazing ankylosaurs. We’re put right smack in the middle of the action as their gyrosphere bounces back and forth between the panicking ankies, and we see what damage those tail clubs can really do.

13.  Pachycephalosaurus

Part of me is disappointed that I’ve never come across a cartoon where one pachycephalosaurus says to another, “Just use your head,” but no part of me is disappointed these awesome dome-butting dinosaurs became part of the Jurassic universe in The Lost World.

While the Robert Bakker lookalike, Robert Burke, explains the mechanics of how the pachy’s neck aligns with its backbone to absorb the impact of a blow from its 9-inch-thick head dome, like he’s in some kind of a lecture hall, one of the pursued pachies smashes in a jeep door, hurtling a cowering hunter clear through the vehicle and out the other side.

Oh, they got cattle prods and lassos? Pachy don’t care. He’s gonna head-butt his way right outta there.

I know I already used the honey badger comparison for sinoceratops, but screw it, the dinosaur kingdom can have two honey badgers.

12.  Stygimoloch

Or three?

It really is splitting hairs to distinguish between the pachy and the stygi here. They’re practically the same dinosaur. In fact, paleontologist Jack Horner believes the stygimoloch specimens that have been found are really just juvenile pachycephalosaurs and that the elongated spikes at the base of their skulls would recede with age.

Whatever the case may be, the stygimoloch that shares a jail cell next to Owen and Claire in Fallen Kingdom is a real hoot and just edges out the pachy for the larger role it plays.

After Owen riles the animal up in order to get it to head-smash them an exit, the stygimoloch stumbles into a dinosaur auction where it proceeds to wreak havoc on its captors and the assembled buyers in a beautiful representation of Jurassic Park’s core message: “Don’t mess with nature or nature will mess with you.”

Word.

11.  Triceratops

Fun fact: the sick, West Indian Lilac berry-eating dino the JP tour group comes across was actually a stegosaurus in the book, but Spielberg changed it to a triceratops because that was his childhood favorite.

He made the right choice too. The triceratops is just one of those beloved dinosaurs everyone instantly recognizes by its three horns and classic neck frill. The very sight of the animal fills you with childlike wonder.

The animatronic Stan Winston built also happened to be among his very best work. When Sam Neill leans against the animal’s pebbly hide and listens to it inhale you know that triceratops is real.

If there’s any doubt still lingering in your mind just read this for confirmation: Spielberg accused of hunting triceratops for sport.

10.  Stegosaurus

After swapping the stego out for triceratops in the first one, Spielberg felt compelled to put it in the sequel, especially after fan mail poured in from children begging to see it. As it turned out, The Lost World was a much more exciting debut for the spiky-tail herbivore.

When Malcolm, Eddie, and Nick catch up with Sarah Harding on Isla Sorna, she’s setting out to observe a stegosaur family. But as soon as she takes a picture of the baby with Nick’s camera, the autowinder starts noisily whirring and the majestic scene shifts fast as the adults take aggressive action.

Considering the danger mainly came from the carnivores in the first Jurassic Park, it was both unexpected and exciting to see herbivores turn their natural defenses on the human cast in The Lost World. These are wild animals after all. What else would you expect? The stegos move even faster than they appear capable of and swing their spiked tails like they mean business, immediately dispensing with the splendor and hurtling the viewer into a world of chaos and unpredictability.

9.  Indominus rex

Jurassic World tackled the problem of having to up the ante from the T-rex by introducing the series’ first completely fictional dinosaur—a tyrannosaur/raptor hybrid that would deliver on the public’s demands for bigger, scarier, cooler, more teeth.

Of course, the public referred to here includes both the park goers in the movie and the movie’s own audiences, allowing the filmmakers to both give the people what they want and poke fun at the roles of commercialism and sensationalism in entertainment. (Let’s not forget that the animal’s full scientific name is Verizon Wireless presents the Indominus rex.)

Having learned from where JPIII went wrong, the indominus was allowed to take on the role of antagonist without comparison to or competition with the T-rex. The fact it kills for sport rather than food also helped set it apart while being a convenient way to let the animal go on rampaging from one act to the next.

In the end, giving the T-rex a chance to reclaim its title and team up with the raptors in a full-out dino battle royale cemented the indominus as the villain you love to root against.

8. Baryonyx

After spinosaurus stumbled out the gate in JPIII, you might have thought the filmmakers would have steered clear of using another crocodile-snouted carnivore anytime soon. Fortunately, they didn’t because the baryonyx is one of the coolest parts of Fallen Kingdom.

The baryonyx basically is a giant crocodile that moves swiftly and with agility on two legs on land and that’s small enough to follow you into confined interiors but big enough to be absolutely terrifying.

When one wanders without fanfare into the lava-flooding bunker where Claire and Franklin are trapped you almost have to laugh at the sheer improbability of it all. But that’s what makes the scene such a winner and the baryonyx one of the franchise’s best-used dinosaurs.

7.  Pteranodon

It was inevitable flying dinosaurs were eventually going to factor into the Jurassic films.

Modestly sized pterodactyls first turned up in the aviary scene in Crichton’s first book, and one was teased alighting on a branch and unfolding its wings in the closing shot of The Lost World. It may have taken CGI a second or two to reach the point of rendering realistically flying animals, but the wait for an aviary scene like the one found in Crichton’s book turned out to be oh so worth it when Jurassic Park III finally gave the pteranodons their due.

For a film that missed the mark in so many other ways, JPIII’s aviary scene is astoundingly good. The slow reveal through the mist and all the mannerisms built into the riled-up and really very dangerous pteranodons themselves add up to the best dang scene in the whole film. In fact, Jurassic World’s pteranodon breakout which finds frenzied guests running every which

way on the main drag and getting plucked up into the air is one of that film’s better scenes too. There’s no question the pteranodons have been treated well by this series.

6.  Brachiosaurus

Between its very first appearance rearing up on its hind legs to reach a treetop and its swampy serenade of dinosaur-sized mooing, the brachiosaur easily became a mascot for the majestic side of Jurassic Park. They may not do much apart from munching on greens and occasionally sneezing on people who don’t like dinosaurs, but they are among Jurassic Park’s most iconic attractions nevertheless.

Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona revealed that the brachiosaur seen rearing up on its hind legs with a mournful cry as it’s silhouetted through the volcanic smoke is the same one first seen by Grant, Ellie, and Malcolm. Man, between this and the apatosaurs in Jurassic World, the sauropods get it rough in these new films. Here’s hoping they pull through Dominion okay.

5.  Mosasaurus

After flying dinos got their day in JPIII, it was only a matter of time before the series took to the sea and showed us what underwater dinos could do. The concept of a functioning park in Jurassic World was the perfect opportunity to include the gargantuan mosasaurus in a kind of supersized SeaWorld attraction, which comes complete with a neat Spielberg in-joke when a Great White shark is rolled out on a line for feeding time.

Between Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom, the mosasaur has already made plenty of cool appearances—hauling down a pteranodon, the indominus, and very nearly a whole helicopter for chow time. It was last seen silently gliding after surfers in the Pacific. It will be interesting to see if and how the marine dino factors into the next one.

4.  Compsognathus

The compies are just about one of the best things to happen to the JP franchise, and they couldn’t have debuted in a better film than The Lost World. They already stood out from InGen’s predominantly towering lineup with their diminutive sizes, but where the filmmakers really went right was in exaggerating the compies’ playfully skittish mannerisms.

At times, they look adorable enough to want to take home and keep for a pet, but then they’re growling like Gremlins and swarming all over you, viciously latching onto whatever they can with their tiny teeth and claws. They were the perfect new predators for The Lost World, which already had a bit of a crueler tone and more of an emphasis on black humor than its predecessor.

Much like the gallimimus herd in the first Jurassic Park, a great deal of work went into animating the CGI compies during their attack on Dieter Stark, and the result is all right there on the screen.

3.  Dilophosaurus

The dilophosaurus was a real wild card in Jurassic Park. Of course, everyone had their own expectations of what the T-rex would be like and the raptors’ lethal capabilities were thoroughly described by Muldoon and shown to us in brief flashes. But a dilophosaurus? What even is that?

Apart from the tour narrator casually describing the dinosaur in brief, you really have no idea what Nedry is in for when he stumbles into the animal’s rain-soaked paddock.

The shockingly colorful neck frill that flaps open and shakes as the dilo releases a horrifying growl would have been surprise enough, but then comes the blinding venom hurled in Nedry’s eyes.

The whole sequence is masterfully orchestrated and the dilophosaur superbly designed. For a dino this popular, it’s a real mystery why the spitter has never been used outside of this one scene.

But that can certainly change come Jurassic World: Dominion.

2.  Velociraptor

OK, so to get the obvious out of the way: yes, the real Velociraptor mongoliensis was only one and a half feet tall, which would have put them at a very convenient height to aggressively nip at Muldoon’s ankles, and as the name implies they were found in Mongolia, not the Badlands of Montana.

At the time Jurassic Park was being made, there wasn’t even a similar counterpart to Spielberg’s raptor known in the dinosaur kingdom until the discovery of utahraptor shortly before the film’s release. As is so often the case in Hollywood, sensationalism prevailed over realism and Jurassic Park’s velociraptor was about as made-up as they come.

But you know what? None of that matters. Here’s a dinosaur that was so fearsome, so iconic, and so entirely believable upon its debut in 1993 that it sank its toe claws into the hearts of audiences and rose above every one of its inaccuracies to become a deeply entrenched part of popular culture. Maybe the velociraptor never stalked the primordial forests of the Cretaceous, but it can stalk abandoned kitchens and InGen laboratories all it likes and we’ll relish every rhythmic click of that wicked toe claw.

Sure, they went through a weird phase in JPIII where they had feathers and talked to Alan Grant in his dreams. But who hasn’t gone through one of those phases?

The Jurassic World films have now done the impossible and made the raptors into pseudo- heroes fighting alongside the human cast, which feels a bit like trying to make a pet out of a shark.

But they pulled it off and have left the raptors just enough of their dangerous, predatory qualities to make you wonder if they might teeter back into their untamed, primordial selves at any moment. It’s a little weird to look back at how the raptors started and think of the role they’re playing currently on the side of the guys, but any series that’s run for two decades and counting will naturally have to evolve—and the raptors have done just that.

1.  Tyrannosaurus rex

The T-rex has long been the undisputed king of the dinosaurs in popular culture, and when it came to bringing one to life through CGI, animatronics, and good solid storytelling, Jurassic Park delivered on all expectations and in oh so many ways.

Not only did the T-rex come across as absolutely terrifying in its scale and its ferocity (never has a Ford Explorer taken such a thrashing on film), but the tyrannosaur also triumphantly returns to save our heroes from the raptors in the end. We can think of these dinos as animals all we want, but ultimately they’re characters too and in that sense the rex has proven to be one of the coolest, baddest antiheroes in all of cinema history.

It’s reassuring to know that the original tyrannosaur, Jurassic Park’s so-dubbed “Rexy,” is still going strong after all these years.

Here’s to Rexy’s return in Dominion and all the other species that’ll be along for the ride, old and new.


]]>
<![CDATA[ What TV show does 'and knowing is half the battle' come from? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/what-tv-show-does-and-knowing-is-half-the-battle-come-from/ 62a8f02edba09c003d15fc0a Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:33:46 +0000 Let's see how much TV you watched back in the 80s.

Click START to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ 6 questions about the Jurassic Park movies ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/6-questions-about-the-jurassic-park-movies/ 62a8ef96dba09c003d15fbf4 Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:30:59 +0000 Take a trip down memory lane with one of the most beloved and enduring movie franchises of all time.

Click start to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ Name the Mario character ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/name-the-mario-character/ 62a8edf5dba09c003d15fbcf Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:28:43 +0000 Nintendo has produced many lovable characters. I mean, even Bowser is likable on some level.

See if you can name this Mario character.

Click START to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ What year does Marty travel to in Back to the Future II? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/what-year-does-marty-travel-to-in-back-to-the-future-ii/ 62a8e9d3dba09c003d15fba6 Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:06:12 +0000 The ‘80s truly were a golden era for cinema, in particular movies that bent time and space, from Time Bandits to Terminator.

Today’s topic is time travel movies.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ Three questions about Obi-Wan ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/three-questions-about-obi-wan/ 62a8e949dba09c003d15fb8c Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:03:11 +0000 The man, the myth, the miniseries. Let's brush up on our Kenobi knowledge.

Click START to play.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ Name the release date of this Sega Genesis game ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/name-the-release-date-of-this-sega-genesis-game/ 62a8e8f1dba09c003d15fb7a Tue, 14 Jun 2022 20:01:53 +0000 This is Classic Nerd Trivia. Today’s topic is Sega Genesis.

Click START to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ Ten 90s cartoon episodes that were way too dark for children ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/ten-90s-cartoon-episodes-that-were-way-too-dark-for-children-2/ 62a7b86adba09c003d15fb70 Mon, 13 Jun 2022 22:22:01 +0000 It’s easy to forget, but cartoons were originally targeting adult audiences.

Even Bugs Bunny was originally aimed at adults, but soon began to appeal to youngsters on Saturday mornings. This eventually paved the way for the rise of iconic channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network producing cartoons specifically for this young crowd.

It felt like the Wild West of cartoons then, with more than a handful of shows blatantly making episodes that, to this day, make me wonder who would allow them to be shown to kids.

I loved them, but man, I’m sure some of us out there may still be suffering from a bit of trauma thanks to these overly dark episodes.

Invader Zim — Dark Harvest

I love Invader Zim. It was probably my favorite show growing up at the time, but somebody really dropped the ball when greenlighting this show.

“Dark Harvest” is all the proof you need. This early episode features Zim, an alien, being sent to the nurse’s office at the school where he’s working undercover. Fearing she’ll be able to out him as being an alien for, you know, not having any human organs, Zim goes on a terrifying hunt through the school, stealing other kid’s organs, stuffing them inside himself, and replacing them with random objects like soda cans, radiators, and a cow-in-a-can toy.

Rocko’s Modern Life — Leap Frogs

While many shows snuck in jokes here and there for the parents who were forced to watch whatever drivel their kids had on TV from dawn to dusk, Rocko was all jokes for adults, with the occasional oddity that was fun for kids.

Case in point: “Leap Frogs”, an episode where Mrs. Bighead, Rocko’s neighbor, spends the entire episode trying to seduce the naive wallaby—such as by watching a tape on toad mating methods.

Courage the Cowardly Dog — Freaky Fred

In all honesty, I could’ve filled this entire list with nothing but Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes.

Picking just one, though, “Freaky Fred” has stuck with me in the worst way. Complete with rhyming narration, Courage is locked in a bathroom with Fred, a “naughty barber” who proceeds to shave the panicked, screaming dog until he’s completely bald while Eustice naps in his truck rather than attempt to get the door open.

Rugrats — Angelica’s Worst Nightmare

Babies are kind of terrifying on their own, to be honest, but the nightmare Angelica has about a possible baby sibling is true existential terror.

In her dream, her parents not only don’t remember her, only focusing on the new baby, but the baby itself speaks in a terrifying deep voice. He threatens Angelica to leave, but when she doesn’t he chases her through the house until he catches her—and eats her.

Hey Arnold! — Arnold’s Christmas

OK, this one has only gotten darker the older I’ve gotten.

This is the episode where we learn of Mr. Hyunh’s tragic past. He lived in southern Vietnam during the war with his daughter, forced to flee from the conflict. With only room for one person left on the escape helicopter, Mr. Hyunh offers up his daughter, and would not see her again until this episode, over 20 years later.

Merry Christmas kids!

Ren and Stimpy — Ren’s Toothache

Whoever the animators were on Ren and Stimpy should be committed.

The imagery they depicted in this “kid’s show” was seriously unhinged. Case in point, “Ren’s Toothache”, which is probably responsible for millions of kids developing a tooth-related phobia.

Tiny Toon Adventures — One Beer

Cartoons are a great way to teach lessons to kids, sure, but at what age did I need to learn that drinking and driving could straight up kill me?

Whatever age Tiny Toon Adventures is aimed at, apparently, because “One Beer” shows three young animal kids getting drunk and crashing a stolen car. If you were trying to traumatize me into never wanting to drink as a kid, then yeah, mission accomplished.

Batman: The Animated Series — Over the Edge

Batman: The Animated Series is most people’s favorite depiction of the superhero, and for good reason.

The show isn’t overly dark most of the time, but is serious and treats the world and characters with respect. “Over the Edge” does exactly that.

My 10-year-old mind wasn’t ready to witness the murder of Jim Gordon’s daughter and see him swear to get revenge on Batman, leading to both of their deaths.

It all turned out to be a nightmare, but still…

Gargoyles — Deadly Force

This is a similar episode to "One Beer", only instead of instilling a deep-seated, psychological fear of alcohol into young minds, "Deadly Force" made me think guns could just shoot at any moment if you held them.

Again, not playing with guns is a good lesson, but did they have to be so extreme about it?

Pokémon — Charmander: The Stray Pokémon

Oh man, if there’s one thing no kid wants to see, it’s animal cruelty. If it’s one thing I didn’t want to see it was Pokémon cruelty, and this episode almost goes the whole way by killing a Charmander who was abandoned by its trainer.

The only reason I’m still a functional human being after that was because it wasn’t a Bulbasaur.

About the author: Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He's so dedicated to team subs over dubs that he even turns them on for American shows, and has more action figures as an adult than he did as a kid.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 6 old school video games ready for a reboot ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/old-school-video-games-ready-for-a-reboot/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4910 Thu, 02 Jun 2022 16:00:00 +0000 It seems like everything is getting a reboot these days, from superheroes to Jumanji to Bonkers.

But they're getting it all wrong. Why waste time remaking a perfect movie, like Dirty Dancing, when there are oodles of old-school games that would make for killer titles on next-gen consoles?

These games were possibly cool, or maybe actually not that fun to play, but as reboots would make for blockbuster titles in the modern age.

Here are some classic games that video-game studios really should be considering for a reboot.

Eternal Champions

In 1993, this was the most hotly anticipated fighting game to come out for the Sega Genesis. Well, at least for me it was.

Eternal Champions tells the tale of a tournament organized by, you guessed it, the Eternal Champion.

He has gathered the greatest champions from across time, just before their deaths, to compete for the ultimate prize: the ability to return to their life—and instead of dying, live.

The original gameplay was so-so, but what made this game so fun was the ability to pick archetypes from across the spectrum, from a caveman to a noir detective to a Wesley Snipes-looking dude named BLADE (hmmmmm...).

It also introduced the concept of different finishes depending on what level you're on— the kind of interactivity with stages that we now see across many fighting games (e.g., Injustice 2, Dragon Ball FighterZ).

Imagine these characters (likely minus the litigation pit of BLADE) on a next-gen console and the stage interactions that could be played up.

The concept is ripe for revisiting, and frankly, it's somewhat shocking Sega hasn't done so yet.

Golden Axe

Pick a buff dude (the Barbarian), a ripped girl (the Amazon), or a dwarf (the Dwarf), and go cut up some monsters. Oh, and pick up some potions and crap on the way.

Hell yeah.

Released in 1989, this Sega-powered arcade game (and later on the Genesis) truly blew my mind when I first played it. The animations were revolutionary, and, I mean, you got to just swing at stuff with a frickin’ sword!

This side-scrolling action game set the stage for action RPGs to come, so why not go back to the simple formula that made it work in the first place? No need for complicated storylines, just update the combat engine, the graphics, and maybe a few more generic characters to choose from.

The heart and soul of this game was in its simplicity and embracement of all things D&D (except legally not D&D).

The final villain, the Death Adder, kills relatives of the heroes, and they want some damn revenge.

Oh, and you can RIDE ON A DRAGON.

The time is waaaaay past to bring this franchise back.

Altered Beast

Fine, I played a lot of Sega games. But c'mon, it’s a game where you fight monsters and transform into a werewolf, a weredragon, a werebear, a weretiger, or the ultimately powerful GOLDEN WEREWOLF.

I mean, a weredragon. Why is that not more of a thing?

Not to mention, you're brought back from the dead to help Zeus save his daughter. The plot is already there with minimal tweaks needed.

It's a simple action game: you can punch, kick, and jump and that pretty much covers it. Ingesting glowing spirit orbs gets you buffer and buffer and eventually turns you into one of the were-creatures mentioned above.

And the bosses include a double-headed wolf and some kind of demon that regenerates his head and throws it at you constantly — just imagine what these monsters would look like in Ultra HD.

Missile Command

You may recall this thing called the Cold War where everyone wondered at any second if they would get nuked by Russia. They also watched the movie Russkies a lot. Good thing that’s all resolved now!

Thus was born the arcade and Atari classic, Missile Command, where you get to live out your fantasies of defending cities from those dreaded commie warheads.

Or, more likely, you fail and millions of people die.

Missile Command was one of the first games where I remember having to apply some real strategy. You have to predict the path of the incoming missiles while also balancing how many missiles you have to defend your cities, and from which defense site you're launching them.

And, of course, it gets harder and harder as you go along, until your screen is filled with glorious vector-graphic explosions.

There are already a bunch of knock-off mobile games out there, but the weight of the Missile Command name is sorely missing. What if someone really dove in and turned it into a bigger war strategy game? I know I'd be on board.

Adventure

I'm still really unsure of what happens in this game, but I know you have to explore dungeons, find keys and fight dragons. I still think the sword looks like an arrow, and I actually pretty much hated to play this game — it never really lived up to the sweet-looking cover art — but Adventure, released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, was groundbreaking.

This was really the first of its kind for home consoles, setting the stage for every single RPG to come after. Yes, EVERY SINGLE ONE.

I would love to see this franchise brought back as just an old-fashioned dungeon crawler, except, you know, the gameplay isn't god awful and you can actually tell what things are supposed to be.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

There was a time when I could ollie and manual my way to besting nearly any other Tony Hawk player I came in contact with.

Never before or since has skateboarding been so well translated into video games. Not to mention the killer soundtrack for the first release in the franchise.

After a while, they kept getting cutesy and adding elements that frankly no one wanted. I want to just get out there, skate, rack up a bunch of points, and hear some punk music.

While there's a lot that could be done — add a career mode where you can compete in the X Games or the Olympics, a vert ramp mode, etc. — I just crave that super fun, to the point/let's see how many times I can spin around gameplay that the first two or three entries provided.

While there was an entry in this series as recently as 2020, it was basically a reskin of the first two for newer consoles. It doesn't count.

I want to revisit the glory days of the first Pro Skater. Keep it simple, keep it fun.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Where did Mork & Mindy take place? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/trivia-sci-fi-tv-shows/ 628bce450ef9c0003df87ce3 Mon, 23 May 2022 18:16:00 +0000 Star Wars inspired a litany of sci-fi themed TV shows and episodes in the late '70s and early '80s. Let's see if you know much about this one.

Today's theme is sci-fi TV shows of the 1970s.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ What type of spaceship is the Millennium Falcon? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/what-type-of-spaceship-is-the-millennium-falcon/ 6287fccf9494fe003deda1de Fri, 20 May 2022 20:51:48 +0000 Ahhh, Star Wars. Will it ever stop simultaneously spoiling us with its riches and ruining our childhoods? Not likely.

Click START to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ Can you name this sci-fi movie? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/trivia-sci-fi-movie-quotes/ 6285722325419f004de2c79c Thu, 19 May 2022 18:36:15 +0000 This is Classic Nerd Trivia. Today's topic is: Sci-fi movie quotes.

Click START to play.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ Win a Nintendo Switch prize package! ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/win-a-nintendo-switch-prize-package/ 62853ca925419f004de2c77d Wed, 18 May 2022 22:15:07 +0000 From Classic Nerd and friends, win everything you need to start playing right away. Enter today!

The prizes listed over an image of a Nintendo Switch
]]>
<![CDATA[ Who was Marvel Comics' first superhero? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/trivia-marvel-comics/ 6285198425419f004de2c760 Wed, 18 May 2022 16:10:11 +0000 This is Classic Nerd Trivia. Let's travel back to the origins of Marvel.

Click START to play.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ What year was 'Nevermind' released? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/trivia-90s-music-nirvana-nevermind/ 62841a0125419f004de2c732 Tue, 17 May 2022 23:20:43 +0000 RIP Kurt Cobain. This was the year that music changed forever. When was it?

Click START to play.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 John Hughes movies ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/john-hughes-top-10-movies/ 6279458f948907003d7524f3 Tue, 17 May 2022 15:16:14 +0000 There are some directors you think of when certain movie genres come up: Alfred Hitchcock mastered the psychological thriller, Akira Kurosawa cornered the market on the samurai epic, Sergio Leone dominated the spaghetti western—and John Hughes wrote the book on movies about teens.

Of course, Hughes branched out into other genres too, including films about the holidays and live-action movies where a dog is the main character (it’s a bigger genre than you might think).

But he’s definitely best known for his '80s teen dramas and comedies. His movies gave voice to a demographic that often felt unheard, and portrayed all the spontaneous-dancing highs and trapped-in-detention lows of what it meant to be a teenager growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 1980s.

Though Hughes only directed eight films, he wrote nearly four times that many. In honor of the maestro of teen cinema, here’s a selection of his finest output.

Feel free to transfer your gum to the underside of the nearest writing surface and hit pause on that Barry Manilow record as we look at the 10 best films written or directed by John Hughes.

10. The Great Outdoors (1988)

It’s hard to disappoint when you’ve got John Candy as your lead and the Wisconsin wilderness for a backdrop.

As you’d expect, Candy is a delight as the wholesome family man just looking to relax in fresh air when his getaway is interrupted by the in-laws: a smooth-talking Dan Aykroyd and a brand-new-to cinema Annette Bening, who seems to have perfected the condescending laugh from her debut role.

While it’s a pleasure to hear Candy and Aykroyd trade barbs over a couple of brewskis by the lake, the drama is mostly kept surface level and the plot is little more than a series of encounters with bears, powerboats, and mouthwatering 96 oz. steaks—and that’s definitely a good thing. What more do you want out of a film called The Great Outdoors than to see Candy and Aykroyd suit up in sports gear to take on a bat that gets in the house?

Sure, some of this feels like it came from an unproduced Vacation script and there’s a subplot or two that could have been better developed, but the film still has its own personality and charm, making for good breezy summer fare.

The sight of Candy driving two actual bears around on his Jeep Wagoneer is worth the price of admission alone.

9. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Some Kind of Wonderful tends to get left out of conversations about Hughes’ films, and it’s no great mystery why: It’s basically a repeat of Pretty in Pink with the genders swapped (two girls vying for the affections of one guy this time), not to mention it’s as good an example as any as to why Eric Stolz was replaced by the more animated Michael J. Fox on Back to the Future.

It’s not a perfect film … but it is the last of Hughes’ teen films and definitely not a bad way to close out the era.

In Pretty in Pink 2: Prettier in Pink, Stolz’s blue-collar artist type pines after Marty McFly’s mom, Lea Thompson (in what I’d like to think was a small prank played by the movie gods), while his tomboy best friend, Mary Stuart Masterson, plays drums and pines after him. It’s a classic case of chasing after the wrong person while the right one is right there under your nose the whole time.

While the chemistry may be hard to see between Stolz and Thompson, Some Kind of Wonderful thrives on the performances of its supporting players. Masterson really makes you feel the agony of her character’s pent-up love for her friend in some very subtle and very cool ways, and Elias Koteas (whom you probably know best as either Casey Jones in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies or as the whacko car crash addict in Cronenberg’s Crash) plays the most likable redeemed bully since John Bender in The Breakfast Club.

The story may be familiar and you have to seriously question whether its somewhat forced romance is built to last, but you can’t deny that that Celtic-flavored rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” that plays the film into the end credits is totally boss.

8. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles feels like the result of two brilliant ideas converging at once: the realization that no one had ever made a Thanksgiving movie before and the certainty that sitting Steve Martin and John Candy next to each other for two hours would pay off in comedic dividends.

It’s a classic buddy picture with Martin playing the peevish and harried marketing executive and Candy playing the motormouthed and imposing shower ring salesman who gets on his nerves to no end. You wouldn’t want to spend a plane ride with either one of these two—let alone subsequent journeys by train and automobile—and yet, we happily join Martin and Candy for the ride knowing Hughes won’t let their destinies lie in disaster.

While it’s the comedy that bears us through the burned-up rental cars and Martin’s fascinating tirades (one of which directed at an unassuming desk attendant singlehandedly earns the film its R rating), it’s the human drama that has undoubtedly turned this film into a seasonal classic.

As outrageous as they are, Martin and Candy never descend to stock types and instead allow humanity to shine through in their increasingly disastrous altercations. It’s a film that veers dangerously close to tragedy before wrenching the wheel back in an uplifting direction and in true Hughesian fashion leaving both travelers with something more than safe arrival in the end.

7. Weird Science (1985)

Man, I don’t know what kinda chips they were putting in computers in the 1980s where turning one on felt like stepping into some limitless virtual reality, and by feeding it magazine clippings while conducting a Barbie doll seance you could conjure an ultra-smart, ultra-cool British supermodel inside your bathroom, but…they sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

Weird Science was the one time out of all his teen flicks that Hughes ventured into science fiction. It was a chance for him to go totally bonkers with the special effects and stunts, from turning Bill Paxton’s flattop-rocking Chet into a blob monster to blowing a piano out of a chimney and through a gazebo. The kitchen turns blue, the house party gets crashed by a post-apocalyptic biker gang straight outta Mad Max, and a Pershing missile pushes up through the floor of a bedroom. All because…why not?

It’s the wildest Hughes ever went with a film, and yet he still anchored what story there is in the coming-of-age wisdom he’s known for. While Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are goofy and likable as the science-meddling teens, and Paxton basically plays Private Hudson 1.0 (with a few dozen more loose screws), this film belongs to Kelly LeBrock’s computer-made woman. She radiates confidence, cool, and charm and quickly transcends the purpose behind her creation to teach the boys how to be confident and have lives of their own.

It wouldn’t be a John Hughes film after all without a heartwarming dose of enlightenment behind the pop soundtrack and adolescent antics.

6. Pretty in Pink (1986)

From the outrageous fashions to the soundtrack packed with gems by the Psychedelic Furs, New Order, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, everything in Pretty in Pink feels so much bigger and more important than it has any right to be.

What could have been a very superficial story (spoiler alert: test audiences caused the filmmakers to chicken out and throw Molly Ringwald’s Andie together with the cute, rich guy in the end) instead reads as a tale of teens burdened in equal measure by their quiet desperation and their loud passions as they spiral through their high school careers toward either glory or heartbreak. Only John Hughes, man…

Everybody fits so comfortably into their roles and plays their characters with such heartfelt passion the film manages to be both a hyper-stylized portrait of teen drama and right on the money.

As with Some Kind of Wonderful, the supporting players are really what make the picture in the end. Annie Potts’ straight-shooting, super chill record store owner is as colorful as the wigs she swaps into from scene to scene, and it would take a pretty cold heart to not feel for Jon Cryer’s lovestruck best friend Duckie as he rolls in agony on Andie’s bed or to smile endlessly as he lip-synchs his way through an entire Otis Redding song like nobody’s looking.

5. Vacation (1983)

When it comes to the amount of dark humor Hughes gets away with in the first Vacation film, I think there’s an analogy to be found in the scene where Clark Griswold forces a Walley World employee to take his family on a day of fun through the closed park at gunpoint.

If you’re going to go there at all, you kind of have to go all the way with it, and that’s just what Vacation does, leaving poor Dinky somewhere back on Route 66 and Aunt Edna sitting in the rain. For a comedy, the film sure hits you with the heavy stuff. But those extremes are also what elevate Vacation above your average road trip comedy and what push Clark’s campaign for fun from reasonable ambition to sheer lunacy.

Working from one of Hughes’ earliest (and wildest) scripts, Harold Ramis managed to bring out the very best in Chevy Chase’s acerbic nuttiness over the course of the Griswolds’ oddly compelling tour of Middle America and the Southwest. What makes it all work so well is just how much we buy into everybody’s motivations.

Yes, Clark is wildly and dangerously over-the-top, but we believe in the film because Clark believes in the triumph of fun over reason and common sense—and the relentless eye-rolling, sighing, and groaning of the wife and kids are balanced in the end by the genuine fun everybody winds up having along the way.

4. Christmas Vacation (1989)

After road-tripping across North America in film one and train-zipping about Europe in film two, the chaos of the holidays turned out to be the perfect comedic playground for Chevy Chase’s manic dad blindly battling the odds in search of the perfect family experience.

What could be more terrifying after all after visiting Cousin Eddie at his Kansas farm than having Cousin Eddie roll up on your lawn in his trailer home?

Next to the trials and tribulations of teen drama, the holidays are where Hughes always seemed most in his element. Combining that setting with the colorful cast already set up in the first two Vacation films turned out to be a real recipe for success. Joining the regulars (Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid) are indie darling Juliette Lewis and The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki stepping in as the perpetually transferable Griswold kids—and Seinfeld’s Julia Dreyfus railing from her window as Clark’s greatly distressed neighbor.

While Hughes milks all the most obvious holiday hallmarks for all they’re worth, from overcrowded sleeping situations to overcooked turkeys to over-juiced Christmas lights, all he really needed to do was set a squirrel loose in the house to turn Vacation the Third into a perennial Christmas classic.

3. Home Alone (1990)

Speaking of John Hughes and Christmas classics, it doesn’t get much more festive or more classic than Home Alone.

Whether cooking up a dream girlfriend with a computer or letting his leads play out the ultimate day of hooky, Hughes was the master of putting universal fantasies on film. And as far as fantasies go, it doesn’t get much better than a kid having the run of the house for Christmas vacation.

Ice cream sundaes for dinner? Nobody to tell you you can’t watch gangster pictures like Angels with Filthy Souls? It’s like being an adult without responsibilities!

But 8-year-old Kevin McCallister soon discovers that being home alone comes with its own responsibilities (like shopping and having to brave the basement boiler) and that the solo life he yearns for is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

Macauley Culkin had a fantastic talent for delivering lines just like a little adult. There was no better choice for the eyebrow-popping, aftershave slapping, wise-beyond-his-years Kevin McCallister.

Throw in Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the bungling burglars he has to defend his home from, a touching message about the spirit of the holidays courtesy of some weird old dude with a snow shovel, and John Williams’ warmest score ever (seriously, you could wear “Somewhere in My Memory” like a blanket), and you’ve got one of the most beloved Christmas films of all time.

2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Whenever those two valets launch over the hill in Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari I always wonder two things: a) “Why are they playing the Star Wars theme?” and b) “How did they ever license it?”

Just as quickly I realize I don’t care. The moment is pure cinematic bliss and a perfect example of the goofy, anything-goes approach that solidified Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as one of the greatest comedies of the '80s.

It’s one of two films where it seems everything Hughes ever wanted to do or say in a teen film came together in sheer absolute perfection. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was of course the sillier of the two, but even in Ferris’s capricious escapades and cheeky fourth-wall-breaking asides, you can find Hughes handing his audience solid-gold nuggets about what really matters in life. The beauty of it all is that these lessons arrive via the ultimate day of hooky.

For one beautiful day, Ferris Bueller gets to break all the rules and drag his down-on-himself pal and his girlfriend all over Chicago.

There’s Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower, the Museum of Contemporary Art, a German heritage parade, fine dining, mocktails by the pool… they do more in a day than most are able to cram into a week’s vacation.

What’s more, Ferris gets his friend to finally hash things out with his overbearing father, he proposes to his girlfriend, races through backyards to the English Beat’s “March of the Swivelheads”, and successfully slips back into bed before his parents get home.

Cameron Frye may have been joking when he said, “Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero,” but this film is a joyful inspiration nevertheless when it comes to the value of slowing down to enjoy life every once in a while.

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

You really wouldn’t think eight hours in detention would make for that great of a film. In fact, Hughes’ sophomore directorial effort very easily could have turned into an exercise in boredom as daunting as that faced by the film’s five Saturday-deprived leads.

Instead, the characters turn the procedural discipline they’ve been slapped with into world-shattering group therapy and the film becomes a fascinating exploration of the pressures heaped onto teens by their parents, their peers, and themselves.

The Breakfast Club is the one occasion Hughes would give equal voice to kids from all walks of school life: the jock (Emilio Estévez), the princess (Molly Ringwald), the nerd (Anthony Michael Hall), the rebel (Judd Nelson), the basketcase (Ally Sheedy).

Over the course of the most important Saturday of their lives, these teens realize that if no one else will hear them they can be heard by each other, and they gradually begin to break down the labels that had kept them apart in the halls.

In the end, no matter what barriers they break through, the uncertainty of everybody’s Monday still lies ahead. But the closing lyrics of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” lead us to think that these five just might make it.

In the event I stuttered, The Breakfast Club is without question Hughes’ most profound work—a product of the '80s, a film for the ages.


Unless otherwise noted, all images copyright relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only. // Found at Moviestilldb.com

]]>
<![CDATA[ Which is NOT a call sign from the original Top Gun (1986)? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/trivia-top-gun-callsigns/ 628264358be8a7003d83c3e1 Mon, 16 May 2022 14:54:37 +0000

You have one minute to answer beginning as soon as you click the button below. Good luck!

Today's topic is Top Gun.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ What does Nintendo translate to in English? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/trivia-what-does-nintendo-mean-in-english/ 627ac91898a93a003d33a42c Sat, 14 May 2022 00:03:03 +0000 You have 15 seconds to answer beginning as soon as you click the button below. Good luck!

Today's topic is Nintendo.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ What was the highest-grossing movie of the 1980s? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/classic-nerd-trivia-80s-movies/ 627d7d9886da92003d426f01 Thu, 12 May 2022 21:40:58 +0000 This is Classic Nerd Trivia. Today's topic is movies from the 1980s.

Click START to play.

 


]]>
<![CDATA[ Guess the Star Wars movie line ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/classic-nerd-trivia-guess-the-star-wars-movie-line/ 627c0c44e92308003d93054f Wed, 11 May 2022 19:45:10 +0000

You have one minute to answer beginning as soon as you click the words below. Good luck!

Today's topic is Star Wars.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[ 5 retro toys that had to be taken off the shelves for being too dangerous ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-toys-that-had-to-be-taken-off-the-shelves-for-being-too-dangerous/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f490f Mon, 09 May 2022 03:46:00 +0000 Absentee parents and stupid kids spoil the fun for the rest of us. Case-in-point: Rad toys that met their demise because they were deemed too dangerous to our precious youth.

Here, we’re breaking down some of the most infamous toys that met the banhammer in epic ways.

Lawn Darts

Ancient times-1980s

Wikimedia Commons

There’s a mid-80s home video of my extended family having a Fourth of July cookout. Some folks are dancing, others are playing Badminton, a group are laughing and chatting — everyone is drinking alcohol. And then you see us kids in the background, tossing lawn darts with wild abandon.

This tableau perfectly explains why Lawn Darts, from HASBRO, had a litigious history. In the span of eight years in the '80s, 6,100 people were sent to the emergency room due to injury — 81% of those people were 15 or younger.

But, boy, were they fun.

I suppose when you give people — who are either drunk on alcohol or drunk on being an idiot kid — an incredibly sharp, oversized dart to toss around the lawn, someone’s going to get stabbed.

The actual point of the game is to toss your dart into a plastic ring from a distance, but people being people, the darts found themselves stuck in arms, legs, and other body parts far too often.

They were officially banned from The United States and Canada in 1989, and are currently on the U.S. Customs list of banned items for entry into the United States.

Clackers

1960s-70s

Wikimedia Commons

A simple brushing-up on Newton’s Laws of Motion would explain where this one is going.

Clackers! Or, to some, Klackers.

According to Wikipedia, the toy was “two plastic spheres suspended on string which, when swung up and down, [would] bang against each other, making a clacking sound.” Hey, that doesn’t sound so harmful. “Clackers are similar in appearance to bolas, the Argentine weapon,” continues Wikipedia.

Oh, well, yeah, that could be an issue.

While I’m sure a number of skulls were knocked and eyes were bruised in the wake of Clackers’ popularity in the '60s and '70s, the true hidden danger proved a bit more sinister. The charmingly simple toy had a knack for exploding upon contact, firing shards of acrylic plastic into the innocent faces of America’s youth.

Every kid will be emotionally scarred at some point, but the literal scarring of the face was a step too far. Clackers were classified a “mechanical hazard” in 1976.

Fun fact No. 1: The demise of Clackers created one of the most wonderfully-named lawsuits of all-time: United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls.

Fun fact No. 2: The toy found brief popularity in Egypt in 2017. However, after earning a name that equated it with a certain body part of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the toy was banned and deemed offensive by the government.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids

Mid-1990s

The concept for the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids doll from the '90s is as simple as it is bizarre: Kids feed their little cabbages pieces of plastic food.

Through the wonders of a motorized mechanism in the mouth, the lips pull in the plastic, and then it’s expelled into the doll’s backpack, because why not?

But plastic wasn’t the only thing this doll was consuming. The ever-hungry little devil toy also had a taste for little girls’ hair, fingers, and who knows what else.

After a hugely successful holiday shopping season in 1996, the product was taken off shelves the following month when Mattel and the Consumer Product Safety Commission came to an agreement — or more accurately, after a lot of pissed-off parents picked up the phone to file a complaint.

“Battlestar Galactica” Space Toys

1979

Despite a passionate cult fan base, the original run of “Battlestar Galactica” (1978) wasn’t exactly a runaway hit. After 17 original episodes, it was put out to pasture. But its legacy was revitalized — and improved upon — by giving us the 2000s reboot, which despite its controversial ending, is one of the greatest shows of all time.

The original run also gave us a nice artifact from the past in “Battlestar Galactica” licensed toys from Mattel.

Like the wildly successful Star Wars toys, the Battlestar figures brought the sci-fi series to life in the form of Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider vehicles. But like the show, the toys were short-lived.

In 1979, Mattel came to an agreement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall the vehicles. The issue? Like in the show, the vehicle’s lasers proved quite effective — i.e., kids were choking on them.

In a press release, the toy company announced a “Missile Mail-In” program, after reports of multiple chokings and one death related to the plastic projectiles. In return, kids received a free Hot Wheels toy car.

Just another example of jocks imposing their will upon nerds.

Slap Bracelets

1980s

Although never outright banned nationwide, Slap Bracelets skyrocketed to the top of every concerned principal’s list of potential hazards in the late ’80s, and for good reason.

While millennials may know these as totally safe, neon-colored, snappy bracelets, the original version was a different beast. What would be considered contraband in any prison, the original Slap Bracelet featured TOTALLY REASONABLE flexible stainless-steel bistable spring bands wrapped in fabric.

After lots of slapping on and peeling off, the fabric had a tendency to wear away, exposing a sharp steel edge, which just so happened to rub up against the veins of a wearer’s wrist. Later versions would feature a plastic band, instead of steel.

Before the '80s were out, multiple schools across the country banned the accessory.

About the author: Chris Staten is a freelance writer focusing on pop culture and the craft beer industry, and loves basking in that awkward moment of silence between movie previews. See his work at www.cmstaten.com.

]]>
<![CDATA[ May the Fourth be with you: Win Star Wars board games ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/may-the-fourth-be-with-you-win-star-wars-board-games/ 6272c5074795ed003d81a132 Wed, 04 May 2022 18:49:05 +0000 Any reason to celebrate Star Wars is good enough for us. Starting now through the end of May, enter to win one of three Star Wars board games, for Classic Nerd subscribers only.

If you're not already subscribed, entering and staying subscribed through May will get you in.

If you're already subscribed, you still need to enter so we know you're in!

Good luck and may the nerd be with you, always.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The Cartoon Network shows you don't remember ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-lost-shows-of-cartoon-network/ 626fe5699cf1ab003df0487d Mon, 02 May 2022 22:29:01 +0000 Since its debut in 1992, Cartoon Network has been host to a wide variety of animated shows. From the likes of The Powerpuff Girls to modern series like Craig of the Creek, the network has triumphed in its prolific history of entertaining kids and kids at heart.

But for every Ed, Edd n Eddy or Steven Universe they put out, there's bound to be a program or 10 that have slipped through the public consciousness.

If you remember any of these long-lost shows, you may just be among the most elite of Cartoon Network viewers.

10. Cartoon Planet

Believe it or not, Space Ghost Coast to Coast was the very first original show ever fully produced by Cartoon Network. However, its more kid-friendly spin-off, Cartoon Planet, has rarely been heard of since its time on the air.

The show isn't too dissimilar from Space Ghost, as it still features the title character, Zorak, and Brak riffing off of one other with snarky deliveries and laser blasts to the face (OK, that's mainly just Zorak taking those).

But while Coast to Coast followed a talk show format, Cartoon Planet was more of a sketch comedy. Classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons would also play in between the trio's skits.

9. I Am Weasel

A weasel with a big brain is paired with a dimwitted baboon. Cue shenanigans!

This series actually started life as a segment of Cow And Chicken, which was essentially Cartoon Network's answer to Nickelodeon's Ren and Stimpy.

I Am Weasel is not as absurdly zany as the aforementioned shows, but it does provide its own flavor of antics through the random adventures the duo embark on.

8. Grim & Evil

“But wait,” you may be shouting at your computer, “I thought The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy was quite popular!”

And … well, it is! But Billy & Mandy wasn’t actually the debut of the title characters.

The show actually started out as Grim & Evil, and originally shared the spotlight with another show, produced by the same crew, known as Evil Con Carne.

Eventually, however, the team decided it would be easier to just work on one show — Billy & Mandy taking home the win. With that in motion, the characters from Evil Con Carne would also make their way into Billy & Mandy episodes.

7. Megas XLR

Poor, poor Megas XLR. Despite the promising concept of teenage slackers manning a giant robot mech to save the Earth, this show didn’t even last a full year on the air.

Being a parody of mecha anime, a revival could receive much higher ratings in this modern era where we now proudly binge Japanese media.

6. Dude, What Would Happen?

Dude, what would happen if you had a network for cartoons air live-action programs instead of cartoons?

You get a messy selection of forgettable shows.

Dude, What Would Happen was one of those. It stars a pair of teens doing random stuff for the sake of figuring out the answers to questions no one asked.

It’s as one-note as it sounds, and that's most likely why no one noticed when it went away.

5. Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?

No cartoon title has ever been as ironic as this one, as Robot Jones is never really talked about in the annals of Cartoon Network shows. Which is weird, because you'd think a show about a robot trying to fit in as a student in elementary school would have sparked many a youth's curiosity.

Amusingly, there are two versions of the show—it originally had the title character’s voice as text-to-speech, but later re-runs would feature a child actor’s voice instead.

4. Class of 3000

A musical animated series created by none other than André 3000, of Outkast and other musical fame, Class of 3000 had style, fluidity, and a tune you can sing along to.

Unfortunately, multiple issues ended up preventing the series from getting any more time on the screen come 2007. This came from a deadly combination of budget constraints, low ratings, André 3000 missing deadlines, and Cartoon Network manager Jim Samples resigning over the mismanagement that was the 2007 Boston Mooninite Panic.

3. Mixels

Believe it or not, this series was co-produced by The LEGO Group. While LEGO had a fair amount of presence on Cartoon Network via Ninjago and Legends of Chima, Mixels wasn't animated with CGI.

Instead, Mixels was made with Toon Boom and didn’t really look like it could be associated with LEGO.

This show aired around the same time as Teen Titans Go was getting started. Given the monster hit TTG ended up being, it's not surprising Mixels was overshadowed and relegated to Cartoon Network lore.

2. Out of Jimmy’s Head

A few years prior to the live-action push in 2009, Cartoon Network aired a direct-to-TV movie consisting of a mixture of live-action and animated elements: Re-Animated.

Out of Jimmy’s Head continued the story Re-Animated established, following the exploits of a kid who possesses a cartoonist’s brain—ergo he sees cartoon characters in real life while no one else does.

It’s a shame the premise never really took off beyond this series. Modern technologies could have done this concept justice.

1. The Moxy Show

Predating Space Ghost Coast to Coast by four months, The Moxy Show was similar to Cartoon Planet with classic cartoons occupying some of the runtime.

However, the series is known for its CGI character, Moxy, as it was the first of its kind.

It also failed to get any sort of significant audience, as the show never went into replay nor did the pilot for a 1995 follow-up, The Moxy & Flea Show, attract enough viewers to warrant more episodes.

The entire series, as a result, is considered to be lost media.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 6 extremely unsettling things from ALF that no one talks about ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/6-extremely-unsettling-things-from-alf-that-no-one-talks-about/ 62698b36968351003db430ac Wed, 27 Apr 2022 18:30:29 +0000 I wish I could have been in the room when the concept for ALF was pitched.

I imagine some greasy guy with a look that says he’s constantly late for things, those huge ‘80s glasses that get dark in the sun (so they’re like halfway dark when he’s in the pitch room), and a briefcase that he never opens. And it’s the ‘80s so his cheap suit has killer shoulder pads.

And then, he begins describing the show … to save time, let’s just look at some snippets from the Wikipedia description:

Gordon Shumway is an alien from the planet Melmac who follows an amateur radio signal to Earth and crash-lands into the garage of the Tanners, a suburban middle-class family who live in the San Fernando Valley area of California.

OK, fair enough, I mean it seems like a stretch but there was some sci-fi interest at the time. Maybe it could work. But then …

He generally hides in the kitchen. It is eventually revealed ALF's home planet Melmac exploded, due to nuclear war.

WHOA! Ok, that took a turn. From kitchen to nuclear apocalypse. Wow.

And that’s just one of the many very strange things that the producers of ALF apparently brushed off, and said, sure, let’s go ahead and put this on broadcast television.

ALF, running four seasons from 1986 to 1990 on NBC (plus several spinoffs), is largely remembered as a lighthearted romp where the titular character laughs at his own jokes—oh, and his obsession with cats.

But let me tell you: The fact that ALF wants to eat the cat is one of the least strange or even dark things about this mostly late-80s sitcom.

However it happened, this show somehow got made, but not without some subtle, yet extremely unsettling, things that still made it into the show—rarely, if ever, receiving nary a mention.

Here they are, listed in no particular order:

Melmackian is the exact same language as English.

Let’s say sometime in the future, let’s say even 500 years from now, we finally make contact with an alien race. And guess what? It turns out they speak English, the exact same language and with the exact same accent as we speak here, in America, on Earth.

What sort of philosophical, historical, and just straight-up spacetime questions does this raise? This throws into question everything we know about the universe.

Somehow, by chance, ALF makes it to the one planet in the known universe, across light-years, traveling in a manner that breaks the foundations of Einstein’s theories, and ends up in the one place where they understand each other perfectly.

It seems, at the very least, worth a slight mention, but from what I can tell it’s not bothered to be even so much as casually observed—not even once.

His name is Gordon.

Everyone calls him ALF. And yes, it’s always in ALL CAPS. But why?

ALF == Alien Life Form.

This is the nickname that the patriarch of the family, Willie Tanner, bestows upon the being—the first known extraterrestrial being ever discovered, as far as Willie knows—when he discovers him rooting around his garage.

And despite the fact that ALF does indeed have his own name, and speaks English—er Melmackian, just fine, he simply accepts this nickname.

But what’s really disturbing is the fact that ALF actually has a very mundane, ordinary, very Earth-like name: Gordon Shumway.

OK … surely his family at least had some really alien-y names, right? Like Xolgor, Zurpglish, that kind of thing.

Nope, his dad is Bob and his mom is Flo.

I don’t know why I find it so disturbing that an alien would have a name that sounds like he sells insurance, but I sure do.

He’s hundreds of years old but acts like a child.

Gordon Schumway’s birthday is the 28th of Nathinganger. Or on Earth, October 28, 1756.

So in 1988, that makes him roughly 232 years old.

And yet, he acts like, roughly, an 8-year-old. And that’s being generous.

Among the most disturbing of ALF’s antics is when he gets a crush on the teenage daughter, Lynn. For those keeping track, there’s roughly a 216-year difference between the two. I mean, I know a lot of cultural practices are different on Melmac, but…

And he goes so far as to self-produce the below music video in honor of Lynn, who patiently begins to understand ALF’s feelings and talks him out of them (I guess) as if he’s a child who thinks he’s going to marry his own mother.

Among the other many childish antics from ALF:

  • Constantly running away anytime anything goes vaguely wrong
  • Demanding to sleep in Willie and Kate’s bedroom when he feels scared
  • Eats styrofoam packing peanuts
  • Films Kate, aka the mom, getting out of the shower
  • Gets obsessed with trains

Cats exist across the universe.

As I said before, it’s not the fact that ALF wants to eat cats that’s so unsettling, it’s the fact that cats also exist on Melmac.

See my above screed about throwing everything we know about the universe and existence into question. It’s truly terrifying.

The dad.

Ever feel like you’re pretty stressed? Just watch the dad from Alf, aka Willie Tanner, enter any room for 5 seconds. This man is in a state of constant existential crisis.

If he doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, you may be a sociopath.

Big shout out to Max Wright, who portrayed Willie and passed away in 2019.

The destruction of ALF’s planet and species.

In fairness, this one actually does get mentioned here and there—which makes the reaction all that much more unsettling.

I would imagine if I made it off Earth right before it was blown up, I’d enter a state of extreme trauma every time I thought about it. But Gordon simply reflects on his time on Melmac with his typical aloof and ego-centric brand of humor.

And mostly just watches TV.

Worst case, he runs off to a monastery for a day or becomes obsessed with some other harebrained scheme. I mean, I guess he sort of freaks out sometimes? But generally the entire family just sort of laughs about it and moves on anytime the destruction of Melmac comes up.

Although, technically, his entire species has not been eradicated. In fact, in Season 1 he’s somehow able to get in touch with an old girlfriend, Rhonda, who made it out with another of ALF’s friends from Melmac, Skip. But apparently reconnecting with the last of his kind was nowhere near as tantalizing as hiding in the kitchen and occasionally being seen by the neighbors, so he decides to stay in suburban California.

In the end, ALF does actually decide to reconnect with the remaining Melmackians in Season 4 (the final season), who purchase a planet (take that Elon) in order to rebuild their home. But before he can be picked up and say his goodbyes, the Alien Task Force, who have been chasing him for all four seasons, nab him.

“To be continued” is flashed across the screen, but sadly it never was continued, not even after a failed reboot just a few years ago.

Considering all the unsaid, unsettling things about this show, maybe that’s for the best.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 5 of the weirdest ‘80s sci-fi music videos ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-wierdest-sci-fi-80s-music-videos/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f490b Mon, 25 Apr 2022 16:50:00 +0000 The 1980s were a golden decade for sci-fi — one that lived out its dystopian Cold War-laced paranoia vicariously through futuristic David vs. Goliath stories on the silver screen. It all added up to some of the best sci-fi cinema ever made, in my humble opinion.

Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon, and Battle Beyond the Stars kicked it all off that first year. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, and Tron (all 1982) defined the next wave.  That’s before we got revved up on E.T., The Last Starfighter, Aliens, Predator, and, well, you know how it went from there.

What a time to be alive.

But Hollywood wasn’t the only entertainment juggernaut predicting what it might look like when unearthly overlords descend upon our planet to control the minds of the masses.

MTV in the ’80s was rife with dystopic imagery thanks—somewhat ironically—to some of the pop-friendliest, macho-saturated groups of the decade.

Here we’re breaking down some of the weirdest sci-fi music videos of the glorious ’80s.

ZZ Top “Rough Boy”

1985

If you distilled ZZ Top’s brand essence to its core, it goes as follows: beards, cars, gee-tars, and Texas. So what happens when that brand goes to space?

BEARDS in space. Plus, a celestial car wash.

If you ever thought a ZZ Top music video would run sans car, you got another thing comin’.

And did I mention BEARDS?

Here we have a space-ready Cadillac ship exiting Earth’s atmosphere for a super-bleak carwash in orbit (two years before Princess Vespa pulled a runaway bride in her white Mercedes 2001 SEL Limited Edition in Space Balls.)

The collective BEARDS seem to operate the carwash, or at least act as a strange user interface that I hope never comes to fruition. We’ve got heavy-handed imagery (hello Ms. Leggy Robot!), a pretty dope house band, and one gigantic carbon footprint of a carwash.

FUN FACT: The only guy in ZZ Top without a beard? His name ... drummer Frank BEARD.

A-ha “Take on Me”

1985

Who hasn’t fallen in love with a comic book character? And then watched them creep into your personal space at a diner—which, in this dystopian world, advertises having “nice cold, ice cold milk,” whatever that means—and yanks you into their violent existence after a good ol’ fashioned, seductive wink.

A-ha’s 1985 video for the runaway hit “Take on Me” was directed by Steve Barron, who you might know as the mastermind director behind the 1990 feature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Michael Jackson’s 1983 music video, “Billie Jean.”

So, it’s no surprise we have a compelling video here with a relatively strong narrative: Girl meets comic book boy. Girl becomes comic book girl. Boy gets attacked by a pipe-wielding gang of 13s. Girl leaves comic. Boy leaves comic. And, well, it’s a classic fairytale ending.

What comic book character with way too much baggage would you allow to pull you into a panel so you could immediately be like, “oh crap, I really just wanted to watch TV tonight"?

Styx “Mr. Roboto”

1983

In this video, we’re invited into “The Official Madame Tussaud’s and Disney’s Hall of President’s Presents a VERY Limited Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame” exhibit. The exhibit mostly features a pelvic-gyrating Elvis and Styx, which I think is a bit presumptuous by the latter, but this is the world that’s presented to us, so let’s roll.

In this video ecosystem, much like Marvel’s Collector, we meet the robot seemingly from the 1927 sci-fi drama “Metropolis,” which is apparently a fan of rock-n-roll (AWESOME), but with a very narrow scope on what that entails (DAMN IT), so it built itself a museum of wax-meets-robotics-meets-people exhibits for the galactic population to check out (NOT GOOD). It turns into a bit of a nightmare.

Bummer moral of the story: WE were the monster inside the machine this whole time.

Useless fact: This video features robots doing the dance move “the robot,” which was choreographed by Kenny Ortega, who also directed the High School Musical trilogy.

Good to see he summited his career mountain peak.

Rick Springfield “Human Touch”

1983

One wouldn’t necessarily peg power-pop hitman Rick Springfield (“Jessie’s Girl”) as a sci-fi guy, but he has the bona fides to back it up.

Back in the 1970s, the full-time, power-chord plucker and part-time actor worked on the series Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, and the pilot episode of what became the original Battlestar Galactica, among others.

To the uninitiated, he’s like cool freak James Franco in “Freaks and Geeks” playing DnD for the first time (long live Carlos the Dwarf). I suppose it makes sense that sci-fi weaved its way into his catchy, frat-friendly ’80 songs.

You wanna get nuts?!? Rick Springfield revolts and performs a concert in “Bop Till You Drop,” another choice sci-fi offering from his video catalogue.

Tom Petty “You Got Lucky”

1982

I’m convinced this 1985 music video is what inspired Kevin Costner to make the arid, dry-throat ‘90s action drama, The Postman—and thusly, I’m forever indebted to it.

Delivering mail is a sensible occupational suggestion in the post-apocalypse, and I appreciate the advice and consider myself prepared. How else am I going to get coupons?

Written by Chris Staten.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The week in nerd nostalgia: Super Mario Bros. anime, the best gadget from Jurassic Park, and more ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-week-in-nerd-nostalgia-super-mario-bros-anime-the-best-gadget-from-jurassic-park-and-more/ 62698ce1968351003db430d3 Fri, 22 Apr 2022 18:36:00 +0000 Here’s what’s happening in the world of retro nerd this week. Have a tip for something we should include next time? Reply to this email and let us know!

Also, we have a new giveaway coming in hot tomorrow (Saturday), so keep your eyes on those inboxes.

Watch weird ‘80s Super Mario anime in 4K

While it’s not always the case, sometimes the internet really pulls through for humanity. For the folks who painstakingly remastered this super strange Super Mario Bros. anime from 1986, thank you for showing us the best of the internet, and frankly, of humanity.

More on The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach from Polygon:

Super Mario Bros. - The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach is a comedy-adventure movie from 1986 that follows the events of Super Mario Bros. rather loosely. When Princess Peach escapes from a video game and into Mario’s world, she is pursued by King Koopa (aka Bowser) who kidnaps her and forces her to return to the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario and Luigi, who work at a grocery store, are lured by a character named Dumpling Dog to the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue the princess. Wacky misadventures ensue.

So yeah, who else is watching this tonight?

One of Jurassic Park’s best gadget returns!

Anyone else been streaming Netflix’s Camp Cretaceous with their kids?

While it’s not the best thing in the Jurassic franchise, it is one of the things, and it has its moments. But now I’m pretty excited for season 5.

As noted by Gizmodo, about 27 seconds in you’ll see the briefest of flashes of the canister. Perhaps someone simply needs a shave?

The new season is slated to arrive in July, 2022 (yep, post Dominion).

Elsewhere in nerd nostalgia:

  • I’ve had the Star Wars: Rebellion board game for a few months now, and while it takes a while to learn, I still highly recommend it. Tip: start out with the recommended setup your first couple of times and switch allegiances.
  • If, like me, you lived through the ‘90s and still love the music, check out the 60 Songs the Explain the ‘90s podcast. We’re not even getting paid to plug this, it’s just really awesome.
]]>
<![CDATA[ The week in nerd nostalgia: Kingdom Hearts, Attack on Titan, and more ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-week-in-nerd-nostalgia-kingdom-hearts-attack-on-titan-and-more/ 62698c29968351003db430c5 Fri, 15 Apr 2022 18:32:00 +0000 Somehow, sometimes, things happen in the world of nerd nostalgia that are, well, not in the past. It’s confusing to think about it too hard, so we recommend just letting it go.

ANYways here are a few of the things that caught our attention this week:

Kingdom Hearts

Did you catch the surprise trailer for Kingdom Hearts that dropped on the 20th anniversary of the original’s release this week?

It looks like Sora and co. are transported to a hyper-realistic place, at least at some point. The gameplay looks pretty sweet here. Do you plan on playing the new Kingdom Hearts when it comes out?

More on the news.

Attack on Titan

This has nothing to do with news on the show or anything—the guy that works on my HVAC walked past our bookshelf and asked me if I was the one who reads Attack on Titanand asked me what I thought about the ending.

Why yes, good sir, that’s me, and also that’s a really personal question.

Which is we should all take some time today to read a little Attack on Titan, maybe get started on it if you haven’t. Oh, and let’s get real mean in the comments about that ending…

More in nerd-dom

]]>
<![CDATA[ Every theatrical Star Wars film — ranked ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/every-theatrical-star-wars-film-ranked/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48cb Tue, 12 Apr 2022 16:04:38 +0000 Across four decades, three trilogies, 12 theatrical films, seven animated series, countless theme park rides, a holiday special, all kinds of continuation novels, and enough merchandising deals to fill the belly of a Sarlacc, Star Wars has pervaded pop culture like no film franchise before or since.

Like Luke Skywalker looking to the stars and wondering what it would be like to sit in the cockpit of an X-wing, it all began as the dream of one man who thought it would be neat to mash up Akira Kurosawa with Flash Gordon. And he was right: it was neat.

Over the years, the fandom of Star Wars has taken on a life of its own, spurring impassioned debates on every last detail from whether Han shot first to whether Jar Jar Binks might actually have been a powerful and cunning Sith Lord all along. Fans exploring and exploding the mythology beyond what’s on-screen has been one of the greatest contributions to the franchise’s longevity, and the films of Star Wars have provided no shortage of content to parse.

With 12 theatrical films (and counting), the saga has experienced its share of triumphant trench runs and spectacular podracer crashes. Some will die on the hill of the prequels while others consider Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi a misunderstood masterpiece on par with The Empire Strikes Back.

The only thing true about ranking Star Wars movies is that there are no absolutes. (Unless the list has been made by a Wookiee ... in which case, for my own safety, I’m prepared to completely agree with said Wookiee’s preferences.)

Without further Artoo, you had better hang on to your astromech droids because we’re about to lightspeed it into the ultimate ranking of every theatrical Star Wars film.

*R2 scream*

12. The Last Jedi (2017)

Daisy Ridley holding a lightsaber from the Last Jedi.
caption...

The most fascinating thing about The Last Jedi might in fact be the series of interviews leading up to the film’s release where Mark Hamill hems and haws his way around promoting the movie and eventually grows brazen enough to the point he’s plainly admitting he told writer-director Rian Johnson, “I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you’ve decided about my character.” He was not wrong about the film’s representation of Luke.

The Last Jedi was the second film of the Disney trilogy (or to use the Friends naming system: “The One Where They Made It All Up As They Went Along”). The Force Awakens ended on a tremendous cliffhanger with force-sensitive Rey seeking out Luke to hand him his old lightsaber and begin her Jedi training. A sequel should have seen Luke emerge from obscurity to uphold the Jedi code and stand for all the things that had once mattered to him. Instead, he throws his lightsaber over his shoulder and announces, “The Jedi must end,” and in that perfectly baffling gesture the film’s overarching response to the history of Star Wars can be neatly summarized.

Just about every creative decision here spurns both classic Star Wars lore and the promising storylines and character arcs that had been set up by The Force Awakens. Reformed stormtrooper Finn gets funneled into a tangential subplot involving a bunch of hyena-horses. General Hux is promptly (and quite literally) reduced to a joke. Captain Phasma is bumped off without ceremony. Snoke, who might otherwise have served as the primary antagonist of the next film, is indiscriminately bisected for little apparent reason. By the time Leia gets blown up in a ship and simply Mary Poppins-es her way through space to safety, you begin to wonder if the film is just having a lark.

To be fair, there is real artistry to be found in the way The Last Jedi is shot, especially when it comes to the blood-red throne room where Rey and Kylo battle Snoke’s entourage and the devastating splendor of what’s become known as the Holdo maneuver. But the fundamental problems of character and story that plague this second entry of Disney’s first trilogy still distinguish The Last Jedi as the single most misguided Star Wars film of all time.

11. The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Publicity still from the Rise of Skywalker with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac.

The Rise of Skywalker basically ignores everything The Last Jedi did and instead throws all the nostalgia it can onto the screen in an effort to repeat the success of The Force Awakens. If there’s anything this most recent era of remakes and reboots has taught Hollywood, it’s that if you can’t go for greatness, go for the feels.

While it would have been nice for this newest trilogy to have added up to something in the end, Skywalker can still mostly be random fun so long as you’ve already given up on the latest trilogy by this point. It actually works better if you don’t try to follow the plot and just pretend you’re being jostled around on Star Tours for two and a half hours.

Domhnall Gleeson’s randomly no longer a bad guy? Sure, why not. Flying stormtroopers? Hey, better than watching Luke milk space-cows. The good guys riding their horses into battle on the outside of a star destroyer? Um...what now?

For those paying attention to the plot, however, you’ll have to deal with the astounding temerity of Abrams resurrecting Emperor Palpatine out of the blue so he can have the good guys fight a nostalgia-powered baddie who conveniently needs no build-up and no introduction in a move that kind of makes you wonder what the first two films of the trilogy were needed for at all.

If “Somehow Palpatine returned” has not yet become shorthand for any occasion when a filmmaker has a clearly dead and defeated character simply walk back into the story with zero explanation and suddenly become the most important part of a trilogy that absolutely was not at any point in time building up to his return, then it needs to.

Suffice it to say, films cannot stand on nostalgia alone.

But as long as you are just blasting nostalgia at the screen from T-shirt cannons, returning to the ruins of the Death Star was actually a pretty cool idea, as was resurrecting Luke’s original X-wing from the first two films. There is enjoyment to be found here. It’s just difficult to look back on the promise put forth by The Force Awakens and realize this is where it all ends.

10. The Clone Wars (2008)

The sole animated Star Wars film to receive a theatrical release is not a bad film per se ... but it sure isn’t everything you ever hoped for from an animated Star Wars film either. Things get off to an unsteady start with some hokey voiceover narration rather than the customary crawl, followed by a lot of battle in search of a story. Somewhere in there, Anakin Skywalker is assigned a young Padawan to train—yes, in the midst of a battle—and half an hour later, the battle’s a thing of the past and Anakin and his young Padawan learner, Ahsoka, are off on a quest to save Jabba the Hutt’s son, who has been kidnapped in a ploy to frame the Jedi, courtesy of Count Dooku.

If that all sounds like some cumbersome plotting, well, it is.

It’s also a little difficult to place The Clone Wars within the overall arc of the prequels. Seeing Anakin as a hotshot Jedi whose heart is gradually softened by the feisty youngling he’s assigned feels kind of at odds with the character’s trajectory between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which is where this film falls in the timeline. Anakin is almost too personable of a character here (though I guess you have to keep in mind he’s being portrayed by a computer’s simulation of a human being rather than Hayden Christensen, *ba dum tsss*).

Which for fans of the show might not feel so alien, but for those of us sitting in the seats of a movie theater with a giant tub of popcorn? Awkward.

There are some cool action sequences, including a gun battle up the side of a cliff, and the story does draw you in as it moves along. It’s also interesting to see the Hutts play a more significant role in a Star Wars film, even if there is way too much fretting over the sick baby Hutt in the latter half. Ultimately, while it may not be anywhere near as bad as the two ranked below it, Clone Wars is still pretty inessential.

9. The Phantom Menace (1999)

You gotta feel just a little bad for George Lucas who thought he was creating a silly, comic relief character that could become just as beloved as C3PO or R2-D2 when the reality was he had Frankensteined to life the single most hated character in cinema history. Two decades later, it’s still difficult to see why anyone would have thought the sheer volume of doo doo-stepping, mouth-zapping, explosives-fumbling screen time Jar Jar Binks was given would ever have been a good thing for the most anticipated Star Wars film of all time.

There’s a reason Jar Jar has all of about two lines in the second prequel and no lines in the third (though Lucas would somehow retroactively manage to get a line of his into Return of the Jedi).

That said, you need only mention the word “midi-chlorians” to realize Jar Jar might not actually be the most confounding part of The Phantom Menace.

Yes, missteps were made—and the obvious faults of The Phantom Menace are all the more frustrating for the very reason that there’s some legitimately good material here. Despite being saddled with an abundance of juvenile humor, the podrace around Ben’s Mesa remains to this day a thrilling bit of action choreography. Add to that the tour de force score by John Williams, the palace shootout on Naboo, and the duel with Darth Maul, and it becomes a little easier to roll with the scenes where Jar Jar literally trips over himself.

The Phantom Menace might also be the most lighthearted film of the saga. It zips along like an overjoyed kid in the cockpit of a Naboo fighter, even while things are blowing up left and right. Which is definitely a good thing. Although Jake Lloyd—commendable as his performance is—is so full of “gee-whiz” it’s difficult to see him one day force-choking the midi-chlorians out of a cheeky subordinate. Perhaps if Vader had delivered a well-timed “Yippee!” at some point the characters would have felt a little more connected. Maybe when hunting down Rebel scum in his TIE fighter at the end of A New Hope.

Missed opportunity during those ’97 special editions, George. But hey, there’s always time to go back to them.…

8. Solo (2018)

While undoubtedly one of the coolest characters to grace science fiction, Han Solo was really never much more than a glorified supporting character. That’s where half his cool came from: he’s a scruffy-looking nerf herder who emerged outta nowhere, got reluctantly swept up in the adventure of a lifetime, and managed to save the day and win the hand of a princess while he was at it. There was never a need for the films to go much deeper with Han than that.

Even so, Disney couldn’t resist the chance to prequelize one of Star Wars’ most popular characters, and Solo turned out to be a perfectly enjoyable time at the cinema. It hits all the right beats without ever fully justifying its existence as one of only two Star Wars films outside the Skywalker Saga.

Despite a pretty clunky explanation for where the name “Solo” came from, this is a film that thrives on its callbacks—and parts are a real blast, like when some tentacled elder god straight out of Lovecraft tries to devour the Millennium Falcon as Han makes the Kessel Run. Add to that Donald Glover gliding into Lando’s cape as smoothly as if he had originated the role and the fact Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s droid-liberating L3-37 is actually pretty hysterical, and there’s plenty to recommend.

The film’s greatest shortcoming might just be its failure to show Han as anything but the “good guy,” despite his protests to the contrary. For a scoundrel, Han is as squeaky clean as they come. He may as well be rubbing shoulders with Richie Cunningham. Which makes Han’s growth and change throughout Episodes IV-VI feel slightly less rewarding, knowing he was already fighting for causes greater than himself in his younger days.

In the end, Solo just leaves you a little confused as to how Han became the scoundrel we all know and love in A New Hope. Because he clearly didn’t start out as one!

7. Attack of the Clones (2002)

Attack of the Clones has taken plenty of flak over the years, mostly for Lucas folding all of his attempts at writing the ultimate Lifetime romance movie into one scene and giving the very worst of that dialogue to Hayden Christensen:

I'm haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating, hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me.

Let’s be real, not even Ryan Gosling could have “hey girl”-ed that into working.

Nevertheless, Attack of the Clones just might be the most underrated Star Wars film of them all.

From the opening attempt on the queen’s life via deadly space centipedes to Obi-Wan’s investigation into the clone army on the mysteriously hidden planet Kamino, you can see Lucas working to shed the juvenile antics of The Phantom Menace and strive toward the more adult and more accomplished storytelling found in Revenge of the Sith. This shift is perhaps nowhere better seen than when Anakin goes straight Vader on the Tuscan raiders who captured his mother—though Christopher Lee’s Star Wars debut as Count Dooku deserves some credit in helping ground the film too.

That said, Attack of the Clones never forgets that the goal of these films is to entertain. The climax on Geonosis which finds Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padmé engaged in gladiatorial combat with three beasts worthy of taking on a rancor is pure, pulpy fun. And I don’t care what anyone else says, seeing C3PO with his head swapped onto the body of a battle droid crying, “Die, Jedi! Die!” while firing a laser blaster at the good guys just might be the single greatest moment in Star Wars history.

It may not reach the same heights as can be found elsewhere in the saga, but Attack of the Clones was definitely Lucas moving in the right direction.

6. The Force Awakens (2015)

There probably weren’t many who walked out of The Force Awakens without the sneaking suspicion they had seen this all somewhere before.

There’s no doubt about it, Episode VII leans as heavily on nostalgia as Jabba leaned on Han. But after an absence of 10 years and with the mixed responses the prequels received, that was kind of exactly what the franchise needed at that point: a big, celebratory, nostalgia-packed hurrah with gorgeous shots of X-wings skimming the water to a glorious new heroes’ theme by Williams—and all the old gang back again.

While The Force Awakens relies greatly on familiar sets, nostalgic jokes, and the simple sight of Han and Chewie back in action, the new cast are all equally compelling: Daisy Ridley’s scavenger Rey, John Boyega’s turncoat stormtrooper Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Resistance pilot Poe, and last but not least, Adam Driver’s emotionally divided dark-lord-in-the-making Kylo Ren. Whether dealing with the old cast or new, there’s electricity on the screen from one scene to the next (the good kind, not the stuff Palpatine does with his fingers).

And talk about that cliffhanger of an ending! They sure moved a lot of interesting pieces onto the holo-chessboard. In the end, the most frustrating thing about The Force Awakens is knowing just how hard the ball got dropped with the next two films. But that doesn’t change what a very promising (if familiar) start they got off to in this one.

5. Rogue One (2016)

On paper, Rogue One should not have worked as well as it does. Along with Solo, this was a corner of Star Wars history no one was especially clamoring to see. Of all things to turn into a film, the story of how a group of Rebels captured the plans to the Death Star? We saw the Death Star get blown up 40 years prior. We know they get the plans in the end, no big mystery there.

Yet in the hands of Gareth Edwards, fresh off his indie breakout Monsters and the 2014 Godzilla reboot, Rogue One proved to be so much more than an exercise in inevitability. What might have turned into a mildly diverting caper instead became a tale of great triumph through greater sacrifice. With his talent for weaving together the spectacle of big-scale CGI with compelling human drama, Edwards was the perfect helmsman to bring this story to life.

In delivering the most actual war out of any Star Wars film, visually and tonally, Rogue One shook the formula up in the best possible way—and it did so while still providing some of the best fan service to be found anywhere, canon or otherwise.

You don’t often think of the word “badass” when you hear Star Wars, but there’s no better way to describe the moment when Vader emerges from the shadows to lightsaber his way through a hall of Rebel soldiers. Pure chills. The whole ending in fact leads so beautifully up to the beginning of A New Hope you wish the rest of the story would play out right then and there.

4. Revenge of the Sith (2005)

While The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones both took plenty of heat from fans, Lucas majorly stepped up his game for the final installment of the prequel trilogy and delivered a film that could proudly stand among the ranks of the originals. It’s astonishing in hindsight how much more confident and polished Revenge of the Sith is than its prequel predecessors. This was the kind of film Lucas should have been making all along.

To successfully make the leap from Anakin as adorable podracer and angsty young adult to Anakin storming the Jedi temple and slaying younglings was no mean feat. The birth of Darth Vader required seriously epic storytelling, and Lucas busted outta nowhere with the darkest, most apocalyptic material to grace a Star Wars film. When Palpatine initiates Order 66 and one by one the Jedi Knights are ambushed by their clone escorts, you can feel Williams’ music in your bones.

Every part of this film feels massive, from the opening battle over Coruscant to the multi-saber duel with General Grievous to the sight of a Wookiee army storming the beach to the final showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan. All memories of Jar Jar waving clear the stink of a flatulent eopie fade to naught when Anakin is finally fitted with that familiar armor and releases his first mechanical breath. This is the film that made the prequel trilogy all worth it. It took Lucas two films to arrive, but by Jawa, he finally got there!

3. Return of the Jedi (1983)

Copyright by Twentieth Century Fox and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only. // MovieStillsDB

Here’s a film that knows exactly what genre it’s in and just how seriously it needs to take itself. Sure, the other two that came before did it better, but Return of the Jedi had more fun. From the kooky setting of Jabba’s palace to swashbucklery over the sarlacc pit to racing speeder bikes through the California Redwoods—I mean, the forest moon of Endor—Return of the Jedi just wanted to take audiences on one last wild ride with all these characters who had come to mean so much to them.

After the more dramatic approach of The Empire Strikes Back, the OG trilogy’s conclusion thrives on the energy derived from that sense of high-spirited fun. It’s enjoyable just to spend time with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Artoo, and Threepio in a largely laidback adventure before saying farewell to them for the long haul.

But Return still delivers on the promise of the trilogy’s grander narrative by bringing father and son into mortal combat before the maleficent gaze of the Emperor. Luke’s duel with his Sith Lord father feels as monumental as any other part of the Star Wars saga, and the redemption of Vader celebrates the meaning behind what these films are all about.

There are reasons why Return isn’t held in quite as high regard as A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back. Things feel a little rehashed with the construction of what amounts to a second Death Star, and you’re either down with the silliness of the Ewoks or you’re not. But Return of the Jedi is still classic Star Wars at its heyday, and when it comes down to it there’s no better place to be.

2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Perhaps the wisest decision made in crafting the saga’s first sequel was to not simply retread what had been successful about A New Hope. Everything was wondrously new here, from the story beats to the vehicles on display to the worlds visited to the themes penned by Williams to classic new characters like Yoda, Lando, and Boba Fett. The universe of Star Wars offers whole galaxies to explore, and The Empire Strikes Back capitalized fully and marvelously on that potential.

The pulp origins of Lucas’ space opera are evident in the opening that finds Luke dragged to the icy lair of a wampa and strung up for dinner. But from there, the film explodes into an immense battle in the snow with towering walkers, philosophical conversations on the Force in swampy Dagobah, and skulduggery in a city in the clouds culminating in Luke’s first encounter with Darth Vader—and one of the most shocking twists in all of cinema.

It’s not without reason Empire tends to top Star Wars rankings. The film is widely considered one of the greatest movie sequels. The visual effects in the Battle of Hoth are stunning even for today, the story’s developments are of a magnitude unparalleled by any other installment in the saga, and enigmatically lovable Yoda in all his wisdom is an instantly endearing figure in a series just full of them. At the end of the day, in the debate between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, is there a wrong answer?

1. A New Hope (1977)

While the world of Star Wars would only expand from here, offering everything from spear-wielding teddy bears to fancy casino planets and ill-advised holiday specials, you need look no further than the ’77 original for the purest demonstration of its appeal. When Luke stands outside his homestead and looks with longing toward the binary sunset, dreaming of a life beyond the farm, he encapsulates the desires of every individual who comes to these films looking for adventure and the chance to be a part of something bigger than what they know. The ensuing two acts of A New Hope would deliver all that and then some for the young Jedi hopeful and the audience alike.

From a cantina full of unscrupulous aliens to the corridors of a giant planet-destroyer, we are transported into thrilling and dangerous situations for our heroes to navigate. Yet what truly sets A New Hope apart is just how human all the characters are in this fantastic galaxy far, far away. Luke with his youthful optimism, Han with his charming rascality, Leia with her unswerving devotion to the Rebel cause. Even the droids and stormtroopers exhibit surprisingly and endearingly human traits.

At the end of the day, fans love Star Wars because they love the characters. The magnificently realized starships and all the spectacle of the aerial dogfights and close-quarter laser battles would be little more than brow-popping exercises in computer wizardry if we weren’t already deeply invested in the hopes, dreams, fears, and trials of the film’s ragtag crew.

And therein lies the true greatness of A New Hope: how readily we believe in Luke, Leia, Han, and the gang and rally around their derring-do in the simplest of stories having to do with the triumph of good over tyranny and the endless reason for hope.


All images copyright relevant production studios and distributors. Sourced from moviestillsdb.com. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Monkey Island returns! ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/thread-monkey-island-returns/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48cd Wed, 06 Apr 2022 19:17:14 +0000 If you’re like me, you are definitely a big fan of the Monkey Island games. Hard to say how many hours I spent in that world.

And I’ve just learned that a BRAND NEW Monkey Island game is coming out this year! What do you think? Are you going to play it? Are you going to replay all the others??

]]>
<![CDATA[ 80s children's movies that would freak kids the hell out today ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/80s-childrens-movies-that-would-freak-kids-the-hell-out-today/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4906 Tue, 05 Apr 2022 15:00:00 +0000 The 1980s were all like ...

and ...

but also ...

The point is, the '80s were a time when anything seemed possible: The Russians could nuke you at any second, you could become a magical tiger warrior or you might even end up on Star Search.

But behind all that glitz and glamor were the movies marketed to kids. The movies that molded children of the '80s into the cynical, anxiety-ridden adults they are today.

And sure, we have the MCU exploring mature topics and being exposed to kids, but those reinforce things like teamwork and perseverance. All we ever learned in the '80s was that literally nothing, not even our dreams, were safe.

All of the movies below are movies that were marketed to kids in the 1980s, and that most modern parents would never show to their kids today, and probably demand their removal from the internet.

And this isn't some "oh kids used to be tougher but now everyone gets a participation trophy" kind of thing—these movies are absolutely terrifying.

The Dark Crystal — 1982

The Dark Crystal has become one of the most beloved cult films from its time. But it came out just before CGI was good enough, and cheap enough, to use in more movies, and after Jim Henson's studio was already really good at puppets and whatnot.

The result was the stuff made of nightmares.

^^I mean, look at that! What the hell?!?!

AND THIS WAS MARKETED TO CHILDREN.

Notwithstanding the creepy as hey-all visuals, the story itself was pretty dark, including family-friendly themes such as genocide.

The story's also way too complicated for anyone under the age of 12 to vaguely grasp (I'm still confused). This is an awesome movie, but it's really freaky and completely, absolutely inappropriate for young children.

The NeverEnding Story — 1984

Turns out this story did actually have an ending, but not before children got to learn about the idea of complete nothingness erasing everything in existence — your house, your friends, your soul.

This was actually one of my favorite movies growing up — which explains why I turned into a cynical, maladjusted adult who's constantly looking over his shoulder for the impending Nothing — or maybe a luck dragon that will take me away to his lair ...

For as Falkor likes to remind us, he likes children.

As Bastian lives out the saga of Fantasia through his gender-questionable book counterpart, Atreyu, we dive into several kid-friendly moments along the way, such as: Atreyu's beloved horse being slowly killed in the Swamps of Sadness; statues that will cut you in half with laser eyes for even considering passing them; and the horror of watching yourself become incorporated into a book as you're reading it.

I used to have nightmares that I was watching TV and the characters would suddenly notice me and come out of the screen. I'm starting to think The NeverEnding Story put that idea in my head.

Return to Oz — 1985

Hey, a sequel to Wizard of Oz! And it's rated PG, so obviously, this will be a winner for kids!

Either that or headless bodies will chase you into your nightmares.

Return to Oz has a really pleasant plot for kiddos, where Dorothy has nearly completely recovered from the "tornado incident," but can't seem to shut up about her adventures in Oz. Because, well, they were pretty damn magical.

Of course, in the real world, she sounds like a nut job, and Aunt Em sends her off to electro-shock therapy because she's clearly loony.

A great message to send to kids: If you have too much imagination, we'll shock you with electricity.

Of course, the electro-shock sends her back to Oz instead of curing her. OK, cool, this is where it gets good for kids ... right?

Unfortunately, Dorothy returns to find the Emerald City in ruins and her old friends turned to stone. Welcome baaaaa-aaack!

But, luckily, she meets new friends. You know, like a totally not creepy PUMPKIN HEADED DUDE.

Along this fun-filled journey, Dorothy also encounters severed heads that come to life, a Nome King that eats her friends, and it bears repeating, a freaky psych hospital.

Go ahead, show this to your kids, who today are scared of the snow monster in Frozen.

Labyrinth – 1986

Ah, another Jim Henson production, which as we all know means it will be marketed to kids. Sweet, let's fire up the ol' VCR and show the kids this classic movie!

Or go ahead and scar them for life.

I'm not sure how the premise of a Goblin King stealing a baby in the night ever seemed like the right thing to market to kids, but hell, that's what they did.

Like The Dark Crystal, this movie came out at a time when they were getting really good at puppets, and not quite good enough at CGI to include it. Which is to say, the effects are horrifically realistic and terrifying.

While, like all the movies on this list, Labyrinth has gone on to become a cult favorite, and rightfully so, I had no damn business seeing it at the age I did. And while I actually loved much of the movie, I still shudder a little bit when I see the Fireys—the red, furry creatures in the GIF above who can remove their own heads and insist that the protagonist, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), remove her own.

This is an awesome movie, but it sure as hell is not OK for young kids.

Care Bears II — 1986

Surely, SURELY there's nothing to worry about when the cuddly, wuddly caring and kind Care Bears are involved ...

I mean, as long as children aren't portrayed as becoming possessed by an evil being that puts them in cages.

Well, crap.

Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation is basically the Care Bears version of a summer camp horror movie. In fairness, the Care Bears do end up saving everyone, including the evil Dark Heart, through the power of caring ... but not until countless toddlers were simply plopped in front of the TV and left to ponder what sort of evil being they were going to meet alone in the woods.

While these movies have given my therapist A LOT of work to do, they are, indeed, all pretty awesome in their own right. You should definitely pass the lineage of creepy '80s fantasy films on in your family — just, you know, wait until the kids are a little older.

All images copyright by production studio and/or distributor unless otherwise noted, and found at Moviestillsdb.com. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The Mario game you probably never played ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-mario-game-you-probably-never/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48d5 Tue, 29 Mar 2022 16:15:32 +0000 Every self-respecting Nintendo fan knows what Mario Party is.

The four-player board/video game mashup that destroys friendships has seen tons of variations over the past couple decades since its debut on the Nintendo 64. But what if I told you that there was a Mario Party game that was not only an actual board game, but to get the most out of it, you’d need to have a Game Boy Advance peripheral that scans cards?

Strange. Suddenly, the room has gotten very quiet.

Released in 2001 in Japan (2002 for North America), Nintendo’s e-reader was an add-on for the GBA where players could scan cards to play exclusive games. Or at least I think that was the idea, but most of the games for the thing were NES ports. Balloon Fight, Mario Bros., Excitebike, Donkey Kong, and more saw releases for this thing.

The more NES games that came over to the e-reader, the less it felt like the e-reader was a new, innovative way to experience games. At that point, it can make one wonder if Nintendo had any real foresight for how the device would be used. Well, somebody thought to make a unique game for it. And it’s in the form of a Mario Party installment.

Mario Party-e can **technically** be considered the first game in the series for a portable console, but you’re not really playing it on the GBA. Rather, there’s a physical playmat you place on the table, and a whopping 64 cards to go with it.

So, have fun getting everything you need off eBay!

There are a few different kinds of cards that are put into play, most notably Coin cards. These are used essentially to enable other card types, and they can change a player’s momentum in varying degrees depending on the card. Cards and coins alike could shift hands, or they could be rid of entirely. Either way, the idea is to play the Superstar card; to get to that point, you must work your way to possessing three associated cards (Superstar Hat, Superstar Shoes, Superstar Clothes).

So if this GBA game is played mainly in a tabletop setting, where does the GBA part of said GBA game come in? Well, it plays a role for the series’ signature lineup of minigames. Nearly a dozen minigames are playable via the e-reader, with each being totally exclusive to the game. No other Mario Party game has these—even to this day. They’re not much to write home about on their own (they almost feel like they were designed for the Game Boy Color), but they do offer interesting bite-sized challenges that complement the card mechanics.

Not that it’s entirely worth going the extra mile to have a GBA and e-reader in hand for this, though. The e-reader could be considered ahead of its time, but man was it an impractical device. Multiple cards have to be scanned to get any kind of game to play on it at all. Worse yet, only one game at a time can be saved on the e-reader itself. You always need to have the cards around if you ever want to play different games, no matter how many times they’ve been scanned in.

Basically, scanning cards to play minigames is a slog.

And this is supposed to be the big thing that separates Mario Party-e from other card games.

Fortunately for people without an e-reader (aka most people), players can instead flip a coin in place of playing a minigame. The outcome may be more random, sure, but the pace is far less glacial this way. And no one likes a long tabletop game; just look at how many people complain about Monopoly.

So with the e-reader being a drawback for its own singular unique game instead of an unequivocal enhancement, it can be easy to see why the add-on never really took off—and why Mario Party-e didn’t either. One game can only carry an entire platform for so long, and this just wasn’t enough. Future installments in the Mario Party series eventually showed up on handhelds properly—starting with 2006’s Mario Party Advance—and it never looked back since.

So long, e-reader. There won’t ever be another add-on like you.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 Weird Al Yankovic parodies from the 1990s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-weird-al-yankovic-parodies/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48d8 Tue, 22 Mar 2022 15:00:34 +0000 A long, long, time ago…

If you just hummed the tune to “American Pie” to yourself as you read those words, you might be a Weird Al fan. Or, technically, a “Weird Al” fan, but for purposes of entertainment, we’ll be leaving the quotation marks off from here on out.

After what can only be described as absolutely crushing the 1980s, Weird Al seamlessly moved into the ‘90s with his ability to satire not only pop music, but popular culture in general. He taps into memes of the moment while mixing in timeless screwball comedy, and we love him for it.

According to some (namely, terrible, terrible people) Weird Al actually struggled commercially in the latter half of the ‘80s. In fact, there are even those who claim that UHF was a flop. I guess you can just put anything on the internet these days.

But Al kept on grinding, and while his overall number of parodies and output dipped in the ‘90s, the quality never changed—in fact, in some cases it got even better.

I remember my friend and I recording the Dr. Demento show from radio onto cassette tape just so we could listen to the latest Weird Al singles over and over (until we finally broke our parents down to buy us the albums). For many of us, Weird Al owned the ‘90s just as much and maybe more than the ‘80s, which makes whittling down this list nearly impossible.

But as we often do here at Classic Nerd, someone has to take on the boldest, most challenging, most urgent topics of our time. These are the best Weird Al Yankovic parodies from the 1990s.

Smells Like Nirvana — 1992

There was a time when I would hear those infamous opening guitar chords and wouldn’t be sure whether it was Nirvana or Yankovic. Also, I was not a very smart kid.

But I was all of 11 when Nirvana exploded onto the scene and roughly 12 when Weird Al released this iconic grunge parody from 1992’s Off The Deep End—one which, once he got through to him, Kurt Cobain immediately approved and said was a sign his band had truly “made it.”

“Smells Like Nirvana” broke the top 40, and if you believe everything you read on the internet, “revived” Al’s career in a big way. Of course, even Cobain knew what it meant to have a song parodied by Yankovic, whether or not it made lots of money (which in this case, it did).

The music video even went on to be nominated for an MTV Video Award at a time when that actually meant something.

Livin’ in the Fridge — 1993

Alapalooza, for a 12-13-year-old (as I was at the time), may as well have been the Beatles’ white album, Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Hell, it might as well have been Beethoven’s entire catalog as far as I was concerned.

It was everything I loved: cover art that reminded me of Jurassic Park, music I recognized, and the type of humor I still gladly laugh out loud for to this day.

And, I suppose, one could argue that Aerosmith’s arc was a bit similar to Weird Al’s in the early ‘90s. Both were looking for a resurgence, although Aerosmith was just blatantly throwing spaghetti at the wall until they finally found something that would stick in the form of any song that could have a video starring Alicia Silverstone.

And apparently, we were close to never having this gem grace our universe—allegedly “Livin’ in the Fridge” was recorded over a month after the rest of Alapalooza when Al felt they needed one more parody to even things out. Aerosmith was the first to grant permission for their single, “Livin’ on the Edge”. Thank God they did.

There’s somethin’ weird in the fridge today…

Just repeat that line to yourself for the rest of the day every time you open the fridge. Trust me, it will make your day much better.

Bedrock Anthem — 1993

With “Bedrock Anthem”, Weird Al did something I’m not sure he has done since—parodied not one, but two songs simultaneously. Genius. (For the record, he did do similar work for “The Plumbing Song” from ‘92, parodying both "Baby Don't Forget My Number" and "Blame It on the Rain" by Milli Vanilli.)

Pulling from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ breakthrough hits “Under The Bridge” and “Give it Away”, “Bedrock Anthem” was less of a parody of its source material and more of a love story from Yankovic to a cartoon he loved—The Flinstones, in case that somehow wasn’t clear.

And as is always the case for Weird Al, the video is brilliant, opening with the bee girl from Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video tapdancing, only to be poked and pushed off the stage. Then we fade to a shirtless Al, doing his best Anthony Kiedis impression. Such a great parody of the ‘90s in general.

Amish Paradise — 1996

It’s well known that Yankovic asks permission for all of his parodies before producing them—something that he doesn’t have to do legally or otherwise, but Al is clearly a good dude, so he does it anyways.

But every now and then there’s a little bit of a communication mixup, and apparently that was the case with “Amish Paradise”. It’s hard to imagine Weird Al having beef with anyone, but Coolio was quite vocal in the ‘90s about his displeasure with the parody, and stated that he had never approved.

The rumor is that there was a communications mix-up that led to the parody being released, which ended up reaching 53 on the top 100 charts. But to Coolio’s credit, he went on to say, “That was one of the dumbest things I did in my career.”

With this music feud finally buried, we can focus on the brilliance of the song: comparing being Amish with being hardcore gangbangers.

Jebediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows... fool
And I've been milkin' and plowin' so long that
Even Ezekiel thinks that my mind is gone

Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but “Gangsta’s Paradise” was one of those songs from the ‘90s that just felt like it was everywhere. Like it would come on the radio, I’d change the station, and it’d start on that station. I also remember that happening with TLC’s “Waterfalls”.

So “Amish Paradise” became a relief from the relentless, heavy rotation radio play of the time, in addition to being yet another of Weird Al’s most brilliant parodies.

Jurassic Park — 1993

I remember seeing Jurassic Park in the theater on opening night. In the small town I grew up in, it felt like the entire population had come out for Steven Spielberg’s ultimate dino blockbuster.

Oh, and as a geeky little sixth grader, I had obviously already read the book.

Of course, all of that had very little to do with Weird Al’s “Jurassic Park”, aside from the fact that I was instantly drawn to it as I was basically anything related to the franchise.

What stands out about this song is that I’d estimate 98% of my friends and probably anyone under the age of 40 at the time had no idea that this was, indeed, a parody. It wasn’t until my dad said “hey, isn’t this a Richard Harris song?” that I knew something was up.

And what a song it is. In fact, the original lyrics to MacArthur Park read like they may as well be Weird Al:

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again

Uhhh …. OK dude.

And hey, any video that features Barney the purple dinosaur’s head getting ripped off by a T-Rex is fine by me. Somehow, an obscure minor hit from the late ‘60s became the perfect framework for this enduring parody.

The White Stuff — 1992

If you’ve read my list of the best Weird Al parodies from the ‘80s, you know one of the things I love about his work is when he just describes things.

“The White Stuff” is one of those moments of brilliance from Yankovic where he just looked at an Oreo and was like: “that’s a song.”

And why shouldn’t that sugar/questionably qualifiable as food product get its own homage? It’s awesome, and at the same time Yankovic takes on an entire genre that had seemingly infected the nation (or at least 8-14-year-olds who went roller skating): the boy band.

The New Kids on the Block parody was actually one of the first singles recorded for Off The Deep End, and legend has it that a pressing of the single (along with the M.C. Hammer spoof “I Can’t Watch This”) was made, only to be literally thrown in the trash. Which means, obviously, they are now collector’s items.

Pretty Fly for a Rabbi — 1999

It’s strange to write about a parody of a song that itself was a parody of sorts, or at least satire. It’s like the Inception of sarcasm, yet it somehow works wonders.

While Weird Al clearly put most of his parody effort into another song on this list from 1999’s Running With Scissors (and it paid off), this Offspring parody feels like it could have been written in 10 minutes—and that’s just fine. Like Al just thought to himself, “how can I work bagels and schmear into a song?” and boom, hit single.

Yet in spite of its brilliance, “Pretty Fly” wasn’t even released as a single in the U.S. Instead, it was released as a single in Australia, where people in the outback actually understand music. Because of this, there’s no official music video, but there is the live footage above of Al rocking the hell out of the accordion.

Achy Breaky Song — 1993

If “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Waterfalls” were everywhere, then “Achy Breaky Heart” was all-encompassing across the universe.

There was truly no escaping Billy Ray Cyrus in the early ‘90s, with his single peaking at no. 4 and altering pop music forever. As much heat as it gets, Billy Ray brought country music to the mainstream in a way that maybe had never been done and endures to this day.

Yet as Billy Ray sold millions upon millions of records and won awards left and right, it seemed most people hated the song, which personifies his heart and essentially states that if his heart finds out about the singer’s latest breakup it will explode and kill him. Classic pop-music fodder, obvi.

While the lyrics of most of Weird Al’s parodies actually have very little if anything to do with the original songs, this one takes down its source material mercilessly:

Or scrape your fingernails across the board
Or tie me to a chair
And kick me down the stairs
Just please don't play that stupid song no more

In fact, it became so mean-spirited that Al and original “Achy Breaky” composer Don Von Tress agreed to donate all proceeds from the song to charity. Another sign that Weird Al is one of the best humans on the planet.

And of note: apparently people agreed with Al’s take so much, the parody received significant airplay on country radio.

Gump — 1996

While it takes place across several decades, there are very few things that encapsulate the ‘90s like the film Forrest Gump.

Today children yell “run, Forest, fun!” with no clue what they hell they’re referencing. Lines and references from this movie are so deeply embedded into our culture that they are now passed down genetically. It’s science.

This movie represented such a major cultural moment that they gave Tom Hanks six Oscars just for being in it (well, that’s how many the movie won overall, but I assume they just gave them all to Hanks).

Parodying a band that I listened to way too much in the mid-90s, the Presidents of the United States of America (or PUSA for the cool kids), it was like they wrote “Lump” thinking that Weird Al might be able to utilize it for this specific use case.

Once again, it’s not like Yankovic is doing much more than describing the movie, but there is truly no one else on the planet who could do it better:

Gump was a big celebrity
He told JFK that he really had to pee
He never feels too dumb because
His mom always told him stupid is as stupid does
He's Gump, he's Gump

Weird Al is so good at finding the parody that you knew should have always existed, yet you never could have thought of yourself.

The Saga Begins — 1999

Obviously, I wasn’t going to reference this song up top and not have it on the list. And of course, OF COURSE, it’s on this damn list, and I don’t give a damn whether you like it or not. Damn!

There are those who would argue this parody represents Weird Al’s transition from the ‘90s into the 2000s, perhaps in the same way that UHF delicately walked the line out of the ‘80s. But others, like me, would say that’s crap and you know it.

This song is, simply put, brilliant. I’m one of those who would even go as far to argue that it’s the best thing about Episode I. There, I said it.

I grew up hearing and singing along to Don McLean’s “American Pie” on vinyl, like many people my age. And I won’t ever stop enjoying that.

But there is nothing—nothing—in this world as satisfying as standing with thousands of strangers, belting out these lyrics as Weird Al, his band, and a small batallion of stormtroopers dance on stage:

Oh my my, this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later, now he's just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin' "Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi,
Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"

Weird Al’s parody output has slowed considerably since the ‘90s, although he still nails them better than anyone ever has or ever will. This song is the opus of a man at the top of his game, and frankly, if he had never put out anything else ever again, would any of us have been bothered?

And one last time, but slower, with acoustic guitar and endless Weird Al clones:

Oh my my, this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later, now he's just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin' "Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi,
Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"
]]>
<![CDATA[ 8 sci-fi TV shows from the '90s you forgot existed ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/8-sci-fi-tv-shows-from-the-90s-you/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48dc Tue, 15 Mar 2022 13:15:35 +0000 “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.”

I don’t really need to remind you what show that line is from (I hope). This is not a ranking of the best sci-fi TV shows from the 1990s—which means there will be no Next Generation. No Star Trek shows at all, in fact.

No, this is about those shows that fall into a weird space as far as ‘90s TV culture goes: the gaps in between heavyweights. The shows that filled countless afternoons and evenings for many of us, but only for a little while.

These are the shows that you definitely watched at some point, but haven’t thought about in probably 5-10 years. When you’re reminded about them, you go “ohhhhhh yyyeahhh that’s right!”

And, for a couple of these, maybe, just maybe, you haven’t seen them at all.

These are the sci-fi television shows from the ‘90s that you completely forgot about, until right now.

Sliders

Eat your heart out Stephen Strange, because Sliders was tackling the multiverse way before the MCU was even a twinkle in Kevin Feige’s eye.

Sliders follows the journey of a ragtag bunch of misfit scientists (and one singer) as they travel through the multiverse, experiencing alternate Earths as they try to figure out a way to get back to their home Earth.

For at least the first two seasons, this was actually a good show. Perhaps it was my kid brain, but I enjoyed visiting worlds where penicillin hadn’t been invented and you might run into another version of yourself at any moment. Not to mention the fact that John Rhys-Davies absolutely crushed every scene he was in, because of course he did.

But frankly, this show wasn’t forgotten sometime in the oughts or the 20-teens—it had oozed out of our brains easily by season 4, which probably should have never been made in the first place (and it was five seasons long).

There have been rumors recently of a potential Sliders reboot, but so far nothing solid.

seaQuest DSV

Is there anything more ‘90s than Jonathan Brandis?

Jonathan Brandis and Chuck Norris from the movie Sidekicks.
Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

No, no there isn’t. And yes, that’s Chuck Norris.

So when Brandis lends his talents to a weekly sci-fi series on NBC, you know it’s a big deal. And for me, it really was. I loved this show.

The plot is so damn easy—basically, someone walked into a room full of NBC execs and said, “Star Trek but in water.” And while they all looked at one another making sense of the idea bomb just dropped on them, they added: “Oh, and Jonathan Brandis is the Wil Wheaton.” Then presumably they all cheered, lit cigars, sat back, and let the checks start rolling in.

But while the show was popular at its release, ratings basically started plummeting from thereon until it was abruptly canceled in the midst of its third season. When I learned that, I think my reaction was mild surprise that there ever was a third season.

Quantum Leap

When I was a kid I assumed Scott Bakula was basically the most famous human on the planet and everyone would crack up anytime I pretended to be talking to an invisible hologram from the future that only I could see. Turns out they lock you in a padded room and let you talk to the nice doctors when that happens.

In the near-ish future, Dr. Sam Beckett theorizes that time travel actually is possible, with one catch—you can only move around within your lifetime. But when Beckett tests this theory on himself, he finds that he is stuck “leaping” from time to time. Oh, and he’s leaping into the bodies of other people at seemingly critical moments in their personal lives and/or history.

Quantum Leap lands on lots of cult-favorite lists to this day and might be one that you technically didn’t forget about. As a kid, I remember loving it every time he’d leap into an awkward situation, like the body of a woman about to kiss a man. Today, some of those episodes might be prove to be a little problematic.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

Bruce Campbell is the most famous guy no one’s heard of. So when the star of Army of Darkness is tapped for a Fox serial? Hell yeah, I’m in.

But apparently, America wasn’t as ready for Bruce as the producers thought, and the show lasted a way too short single season. That season was fantastic, taking a classic western story and throwing in elements of sci-fi with steampunk. And, also, Bruce.

I would shout “REBOOT!” for this one, but there’s something about the production quality of the early ‘90s that just fits the entire vibe so well, and frankly I’d prefer it stay that way.

RoboCop

Yep, there was actually a RoboCop live-action TV show.

I don’t blame anyone in the entertainment business for trying to expand one of the most quintessential cyberpunk franchises of all time. Yet, not unlike other forays into Delta City, the RoboCop series never seemed to quite catch on.

Maybe it’s the fact it was produced in Canada and never received broad distribution in the U.S. Maybe it’s the fact it completely ignored the plotlines and characters from the movie sequels. Or maybe trying to port something ultraviolent to TV with nonlethal items was just, you know, less RoboCop.

You see, back before we had social media, rumors would just kind of start, usually by some kid in 5th grade, and spread around schools unabated. I heard some pretty sketchy stuff that was supposedly in the X-rated version of the movie, which of course made me want to see it really bad.

But I heard absolutely nothing about this show. In fact, this one could probably go under sci-fi series you never heard of, let alone forgot about.

Eerie, Indiana

Alright, I may have lied. There might be one challenger to the ‘90s prowess of Jonathan Brandis. His name is Edward Furlong.

Still of Edward Furlong from the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Copyright by Carolco Pictures, TriStar Pictures and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Unfortunately, Furlong has nothing to do with Eerie. But up until very recently, I would have gone toe-to-toe with you arguing that he was, indeed, the lead actor. That for some reason, he went from one of the most successful and well-known movies of all time in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, to a struggling cult comedy that takes place in Indiana.

But alas, it was not Edward that investigated urban legends or kept superintelligent dogs from taking over the world, but instead this dude: Omri Haim Katz.

Lead actor from Eerie, Indiana.
Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

I mean, it’s sort of the same haircut? I think I thought every teen or kid-ish actor with that haircut was Edward Furlong, and apparently still think that. And something about the bike vs. the motorcycle must have confused me.

Either way, this is a show worth remembering and forgetting again. Just don’t forget whether Edward Furlong starred in it.

Babylon 5

Knowing Classic Nerd’s readers, it’s less likely that you completely forgot about Babylon 5 than you simply forgot to rewatch it for the 10th time this year. But nonetheless, this is one that’s almost always worth dusting off for a trip down memory lane.

Anticipating HD and shot in the 16:9 format, the effects in Babylon 5 don’t always hold up today, but they sure are ambitious. In fact, “ambitious” is the perfect word to describe this entire series. It’s a big story worthy of the genre designation “space opera,” decades ahead of its time with a pre-planned 5 season story-arc that they actually stuck to.

You know what? Go ahead and take the afternoon off and rewatch a few episodes. Especially since a reboot coming to CW in 2023 appears to still be on track.

Night Man

Chances are actually pretty high that you’ve never heard of Night Man. Unless you’re thinking of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, this one really flew under the radar.

Oddly, a show about a superhero whose main superpower is that he’s awake at night didn’t make much of a splash.

OK, maybe that’s not his superpower, but I mean, it sort of is. Following a lightning strike, Johnny Domino (yes, Johnny Domino) has the ability to telepathically sense evil. But there’s a terrible side effect: it keeps him from sleeping at night. And since he does stuff at night, well, boom, Night Man.

So yeah, that’s it in terms of powers. Luckily he also has a sweet suit that does even more than any supercharged Batman suit could ever hope to. Also, he’s a bad-ass saxophone player.

While chances are you never saw this show, if you did, you probably completely forgot about its existence.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Obscure facts about Disneyland Resort to annoy your family with next time you visit ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/obscure-facts-about-disneyland-resort/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48e4 Thu, 10 Mar 2022 16:00:39 +0000 The smell of fresh churros in the air, thinking about the jokes you’d make if you were the captain of a boat on Jungle Cruise, and parents who finally crack and threaten to never go again—that’s right, it’s Disneyland!

The self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth—despite the fact that it really does bring every family to the brink of chaos at some point—generally lives up to that moniker. I mean, it really is magic.

And with the opening of Galaxy’s Edge? **chef’s kiss**

Photo by Yulissa Tagle on Unsplash

It’s hard to beat a trip to Disneyland, but one of the things that makes it a little better is being able to annoy your family at every opportunity, whether standing in line for Space Mountain or grabbing a burger from Galactic Grill.

And having made a recent trip with the fam myself, I can speak from experience that there are some obnoxiously obscure facts about the world’s quintessential theme park that you’ll definitely want to have on hand for your next trip to Anaheim. (Shoutout to my brother for putting together family bingo!)

Here are some of the most obscure facts about Disneyland you can annoy your family with on your next magical journey.

Park names and acronyms

Want to really tick off your kids? Start rambling on about DLR, DCA, and Disneyland Park.

You see, Disneyland was indeed the name of the park when it opened. But back then you just had to drive your giant car that had no seatbelts and block the highway waiting in line to get in. Now you can take your pick of three on-site hotels, plus a plethora of neighboring accommodations.

Not to mention the shopping and dining district collectively known as Downtown Disney, where you can score extra points by making your family wait an hour and a half to eat some pizza instead of just eating inside the park.

Oh, and lest we forget Disney California Adventure Park, aka California Adventure, aka DCA, which opened its doors in 2001 but honestly wasn’t that cool until Cars Land opened. Which is ironic because it used to literally be land for cars as the site of the original parking lot.

The Mickey Ferris wheel at DCA. Are you a swingy type or regular? Credit: Flickr//Kirt Edblom

So we’re talking two theme parks, three hotels, and an entire dining and shopping district. “Disneyland” was no longer inclusive enough for all of these magical choices, so sometime in the late ‘90s the term Disneyland Resort, or DLR, was coined to encompass the entirety of the Disney properties.

Which meant that to avoid confusion, Disnelyand was officially renamed Disneyland Park—because clearly if you say you’re going to Disneyland, people look at you in astonishment and ask, “DO YOU MEAN DISNEYLAND PARK OR RESORT???”

To recap:

  • Disneyland Park aka Disneyland == the O.G. theme park.
  • Disney California Adventure aka DCA == an entirely separate park across from Disneyland where Avengers Campus and Cars Land are located.
  • Disneyland Resort aka DLR == The umbrella term for any and all of the Disney properties off Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim.

The two-toned lightbulb

The thing about Disneyland is that it creates order out of chaos; magic out of mayhem; churros out of despair.

But there is one nexus where this order comes to an enthralling and mysterious point; where reality borders precariously at the cusp of madness.

That’s right, Refreshment Corner.

On the verge of madness. Credit: flickr//Jessica Watkins

Legend goes that a pleasant, orderly pattern of alternating red and white lightbulbs were being installed at this literal corner entrance to all things refreshingly Main Street USA, when it was discovered that there were an odd number of lightbulbs.

What to do?? Have two white bulbs to each other? Two reds? Plan ahead better?

Heyall nah. This is DISNEY we’re talking about.

The rumor is that Walt himself solved the conundrum by suggesting a single bulb painted equally red and white to maintain the pattern, thus staving off a quick descent into panic.

You can see it below just behind and to the left of that Coca-Cola light fixture.

Earn bonus points by stopping your entire party and talking for as long as you can about the bulb while everyone else is ready to go ride Indiana Jones and wait times are going up.

Walt’s lamp

One of the reasons Walt Disney made such amazing parks is because he spent a lot of time at them, personally experiencing everything (including waiting in lines), talking with guests openly and honestly to get feedback.

He also had a private apartment built over Main Street USA during construction to, you know, pressure the hell out of all the workers. It’s said that over the years he would stay there, work, and observe. And whenever he was at the park, he would turn on the little lamp in the window of this apartment. It became a way for cast members to know that Walt was around.

Today, the lamp is always kept on as a tribute to Walt Disney, as if he is always with the park. Either that or his spirit is tied to it because of some terrible secret that only his greedy business partner knows. Anyone’s guess!

You can spot the lamp in the window of Walt’s apartment above the easy-to-overlook Main Street Firehouse just to the left of the Main Street Plaza as you enter the park.

Walt’s lamp glowing above the fire engine. Credit: Flickr//Ken Lund

Bonus: See that trash can to the left of the firehouse? Those are the best bathrooms for, uh, when you need to take a little bit longer of a bathroom break, if you catch my drift. Because of the location, they’re generally less busy and cleaner than the highly-trafficked restrooms elsewhere. For utmost efficiency, time your potty break with when you’re ready to walk over to DCA.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!’s spooky past

Clearly, it’s not very obscure to know that the Guardians of the Galaxy ride at California Adventure used to be Anaheim’s version of the all-time classic, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

But while it might have felt a little hasty, the “hey we just bought Marvel so get a damn ride somewhere using the franchise” re-skinning of this ride is deeper than you might think.

As noted by Imagineers in Behind the Attraction, Mission: BREAKOUT! (and yes, I will always write that with ALL CAPS and an exclamation point) the physics of the ride were actually tweaked in order to make it feel different from Tower of Terror, even though they’re essentially using the exact same mechanics.

They accomplished this by making the hover time in between zipping uuuuupppp and dddddooooown a bit longer. To misquote the Imagineers, it’s more of a “wheeee” fun kind of scream, as opposed to a “no-no-no-no-no!” scared kind of scream.

There was also quite a bit of thought put into how the ride would be synced with the attraction’s killer soundtrack. Imagineers rode it repeatedly with headphones, testing out songs and making notes on timing, while at some point I’m assuming puking all over one another.

Eventually, they landed on six songs, which equates to six unique versions of the ride. But Born to Be Wild is the best version, and anyone who disagrees deserves to be permanently banned from Disneyland for life.

A haunted “mansion”

Want to ruin one of the most beloved Disney attractions of all time for everyone in your party? Now’s your chance!

One of the most beloved Disney attractions anywhere in the world, the Haunted Mansion has been getting parents to say “no, trust me, it’s actually not scary” since 1969. And if you’ve ever looked at the exterior and thought, it’s crazy how they fit the whole ride in there, you’re not alone.

The truth is that they didn’t fit the ride inside that building. In fact, when you’re riding along in your Doom Buggie you’re not even within the boundaries of Disneyland Park.

I’ll wait while your mind recovers from being blown.

You know the room where it appears the pictures on the wall grow and the ceiling gets further away from you? It’s actually a big elevator, and you’re going down. Then as you walk through the portrait gallery to board your buggie, you’re actually walking through an underground tunnel into what is essentially a giant warehouse that houses the attraction.

As with all things Disney, they do a pretty great job disguising the magic. But if you are just itching to see what the warehouse looks like, you can actually see it on Google Earth. Spoiler alert: it looks like, well, a big warehouse.

Droid tracks in Galaxy’s Edge

There is A LOT to unpack in Galaxy’s Edge, and I anticipate we’ll be finding new Easter eggs for a long time to come there, but here’s an easy one that is also useful for annoying your children.

It’s soo coool!! Credit: Flickr//Anthony Quinano

In line at Rise of the Resistance (which is like, 90% of most Disney trips right now), grabbing some blue milk, or simply exploring Batuu, look at the ground and you’ll see treadmarks. Those are actually droid tracks—and what’s even cooler is that Imagineers used the original droids from the movies to make those tracks as they were constructing Galaxy’s Edge.

That’s right, those tracks were created using rubbings from the actual droids built in 1977. Kudos to you if you can actually spot which droids they’re from, but we simply don’t have the patience to go into that here…

The number 33

Up until very recently, there was only one place you could consume alcohol inside Disneyland Park. No, not from a flask while singing yo-ho on Pirates of the Carribbean, but instead inside the exclusive, mythical private club and lounge located above the French Market and Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square.

Club 33 has reportedly hosted everyone from top-level executives to famous movie stars to heads of state, all of whom undoubtedly hoisted cocktails and shouted “take that plebians!” to the throngs in the square below.

Membership to the club is nearly impossibly, with the list closing for years at a tie, and it takes a lengthy application process. Oh, and last we heard it costs at least $25,000 for your first year with yearly dues of $10,000.

But when you walk past that door with the number 33, located across from the La Mascarade d'Orleans shop, you can imagine all the richie riches up those stairs riching it up. Be sure to remind your family of this place when you grab those beignets.

Opening day do-over

Those Disney folks have always been quite savvy, and that included a pretty clever idea to finance the building of Disneyland, which ended up going about three times over its original budget.

The pitch went to ABC, which at the time wasn’t the national force it is today, to provide much of the funding to build the park. In exchange, they’d recieve exclusive content on the building of Disneyland as well as an exclusive live broadcast for the park’s opening day in 1955.

It was a win-win as Disney got to promote the park while financing it, and ABC received content that would greatly expand it’s national audience, culminating in the live broadcast of opening day on July 17, 1955, which brought in an estimated 90 million viewers. 90 million! In 1955, that would account for nearly 53% of the population of America.

But about that opening day … what was supposed to be a carefully crafted reveal of the park became so bad that Walt and his homies would ultimately refer to it as Black Sunday, and instead count the next day, July 18, as opening day in the most epic do-over ever.

Anaheim experienced unusually hot temperatures on July 17 pushing 100 degrees, and with much of the ashphalt still being relatively freshly poured, many women reported that their heels were literally sinking into the ground.

Additionally, since we didn’t have smartphones back then nor the friendly gate staff that take your picture when you enter the park (while everyone who already had their picture taken stands behind you muttering “oh come on”) thousands upon thousands of counterfiet tickets were made, and apparently the best way to handle that problem was for the Disneyland staff to shrug and just let everyone in.

But in times of crisis, true leadership shines—and Walt found himself making one of the most difficult decisions of his career: due to plumbing labor issues, Walt had to choose whether to have working toilets or water fountains for the scorching opening day. He chose toilets. Which in retrospect actually seems like the obvious choice. That wouldn’t keep the mouse-critics from accusing him of drumming the whole thing up to sell more soda, though.

And there were a litany of issues with the live broadcast, from multiple miscues, late guests due to the highway congestion around the park, and a possibly innebrated actor and guest kissing one of the background dancers on camera.

So the next day, sans live broadcast, Walt and co. did the whole thing again, and this time everything went much smoother.

And despite the difficulties of the day, Walt’s speech from that day remains one of the best speeches probably ever made by a public figure, and will inspire you to book your next trip if you haven’t already:

To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past … and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

Well said, Walt.

Now memorize that speech and repeat it to your family every time you walk into the park.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The Obi-Wan Disney+ series trailer is here ... thoughts? ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-obi-wan-disney-series-trailer/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48dd Wed, 09 Mar 2022 23:05:09 +0000 The Obi-Wan trailer is officially here.  What are your thoughts??

]]>
<![CDATA[ Every theatrical Batman film, ranked ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/every-theatrical-batman-film-ranked/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48df Thu, 03 Mar 2022 16:04:17 +0000 Whatever name you prefer to call him by—Batman, the Batman, Batsy, the Caped Crusader, the World’s Greatest Detective, the Dark Knight, the Dork Knight, Beloved—Bruce Wayne’s alter ego has taken many forms over the years in his efforts to protect Gotham from clowns, plant ladies, and that one guy who just likes to shoot ketchup and mustard at people. Sometimes he growls incomprehensibly. Sometimes he ice skates. Sometimes he’s actually just LEGO bricks. But he always stands for justice and absolutely never kills anyone (most of the time).

For over 50 years, Batman has graced the big screen, portrayed through visionaries as diverse as Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan. In 2022, director Matt Reeves delivers the 11th solo theatrical Batman feature with Robert Pattinson under the cowl and Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, and Paul Dano playing three of the Dark Knight’s most famous villains: Catwoman, Penguin, and Riddler.

To celebrate this newest take on the Bat, here is every solo theatrical Batman film ranked—minus, for now, the latest entry.

Quick, to the Bat-ranking!

10. Batman & Robin (1997)

I wouldn’t go so far as to call Batman & Robin a misunderstood masterpiece of superhero cinema, but I will say it just might be the best trashy midnight movie the world has not yet learned to take proper advantage of. When viewed through the right lens (and with expectations and intellects checked fully at the door), Batman & Robin is an absolute blast.

Here are the first 10 pages of Akiva Goldsman’s script condensed:

Batman and Robin suit up to respond to mayhem in the city. Through lens-shattering zoom-ins we discover their chest armor now comes with nipples. Robin complains about not having a Robinmobile (tell the execs not to worry, we’ll see a Robincycle in just a bit). George Clooney deadpans, “This is why Superman works alone.” Hot minute later, Batman and Robin are skating on ice and playing hockey with a diamond against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s glow-in- the-dark goons. After exhausting what may just be every ice pun in existence (spoiler: there are more to come—so many more), Arnie escapes in a spaceship, which he’ll soon abandon by sprouting mechanical wings so B&R can surf after him through the clouds above Gotham in free-fall. Robin gets to say, “Cowabunga.”

And that’s just the first 10 minutes.

But here’s the thing: as bonkers as that sounds (and it is even more bonkers to watch), everybody involved knows just what kind of film they’re making, and they all dial the ham to 11. Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze would fit right in with the exaggerated performances and manic energy of the villains on the ’60s Batman TV show. And while no Adam West, Clooney plays his deadpan Dark Knight just right and flashes that Bat-credit card like nobody’s business.

So the whole thing was a big cash grab built completely around the idea of having as many flashy vehicles and costume changes as possible so they could fill the retail shelves with B&R toys.

Batman & Robin isn’t the last film on this list to just be one really long commercial in disguise. Saddled with the demand to go bigger and splashier, Schumacher at least made it all as goofy and entertaining as possible.

Except for that pretty grim subplot about Alfred dying ... yeah, this film’s a mess.

9. Batman: The Movie (1966)

Speaking of the ’60s Batman TV show ... it came with a movie!

Apparently, this theatrical feature came about as a way of bringing wider audiences to the show. But the show became so successful on its own it ended up not needing the movie’s help. Regardless, Batman: The Movie is a delightful slice of ‘60s camp that sees four of Batman’s most nefarious villains (Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, and Riddler) teaming up to take on not Gotham but the world.

The plot, which has something to do with pirates and a ray-gun that can handily remove and return every drop of moisture in the human body, is as outlandish as they come. But that’s precisely the kind of world Adam West’s and Burt Ward’s Batman and Robin inhabit. It’s a world where the Batcopter comes fully stocked with Oceanic Repellent Bat-sprays in four varieties (barracuda, whale, manta ray, and shark) and where Penguin can be casually sold a pre-atomic submarine by the US Navy by using the alias P. N. Guin.

The deadpan delivery of Adam West and Burt Ward plays in wonderful contrast to the quartet of Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Lee Meriwether, and Frank Gorshin repeatedly out-crazying one another with Olympic breath control.

Despite being a theatrical release, the film does still very much have a TV-budget feel. It also starts to run out of steam a bit by the final act, suggesting this brand of comedy might play better in the 30-minute format after all. But the colorful BLUURP!s and KER-PLOP!s accompanying the punch-out with the pirates helps pick things up toward the end and Burgess Meredith’s wah-wah-wahhhs simply never get old.

Most enduring moment: Batman racing around a dock with a lit bomb held over his head, running into a lady pushing a baby carriage, a marching band, a couple of nuns, or adorable little duckies every which way he turns. We know how you feel, Batman. We’ve all been there.

8. Batman Forever (1995)

Joel Schumacher’s first and more serious attempt at putting the Caped Crusader on the big screen is nothing if not entertaining. At times, it feels like some bonkers comic strip come to life with canted angles capturing Batman slugging it out with Two-Face’s gang while Elliot Goldenthal’s trumpets blare cartoonishly. At other times, Forever plays like some cool noir with smoke billowing by rotating fans while Nicole Kidman and Val Kilmer trade lines out of a ’40s serial.

While Schumacher plays up the camp of ’60s Batman in big, zany, colorful ways, he also treats his heroes’ unmasked selves mostly seriously. Kilmer’s underrated Bruce Wayne sees his own childhood tragedy reflected in what becomes of the trapeze-swinging family of his young ward, Dick Grayson, grounding the film with a needed sense of drama. A good thing too, as the combo of Riddler and Two-Face would be more than enough of the opposite for one film to handle.

When they met, Tommy Lee Jones famously told Jim Carrey, “I cannot sanction your buffoonery.” That statement alone somehow seems to perfectly define both their performances here.

Their hyperventilating attempts to outdo one another in sheer, manic expenditure of energy are at times exhausting. But the two sure are memorable, and their pairing, like sinking a shot of espresso in an energy drink, helps make Forever the ambitious and often quite over-the-top extravaganza it is.

(Also, shout out to Seal. “Kiss From a Rose” was and still is way legit.)

7. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

A movie that’s played fully for laughs where all the characters are LEGO and where Batman angrily beatboxes at Alfred was never going to seriously compete with the greater portion of cinematic Bat-features. But goshdarnit, The LEGO Batman Movie is still so much fun.

The humor is smart and impeccably timed and geared just as much toward adults as kids without resorting to innuendo. From Zac Snyder to Tim Burton to Batman: The Animated Series and the ’40s serials, no corner of Bat-history is left unparodied. The Easter eggs even extend to the greater DC universe when Batman stumbles upon a Justice League party he wasn’t invited to at Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

Amidst all the jokes and the frantic energy that propels the whole thing from start to finish, LEGO Batman also takes time out for the human side of the Dark Knight, touching on the relationship issues Batman has with everyone from Commissioner Barbara Gordon (cue ‘80s love ballad) to his accidentally-adopted-son-turned-sidekick to the Joker himself.

Things get a little out of hand toward the end when Sauron from The Lord of the Rings is turning Gotham’s city center into a bottomless abyss and Joe Dante’s gremlins are running amok, but by and large this is a brisk and often downright hilarious tour through the colorful history of cinematic Batman. You’ll even forget that what you’re really watching is the world’s longest and most entertaining commercial.

6. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Leave it to Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, and the rest of the brains behind Batman: The Animated Series to tell one of the most emotionally stirring Bat-tales via cartoon.

Way before Christopher Nolan sent Christian Bale soul-searching in the Himalayas, Mask of the Phantasm delved deep into the origins of the Dark Knight, considering both the possibility of the happy future Bruce Wayne might have once had a shot at and the tragic circumstances that led him to take up the life of a vigilante.

Despite the natural limitations of telling a really character-driven story in 2D and with a runtime of less than an hour and 20 minutes, Phantasm does a better job of getting at what drives Bruce Wayne to don the cape and cowl than most of its live-action counterparts. Make no mistake, this is not simply some extended Saturday morning cartoon. With mob bosses getting whacked left and right, hearts poured out before family graves, new love torn asunder, and Mark Hamill’s cackling Joker more terrifying and deranged than ever, Mask of the Phantasm is nourishment for those who crave rich storytelling over rapid-fire puns and explosions.

5. The Dark Knight (2008)

I realize I run the risk of having to turn in my Bat-membership card by ranking The Dark Knight anywhere but first on this list—and ranking it fifth might actually land me in Arkham. But let me say this, “This may not be the ranking The Dark Knight deserves, but it’s the one it needs right now.”

I also realize that’s not helping my case.

Before I lose you completely ... Heath Ledger was fantastic, wasn’t he? For all the beef I have with The Dark Knight, Ledger’s performance truly was one for the ages and fully deserving of the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Whether aggressively licking his lip scars or erupting into psychotic laughter, Ledger fully embodies his Joker, delivering a character so rich in nuance and psychology he may simply never be surpassed by future portrayals of comic book villains.

The film surrounding this legendary performance of Ledger’s serves the role of bridging Nolan’s trilogy by earning Batman the hatred of the city he protects and launching him into his darkest hour. And a lot of other material is tackled along the way: copycat Batmans, mob rivalry, Russian ballerinas in Hong Kong, political assassinations, the death of the love of Bruce Wayne’s life, the ethical implications of illegal surveillance, sundry other moral and philosophical questions raised in the scene with the two boats, a story about a tangerine, and quite astoundingly the entirety of Harvey Dent’s arc as Two-Face shoehorned into the final 25 minutes.

It’s a lot, and structurally The Dark Knight only balances it all so well, leaving a brilliant performance by Heath Ledger amidst a solidly good but maybe not greatest of all time Batman film. I will now climb onto my Batcycle and dramatically race up an on-ramp in the hope the movie’s title and end credits arrive before the mob does.

4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Nolan had quite the task ahead of him as he headed into the final installment of his Dark Knight trilogy. He had to tie up story threads from both The Dark Knight and Batman Begins while introducing a whole new team of villains and somehow close the chapter on his version of Gotham’s crusader. That Nolan managed to pull it off at all is certainly something. That he pulled it off with such style and spectacle is a feat indeed.

Bringing things full circle with Batman Begins with the introduction of Ra’s’ daughter, Talia, and avoiding comparisons with Ledger’s Joker by delivering Batman’s greatest physical opponent, Bane, turned out to be winning moves. Sure, Tom Hardy may be the only one who knows why his Caribbean-born Bane speaks with a Scottish brogue or even what he’s saying half the time under that inverted face-hugger of a mask, but the showdown between Batman and Bane that results in the physical breaking of the Bat is a definite highlight of the trilogy.

Propelled briskly along by set-pieces involving Nolan’s version of the Batwing, the annihilation of a football field, and an all-out war in downtown Gotham, The Dark Knight Rises never feels nearly as long as its nearly three-hour running length. The film’s climax certainly plays fast and loose with the audience’s emotions—assisted in no small way by some pretty magnificent scoring from Hans Zimmer—yet Nolan nevertheless manages to bring three films’ worth of ambitious Bat-narrative to a satisfying conclusion.

(A word of caution: depending on your interpretation of the chanting accompanying Bane’s activities, Rises may or may not subliminally put you in the mood for fishy pasta.)

3. Batman (1989)

To say Burton’s Batman exploded onto the scene the summer of ’89 with all the ferocity and gusto of the Batmobile blowing apart Axis Chemicals would be an understatement. This was superhero cinema unlike any the world had witnessed before. The sets were all masterworks of industrial or Gothic design, the music by Danny Elfman was equal parts horror and heroism, and the main cast all fit into their roles as comfortably as a pointy-eared cowl over the head of a billionaire vigilante.

Based on their earlier output, no one could have foreseen just how perfectly suited Burton, Elfman, and Keaton were for the world of the Bat. Yet all three delivered to the fullest and forever changed the perception of what a superhero movie could be.

True, the sight of the Joker dancing to Prince either on a giant parade float or in an art museum has not aged well (and was a pretty questionable call for 1989 anyway) and Basinger is no Pfeiffer, but more than three decades later, Batman remains a gold standard for how to put comic books on the big screen.

2. Batman Returns (1992)

In 1992, Batman Returns legendarily upset a lot of parents who wanted to know just what McDonald’s thought they were doing selling Happy Meals that promoted a movie where Danny DeVito’s grunting, sewer-dwelling, completely uncouth Penguin chomps into a man’s nose causing it to gush blood across the screen. A fair question perhaps ... and the backlash would see Burton replaced by Schumacher for more Happy Meal-friendly Bat-fare the next time around. But if losing Burton and Keaton and Elfman from future installments was the cost of Batman Returns existing, it was so worth it.

Thanks to the runaway success of Batman ’89 at the box office, Burton was given much more freedom to make his Bat-sequel as twisted and comically dark as he desired. There’s Selina Kyle unleashing repressed aggression through her Catwoman alter ego, the Penguin thirsting for revenge for his rejection by his parents and society alike, and even Bruce himself realizing his life never has been and never can be that of a fairy tale. Every character suffers from some neurosis born of tragedy that gets blown up to fantastic proportions and acted out on an epic scale across a snowy, war-beleaguered Gotham at Christmastime.

It’s tragedy for the whole family with a hefty dose of dark comedy. What better to put in a Happy Meal, right? Plus, it’s got prime ’90s Christopher Walken strutting around, straightening his bowtie, and offering Catwoman a very big ball of yarn in exchange for his life. What more really does anyone need out of any movie?

1. Batman Begins (2005)

Where it all began.

The Dark Knight of course garnered a great deal of attention from both critics and fans, immediately shooting to the top of all kinds of “Greatest Film of All Time” lists, and Rises as the culmination of the trilogy has enjoyed a fair amount of praise as well. Batman Begins in the meanwhile has been, if not completely overlooked, at the very least comparatively unsung. But Nolan had all the right elements in place from the very beginning.

Drawing from Frank Miller’s Year One and Dennis O’Neil’s “The Man Who Falls,” Batman Begins chronicles Bruce Wayne’s ascent from lost soul to trained warrior with a purpose. After training with a secret society of vigilantes far from Gotham and high in the mountains, Bruce returns to fulfill his calling on his home turf, along the way jumping the Bat Tumbler across a few rooftops and encountering two very cool rogues from the comics who had never before been featured theatrically, Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul.

With Zimmer’s propulsive action music along for the ride, a more elevated cast featuring the likes of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Liam Neeson, and ample humor to keep things from ever getting too serious, Batman Begins strikes a perfect balance between levity and dramatic ambition.

The film’s arrival was a pronounced change-up from the excesses of the Schumacher era, and while the big-screen representations of DC’s superheroes have progressively gotten more serious and more brooding through the two Dark Knight sequels and the Snyderverse that followed, Nolan’s debut entry remains a perfectly balanced high-watermark for cinematic Batman.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 WWF wrestlers of the 1980s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-wwf-wrestlers-of-the-1980s/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4915 Thu, 17 Feb 2022 21:58:00 +0000 I knew it was fake.

I mean, my parents straight up told me.

But I still begged for the pay-per-views, lived and died with every moment as my favorite wrestler seemed to be finished, then back, then finished again and finally winning with a surprise reversal that went into their finishing move.

I remember the Royal Rumbles, the Wrestlemanias, even the Summer Slams.

Building a list of the best pro wrestlers from the '80s would be like trying to pick out your favorite ant — there's just so damn many of them, and they were all equally awesome in so many ways.

Even by adding the qualifier of keeping it to only WWF wrestlers, building a list of only 10 has been stressful, nearly impossible — pretty much the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

But, it had to be done. Someone had to take the bold move of ranking pro wrestlers from the 1980s — don't bother Googling it, just go ahead and assume we are the only ones who are bold enough to do take on this Herculean task.

Some of your favorite wrestlers won't make this list. Some will. But what's most important is that this list is 100% founded on science, and even if you disagree, you're wrong. And if someone else were to take a stab at it, they would also be wrong.

Here are the top WWF wrestlers from the 1980s, ranked, as proven by our rigorous scientific method of deciding for our damn selves who deserved to make the list:

10.  The Bushwhackers

These guys started wrestling in 1966. Let that sink in for a while.

But it wasn't until the late 1980s that they found their true calling: running around the ring licking each other's heads — not to mention licking opponents, fans, and pretty much whatever else was around.

The Bushwackers are the only tag team making this list, and for good reason: Even though they only wrestled in the WWF for a couple of years in the '80s, their popularity skyrocketed them as fan favorites almost immediately.

Within a matter of days they were gifted a big match with The Bolsheviks, and a match at Wrestlemania V that same year.

Maybe it was the comedic quality to their act, the licking, or just the fact that New Zealanders are naturally likeable. Whatever the reason, fans loved them as dearly as any of the more serious, ostensibly bigger names in the ring at the same time.

WWF ultimately more or less forced them into retirement, despite the fact that they were quite popular with fans well into the mid-90s. Presumably today they're simply doing a walkabout somewhere in the bush.

9. The Iron Sheik

The WWF of the 1980s only worked because of heels. And the Iron Sheik paved the way for every heel that followed.

Here was a man who fully embraced his role embodying every single deep-seated fear Americans had of Iran in the '80s.

In an organization that blatantly played up stereotypes, the Iron Sheik still somehow stood apart from all the others.

And let's not forget, he held the WWF World Heavyweight Championship for a good year in the early '80s.

He retained the belt until he was scheduled for a rematch with Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden in 1984. At the last minute, Backlund was replaced by some guy named Hulk Hogan. Hogan beat the Sheik, finishing the job with his trademark leg drop.

This is generally considered the beginning of Hulkamania, and the moment that Hogan's career took off, simultaneously ushering in the Golden Era of the WWF.

Without Iron Sheik, that moment never happens.

8. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

He was a perennial undercard, yet fans loved him. That may have had something to do with his extremely vague patriotism, or the fact that he always had a piece of wood in his hands.

It's hard to go wrong with a flag and a 2x4.

Although he never held a major title, he embodied all the the things that were truly glorious about the WWF in the '80s: great hair, a hatred for commies and love for wood.

7. Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake

It's hard not to empathize with a character who starts out as a male stripper and then goes on to become a hair stylist. I mean, we've all been there.

Was there really anything more '80s than cutting your defeated opponent's long, feathered locks from their head after a match?

It's actually a wonder no one was decapitated by those shears.

Brutus never had a chance at becoming a serious hero like some of the other wrestlers on this list, but that was what made the WWF so awesome in the '80s — dudes like Beefcake, who were just totally off the wall and ridiculous. The WWE has struggled to recapture these kinds of characters ever since.

6. The Macho Man Randy Savage

"OHHHHHHH YYYYYYEEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!"

It's a phrase that has become part of our cultural lexicon, and yes, Randy Savage said it before Slim Jims were ever a thing.

Whether it was his tumultuous relationship with Miss Elizabeth or his ability to go toe-to-toe with literally every other major star of the era, Macho Man seemingly could do it all. And his beard was killer.

Either constantly constipated, or just hopped on on caffeine (yeah, we'll pretend it was just caffeine), Savage always seemed like he was just barely containing his excitement.

He was a monster of the '80s wrestling world, and is only placed this low on the list because of those that simply had to be placed ahead of him.

5. Ric Flair

The Nature Boy goes on every list of pro wrestlers of any kind anywhere from any decade (yes, even decades from previous centuries).

He embodies all that pro wrestling and the WWF of the '80s were about.  Hell, he made it what it is today, and he's STILL DOING IT. It's stupidly ridiculous.

And while his WWF tenure was short (about a year and a half), he made history at the Royal Rumble and stole the show at Wrestlemania VIII.

His impact was felt across the WWF, and clearly shaped it even when he wasn't there.

4. Rowdy Roddy Piper

I still tear up a little bit every time his name comes up. Maybe because he didn't go out due to mistreating his body to high hell and back, was married to his wife for 33 years up until his death, or because he just seemed like a genuinely cool dude in an industry full of a-holes.

He is the man, plain and simple. Not to mention, one hell of an actor.

And he owned (not literally) the WWF in the 1980s, doing everything from hosting his own segments to managing to a crazy storyline involving Hulk Hogan and Cyndi Lauper.

R.I.P. Roddy.

3. Andre the Giant

A giant in and out of the ring, there really was no bigger figure in wrestling in the 1980s on multiple levels.

I once saw him in person, unable to wrestle but affecting a live match nonetheless, and his size and general demeanor were stunning, even many rows back.

This was a man who went undefeated for nearly 15 years straight and only stopped wrestling due to the health effects of his enormous size. And let's not forget his fan-favorite character in 1987's The Princess Bride.

There's not much else to say about the Giant that hasn't been said before, but it certainly bears repeating that he was clearly one of the top WWF wrestlers of all time.

2. The Ultimate Warrior

If I'm going with my heart, the Ultimate Warrior would easily be no. 1 on every pro wrestler list ever.

He was my hero. I wanted to paint my face like him. I imitated his moves in the mirror. I rooted for him against everyone else.

I'm not even 100% sure why. I just knew was a warrior. The most ultimate of warriors. And he looked cool.

And he was amazing in the ring.

But, I really can't put him on top of this list. Damn, he was fantastic, but he came on the scene near the end of the '80s, and essentially became the heir apparent to Hogan's major matches as the decades changed.

Yet another pro wrestler from the '80s that passed away far too early due to the way he treated his body, as well as someone who went a bit mental later in life, Warrior nonetheless holds a special place in WWF fans' hearts. He was a master at drawing energy from the crowd.

But, there was simply no WWF wrestler that dominated the 1980s more than ...

1. Hulk Hogan

You know the lyrics. Go ahead, sing 'em.

While it's still unclear how rocking a skullet (mullet + balding/skull) and dropping leg drops helped to fight for the rights of every man, hell, that's what Hulkster did.

What's even more impressive is that he dominated the WWF even before his starring role in Thunder in Paradise.

He had been wrestling for years before that aforementioned match of destiny with the Iron Sheik that finally put everything together for Hogan. And from there, it was sheer madness. Hulkamania didn't just take over the WWF, it took over the country, and eventually the world.

In the 1980s he was the most requested celebrity for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, had his own cartoon, appeared on numerous late-night talk shows, co-hosted Saturday Night Live and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, among other super-80s things.

And why not? His gimmick of wearing down only to be brought back by cheers from the audience, holding his hand to his ear to get just that much more strength, until, finally, it exploded into a finishing leg drop on his opponent, was simply infectious. How could you not be, at the very least, entertained by it all?

Despite the fact that the Hulkster suffered many embarrassing personal revelations later in life, he still holds a place in the '80s echelon of worldwide icons than few can match.

There you have it, the top 10 WWF wrestlers from the '80s, in perfect order, with no possible way to disagree.

Oh, and just one honorable mention to a man who would have made the list had he been a wrestler: "Mean" Gene Okerlund, the man who propped up every single wrestler in the '80s, and multiple other eras. Big ups, Gene.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 live-action fantasy movies from the ’80s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-live-action-fantasy-movies/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48e3 Wed, 02 Feb 2022 15:00:37 +0000 With new advancements in special effects and the success of Star Wars in particular, studios and filmmakers turned their attention as they headed into the 1980s towards a genre of storytelling that has been entertaining audiences since time immemorial: fantasy.

With special effects wizards who could now build life-sized dragons and artists who could make actors disappear beneath genuinely organic-looking makeup, the time was ripe for fantasy films to flood the market. Of course, not every fantasy film to come out of the ‘80s was the cinematic equivalent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Sometimes you got true excellence, and sometimes you got … well, this:

For purposes of defining fantasy, we’ll be looking at sword and sorcery, knights and princesses, dragons and ogres—that sort of thing. Which means no Flash Gordon or Krull (sorry, too outer spacey and laser blastery) and no Big Trouble in Little China either (sorry, too John Carpentery).

But that leaves plenty of ‘80s fantasy goodness to be had.

So go ahead and get comfortable, feel free to change into any animal of your choosing through some quick editing, and let’s dive into the top 10 live-action fantasy films of the 1980s.

10. Return to Oz (1985)

Every generation ought to have a film like Return to Oz in their childhoods—if only to prepare them for the horrors, uncertainties, and randomness of life ahead.

When this bizarre little sequel showed up 46 years after the fact, audiences understandably did not respond well to seeing beloved heroine Dorothy Gale sent to the madhouse for electroshock therapy and subsequently whisked away to a dystopian Oz where the Yellow Brick Road has been smashed up and the city ruins have been overrun by a gang of psychotically giggling thugs with wheels for hands and feet.

True, The Wizard of Oz had its share of darker moments too—death by falling house comes to mind, along with those pre-Evil Dead, apple-throwing trees—but was there anything in the 1939 musical even half as horrifying as Princess Mombi, who literally would swap out her head to wear those of the younger, more beautiful women she captured? Is there any movie that has anything quite so terrifying as the hall of heads scene???

It is impressive how many hours of sleep this film deprived me of in my childhood. Major respect, Return to Oz.

They definitely upped the absurdity factor here too by making the big baddie petrified not of water but of … um, chickens. Again, major respect. This film is simultaneously too weird to exist and too weird not to.

9. Willow (1988)

Half a decade before he’d be found ordering drive-thru in the Batmobile, a young Val Kilmer starred as dashing rogue Madmartigan in Ron Howard and George Lucas’s ambitious fantasy epic,Willow. Kilmer’s braided-haired antihero with a heart is one of the biggest reasons to watch Willow—it’s a film that sometimes staggers uncertainly under the ambition of all its animal transformations, skull-masked villains, leaping ape creatures, and double-headed dragons.

The other biggest reason to watch would be a very young Warwick Davis in a leading role free of all the heavy makeup and costumery that usually came attached with his more famous films (Return of the Jedi, the Leprechaun series). At just 18 years of age, Davis shined as the film’s protagonist, a simple farmer named Willow who’s determined to protect a baby that’s been marked for assassination.

Willow and Madmartigan make an unlikely pair, but their bickering and camaraderie are ultimately what give heart and meaning to all the special effects and castle-storming.

8. Clash of the Titans (1981)

Before CGI descended upon cinema like a blurry, partially rendered plague of locusts, makers of monster movies had one of two options: they could actually build themselves a friggin’ huge monster (à la Aliens or King Kong ’76) or they could get Ray Harryhausen to make you think you were looking at a friggin’ huge monster.

While Clash of the Titans would turn out to be Ray Harryhausen’s final film, there was no sign of him losing steam in any of the fantastical beasts he brought to ancient Greece. Trusty Pegasus, supersized scorpions, Medusa with her glowing eyes and big, rattling tail, the Kraken released in all his green-scaled glory, Bubo the mechanical owl beeping and blooping his adorable little way into our hearts like an airborne R2-D2—all of them the work of a maestro in full stride.

Aesthetically, Clash of the Titans differs little from Harryhausen’s Sinbad films of the ‘70s, which makes it probably the least ‘80s-feeling fantasy film of the decade. But it’s a technical achievement nevertheless and an exhilarating journey through Greek mythology (and at least Perseus seems to know what decade he’s in, rocking that headband and Hasselhoff hair like nobody’s business).

7. The Dark Crystal (1982)

Leave it to Jim Henson to make a film exclusively with muppets and have it turn out to be one of the darkest fantasy pictures of all time.

The idea of a contraption resembling an electric chair that drains your life essence turning you into a mindless slave with glazed-over eyes, all so some cackling rat-lizard can drink your liquified soul for purposes of rejuvenation, sounds pretty damn terrifying. It’s about a kabillion times worse when you’re watching it happen to some petrified, pint-sized schmoe who looks like he could be Gonzo’s kid cousin.

Indeed, the scheming Skeksis are as wicked as they come, and Jim Henson clearly did not give a second thought as to how many children’s nightmares he was going to invade in making this. Rather, he developed a lore of near Tolkien proportions for his first major fantasy feature and brought some astonishing humanity to characters capable of little more than blinking and curling their lips. How amazingly well it all works is a testament to Henson’s mastery of his craft and his heart for storytelling.

Kira and Jen, the last two Gelflings, handily capture the audience’s hearts, along with each other’s, and are easily the best fantasy couple of the decade. And they’re puppets. Go figure.

6. The Princess Bride (1987)

For anyone who hasn’t seen The Princess Bride, the film must sound like one big in-joke with how much fans enjoy producing memes and peppering conversations with all kinds of references to falling for classic blunders and words that do not mean what you think they mean (or meme what you think they meme, as the cool kids say).

But the film is about so much more than that. It’s about ROUSes too and M.L.T.s that are perky and lean. Far from just a big in-joke, it’s a film about wuv—twue wuv—and anyone can understand and relate to that whether they’ve seen The Princess Bride or not.

So while The Princess Bride will no doubt one day be a valuable Rosetta Stone that will allow future generations to understand half the memes in existence, it’s still very much worth experiencing for the first time today, if only so you too can partake of its superior and inconceivably cryptic lexicon.

5. Labyrinth (1986)

Following the release of The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson felt he had done an admirable job of messing up children’s sleep cycles but feared he may have missed a few spots. So he came up with the idea of a film where David Bowie would kidnap a baby and threaten to turn him into a goblin if Jennifer Connelly couldn’t solve an impossible, ever-changing maze within 12 hours. That film has gone on to become one of the biggest cult phenomenons of the ‘80s, and it’s not difficult to see why.

Between Bowie’s glittering pop-new-wave ballads, the sprawling cast of lovingly detailed goblins and trolls, and the rather stunning landscape shots of the labyrinth itself, the film sure makes an impression. But Labyrinth operates on deeper levels than the ridiculous lyrics of “Magic Dance” would have you believe. It’s essentially a coming-of-age tale that warns of self-absorption, how easily our possessions can become our burdens, and that stresses the importance of sifting through and finding one’s own way amidst the confusing chorus of voices in life.

It’s also a valuable lesson that you’d better “bug-away” any fairies inhabiting your garden before they bite you. Little mystical mosquitoes.

4. Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan the Barbarian is one of those rare films that can be enjoyed both ironically and unironically. In fact, it’s hard not to watch it both ways at the same time. The film takes Conan’s quest to hunt down his parents’ killer (played with cool menace and real gravitas by James Earl Jones) perfectly seriously but also takes time out for its titular hero to get buzzed on black lotus and punch out a camel.

As an action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a goofy yet undeniably compelling charm that’s reined in only when he’s playing emotionless, unsmiling machines. And that larger-than-life, movie star persona of Schwarzenegger’s massively ups the film’s entertainment value. Meanwhile, director John Milius and composer Basil Poledouris bring the epic scale that’s needed for this tale of blood and thunder.

As for the age-old riddle of what is best in life? Sitting down to a viewing of Conan the Barbarian must surely run a close second to crushing your enemies and seeing them driven before you.

Still waiting for the musical to make its way to Broadway…

3. Excalibur (1981)

Just given Hollywood’s track record, it would seem Arthurian legend is a darned near impossible thing to get right on the silver screen. With soaring budgets, such talented directors as Antoine Fuqua and Guy Ritchie have tugged at that stone-embedded sword to no avail. There is one, however, who found a measure of success where others have not, and his name is John Boorman.

Upon assembling an all-star cast of thespians including Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, and Patrick Stewart, Boorman took to the Irish countryside and ambitiously folded great swathes of Arthurian legend into one sprawling narrative that would follow King Arthur from birth and boyhood to bitter end. Among the film’s many highlights is Arthur and company’s climactic charge toward battle while flowers bloom in sped-up time lapse photography and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” thunders on the soundtrack. Eighties fantasy doesn’t get much more epic than that.

2. Legend (1985)

Ridley Scott is the master of “the film so nice, they made it twice.” We now have two versions of Alien, two versions of Kingdom of Heaven, a whole lotta versions of Blade Runner, and of course two versions of Ridley’s mid-80s foray into fantasy, Legend—the shorter US theatrical cut with a moody and ethereal electronic score by Tangerine Dream and the longer director’s cut with a dark and luscious orchestral score by Jerry Goldsmith. You can’t go wrong whichever you choose as they are both excellent versions of the same fairy-tale masterpiece.

Legend may not be quite as deep, quite as meta, or quite as epic as some other films on this list, but it is quite possibly the most sumptuous-looking fantasy film of all time and there’s just something comforting about a fairy tale told well, however simple the idea behind it all. There’s little more to be found here than good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, and true love triumphs over all. Yet every shot is a kind of visual masterpiece, a painting that could be hung on a wall, and the music—whichever score you choose—complements it all marvelously.

A rather green Tom Cruise (both in terms of wardrobe and acting experience) fades into the foliage beside the zeal of Mia Sara, but the real star here anyways is of course Tim Curry, who delivers a deliciously malevolent performance through all that outstanding makeup. This might just be the only film on this list where you wouldn’t mind seeing the bad guy win for once.

1. The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Wolfgang Peterson’s adaptation of Michael Ende’s The NeverEnding Story instantly captured hearts and imaginations when it brought to life the sight of a full-scale luck dragon soaring over Fantasia and blissfully graced eardrums with that inspiring Giorgio Moroder-penned theme song.

That said, for all its visual and aural splendor, the film’s greatest strength lies in the power of its messages. It’s a fascinating film to watch through adult eyes. When the wolflike servant of the Nothing declares he wishes for hope to die because people without hope are easy to control, it’s pure chills straight up and down the spine.

The NeverEnding Story is a tale about the process of storytelling too. The film asks whether stories are simply stories, bound to the pages of the books we find them in or the lengths of their running times, or whether they can become something much greater if only we allow them to by taking the ideas and lessons we encounter in them and carrying them into our own lives. Ultimately, it’s a film that implores us, that pleads with us, to dream and live those dreams.

For all its wonder, for the inspirational nature of its messages, and for the cleverness of its deeply meta storyline, The NeverEnding Story truly is one of the greatest fantasy films of the decade.

*****

All images copyright by production studio and/or distributor unless otherwise noted, and found at Moviestillsdb.com. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 representations of nerds in cinema ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-representations-of-nerds/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48e5 Thu, 20 Jan 2022 15:00:51 +0000

The Nerd has a long history in the movies, one that probably dates back to silent comedian Harold Lloyd and the bespectacled klutz he played in films like Safety Last! (1923) and The Freshman (1925). The term “nerd” was apparently first popularized in the mid-seventies by Happy Days when it was applied to literally everyone in the cast who was not the Fonz.

The ‘80s turned out to be a kind of heyday for the cinematic nerd, but that may just be because fashion itself was pretty polarizing at the time: you could either dress like David Bowie in Labyrinth or you could dress like a nerd. Those were seriously your only two choices (as far as I understand fashion in the ‘80s).

Some movie nerds time has forgotten. Some are as enduring as the memories you still have of wearing headgear to school. This list is about the latter. But before we get into things, it would be good to establish just what makes a nerd a nerd.

According to Wikipedia—shut up, you’re not really a journalist if you cite Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, a nerd may be defined as someone who’s “overly intellectual, obsessive, introverted or lacking in social skills” and who “may spend inordinate amounts of time” on things which are “highly technical.”

And while Wikipedia doesn’t mention this, if there’s anything I’ve learned from the movies it’s that nerds pretty much always wear glasses. (In fact, I can think of two movies off the top of my head where the protagonist is meant to be viewed as either a nerd or not a nerd at any given moment depending entirely on whether they’re wearing glasses: one stars Christopher Reeve and the other Rachael Leigh Cook.)

So with that flexible definition in mind, please double-check that your pens are all in your pocket protector in their proper color-coded order and join me on a ranking of the top ten cinematic nerds.

10. Wayne Szalinski — Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Wayne Szalinski of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids might easily have become just one more dorky, down-on-his luck, contraption-inventing movie dad. But in the hands of underrated comedic genius, Rick Moranis, the character is as instantly appealing as coming upon an oatmeal cookie the size of a house.

Whether balancing on stilts, hovering in a body sling, or casually clinging to the fence in an effort to find his shrunken children in the expanse of his lawn without stepping on them, Wayne Szalinski proves he’s one nerd of a movie dad you would not be embarrassed to have meet your friends (provided everyone is safely out of the way of anything that might accidentally rearrange their atoms).

9. Data — The Goonies

Most kids surely have fantasized at some point about embarking with their friends on a once- in-a-lifetime adventure through a pirate cove just a short bike ride away from their own backyard (especially if you were a kid in the ‘80s when mobile entertainment was a thing of the future and half the toys you owned were liable to kill you).

The Goonies allowed kids to vicariously experience just such an adventure without having to rub elbows themselves with murderous jewel thieves. If one were to find oneself in such a situation however, you would most certainly want a friend like Richard “Data” Wang on your side.

While one of the film’s running gags is that Data’s inventions tend to fail or backfire on him, when they do work they spare the Goonies a world of pain. Data deploys his gadgets to slow down the Fratelli brothers, rescue himself and others from the cave’s booby traps, and even defeat a giant octopus by feeding it a Walkman playing the Goon Squad’s “Eight Arms to Hold You” (which may or may not be there depending on the version of the film you’re watching). While Data’s inventions have about a 50/50 chance of properly functioning, he’s still one of the most lovable movie nerds out there.

8. Evie Carnahan/O'Connell — The Mummy series

Evie Carnahan of Universal’s rebooted Mummy franchise (the one that worked) is one nerd who truly gets to live the dream. An Oxford-educated librarian who knows how to read and write ancient Egyptian, Evie decided to take a job with the Cairo Museum of Antiquities where she would have the greatest possible chance of one day discovering an ancient lost city and inadvertently reviving a 3,000-year-old, plague-happy cursed chancellor to the Pharaoh by reading out loud from the Book of the Dead. Career goals.

Marrying one’s interests with one’s skillset in an adventure of blockbuster proportions with tasteful amounts of CGI is after all what many aspire to in life. The amount of sand in your own life dream may vary.

7. Peter Parker — any Spider-man movie

Whether you prefer Tobey Maguire’s blubbering emo Spider-man, Andrew Garfield’s blubbering emo Spider-man, or Tom Holland’s adorable, ultra-peppy Spider-man (they don’t come in many shades, do they?), you’ve surely enjoyed some iteration of Marvel’s most iconic superhero at some point. You may even prefer your Spider-man hand-drawn. I haven’t read the comics myself, but I’m sure there are whole other sides of Spidey to be found there.

I’ll have to read the comics sometime. They sound good.

Anyway, whichever version you prefer, before Peter Parker was turned into a super athletic, super coordinated all-around stud by radiation poisoning, he was a nerd. He actually still was a nerd even after he started saving cats out of trees, and that may be why he’s such a likable and easily identifiable hero. He wasn’t raised in a mansion with his own butler. He didn’t come from outer space. He’s not a Greek goddess with an invisible jet. He’s just a regular guy, hopelessly socially awkward and preoccupied with his own nerdy hobbies like photography, academics, and science experiments with radiation in them.

Peter Parker—giving nerds everywhere hope they too can become a superhero with enough exposure to radiation since 1962.

6. Egon Spengler — Ghostbusters

While any one of the OG Ghostbusters could easily be dubbed a classic movie nerd, Dr. Egon Spengler is unquestionably the brainiest of the bunch. He personally designed most of the Ghostbusters’ tech and can handily nerd-drop the atomic weight of cobalt in casual conversation. But despite his outwardly nerdish demeanor, Egon actually has a rather sly sense of humor and sufficient street smarts to match his book smarts, making him quite a well-rounded individual as far as cinematic nerds go.

Egon’s scientific and personal interests include: paranormal phenomena, valences, ectoplasm, the effects of environment on mood, spores, molds, fungi, and Twinkies.

5. Velma Dinkley — Scooby-Doo

Let’s face it, without Velma the Scooby gang wouldn’t de-mask anywhere near as many curmudgeony hoodlums as they do. Almost always the first to see through the smoke and mirrors and with a steady supply of Scooby Snacks always on hand to help Shaggy and Scoobs stay the course, Velma virtually is Mystery Incorporated.

Her only real weakness is whenever her glasses inevitably get knocked off, but if she ever gets her hands on a set of contacts she’ll be unstoppable. Velma was played in the first two live-action Scooby Doo films by Linda Cardellini who, along with Matthew Lillard and his impeccable Shaggy, delivered one of the most accurate portrayals of a cartoon ever.

4. Doc Brown — Back to the Future

No matter when in time you look, Dr. Emmett Brown was always a nerd, all the way back to his earliest days of devouring Jules Verne paperbacks and precociously idolizing the likes of Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. It just took some time for all his daydreaming to pay off in the coolest looking, two-door, flux capacitor-powered time machine. H.G. Wells, eat your heart out.

While we love Doc for Christopher Lloyd’s manic performance and equally manic hair, what makes him such an endearing and enduring movie nerd is his devotion not just to studying where we’ve been and where we’re going but to respecting and preserving the flow of history. However much Doc’s time-hopping may jeopardize the genetic integrity of the McFly family or accidentally turn the peaceful suburb of Hill Valley, California into a scene from Escape From New York, he always leaves time just as he found it—or better!

3. Ian Malcolm — Jurassic Park

While he seems pretty content doing Wes Anderson cameos and Apartments.com commercials these days, Jeff Goldblum made a name for himself playing tall, dark, and handsome nerds—sometimes winding up with the dame and a cigar (David Levinson in Independence Day), sometimes winding up a puddle of protoplasmic gloop (Seth Brundle in The Fly). But by far the most iconic movie nerd Jeff Goldblum ever played is Jurassic Park’s improbably cool, impossibly snarky chaotician, Dr. Ian Malcolm.

Steven Spielberg apparently never considered anyone else for the part, and Goldblum’s portrayal was so well received Michael Crichton decided to retcon the character’s death in his first book so Malcolm could be the star of the sequel. With fashion sense fit for the runway and peak levels of unflappability, the eccentric mathematician perhaps just qualifies on the score of what makes a nerd a nerd with his brainy disposition and fixation on chaos.

There’s no question Ian Malcolm made being a nerd cool. Few other cinematic nerds could ever hope to find themselves immortalized in a meme that re-envisions Michelangelo's Creation of Adam with them in it as has the world’s greatest proponent of chaos theory.

2. Brian Ralph Johnson — The Breakfast Club

Movie nerds don’t always do battle with ghosts or supervillains or dinosaurs or big cephalopods, nor must they always overcome the laws of physics or transcend the boundaries of space and time. Sometimes they just know how to write a really good essay and are packed a nutritional lunch by their mothers.

John Hughes’ classic teen dramedy The Breakfast Club first presented and then deconstructed five high school stereotypes and in so doing introduced audiences to one of the most memorable and most human movie nerds of all time: Brian Ralph Johnson.

In the hands of John Hughes and Anthony Michael Hall, the stalwart trappings of brainy glasses, asthmatic breathing, and fuddy-duddy wardrobe were shattered to reveal the inner life of a character everyone thought had it together but who was actually collapsing under the pressure of overwhelming expectations. To some, the ability to make an elephant-shaped lamp with functioning trunk pull-switch must seem a perfectly frivolous thing—to others, it means the world.

More so than any other nerd in cinema, Brian Ralph Johnson helped audiences see beyond the nerd to that which we all share in common.

1. Indiana Jones— uh…Indiana Jones

Though often pictured with fedora and bullwhip, fleeing poisonous darts or slugging muscle- bound thugs into plane propellors—the kind of figure who wouldn’t be at all out of place on the cover of a bodice ripper—Indiana Jones is indeed unquestionably a nerd.

Professor Indiana Jones, that is.

His nerd interests just happen to take him to some of the most exotic locations and on some of the greatest adventures committed to celluloid.

Archaeology is not a passing interest for Dr. Jones. It’s an obsession—a lifelong pursuit—and if anyone dares jeopardize his hobby of putting artifacts into museums he will stand on a ledge with a shoulder-mounted grenade launcher and shout his opponent down with all the passion and fury of an OG Indiana Jones fan decrying the sacrilege of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Do not tell me this man is not a nerd.

Despite Harrison Ford’s approaching relic territory himself, audiences will get to see Indiana Jones nerd out on museum pieces one more time in the yet-to-be-titled fifth Indiana Jones film due in 2023. But if there’s anything Dr. Jones taught us himself in Raiders of the Lost Ark it’s that “it’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”

]]>
<![CDATA[ Movies from the 1990s for nerds to watch this holiday season ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/movies-from-the-1990s-for-nerds-to/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48e8 Wed, 22 Dec 2021 15:00:33 +0000 Ahh, remember celebrating the winter holidays in the ‘90s? Stores would actually close (without posting about it on social media), a pile of holiday movies from Blockbuster warmed up by the fire, and we tried to kill each other over Elmo toys.

Those were the days.

While the ‘90s were a goldmine of cinema in general, it turns out there actually aren’t that many great holiday movies from the decade. There are some all-time classics of course, but apparently we just kind of rewatch the same three or four classics, and that’s pretty much it.

That said, there are some excellent ‘90s movies that the nerdiest among us should take guilty pleasure in viewing come that special time of year. When looking at what makes a holiday movie “nerdy”, I’m looking for things like technology, horror, elements of science fiction, fantasy, or another clear nerd hook. Fair warning: there might be a couple on here that stretch the criteria a tad.

Here are the ‘90s movies every nerd should watch this holiday season:

Edward Scissorhands — 1990

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Tim Burton is the king of ‘90s nerd holiday movies. This is definitely one of the most important things I learned writing this post.

And yes, Edward Scissorhands is most definitely a Christmas movie. Even though Christmas isn’t a core event, it does occur during the movie and culminates with one of the great cinematic moments of the ‘90s in the snow-falls-in-Florida scene above.

And throughout the film there are elements of the both the slightly unsettled yet comforting feel of Christmas that only Tim Burton can express—sort of like what a young child’s face looks like when you tell them Santa can see them when they’re sleeping.

Jingle All the Way — 1996

Copyright by Twentieth Century Fox and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Yet another movie about a workaholic dad who’s on the verge of failing his marriage, his son, and his company—unless, of course, he can find his son the most sought-after toy in the history of the world. Just your classic anti-commercialism Christmas movie that’s about, uh, how great commercialism is.

Mattress salesman Howard (aka AHHHnold) was supposed to get his son the Power Rangers-esque Turbo-Man action figure (badass name for a toy, btw) weeks ago, and now here it is, frickin’ Xmas eve, and rather than admit that he cares more about mattresses than his own family, what does Howard do? That’s right, go on a whacky adventure featuring Sinbad, reindeer, the Big Show, a criminal ring of mall Santas, and many more gleefully ridiculous scenarios.

Also, Phil Hartman is amazing in this. RIP.

Of course, even after everything, Howard still fails—a post-credits scene reveals that he completely forgot to get his wife anything. Way to go Howard! Now get your aaahhhhhsss to Maaaaahhhhhhs.

Batman Returns — 1992

Remember what I said about Tim Burton? YEAH BOY, THAT’S RIGHT. WHO’S YOUR ‘90s CHRISTMAS MOVIE DADDY?

Man, this movie truly threw me for a loop when I was a kid. Having been a pretty big fan of the first Burton Batman movie, I was pumped to watch this. And, well, it got real weird real fast.

Right off the bat that same balance of morbid fantasy combined with a clear love for the holiday oozes throughout Batman Returns as it did in Scissorhands, but this one’s more … well, just weird.

First, you have a deformed Penguin (aka Oswald—weird name) being born on Christmas Day. Then you have evil goons jumping out of giant presents. Then you have Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. INSANE!

So curl up by the fire with a nice cup of anything that won’t put you on a psychedelic trip, because this would be a horrifying movie to watch while doing that.

The Muppet Christmas Carol — 1992

Look, I told you there’d be a couple of stretches on this list. Cut me some slack! I’M UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE OK.

Anyways, I actually do think this fits—I mean, it’s Jim Henson-quality production work here, and that will almost always make a movie nerd-worthy in and of itself.

The fantasy created in this movie is actually pretty cool, and frankly, just the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has enough visual wizardry to get me on board.

A Christmas Carol was always rooted in fantasy, but the Muppets really push it to the next level.

The Nightmare Before Christmas — 1993

Tim. Effing. Burton.

While he wasn’t the director of this film, Burton was clearly a driving force behind this iconic stop-motion holiday fantasy that completes his ‘90s nerdy holiday movie trilogy of awesomeness.

Don’t even try to act like you don’t sing “What’s this?” quietly to yourself every few seconds, each and every day.

But wait, is this a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?

It’s both, you dolt! Don’t make put some deadly nightshade in your eggnog.

Home Alone — 1990

I have to admit, I wasn’t totally sold on including this one on this list, until I was convinced that Kevin McCallister is clearly a genius considering his mastery of the laws of physics.

Although, according to the video below, the Wet Bandits should have been killed at least three or four times by his traps.

One fun thing to do over the holidays is learn a bunch of facts about the Home Alone traps and then recite them to your family while watching the movie. They’ll love it!

The fact that Kevin was able to rig up so many impressive traps faster than I can even put together a game of Mouse Trap is testament to his nerd credibility. In this light, frankly it would have been rude to leave Home Alone off the list.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker — 1991

Horror. Toys. Christmas.

Oh, and screen legend Mickey Rooney.

I would explain the plot but … just watch the trailer for yourself (content warning—it’s weird).

Yep, this movie definitely is one every nerd should watch—well, OK, *should* is a strong word.

It’s a bizarre, needlessly violent, direct-to-video masterpiece. If you found yourself nodding along gleefully to that sentence, you should watch it. Otherwise, uh, yeah probably skip it.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The 15 nerdiest pop songs from the 80s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-15-nerdiest-pop-songs-from-the/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48ef Thu, 09 Dec 2021 18:38:57 +0000 The 1980s were a turning point in nerd culture.

From Revenge of the Nerds premiering in 1984 to The Breakfast Club breaking down high school caste barriers to Patrick Dempsey exploring the meaningless void of popularity in Can’t Buy Me Love to Blade Runner just being bad ass, the booming technology industry along with the American cinema machine gave voice to nerds like never before, creating a sense that through science and technology and purple sweatbands anything was truly possible.

In fact, it was somewhere around 1986 when nerd culture and pop culture finally and irrevocably fused into some kind of strange new beast that only eats virtual neon sunsets.

And the music of the ‘80s reflected this, producing some of the nerdiest pop music ever made.

When I started writing this, I assumed I’d be pushing it to craft a top 10 list. Instead, I had to finally call it at 15—because who has the damn time to consume any more nerdy ‘80s pop music than that?

To appear on this list the song has to have a clear nerd hook—we’re talking science, tech, horror or fantasy. Also, no deep cuts. These need to be songs that actually made a dent in the charts—in other words, songs that I personally have heard on the radio. These are, after all, supposed to be pop songs.

And I consciously chose not to include any Weird Al parodies. That could warrant its own list, and in fact, already has to a degree, which you can read here.

So without further ado, here are the nerdiest pop songs from the 1980s.

Oingo Boingo — Weird Science (1985)

While not every selection on this list will seem self-evident, this one definitely is.

Written for King-of-80s-teen-film John Hughes’ movie of the same name (also a largely forgotten ‘90s TV series) Weird Science even features a young Danny Elfman, who would of course go on to earn extra nerd-credit as a composer for film and TV—including composing The Simpsons theme song and the score for movies like Edward Scissorhands (oh, and the Tim Burton Batman).

The simultaneous fear and excitement of technology that permeated the ‘80s is fully present here. Of course, in the movie all the potential of technology just ends up being used to create a wannabe girlfriend for the dweeby protagonists. So ‘80s.

Styx — Mr. Roboto (1983)

Besides teaching the world how to say “Thank you Mr. Robot” in Japanese (still waiting to use that one myself), this is also one of the most whacked out sci-fi music videos of the 1980s.

Apparently, this is what people thought the “modern man” was like back in the ‘80s. And while in today’s age of automation there’s mostly complaining, Styx was super happy with all the things robots were doing, specifically “doing the jobs that nobody wants to.”

And apparently some nearly 40 years later we’re still not sure what secret exactly is being kept. But, hey, we’re thankful for it anyway.

The Buggles — Video Killed the Radio Star (1980)

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to hear what the future sounds like.

Just squeaking into the ‘80s and ushering in a decade’s worth of nerdy songs is this iconic track that was famously the first music video ever played on MTV.

The Buggles totally called it—radio is dead and in general audio is a format nobody likes (er—guess those huge glasses didn’t give them the ability to see podcasts coming).

While songs that quickly date themselves can often be quite forgettable, this is actually a really good tune. It’s catchy as hell and the bass line is probably in the top 20 of any bass line from the ‘80s.

And any song whose video features stacks of synthesizers, CRT TVs, silver suits, AND an explosion of sparks behind a strange-looking child definitely earns extra nerd points.

Oh, and I love that the “new technology” they’re referencing apparently includes stacks upon stacks of modules with endless wires and knobs just to play a single Moog synthesizer.

Huey Lewis and the News — Back in Time (1985)

Turn up the amps because we’re about to … uh, listen to some saxophone pop?

Clearly, a song that asks the question “Is this the ‘50s or 1999?” belongs on this list—something I personally asked myself constantly in 1999.

Apparently, this is something that’s gone out of style recently, but back in the 1980s and ‘90s every big movie got some pop star or band to do a big song alongside the movie. There were two approaches—songs that sum up the vibe of the movie (e.g., Aerosmith’s Don’t Want To Miss a Thing from 1998’s Armageddon) and those that basically laid out the plot of the movie in song form (e.g., Ghostbusters from, well, Ghostbusters).

In the case of Back in Time, which, you guessed it, was commissioned for the release of Back to the Future, there’s really no attempt to do anything but recap the general plot of the movie—sans the fact that Marty’s mother … well, nevermind that.

At one point Huey even throws out, “Get back, Marty.”

While we’re still waiting for hoverboards (I mean, REAL hoverboards), this will do nicely to fill the time.

Limahl — The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Remember that other hit song from Limahl? OF COURSE YOU DON’T BECAUSE THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.

Continuing with the theme of songs made for movies is this gem, made for the movie of the same name. As soon as you hear those opening synth chords, you’re transported to Fantasia.

If there’s one thing that’s true for anyone who lived through the ‘80s, it’s that we are all Bastian at heart, and that we all had to leave our proverbial Artaxes in the Swamp of Sadness long ago.

And yeah, you read that right—just Bastian, not SEbastian. Deal. With. It.

Was the NeverEnding Story real? Is the Nothing still out there, waiting to turn us all into, just, nothing—despite our big, good, strong hands? Should children stay away from luck dragons?

For the last question, most definitely yes, otherwise, who’s to say?

This song takes me right back to the adventure I joined Bastian and Atreyu on all those years ago, and maybe am still slogging through to this day, all because a child(like) empress somewhere was never named for some reason.

For me, this song and movie helped to spark my love of fantasy and adventure in film and elsewhere—and for that reason, it belongs right here on this damn list.

Big Audio Dynamite — E=MC2 (1985)

While this song is named after the most famous math equation of all time, I’m not totally convinced that B.A.D. fully understands the theory of special relativity. Just sayin’.

This one honestly only makes the list because it’s named after the aforementioned most-well-known equation ever. I’m not really sure what this song is about otherwise. It actually feels like B.A.D.’s take on the We Didn’t Start the Fire or It’s the End of the World As We Know It type of songs that just sort of list things.

Although, there are two lines that do add a little nerdiness:

Space guy fell from the sky

and

Scientist eats bubblegum

Meh, good ‘nuff.

Was (Not Was) — Walk the Dinosaur (1988)

If dinosaurs weren’t already nerdy enough for you, there’s also references to Miami Vice, Elvis flying a rocket ship, time travel, and sadly, killing said dinosaur.

Some argue this song is really about nuclear armageddon—which has a rich nerd history of its own, but I’d say it’s clearly about a new dance which swept the nation from coast to coast.

This track also appeared in the live action Flintstones movie from 1994, and of course I’m sure you remember George Clinton’s version from the live action Super Mario Bros. movie of ‘93, that, for some reason did the below to our childhoods:

Kraftwerk — Pocket Calculator (1981)

Honestly, is there much more we need to say here?

Alright, maybe a quick defense of this song as “pop.” Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but it did reach as high as 39 on the charts and lived on the top 100 for 6 weeks. SO THERE.

Ray Parker Jr. — Ghostbusters (1984)

Once again, a song that just sort of talks about the plot of the movie it was written for at the highest level.

But, of course, how could this song not make this list? If you don’t have this on your Halloween playlist for starters, you instantly lose nerd credibility.

Plus, Ghostbusters the movie has some of the best and most classic nerd representations in cinematic history. You can be smart and dry like Egon, or witty and sexy like Venkman (OK maybe not sexy, but he does get with Sigourney Weaver).

Who you gonna call? I mean, besides a lawyer….

Europe — The Final Countdown (1986)

If there’s a list of songs from the ‘80s, there’s a good chance this one’s on it. And my list is no exception.

Is it about fleeing an apocalypse? Simply traveling to space?

Who gives a crap? It’s AWESOME.

It was pretty bold of a band to adopt a name as a stand-in for an entire continent, but Europe clearly earned that right with this song.

Yet while it can certainly be played ahead of any event, holiday, or basically any activity, just remember that it has nerd roots:

We're headin' for Venus (Venus)
And still we stand tall
'Cause maybe they've seen us
And welcome us all, yeah
With so many light years to go
And things to be found (to be found)
I'm sure that we all miss her so

It's the final countdown

The Ramones — Pet Sematary (1989)

Here’s another one for your Halloween playlist, but only if you want to seem cool as hell.

Whether you’re into the Dark Tower series, or you’re more of an It kind of person (weirdo), every nerd’s life has been touched in some way by Stephen King’s work, whether the written word, film, or (extremely unlikely) TV.

Rumor has it that King himself asked the quintessential punk rockers, The Ramones, to pen this bad boy for the film adaptation of the book of the same name, where fluffy and mittens come back from the dead to get revenge for all those times you refused to give them attention.

Joey Ramone makes a pretty straightforward plea:

I don’t wanna be buried

In a pet sematary

Me neither, Joey. Me neither.

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark — Electricity (1980)

It’s hard to get much nerdier than stock images of people turning dials and flipping switches alongside dudes with terrible haircuts rocking old-school synthesizers. And the bass player’s dance at the beginning of the video…

This really is just an homage to electricity, straight up, even calling it “the ultimate discovery.” So the next time you’re looking at a light bulb, show a little respect, will ya?

And alright, technically this came out as a single in 1979, BUT it was also included on the full-length album in 1980. So it counts, damn it.

Thomas Dolby — She Blinded Me With Science (1982)

That’s right, another song on this list that literally has the word “science” in it.

The best part of this song and music video is definitely the random professor-type dude just saying “Science!” every so often.

And once again, apparently the vision of science and technology from the 1980s is that it would always somehow have something to do with supermodels. It truly was a golden age.

DEVO — Gates of Steel (1980)

Put on your Energy Dome because things are about to get DEVO-y up in here.

Alright, perhaps this wasn’t the most popular song from Devo’s Freedom of Choice (that would be “Whip It”, of course), but it’s possibly the nerdiest and definitely my personal favorite.

What are the lyrics about, exactly? Who cares! It’s sort of sci-fi-ish and that’s good enough for me. Oh, and it rocks.

Coming out in 1980, DEVO really set the tone for the entire decade.

Newcleus — Jam On It (1984)

As soon as this song starts, it transports you to another planet where all the robots breakdance and humans spend their days riding keytars across the cosmos.

Plus, the band’s name gives a little shout out to physics. I would have loved to hear the band meeting when someone pitched the idea: “You know, like nucleus, but like, NEW.”

It was a really tough call for which song would round out this list, but if you’ve ever seen a live performance of Newcleus, or their album covers, then you’ll understand why I made the choice I did.

Plus, there was this weird cultural overlap in the ‘80s between nerd culture and underground hip-hop. I just made that up, but if someone wants to actually make that argument … shoot me an email.

Honorable Mentions

This was a tough one, and it was difficult to leave some of these off the list. So just in case you need a few more ‘80s nerd jams, here you go.

More from Classic Nerd

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 sweetest pads owned by James Bond villains ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-sweetest-pads-owned-by/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48ec Thu, 02 Dec 2021 18:06:20 +0000 From their laser beam tables to their bionic eyeballs to the fluffy white cats that sometimes follow them around, there’s never been anything subtle about Bond villains.

That includes the lairs from which they conduct their dastardly business.

In the latest (and last) from Daniel Craig, No Time to Die, Rami Malek’s villain du jour kicks it in a massive concrete island base that’s home to some of the world’s most toxic plants. Sounds like a great place for dispatching henchmen who have failed to kill Bond, but maybe not such a great place to live (depending on your brand of aesthetics).

Some of 007’s other opponents, however, really knew how to live in style. You almost have to wonder why somebody would feel compelled to take over the world when they’re already set up in the sweetest pad ever. But I guess, as the saying goes, for some even the world is not enough. So cuddle up with your favorite fluffy white cat (or perhaps you have a sullen-looking goldfish, which you should probably just leave in the bowl—and maybe try to cheer up sometime), and join me on a tour through ten of the raddest domiciles belonging to Bond villains.

10. Palmyra - Thunderball (1965)

Copyright by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists, Danjaq, S.A., eon and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Let’s be real, any waterfront property in the Bahamas is not going to be too shabby of a place to live. Especially when it comes with two pools. Though SPECTRE’s No. 2, Emilio Largo, spends much of his time on the island directing underwater frogmen on where to move a couple of atomic bombs—as one does when they’re in the Bahamas—he also gets in some skeet shooting and enjoys a refreshing Rum Collins by the pool. Any villain who favors pool chairs and sea breeze over command stations and the hum of nuclear reactors can’t be all bad.

Pet friendly?

Why yes, the place comes with its own Golden Grotto sharks. Just don’t mix up the swimming pool with the shark pool or accidentally leave the underwater passage open between them. Wait…why are the shark pool and the swimming pool connected? Who designed this place?!

9. Clifftop monastery - For Your Eyes Only (1981)

St. Cyril’s, the monastery that serves as a not-so-accessible getaway for smuggler and opportunist Aris Kristatos, is found high in the stunning Meteora rock formations of Greece’s backcountry. The cottage-like residences and interior courtyards feel quaint and cozy in a medieval sort of way, but the real draw here would no doubt be the view.

While the real monastery dates back to at least the 11th century, it’s actually still occupied today by Greek Orthodox monks. So you technically could live there if you wanted to. I mean, you’d have to be a Greek Orthodox monk and go without running water, but I’m just saying, you know, if you really wanted to….

Pet friendly?

I’d suspect birds would be able to handle the altitude.

8. Stud farm - Goldfinger (1964)

This one is just the place for the sportsman who wants to get away from it all: mint juleps on the veranda, afternoon horse rides, country banjo tunes licking the air, and when the sun gets too fierce a game of billiards in that fabulous Ken Adam-designed rumpus room.

With the perfectly laidback atmosphere of his Kentucky ranch already at hand, it’s hard to see what more Goldfinger has to gain from obliterating Fort Knox. Pussy Galore mentions she plans to use her share from the caper to retire to an island somewhere. If you ask me, Goldfinger’s already got the perfect retirement spot. There’s even a little KFC right around the corner.

Pet friendly?

This place is an equestrian’s paradise.

7. Luxury villa - Licence to Kill (1989)

When not investing in schemes to expand his drug operation into a global empire, Franz Sanchez likes to roll up his blood-spattered sleeves and relax in one of the most peaceful and most luxurious settings to be found anywhere. With lavish open-air floor plans, a home waterfall, expansive views of the bay, a swimming pool that comes with its own winking fish statue, and a funicular rail to get you from the terrace to the beach and back again, why would you ever leave this place? Sanchez’s digs were filmed on location at the magnificent Villa Arabesque in Acapulco and truly reflect the epitome of high living.

Pet friendly?

Iguanas do nicely in this climate, and they rock a killer diamond-studded collar.

6. Scaramanga’s island - The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Nothing says world’s highest paid assassin quite like strutting around in gold cufflinks, gold knuckle rings, and an 18-karat King Midas Rolex. Nothing except owning your own island perhaps.

Whether you’re sunbathing on your own private beach, three nipples and all, or practicing your assassin-ry on wax effigies in your revolving mirror funhouse, the fact that the whole island is yours just makes it so much better. While Scaramanga’s tastes run eccentric—frames of pinned butterflies, a pommel horse, rampant saloon decor, and enough trick stairs and hidden passages to satisfy the spectral paranoia of Sarah Winchester—there’s no denying the dwellability of this master assassin’s island paradise.

Pet friendly?

Apparently bats, lizards, and water snakes frequent the region…so, yes!

5. Aztec pyramid - Moonraker (1979)

Found deep in the Amazon, among picturesque waterfalls and lush jungle, the Aztec pyramid used by Hugo Drax to launch his Moonraker space shuttles makes for one of the most outlandish and most lavish Bond villain lairs.

The most impressive feature here is the interior pond and jungle garden, beside which you’ll find swooping accent chairs and a low table for the perfect indoor-outdoor picnic (if one could ever find the time between all the world domination). While we’re never shown any actual living quarters, I’m sure you could pretty easily set up a hammock somewhere and be perfectly comfortable in this climate. Just not too close to the launch bay.

Pet friendly?

You saw Anaconda, right? The one with Ice Cube and J-Lo? Yeah, it comes with one of those.

4. Ice palace - Die Another Day (2002)

Surely the grandest looking Bond villain lair not designed by Ken Adam, the swanky ice palace owned by Gustav Graves in the frozen expanse of Iceland brings whole new meaning to the phrase “chillin’ like a villain.”

The palace’s whole interior is endowed with an air of cool luxury by the seamless blending of ice with shimmering chandeliers and bejeweled candelabras. Between the crystalline bar, the beds made from ice swans, and that great cavernous entryway, who could resist the chance to live in such wintry splendor? Plus, when asked how guests like staying at your place, you’d get to say, “Many are cold, but few are frozen”—and how cool would that be?

Pet friendly?

Only if you’re into penguins.

3. Atlantis - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Inspired by a floating marine research lab from Japan’s 1975 International Oceans Expo, the visually imposing Atlantis serves much the same purpose for sea fanatic Karl Stromberg. But, you know, with a little world domination on the side.

Combining ultra-modern, quasi-space age interior design with decidedly Jules Vernesque vibes makes for one of cinema’s all-time coolest lounges. The recessed windows open not onto a landscape but a gorgeous seascape where schools of fish and rays form moving art—and for the pièce de résistance, a skeletal whale fin stands on end like an ominous statue. With all that, you’d hope Stromberg might find it in his briny, world-annihilating heart to at least spare his amazing interior decorator.

Pet friendly?

As mentioned, you’ll be able to spot plenty of cool sea life from the windows, from leatherback turtles to poison-spined lion fish. But as far as tamed animals go, just a great white shark.

2. Piz Gloria - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Part allergy clinic, part alpine lodge, part viral warfare factory, Blofeld’s mountaintop retreat, Piz Gloria, has stood the test of time as one of the coolest and most stylish Bond villain lairs.

The revolving restaurant where filming took place was quite serendipitously midway through construction when the filmmakers went location scouting, and it still operates today under the same name as its fictional counterpart. While anyone can visit Piz Gloria for fine dining and a breath of fresh, crisp, high-altitude air, one can only imagine waking to views of the surrounding peaks, snapping on a pair of skis for some morning exercise, and returning for a cup of hot cider by the fire. Putting things in that perspective makes it easier to understand Blofeld’s ire when Bond blows the place up in the third reel.

Pet friendly?

There’s a medic St. Bernard on standby to deliver avalanche victims tiny kegs of whiskey and cuddles.

1. Volcano lair - You Only Live Twice (1967)

Are there more practical lairs on this list? More accessible ones? Maybe some lairs that aren’t in such close proximity to hot magma and sulfuric acid? Some lairs with better views or multiple swimming pools? Sure. But are any of them a volcano? Didn’t think so.

While Blofeld set up camp inside Japan’s Mount Shinmoedake in order to secretly launch SPECTRE rockets into outer space—perhaps hoping people will think it’s just Mothra getting some fresh air—he certainly didn’t skimp on the costs when it came to decking out his personal living quarters. Blofeld’s apartment blends Japanese design with traditional European decor and includes without rhyme or reason a wild vegetation-bordered pool of piranhas one must cross over via footbridge to reach the control room. Sounds like kind of a dangerous setup actually. The bridge doesn’t even come with railings, and anybody could make it collapse at any time by pressing a switch under the desk.

But I’m not here to judge the minds of those madder or more genius than I; just to say how swank it would be to live in a volcano.

Pet friendly?

Does it matter? You’re living in a volcano! But yes, for all the animal lovers out there, it comes with the aforementioned piranha pool—plus the eponymous white feline, but you must cradle and stroke it at all times. And no, that’s not Mike Meyers you see on screen… that’s an entirely different article.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 10 music videos that homage classic horror cinema ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/10-music-videos-that-homage-classic/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48ed Wed, 17 Nov 2021 16:00:37 +0000 Thanks to directors like David Fincher (Madonna’s “Vogue”), Michel Gondry (Kylie Minogue’s “Come into My World”), and Spike Jonze (Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice”) the music video has been elevated to an art form—one that challenges filmmakers to tell a complete narrative and forcibly remove socks with masterful storyboarding within a mere few minutes.

In many cases, music videos have become the fun-sized versions of their big-screen counterparts, and every artist it seems—from Billie Eilish to Beyoncé to Gnarls Barkly and back again—has done their take on the horror movie.

And why not? What better genre to arrest the senses and stoke the coals of the imagination?

From the atomic terrors of the 1950s to the shambling ghoul of the ’60s to the advent of the slasher in the ’70s. the special effects boom of the ’80s, and the post-modern appeal of the ’90s, the history of horror cinema has been indelibly ingrained in the public psyche. Music artists and the directors of their videos have not failed to note the appeal. Here are ten modern music videos that make the most of their medium to lovingly homage the very best of classic horror cinema.

10. Millington - Being

Imagine if David Cronenberg had set out to make his take on The Fly in the mold of (500) Days of Summer. That’s basically the music video for Millington’s “Being,” which presents the highs and lows of a relationship between a young woman and the puppy-sized arthropod she instantly falls for from across the room at a speed-dating event. Millington’s upbeat and folksy music perfectly complements all the mood swings of new and developing love (with the minor anomaly of paired mandibles and bifurcated claws thrown into the mix).

But where your typical romantic dramedy would build to an outburst of tears on a rainy doorstep, “Being” goes full Cronenberg and unleashes all the chaos and gore you’d expect from a good existentialist work of body horror.

Proposed tagline: “Be afraid. Be very afraid…of falling in love.”

9. RJD2 - The Horror

Ramble John Krohn (better known by his stage name, RJD2) must evade and outwit a collective of black-cloaked, pale-faced men wielding knives and tinkering with household things in the music video for his electronica extravaganza, “The Horror.”

If that sounds to you like the premise for Alex Proyas’ trippy 1998 sci-fi thriller Dark City, you’re spot on (and incidentally, Dark City’s reality-altering so-called Strangers, the most prominent of whom was played by Richard O’Brien, were themselves inspired by another cult masterpiece, O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Picture Show).

It’s anyone’s guess what’s actually going on in RJD2’s video. Nevertheless, the urgent beats and invested performances make for compelling viewing, and the found set of Staten Island’s abandoned Seaview Hospital (previously featured in Jacob’s Ladder) is a perfectly apocalyptic backdrop.

8. Phantom Planet - Big Brat

The music video for Phantom Planet’s “Big Brat” gives you two for one with the “making of” followed by a cool little 4:3-framed, black-and-white, Night of the Living Dead-inspired zombie feature.

I have no idea what went into that mixture of innards or apparently edible brain gelatin, but you can’t argue with the onscreen results! Though we only get 120 seconds of it here, I wouldn’t mind sitting down to a 90-minute version of Le Zombi du Noir. At the risk of divulging spoilers, I’ll simply say that the ending will melt your heart harder than 2013’s rom-zom-com Warm Bodies.

Functioning tear ducts are after all one of the safest and surest ways to reaffirm you are not one of the walking dead.

7. Radiohead - Burn the Witch

Anyone who has seen 1973’s The Wicker Man—or perhaps its more modern spiritual cousin Midsommar from 2019—can attest to just how creepy an idyllic Celtic countryside can be in the summertime: the sweet sounds of birdsong, fresh flowers everywhere, and the scent of human sacrifice wafting gently on the breeze.

Much like Arthur Miller with his timeless classic The Crucible before them, Radiohead saw an opportunity to draw parallels between current politics and witchcraft-related fears and superstitions of olde in the music video for their aptly titled “Burn the Witch.”

The stop-motion-animated characters were modeled after the 1960s children’s TV series Trumpton and suggest a kind of innocence that makes the menace of the music and the horror of the plotline all the more impacting.

6. MGMT - Little Dark Age

The horror cinema influences on MGMT’s video for “Little Dark Age” are perhaps both too sundry and too subtle to call out by name. But the upper-class malaise suggested by the various characters’ activities—lounging on a chaise, chopping cantaloupe for fun, fencing on the lawn while a black-shrouded Death figure looks on from a wicker rocking chair—echoes spooky arthouse Euro-thrillers like Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein or Blood for Dracula, where bored-of-life aristocrats seem to simply be waiting for Death to catch them already within the walls and around the grounds of some ancient estate.

Whatever inspired MGMT and the video’s directors to tune into this particular vibe, the result is five minutes of blissfully eerie melancholy. Enjoy.

5. Massive Attack - Voodoo in My Blood

It would have been a stroke of genius to homage either 1979’s Phantasm or 1981’s Possession in a Massive Attack music video. Using both is just showing off. But the whiplash-inducing MV for “Voodoo in My Blood” is all the better for it.

Standing in for a wild-eyed, demonically-spasming Isabelle Adjani, Academy Award-nominated Rosamund Pike (for Gone Girl, not Die Another Day) faces off against a floating metallic orb in this unlikely but quite brilliant mashup of two cult classics. It says something when a person thrashing themselves about an empty subway tunnel makes you forget you’re ostensibly meant to be watching this for the song.

4. M83 - Midnight City

From classic Twilight Zone to Stranger Things to Village of the Damned, there has been no shortage in television and cinema of children with telepathic or telekinetic powers—there is a difference between the two and you better know which you’re dealing with if you ever find yourself trapped in a Stephen King novel.

Let’s face it, children are inherently weird and unpredictable. Charming, but weird and unpredictable.

The only thing scarier than a real child is one who can lift a semi-truck with their mind and send it hurtling your way. M83 capitalized upon this primal fear by featuring a warehouse full of such gifted youths in their music video for “Midnight City.” While these potential purveyors of humanity’s doom stop short of divesting anyone of their atomic integrity, I still don’t like the way they look at that sunset.

If you’re wondering which children in your vicinity may have telepathic or telekinetic powers, they usually have blue eyes. So be on the lookout.

3. Weyes Blood - Everyday

The music video for Weyes Blood’s “Everyday” proposes an homage to a kind of horror film that never actually existed but would have been awesome if it did: the flower power slasher. While Spain gave us The House That Screamed in 1969 and Bava rolled out Hatchet for the Honeymoon in 1970 and A Bay of Blood in ’71, American cinema wouldn’t really catch on to the genre’s potential until the late ’70s/early ’80s. The closest you’d get to the style seen in Weyes Blood’s video would probably be Canada’s Black Christmas from 1974. Any way you want to slice it, the idea of long-haired, free-loving friends playing board games and meeting bloody ends at a ski chalet sounds like one of cinema’s great missed opportunities. But thanks to Weyes Blood, you can enjoy five whole minutes of what might have been right now!

2. The Killers - Bones

Who better to helm the music video for a song titled “Bones” than the maestro of all things macabre, Tim Burton? On a whim, the Killers sent Burton an early demo of their song and said he could do whatever he wanted with it, surely figuring he would be too busy designing a new hairstyle for his next Johnny Depp character. To the band’s genuine surprise, Burton agreed to do the video and they met for a day of brainstorming and another two days of filming.

With a desert drive-in, clips of Harryhausen’s skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts, and Michael Steger and Devon Aoki disrobing to their bones to run in slo-mo on a black-and-white beach, Burton’s creation dives into a cool pool of horror nostalgia and paddles about as happily as the Gill-man during tourist season.

1. Ghosted - Get Some

Outside of Lon Chaney Jr., An American Werewolf in London, and a little ditty by Warren Zevon, werewolves just don’t get enough love. That actually seems to have been the kernel of inspiration behind the music video for Ghosted’s “Get Some.”

As good a horror-comedy as any feature-length competition, Ghosted’s music video follows one girl’s Carrie-esque arc from overlooked and oft-bullied dreamer to bonafide date with a stud.

The summer camp yellows and Molly Ringwald pinks of the costumes set this little flick firmly in the ’80s, a vibe matched by the fuzzy retro synths that flare joyously after each play of the chorus. From the too-good-to-spoil twist to the precision syncing of the song’s climax with hilariously incongruous full-moon carnage, this is one horror MV that will satisfy an itch you never even realized you had.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Top 10 kills of the Jurassic Park films ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/top-10-kills-of-the-jurassic-park/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48ee Tue, 09 Nov 2021 16:00:40 +0000 For many, Jurassic Park brings to mind warm, nostalgic memories of graceful long-necked Brachiosaurs munching treetops or the InGen chopper soaring by pristine, green Hawaiian hills as John Williams’ iconic JP theme plays majestically.

But as everyone’s favorite cynic Ian Malcolm points out in The Lost World, it’s all “oooh” and “awww” in the first act, and then there’s running and screaming.

That’s what this list is about today: the running and screaming.

From goat-swallowing T-rexes to ankle-nipping compies to an underwater terror that eats great whites for breakfast, the carnivorous denizens of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World come in all shapes and sizes and have all kinds of fun teaching the human cast that you don’t mess with nature.

So get ready to have your nostalgia dragged through a rain-soaked equatorial jungle by six-foot turkeys because we’re about to head into the top 10 kills of the Jurassic Park series.

10. “Shooot hurrr!”

Similar to how Jurassic Park’s geneticists must have felt when they awaited the births of the first dinosaur specimens from their modified ostrich eggs, when Jurassic Park opened in 1993 nobody really knew just what to expect. Pre-Michael Crichton, cinema had not exactly been blessed with a lot of very well-made dinosaur movies (all due respect to fans of Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend).

When Spielberg’s film opened with glimpses of a man-sized beast glaring from inside its holding pen with crocodilian eyes and squawking like some pissed-off turkey seeking retribution for its fallen brethren the day after Thanksgiving, all bets were off.

What kind of fast one did they think they were trying to pull here? Weren’t dinosaurs supposed to drag their tails on the ground, peer in through third-story windows, and move with jumpy stop-motion animation? Indeed, the Velociraptor was a game changer in how audiences viewed dinosaurs, and Jurassic Park’s shocker of an opening sequence—set at nighttime with blinding floodlights and helmeted park crew bearing shotguns—was the perfect way to debut the new prehistoric terror.

It’s hard to forget the image of that hapless worker (who doesn’t even live long enough to have a name) clutching the sides of the holding pen as he’s dragged by the raptor or the sounds of the gunshots fading away as we dissolve from his grisly fate.

You may not have had a name, Hapless Raptor Pen Worker, but rest assured, your dying screams were etched into the memories of countless wide-eyed youths.

9. Indominous snax

Speaking of nameless park workers and grisly fates and the introduction of new dinosaurs and holding pen mishaps… holy big sneezing cow, I didn’t realize how many similarities there were between the first two entries on this list.

But the similarities end there. The Indominous rex was billed as the baddest of baddies—an ill-conceived concoction of raptor genes, rex DNA, camouflaging cuttlefish parts, and probably a little bit of Azathoth the Daemon Sultan for good measure—and to Jurassic World’s credit, the Indominous does a much better job of playing the villain du jour than did the poor, misused Spinosaurus in JPIII.

Following wisely in the steps of classic monster movies like Jaws and Alien, the film limits what we see of this gargantuan new park attraction as it chases Chris Pratt and Hapless Park Worker from its enclosure. You know exactly what’s going to happen: somebody’s gonna get eaten, and it’s not gonna be Chris Pratt.

Showing the attack from the perspective of Pratt’s character as he lays hidden beneath a jeep helps further obscure the Indominous’ appearance while incrementally building the suspense. When those tremendous jaws finally do close over Hapless Park Worker, you can’t help but think: damn it’s good to be Chris Pratt.

8. Eat your Wheatleys

The Indoraptor was basically Fallen Kingdom’s version of the Indominous—a super-powered, super-giant raptor that comes in black and carries absolutely none of the scruples of Blue or her seemingly morally conscientious raptor sisters. A good enough villain du jour, I suppose (though they’re going to need to seriously reimagine the lab-cooked super-predator shtick in 2022’s Jurassic World: Dominion).

While the Indoraptor doesn’t show up until the film’s third act, the new dino does get a chance to immediately prove its chops when mercenary Ken Wheatley applies for the Darwin Awards by sneaking into its cage to yoink one of its fabulous interlocking teeth for his necklace.

There’s a bit of anthropomorphism that teeters precariously on the cartoonish when the rather dragon-like dinosaur opens one eye and offers the audience a devilish grin before pretending to sleep again. But the gag is quickly forgotten once the Indoraptor snatches Wheatley up by the arm, bringing him to a terrifying dangling height, only to drop him loose with a single gruesome chomp. In a film where most of the kills feel a bit either derivative or simply unimaginative, Wheatley’s demise easily rises to the top.

7. Buffet in the long grass, Velociraptor, party of 7?

The only thing more terrifying than being stalked by one Velociraptor or two is being stalked by a whole pack of them, and while this next entry doesn’t highlight the demise of a single character but rather a whole panicked group, the setup and execution of The Lost World’s ambush in the long grass is way too good to not include. The sequence marks the first appearance of the raptors in the film—a well-delayed hour and twenty-six minutes in.

It’s positively chilling seeing those familiar heads and tails rise about the darkened field accompanied by their distinctly throaty growls. From the overhead view of the raptors cutting their precision paths through the grass to the shot of that one guy getting pounced on while his flashlight shines directly up into the snarling predator, the entire storyboarding of this sequence was simply masterful.

Two big slashing toe-claws up for this multi-kill entry.

6. Not the size that counts…

If the previous entry on this list wasn’t indication enough, The Lost World definitely represented Spielberg’s darker, more sadistic sense of humor. This was the Spielberg who executive produced Gremlins and co-wrote Poltergeist and who chased poor Dennis Weaver for an hour and a half with a semi-truck in Duel. So of course Spielberg would delight in separating Peter Stormare’s Dieter Stark from the group and having him stalked and snapped at by a pack of giggling chicken-lizards.

Surrounded by prehistoric-looking ferns and towering California redwoods, Dieter Stark may as well have been completely on his own wandering through a true Jurassic forest. The contrast between the compies’ cute chittering and comedic line formation and Stormare’s stone-cold, not-having-it glare and periodic cursing in Swedish leaves you stranded somewhere between laughing at the lil’ scavengers’ adorable antics and squirming over Dieter’s horrific plight.

Spielberg, you mad genius.

5. “When you gotta go, you gotta go”

Jurassic Park’s major mid-film set piece, the attack on the stalled jeeps by the T-rex, is so full of iconic imagery it’s easy to forget it also includes the series’ first fully onscreen, in-your-face kill.

There are probably few circumstances where one might feel more vulnerable than when sitting in an outhouse in the middle of the night and in the middle of the pouring rain with your pants around your ankles. Spielberg capitalized fully upon that shared sense of vulnerability when he knocked down the four walls of Donald Genarro’s outhouse, leaving him exposed to the elements and to the curious head-tilting and deceptively innocent purring of Jurassic Park’s apex predator.

There is something genuinely puppy-like about the way the rex appraises the toilet-bound lawyer before going full carnivore with an elephantine roar and shaking him left to right and back again like Fido giving hell to that chew toy.

4. By air or by sea

One of the best things about Jurassic World was getting to see a functioning park under attack by its dinosaur attractions, and nowhere is the chaos on better display than when the aviary breaches and a flock of pterosaurs descends upon the main boardwalk.

Amidst all the park goers scrambling to shield their children and their margaritas, we find British nanny Zara—a sort of mildly self-absorbed Mary Poppins without the song and dance or anything that might be mistaken for character development. Zara is snatched into the air and we’re taken along with her on a delirious journey high above the crowd before plunging below the surface of the mosasaur tank and back up again, only for Zara to succumb in spectacular fashion to the rising jaws of the tank’s occupant.

Some controversy arose over whether Zara had done anything to deserve such an over-the-top demise—which begs the question as to whether any character deserves to be eaten by a dinosaur.

In general, it seems dinosaurs don’t really mind who you are so long as you’re not one of the recurring characters. Director Colin Trevorrow defended the elaborate sequence saying, “to me, unearned death is the definition of terror.” Putting aside the question of whether anyone deserves to be eaten, can we all agree the sequence was magnificently orchestrated and just plain cool? What’s even more impressive is that Zara’s actress, Katie McGrath, performed all her own aerial and underwater stunts (and from the behind-the-scenes appears to have had a blast doing so).

The result, while controversial for some, was one of the most original and most memorable kills of the series.

3. A real spit-take

Between its bird-like cooing, its marvelous red and yellow neck frill, and its capacity to spit blinding venom, the Dilophosaurus is by far one of Jurassic Park’s most striking and most fascinating inhabitants. I’ve often wondered why this incredible animal has thus far been relegated to only a single appearance in the first film. Perhaps, ironically, it’s the untouchably iconic nature of the one scene in which it appears that has precluded a follow-up by this double-crested wonder.

Dennis Nedry’s demise at the hands (and in the jaws) of the “spitter” was considerably more graphic in Crichton’s book. But keeping things PG-13, Spielberg still managed to make the turncoat computer technician’s fate one for the ages (even while pulling the ol’ “the coast is clear” trick for the umpteenth time). Props have to be given to the sound design team for thinking of mixing the warning call of a rattlesnake with a screaming parrot for the dilophosaur’s chilling cry of attack.

The scene is also one of cinema’s all-time weirdest cases of product placement. Apparently, Barbasol outbid Gillette so they could have a can of their shaving cream for men steadily covered in mud while Wayne Knight screams shrilly in the background. I mean, if there’s anything that’s going to get you in the mood for a shave, right?

2. Rexes split the difference

To be perfectly honest, this entire list could easily have been devoted to kills made by one of the three rexes in The Lost World. Just look at the body count they stacked up and tell me this isn’t a dang good “Top 10” all on its own. You’ve got:

  • The Robert Bakker stand-in who gets snatched up a waterfall with a snake in his shirt
  • That guy with the headphones who gets straight up stepped on
  • The crew of the SS Venture
  • Screenwriter David Koepp and his fantastic cameo as the “Unlucky Bastard” who gets snagged outside the doors of a Blockbuster
  • Greedy entrepreneur Peter Ludlow who gets turned into a hunting lesson for Rex Jr.
  • And who could possibly forget that one family’s overzealous pup, the only remaining trace of which is the doghouse left cruelly dangling by a chain from the rex’s clamped jaws?

Rest assured, none of those spectacular kills have been forgotten. Rather, consider them honorifically folded into what would either way have been the second most exceptional kill of the series, that of Eddie Carr.

While the three stooges—sorry, Malcolm, Sarah, and Nick—joke about cheeseburgers and apple turnovers as they cling for dear life at the bottom of a precariously dangling trailer, Eddie sets about fighting the elements and the massive weight of the double accordion-attached trailers to save their lives. He succeeds—but at the cost of his own.

What makes Eddie’s death so memorable and so heartrending is not merely the unforgettable (and disturbingly audible) way he’s wish-boned apart by two rexes, but that the circumstances leading to his demise are so maddeningly unfair.

Caught between the angrily snorting snouts of the two adult tyrannosaurs, Eddie must keep his foot to the jeep’s accelerator to prevent the trailers from going over the cliff—all while clutching desperately for his tranquilizer rifle, the barrel of which has become ensnared in netting by the cruel hand of the screenwriter.

I know I just suggested nobody deserves to get eaten by a dinosaur, but Mr. Koepp, you kinda deserved to get eaten for this one. All at once gruesome and tragic and yet again reflective of The Lost World’s very dark sense of humor, Eddie’s heroic sacrifice places high not merely among the series’ top kills but among the series’ top moments as well.

1. “Clever girl”

Before Ken Wheatley, before Roland Tembo, there was Robert Muldoon—Jurassic Park’s khaki shorts-loving game warden who told us (and then showed us) just how deadly the Velociraptors truly are. By the time Muldoon finds himself hunting the hunters in the dense foliage outside the breached raptor paddock, we’ve come to learn of their cheetah speed, killing claws, alarming intelligence, and pack hierarchy. The tension at play in Muldoon’s hunt is unparalleled by any other sequence in the series.

As Muldoon adjusts the folding stock of his SPAS-12 shotgun and lines up his target, every dimly audible clink brings a new bead of sweat to the viewer’s brow. When the foliage parts to the left of Muldoon and the grinning jaws of the lead raptor push in close to his face, the realization of the trap and of Muldoon’s imminent and horrific end hits you all at once. As we’re treated to flashes of the mauling through the violently thrashing underbrush, the mind fills in far more graphic details than what we’re actually shown.

For Muldoon’s bravery and badassery, for the masterful building of suspense, and for perfectly demonstrating just how lethal the raptors really are, this scene takes the top spot in the pantheon of Jurassic Park’s greatest kills.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The 10 most underrated films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-10-most-underrated-films-of-the/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48f1 Tue, 02 Nov 2021 17:40:09 +0000 I’ll admit something feels a bit oxymoronic about a list of the most underrated films of the MCU. From Star Trek to Star Wars, Marvel’s film franchise is about as popular at the moment as any ever has been and doesn’t show any sign of slowing soon. With the releases of the MCU’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Daniel Craig’s final run as 007 in No Time to Die, Marvel Studios has matched the total number of Eon’s James Bond films—and in a fraction of the time.

Wherever your allegiance lies, it’s plain to see the MCU has left the hobbling DC Extended Universe (or the slightly longer-than-MCU-acronym of DCEU) well in its dust, and no amount of James Gunn or Matt Reeves could hope to bridge the gap at this point (though every bit helps and they shouldn’t stop trying).

Suffice it to say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has turned into a blockbuster juggernaut. But not every film in the series’ 14-year run has been met with equal praise. Some earlier entries (and even some more recent ones) tend to be passed over for some of the bigger crowd-pleasers that have stood on their shoulders. As theaters reopen and Marvel Studios sprints with Quicksilver-speed into their fourth phase, let’s take a look back at some of the undersung entries of Phases 1-3 of the MCU.

10. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Still from The Incredible Hulk of Hulk fighting.

To be clear, The Incredible Hulk is not necessarily some masterpiece of superhero cinema just waiting to be rediscovered, reappraised, and podiumed beside Superman ’78 and The Dark Knight. In fact, most MCU rankings have it pretty spot on when they place this one somewhere near the bottom. But considering many forget this film even exists, The Incredible Hulk deserves a bit more recognition than it gets.

While everybody went crazy for the dry wit of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark the summer of ‘08, The Incredible Hulk did a lot in its own right to help set the tone for the MCU. Hulk’s origin story blended the darker, more serious approach of 2005’s Batman Begins with attempts at the comedic levity that would become a trademark of future films of the franchise.

A fine counterpart to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, Ed Norton immersed himself fully in the role of haunted and hunted Bruce Banner and delivered to his usual high standards. Norton’s immediate departure from the franchise may even be largely responsible for the film’s descent into obscurity—though it is difficult to imagine Norton gelling quite as well with the rest of the Avengers team as Mark Ruffalo has. At least the return of Tim Roth (woot!) as Abomination in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the upcoming She-Hulk TV series may help repopularize this early MCU entry (or at least remind people that it exists).

9. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Relatively early in the MCU’s run, Shane Black was a curious but not entirely unexpected choice of director. With Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang under his belt, Black had more than demonstrated his aptitude for crowd-pleasing actioners that straddle the line between mainstream entertainment and quirky dark comedy. What was a surprise was that Marvel Studios gave him the freedom to make such an unabashedly Shane Black movie, resulting in the least -Marvelly film of the franchise.

Humor-peppered conversation about PTSD with child sidekick? Giant stuffed bunny just for the heck of it? Enough versions of “Jingle Bells” to make Home Alone blush? Sounds like a Shane Black film to me!

But Black’s knack for delivering the unexpected (and often with tongue firmly cheek) is actually what makes Iron Man 3 a better Marvel entry than many give it credit for. Watching Tony try to infiltrate a hideout in a hoodie instead of his suit and repeatedly counting down to the moment his aerial-delivered glove will arrive until it finally happens are two of the better gags that smack of Black’s characteristic humor.

But the film’s real tour de force is also what many initially slated it for: Ben Kingsley’s hopelessly confused, Budweiser-guzzling Mandarin fake-out, Trevor Slattery. The twist may not have been what fans of the comics were hoping for, but surely no one can deny Kingsley crafted one of the most downright hilarious characters in the whole MCU. Now that the real Mandarin has received his due in the hands of the eternally cool Tony Leung, hopefully Kingsley’s turn in Iron Man 3 can be enjoyed in a new light.

8. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man in front of an American Flag.

Iron Man 2 is routinely criticized for trying to juggle too many storylines: Vanko’s crusade against the Stark family, Hammer Industries vs. Stark Industries, Pepper’s appointment as CEO, Tony’s palladium poisoning, Tony’s fledgling racing career, Tony’s fledgling in-flight cuisine career, the introduction of Black Widow, the U.S. government demanding control over the Iron Man tech, the launch of the Stark Expo, Vanko’s missing bird (will we ever find out what happened to his original bird???).

But what naysayers call an unsuccessful juggling act, I call an entertaining time at the cinema. Sure there’s a lot going on, but it zips along with real pizzazz and—if I may assert a controversial opinion here—improves upon the way its predecessor just alternates between scenes of Tony partying and scenes of Tony sitting in his basement tweaking his suit. I’ll go ahead and duck now while you reach for your tomatoes.

But really, how could you miss with Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell chewing up the scenery like a couple of termites dropped into the deck building section of a Home Depot? I’ll go so far as to name the two the best villain team-up since Pfeiffer and de Vito. Then you’ve got Tony and Rhodey beating each other down in their battle suits to Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” some serious Pulp Fiction vibes when Tony’s shooting the breeze with Nick Fury in a sunny donut shop booth, and that exhilarating climax battling dozens of remote-controlled Iron Men in, around, and above the Stark Expo.

So, all things considered, Iron Man 2—weakest of the franchise? Only if you’re that poor cockatoo freezing its tail feathers off somewhere in Russia.

Seriously, what happened to that bird?

7. Doctor Strange (2016)

“Really?” you might say with a Hemsworthian squint on your face. “Doctor Strange, underrated? Is it though?”

Gif of Thor saying "is it though?"

A little bit, yeah.

Doctor Strange tends to get lumped into the middle to low tiers when it comes to MCU rankings. The “pretty good but only really worth dusting off when you’re pulling a marathon” films. As the film’s tagline goes, let’s expand our minds and consider what more there might be to this sometimes overlooked entry…

Dr. Strange himself is a refreshing change of pace for a Marvel hero. His arrogance is treated as a fascinating foible rather than an endearing trait like Tony Stark’s camera-winking self-absorption. Benedict Cumberbatch clearly had the range to pull off both the self-important surgeon and the humbled student of the mystic arts who’s willing to sacrifice himself endlessly on an altar of agony for the sake of all humanity. There are strong supporting turns by Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Tilda Swinton too, and even Mads Mikkelson on autopilot is better than no Mads at all.

But perhaps even more important than the pristine casting and handling of character is how Doctor Strange introduced into the MCU the concept of space and time manipulation, paving the way for Phase 3’s climactic Infinity War and Endgame. The psychedelic, reality-expanding trip Doctor Strange hurtles through and the flawlessly rendered scenes of cities revolving and folding in on themselves in impossible ways place this Marvel entry into a higher tier all on their own.

6. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

The lukewarm reception of Ant-Man and the Wasp may have been more a result of unfortunate timing than anything. The film came out between two of the biggest movies Marvel had produced and probably ever will produce—Infinity War and Endgame—and Ant-Man’s sequel is basically about a bunch of characters chasing a Rollaboard suitcase around San Francisco.

But if the very concept of the Ant-Man character has taught us anything, it’s that bigger is not always better…

Okay, in this case bigger was in fact better. I can’t see anyone arguing Ant-Man and the Wasp was a better film than Infinity War or Endgame. But that’s beside the point. My point is you don’t need a baker’s dozen in Avengers, a three hour running time, and the fate of all humanity hanging in the balance to make a perfectly enjoyable little film. And that’s exactly what Ant-Man and the Wasp is: a perfectly enjoyable little film.

The best Marvel efforts focus on character and combine heartfelt storylines with ample comedy and cool action. Tell me Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t deliver all that and then some. On the character front, you’ve got three-way tension between Scott, Hank, and Hope. For a pull on the ol’ heartstrings, there’s Scott bonding with his daughter in the world’s greatest home maze while under house arrest. For comedy, Randall Park’s hilariously awkward Agent Woo and the sight of a man-sized ant watching daytime TV while munching on a shredded box of Fruit Loops.

And as for the action, the absurdly steep streets of San Francisco, which have allowed for many a memorable, undercarriage-scraping car chase in films as diverse as Bullitt and The Rock, prove the perfect playground for Ant-Man’s miniaturization and giganticization effects. Anyone who ever raced a Hot Wheels across a hardwood floor as a kid surely felt no greater envy for a Marvel character than Michael Peña’s Luis when he takes the wheel of his own life-sized, flame-decaled hot rod.

5. Thor (2011)

Thor and Loki from the first Thor movie.

It can be a bit of a surprise to revisit Thor after 10 years and so many increasingly grander adventures, both in terms of the smaller scale of the story and just how fresh-faced Hemsworth and Hiddleston are.

Some of the more common criticisms of Thor’s debut are justified: the film does spend too much time dawdling in that desert town in New Mexico with only the occasional smashed coffee mug for comedic relief, and the Frost Giants pose about as much threat as a nippy breeze in November. But as constrained as the story may be, there is still real splendor to be enjoyed whenever we’re in Asgard. Kenneth Branagh gave us the most visually spectacular fantasy world since Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth, and Patrick Doyle’s accompanying music is suitably triumphant and valorous.

Though the action in Thor may be quaint and even lacking to some degree by comparison with what was to follow, the real selling point here is Thor’s journey from cocksure troublemaker to worthy heir. In shattering the rainbow bridge Bifröst, Thor spares his enemy from annihilation and in so doing cuts himself off from his newfound love. It’s a sacrifice that proves his worthiness to wield Mjölnir.

Though the story ends with Thor and Jane worlds apart, the soaring notes of Doyle’s theme as we zip through the expanse of space impart such a tremendous sense of hope and wonder you can’t help but believe in that moment that anything really is possible. Is that ethos not after all what superhero stories are really all about?

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Gif of all Avengers from Age of Ultron.

Age of Ultron had a lot to accomplish: new characters to introduce (including Wanda and Vision), new plotlines to set in motion for future films as varied as Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, and an increasingly unwieldy cast of characters to divide screen time between. Some view the finished product as a bit of a mess: a haphazard collection of character scenes and action sequences that stagger under their own ungainly weight like the first steps taken by antagonistic A.I. Ultron while embodying one of Tony’s battle-damaged Ironman drones.

Age of Ultron may have bitten off more than it could chew—but oh what a bite it is!

However well all the elements do or don’t work together, you have to admit there’s rarely a dull moment. The action comes flying furiously and in spectacular fashion, from the opening assault on a snowy Hydra fortress to the battle between Hulk and hulked-out Iron Man across what feels like twenty city blocks in Johannesburg to the semi-truck/motorcycle chase through the streets of Seoul. Then there’s the fan favorite party scene where everyone takes turns trying to lift Thor’s hammer and Captain just about gives Thor a minor heart attack.

Gif of Captain America almost lifting Thor's hammer.

There are heartfelt moments too, like when Natascha reveals to Bruce she had been sterilized as part of her training and admits she regards herself just as much a monster as he does himself. Plus you have the introduction of Wakanda, the birth of Vision, and the fleeing of Hulk into space. Age of Ultron laid a massive amount of groundwork and did so while telling a compelling story with plenty of heart, humor, and panache to spare.

And it may just be my healthy fear of heights speaking, but how about that Sokovia-in-the-sky set piece where the team has to evacuate a whole city onto their helicarrier? That scene put into pictures a certain nightmare I never even knew I had.

3. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

When people talk about MCU films they find underrated they’ll often use Thor: The Dark World as some kind of barometer of badness, using phrases like, “C’mon, maybe it wasn’t the greatest, but at least it wasn’t Thor: The Dark World bad…”

As someone who never saw Thor: The Dark World as anything but an entertaining time at the cinema, I’ve long been confused by this common lexicon. Where others see disappointment or blandness, I see an evolution of Thor’s world into an intriguing blend of sci-fi and high fantasy. Where else will you find futuristically armored dark elves firing particle rifles at sword-wielding Asgardian warriors on horseback?

Dark elves from the second Thor movie.

Beyond the battle scenes and action sequences, which are thrilling and plentiful, we’re afforded a more expansive portrait of Asgard itself, and Earth-side the American Southwest is traded for one beautifully photographed London. Also, the portal-happy climax that sends Thor and Malekith and dark elves and Mjölnir and a random Frost Beast back and forth between Greenwich and space is some of the best fun to be found in the MCU.

And how could a review of the first Thor sequel go without mention of one of the greatest original characters the films have come up with: Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis. Every Marvel film would benefit from a comedic sidekick of Darcy’s caliber. All I need is to see Darcy poke Thor in the armor and say, “Look at you, still all muscly and everything. How’s space?” and I’m good. Maybe that makes me easier to please than most, but I still maintain Thor: The Dark World belongs nowhere near the bottom of an MCU ranking.

2. Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man running towards the camera.

Fans can sometimes get a little too hung up on what they didn’t get to appreciate what they did get, and that I believe was very much the case with 2015’s Ant-Man. The prospect of a comedic Marvel film conceived and helmed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) was tantalizing to be sure. But that doesn’t mean the film we got from Peyton Reed wasn’t a terrific bit of superhero cinema in its own right. Even in the absence of Edgar Wright, Ant-Man strikes an excellent balance between dramatic storytelling and cracking comedy.

At heart, Ant-Man is a redemption story about an ex-con trying to get his life back on track so he can reunite with his daughter, Cassie, and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is instantly endearing. The comedy and visual spectacle would all be for nought if they didn’t revolve around characters you truly rooted for.

That said, one of the biggest ways Ant-Man distinguishes itself from other Marvel fare is by its superbly realized miniaturization effects that are put to both thrilling and wildly comedic use. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a speck on the floor of your bathtub when the faucet lets loose or an organism to whom a wall mouse appears the size of a dinosaur, here you go. Ant-Man takes the viewer on a wild journey through the world that exists all around us but that we never see. A journey every bit as fun as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids but with even more realistic and more immersive visual effects.

1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Gif of Captain America.

Here’s one I simply have never understood: a film brimming with action, heroism, romance, and tragedy—a very nearly perfect action-adventure outing in every respect—and yet Captain America: The First Avenger is routinely dismissed as one of the lesser efforts of the MCU.

Having helmed the equally underrated The Rocketeer in 1991, Joe Johnston was no stranger to either the time period or rousing heroics and he pulled out the big guns here, delivering a story as entertaining and as moving as any other in the franchise. Everyone was cast perfectly, from Chris Evans as determined young Steve Rogers to another first-rate villain from Hugo Weaving in Hydra’s Red Skull. Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter proves one of the best written and best performed characters of the MCU (and was the first to headline her own TV series, following 2013’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

While this earliest adventure of Cap’s packs enough action to go toe-to-toe with an Indiana Jones film, what really sets The First Avenger apart is its finale. I’ll refrain from sharing the details (though I generally don’t think spoiler moratoriums need last much longer than a decade) and will simply say this earliest of offerings from Marvel delivers one of the saddest, most emotional climaxes of the franchise and a terrific twist ending that perfectly sets up the future of Steve Rogers and Captain America.

Far from one of the MCU’s most underwhelming entries, Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the greatest and well due a reappraisal.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Top 10 spooky movies that are actually set on Halloween ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/top-10-spooky-movies-that-are-actually/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48f3 Thu, 28 Oct 2021 15:00:01 +0000 Halloween’s a pretty theatrical holiday. Maybe the most theatrical holiday. I mean, we carve faces in pumpkins and light them up with candles, dress our lawns with cardboard tombstones and cotton cobwebs and creaking coffins, and go out in elaborate costumes — or stay in and scare ourselves sleepless with spooky movies. It’s a little surprising therefore that there aren’t more movies that really push the actual holiday itself front and center.

Sure, films like Ginger Snaps (2000) or Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) use Halloween as a kind of set dressing in the background, and it pops up briefly in good seasonal fare like Creepshow (1982), as well as Christina Ricci double feature The Addams Family (1991) and Casper (1995). By all means, watch any of those this October. They’re all wild fun (and far, far better than the tenth entry on this list).

But for something more entirely Halloween-centered, here are 10 of the best spooky films that take place predominantly on Halloween (or whose plots are otherwise driven by the day in mention).

Read on…if you dare…

10. House II: The Second Story (1987)

Can we take a moment to acknowledge the brazenly idiotic brilliance of this movie’s subtitle? I mean, you may as well just stop at the cover art. Nothing that happens in the movie is as wholly and completely satisfying as reading that title.

But since we’re here…

House II: The Second Story is a film that defies summarization. There’s an old-timey mummy prospector, a crystal skull that opens time portals (or maybe it’s just the house that does?), and of course the house itself! Which appears to be a blend between New England Victorian and Aztec temple—a style that was all the rage in the 1910s. The set and accompanying lighting design are actually pretty darn good for a movie of this grade, and there’s a really impressive matte painting of a prehistoric landscape complete with a claymation sauropod. There are actually way more dinosaurs in this movie than any haunted mansion film has a right to contain.

The supporting cast includes Amy Yasbeck of Wings, Bill Maher in one of the very few films in which Bill Maher plays somebody other than Bill Maher, and John Ratzenberger of Cheers single-handedly breathing life into the film’s third act in an extended cameo as a professional electrician and swashbuckler. Not to mention the animatronic dog-caterpillar hybrid that enjoys sitting in people’s laps and giving doggie kisses. They really did try to put something in this movie for everyone.

Oh, and there’s a big Halloween party too.

House II: The Second Story is indeed every bit as inane as it sounds and deserves to be seen once by everyone—and only once. I will say this is the best movie I’ve ever seen that prominently features a crystal skull. What’s that? Yes, I have seen every Indiana Jones film. Thanks for asking!

9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Anyone who grew up on the deliciously twisted folktale retellings of Alvin Schwartz and the ridiculously nightmarish artwork that went with them, courtesy of professional ruiner of sweet dreams, Stephen Gammell, knows deep in their bones that the Scary Stories paperbacks deserve to be turned into motion pictures so they can mess up the sleep of and trigger completely unnecessary anxieties in as many people as possible.

Serendipitously, those are goals that deeply interest Guillermo del Toro as well.

In hindsight, Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal’s PG-13 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was more “mildly spooky with warm autumnal undertones” than “you better invest in a good nightlight for the next three months” as fans of the books might have expected. But there’s still  plenty of fun to be found in the idea of four kids in 1968 Pennsylvania hitting up a spooky house on Halloween and coming away with more than they bargained for. With cheek-nesting spiders, creepy cornfields, Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” (and the Lana Del Rey cover), and a drive-in showing of Night of the Living Dead, you’ll get the Halloween feels for sure. Stay tuned for Part Two, currently in the works.

8. Night of the Demons (1988)

Like so many other low-budget horror efforts of the late ’80s that were modeled after successful slashers like Friday the 13th (1980) and supernatural splatterfests like The Evil Dead (1981), Night of the Demons is light on story and high on spectacle. In fact, things don’t get much more elaborate in the story department than a bunch of teens get together for a Halloween party being thrown at the local abandoned funeral parlor by goth queen supreme, Angela. Couples break off to get frisky, peeps get possessed, and the green slime starts hitting the walls from there. Go in expecting literally nothing more than that and you can’t possibly leave disappointed.

While the writing may be formulaic and at times downright nonsensical, Night of the Demons has still garnered quite the cult following. From the very cool animated titles that open the film with sashaying ghosts and skeletons plucked right out of Fantasia’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” you know you’re in for some kind of a ride. Scream queen Linnea Quigley is on board to do the heavy lifting as far as the possessed performances are concerned, and Mimi Kinkade’s Angela dancing possessed by firelight and strobe light is the best use of a Bauhaus track since Tony Scott’s The Hunger.

7. The Midnight Hour (1985)

The Midnight Hour was a made-for-TV Halloween special that premiered on ABC on Friday, November 1st, 1985 … in perfect time to get everybody in the mood for next Halloween! Though set in the 1980s, the film plays like a spooky American Graffiti with radio announcements from Wolfman Jack, old-fashioned tunes from the likes of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and soul legend Wilson Pickett, an honest-to-goodness drag race, and a genuinely sweet subplot where a Sandra Dee-type ghost from the 1950s falls for a luckless-in-love guy from the present.

The film’s tone is a bit all over the place, swinging from camp comedy to full-out horror faster than you can read an incantation in Latin (I’m assuming you can read Latin really well), and you have both zombies and vampires resurrected (and a lone werewolf running around for some reason). But on the whole this is surprisingly good made-for-TV entertainment.

The film features a fantastic, eclectic soundtrack including Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come” and CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising,” a dance interlude with ghouls and costumed partyers led by Shari Belafonte, and even a bit of a tearjerker of an ending. The Midnight Hour may be all over the place, but it’s an interesting bag of Halloween goodies, that’s for sure.

6. The Halloween Tree (1993)

Nobody combines horror and heartwarming quite like Ray Bradbury, and Hanna-Barbera’s made-for-TV film The Halloween Tree from 1993 may just be the very best adaptation of one of his novels.

In the animated film, four friends head out to meet their pal, Pipkin, for some Halloween fun only to find Pipkin is in the hospital with appendicitis and that his jeopardized spirit is on the run from a cackling Crypt-Keeper type called Mr. Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (Bradbury sure knew how to name ’em). As Moundshroud chases Pipkin around the world and far into the past, his costumed friends are taken on an unforgettable tour of the holiday’s origins.

The production values are much higher than you might expect. Bradbury warmly narrates his own poetic prose while Leonard Nimoy voices Moundshroud, and John Debney provides a tremendously lush and moving score. The film deservedly earned two Emmys for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Animated Program and is well worth revisiting or discovering for the first time so many Halloweens later.

5. Trick ’r Treat (2007)

Horror anthologies can be as mixed as a kid’s candy haul at the end of Halloween night; rarely will every story in an anthology serve up just the stuff your sweet tooth yearns for. Michael Dougherty’s Halloween-centric tetralogy of terror, Trick ’r Treat, proves a most enjoyable exception. In Dougherty’s crack at the genre, characters flow freely in and out of each other’s stories and the stories themselves blend borders, uniquely allowing this anthology to play like one uninterrupted feature.

It’s hard to discuss any of the four tales without giving away the good stuff, but they involve the world’s most demented principal, some waterlogged zombies, a rather unorthodox party in the woods, and horrordom’s cutest little scamp, Sam, who wears a creepy scarecrow mask and looks more or less like the adorable offspring of Pumpkinhead. While some of this may sound been there, done that for a Halloween anthology that dropped in 2007, nothing in Trick ’r Treat is ever quite what it seems—and no one is truly safe until the end credits come a-rollin’.

4. Idle Hands (1999)

The late ’90s saw a resurgence of upbeat teen comedies with the likes of Clueless, Can’t Hardly Wait, American Pie, and She’s All That. It was a time when Seth Green was at the height of his goofily grinning, spiky-haired popularity and when Elden Henson of The Mighty Ducks could receive higher billing than Jessica Alba. The market was ripe for a gory horror take on the teen comedy, and Idle Hands delivered most handsomely (nope, not apologizing for that one).

While there’s plenty of seasonal goodness here from flickering jack-o’-lanterns to a Halloween school dance where you find the Offspring covering the Ramones, the real draw is Devon Sawa and the masterful physical comedy he displays as he battles his own demonically minded hand for control of the remote or to try to put it through a bagel guillotine. Props also to Christopher Hart who plays the disembodied hand itself. Hart apparently specializes in hand theatrics and was surely over the moon to hear of this project after he’d finished playing Thing in the Addams Family films. You got to hand it to him (still not apologizing), the man knows how to carve out a niche.

3. Hocus Pocus (1993)

Apparently Hocus Pocus didn’t do particularly well when it hit theaters in July of 1993. But that’s probably because Walt Disney Studios failed to realize that July is when people celebrate Christmas, not Halloween. Regardless, the tale of the three Sanderson sisters and their quest to maintain eternal youth by feeding on the lifeforces of the children of Salem, Massachusetts, has since turned into an October regular for ABC Family and has developed enough of a following to put a sequel into the works. While it may have taken a while for the masses to catch on, the black magic was all there from the beginning.

With leaves of red and brown everywhere, trick-or-treating, parental costume parties, a black cat that talks, and the cycloptic twin of The Evil Dead’s Necronomicon, Hocus Pocus exudes some mad Halloween feels. Despite playing three very different witches, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy form the perfect trio; they each manage to steal the show in their own spellbinding ways. For those leery of Disney-branded horror, there’s also death by hanging and a surprisingly gruesome Edward Scissorhandsian zombie that would laugh at Hocus Pocus’s PG rating if its mouth weren’t visibly sewn shut. Ah, the early 90s … when children’s entertainment was shamelessly traumatizing…

2. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

Charles Schulz’s Peanuts gang is a reliably entertaining bunch any season or holiday of the year, and the Peanuts TV specials have indeed covered just about all of them from Arbor Day to Valentine’s Day. But It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is widely considered one of the greatest of them all.

It’s difficult not to be drawn in by Linus’s unwavering faith in the Great Pumpkin. So stout is his belief he’s willing to forgo trick-or-treating and ends up mocked and even threatened by his candy-focused peers. Linus even concedes the Great Pumpkin may not be real but doesn’t want to know if it isn’t and shows up in that pumpkin patch anyway. With adorable resignation and a wisdom beyond his years, he says there are three things he’s learned to never discuss with other people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether the Great Pumpkin shows up for Linus or the viewer in the end. It’s all about following what you believe in and what makes you happy. At least Linus doesn’t come away from the night with a bag full of rocks, right?

If you already know all the riotous lines by heart or are simply waiting for Apple TV+ to unsink their claws from within this beloved holiday classic, try “A Stranger Things Christmas” for something similarly magical.

1. The Halloween Series (1978-????)

It’s in the title, people!

On paper, Haddonfield’s William Shatner-masked killer, Michael Myers, has to be one of the easiest cinematic slashers to evade. He only targets people in the increasingly widening friend and family circle of Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode and only comes out once a year on Halloween. Even Jason Voorhees reaps the benefits of a Friday the 13th usually falling two or three times a year. Nevertheless, the “Shape” has continued lumbering through hails of bullets, gas explosions, and high-voltage electricity across 12 films and counting (despite taking a little vacay for the massively underrated, Celtic-flavored Part III).

From John Carpenter’s iconically chilling synthesizer beats to Donald Pleasance running around wide-eyed and yelling “He’s not human!” to all those grinning jack-o’-lanterns, there’s just nothing that’ll put you in the mood for the holiday quite like one of the Halloween films. As mentioned, there are now twelve to choose from and they can be as varied in quality as a king-sized Kit Kat is from those debatably edible Wax Lips (do they still make those things?). If you’re wondering where to begin, starting at the beginning and stopping when you just can’t take it anymore is a pretty safe bet where the Halloween films are concerned (apart of course from H20 and the most recent trilogy).

The latest, Halloween Kills, is currently screening in cinemas, and you can be sure there will be plenty more down the road … because as the saying goes, “you can’t kill the boogeyman.”

]]>
<![CDATA[ Every Friday the 13th film, ranked ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/every-friday-13th-film-ranked/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48f4 Tue, 19 Oct 2021 19:05:33 +0000 There’s something about Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th certainly wasn’t the first of its kind. Well before 1980 you had a long history of slashers and proto-slashers from the likes of Hitchcock, Bava, Fulci, Argento, Canada… Friday the 13th’s writer Victor Miller was even given the explicit order to go to a screening of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and to write that, in the process unknowingly setting in stone just about all of the tropes we know the genre for today.

But Friday the 13th was the first of its kind to seriously blow up the box office, thus opening the bloodgates for the onslaught of cheaply and quickly produced slashers that would dominate the 80s and eventually go the way of parachute pants and acid wash denim. Somehow, Jason Voorhees and the shadowy allure of Crystal Lake survived the close of the decade, and after 12 films, a line of plushies, a thermos, and a lunchbox, horror fanatics still hunger for more.

Is it the hockey mask? The machete? The immortal whispering on the soundtrack your friend will swear to you is saying ch-ch-ch ah-ah-ah even as you play for them what is quite clearly ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma? Perhaps it’s the brilliant simplicity behind how the original inverted Psycho’s twisted mother/son relationship. Or maybe it’s the simple pleasure of vicariously enjoying a relaxing trip to the lake for a couple hours without the bother of dealing with mosquitoes, poison ivy, sunburn, and well-aimed spearguns.

No matter the reason, Jason continues to capture hearts (literally and otherwise). Whether you’re looking for an entry-point into the world of Crystal Lake or just another perspective on a beloved horror franchise, here’s my purely subjective ranking of all 12 Friday the 13th films based on my most recent marathon. If you’re a hardcore fan, I’d say there’s a 50% chance I ranked your personal favorite way lower than you’re cool with. All is fair in love and horror.

12. Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th movie poster from 2009.
Copyright by New Line Cinema and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Reboots are always a bit troublesome. They’re generally based on some film that was perfectly good the first time and required no fancy tinkering or updating. With few exceptions (see: Fede Álvarez’s surprisingly good 2013 Evil Dead or Zack Snyder’s fan-pleasing 2004 Dawn of the Dead), horror reboots tend to play it safe, leaning into nostalgia while following the same beats of the originals and pulling the choicest, most memorable parts from the series’ most beloved entries to send up in one sanitized and soulless package that fails to capture one tenth the magic of the original. This unfortunately is 2009’s imaginatively titled Friday the 13th.

In the outstanding Crystal Lake Memories retrospective, the various writers, producers, and actors involved hem and haw about whether the film was supposed to be a reboot, a remake, a proper sequel, or all of the above. Nobody who worked on the project really seems to know, and that may in part explain why the film has trouble finding its own identity. The film opens with the beheading of Jason’s mother and goes on to retread storylines and developments from the first few films, including a leading man searching for his sister who had disappeared at Crystal Lake and the moment Jason first puts on his iconic hockey mask. While revisiting these ideas could have been perfect fuel for nostalgia, the film instead simply leaves them there without any winking, any clever commentary, or even so much as a well-placed ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma on the soundtrack to put a wry smile on your face.

For all its interest in going back to the beginning, Friday the 13th (2009) actually feels more like Michael Bay’s 2003 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than it does classic Friday the 13th (which makes perfect sense when you realize Bay also served as a producer on Friday’s reboot and brought director Marcus Nispel along with him). Despite the writers’ best intentions, this most recent entry in the Friday the 13th canon feels aimed toward a different, more modern horror audience. Jason himself is shown to be peculiarly intelligent and calculating and even kidnaps and chains a victim for weeks on end in a particularly out-of-character move. The kills also seem crueler and more methodical than the series’ usual outlandish yet largely tongue-in-cheek mayhem—less a celebration of special effects wizardry and more an exercise in one’s tolerance for sadism.

At a certain point, the film starts to feel like another genre of slasher entirely, and if you’re not going to do Friday the 13th with your Friday the 13th film, well, what’s the point? With a script that piles crude jokes like Lincoln Logs and record levels of gratuitous nudity, they threw everything they had into this one without ever seeming to grasp what really makes the Friday the 13th films so enjoyable.

11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

I trust it’s been long enough since Part VIII’s release that people have by now gotten over how unbelievably misleading the title is and can simply appraise the film for its inherent merits (or lack thereof). So Jason isn’t really in Manhattan for the majority of the film—he’s chilling on a boat with his machete and an ample supply of recent graduates to slaughter—and when he does arrive in the Big Apple, he’s only actually there for one admittedly really cool shot in Times Square and the rest is grimy alleys in Vancouver. Let’s forget about that and ask the hard question here: toyed with expectations aside, is Jason Takes Manhattan a good film? Well…no would be the answer you’re looking for. No, it very much isn’t.

Fan favorite Kane Hodder in his sophomore turn behind the mask does sterling work as usual, stalking about the doomed voyage of the SS Lazarus looking very much like he’s wearing the actual contents of Crystal Lake on Jason’s by now quite slimy, zombified husk. The problem is that Part VIII’s core cast of machete fodder ranges in appeal from uninvolving to unlikable to underdeveloped to just plain poorly performed. The kills are equally unimaginative this time around save for the nifty use of a sauna rock, an electric guitar to the face, and a terrifically captured dance floor dispatch featuring a very young Kelly Hu.

While Manhattan might have gotten away with merely being underwhelming, the filmmakers decided they might inject some gravitas into the proceedings by having a deluge of toxic waste somehow transform Jason back into his child-self (not making this up) and presumably sweep him away to go kick it with some Ninja Turtles or whatever else results from all that toxic waste just pooling about beneath New York (seriously, New Yorkers, you guys need to take better care of your sewers). After witnessing what is quite possibly the daftest climax of any Friday the 13th, you’ll find yourself wishing they had kept the movie on the damn boat.

10. Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

“Really?” you might be asking yourself. “Freddy vs. Jason all the way down here at #10? Was it really that bad?” No, your memory does not deceive you. Taken on its own, this long-gestating showdown between two of horror cinema’s greatest icons is not by any means a bad watch. But while it may be a competent, if comic-booky, slash ‘em up, Freddy vs. Jason does make a pretty lousy Friday the 13th (and that is after all what we’re ranking here). For while Freddy and Jason may share top billing, make no mistake about it: this is Freddy’s film through and through.

To kick things off, zombie Jason is resurrected once again, this time by Freddy in the hope that Jason will terrorize the teens of Springwood, Ohio into remembering who Freddy is and as a result invite him once more into their dreams (yeah, don’t think about it too hard). Jason essentially turns into a pawn of Freddy’s here and in the process loses something of his intrigue and his cool factor. He’s also completely out of his element, popping up sporadically in suburban environments crawling with cops—in other words, straight Wes Craven territory and not this backwoods country boy’s usual slashing grounds.

Freddy vs. Jason plays not only on Freddy’s turf but by Freddy’s rules and Freddy’s formula. Jason is frequently left looking frustrated and upstaged, only occasionally gaining the upper hand and then usually by accident. If ever a film made Jason out to look the chump, it’s this one. There’s even a scene where he’s slammed about a furnace room by Freddy’s supernatural will, bouncing from one pipe to the next to the ridiculous tune of pinball machine sound effects. But the silliest moment of all arrives when Jason is stopped cold in his tracks by the sight of running water (that is, by water that’s leaking from the ceiling). This is presumably because of his near drowning as a child, but when you consider all the times Jason happily went for a swim in pursuit of some amorous raft-bound youths to machete, it reads as very silly indeed.

Suffice it to say, the filmmakers were clearly more interested in Freddy, leaving Jason to feel like a guest star in somebody else’s film. To be fair, maybe this was the only way a Freddy vs. Jason film was ever going to work. There is a zany kind of energy here that makes for compelling, popcorn-munching entertainment and Jason is not without his moments. The folding bed kill is memorably gruesome and things really come alive when Jason interrupts one of Freddy’s dream-based slaughters-in-progress, only to become engulfed in flames and go on a blazing rampage through a rave in a cornfield. Freddy vs. Jason does get bonus points for zaniness and originality, but if you’re looking to get your Friday the 13th on, keep reading.

9. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Speaking of getting bonus points for originality…

Jason Goes to Hell is probably the singularly most divisive film among fans of Friday the 13th—you’re down with what it’s doing or you’re not; there’s little between. The film actually opens brilliantly with a bombshell brunette deciding to drive out to and shower in a cabin in the woods alone at night, as if she’s completely unaware she’s in the opening act of a horror movie. Turns out she’s very aware of what she’s doing as the setup is an FBI sting designed to lure Jason into the open so they can blow him to kingdom come with machine guns and explosives. But the destruction of Jason’s body is a mere prelude to what turns out to be the weirdest Friday the 13th of all time.

The series had always kind of played with the idea of giving Jason more of a backstory or of allowing him to form special connections with certain characters. But these were always ideas that floated in the background and never took any real precedence over the stalking, the screaming, and the splattering. Well, after a decade of successfully ensuring moviegoers would never feel safe while camping again by way of the simplest and purest of movie formulas, the filmmakers decided it was finally time they saddled their hockey-masked icon with an astoundingly convoluted mythology involving Jason really being a demonic spirit that can hop from one body to the next by means of an orally transferred slug-thing that can only be destroyed by a magic dagger wielded by a Voorhees family relative, whom slug Jason must ultimately be reborn through in order to retrieve his true form. You’ve come a long way from wearing sacks on your head and jumping out at skinny-dippers, Jason my boy.

The film is ambitious, no question there. I would love to give it more credit simply for attempting something so daring in lieu of more of the same. But the truth of it is, Jason Goes to Hell is one big, weird, hot mess. The movie simultaneously takes its mythology-expanding plot far too seriously and not seriously enough, combining the darker, more serious tone of its premise with the silliness found in many of the Friday films from Part III onward. The result is a confused tone on top of a very confused narrative. Much of Jason Goes to Hell will actually remind you of 1987’s body-swapping cult classic The Hidden. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that you show up to a Friday the 13th film for Jason, not for pissed-off slugs and an endless guessing game of whose body is Jason’s spirit in now? Even with Harry Manfredini’s telltale music playing throughout, you’ll forget for long portions of the film’s running length that this is even supposed to be Friday the 13th.

The most classically Friday the film ever gets is when a trio of good-looking campers go skinny-dipping in the woods of Crystal Lake at night and are spectacularly interrupted in one of the series’ best executed special effects. Producer Sean S. Cunningham insisted the scene be shot after a test audience clamored for a bit of what they all loved and hungered for. For all its ambitions, Jason Goes to Hell may have been better off delivering more of the same after all.

8. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

If you’re looking for a good film to put on and enjoy some stormy Friday the 13th, you really can’t go wrong with any of the series’ earliest entries. There’s just something about the raw, low budget, special effects-driven vibe of those early films that can’t be matched by any of today’s slick, studio-controlled offerings. That said, Friday the 13th Part III (also known as Part 3-D for obvious reasons) regrettably relies more on its flashy gimmicks and a new silly streak than on the solid characterization and storytelling found in most of the other 80s Fridays.

I’m sure in 1982 there were few things quite as cool as seeing popcorn, a yo-yo, juggling balls, the handle of a broom (or whatever other silly thing they could think of to shoehorn into the script) leap off the screen and into your face in mesmerizing 3-D. Nowadays, while viewing the film on home entertainment, it’s just kinda weird seeing the butt of a broom poke around in the camera lens for an uncomfortable length of time. The actors all look vaguely uncomfortable themselves while they’re pulling off these stunts and that’s because they are—the 3-D effects were apparently quite difficult to execute and required tremendous concentration and numerous takes.

While the gimmicks and the silliness definitely detract from the film’s ability to build any true sense of horror, they’re also what help give this third installment its own special identity. The film would surely be a duller, more ho-hum affair without the “Whoa! It’s coming right at you!” gags to make you roll your eyes every few minutes. Harry Manfredini’s spectacular disco-driven main theme perfectly embodies the goofiness of it all, as do the trio of leather-jacketed bikers who are aggravated by bumbling prankster Shelly Finkelstein (fan favorite Larry Zerner) and who exist purely to add to the body count (and possibly because someone on the production had a thing for Roger Corman biker movies).

Part III does deliver nicely when it comes to the kills. In one very cool sequence filmed directly up through the floor, a guy walking on his hands is split straight down the middle. The prolonged chase sequence between Jason and final girl Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) stands up there with the series’ all-time great climaxes as well. It’s so good in fact it makes you wish the rest of the film lived up to its quality. It’s something to look forward to at least while you’re putting up with endless yo-yos and pitchforks in the face. Ultimately, while overshadowed in greatness by its 80s brethren, Part III is still very much worth popping on when you’re in the mood for some spooky silliness.

7. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

The word “overrated” gets thrown around all too carelessly these days…so don’t mind if I join the party! Look, I get the appeal behind Jason Lives. Really I do. The opening scene where Jason’s maggot-teeming corpse is reanimated by lightning plays in perfect homage to the grandaddy of all zombie tales, Frankenstein, and is an absolutely dynamite way to kick things off. The Winnebago set piece with Darcy DeMoss’s face clearly indented through the aluminum bathroom wall is (if I may) to die for. Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” and “Teenage Frankenstein” rock just as hard today as they surely did in 1986—both add immensely to the film’s image as some kind of a rockstar Friday the 13th. Everyone in the cast seems to be having a great time and there’s a kind of kinetic energy running throughout. When the jokes land, they do so superbly. I’m tickled pink every time by the idea of camp counselors playing a Jason Voorhees card game (which one ambitious fan has reverse-engineered into an actual game you can play). Even Kevin Williamson praises Jason Lives and cites its self-referential humor as the primary influence on his screenplay for Scream.

So what gives?

For all its brilliance, for every shot of a kid sleeping peacefully with Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential vision of Hell, No Exit, open on their chest, Jason Lives gives you a camera-mugging gravedigger sneering the word “farthead!” That’s what gives. The film is self-aware to a cloying degree and in its lesser moments descends to some of the series’ most juvenile and most baffling attempts at comedy. The American Express card left floating in a puddle may originally have been intended to get audiences to shout a slogan from commercials that were popular at the time, but the punchline fails to materialize today. Other gags like the smiley face impression left in a tree trunk by one unfortunate victim or the Road Runner-esque speed sign covered in question marks were surely too ridiculous to ever have garnered a proper laugh. When Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) finally faces off against his recurring nemesis in an oil-fueled ring of fire in the middle of Crystal Lake, you want to feel as though the whole film has been building toward this one epic, climactic moment, but the reality of it is very little is done dramatically to build toward such a showdown. Instead, the film is more interested in pulling off gags and getting Tommy and the disbelieving Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) to out-crazy each other with increasingly exaggerated performances. Don’t get me wrong, there is fun to be had here. I’m just saying, you know, maybe there are better Friday the 13ths?

6. Jason X (2001)

After a decade of happy campers being macheted every which way at Crystal Lake and one really weird attempt at shaking things up in the early 90s (seriously, Jason Goes to Hell, why you gotta be so weird?), 2001’s Jason X hits you with the force of a spaceship’s air supply violently decompressing when some idiot opens the airlock. But, you know, in a good way. With the new millennium approaching and no end in sight to the legal quest for a Freddy vs. Jason, Jason’s stakeholders decided they might as well whip up one more Friday to keep their franchise in the public consciousness. They would just have to ensure whatever they did with the character wouldn’t interfere with a Freddy vs. Jason film should one eventually come to fruition. Thus came the decision to launch Crystal Lake’s local legend far into the future and into space.

Jason X may not be as serious, as scary, or as 80s as any of the films that follow in this countdown, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a high-octane, anything-goes campfest that knows exactly what it wants to be and consequently plays all of its jokes, its kills, and its outrageousness to the hilt. Kane Hodder returns for the fourth and final time, hulking and slashing his way through the machete magnets of 2455 to Jason’s highest body count yet with a record 22 kills. The fun begins when Jason is for all appearances roused from his cryogenic stasis by the antics of two hot and bothered scientists. What follows is a series of nods and tributes to sci-fi classics like Aliens and Predator and even 1993’s Doom video game and much playful winking at Friday the 13th’s own ripe-for-parody history. The self-referencing reaches a hilarious kind of climax when Jason enters a VR simulation of Crystal Lake and goes to town on two peppy campers in an over-the-top recreation of Part VII’s lauded sleeping bag kill.

Through all the mayhem of exploding ship parts and the layers upon layers of meta-humor, Jason remains blissfully unaware, as singularly focused as ever on his mission to cleave craniums with his machete—and that’s really what makes Jason X work. Throw in a David Cronenberg cameo, the birth of Über Jason (a futuristically armored upgrade of the original), and that frozen liquid nitrogen face smash kill, and you’ve got a recipe for one helluva entertaining midnight movie.

5. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

A New Beginning tends to find its way to the bottom of Friday the 13th rankings for daring to play with the idea of who’s behind the hockey mask. How dare anyone but Jason Voorhees teach kids not to fornicate in the woods on unofficial holidays. On the matter of Jason not really being Jason this fifth go-around, when it comes down to it you go to these films for the formula. As long as all the boxes are checked and hockey mask guy has hit his kill quota for the day, does it really matter if Jason isn’t the one doing it? Three films earlier, Jason himself hadn’t even picked up a machete yet! You can get yourself into a tizzy over the film’s twist if you want to, but if you’re along for the ride, A New Beginning delivers on the classic formula in spades.

It may seem silly to talk about a Friday the 13th flick this way, but there’s a compelling honesty and humanity behind the characters who reside in the film’s halfway house for troubled teens. Take for instance the scene where Violet (Tiffany Helm) accidentally sets too many places for breakfast the day after one of their own had been murdered in grisly fashion right before their eyes. The mistake is a perfectly understandable and human one, and so too are the emotions that flare around the table in response. A different Friday the 13th might have treated these characters with greater frivolity. Instead, you actually come to care about and enjoy spending time with moody new wave fan Violet and sassy scamp Reggie and romantically fumbling Jake and velvet-voiced porta-potty crooning Demon. Even local screwballs Ethel and Junior quickly become endearing in their own yokelly way.

A New Beginning is also a better continuation of the Tommy Jarvis storyline than the film it precedes. In the aftermath of the fourth Friday (wherein young Tommy Jarvis maniacally strikes back at Jason with his own machete), Part V explores through violent outbursts and hallucinations in mirrors whether Jason’s psychosis may have transferred not supernaturally but psychologically to the traumatized boy. It’s a significantly dark approach that adds one more layer of intrigue to the fifth installment. Establishing Tommy Jarvis as the series’ new maniac behind the mask would have been a bold direction for the series to pursue—one that actually came closer to happening than some fans may realize—but at least the filmmakers got to play with the idea for one film. Part V: A New Beginning is a divisive entry to be sure, but if you don’t mind switching things up a bit every once in a while, there is little not to like here.

4. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Or “Stephen King does Friday the 13th” as I like to call it.

Comparisons with Carrie or Firestarter are inevitable and appropriate as this seventh visit to Crystal Lake finds a troubled teen with psychokinetic powers returning to the place where she had tragically sent her father to his watery grave years before. In the process of confronting her demons and dealing with her manipulative therapist who’s simply out to capitalize on her strange and dangerous powers, Tina Shepherd (Lar Park Lincoln) accidentally raises not her father but zombie Jason from the murky bed of Crystal Lake—and what a Jason this is!

Kane Hodder explodes out the gate in his first and arguably best turn as Jason Voorhees, redefining the character’s physicality with heaving chest and sharp turns of the head. The makeup department went all out in gruesoming up Jason’s zombified form with an elaborately exposed spinal column and a fantastically fearsome ghoul face. It’s incredible to think that director John Carl Buechler had to fight tooth and nail against one of his own producers for the creative right to lose the mask and show off Jason’s face for the better part of the film’s extended climax. Thank goodness Buechler won!

The finale is indeed where the film’s real payoff comes: rather than running screaming through the woods or scrambling out of upper-story windows onto rain-slick terraces, final girl Tina gets to fight back against Jason with her own supernatural strength. The special effects featured throughout the finale are among the series’ very best and include the sight of tree roots rising up to strangle the rampaging Jason and a record-setting stunt wherein Hodder himself was set fully ablaze for 40 seconds.

To be fair, the film is not without its limitations. The setup of kids partying next door is very much warmed over from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and the doomed partyers themselves aren’t quite as captivating this time around (though Susan Jennifer Sullivan’s snooty blonde Melissa is a clear standout). Also, for some reason the ever-fickle MPAA decided they were going to pull the drawstrings of their gore allowance coffers particularly tight this time, resulting in the most bloodless Friday the 13th of them all.

Nevertheless, Buechler does such a good job setting up the kills—showing Jason lurking in darkened corners or stalking through flashes of lightning before striking with animal speed and brutality—that you barely miss the flying splashes of colored corn syrup. Inventive use of a long-handled tree trimmer, the surprising hilarity of the now infamous sleeping bag kill, and the swift and effortless manner in which Jason flings pearl necklace-wearing princess Melissa across a room with an axe in her face more than make up for the loss of any censor-hatcheted gore.

Despite the film’s noted shortcomings, Hodder’s debut as Jason and an unusually well characterized and performed protagonist definitely helped New Blood put a fresh spin on a tested formula.

3. Friday the 13th (1980)

It’s easy to overlook the comparative simplicity of the original in light of all the outlandish variations that have rolled out over the years. But there’s a reason this little film launched more than ten sequels, a TV series, a video game, a board game, the Camp Crystal Lake book series, and a whole fascinating world of comics crossing Jason Voorhees over with any number of characters from other franchises. Rest assured, I’m not awarding any bonus points simply for this one being the first. The magic was all there from the beginning.

What sets the original Friday the 13th apart the most from its many successors is the relentless, single-minded focus on building a genuine sense of dread. The film is a slow burn to say the least, allowing the viewer plenty of time to settle in with and get to know the unlucky counselors as they prepare the campgrounds. But along the way, the voyeuristic camerawork, looking in through windows, craning around trees, creeping up on characters, tells the story of another as-yet-unseen character. With the advent of a summer rainstorm completely transforming the atmosphere of the campgrounds, the second half of the film turns into one long and tense climax, all leading up to the reveal of the series’ most chilling antagonist.

Working with little more than the budget one might expect to start an actual summer camp with, director and producer Sean S. Cunningham invested his funds in all the right places. He knew immediately he had to get that Dawn of the Dead guy for his special effects (whom horror fans know well today as the brilliant Tom Savini), and composer Harry Manfredini, with the help of a microphone and an Echoplex, would create the most instantly recognizable signature sound in horror since Bernard Herrmann’s shrieking Psycho strings. The casting too was oddly prescient, at least in the case of a young, pre-Footloose Kevin Bacon, whose memorable death scene would get everyone checking twice under their beds at night. Indeed, on Friday the 13th, all the right elements came together to produce a massive box office hit that surprised everyone involved and that still holds up today as a riveting example of indie horror.

2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

The fourth installment of Friday the 13th was very obviously not the final word on Jason Voorhees. At the time of production, however, The Final Chapter was intended to be a potential last hoorah for the fledgling franchise, and the filmmakers accordingly went above and beyond in making sure this would be a Friday to remember. In the process, they struck the perfect balance between the purer sense of horror found in the first two Fridays and the more extravagant sense of fun that would find its way for better or for worse into the series’ later entries.

The Final Chapter throws together two groups of neighboring characters to face Jason’s machete-happy mayhem over one dark and stormy night. First you have the Jarvis family with teen daughter and destined final girl Trish (Kimberly Beck) along with her brother, precocious special effects artist in the making and future two-time Friday the 13th protagonist Tommy (Cory Feldman). The other group features one of the series’ more entertaining collections of youths looking to get up to no good on a weekend getaway at the cabin. Among them you’ll definitely recognize Back to the Future’s Crispin Glover, whose awkwardly giggling, down-on-himself dorkishness has never been better on display. The scene where Glover busts out his unique brand of dance moves to some early hair metal to impress a date solidifies top three placement for The Final Chapter all on its own.

But the endless eccentric appeal of Crispin Glover is just one part of the magic that makes The Final Chapter such a crowd-pleaser. There’s a marvelous attention to detail throughout that distinguishes this film from most others in the series. For instance, when you see a ghost of breath escape Jason’s lips as he’s slid into the dark interior of a morgue cooler or when a perfectly timed shadow kill plays against the side of a house during a flash of lightning. Director Jospeh Zito staged not only some brilliant kills but also some unbelievably tense moments like when Trish has to step over a potentially unconscious Jason blocking her way at one point during the gripping climax. And Tom Savini was back to ensure the gore effects were nothing less than exceptional, including one particularly gruesome visual wherein Jason’s mangled face slides gradually down the length of his own machete. I mean, it’s the final chapter after all. Gotta kill him off for good, right?

Nah, it’s Jason. He’ll walk it off.

1. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

This first sequel followed hot on the heels of the massively successful original, leading a wave of rushed-to-production slashers that were about to crash down upon and sweep under the unsuspecting decade ahead. But if there was anything rushed about the production of the second Friday the 13th, it doesn’t show. Everything in Part 2 upped the ante from the original, from the classic image of counselors sitting around a campfire and spooking each other with stories about “Camp Blood” to the very idea of having Jason himself take over the machete for his slain mother. The result is one wonderfully spooky and highly atmospheric visit to summer camp and a film rivaled in excellence by few other slashers of its era.

One of the most important ingredients of any film of this kind is the cast, and Part 2 does a perfect job of making you care about each and every victim. Seeing the counselors pal around with each other, stick up for each other, and simply while away the evening playing games, you come to view them as much more than walking and talking reasons for the special effects wizards to work their magic—you come to see them as real people whom you absolutely do not want to open that door over there. Given the quality of the surrounding cast, it should come as no surprise that Part 2’s protagonist, child psychology major Ginny Field (Amy Steel), is the most intelligent, resourceful, endearing, and indeed purely badass final girl in Friday the 13th history.

First-time director Steve Miner (who would direct Friday the 13th Part III with considerably less dramatic urgency) not only brought together the perfect cast on Part 2 but put them through some of the series’ most memorable encounters with Jason. Even Terry’s ribbon-sporting Shih Tzu, Muffin, gets a moment to shine in what has to be the franchise’s cruelest yet most perfect transition: when the film cuts from the little dog trotting up to Jason’s feet to a close-up of hotdogs sizzling on the grill (don’t worry, no adorable little doggies were killed outside of or within this film). That said, Miner’s real tour de force is Ginny’s harrowing night battle with sackhead Jason that brings the film to its terrifying conclusion. The scene where Ginny discovers Jason’s shrine and pulls on his mother’s tattered sweater in a desperate attempt to turn the tables is both chilling and iconic and a perfect example of what sets Part 2 a cut above all other Fridays.

All images copyright by production studio and/or distributor unless otherwise noted, and found at Moviestillsdb.com. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 best (and underrated) PlayStation 1 JRPGs ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-best-and-underrated-playstation-1-jrpgs/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4931 Mon, 02 Aug 2021 22:15:14 +0000 There's no doubt the '90s and oughts had many incredible Japanese roleplaying games (JRPGs) for their time. Grand adventures to save the world from devastation and restoring the balance of peace and hope while gaining friendships through teamwork — in essence, livin' the dream.

So, what were the most underrated and cherished Japanese roleplaying games from the Playstation 1 console? Here's my totally unbiased, completely objective, 100% not based solely on my memories list of the top 10 best and underrated PS1 JRPGs of all time.

Thousand Arms

Combining elements of roleplaying and dating simulation, Thousand Arms definitely has a lot of charm. From detailed backstories of unique and entertaining characters, engaging dialogues and quirky situations, plus a steampunk meets anime ambiance, Thousand Arms truly shines.

Meis Triumph, the protagonist, is a 16-year-old heir to a family of Spirit Blacksmiths in this fantasy game. Wielding a sword and having the ability to reforge weapons, Meis has to journey to find and defeat the Dark Acolytes — a mysterious organization of cyborgs.

And all while finding the perfect gifts for all the women he meets along the way, of course.

Wild Arms 2 (Second Ignition)

The Wild Arms franchise is a beloved series. Wild Arms 2 in particular brought a unique rendition to the JRPG world with the backstories and playthrough of Ashley the gunfighter, Brad the former war hero, and Lilka the teenage sorceress. Now, the first Wild Arms was awesome, but Wild Arms 2: Second Ignition brings a great punch to this underrated list of fantastic games.

Wild Arms 2 is set up in a world called Filgaia that resembles a combination of the American old west + Steampunk with a sci-fi fantasy twist (simple, right?). With turn-based combat and puzzles, the playable characters' lives eventually intertwine to face the demon Lord Blazer and the terrorist organization Odessa.

Wild Arms 2 was a big part of my childhood. I always thought Lilka was such a great character that I could relate to. A super cool sorceress who loved jelly donuts and used a magical umbrella? To this date, every time I eat a jelly donut I can't help but think about her and this game.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

Diving into a world of musical and magical adventures, with lively humans, adorable puppets, precious creatures, zany villains, jealousy and romance, musical cutscenes, and magic spells of sweets and treats is Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure.

This quirky bubblegum tactical JRPG stars the heroine Cornet, a musician with a magical horn that grants wishes and who can communicate with puppets — two things that should never go together. She longs for romance and sets off for an adventure with her puppet friend Kururu to save Prince Ferdinand, who Cornet loves, from the evil witch Marjory, who also loves Prince Ferdinand but accidentally turns him to stone. Quite a dramatic Disney-like experience, but in a kawaii-esque ambiance. It's perfect for beginner RPG players or those who enjoy charming stories and musicals.

Warning, these songs will be stuck in your head until the end of time. I still sing the song "Evil Queen" all the time. It's a pretty fantastic song featuring the incredibly silly villain characters of Rhapsody.

Legend of Legaia

Legaia is a world that makes up of three continents full of politics, power, and advanced technology. There are two dominant races in Legaia: humans and Seru. The Seru are powerful creatures utilized for military, daily chores, or sold for profit. The human's dependence on the Seru developed mad greed and evil desires that turned into a war of the Sol and Conkram nations within the kingdom of Karisto. Due to this, the Prince of Conkram used an elixir, a devastating Mist, to boost the power of the Seru that quickly turned into a pandemic, wiping out the nation of human lives years later. Classic mixup!

The survivors and heroes of the story, Vahn, Noa, and Gala, seek out to save the nations of Legaia and restore peace and humanity at last.

Legend of Legaia, with its deep backstory, menu-driven game style, and conditional turn-based combat highlighting the use of "ARTS" makes the journey into saving the world of Legaia quite entertaining and enjoyable.

Swan Driver is one of the ARTS moves that Noa has and it's pretty cool. A roundhouse kick and then another roundhouse kick! Honestly, most of the ARTS moves are really awesome.

Legend of Mana

Legend of Mana, the fourth installment of the Seiken Densetsu series, brings a charming rendition to the Mana world. With a beautiful soundtrack and a whimsical art style, Legend of Mana delivers a delightful game packed with action and adventure. And there's a bit of nostalgia from the past Mana games as a few creatures and monsters make a return.

There are many storylines and arcs within the game as you journey to restore balance and peace to the Mana Tree and the world of Fa'Diel. There's a sense of choose-your-own-adventure books that will eventually lead to the final story arc and the end of the game. The player creates new lands from artifacts found throughout the adventure while creating musical instruments to summon elementals to cast spells.

Legend of Mana has two-player compatibility, which was very innovative and exciting for a JRPG of its time. With the Mana remake for the Nintendo Switch and the Playstation 4, you can now relive this cherished JRPG without having to dust off the PS1.

Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete

Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete is the sequel to Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete — because, obviously, blue comes after silver (surprised you didn't know that).

This fantastic story is set 1,000 years after the events of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. Hiro, a young archaeologist, and his cat-like companion, Ruby, set off on an adventure with the mysterious Lucia, a strange visitor from the Blue Star, to stop the evil Zophar from destroying the world. They meet lively characters along the way to join in their quest of restoring peace to the planet of Lunar, which apparently can't keep from chaos for long.

Lunar: Eternal Blue is filled with magic and romance, intense battles, and deep character development. With engaging animated cutscenes and voice-acting dialogues, Lunar: Eternal Blue feels like both a game and an anime (which is the best of both worlds, in my opinion). The music of Lunar is filled with fantastic songs and is composed by Noriyuki Iwadare (who I had the pleasure of meeting once before, so clearly it's good).

Dragon Warrior VII

Gorgeous compositions from Koichi Sugiyama, elements from past Dragon Quest games, artwork and character designs by infamous Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, and an extensive new class system all deliver appealing gameplay in the seventh installment of the Dragon Quest series, Dragon Warrior VII.

Long ago, the Demon Lord sealed every island and continent around the world. All but one island named Estard, where the protagonist of the story lives. When the protagonist's father brought home a fragment of a map that showed many continents that didn't exist anymore, the protagonist and their friend started a journey to revive the rest of the world. By collecting stone shards to unlock the continent's historical past, the protagonist and their team recover the regions of their world and search for the Dark Palace to defeat the Demon Lord.

The expanded class system was a great addition to this game, along with beautiful music.

Azure Dreams

In the town of Monsbaiya, there lies a Monster Tower where monster tamers go. The main character's father was a legendary monster tamer named Guy. But in an unfortunate event, Guy disappears in the tower never to be seen again. Koh strives to be a prosperous monster tamer, find the truth about his father, and rebuild the town to great success.

I truly enjoyed this game because of how exciting the town building was. Bowling alleys, casinos, libraries, and so many other fun additions to add and create goals for, as well as developing relationships from those renovations.

Not like a traditional JRPG, this tower-climbing-dungeon-crawler-adventure game has incredible elements of town-building, monster-catching, and the wooing of anime waifus. With gorgeous music, intense character backstories, and dungeon levels that generate randomly each floor, Azure Dreams is always a nostalgic hit for collectors and obscure gamers who like a challenge.

Brave Fencer Musashi

With phenomenal music, sassy characters, and hours of action and adventure is the classic Playstation 1 game, Brave Fencer Musashi. Along with infamous voice actors, a zombie-like pandemic, action figure collecting, and characters based on real-life individuals, Brave Fencer Musashi brings every radical element possible for a great experience the entire way through. Brave Fencer brings the best out of the roleplay world with real-time sword base combat, day and night sequence, mini-games, and puzzles.

The hero of this story is Mushashi the swordsman, who is summoned to defend the Kingdom of Allucaneet from the antagonistic Thirstquencher Empire (pretty tricky name there, guys). Musashi’s mission is to journey across the kingdom in search of the Five Scrolls to power up his swords and restore balance to Allucaneet.

Brave Fencer Musashi is one of my favorite games. Searching for the Minku creatures while humming "The Only Friend", rescuing the captured palace residents, and collecting action figures made the game fun along with the main story arcs.

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

The Lunar series has always been one of my most favorite and cherished series, and is worth revisiting your PS1 for. With loveable and quirky characters, intense combat battles and confrontations, beautiful music composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, and animated cutscenes, truly gives the magical world of Lunar beauty and light. The characters in Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, the protagonists and the villains, have big engaging personalities. Every party member has skills that rely on weapons, magic, or healing. Throughout the game there are animated cutscenes and voice dialogue in interludes that truly bring the world of Lunar to life.

The adventure in Lunar: SSSC begins with four characters, which eventually leads to a whole array of fantastic additions to the team. The main protagonist, Alex, dreams of becoming a great Dragonmaster like his hero, Dragonmaster Dyne. Then there's Ramus, Alex's best friend who is motivated to adventure for the prize of wealth; Luna, Alex's childhood friend who was adopted by his family; and Nall, the flying cat-like companion of Alex. The three friends and Nall start a quest to seek a precious gem, which ends up becoming a journey of a lifetime when they meet the White Dragon Quark who commands Alex to travel the world and become the next great hero that the world desperately needs.

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is a classic game that should be in everyone's PS1 collection, or at least played through once. There are even bromides of the characters that are hidden throughout the game to be found. And speaking of hidden things, The Making of Lunar disk that comes with the Fan Art Edition of the game has a hidden pong game featuring the Lunar characters (the code is up-down-left-right-triangle-start — you're welcome!).

Please forgive me while I sing Luna's Boat Song from the top of my lungs — no shame.

And there you have it! My top 10 best and underrated Playstation 1 JRPGs. But is it even possible to limit a list to only 10? With incredible games like the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Cross, Legend of Dragoon, Suikoden, Xenogears, Grandia, Alundra, Vagrant Story, Vandal Hearts, Arc the Lad, and so on so forth! I could literally run out of breath (of fire!) with all the amazing JRPGs out there!

Now excuse me while I run off to play Trials of Mana and try to finish it before the Legend of Mana remake comes out in a few weeks ...

---

A Pixie by Day and a Goblin by Night, Brandy can be found waltzing around in bookstores while sipping a vegan chai latte or in bed catching up on anime series and writing her nerdy articles.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/top-10-movie-aliens-we-wish-really-existed/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f492c Thu, 10 Jun 2021 14:00:45 +0000 More often than not, movies depict aliens as monstrous beings out to destroy us, invade us, enslave us, assimilate us, or simply use us in ungodly experiments involving Chihuahuas.

No question about it, when it comes to the pictures, aliens tend to get a bad rap. There are, however, those filmmakers who would have us believe something other than pure terror awaits us in the starry heavens. That aliens may even want to help us or teach us something, as opposed to spanning galaxies simply to try out their new cookbook. Today, we honor those noble space dwellers who have captured our fascinations and given us reason to look to the stars and the future with open hearts and warm expectations.

But before we begin, I do have to address one glaring omission. It hasn’t escaped my attention that one pretty iconic, Reese’s-shilling extraterrestrial has somehow burrowed his way into the hearts of moviegoers with the tenacity of one of Dreamcatcher’s ass-weasels. I, on the other hand, was scared poopless when I first saw E.T. and therefore cannot in good conscience say I wish the little scamp was a flesh-and-blood thing living among us. Believe me, I wish I could have had a normal childhood like the rest of you and retrieved many a sleepless night spent wondering if some gremlin-y creature was going to come tearing out of my closet in a faux mink stole and a summer dress.

So E.T. can go on your list, which will hopefully keep him from rabidly clawing his way into my dreams at night. I’d appreciate that actually. Thank you.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 aliens that really would make life just so much better…

10. Stitch

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Walt Disney Pictures and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Okay, so on paper, a bioengineered bulletproof, fireproof, by all means indestructible koala with fangs and a mania for destruction doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of thing you’d want to invite into our little corner of the universe. But give the lil’ devil a family, a role model, and a creative outlet for his pent-up savagery, and he’ll turn out pretty alright. More than alright.

With his destructive energies channeled into doing good and his newfound respect for all living things, Stitch is very nearly a model citizen (just one who spins out of control and remodels the kitchen by force every once in a while). If your heart doesn’t melt when Stitch builds a pint-sized reconstruction of downtown San Francisco out of bedroom playthings and goes Godzilla on its ass, you might want to look in the mirror to see who the real monster is.

9. Vegans

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Moviestillsdb.com

No, not vee-gans. Vay-gans—as in the space folk who live near the star Vega in the 1997 film Contact, based on Carl Sagan’s novel. (Though vegans are pretty out there, too.)

There’s been a fair handful of purely benevolent extraterrestrial species on film: the angelic seafarers from The Abyss, those big, creepy, but well-meaning, sentient hands from Arrival, whatever species Mr. Bean is, and Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still who told us, “Quit playing with nuclear weapons or I’ll blow you up myself” (okay, not 100% sure about the benevolence of that last one). But the Vegans from Contact best them all on the simplicity and the purity of their message. They just want to inspire us to be good and to let us know we’re not alone in the universe. When life is turning up nothing but chestbursters and death-rays, sometimes all you want is a simple message of hope from space.

8. Na’vi

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Twentieth Century Fox and other relevant production studios and distributors.

Okay, if the Na’vi actually lived among us that might just produce a whole lot of envy over not having cool tails we could plug into those pterodactyl-like mountain banshees so we could fly them through the sky. Still, the Na’vi are incredible lifeforms—agile, elegant, deep thinking, compassionate. They would be marvelous additions to Earth’s biosphere and marvelous influences upon our own human culture. They could certainly teach us a thing or two about finding a better balance between the eternal push for industrial development and our stewardship of the planet. I mean, we probably would just kill them all the first time they threw rocks at one of our bulldozers, but it would be great to have them here those first couple of days, wouldn’t it?

7. Starman

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Columbia Pictures and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Two years after terrorizing a research crew in the Antarctic with an alien that mimics us so that it may annihilate us, John Carpenter crash-landed in Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin, a different extraterrestrial—one that mimics us so that we will not be afraid of it. Awww.

Jeff Bridges earned a well-deserved Oscar nom for playing the titular role. His so-called “Starman” assumes the likeness of the recently deceased husband of Jenny (Karen Allen) while retaining all the gawking, head-bobbing simplicity of a baby bird poking its head out of the nest for the first time. Starman’s influence doesn’t extend far beyond his encounters with Jenny, but he does share with humanity orbs which raise deer from the dead.

While roadkill would probably benefit the most from having a real Starman around, we could all benefit from observing the almost childlike wonder Bridges’ happenstantial visitor experiences over all the little things: dancing, driving, eating, making love on a bed of straw in a rumbling boxcar while thunder and lightning fill the night sky outside. You know, the little things we take for granted every day? Savor them the way Starman savors them and you’ll never want for awe and joy and splendor in your life.

6. Annelids

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Casually known as “worms,” though Agent K will insist you show the proper respect and call them by their names (Neeble, Geeble, Sleeble, and Mannix), these potty-mouthed, java-loving loafers only narrowly miss the top 5 because they’ve never saved a human life before and frankly probably couldn’t be bothered to if the opportunity presented itself. But that’s all a part of their charm, isn’t it?

These guys are awesome! All they do is lounge about, guzzle coffee, and complain. Who doesn’t love complaining? Sure, things could be worse, but they could be a helluva lot better too, couldn’t they? Wouldn’t it be great to have some crass worms around to tell you so? Yes, they have their foibles like mouthing off, chain-smoking, and committing larceny—but you have foibles too, don’t pretend you don’t.

Refreshingly cynical, unsettlingly appealing, these worms managed to wrest MIB’s spot on this list away from Frank the talking pug, and that is no small feat. Aw hell, Frank, we wish you existed too. You too, baby squid. You all can exist in our dream aliens-on-Earth utopia.

5. Leeloo

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed

Or Leluminaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï, Ekbat De Sabat, which roughly translates to “Precious Stone of the Earth, Defender of Light and Life, the Honorable.” (I’m sure that probably just took you down a peg if you’ve been cruising through life thinking your name is pretty hot stuff.)

The Fifth Element wasn’t exactly a film that bothered itself with logic. The movie’s plot sustains itself almost entirely upon the furious laboring of fan theory. Everyone who initially thought Leeloo must have somehow been of Mondoshawan origin (one of those big, waddling, duck-faced beings) can be forgiven as she spawns from some super DNA found in a severed Mondoshawan gauntlet, and the last time we had seen a Mondoshawan was when its gauntleted hand became trapped in the sliding doors of a pyramid. It’s an easy mistake to make when you bought your ticket primarily for Bruce Willis and the explosions.

Leeloo is in fact a Supreme Being. Sort of like Gandalf but with orange hair and a leotard. Fan theory again (doing the jobs of screenwriters since well before the dawn of the internet) proposes that this Supreme Being with the abundance of genetic information stored in its DNA simply elected to take the form of Earth’s dominant species.

Wherever she came from and whatever she is, pretty sure we can all agree Leeloo is adorable and amazing. She stormed the gates of mid-90s nerd culture with a big bada boom, leaving us all as dazed as the Mangalorean mercenaries who fell victim to her mesmerizing dance kung fu.

4. Thermians

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Dreamworks Pictures and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Ah, Galaxy Quest…the best Star Trek movie they ever made. Yes, I said it. No, I’m not taking it back. Ever. Because it’s true.

A big part of what makes Galaxy Quest such an underrated gem is the delightfully awkward, endearingly naive, and profoundly noble race of Thermians. They look at mankind the way a dog looks at mankind, and I mean that in the best and truest sense possible. Imagine a society that operates completely without deceit to the point of not even having an understanding of the concept.

Sure, the shrill, trilling laughter would no doubt grate on one’s nerves over time and they do rather look like the offspring of Cthulu under their human get-ups, but if just a fraction of the Thermians’ gentle natures rubbed off on our own species, we’d be taking a hard turn toward a better future in no time.

They can keep the goofy bowl cuts though.

3. Chewbacca

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Twentieth Century Fox and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

Saddled with unfortunate nicknames like “walking carpet” and prone to occasional eruptions of limb dismembering rage, Chewbacca is nevertheless one of the chillest, most down-to-Earth movie aliens of all time. He’s that guy you called over to play pick-up basketball on your team because he’s seven and a half feet tall but by the end of the day you’re clinking brewskies and shooting the tauntaun scat like you’ve been friends your whole lives.

If there’s one movie alien who would make an awesome housemate, it’s Chewie. Yoda wouldn’t be a bad alternative. I mean, he’d be good for helping move furniture around, definitely, but by the third time he curled his Muppety lip at you and murmured, “No more beer, you have,” you’d want to chuck him out the window. Naw, Chewie’s where it’s at. Just be prepared to lose a lot of video games. All of them, actually, if you like keeping your arms where they are currently.

2. Spock

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Paramount Pictures, NBC and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

In life, we call people who don’t get in touch with their feelings repressed. In science fiction, we call them an advanced civilization, and while the Vulcans as a whole are far from having it all together, there is one Vulcan in particular we should all be proud to have as an Earth citizen in the year 2265.

While Spock’s diplomacy, intellect, command of military strategy, and acute philosophical questioning all mark him as a shining exemplar of the Starfleet ethos, his finest hour arrives in The Wrath of Khan when he gives up his own life that his fellow crew might keep theirs, embodying to the end the sentiment that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” A beautiful and deeply meaningful sacrifice. Made us forget “Spock’s Brain” ever happened. Almost.

1. Superman

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed
Copyright by Warner Bros. and other relevant production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

While it’s easy to make fun of him for wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants (and I simply don’t think that’s going to catch on at this point—believe me, I’ve tried), you can’t deny Superman deserves this top spot more than any other dude from space.

Though he lost his home world and his biological family along with it, Kal-El found a new home and a new destiny saving countless human lives on the regular here on Earth. While there’s always some bureaucrat, some army general, or some punk disc jockey who thinks Supes is the worst thing since bread before there were bread slicers, the Big Blue Boy Scout’s endless optimism in the face of adversity and record of deterring galactic menaces speak for themselves. And the only thing he’s ever asked for in return from us has been ALL OF THE BURGERS.

Top 10 movie aliens we wish really existed

Superman, a great and noble alien that one.

****

Mike E. is a freelance journalist who enjoys watching, reading, and writing science fiction. He’s still waiting for the day dinosaur cloning is made a reality, ethical implications be damned. Until then, he looks forward to future installments of the Jurassic Park/World series.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The Top 10 '80s cartoon theme songs ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-80s-cartoon-theme-songs/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4930 Wed, 09 Jun 2021 15:40:15 +0000 With catchy beats and memorable lyrics it’s no wonder that '80s cartoon theme songs are practically ingrained within our heads. The passionate surge of instrumental solos and synthesizers, emotional ballads of storytelling, and that inevitable excitement of diving right into an '80s montage scene are only a few of the glorious and satisfying feelings I get when listening to the wave of these prominent nostalgic tunes.

The 1980s truly had the best cartoon theme songs of all time (sorry '90s kids). Here are the top 10 '80s cartoon theme songs ... OF ALL TIME.

10. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo - 1988

Whether it's the original theme song of "Scooby-Doo Where Are You?" or the '80s spin-off cartoon of the Mystery Inc. Gang as teenagers, the theme song for A Pup Named Scooby-Doo has super catchy lyrics, killer drumming, and let's not forget the sounds of hand-clapping that will be forever embedded in the deep subconscious of our minds along with the original '70s version.

Tom Ruegger, the creator of the animated series, also wrote the lyrics and composed the music alongside John Debney.

9. Jem and the Holograms - 1985

The statement “Glamour and Glitter, Fashion and Fame” is all you really need to live by, to be honest.

With a pinch of '80s glam, battle of the bands rock and roll vibes, and of course Jem herself, this theme song is absolutely fabulous. Maybe it was just me during my adolescence, but jamming along to this theme song made me feel like I was right on the stage with the Holograms.

Jem and the Holograms theme song is performed by Britta Phillips. Robert J. Walsh composed the music.

8. Inspector Gadget - 1983

From the moment the sirens start, it’s obvious to anyone who knows anything about anything that the Inspector Gadget theme song is playing. With the funky synthesizer sounds and the chants of “Woo hoo!” we are all instantly enchanted. If you're not cheering “Go Gadget Go!” right now, I don't even know you anymore.

This song is so catchy that even Inspector Gadget himself can be heard humming it during a few episodes. For a song that only has a few repetitive verses, which are "Inspector Gadget", "Woo hoo!" and "Go Gadget Go!" it's had impressive staying power over the decades.

Inspector Gadget was written by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban. Saban and Levy produced many other '80s cartoon theme songs as well, such as Maxie's World and Rainbow Brite.

7. Disney’s Adventure of the Gummi Bears - 1985

Although the cartoon Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears wasn't the most popular show of its time, it truly is incredible how unforgettable the lyrics are. From the moment we are "dashing and daring" while being “courageous and caring”, we are absolutely shouting out and singing in unison: “bouncing here and there and everywhere!”

Pretending to drink that magical Gummiberry Juice while wishing we were back in the '80s adventuring in the Gummi Glen forest with all the Gummi Bears is definitely a nostalgic feeling that will last a lifetime. And yes, that juice would be illegal in today's cartoons.

Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears' theme song was composed by Michael Silversher and Patricia Silversher. Joseph William performed the song. Alicia Keys performed her own version back in 2012.

6. Thundercats - 1985

It’s time to feel the magic and hear the roar with feline and tomcat pride listening to the iconic song of the Thundercats. With the infamous instrumental sequence and guitar riff that surely signifies that the Thundercats are on the move, loose and ready for action-packed action, this theme song is definitely an essential melody that is incredibly recognizable and unforgettable. The style of '80s Japanese animation within the cartoon is very prominent and makes the animated series distinguished between the art and the glorious song.

The Thundercats theme song was composed by Bernard Hoffer who also created the music and leitmotifs in the animated series. Jules Bass, from Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment, wrote the lyrics.

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 1987

It’s time to party while chanting the radical theme song of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Grab a slice of pizza because every day is a pizza party day while listening to this memorable song! The best part of this tune is how the ninja turtles (and Splinter!) are described within the lyrics to really give them their individualized personality and acknowledge their skills. So whether you are a leader, an engineer of sorts, a cool but rude (or crude!) being, someone who loves to party, or a master sensei, there is always a character to relate to.!

Chuck Lorre created the infamous theme song. There is speculation with the lyrics "cool but rude". Is it "cool but rude?" Or "cool but crude", or even "cool but brute" which is all presented on many different official Teenage Mutant Ninja sources! Which one do you hear? Rude, Crude, or Brute?

4. (The Real) Ghostbusters - 1986

With the iconic introduction along with the unforgettable bop of the synthesizers, Ghostbusters is truly one of the most memorable themes that came from the '80s decade. Although the song debuted for the live-action film, an animated film rendition was quickly created a few years later using the same theme song, which was called “The Real Ghostbusters”. Forever a staple tune at Halloween parties and comforting the fear of the paranormal to most, we all can confidently know who to call during supernatural situations. The proud shouting in unison “Ghostbusters!” will always be a superior joyous declaration. There’s no wonder why it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for the 57th Academy Awards.! It’s always a spooktacular time jamming out to Ghostbusters with the assured statement of “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!”

Ray Parker Jr. wrote and performed the Ghostbuster theme song.

3. Alvin and the Chipmunks - 1983

From the moment our favorite chipmunks say "Watch out!" to the ending when they sing "Do do do do do dooo!" The song "We're the Chipmunks" has always been an unforgettable and popular song to sing along to. And for those who were young enough, learning how to spell chipmunk during the song also brought some academic value to it. "C-H-I-P-M-U-N-K!"

"We're the Chipmunks" was written by Ross Bagsardarian and Janice Karman. Bagsardarian was the singing voice of all the chipmunks. Sadly, when Bagsardian passed away, his son Ross Bagsardian Jr. along with Karman performed the chipmunks' singing voices.

2. Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers - 1989

If you need help, you know exactly who to call and that is the Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers. Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is a mix of spectacular lyrics and powerful instrumental harmonies that really give a dramatic sense of adventure and storytelling.  With thunder crashing in the introduction, various sound effects, bad guys grunting, and of course the unforgettable "Ch-Ch-Ch-Chip and Dale!" And who can honestly forget the epic saxophone solo and the smooth ballad in the middle of the extended version of this legendary theme song?

Mark Mueller was the brilliant mind behind composing this theme song. Jeff Pescetto is the artist who performed the song.

1. DuckTales - 1987

Upbeat and infectious, the DuckTales theme song is remembered by many who may or may not have even watched the original animated series. With how poppy and energetic it is, this song has inspired many different variations of remakes from a variety of genres. Life truly is just like a hurricane when you put this jam on.

The DuckTales theme song was created by Mark Mueller, just like Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers. Muller wanted to make this song have a Pop-sounding vibe to it and not a typical “cartoon theme song.” Because of this and DuckTales, in general, being a smash hit with viewers, the DuckTales theme song is deemed one of the most well-known cartoon theme songs composed. This also have Mueller a stepping platform to create Chip n’ Dale’s Rescue Ranger song.

There you have it, the top 10 '80s cartoon theme songs. I couldn't name them all – there are so many incredible songs that could have been easily listed like Transformers and Silver Hawks, to name a couple. But we all have to live with our choices.

---

A Pixie by Day and a Goblin by Night, Brandy can be found waltzing around in bookstores while sipping a vegan chai latte or in bed catching up on Anime series and writing her nerdy articles.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The best TV shows to stream with your kids ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-tv-shows-to-stream-with-your-kids-until-you-get-vaccinated/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f492e Mon, 01 Feb 2021 23:32:10 +0000 The main thing we learned over the last 2 years or so is that not doing stuff outside of your house sucks. On the other hand, not leaving the house is pretty great – unless you have little ones stuck in the house with you. I mean, we all love our kids, but things really got ridiculous.

Never fear! With the endless amount of streaming content available, there are lots of shows that parents and kids can both tolerate just enough to stream until things are fully reopened and we can get back to letting our children exchange boogers on the playground while we look at our phones. Or, hey, maybe even in a post-pandemic world you'll want to spend time with your kids (LOL!).

Here are the top five TV shows to stream with your kids right now:

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts flew a bit under the radar, but this animated series from Dreamworks really delivers, with a great soundtrack, lovable characters, and an immortal mutant bug (yep, you read that right).

The content is never too scary and there's a thread of optimism and positivity that runs through it without it coming off as cheesy. The humor is clever enough to appease adults while the action sequences and dialogue are entertaining for the kiddos. Sadly, it's only 3 seasons, so you'll burn through it quickly, but it will be a fun few weeks for the fam.

Unlike many kids shows on Netflix, it features a compelling story where each episode ends with a cliffhanger, ala Netflix's many adult binge-worthy shows.

Kipo is streaming on Netflix.

Star Wars: Rebels

One of Disney's first courageous acts of saving the Star Wars franchise was this gem of a TV show. As one of my friends who is among the most avid Star Wars fans I've ever met in person or otherwise (he spent $5,000 on a Han Solo in carbonite coffee table...) put it: "It's actually really good."

Rebels features a lovable, ragtag bunch of characters, enough Star Wars lore and mystery to feed your inner Jedi, some really great animation, and an engrossing tale of how the Rebel Alliance came into existence.

And it features a bunch of tie-ins for fans of The Mandalorian, which is reason enough to watch all 4 seasons.

One word of warning: There are a few episodes that could be a bit too scary for kids under 8. Watch for the ones where they're visiting Jedi temples in particular – they can be full of visions and one even shows the dead bodies of Jedi masters who permanently await the return of their apprentices.

You can stream Rebels on Disney+.

The Astronauts

If you're like me, you mostly remember Nickelodeon for sliming innocent children and for mentally scarring you with Ren & Stimpy.

So it was a bit of a surprise when they launched a Ron Howard backed live action sci-fi show that features a complex narrative arc and impressive production quality.

The Astronauts is shades of the '80s title SpaceCamp, kid adventure movies like Goonies, and Ron Howard space adoration, all wrapped up into one.

It can get a little too complex for the youngin's — my 7 year old had a hard time following some of the more subtle plot points — but all in all the entire family will quickly become invested in this show. Here's hoping Ron is willing to shell out the budget for a few more seasons.

You can catch The Astronauts streaming on demand with your cable provider, including YouTube TV, and watch the first episode for free on Nickelodeon's website.

Dragons: Race to the Edge

I don't give a damn who you are or what you believe, when Hiccup first gently touched Toothless' nose in the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, you were crying.

The How to Train Your Dragon universe is so rich and vivid, who wouldn't want to explore it more fully? While Defenders of Berk is fine, Race to the Edge is a great series to enjoy with the entire family, providing all the action, dragon discovery, and clever writing you crave from this series.

Telling the story that leads up to the second film installment, Race to the Edge provides your family with six full seasons of episodes to stream. That just might get you to the end of the summer and to that beautiful shot in the arm.

Get your dragon on via Netflix.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ 10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/10-best-selling-playstation-games-you-may-have-forgotten/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4932 Wed, 22 Apr 2020 21:45:02 +0000 Some of the best times we spent as kids – even now – have been playing PlayStation 1 games. Released in 1994, there are a countless number of PS1 games we loved, liked, and weren’t all that crazy about.

Some games we could play by memory at this point. If you blindfold me, hand me the controller, and I hear the background music, it’ll be just muscle memory.

Other games were somewhat lost in the back of my mind – but the list of the 114 best-selling PlayStation 1 games I saw on Wikipedia brought them back.

Presented in no particular order, see if these titles bring back any memories, and/or shock you that they sold millions of copies.

Spongebob SquarePants: SuperSponge

Just two years after the TV show premiered, Spongebob was brought to our very clunky TV screens. The 105th best-selling game of all time for the PS1, at over one million copies, has a heartwarming plot. Spongebob wants to get Patrick a birthday present; something signed by Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. But, they keep sending Spongebob on random errands.

So the game is basically Spongebob doing a bunch of various tasks. Equipped with a jellyfish net, coral blower, squeaky boots and other various items from the game,

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This was a wildly popular game, so popular that I’m surprised I forgot about it. Selling about eight million games, it’s the fifth-highest selling PS1 game. The game is the plot of the first Harry Potter book, so it was a guaranteed hit.

A fun game at the time. But do you remember the graphics?

10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about

Nightmare fuel.

Dino Crisis

Ahh, the dinosaur craze of the 1990s.

Dino Crisis was a Resident Evil-like game. Essentially, you have to survive on a Jurassic Park-gone-wrong island. You turn dark corners, kill dinosaurs, and try your best not to get killed. It was absolutely petrifying, but discovering there were four different endings made all the fear worth it.

10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about

Crash Bash

Would this really be a complete PS1 listicle if Crash Bandicoot didn't appear somewhere? Everyone (okay, almost everyone), played and enjoyed Crash Bandicoot games.

There’s really nothing entirely remarkable to remember about this game, other than the fact it was really fun with multiple people. It was a fun party game with entertaining mini-games.

10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about

Coming in at 45 on the list, it sold just under 2 million games.

A Bug’s Life

This was one of those games a lot of us had because aunts, uncles, or other family friends that really weren’t sure what to get us for birthdays or holidays got us. Ranked 56th on the list with a total of 1.5 million copies sold, the gameplay was similar to that of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; just the movie plot.

The graphics were marginally better, though not outstanding.

10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about

Absent of twists or turns, you run around as an Ant and interact with other characters in games.

Monopoly

The 83rd best-selling PS1 game, this one had my head shaking. There was a video game for a board game?

Well, of course there was. There was a Bug’s Life game, after all.

As I never finished an actual board game round of Monopoly, I never finished the video game either.

Pac-Man World

Another birthday-centric plot! Pac-Man’s friends get kidnapped at his 20th birthday party. So the gameplay is relatively straightforward; you have to get them back.

At 76th on the list, it sold over 1.2 million copies. This was a really fun game that elevated the Pac-Man experience.

10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about

Driver

Driver was an extraordinarily popular game, and it is the 27th best-selling PS1 game at over 3.2 million copies. So I’m surprised that I forgot about it until I looked at this list.

In this game, you’re an undercover cop. You end up uncovering a plot to assassinate the president, save his life, and… well, there’s a big twist at the end.

10 best-selling PlayStation 1 games you forgot about

But anyway, this was a fantastic game. One of those I’m going to search the attic for and blow the dust off next time I’m home…

007: Tomorrow Never Dies

When I think old school James Bond games, I immediately think Goldeneye 007. However, Tomorrow Never Dies is a great one as well. Like Harry Potter and A Bug’s Life, this one also follows the plot of a movie. Unlike those two games, this one is much higher stakes.

It switches from first to third person, which some think was confusing but I sort of liked the switched up.

And like all the other games on the list. boy, those graphics. I almost miss them.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The best home video game systems of the '90s, ranked ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-best-home-video-game-consoles-of-the-90s-ranked/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f492f Fri, 21 Feb 2020 18:50:31 +0000 Oh, the '90s.

For many, this was a golden era of movies, TV and video games. The beauty of it all! We’re going to ignore the fact that it’s 2020, and the '90s were now three decades ago. In my head, it’ll always be last decade.

For those of us fortunate enough to grow up in the '90s, we were incredibly fortunate to have such a variety of home video game systems to choose from—no offense to the Odyssey or Commodore 64 lovers out there, but the options were like 8 billion percent better.

For all that we had, which home video game systems were the best of the 1990s? Let’s jump in.

5. Sega Dreamcast

The best home video game systems of the '90s, ranked
Photo by Shane Avery on Unsplash

Though this system was released in the late '90s—not until 1999 in North America—Dreamcast was Sega’s best and final console.

I would argue, and I think many would argue that this console was ahead of its time, with its ability to support online gaming and downloadable content. Though this console didn’t experience the commercial success of others, those who loved it most are still avid fans to this day.

And NFL 2K was the first time people legitimately walked in and thought an actual football game was on TV.

4. Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was a decade-defining console. The graphics, playability and overall functionality of the system made it a home run.

The games for this system are beyond superb: Super Mario World, Star Fox, and who could forget – The Legend of Zelda? C'mon man.

Though this wasn’t Nintendo’s most famous system, these games planted the seeds of our deep rooted love for Nintendo that persists to this day. These games told incredible stories while pushing graphics further than previous systems; visual charm combined with sheer entertainment value made for a perfect system.

And like The Beatles did for the incredible rock bands that followed, SNES did for the mind-blowing games of the future.

3. Game Boy Color

The best home video game systems of the '90s, ranked
Photo by Elias Castillo on Unsplash

One of my first and truest loves; the GBC. It felt more sophisticated, a little bigger to hold, and… drumroll please… BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY.

No car ride, flight, even walk felt right without this bad boy in your backpack or pocket. I had the atomic purple (the translucent one), and the 10 hours of gameplay felt like a lifetime without the need to get new batteries.

If the Game Boy Color was a revolutionary handheld game, then Pokemon Gold and Silver was its ammunition. Hours upon hours of my life were spent playing that game—a five-minute car ride to the grocery store, just ten minutes before bed—I even tried to sneak it into my first-grade classroom. Oops.

Game Boy Color earns the third spot on the list because, in short, Game Boy changed the way we played handheld consoles, and blew what boundaries we thought existed away. Though we went on to the Advance, the SP, and the DS, the Game Boy Color was the landmark device of the '90s. Who could have ever dreamed that we could play Pokémon, in our hands, in color?

2. Nintendo 64

Even if you don’t know a single video game console, you know what the Nintendo 64 is. In fact, even if you haven’t owned a video game system in your entire life, you’ve likely played a Nintendo 64 game.

For many kids, this console was the first non-handheld video game console in their house. For someone who dearly loved my Game Boy, and then my Game Boy Color, the Nintendo 64 was nothing short of absolutely revolutionary.

The 3-D graphics were the best any of us had ever seen. In fact, they were better than anything we had dreamed of, short of actually being the protagonist in our favorite games. This console provided the platform for some of the most extraordinary games of our time: Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, GoldenEye 007… the list is endless.

But for so many of us, this system is what made us true gamers. We went from casual Game Boy fans, occasional Sega players to true, true gaming marathoners. We spent hours hooked on each little cartridge; transfixed by the colors, music, and stories of the games that unfolded before our eyes.

The Nintendo 64 may almost be three decades old, but the joy it brings and the interest it sparks is still as bright as it was the day I unwrapped it under my Christmas tree.

1. Sony PlayStation

Photo by Cláudio Luiz Castro / Unsplash

Pack it up, and go home. While I could argue that the company Nintendo had a stronger presence in the '90s, and therefore in our childhoods, the PlayStation was just pure sophistication. The games were darker, more complex, and the controls expanded what limits we thought there could be for our games.

The idea of opening a container, pulling out a sleek, shiny disc, and putting it into a console felt lightyears beyond the clunky, dust-filled cartridges of the Nintendo 64.

The PlayStation took games we loved to an entirely new level, like Final Fantasy. But the PlayStation also created an entire new universe of games. From Tomb Raider to Resident Evil, Spyro the Dragon to Sly Cooper to Crash Bandicoot it transformed our expectations of gaming from fun little plumbers in karts and pipes to elaborate, beautiful new worlds.

As a current owner of the PlayStation 4, I feel that we have reached the nexus of what video games can be. Our freedom, controls, and the storylines we love have peaked, but they carry on.

Yet, no matter how modern and sleek today’s PlayStation gaming is… I will always love the console that truly made me fall in love with gaming.

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The 10 best rides from Roller Coaster Tycoon ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-10-best-rides-from-roller-coaster-tycoon/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4924 Tue, 28 Jan 2020 17:47:12 +0000 The key to a flourishing theme park in Roller Coaster Tycoon is the perfect balance of ride for all guests. The roller coasters are going to make you money and attract the most guests, but you have to cater to smaller wallets and lower ride intensities as well.

Some rides are fairly useless, in my opinion – like the car ride. The amount it takes to run the ride versus how much profit it typically rakes in isn’t really worth it. I love building the Scrambled Eggs/Twister ride, but when you increase the amount of rotations, it increases the queue!

So, what’s a park builder to do? Generally speaking, my best theme parks feature the same ten rides. Let’s revisit some of them…

10. Rowing Boats

Boring, I know, but hear me out. When you’re starting off a park and are strapped for cash, building a rowboat ride is one of the easiest ways to make money. There are always going to be guests that prefer much less intense rides.

With row boats, you build about four to five pieces of the ride station, and that’s it. Boom. Cheap, easy, and you can charge about $2.50 a head depending on the park.

9. Hedge Maze

Gentle rides are boring. I’m sorry I had to say it, but I did. However, I think the Hedge Maze is pretty interesting. It’s always fun to build your own and watch guests try to figure it out. A great part of this ride is how many guests you can let in at once. If you’re really trying to rip your guests off (yay capitalism!), you can build a teeny tiny maze, let the maximum number of people in, and charge about $2 per head. Ka-ching ka-ching, baby.

8. Chairlift

Parks can get really, really big. The easiest way to combat that can be a transportation ride. But with most of them, they have to be built on the ground or underground; which can create logistical issues if you’re limited for space.

The Chairlift is a beautiful thing – build it above the park, and finesse where to put the station.

7. Space Rings

Space Rings ROCKS. The first time I unlocked this ride, way back in probably 2000, I thought it was the weirdest, coolest ride. Yes it’s a gentle ride, but the nausea rating is high and it seems much more popular with guests. I’ve found this is a great happy-medium when you’re tired of building the Spiral Slide, Haunted House, and Merry-Go-Round over and over again.

6. Go Karts

If the Hedge Maze rips off your guest, this is the Bernie Madoff of that. Guests love Go Karts. Doesn’t matter how short the track is, or how many laps you let them go; they will pay top dollar to ride it.

Build a short track, charge $4 a head, and watch the money flow in. Yeehaw!

5. River Rapids

In terms of guest preferences, the River Rapids aren’t as popular as the Log Flume. However, I think River Rapids are much more fun to build, operate, and watch. Building waterfalls, whirlpools, and giant drops is always really fun.

To bump up the intensity factor, it’s fun to build a large lift, and then have the rafts zoom underground as low as they’ll go. Then, hit them with a few whirlpools. Not as profitable as other rides, but super fun!

4. Reverse Freefall Coaster

This ride is an exciting one; rather than the traditional ups and downs, loops, hoops and corkscrews of a classic coaster, it shoots the car straight, goes up a large hill, and then back down to the station. It’s not too expensive to make, and it’s probably one of the most fun rides to build.

The freefall after the launch is the best portion of this ride – there are only two of these types of coasters in the world! But luckily for us Tycooners, they can be built in practically all of our parks. Maybe not Dinky Park…

3. Vertical Drop Coaster

Holy. Moly. This roller coaster drops straight into the ground?! Upon first discovering this ride, I couldn’t wait to build the hill as high as it could go, and then plunge my guests straight into the ground.

Saw the intensity rating afterwards, and oops. Let’s just say that I had to make some major adjustments… Similar to the Reverse Freefall Coaster, the Vertical Drop Coaster is a fun, unique departure from classic coasters. You have to be really crafty with how you construct it (brakes are your best friend!), but it’s a blast either way.

2. Bobsleigh Coaster

Oh, the delicacy of the coaster building craft this requires….

The Bobsleigh Coaster is exhilarating. If you choose to build your own, you have to be extremely careful with every turn. Watching as you test run is a thrill, hoping that the cart won’t turn right off the curved edges.

1. Looping Roller Coaster

You just can’t beat the classics. You can’t! The Looping Roller Coaster is the best for one reason, and one reason only; Shuttle Loop.

You have taken out the max on your loan, you’re desperately trying to make an extra buck (better charge guests $0.40 to use the restroom!), and then Shuttle Loop comes along.

It’s quick, it’s easy, it has an on-ride photo section. Make the line long, as the ride goes by quicky. And watch the cash roll in!

While the other coasters on this list are fun partially because they are a departure from the traditional roller coaster, Looping Roller Coaster is number one because it’s everything that is right about coasters. You have loops, track boosts, brakes, twists, and endless possibilities.

Your childhood best friends may be people, but mine is the beloved Shuttle Loop. Thanks for all the memories, and the cash.

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 5 toys from the 1980s that still give us nightmares ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/toys-from-the-1980s-that-gave-us-nightmares/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f492a Mon, 27 Jan 2020 21:08:34 +0000 The more I remember the decade of my young childhood, the more I understand why my doctor gave me that seemingly large prescription for Xanax.

It was like all the marketers of the world got together sometime in 1981 and just said, "What if we did our best to ruin children?"

And they did it in the most nefarious way possible: disguising movies, music and toys that were terrifying even for adults as harmless merchandise that every kid should own.

These are the toys that we all remember playing with, yet send an ice-cold chill into our spines every time we recall those memories. The toys from the '80s that STILL give us nightmares.

Teddy Ruxpin

Oh cute! A talking bear!

WRONG. It's an Illiop.

Yes, "Illiop."

And by the way, his dad just vanished when he was younger and now we wanders the dystopian land of Grundo looking for crystals. Because, of course.

Oh yeah, and the toy TALKS BY ITSELF.

And not in a cool Siri kind of way, but a weird the-mouth-doesn't-match-the-sound-quite right kind of way. All we waited for was a voice of a diseased, angry child to possess little Ruxpin and trick us into burning something.

Monchichi

Here's a quick question: Why in the sweet name of Jesus do these exist?

Oh, that's right, because we all want clothed, stuffed monkeys with dead, beady eyes staring right back at us whenever we wake up! Gee, I almost forgot.

My Buddy

In this age of constant surveillance, it's hard to remember what it was like when we couldn't track a child's every move and share our locations with strangers on dating apps.

But there was a clear plot either by aliens or the government (or both) to slowly replace all human children with this strange doll that was clearly the inspiration for Chucky.

"Hey, adults, why would I want this doll as a kid?"

"Oh, kid, because you should carry something with you everywhere you go and dress it exactly like you at all times."

The next thing you know, mom and dad are asking the doll to eat its veggies before having a treat, not you. And the next next thing you know, you're having dreams of the doll waking up and breaking all your toys in the middle of the night, only to wake up and find your toys scattered across the room, and this evil, non-human doll staring at you—all while wearing your favorite shirt.

Chatter Telephone

5 toys from the 1980s that still give us nightmares

There is literally nothing you can say to convince us that a) any child should be exposed to that smile and b) this phone wasn't always plotting to kill you.

Boglins

In fairness, the marketing was pretty upfront in terms of more or less scaring children into buying these weird puppet toys, as well as encouraging boys to use them to scare girls.

Because, of course.

It was like they took the weirdest Jim Henson creations and said, "hey, you know who would love these? Young children who haven't been traumatized yet!"

Thank you, toymakers of the '80s, for helping us to usher in the age of anti-psychotics and anti-depressants. We owe it all to you!

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ 1990s children’s movies that were actually terrifying ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/90s-childrens-movies-that-were-actually-terrifying/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4929 Mon, 23 Dec 2019 19:59:35 +0000 With each generation comes a little more worry and supervision from parents. I can’t imagine being a kid nowadays; asking your parents to watch a movie, and them scouring the internet for reviews, warnings, and general advice from other parents about what is and isn’t okay.

The '90s were a great time to be a kid, because while we weren’t quite the latchkey kids of the '80s, most of us didn’t have true helicopter parents.

But, it came with a few drawbacks. Some of the children’s movies we saw downright terrified us. My brothers and I avoided almost all children’s movies from the '80sThe Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Return to Oz, The NeverEnding Story – with good reason.

But there were still plenty that left us (and our parents) with sleepless nights, despite the fact they were all clearly marketed as kiddo-friendly. Let’s revisit some of the movies from the '90s that completely creeped us out.

We’re Back

Every kid loved dinosaurs — especially in the '90s. Jurassic Park had recently come out, and we all wanted to know what it was like to come face-to-face with a T-rex. We’re Back looks like a really cute animated children’s movie about dinosaurs… and it is. But there are a few things that are unsettling to watch as a kid.

Firstly, the Professor is terrifying. His name is Professor Screweyes, and he actually has a screw for an eye. His circus, meant to scare instead of entertain, is also terrifying.

But the worst part? His death. The scene where crows circle him and descend, eating him to death… yikes. Eject the VHS tape please, mom!

Anastasia

1990s children’s movies that were actually terrifying
Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Anastasia is a great movie that sparked a lifelong interest in the fall of the Russian royal family. It also freaked me out. Granted, the premise of the movie is dark, but it was Rasputin that truly made it nightmare fuel. Literally. The trippy nightmare Anastasia has definitely isn’t a nice dream, especially when it ends with bat demons and a mountain of skulls.

Rasputin is absolutely petrifying, but when his head falls into his chest, I stopped watching the movie. I couldn’t tell you the end of it.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

This is cheating a little bit, because it’s from 1988. But it’s close enough to the '90s, and it’s creepy enough that it deserves to stay. First of all, mixing people and cartoons isn’t right. It’s just not! However, I’m sure many would make an exception for Jessica Rabbit…

Anyway. The entire movie is slightly off, but the most horrendous part is at the end. A person gets run over by a steamroller, and then gets up.

Oh, plus, Judge Doom’s eyes were enough to shock children well into the '90s and beyond.

Halloweentown

1990s children’s movies that were actually terrifying
Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

While this is a fun Halloween movie, there were parts that were scary. Firstly, when the sweet old lady turns into an evil monster and emits that weird growl – big yikes. Then, the guy who actually turns people evil is a hooded looking monster. Just creepy!

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Well, it’s a Tim Burton movie so it’s supposed to be scary – I get it. The main character is a skeleton, and all of the other characters are just as terrifying.

The singing skeletons hanging from nooses weren’t exactly a sweet scene. But the real kicker? Scary Teddy. Cue the shudders!

Jumanji

1990s children’s movies that were actually terrifying
opyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

“I've seen things you've only seen in your nightmares. Things you can't even imagine. Things you can't even see. There are things that hunt you in the night.”

Well, I straight up hated that. My imagination went a little too wild. A lot of the scenes were a little too scary for children, but the quicksand scene really terrified me.

My mom had to pick me up early from a friend’s birthday party and convince me that quicksand isn’t a real threat.

James and the Giant Peach

Unnnnghhhhhhhh. Ugh! What was a good children’s book turned into a completely spooky animated movie. Of course, this was produced by Tim Burton.

His parents die, there is a shark, a rhinoceros is in the clouds….

1990s children’s movies that were actually terrifying
Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Oh, and there’s a lady spider with a human face. Nope! Nope nope nope.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

What a delightful children’s film.

Oh, what’s this? A child snatcher? How… joyful.

The Witches

It’s a movie about witches, so of course it’s going to be slightly creepy. A huge convention of witches, they want to turn all children into mice… Eh. Okay so it isn’t a Disney princess movie. But when they pull off their masks, true horror sets in.

In my child mind, I really thought if I went to a hotel I’d discover a witch that turned me into a mouse. I wasn’t ready for a life of cheese...

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The best Mario Kart: Double Dash powerups, ranked ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-best-mario-kart-double-dash-powerups-ranked/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f492d Wed, 11 Dec 2019 19:43:23 +0000 It’s a tale as old as time. You’re in first place, on the last lap of a race. The victory is essentially guaranteed. But suddenly, you get a warning at the bottom of the screen: a blue shell is coming.

The shell hits you, and the vehicle spirals out of control. The competitors whiz by, and you watch first turn into second, third, then fourth...

There are many factors as to why some friendships and relationships don’t work out, but we cannot pretend like the blue shell doesn’t play a role. Mario Kart: Double Dash is full of many power-ups, some silly, some fun, and some just cruel.

This list isn’t necessarily a ranking of the most powerful, but the most fun.

19. Banana

This is pretty much standard fare for anyone in first or second place. It’s pretty boring, but sometimes if you place it well enough, it can knock someone into a short spiral.

18. Fake item box

Similar to the banana, this is an expected item if you’re in the top four spots in a race. Running into it causes the kart to flip, which is effective, but not all that common.

17. Green shell

The green shell isn’t a bad item, it just isn’t that exciting. If you’re close enough to the kart in front of you, you can probably hit them and make them spin out of control. But you have to aim carefully.

16. Triple green shell

It’s a green shell, but you have three of them. Enough said.

15. Mushroom

The mushroom gives you a great, quick boost of speed. Sometimes it can be enough to move you up a spot, but otherwise it’s just a nice little perk.

14. Red shell

The red shell is much easier to use than the green shell, as you don’t have to focus too hard on how you aim it. It can easily gain you a spot or two ahead. It’s effective and easy to use.

13. Triple red shell

I’ve gained as many as four spots ahead using the triple shell. It’s like the red shell, but three times as powerful.

12. Fireballs

This is a contentious listing, as this is a Mario and Luigi special item. But it’s really just the red or green shell, except it won’t break when it hits walls. Effective, but not extraordinarily thrilling.

11. Giant banana

The giant banana is much more difficult to avoid than an ordinary banana. When hit, it splits into three more bananas, which can take out even more karts. Personally, I love that the giant banana has a scowl while the normal banana has a smile. It’s the little things!

10. Triple mushroom

When timed right, the triple mushroom can really give you three needed boosts. It’s best used on a straight track, which means you have to be more strategic about it when using it in places like Rainbow Road and Dino Dino Jungle.

9. Golden mushroom

The golden mushroom is a Toad and Toadette only item. It has to be used in succession or it runs out, which means you also have to be strategic about using it on a straight track.

8. Heart

A Peach and Daisy item, the heart has no time limit, which makes it really valuable to the user. It isn’t invincible to every single item, but if you luck out, this protective shield can last you a while.

[RELATED: The best Super Smash Bros. Melee stages]

7. Eggs

Another special item, the egg is far superior to the red shell. Once it hits its target, it explodes into other smaller items that can impact other players. So you might not just knock out the kart in front of you, but maybe others that try to pass you as well!

6. Bowser’s shell

The Bowser shell is terrifying, and almost impossible to avoid. It bounces off other items, ricochets off walls, and crushes karts in its path. You better hope you’re behind it.

5. Bomb

There’s really not much to explain here; imagine if NASCAR drivers used bombs (that didn’t kill their opponents) to get ahead.

4. Lightning

Lightning is by far the most overall satisfying item you can obtain in Mario Kart: Double Dash. You single handedly get to impact the performance of every kart on the course. You get to speed ahead while everyone toils and struggles in their puny, slow state. Ha ha!

3. Star

The star is a great item. Not only do you speed up, but you become invincible against any item, glide across water, and even steal whatever items those have that you plow through.

2. Blue shell

It’s fast, it’s lethal, it’s effective. However, if you’re in last place or close to last place, it doesn’t really give you the ultimate satisfaction you crave. You might whiz up several places, but it’s not going to personally put you in first… Most of the time.

1. Chain chomp

There is nothing more fun than getting chain chomp. You sit back, relax, and just let it tear up everyone in front of you. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid getting hit, and even if you do, it’s going to pass you.

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Gift ideas under $30 for the Nintendo fan in your life ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/gift-ideas-under-30-for-the-nintendo-fan-in-your-life/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f492b Sun, 08 Dec 2019 17:28:36 +0000 It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but not if you have a hard time coming up with gift ideas. The most common complaint I hear from my friends is that they have no idea what to get for their significant other.

Well, if they like Nintendo, you’re in luck. Expanding far beyond consoles and video games, there are a vast number of fun, cool gifts you can get for the Nintendo-lover in your life. And the best part? They’re not all that expensive.

Because let’s be honest: getting gifts for the ones you love is a great thing, but breaking the bank really isn’t.

From the least expensive to most expensive, here’s a list of gifts perfect for the Nintendo enthusiast in your life!

Princess Peach vinyl sticker – $3.95

You can’t go wrong with an adorable, cartoon Princess Peach to sit in the corner of their back windshield. With the price point under $5, it’s a cute gift that you can’t just walk into a store and buy. It’s thoughtful, but not too pricey.

Nintendo Switch game holder – $8.99

This is a simple, inexpensive gift. But it’s really, really valuable to the Nintendo Switch players in your life. Help them stay organized with all of their games in one place!

Ash Ketchum hat – $9.54

It was much easier to buy gifts for Pokémon fans when we were all younger. You could just grab them a pack of cards and be done! But have no fear. Nothing will make the recipient of this gift feel more connected to their childhood in the present day than a cool Ash Ketchum hat. Pikachú and disproportional eyes not included.

NES Cartridge coasters – $9.99

Everyone needs coasters, but not everyone wants decorative, nice ones. Nothing will make your person enjoy a frosty beer or soda more than placing it down on their favorite old games.

Blue Shell pin – $10.50

Warning: this pin does contain explicit language. But for the older, mature, Mario Kart fan in your life, it’s bound to make them laugh out loud.

GameBoy Mug – $11.99

A GameBoy mug is pretty neat. But a GameBoy mug that has a screen turn on when hot coffee is poured into it? Wicked, wicked cool.

Nintendo Switch carry case – $13.88

This could be a great gift if you conspire with someone. If I knew my parents were going to buy one of my brother’s a Nintendo Switch, or a friend was going to buy their significant other one, this would be my first move. It’s not splurging $200 on the device, but it still feels like you’re contributing to the evolution of their gaming experience. Everyone wins!

Legend of Zelda socks – $13.99

When you’re a kid, socks are so lame. When you’re an adult, cool socks are everything. You could go to Target and grab a pair with puppies or beer pints on them, or you could be way more awesome and get these.

Super Mario pipe koozie – $14.99

You don’t often see Mario-related gifts that are centered around the pipes. But for such a big part of the game, it’s surprising. This koozie might not have Mario jumping in and out, but it sure will keep a canned drink cold.

Nintendo video game patent poster – $17.99

Know someone who loves video games, but also has a soft spot for interior design? These gorgeous patent posters will do the trick. The simple sketch over the sepia-toned paper will be the perfect addition to the gallery wall above their leather gaming couch. With that knitted blanket perfectly draped over the back, of course.

Bulbasaur succulent – $19.99

Plants make every happy. So does Bulbasaur! Bring some extra cute greenery into their life with this!

Super Mario Bros fleece - $21.99

A blanket is NEVER a bad gift idea. And a Super Mario Bros blanket is definitely a fantastic idea.

Super Mario Sweatshirt – $26.48

Skip graphic t-shirts at Target this year, and let the video game lover in your life showcase their favorite character with this comfortable sweatshirt. Pick crewneck or hoodie, and let them leap around with Mario all over town. Coin-grabbing sound not included.

Super Mario Brothers question mark table lamp – $28.99

Have you ever dreamt of falling asleep in Mushroom Kingdom? Okay maybe you haven’t, but maybe someone else in your life has. The biggest Mario enthusiasts will be sure to love this lamp that looks like it was pulled directly from your screen!

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The 10 best Super Smash Bros. melee stages ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-10-best-super-smash-brothers-melee-stages/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4926 Tue, 26 Nov 2019 21:59:45 +0000 If you don’t think Melee is the best Super Smash Bros., you’re simply wrong. The graphics are fantastic, the controls are superb, and the character list is at its peak in the franchise.

But what I think truly sets Melee apart from the other Super Smash Bros. games is the amount of stages you can select to battle on. Not only is it the volume of stages, but almost all of them are extraordinary in detail.

They move and shift, background objects interfere, and there’s a multitude of ways to die when you fall off the stage.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the top ten!

10. Onett

This list begins with Onett, which is just an adorable little place. You can jump on roofs, buildings, and a streamer. Aside from the cars below, this is a pretty tame stage to fight at.

9. Jungle Japes

Similar to Kong Jungle in Nintendo 64, this stage has better graphics. But the fun remains the same – three small platforms, rapids below, and a setting sun. You had to have some good defensive strategies here.

8. Kongo Jungle

Another Kong stage! One wrong move here, and it’s tough to recover. It was lethal. The rushing water, barrels, and that one rock that might be able to save you…

Battles here never lasted long.

7. Mushroom Kingdom

The nostalgia of the old Mario games make this stage just so happy and pleasant. The music and the cartoon background really made it feel comfortable and like you were playing in a memory.

Additionally, it was really fun to stand on the platform and see how far you could fall down before you had to jump back up.

6. Great Bay

“Is the moon getting closer?” I asked my older brother the first time we played this stage. We kept saying no, no we didn’t think so… Okay maybe…. YIKES.

Probably my favorite part about Great Bay is just watching the giants push the moon far back into the sky. Tingle floating up and down on the red balloon while you KO your opponents is another nice touch, too.

5. Mute City

Stress overload.

Get on the platform, off the platform. Fight on the road. Avoid the cars.

At Mute City, the actual stage itself is almost as threatening as the opponents themselves. It’s fast, fun, and just an all around fantastic place.

4. Pokémon Stadium

At first, this seems like a pretty basic stage. It’s fun, but just a flat, basic platform. Your initial assumptions are soon proven wrong, as the stage shifts and morphs into a variety of terrains – grass, rock, fire, and water.

Though it may seem like a challenge, the evolving stage makes it fun. Plus, the jumbotron in the background makes it really seem like a true stadium full of fans.

3. Corneria

Fighting atop a flying battleship doesn’t seem like the smartest idea, but it sure makes for a great stage on Melee. Corneria might be a small stage, but it doesn’t lack in excitement. You can brawl it out to the left of the screen on top of the ship, or you can go down belong the wing and really, really slaughter your opponent. Once you did enough damage on the top of the ship and your opponent retreated, you’d follow them down and really kill them.

The music is great, the background is bright, and it’s just a blast.

2. Brinstar

When I first started playing Melee, Brinstar terrified me. I begged my brothers not to pick the stage. Once the fear of the darkness, music, and acid wore off, I realized how much fun it really was.

You have the elements to work with – earthquakes, rising acid, and a morphing stage if the fleshy parts were destroyed. Not only did you have to focus on your enemies, but you had to stay on your toes.

1. Hyrule Temple

Simply, simply the best. But not such a simple stage. The beauty of Hyrule Temple is how vast it is. You have so much freedom here to run so many places, jump on so many ledges, and even hide in the bottom part of the map.

From the bottom of the map, you can float three to four levels. Or, you can run across the entire stage from left to right for what seems like a mile.

I would say I selected Temple about 80 percent of the time. This stage, I truly believe, embodies what is most fun about Melee; just the freedom and options it allowed.

Battles here tended to take some time, as you could run and hide almost anywhere. Or, if you were on the brink of death, you could duke it out at the bottom until one of you died.

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ Movies from the 80s for nerds to watch this holiday season ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/movies-from-the-80s-for-nerds-to-watch-this-holiday-season/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4927 Tue, 26 Nov 2019 21:47:48 +0000 The snow is falling, gifts are being wrapped and a strange green creature is gnawing at your face—that's right, it's the winter holidays!

As you curl up in front of your digital fire with a smartphone in hand and telling Alexa to order your groceries for you so you don't have to take a single step outside, take a moment to remember the winter holidays of yesteryear when things were less ... like that.

Clearly, winter is the perfect time for some classic holiday movies. But you're not just anyone, you're a nerd. A geek, a dweeb, a ... well, you get the idea.

THESE are the movies from the 1980s, possibly the nerdiest of all decades (we'll save that debate for a later post), that you should be streaming in 4k, or maybe just dusting off the VCR for.

Here are the best holiday movies from the '80s every self-proclaimed nerd should watch this year:

Scrooged

Movies from the 80s for nerds to watch this holiday season
Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Bill Murray. Ghosts.

Need we say more?

Well, yes, we do, because this isn't Ghostbusters, but instead that other Bill Murray '80s movie that every man, woman, and child should be legally required to watch at some point.

This 1988 retelling of A Christmas Carol centers on cynical TV executive Frank Cross, played by Murray, as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future whilst his production company is busy putting on a live television special based on the original Dickens novella.

What I really love about this movie is that it was created right at that magical time when CGI wasn't good enough to be used widely, but folks were really well seasoned in using things like puppets to create vivid special effects. There's something about those effects that both dates movies of this time and makes them timeless.

Also, Bill Murray.

Gremlins

Movies from the 80s for nerds to watch this holiday season
Copyright by Warner Bros. and other respective production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

If you're like my wife, your mom took you to see this movie in the theater because, heck, it sure seemed like it'd be great for kids.

Oops.

It’s easy to forget that Gremlins actually takes place during Christmas, because it's such a damn good movie you should watch it pretty much anytime you have a spare 90 minutes.

The scene of the gremlins watching Snow White in a movie theater is easily one of the greatest scenes in all of cinema.

You definitely have to watch this movie this year. Just, you know, maybe after the kids are in bed.

And remember: DON'T FEED THEM AFTER MIDNIGHT.

The Monster's Christmas

Why do certain movies exist? It's a question we may never know the answer to.

And that's the case with this bizarre 1981 made-for-TV movie from New Zealand where a child embarks upon a truly psychedelic journey to help some weird monsters get their singing voice back from a witch.

Nothing quite says "Christmas" like that! Sweet dreams.

Die Hard

Movies from the 80s for nerds to watch this holiday season
Copyright by Twentieth Century Fox and other respective production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

If you don't greet your family on the morning of whichever winter holiday you celebrate with "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf****er," then frankly, I don't know you anymore.

Apparently, at some point there was a debate whether John McClain and Die Hard really belong as a holiday movie, to which I say, see the above quote.

And if you don't sarcastically call your dad Hans Gruber at some point during the family meal, what are you even doing with your life?

Nerds particularly love this movie because it features absurd action, a loose plot-line that really doesn't hold up but who cares, and Run D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis."

Multiple viewings, along with a drinking game, are encouraged.

He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special

Yes, this actually exists.

And yes, even Skeletor can't help but show kindness on this special day (which no one in Eternia even knows exists until a couple of rando kids show up and tell them about it, but hey, good on you, Skeletor).

And guess what? You can watch the entire made-for-TV special right on YouTube.

As far as Christmas specials from the '80s go, there are plenty to choose from, but only the truest of nerds will go along on the holiday journey of a lifetime, which predictably ends with He-Man dressed as Santa and delivering the message that Christmas isn't really about presents, but actually is.

Trancers

Movies from the 80s for nerds to watch this holiday season
Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

A Philip K. Dick-esque sci-fi flick complete with cyberpunks, a drug that takes you back in time, and Santa Claus?

Yes, please.

In the classic scene below, Santa is killed by a time-traveling cop, in a mall, in front of children. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Trancers is an oft-overlooked '80s movie that really deserves more attention for pushing the limits of what a sci-fi story could look like. Plus, a young Helen Hunt stars!

Yule be glad you finally watched this one this year (yeah, we felt how painful that was too, but it had to be done).

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 Nintendo GameCube games of all time ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-nintendo-gamecube-games-of-all-time/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4928 Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:24:06 +0000 I’ll never forget the months my brothers and I spent pitching my parents on the latest video game system we had to have. I mean, it was a CUBE that you could play games on.

Ahh, the Nintendo GameCube.

Though it wasn’t Nintendo’s best-selling console of all time, it was definitely my favorite, thanks in part to a few games that were absolute gems.

So take the freakishly tiny disc out of the case, close the lid, and hit the gray button; we’re going to explore the top ten GameCube games of all time.

10. Super Monkey Ball 2

I would love to know what went through the mind of this game’s creator.

You control a small, adorable monkey inside a transparent ball, rolling through floating stages in the sky.  Your monkey collects bananas and has to whiz through the obstacles to the end of the stage.

Super Monkey Ball was a fresh, exciting game. It was also a crowd pleaser, as it was really fun to play the minigames or just take turns trying to get through the infuriating levels. The multiplayer play was on point, too.

9. Mario Party 6

Now, there are a countless number of Mario Party games. Okay, fine, there are 11. But I personally like the 6th one second best (Mario Party 2 is the greatest), and it happens to be on the GameCube.

I like that this game has the day and night cycles, and the boards are a lot of fun. The one where you jump around on the smiling tree is my favorite.

8. Kirby Air Ride

Kirby Air Ride isn’t generally regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, but it is. It just is. The controls are simple, and the gameplay is straight forward. Grab a great vehicle, and smoke your opponents in races and minigames.

The music, graphics, items, and background characters made it charming, interesting, and fun. The interactive scenery (we all remember the first time we busted into that volcano!) made exploring and finding easter eggs a thrill.

Kirby is a simple character, and his game is without complexities but with a lot of fun.

7. Super Mario Sunshine

This game happens to be the third best-selling Game Cube game of all time, and for good reason. Mario returns to his blue-collar working class roots as he has to clean an entire island that’s covered in slime. Yikes.

It’s pretty awesome using a cleaning tool to fight enemies and  uncover new parts of the island. Also, pretty awesome that this is one of the first games that you can ride Yoshi. Just good things all around.

6. Luigi’s Mansion

Finally, a game that doesn’t totally revolve around Mario! And better yet, Luigi gets to be the hero! This game is another good ol', plain fun one that our beloved cube has to offer.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect going into this game. Before the Internet, you just kinda…. played games? And you figured it out along the way.

Luigi’s Mansion was unlike so many other games. Recapturing ghosts, sucking Mario out of a painting, and playing Luigi as the main character was unexpected and great.

5. Pokémon Colosseum

Pokémon Colosseum is a fantastic game. Aside from graphics, it’s not a far departure from the classic Pokémon games. You battle other trainers, steal Pokémon, and evolve your own.

But, there’s so much more to do in this game, and the graphics are far more evolved than the old one. For Pokémon fans, this is a classic. It’s sort of nice to take a break from hunching over your Game Boy to play on the big screen, no?

4. Metroid Prime

Honestly, it would be pretty difficult not to rank this game in the top five.

Samus makes for a fantastic main character. Killing aliens, rolling around in the morph ball, visiting alien planets…

Though it’s not the first nor the last game in the Metroid series, it’s a good one. The first of the games to use first-person perspective, it allowed us to see the galaxy from a different perspective.

3. Animal Crossing

It was extraordinarily difficult not to put Animal Crossing in every spot on this list. But I had to pull back a little bit.

Not only is this a top title for GameCube, but this is truly one of the best games ever made. You’re an adorable villager living in a town with even more adorable villagers. You fish, pick fruit, catch bugs, and pay off your loan. You make friends with your neighbors, can design your own clothes, and visit other friends towns.

When the world gets hard, “Animal Crossing” is always there for you to donate a fossil to a museum, selling some items to Tom Nook, or just chat with a neighbor.

While there’s no real conflict or adventure in this title, it’s uncomplicated and just nice. It feels good. You don’t have to shut it off in frustration; and you shouldn’t. Because you don’t want to see Mr. Resetti!

2. Mario Kart: Double Dash

A Mario game, once again. And not a new one, at that. But hands down, Mario Kart: Double Dash stands the test of time.

The gameplay is standard, but the tracks are fantastic. Somehow, this Rainbow Road is even harder. Wario Colosseum, Mushroom City, and Daisy Cruise are some of the top races in this game.

The new items are fun, and having two riders per car is fresh fun for this franchise.

But the real reason this is second best? This game is just a ridiculous amount of fun. Will it end friendships? Yes. Is it worth it? You betcha.

1. Super Smash Brothers Melee

I mean, go home if this isn’t in your top five video games of all time. Like other games on the list, this wasn’t the first nor the last Super Smash Bros. Oh, but it was the best.

First and foremost, the controls are tremendous. You have so much more power over what your character does, and there are so many more moves. If you want to be Princess Peach and whack your opponents with an umbrella the entire time, you can. Same goes for Mr. Game and Watch.

But what really sets this game apart are the stages. You can run as far as you want in Hyrule Temple, see the stage quickly evolve at Pokémon Stadium, or follow the rotating stage at Brinstar.

There’s a reason this game remains so popular to this day—it almost never gets boring.

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The Top 10 Nintendo DS Games of All Time ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-nintendo-ds-games-of-all-time/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4925 Tue, 12 Nov 2019 21:39:49 +0000 Do you remember how cool the Game Boy was? A gaming console that you held in the palm of your hand – mind-blowing!

It was black and white, everything was so tiny, and the sounds were so cool. All out of a small little box.

It’s incredible to think how quickly the Game Boy evolved. We got the color, the SP, the advanced….

And then, we got the Nintendo DS.

The idea of a touch screen, at the time, was simply crazy. In a world dominated by smartphones, tablets, and even touch screen laptops, it doesn’t seem so wild today, but it was revolutionary.

Let’s take a stroll back to a simpler time and revisit some of the games that truly made the touch screen device unbeatable.

These games are ranked, and are absolutely influenced by my own personal bias. Let’s start with some furry friends...

10. Nintendogs

I had four dogs growing up. And yet, the idea of taking care of an animated, fake dog on a handheld device was insanely fun.

Why would I walk my actual dog when I could use my stylus to walk one on the screen? Nintendogs was really fun because it utilized all the DS had to offer. You could teach your dog its name and commands using the microphone on the DS. You could brush it, bathe it, pet it, and play with it using the stylus.

Nintendogs may be a simple, “girly” game in your opinion, but your opinion is wrong.

9. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

To be quite frank, this wasn’t a fantastic game. It was the same old Lego Star Wars that we had already played, and it had quite a few glitches.

However… it’s Lego Star Wars, so it makes the list. It was still a really fun game, and did bring a few new dimensions to it with the touch screen. The multiplayer features, as with Mario Kart, made it really fun as well.

There’s not much to argue for or against here. But again – it’s Lego Star Wars.

8. Kirby Canvas Curse

The hours of my life I spent playing this game are hours I truly don't want back. Because they were so amazing. Kirby Canvas was simply a fantastic game. Unlike normal games with Kirby in it, you couldn’t control him using any buttons. Rather, you had to draw a path with the stylus for him to move along on, and you could also tap on enemies to stun them, or Kirby to speed them up.

It was a really challenging, new kind of way to interact with the protagonist of a game and his foes.

7. Yoshi’s Island

Like Kirby Canvas Curse, this game was a fresh spin on an old character. Controlling Yoshi with the stylus was fun, and it was also really cool that he could jump into the top screen.

This game is very similar to the other Yoshi’s Island games, but because the controls were so different it made it feel almost brand new. So while Yoshi carrying babies on his back was something we had all done before, controlling him with the tap of your hand wasn’t.

6. Mario Kart

Of course Mario Kart makes this list—it’s freaking Mario Kart.

Now, I think this game could have utilized the touch screen more than it did. But, the fact you could blow into the microphone to inflate balloons was pretty cool!

The ability to play other people was great; instead of sharing one console and multiple controllers, you had your own device and could play sitting across the room from each other. It made family vacations even more fun, when you could yell at your brothers through the walls of your hotel room for throwing a blue shell your way.

Sorry, mom and dad….

5. Final Fantasy III

Similar to some of the titles on this list, Final Fantasy is very far from a new game. It’s familiar, and right off the bat you know it’s going to be fantastic. A big bonus feature of this game is the return of experience points. The one downside that’s pretty disappointing about the game, keeping it from a higher ranking on the list, is the lack of using all of the Nintendo DS’s features. Not using the dual screens for a majority of the game felt a little pointless.

However, great story, features, and the ability to play a familiar game on a new system is always a win.

4. Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Chess has been around for countless generations. It simulates warfare at a basic (but very strategic!) level. What if chess had tanks, zany maps and fictional generals that grant you superpowers?

Enter Advance Wars: Dual Strike, which does all of this and more, and even allows you to play with friends on the same DS. The vibrant colors and upbeat music accompany a surprisingly deep strategy experience—even those aforementioned superpowers require good planning to use effectively—complete with a map editor so you can create even more varied or off-the-wall scenarios to play with your friends.

3. Pokémon HeartGold Version and Pokémon SoulSilver

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver deliver nostalgia in spades.

Remakes of the sequels to the original Pokémon games, they featured beefed-up graphics, a remixed soundtrack, and new characters and secrets to uncover. While the games don’t necessarily reinvent the Pokémon formula—choose a starter, travel the world, defeat Team Rocket, collect gym badges, and finally beat the Elite Four—they offer a great experience and a lot of memories for those who still remember the Game Boy Color. And they even contain the entire map of Kanto, the original Pokémon world, to explore alongside the newer Johto.

Sequels can often disappoint, but HeartGold and SoulSilver knew how to do it right.

2. Super Princess Peach

This game was exactly what the doctor called for. I’m sick of you, Mario!

It was super fun (no pun intended) to go through levels defeating enemies as Princess Peach. While the game could’ve taken much more advantage of the touch screen, this was a fresh, brilliant game.

The colors, graphics, music and everything felt really new. As a young girl, it was exciting to feel like I had a game made for me and marketed to me that was still beating up bad guys.

1. Animal Crossing: Wild World

As far as I’m concerned, every other game on this list doesn’t even compare to Animal Crossing: Wild World. Go home, guys. Pack it up.

Animal Crossing was back in a BIG way with its second game. The touch screen opened up an entirely new world (okay, pun intended this time) of possibilities for your villager. Run, fish, catch bugs, wave to your neighbor, all at the tap of a stylus!

There were some old features I missed from the GameCube version, but this game overall was just marvelous. Visiting other player’s towns, no matter how far away they were from you, was incredibly exciting. The introduction of the hair salon so you could ditch the ugly cone hat—amazing! Just amazing.

Cross breeding flowers, the coffee shop in the museum, and even the music was fantastic.

My only complaint, though very minor, is that the top screen could maybe have been used a bit more. But it was still fun when a package flew across and you could slingshot it.

Overall, I’ve sunk more time into this game than almost any other. It never gets boring, it’s always fun, and I still play it 14 years later.

Lead image: Stas Knop from Pexels

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ C-3PO’s top 7 moments ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/c-3pos-top-7-moments/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4923 Mon, 11 Nov 2019 20:48:41 +0000 The final Rise of Skywalker trailer has sparked a great number of theories online. One moment from the trailer, in particular, caused a great deal of emotional agony for a lot of fans…

Is this the end of C-3PO?

In the trailer, when asked what he's doing by Poe, he replies: “Taking one last look, sir. At my friends.”

Some have theorized that he is going to be destroyed at some point. However, there is another theory floating around. At this point in the trailer, it looks like C-3PO is being worked on. He’s saying goodbye to his current friends.

Could it be possible that his memory is being restored to the Revenge of the Sith era?

If this is the case, that would be pretty tragic, as he’d forget some of the best things he said and did.

But the truth is, we just don't know yet. As we await the fate of our gold-plated friend, let’s revisit some of C-3POs greatest moments throughout the Star Wars film franchise.

“My parts are showing?’

One of my favorite C-3PO scenes is actually the first time we meet him (chronologically speaking). In the Skywalkers' humble abode on Tatooine, Anakin shows us one of his projects – a droid! We don’t understand R2-D2, but he tells C-3PO that he’s naked, to which 3PO exclaims, “My parts are showing?!”

We already know from the original trilogy that he’s a rather proper droid, so the idea of him being introduced to a bunch of strangers while naked is pretty funny.

“Oh, this is such a drag!”

Hate me if you want for saying this, but I genuinely believe that Attack of the Clones was peak Threepio. Specifically, the Battle of Geonosis.

C-3PO unfortunately (but fortunately for the sake of those who enjoy laughing at his expense) gets his head attached to a battle droid's body. In what is an epic, slightly tragic, battle scene, we get the sheer absurdity of him trying to operate.

R2-D2 pulls his head off and drags him along, to which C-3PO says: “Oh, this is such a drag!”

Oh, Threepio, you old card.

“Die, Jedi dogs!”

Again, Battle of Geonosis. When the battle droid program runs C-3PO’s head, he yells: “Die, Jedi dogs!”

Hilarious. The only time we ever get to see C-3PO not be either polite, intelligent, or just annoying. Violent C-3PO is something I could really get behind.

“Let the Wookie win.”

Holographic chess seems like a delightful space pastime. From the little glimpse we get, little monsters smashing each other looks as though it really livens up the game.

However, in this scene we are treated to a moment of pacifism from C-3PO when he tells R2-D2 to let Chewbacca win. And why is that?

Because Chewie will rip your arms off.

“No. I don’t like you either.”

R2-D2 won’t re-play the hologram video of Princess Leia for Luke, and he gets annoyed. He beeps to C-3PO, asking if he thinks Luke dislikes him?

To which C-3PO responds with a zinger, that neither Luke nor he like R2-D2.

Ice cold!

"It's against my programming to impersonate a deity."

This line always gets me. First of all, it’s hilarious that the Ewoks think C-3PO is some sort of god. I mean, he’s covered in gold, so I’m not saying it’s outlandish … just really funny.

Anyway, his friends life is at stake, but he can’t save them, purely because it’s against his programming. Who would take the time out of their day to intentionally program a droid NOT to impersonate a god?

“Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease!”

A rare but sizzling zinger from C-3PO. Love it. This is the C-3PO the people deserve more of!

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Movies That Time Forgot: The Ewok Adventure ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/movies-that-time-forgot-the-ewok-adventure/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4921 Tue, 29 Oct 2019 21:40:26 +0000 As an 18-year-old graduating high school, I remember hating Jar-Jar Binks when Episode I came out.

The Phantom Menace was possibly the biggest cinematic moment of my life, and yet despite the fact the special edition reworks of the original Star Wars trilogy sat uneasily in my mind, I was still riding the high of getting to see the original films, even in that form, on the big screen.

You see, back in those days, it was rare for theaters, especially a small, crappy town in the middle of the desert, to just show a cool movie for the heck of it. There were no Alamos Drafthouses back in those dark, dark days.

And while I enjoyed Phantom Menace enough to watch it six or so times in the theater, I pretty much hated Jar-Jar right off the bat. But, like everyone else, I noticed kids laughing at him and thinking he was great. George Lucas made this whole stupid movie for his kids, I thought to myself begrudgingly.

It was then that my oldest brother broke the news to me: That's exactly how he felt about Ewoks.

Wait, what??!?!

The same Ewoks that I loved?! The same ones who helped two kids, not unlike me (even with dorky '80s haircuts) in the beloved movie that my mom had recorded for me off TV and that I watched over, and over, and over, and over, and over ...?!?!

How could you hate that?

I guess this was also the moment where I realized my brother himself was fallible, because screw that, the Ewoks rule, and they especially rule thanks to the original standalone Star Wars movie—yeah, before Rogue One or Solo or whatever else they throw at us:

The Ewok Adventure.

(AKA, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.)

I don't give a damn what anyone says about this movie, it checked all the boxes.

It was in the Star Wars universe (rudely removed from canon, smdh), and featured a family, not unlike my own, that crash-landed on the forest moon of Endor. When Mace, a teenager, and Cindel, Mace's 4-year-old sister find themselves without parents thanks to an overly zealous giant forest monster that apparently needs some new pets, they must befriend the Ewoks to save their family.

It was a TV movie, so the effects weren't Lucas-level, but they were still cool. Check out these monsters:

Creepy wolf/rat type thing! (AKA a boarwolf.)

Giant spider!! (AKA, um, just spider I guess.)

Big huge monster dude! (AKA Gorax.)

There was also magic ...

And cool '80s haircuts, of course.

But most of all, there were ...

EWOKS!!!

BTW, in case you were wondering, George Lucas never went back and ruined it, either, giving it another vote.

There was also a less-awesome sequel in 1985's Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (but hey, still a live-action Star Wars movie).

So screw all of you that hate Ewoks. Ewoks kick butt.

But Jar Jar still sucks. Just don't ask my son what he thinks of that.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 7 kids video game characters from the '90s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-7-kids-video-game-characters-from-the-90s/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4922 Mon, 28 Oct 2019 19:20:29 +0000 The 1990s spawned an entirely new generation of gamers; ones who craved fantasy worlds made of impossible colors and creatures. Maybe we knew we’d need an escape from the harshness of reality a few decades later?

That took a dark turn. Anyway, with those games we loved came characters that we sort of grew up with.

For years we followed them through different adventures on evolving games and platforms. Imagine playing Super Mario Nintendo 64 back in the late 90s, and someone telling you that one day you could play it on the Nintendo Switch. I couldn’t imagine a Nintendo game that you didn’t have to blow in the cartridge for.

Though we all grew up, those characters were always there for us. Some of my favorite memories include getting home from college over Thanksgiving break and firing up the ‘ole Playstation 2 with my brothers.

So without further ado, let’s revisit some of those characters, presented in no particular order.

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot brings back so many memories of my dentist’s waiting room. He was a fun, spunky, odd looking character, and the game was simple fun.

Plus, his victory dance was pretty great.

Kirby

As a little girl, I had a huge soft spot for Kirby. This adorable pink creature lived in a place called Dream Land and floated around. Truly precious. Even the trees were cute.

My first introduction to Kirby was well after the original game – "Kirby’s Dream Land" – in Super Smash Bros. There was nothing more enjoyable then floating around, sucking up people and wearing cute hats.

Though my favorite game ended up being a few years later, “Kirby Canvas Curse,” he no doubt nestled into my heart in the 90s.

Spyro

Here’s where my own personal bias comes in. Were I to rank this list, Spyro would absolutely be number one. “Spyro the Dragon” was my favorite game growing up; it’s what truly spawned my love for video games.

Spyro was a super cool, sarcastic dragon who kicked butt and hung out with a dragon fly. It was awesome. Flying through portals, learning how to swim, and eventually head-butting that greedy Moneybags were some of the gems (no pun intended!) of my childhood.

So it’s no surprise that I immediately got my hands on the remastered edition in 2018…

Sonic

Sonic and Crash Bandicoot were a lot alike, in my opinion. But playing a blue hedgehog that sped through levels while collecting rings was pretty fun. It was just an added bonus that his mission was to free his animal friends.

The same girl who thought Kirby was adorable really, really liked saving those animals as Sonic.

Yoshi

Ugh. Yosh! Much like Kirby, I was introduced to Yoshi through Super Smash Bros., and also Mario Kart. Again, like Kirby, my heart melted at the green dinosaur who made little noises and stuck his tongue out.

Similar to Kirby as well, my love for Yoshi was only cemented by the Nintendo DS. “Yoshi’s Island” was one of the most fun video games, in my opinion. The DS controls gave him new life and abilities, and made it that much more fun to jump ridiculously high while kicking his feet. Adorable!

Pikachu

This one is a no-brainer. The 90s WERE the decade of Pokémon. It was impossible to have a video game system and not a single Pokémon game. Pikachu was a defining character of so many of our childhoods, either as Ash’s sidekick or his own character on Super Smash Bros. He’s the reason I got a GameBoy and really started playing video games in the first place. I even had a gigantic stuffed animal Pikachu, Pikachu pajamas, and a number of t-shirts.

Another great thing; the revitalization of Pokemon with 2016’s “Pokémon Go.” It inspired the next generation of gamers to fall in love with the same yellow mouse we all did.

Mario

Need I say more?

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The four best LEGO Star Wars games ... of all time ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-four-best-lego-star-wars-games-of-all-time/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4920 Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:36:08 +0000 Editor's note: This was written and published years before the Skywalker Saga game was released.

“What’s in a game? That which we call a LEGO, by any other game would be as fun.”

The word “LEGO” has a pretty impressive affect on most people. Take a normal game or movie, and put “LEGO” in front of it—it’s instantly more exciting.

Playing with Star Wars toys growing up was fun, but building and playing with Lego Star Wars was just next level. The same goes for Star Wars video games, swinging a Lego lightsaber and watching the head pop off a droid.

One of the best parts of LEGO Star Wars games are the little cinematic montages between certain scenes – the reenactment of Star Wars scenes but with silent LEGO bricks was always hilarious.

But with the enormous success of LEGO Star Wars video games came… well, a lot of LEGO Star Wars video games.

So without further ado, let’s break down the four best.

LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars

This game is the most recent of the games on the list, so one of its best features is the graphics. The screen is more detailed, the colors are better and the screen is lighter than before. Another great part of this game is the player’s ability to COMMAND clone armies, no matter how much leadership experience they lack.

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard they were making a Lego game for The Clone Wars. It was a great, and in my opinion, under-watched TV show.

I will say this – the show was animated, so the Lego-ization (new word?) didn’t have as great of a comedic effect. But it’s still a good, fun game.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Complete Saga

The complete saga is great because, well, it’s the complete saga.

It’s basically the combination of the first and second game, without too many surprises. But it’s pretty fun to play the saga in its entirety, without switching games.

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

As soon as they came out with the first Lego Star Wars, we NEEDED more. Craved it. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t make the original trilogy first, but given the hype around Revenge of the Sith, it makes sense.

The original trilogy one was great specifically for this scene:

And this one:

Oh yeah, also:

This one as well:

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game

How could this not be your favorite LEGO Star Wars? In my humble opinion, the first game was the best. Part of that was initially laughing at everything because it was all LEGO! The game was so fresh, brilliant, and fun to play. Plus, the cinematic montages were priceless.

The game was released in 2005, which was an exciting and emotional time for Star Wars fans. The final movie was out (at the time, we really did think there’d be no more…) and we had to watch Obi-Wan and Anakin battle on the big screen, but we could at least alleviate the pain with Lego Star Wars.

Though all the games are fantastic, I’ll never have the initial laughter at almost every scene I had the first time around. There was something about a Lego minifigure exploding when it died and all the bits scattering that was way less frustrating than the traditional way of dying in a video game.

Lastly, the universal playability of this game was fantastic. I was loyal to my PlayStation, but my friends could play this on their GameCube, Xbox, or even the GameBoy Advance. Everyone was able to enjoy this innovative, hilarious game on their own favorite system.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 5 1980s kids movies to watch for Halloween ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/1980s-movies-to-watch-for-halloween/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f491c Tue, 15 Oct 2019 14:34:49 +0000 For those of us that grew up or had their formative years during the 1980s, we already know we have warped minds and rampant anxiety issues thanks to the movies that were for some reason marketed to kids.

That said, they were also really awesome movies. And every year when Halloween was getting close, my brothers and I would bust out a few well-worn classics to get our fix of ghouls and ghosts and pirates and monsters and Fred Savage. Especially Fred Savage.

Despite the fact that these movies are all a minimum of 30 years old, they are still perfect for a Halloween screening today. So get out your air popcorn popper, unwrap some of those weird little peanut butter chewy candies that the old lady down the street always handed out, and let's crush this Halloween thing the right way—with kids movies from the '80s.

The Monster Squad (1987)

In a completely transparent attempt to cash in on the success of movies like The Goonies and E.T., we have The Monster Squad, where possibly every '80s trope from the "adults don't believe the kids so they have to complete some whacky adventure themselves" genre is packed in from end-to-end.

There's the kid wearing Robotech pajamas (um, want), the "cool" kid who wears fingerless gloves, and of course the one who looks like Sean Astin and acts as the leader of the squad with all kinds of inspiring speeches.

The Monster Squad really is pure '80s gold, and still entertains with both the very of-its-time references and legitimately funny writing.

Return to Oz (1985)

I've already written about this bizarre Wizard of Oz sequel, and how it warped the minds of many young children in the '80s, which is what makes it perfect for a Halloween viewing this year.

Shock therapy, headless bodies, creepy claymation gnome kings—it truly has it all.

And while it was probably totally inappropriate for me to be watching as a kid, I actually found this movie to be really cool. The overall design and vision of the film is actually super impressive and unique.

Turn the lights down, curl up on the couch and hold on to your head.

Little Monsters

Did I mention Fred Savage?

Oh, right. Well, it wasn't the first time, and certainly won't be the last.

Sometimes monsters show up under your bed or in your closet to scare you, and sometimes they throw on their best punk outfit and become your best friend while secretly wanting to turn you into a monster yourself. And sometimes that monster is played by, you guessed it, Howie Mandel.

That pretty much sums this one up, aside from the fact that for some reason one of things I remember the most from this movie is when Savage and his monster pal replace a bully's apple juice with ... well, something that sort of looks like apple juice but isn't. Gross, you guys.

The Goonies (1985)

If there is one "duh" movie on this list, this is it.

It's not a horror movie, doesn't take place around Halloween, or any of that crap, but it is an absolute perfect '80s kids movie to watch on All Hallow's Eve. In fact, if you don't watch The Goonies this Halloween, we're not friends anymore.

Any movie that has kids trying to do anything without adults has been trying to live up to The Goonies ever since, plain and simple.

It features everything any good Halloween movie should—skeletons, a monster, creepy caves—and is also just a really good movie.

Whether you've seen it a thousand times or you're a complete failure of a human and have yet to watch it, this Halloween is the perfect time for some more Goonies. Because, you know, they never say die.

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Oh, a cartoon about mice, rats and birds where they talk and live on a farm! Should be perfect for kids!

Never mind the fact that the rats have been experimented on, Mrs. Brisby's son is about to die of either pneumonia or getting plowed to death (literally), and there's a psychic owl with creepy eyes.

It's really not a movie for young kids, but The Secret of NIMH is dark, creepy, mystical and visually stunning.  And despite the fact that it dates back to the early '80s, it's actually a timeless movie that's perfect for a Halloween viewing this year.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The creepiest old school video games ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-creepiest-old-school-games-halloween/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f491f Mon, 07 Oct 2019 16:41:20 +0000 Growing up, a lot of us had our video game systems connected to the TV in the basement. This was usually a fantastic setup, as we could turn our volume loud and yell at each other even louder. Mom would just shut the door, and she wouldn’t have to hear us scream about blue shells and final bosses.

However, there were a few select games that playing in the basement was slightly unsettling. You wouldn’t want to play them at night, nor with the lights out. You might ask one of your siblings to watch, or at least read at book in the same room.

Let’s be honest—there’s just something about 1990s graphics that even the highest resolution, newest games cannot replicate the eeriness of.

Ahh, those spooky memories. We’ve all grown up, and learned that the scariest things in life aren’t in books, movies, or video games. They’re in the form of taxes, insurance deductibles, and global warming.

But it’s that time of year where it’s especially fun to get scared again, so fire up your old gaming systems, turn off the lights and get creeped out.

As you’re going through the list, you might find a title or two missing. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I chickened out of playing several of them…

Silent Hill (1999)

I mean, where do we even begin here? The cover itself is absolutely terrifying. The foggy, unclear background. The neutral colors, broken up by the blood spatters. Even if there were no monsters, just walking through the town itself would be extraordinarily creepy.

The plot-line of the game has it all: A desperate father searching  for his daughter, a terrifying cult, monsters, questionable blood splatters, possession, and death.

The sound of the footsteps hitting the sidewalk against the silent night is creepy. But then, it gets worse with the sound of the air raid.

There’s so much to unpack in this game, from the carousel to the first cult meeting, and of course… the final boss.

Yikes.

Resident Evil (1996)

Right off the bat, I’ll say this: at least in Resident Evil, you’re battling with a trained fighter. But, compared to Silent Hill, you’re trapped in one place. This place happens to be a haunted mansion, so the setting is pretty ghastly .

There are illegal experiments, human zombies, dog zombies, viruses, spiders, and monsters.

I was personally most petrified of the unknown in this game, walking down the hallways and around corners in the mansion. If we ever played at night, I would always thrust the controller into my brother’s hand and beg him to walk around.

The door-opening sequence was sometimes a nice break from the horror, but it didn’t last long. I remember wishing so badly I could just thrust a giant lantern into the hand of my character… and maybe a bomb.

Alone in the Dark (1992)

Another haunted mansion video game, of course. This one was somehow a little worse, as it was on PC. Maybe because your face was much closer to the screen, therefore there was less distance from the horror.

And horror, there was. Monsters, ghosts, possessions, underground caverns, and an eery suicide. Like Resident Evil, I always predicted something to jump out of every corner and suddenly appear at the end of hallways.

The camera angles really induced a lot of anxiety too. Though the graphics were from ‘92, it somehow made the game creepier.

Nobody forgets the first time they saw the zombie…

Sanitarium (1998)

"I haven't seen any adults in this town. Where are your parents? Where are all the adults?"

Possibly a nightmare we’ve all thought about is waking up incredibly confused, stuck in a hospital or sanitarium. Well, that’s one of the first reasons why this game isn’t full of sunshine and warm vibes, as you can gather from the title.

In this game, you have no idea what is real and isn’t real. Like, the village boy with two mouths, or the visions, dark magic, every terrifying character, and the sounds of voices. Sanitarium is possibly the scariest game on this list, because what starts as a seemingly plausible scenario quickly descends into absolutely madness and chaos.

A haunted mansion is one thing, but being locked in a sanitarium where you cannot remember your own name is far, far worse.

The Dark Eye (1995)

It’s a game set in the 1800s, based upon the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. Combine this with 1990s graphics.

Need I even continue?

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ 4 nerdy costumes you can wear this Halloween from stuff you already have ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/last-minute-nerdy-costumes-halloween/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f491e Wed, 02 Oct 2019 18:23:17 +0000 There's nothing like expecting to not get invited to anything for Halloween only to get an invite to a sweet party at the last second because someone cooler than you couldn't make it. Not that I would have any personal experience with pity invites...

Of course, the challenge is pulling together a top-notch costume at the last-minute. And, being the nerd that you are, you need to show come up with something that will keep your nerd-cred solid in the public sphere.

These costumes are easy to put together even on the shortest of notices, and will ensure no one questions your authority on things like parsecs and video games. We're making the assumption that you have a few Halloween things packed away from previous costumes, meaning you can put these together with what you already have or just a few easy items that don't require fighting off all the other last-second Halloween shoppers.

Here are four nerdy af Halloween costumes you can throw together at the last minute:

Doctor Who

Matt Smith as Doctor Who.
Copyright by BBC and other respective production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.

It's pretty simple, really, since the Doctor can pretty much be, well, anyone, technically.

All you really need is a trench coat—or a sport coat like Matt Smith's above—and ideally a bowtie. Even though not every doctor wears a bowtie, it will be the key signal to your fellow partygoers that you are who you say are, a bad A time lord to be precise.

You'll also need to equip yourself with a sonic screwdriver. Again, there's a lot of flexibility here. Heck, you could even just carry a screwdriver around and wave at things in a worst-case scenario. You can also easily fashion one out of some cardboard, markers and duct tape. Seriously, you just need something that vaguely resembles the gadget and you'll be good to go.

Oh, and of course you'll need to act the part by constantly being on the lookout for Daleks.

A zombie

Travis Nicholson/Flickr

Whether you're a Walking Dead fanatic or more of a George Romero fan, it's really tough to get more Halloween than zombies. It's also one of the easiest costumes to throw together in a pinch, especially if you have some green makeup lying around from last year.

Just find an old shirt and pair of jeans you don't care about, and get to ripping. Boom, you're halfway there already. If you don't have fake blood to splatter on your clothes and around your mouth (because, duh, you eat brains), you can use corn syrup, chocolate syrup and red food coloring to make your own.

Adding some green makeup to your skin to represent decomposition can add a nice effect as well, but it's not necessary. What is needed is the perfect zombie walk: head tilted to the left, arms straight out, feet shuffling, and mumbling "braaaaaaiiiinnns".

A nerd

Great nerd costume example.
Aaron Goodwin/Flickr

Well, there's not much nerdier of a Halloween costume than just a nerd. And considering you're on a site called Classic Nerd, chances are you've got the goods in your closet to make this one happen.

All you need are glasses (real or fake), a button-up shirt with a pocket, any pants you can reasonably pull up high without hurting yourself, and some masking tape.

If you don't have glasses, you can make a quick run to the dollar store or a local Walgreen's and grab a pair of cheap reading glasses. Pop the lenses out and you're good to go.

Be sure to pull your pants up as high as you can, or use pants that are a bit too short for your legs to get that classic nerdy highwater look.

Whether you have a pocket protecter or not, neatly arrange a few pens in your shirt pocket, and offer them to fellow partygoers whenever you have the chance.

Now, take  a little bit of masking tape and wrap it around the center of your glasses—because nerds are constantly having to fix their glasses for various reasons, as we all know.

Finally, memorize pi to at least 10 places. Here's a little help: 3.1415926535.

Waldo

A bunch of people dressed as Waldo.
L./Flickr

Those glasses you just splurged on at the dollar store are about to come in handy once more. And the only other things you'll need are a striped hat and striped sweater—red and white of course.

You can hit up a thrift store if you don't have something that works off the shelf, or just find a white knitted hat and long-sleeve shirt and color in the red stripes yourself. It really doesn't even have to look that perfect for everyone to know who you are and get the joke.

And obviously, you'll also need to spend the evening subtly blending in.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top 10 Weird Al parodies from the 1980s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-10-weird-al-songs-from-the-1980s/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f491a Mon, 30 Sep 2019 20:27:42 +0000 He's the man who, unbelievably, is over 60 years old, yet somehow hasn't lost a single step — not when it comes to his songwriting, his wit, and sure as hey-all not when it comes to rocking the accordion.

That’s right, we’re talking “Weird Al” Yankovic.

But despite the fact that he continues to dominate the world, he REALLY dominated the '80s. The man was an icon. And while his originals are equally witty and impressively musical, he built his monolithic career on the incredible strength of his wordplay, intelligence and satire.

In other words: his parodies.

With a parody catalogue so immense and full of pure genius, it's tough to narrow it down to just 10 songs, even when we're sticking only to parodies released in the '80s. I mean, damn, there are just so many. No matter how many classics you pick, there will be one you miss.

That's why we didn't include originals. That list will have to wait for another day.

Besides having to be a "Weird Al" parody from the '80s, criteria include best wordplay, how it plays off the original and number of times I go: "oh man, this is great!"

So put on your Hawaiian shirts and relive the best "Weird Al" parody songs from the 1980s, in order, from 10 to 1.

10. I Think I'm a Clone Now

1988

I vaguely remember my oldest brother's friend whipping her hair back and forth to the Tiffany classic, I think we're alone now, which was of course itself a cover of the Tommy James & the Shondells original. But, c'mon, we all know Tiffany gets the cred.

But what I remember even more is Weird Al's somewhat sci-fi and yet also deep philosophical exploration of the nature of existence. I mean, it's basically someone wondering if they're actually a clone, and what that means for their existence—ultimately culminating in becoming famous and being a guest on Oprah. So turns out being a clone is actually pretty cool.

Part of what makes I Think I'm a Clone Now so great is the earnestness with which Yankovic delivers the lyrics, missing the goofy voices he often invoked in the '80s. Clone also gets bonus points for being one of the few breakout Weird Al songs that didn't have an accompanying video (although there are many, many fan videos out there).

9. (This Song's Just) Six Words Long

1988

This is like The Onion headline of songs for Weird Al—it all hits you right up front with it's sheer hilarity and brilliance.

This is where Weird Al's true genius is really on display, taking the essence of the original and turning it into a joke that is both just downright funny but also perfectly aware of the hidden humor in the original that would otherwise be missed.

Even George Harrison himself, who's original hit I Got My Mind Set On You was the inspiration for Six Words Long, surely had to chuckle at this one.

The only reason this gem isn't higher on the list is because, true to the original, it loses steam after a bit. The joke, as brilliant as it is, runs its course after the first minute or so.

I only said, "Oh man this is great!" a few times before I had to switch to the next track on this bad boy.

8. The Rye or the Kaiser

The first of several food songs on this list, it was almost inevitable that Weird Al would take on the Rocky theme song and anthem for pretty much anytime in life you need to get pumped up, Eye of the Tiger.

Weird Al's excellent wordplay is once again on display here:

Try the rye or the kaiser, they're on special tonight

If you want, you can have an appetizer

Frickin' brilliant. Also, it makes me hungry.

7. Girls just want to have lunch

1985

Weird Al was in full goofball mode on this one, complete with his nasal, screwball singing, which really helped to define his rise and mid-80s persona.

And it's just straight up classic Weird Al, complete with fart-like sounds during the xylophone solo.

It's the perfect parody of Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, an '80s staple that was begging for the Yankovic treatment. And it really gets to the heart of what all women actually want, regardless of any other defining quality: not breakfast or dinner or brunch—lunch.

6. I Love Rocky Road

1983

Weird Al has become really, really talented at creating music that so closely mirrors the original song that you wonder if it was simply lifted (it's not, he's just that good). He also now plays pretty much any instrument in existence and has become a very good singer.

But sometimes I miss the days when the accordion was a stand in for guitar.

I Love Rocky Road is one of the most clever puns Al every came up with, and dare I say makes you want to dance even more than Joan Jett's original, I Love Rock and Roll.

And the low-budget video is some of Weird Al's finest comedy work.

Yes, Al, I will have another triple scoop with you.

5. Living With a Hernia

1986

Not only one of the best Weird Al parodies of the 1980s, but one of his best music videos ever (sorry for the weird side by side video above, due to licensing that’s all we could embed—you can see the real video here.)

The many examples of how people get hernias—lifting heavy groceries, playing basketball, getting food out of the oven—are just one aspect of Yankovic's pure comedy in Living With a Hernia, which parodies James Brown's Living in America (not to be confused with the Eddie Murphy movie of the same name).

One of the finest moments of both the song and video is when Weird Al goes into an explanation of the different types of hernias one can get. It's not even a joke, just a straightforward list of real medical terms, but it's hilarious.

4. Money for Nothing / Beverly Hillbillies

1989

If you're like me, a good portion of your childhood was spent watching Weird Al's quintessential '80s movie, U.H.F.

Somehow, some film executive gave the green light to provide Weird Al feature-length screen time, and boy did he deliver with a movie that took aim at all things '80s—not to mention was just stupidly funny.

The dreamlike sequence where Weird Al falls into a perfect parody of Dire Straits' Money for Nothing simply had to be on this list, if not for its sheer genius, then for the fact that it represents U.H.F.

He really nails this one to the point where if you're not listening closely enough you would think it's the original. Sing it, Al!

3. Another One Rides the Bus

1981

Weird Al was once turned away by a recording studio, according to the clip above, before recording My Bologna in the bathroom of a college radio station.

Yankovic's rise was unlikely to everyone except for anyone who likes both music and laughing, which is basically the general population.

When he premiered Another One Rides the Bus, it was performed live on the Dr. Demento show, which catapulted Weird Al to underground success and eventually to becoming an icon of the '80s and beyond. (And the Dr. Demento show was also a formative cultural force that deserves its own post another day.)

It's maybe the most raw parody you can get your hands on from Weird Al, at times verging on punk rock in its energy. And it is rightfully only bested by a small handful of '80s parodies.

2. Eat It

1984

Weird Al is known for getting permission from artists to do all of his parodies, not just to avoid getting sued, but out of respect for the artist. And when Michael Jackson said "yes" to parodying his iconic Beat It, it was clear Yankovic was on to something.

At the time, Michael Jackson was truly the king of pop, and Yankovic found the perfect way to parody him with one his greatest tricks—talking about food.

Weird Al is also one of those comedians that is clean without it being a bang you over the head thing. He can sing about tuna casserole and make it hilarious, and that talent is on full display with Eat It.

Recently Weird Al decided not to perform any of his Jackson parodies during live performances, and for really great reasons. He didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable following the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland. Just another example of being a great artist and a great man.

1. Yoda

1985

Only Weird Al could take a song about crossdressing (The Kinks' Lola) and turn into an anthem about Star Wars.

And really, was there ever any doubt in your mind that this would be number one on this list?

There is no try, and it almost feels like Weird Al just sat down and belted this one out without trying, and has been doing so ever since.

And when I saw him perform at Red Rocks earlier this year, it's clear his fans have been doing so too—there's nothing like 9,000 people singing along to "Yoda" to make you realize what an impact Weird Al's '80s parodies truly had.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 6 kids movies from the '90s to watch this Halloween ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/6-kids-movies-from-the-90s-to-watch-this-halloween-2/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f491b Fri, 27 Sep 2019 20:47:34 +0000 It’s finally that time of year again. The temperature drops about two degrees from the scorching summer, and suddenly we’re all excited for leaves, pumpkins, and being terrified under a blanket fort.

That’s right, blow the inches of dust off your VCR and get the blankets out of the linen closet because it’s Halloween movie time!

It doesn’t matter how old you are, those crisp, cold fall nights are always memorable. Going down to the local Blockbuster (gone, but never forgotten) and perusing the seasonal movies and spooky sections for the best Halloween movies was always a treat.

Though there is no shortage of Halloween, nor scary, movies, none seem to capture the true magic of October as a child like the ones from the '90s. So take a walk down a leaf littered, spooky memory lane with these six classic kids flicks from yesteryear that are perfect to watch again this Halloween, presented in no particular order.

Hocus Pocus

Many know Sarah Jessica Parker for her fame in “Sex and the City,” but the correct people remember her from Hocus Pocus. Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker star in this 1993 film about a trio of witches that were resurrected on Halloween.

It was funny, a little creepy, but mostly fantastic. I could only wonder how Carrie Bradshaw would’ve felt about the 300-year-old dresses?

The Nightmare Before Christmas

As a child, this movie used to scare the living daylights out of me. I’m not sure if it was the animation, or particular characters, but I found it unsettling. I found the Mayor of Halloween Town to be quite unsettling.

As I got older, this movie really grew on me. Being a huge fan of Christmas, I related a lot to Jack Skellington’s noble efforts to bring the holiday into the town. The music is great, and it’s just an all-around fun movie.

Casper

Casper has a really special place in my heart. This is the movie that finally made me a little less afraid of things that go bump in the night. I distinctly remember tearing up when I found out that Casper was just a lonely little ghost. In fact, I can feel that lump in my throat again…

It was such a sweet movie, in that two lonely people found friends in one another, and a grieving widow found peace when he reconnected with his wife, who had passed. Casper is just a feel good, lighthearted Halloween movie. No nightmares here.

Halloweentown

Halloweentown's main cast members.

First of all, it’s a Disney Channel Original Movie — so you know it’s great. It’s a predictable movie: girl discovers she’s from a family of witches, her family has to fight evil forces, and all that jazz. But as a kid, this was nothing less than a great movie. It was always exciting watching Disney Channel in the fall, because you knew Halloweentown was going to be on.

The Addams Family

Another one on this list with Christina Ricci on it? May as well crown her the queen of '90s Halloween.

The Addams Family movie from 1991 didn’t get the best reviews, but I consider it a classic. Not all of us grew up watching the TV series from the '60s, so this was a great reintroduction to the eccentric family and its characters.

There was a tinge of sentimental value in the movie too – the family had each other’s backs, and everyone was accepted for who they were, no matter how weird.

Ernest Scared Stupid

How could you not love this movie? The concept of a troll turning children into dolls is terrifying, but with a goofy protagonist like Ernest, it was a funny hit. Of course the star of the entire movie – his dog.

The ending is definitely a little bit cheesy, as it takes a “mother’s love” to destroy the demon. But hey, that’s kinda similar to Lily Potter’s love for her son protecting him from evil, no?

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

All images copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only, unless otherwise noted.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ 7 mini-games from Pokémon Stadium N64 you forgot were awesome ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/7-mini-games-from-pokemon-stadium-n64-you-forgot-were-awesome/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4919 Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:02:40 +0000 You’ve seen just about every nostalgia-riddled article that lists the best Nintendo 64 games of all time. We’ve all dusted off our consoles (and blown into the cartridges once or twice to get of in-game glitches) and fired up Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros recently.

The one game that never gets old for me – no matter how many years go by – is Pokemon Stadium. And honestly, it isn’t because of the entire game itself; it’s because of the minigames.

Minigames are perhaps one of the greatest parts of actual videogames. I first experienced these in Pokemon Stadium, and my love for them was further cemented in Mario Party 2. But no matter how many games I’ve played with minigames, none compare to Pokemon Stadium. Maybe nostalgia is at play here (miss you, late 90s), but they were truly top-notch.

Here are seven of the best that I really, really miss. These are presented in no particular over.

“Run, Rattata, Run!”

I’m sure you remember this one – a raised platform that looked like a grassy treadmill with four lanes.

The Run, Rattata, Run, minigame.

You had to keep your Rattata running, but also jump over hurdles that popped up. I never, EVER beat my older brother. But it was still fun.

“Pichu’s Power Plant”

First of all, the Pichus jumping up and down with their ears flopping as you read the game’s instructions are so adorable.

So this game rocked, but it also required a good bit of attention. Surrounded by four glowing, red spheres, you had to hit the direction of the control pad that the lit up sphere was. You also had to tap A or B, depending on which one was lit up. It required quick reaction, cautious finger movement, and a strong heart; because at the end, the three Pichus that lost get electrocuted. It’s quite the tragic scene.

“Sushi-Go-Round”

Not only was this my favorite of all the minigames, but this is genuinely a life dream of mine.

Go into a sushi restaurant and try to rack up the highest bill you possibly can? Incredible.

If only the Pokemon universe always footed the bill.

The Sushi-Go-Round minigame.

It was really fun that Lickitung was used in this game. I also always liked that the spicy sushi slowed him down, because I really relate to that. Hopefully Lickitung’s palette has improved since 1998.

“Tumbling Togepi”

In this game, you can choose to be Togepi or Omanyte. Togepi is clearly far superior, being one of the most adorable Pokemon of all time. Sort of similar to the running Rattata game, it was a race to the finish. You had to avoid obstacles, and could use arrows to speed up.

It was slightly maddening because Togepi was really slow, but it was still a great one.

“Egg Emergency”

I have a big soft spot for Chansey. I’m not sure what it was about this game I loved, but leaning one way and another to catch falling eggs was pretty fun… until a Voltorb fell.

The game starts off so slowly and nicely, but by the end it is quite literally raining eggs. I still remember half screaming and half laughing with my brothers as we maniacally tried to catch any of them at the end.

“Delibird’s Delivery”

I don’t know who thought of this game, but I thank them.

As Delibird, you have to put a gift in your bag, and run to the other side of the game stage, avoiding obstacles in the way. As a little kid, it was wild to be playing a Nintendo 64 and have your character pick up a GameBoy. This game felt very Santa Claus-esque, and was always a fun mad dash.

“Dig! Dig! Dig!”

For as simple as this game was – just alternating pressing buttons – it felt SO high pressured. As Sandshrew, you have to dig until you hit the mark underground. That’s all it was. But ahh, the rapid button pressing and screaming that ensued…

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ 8 horror films from the 80s for (almost) every mood ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/8-horror-films-from-the-80s-for-almost-every-mood/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4917 Wed, 11 Sep 2019 17:47:02 +0000 Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time for an annual binge of horror films. But sometimes picking the right movie isn’t as simple as plopping down on the couch and firing up the first classic scream flick you see.

We’re humans, and humans have moods. So, to help you decipher which '80s horror film you should watch (the '80s being the most important decade for horror films), we’re breaking it down here based on the current status of your headspace.

If you’re feeling a little stressed out

“The Shining”, 1980

Just imagine the cathartic experience of coming home after a stressful day at work and watching the slow build as the pent-up Jack Torrence finally breaks and goes ballistic inside a cavernous, yet claustrophobic mountain hotel. Now that’s the kind of vicarious stress relief the doctor ordered for an unfulfilling work-a-day life. Nothing like a little paranormal activity to help you work through your issues.

True story: Jack Nicholson was once a firefighter with the California National Guard, so when it came time for his character to take an axe to his wife’s door, he insisted the crew install a real door to cut through, instead of the fake door previously installed. ACTING.

If you need a good laugh

“Evil Dead II”, 1987

This cult classic does a perfect job of combining horror and slapstick humor with a tongue-in-cheek air of knowing exactly what it’s doing.

Technically a parody sequel based on “Evil Dead,” this version is what launched actor Bruce Campbell into the consciousness of true horror nerds. In “Evil Dead II,” Campbell’s character engages in a lot of ridiculous acts, including fighting (and losing to) his possessed hand, battling his girlfriend’s severed head (and later the rest of her body), attaching a modified chainsaw to the stump where his possessed hand used to be, and then accidentally transporting back to 1300 AD.

It’s a wild ride and worth every second.

Bonus: This movie seamlessly transitions to its equally-funny sequel “Army of Darkness,” which makes for a great double-feature night.

If you don’t feel like sleeping

“A Nightmare on Elm Street”, 1984

There are monsters who never rest, monsters who possess every house you move into, and monsters who control your perception of reality. That’s kid’s stuff to Freddy Krueger, who literally haunts your dreams.

That’s not only frightening, it’s also highly inconvenient. I NEED MY SLEEP, DUDE. The grotesque, bladed Krueger isn’t just a monster, he’s a straight-up jerk. In this horror film — one of the most famous in the slasher genre — a misunderstood teen is under threat of dying in her dreams.

As if teens in the '80s didn’t have enough to worry about.

If you’re feeling like an Anglophile

“An American Werewolf in London”, 1981

Of all the things you should worry about when traveling through England, biting puns, quiet disapproval and soccer hooligans top the list. Werewolves? Not so much.

But that’s not the case for backpacker David Kessler in “An American Werewolf in London,” which finds him and friend Jack in an unfortunate situation when the former is mauled and the latter is killed by a werewolf in the countryside.

David is transported to London, where in the hospital, the ghost of his late friend visits numerous times, encouraging him to kill himself due to the werewolf blood now coursing through his veins. Add in a star-crossed love interest, more death and a showdown with police, and this turns out to be the WORST vacation ever. But it’s funny, so at least it has that going for it.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for '80s emo

“The Lost Boys”, 1987

Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Has there ever been a Hollywood mom sweeter than Diane Weist’s Lucy Emerson? Between being a newly-relocated single mother with one brooding teenage son (who turns into a vampire, no less), one trouble-making younger son, and a budding love interest with an undisclosed vampire overlord, she maintains a smile and light-hearted attitude throughout. She is the mother America deserves.

“The Lost Boys” has it all: Both Coreys, comic books, rice that turns into maggots, the greatest sax performance of all time, a badass dog, Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Jack friggin’ Bauer.

It’s also the perfect companion piece to the other Pacific Northwest '80s hit, “The Goonies.” If you’re in a wear-my-shades-inside kind of emo mood, this is the Halloween movie for you.

If you’re dreading the upcoming Christmas shopping season

“Child’s Play”, 1988

Shopping for the holidays — especially for kids — can be a pain in the arse. The lines, the sellouts, the knife-wielding dolls. I mean, COME ON.

The premise of 1988’s “Child’s Play” is enough to exercise your hatred for holiday consumerism: A mom buys a popular doll — named Chucky — from a homeless man (cheapskate move, Mom) for her child’s birthday, and things don’t exactly go well.

Turns out, the doll is possessed, and goes on to murder multiple people, which the police blame on the kid (thanks, MOM). But the catharsis comes in the end, when karma rains down upon that terrible, terrible doll — which happens to looks exactly like Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

If you’re in the mood for hockey, but it’s not on

“Friday the 13th”, 1980

The unholy trifecta of slasher films is “Halloween” (1979), “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), and, of course, “Friday the 13th.”

Perhaps no horror movie spawned a lazier Halloween costume than the latter’s Jason Voorhees’ iconic hockey mask. Strap that thing on and people instantly know who you are, which is a drowned summer camp kid reanimated to terrorize everyone in his path.

This movie’s franchise is essentially based on the horror movie trope “don’t go in there!,” but “in there” is Crystal Lake, which campers return to time-and-again despite the obvious fact that it’s haunted by a hockey enthusiast with a thirst for blood. Will they never learn?

If you’re truly lost

“Cannibal Holocaust”, 1980

Don’t. Just don’t. Or do, I don’t care. But keep in mind these few facts: This “found footage”-style Italian movie got the director arrested for obscenity charges, and later, multiple counts of homicide (no one was murdered).

But there are depictions of animal cruelty, sexual assault, and enough soul-sucking stuff that it was banned in multiple countries, including the United States. If you happen to find a copy of this and watch it, prepare for a trickle of irrevocable evil to seep into your soul.

This is the kind of movie you just can’t take back. You've been warned.


About the author: Chris Staten is a freelance writer focusing on pop culture and the craft beer industry, and loves basking in that awkward moment of silence between movie previews. See his work at www.cmstaten.com.

Lead image from Moviestillsdb.com. Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Games That Time Forgot: Adventures of Lolo ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/games-that-time-forgot-the-adventures-of-lolo/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4916 Tue, 10 Sep 2019 14:00:00 +0000 Sometimes being a blue ball with eyes and feet has its benefits.

That's more or less the premise behind the underground, quirky puzzler, Adventures of Lolo.

Besides being a blue ball, Lolo is also out to save his girlfriend, cleverly named Lala (a pink ball with eyes and feet), from the evil King Egger.

This really is a timeless game. It's comprised of a simple, top-down viewpoint where you work your way through room after room, with a theme to each stage. So you'll go through rooms 1-1, 1-2, etc. before completing a stage as you work your way through Egger's castle.

You can, obviously, occasionally shoot things and turn them into eggs that can serve all kinds of different purposes, among other adventurous actions. Sometimes you begin a new room and as soon as you move it triggers your instant death due to some booby-trap element.

That's part of the joy of this game: You really don't know what's going to happen next, but you know that you'll be able to figure it out with enough trial and error. And, damn it, you're going to get Lala back.

Adventures of Lolo also has one of my all-time favorite features from old games: A passcode as a form of saving your progress.

As in the NES version of Punch-Out!!, there was a time when you found yourself scrambling for a pen and paper to write down a seemingly random string of numbers and letters. This method, of course, broke the dam wide open for gamers to cheat. Luckily, this was before the Internet and the only other way I could get my hands on any codes was if one of my older brothers happened to leave them scrawled somewhere.

There were some sequels, but I honestly never played them. Maybe I'll change that soon.

Adventures of Lolo will bring back all those vintage gaming feels, but it will also still legitimately challenge you — not to mention eat up your day before you realize what's even happened.

That might be because the American version was actually a conglomeration of rooms from the Japanese Eggerland series, as noted by Wikipedia.

Whatever the reason, Adventures of Lolo deserves another go 'round.

Besides, Lala needs you.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ Why the original Animal Crossing was and always will be the best ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/why-the-original-animal-crossing-was-and-always-will-be-the-best/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4918 Mon, 09 Sep 2019 18:44:41 +0000 Close your eyes. Hear the whistle of the train. The high-pitched babbling of your neighbor. The “ding ding” of your full mailbox.

Since 2002, Animal Crossing has continued to call us home. It stole our hearts on GameCube, and our captivation with it endured through the Nintendo DS, 3DS,  Wii, and even on our phones with Pocket Camp. The new versions have added fantastic additions, including new stores, villagers, items and features.

There’s a lot of hype for the newest version that will be released for Switch in March 2020. Which means, it’s time for me to buy a Switch….

But for all the new bells (no pun intended) and whistles, nothing compares to the original. Here’s why:

Doing errands for neighbors

The easiest way to make some quick bells and improve your friendship standing with neighbors is to ask “Need help?” or “Give me a job!” Sure, it was sort of weird that everyone’s videotapes, glasses cases, and comic books were always being borrowed or lent to someone else, but you were always guaranteed a reward.

It was always exciting to see what piece of furniture or clothing you got. Of course, the errands that required running to two or more villagers houses generally wielded stationery….

This is a feature that was noticeably missing in the following Animal Crossing games. In Wild World, I hated having to listen to the villagers prattle on every time we talked, hoping that they ‘d give me a task.

When talking to villagers, three options for conversation is preferred. And the “favors” option kept the game interesting long after you shook all the fruit from the trees and fished all the fish out of the river.

The ease of visiting other villages

Have two memory cards? Great. You can visit other villages!

It was that easy. Just hopping on the train at the front of the village, and visiting another town you created on a separate memory card. Access to new neighbors, fruit, items in Tom Nook’s store were so accessible.

Yes, in later versions you can visit other towns too. But it wasn’t as easy as the GameCube version made it.

The island

The first time I plugged in my GameBoy Advance and saw Kapp’n at the dock, I contemplated running a lap around my house in sheer excitement.

Nothing beats the first time you discover the Aloha shirts, beach furniture and the snow cone machine. It’s always summer, so the fishing and bug hunting is fantastic.

You can hang your own flag, collect coconuts, and skip through Kapp’n singing and blathering as quickly as you want.


In Wild World and City Folk, not having the island escape is sort of a bummer. However, it does happily return in New Leaf. The excitement is back, but the nostalgia for the original island is real.

Cheat codes

CHEAT CODES.

Furniture, clothing, bells, the golden fishing rod, golden shovel, gyroids – CHEAT CODES.

When I started playing Animal Crossing, it took me a while to realize there were cheat codes for Animal Crossing. By this point, I had put in the hours required to pay off my mortgage and collect most items. But going to Tom Nook to ask for a golden shovel, axe, or a random Gracie shirt I didn’t have yet was so cool.

I know that cheating is, well, cheating, and life is about putting in the hard work. But come on. I wasn’t going to catch EVERY fish in Wild World, and I just really wanted that golden fishing rod!

Quick points

Here are a few other pros that don’t require much explanation

  • No watering flowers
  • The Wishing Well
  • NES games
  • The music
  • Town dump
  • Tom Nook is at his cruelest

Overall; the first time

Animal Crossing felt like a revolutionary game. The world was wide open, there was so much freedom, and I had no idea what lay ahead of my next mortgage payment, or the next season.

There are new things to discover with each new version, but the basis of the game remains the same.

Now, I do love the hair salon and coffee shop in later versions. And in New Leaf, there are a lot of fun projects to take over as mayor.

More or less, I’ll always scoop up Animal Crossing on the next platform, but I’ll never like any of them quite like the original.


About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The galaxy’s worst Star Wars quotes, ranked — Prequels edition ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-galaxys-worst-star-wars-quotes-ranked/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4914 Tue, 03 Sep 2019 19:40:10 +0000 Few stories have managed to captivate the hearts of so many like that of Star Wars, with its gorgeous musical score, dramatic cinematography, and unforgettable quotes and one-liners that have been repeated and parodied for generations.

But for all the iconic phrases it has given us, there have been some really, really awful lines. Scenes that make you laugh the first or second time, and then fast forward through the 60th time.

Here we’re looking at the worst quotes from the Star Wars prequels. We’ll tackle the other trilogies after we’re done torturing ourselves by watching terrible Star Wars quotes over and over and over.

And yes, Anakin is heavily featured in this list.

Let’s begin.

9. “Ouch time.” — The Phantom Menace

Captain Tarpals – General Tarpals after the Invasion of Naboo – says this to Jar Jar Binks as the battle droids prepare to launch an attack on the Gungan Grand Army.

Now, it’s not that I don’t think a battle is “ouch time,” it just seems like a really poor phrase to use before your soldiers are going face-to-face with an army of droids....

8. “Don’t make me kill you.” — Revenge of the Sith

I’ve never actually wanted to kill someone. But I can imagine if I did, one of the last things I would say would be “Don’t make me kill you.”

I also wouldn’t say it dramatically on a volcanic planet, surrounded by lava, turned around from the person that I’m actually speaking to.

Apparently, Anakin’s raw emotions are different than mine, because this is exactly what he declares, super dramatically, to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar right before they engage in the SADDEST battle of the saga.

Granted this is definitely not the worst thing Anakin does in this scene, but this just seems like something an angry high school boy would say.

7. “Twice the pride, double the fall.” — Revenge of the Sith

Cheesy. Just cheesy, Count Dooku.

Above: Really, Count? Because your dialogue hasn’t improved at all.

6. "Around the survivors, a perimeter create!" — Attack of the Clones

I’m sure you weren’t expecting to see a Yoda quote on this list, and I realize it’s a contentious selection. With a lot of Yoda’s quotes, he doesn’t really cut to the chase very quickly; but when you’re over 800 years old, I suppose you can make people wait to hear your point.

Which brings me to mine: just yell “form a perimeter.” Boom. We’re in the middle of the Battle of Geonosis, there’s death and disaster everywhere, and we just need to get out.

Not to hate on Yoda, but he doesn’t make for the greatest commander in the midst of conflict.

5. “My heart is beating, hoping that kiss will not become a scar.” — Attack of the Clones

Ughhhhh. What does that even mean, Anakin?

4. "Believe me, I wish I could wish away my feelings." — Attack of the Clones

UghhhHHHhhhhhh.

3. “Ani, you’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine.” — Attack of the Clones

Well, this quote coming from Padmé is a touch creepy. This is the first moment Anakin and Padmé see one another since Tatooine, so if you want to argue that she doesn’t have feelings for him yet, go ahead.

But remember another crucial, albeit terrible line:

“I’ve been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.”

You could argue that Padmé says this aloud, partially hoping to offset the sudden rush of feelings she gets locking eyes with Anakin for the first time in 10 years. But taken at face value, it’s just weird.

He may be that little boy you knew on Tatooine, but he goes a little downhill, Padmé.

2. "I don’t like sand." — Attack of the Clones

You knew this quote was going to be on this list. You knew it.

Let’s break this down. Yes, it goes beyond just “sand.” Anakin spent years of his life forced into slavery on a planet covered in sand.

I understand why he hates sand.

So, he continues to talk about sand, but continues to say, “here, everything is soft and smooth,” and gently touches Padmé’s hand… then her back….

And then they have their first kiss.

I think Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman are both great actors who were just given mediocre lines, in all fairness. The love story between Anakin and Padmé is one of the driving forces behind all of Star Wars, and it’s a beautiful, powerful thing.

So then, why, WHY did we have the following scene?

1. From Revenge of the Sith

“You are so…beautiful.”

“It’s only because I’m so in love.”

“No. No, it’s because I’m so in love with you.”

George Lucas…

Even 10-year-old me knew how awful that was. Enough said.

Honorable mentions

  • “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.”
  • Anything that begins with “Mee-sa.”
  • “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.”
  • “To be angry is to be human.” (Right after Anakin “slaughters them like animals.” Nice, Padmé.)

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 5 predictions from ‘The Running Man’ that came true ]]> “Television is controlled by the state and a sadistic game show called ‘The Running Man’ has become the most popular program in history. All art, music and communications are ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-prediction-from-the-running-man-that-came-true/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4913 Wed, 28 Aug 2019 22:14:48 +0000 n the 1987 Arnold-helmed sci-fi thriller, The Running Man, the opening scroll sets up the movie by painting this cheery picture:

“Television is controlled by the state and a sadistic game show called ‘The Running Man’ has become the most popular program in history. All art, music and communications are censored. No dissent is tolerated and yet a small resistance movement has managed to survive underground. When high-tech gladiators are not enough to suppress the people’s yearning for freedom...more direct methods become necessary.”

For those of you who need a slight refresher, this movie is classic Arnold. He moans his catchphrase “AAAYGGHH!!” at least five times in the first two minutes alone—during a totally sensible brawl aboard a CHOPPA, no less.

The setup is pretty simple: In Dystopian 2017 (hey, we’re past that now!), Arnold’s character, policeman Ben Richards, is framed for murder after refusing orders to fire upon an unarmed group of hungry rioters. After escaping prison two years later, he’s caught in 2019 and forced to choose one of two options: Do time in a labor camp, or fight for his life on the gladiator show called The Running Man—the most popular show in history, where armed gladiators, aka Stalkers, hunt down and kill “guest runners.”

This is Arnold, so of course he chooses to fight for his life, as well as truth and all else that is good in this life (like bodysuits).

Based on a novel penned by legend Stephen King (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman), the movie is everything you’d expect from an Arnold film: Violence, muscles, cigars, one-liners (including a fun but seemingly out-of-place “I’ll be back”) and general '80s flare. It also made some bets on things that actually came true.

Here, we’re breaking down five different aspects of the 1987 film that ring true in 2019.

Deep fakes

But wait, that’s not what actually happened!

In the opening scene of “The Running Man,” we see the spark that sends Ben Richards on his journey through hellfire when he refuses to massacre a rioting crowd of hungry protesters. Later, the show’s production team is able to use the above “found footage” to prove Richards’ reputation as a butcher when he refuses a direct order to not fire upon the crowd.

It’s fantastic propaganda that riles up the crowd to root against Richards. While it’s clearly the work of some clever editing, in retrospect, it’s an eerie nod to the current situation we find ourselves in with the dawn of deep fakes.

Reality shows

Aside from “Candid Camera” and, arguably, pro wrestling, The Running Man was the first to lean into the idea that Americans have an insatiable thirst for reality television back in 1987. MTV’s “The Real World,” which ushered in the age of reality programming, didn’t debut until 1992.

The question is: If there actually was a program that set criminals up for death on a weekly basis—a game show if you will—would you tune in? Would it be the most popular television show in history?

Jetpacks

Lots of movies have imagined what jetpacks might look like, and how we might implement them (“The Rocketeer” being the best), but none got the vision as close to what they ACTUALLY look like in 2019 than this glorious movie. Case-in-point, check out the footage from this year’s Bastille Day in Paris:

What in the actual hell?

Everything is on point: The awkward upright positioning, the weapon wielding, the cheers from the crowd. Send 100 of these armed guys across the English Channel, and you’ll have one hell-of-a show — until the jets, drones and missiles show up to thwart the invasion.

Will jetpacks ever be a realistic means of warfare? Probably not. But it’s nice to know engineers are at least taking inspiration from “The Running Man.” And maybe the Green Goblin.

The Enduring Talent of Paula Abdul

Look at those moves. That’s the hype-squad for the in-movie gameshow “The Running Man.”

Seems familiar, right? If you grew up in the '80s and early '90s, that aesthetic was everywhere, all thanks to Paula Abdul.

That’s right, Abdul — a relative unknown at the time, who was about to release her first demo later that year — began as a choreographer. Those classic '80s outfits and moves int the movie are thanks to the vision of the soon-to-be pop megastar, who would later go on to star in her own game-show-of-attrition, ala “American Idol.”

While “The Running Man” didn’t necessarily predict the inevitable rise of Abdul, it sure did bet on her talent. Abdul would break out as a pop star two years later, while racking up an impressive and exhaustive list of choreography credits along the way.

“American Gladiator”

Per that question above about whether we’d tune into a show where criminals fight for their lives, I give you “American Gladiator.”

While there’s no death in this perfectly '80s show where gladiators named Malibu, Nitro and Ice, destroy everyday contestants on camera, “The Running Man” certainly predicted that we’d love to see folks get taken down in extreme ways by characters who look like they popped out of the pages of a comic book.

In fact, producers of the show were so certain that “The Running Man” struck a nerve with the public, they pitched the concept of the show using footage from the movie —with the caveat that contestants wouldn’t actually die. Considering the popularity of the show, the 2000s reboot, and all the other competitive reality shows that followed, this might have been the most on-point prediction of them all.

To quote “The Running Man” game show host Damon Killian, played by Richard Dawson:

“This is television, that’s all it is. Nothing to do with people, it’s to do with the ratings. For 50 years, we’ve told them what to eat. What to drink. What to wear .... Americans love television. They wean their kids on it. They love gameshows. They love wrestling. They love sports, violence. So what do we do? We give them what they want. We’re number one, man. That’s all that counts.”

About the author: Chris Staten is a freelance writer focusing on pop culture and the craft beer industry, and loves basking in that awkward moment of silence between movie previews. See his work at www.cmstaten.com.

More from Classic Nerd:

]]>
<![CDATA[ The top retro-future movies from the 1970s ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-5-retro-future-movies-1970s/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4912 Tue, 27 Aug 2019 20:00:29 +0000 The 1970s were all like:

But also:

You get the point: It was pretty much hell on Earth.

But it was also a time when science fiction movies often invoked a vision of the future where apparently everything was different except for the hairstyles and clothing. "Hey, we're in deep in space, but my 'stach is still groovy!"

Obviously I wasn't alive in the '70s based on my slang usage, but I sure as hell watched my fair share of 1970s sci-movies, from bad to worse to worst and occasionally not too bad. When it's the middle of summer, you're 12, you have nowhere to be and can't leave the house, and you don't want to sleep but have cable and it's 4 a.m. — that's what you do with your life.

And this is the ultimate, definitive list of movies from the '70s that all held a very '70s-esque vision of the future. These are the best of the best when it comes to that very specific criteria.

Editor's note: A New Hope is not included because it transcended time and before you start to chime in with your thoughts on the matter, just go ahead and shut up.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes — 1970

This movie hath but two stars on Rotten Tomatoes. Shame on you, all of you.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a bizarre, genre-bending sequel that relies more on philosophical musings and borderline experimentalist filmmaking to tell its story.

Which is, indeed, an odd choice for a sequel to the Charlton Heston original, Planet of the Apes. As a studio looking to cash in, it was weird, but for lovers of great film, it was amazing.

I was always super confused by this movie's place in the POTA timeline, largely because at the end we find out that the world has ended. Or, as the narrator says:

"In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead."

That's the kind of stuff they somehow managed to get into this sequel. Not to mention the race of post-humans that worship a nuclear bomb. Of course, they also dress in flowing linen sashes that are so '70s you'll feather your hair just from looking at them.

Revisit this one, but do it at 4 a.m. in your underwear and with a snack in hand. That's when Beneath is truly at its best.

Logan's Run — 1976

One thing I always appreciate in a sci-fi movie: A clear and cohesive vision.

Whatever you think of the original Dune movie (it's awesome and if you're disagree you're dead to me) it had a very clear vision. David Lynch's vision of that reality was fully realized.

And Logan's Run does the same, albeit with some serious vibes from the year it came out, 1976.

Still of lead characters from Logan's Run.
Creative Commons: Damn, they're smooth.

Logan's Run envisioned a world where we finally achieved the dream: Ridding the world of anyone who annoys us before they get too old. And it's been parodied, referenced, and wished to be real ever since.

The film ended up costing about $9 million, which was not cheap in 1976. But it was worth it, standing the test of time many, many years later, in all its '70s glory.

THX 1138 — 1971

We're not putting A New Hope on this list (see above), but we're sure as crap putting this on it.

It's hard to go wrong with the 1984/Brave New World formula of a dystopian future where things like emotions and art are totally not chill, but uniformity and adherence to the government are, indeed, chill.

This is the setting for George Lucas' landmark directorial debut, a visually stunning film that falls into the same type of thoughtful sci-fi that people like Stanley Kubrik were doing at the time.

It's eerie, moody, and yet another '70s vision of the future where the Earth has been deemed uninhabitable — plus, society is run by super smooth android police.

Commercially, it was a complete disaster, but cinematically it's a fantastic movie that, unlike some of the other movies on this list, definitely stands the test of time.

The Black Hole — 1979

Oh, the days when "special effects" clearly just meant painting them directly onto the film.

But in a movie like 1979's The Black Hole, it somehow totally works, even today, giving it a fantastical aura that, despite its eerie and dark story/mood, somehow made it great for kids at the time.

And to be sure, it's kind of a messed-up plot, involving a lost spacecraft reappearing and robots giving people repeated lobotomies. It's Disney wanted to go full-on Event Horizon, but then remembered they're Disney.

And apparently in the future, when we have achieved artificial gravity and deep space travel, bad guys just wear motorcycle helmets from the late '70s. Hey, fine by me.

A Clockwork Orange — 1971

Still of the lead characters from A Clockwork Orange.
Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only. // Moviestilldb.com

Stanley Kubrik really had a way of taking great sci-fi books and turning them into excellent films (btw, if you want to understand 2001: A Space Odyssey, read the book, which is also excellent, and it will all make sense — or at least a lot more sense).

A Clockwork Orange was no exception, but it definitely was very of the 1970s, with Malcolm McDowell's sweet bowler hat, dorky — er, trendy — haircut, and a bad A jumpsuit to boot.

Basically, apparently in the future Britain just becomes an endless string of violence and milk-drinking. That really sums up all of A Clockwork Orange, including the book, yet somehow it's one of the most seminal films not just from the '70s, but of cinema in the 20th Century.

Silent Running — 1972

Sometime in the 1970s, it became really clear that we had been treating the planet like crap for the last 100 years or so. Maybe due to things like rivers catching on fire.

The fear of humanity going too far is by no means a Hollywood trend that started recently—films like Silent Running, among others, envisioned a future where plants could no longer survive on Earth and were instead meticulously curated in space stations, until such time that Earth was suitable for botanicals again (**cough** Wall-E **cough**).

Luckily, people still have sweet perms in this future.

Mullets and sideburns are still also totally boss 100 years from now.

The sweet sideburns of Bruce Dern, star of Silent Running.
Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only. // Moviestilldb.com

But despite its total '70s-ness, it's actually a pretty epic movie with amazing set design and miniature effects that predated Star Wars by years.

And to make it even more '70s, there are even two original songs from Joan Baez.

Can you dig it?

]]>
<![CDATA[ 7 life lessons we learned from Roller Coaster Tycoon ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/seven-life-lessons-we-learned-from-roller-coaster-tycoon/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f490e Thu, 15 Aug 2019 16:50:06 +0000 Nostalgia is a funny thing. The second I hear a classical German or Austrian song from the 1800 or 1900s, I immediately picture the merry-go-round from Roller Coaster Tycoon spinning slowly, a short queue line of guests who prefer less intense rides waiting for their turn on “Merry-Go-Round 1.”

Go on, listen to “Tales from the Vienna Woods.” Take a quick trip down memory lane.

Roller Coaster Tycoon managed to captivate our hearts, minds, and free time in the early 2000s by allowing us to tap into our creativity and challenge our business skills at a young age. Sure, when I was 7 I didn’t exactly get the complexities of loans, I just knew that the money I got from the bank to build another roller coaster had to be paid back quickly.

Going back and playing the game now in my early 20s, I realize how much of an impact it had on us. Without realizing it, Roller Coaster Tycoon taught us several valuable lessons – and no, not just that you had to hire extra handymen to sweep the outside of looping coasters.

You know what I mean.

1. You’re not for everyone, and that’s okay.

“I want to go on something more thrilling than Haunted House 1.”

“Roller Coaster 3 looks too intense for me.”

“I’m not paying that much to go on Bumper Cars 1.”

Trying to please all of your guests is an unforgiving task. Some prefer more intense rides, others prefer the gentle type for their thrills. Even if you build the entire ride catalog, there’s still going to be a few guests that don’t have a good time. They’ll buy a park map, maybe hit Spiral Slide 2 once, and then leave the park.

If you spend too much time focusing on the small percentage of guests who are quite literally programmed to not really enjoy your park, you’re going to ignore the ones who enjoy what your park has to offer. Think about it; whether it’s the first ride you build in Forest Frontiers or the last one you construct in Thunder Rock, someone in your park is going to have a big smile on their face.

Yes, it’s important to have a nice park, but try not to pay any mind to the guests that come in with a grumpy face, and leave with a grumpy face.

As it is in life; not every ride, or every park, is going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s just fine.

2. Early organization generally prevents chaos.

Every park starts off small. You have a blank map and a wide stretch of grid before you, until it cuts off at the edges and turns black. In Roller Coaster Tycoon, the world is indeed flat. You start small, with a merry-go-round, junior coaster, twister ride and maybe a pirate ship once it becomes available to build.

But before you know it, your bank account is growing, the park has spread to all four corners of your questionably flat map, and things seem good.

Except… every other moment a ride seems to be breaking down. Or, it’s taken a long time to fix. Where is the mechanic? You look, but he’s on the other side of the park, or lost in an underground pathway.

The downtime of rides can be reduced, and reliability can be increased if you assign mechanics to certain rides and ensure that there are frequent inspections. The time it takes your staff to get to the actual rides is dramatically decreased too, if you plan it all out.

Now, it’s a lot easier to just hire a bunch of mechanics, plop ‘em down, and let them go to whatever rides are broken down. But it makes the guests unhappy and the popularity of the rides decrease.

Pictured: Not peak efficiency.

I created the greatest Bumbly Beach of all time, once. If you remember, the park layout is quite small. But, by building rides on top of one another, I created an actual layered park. Picture a gravitron on top of a motion simulator with a roller coaster speeding over the top.

However… every second it seemed I got that blip at the bottom of the screen informing me that a ride had broken down, or it was taking the mechanic too long to get there. Eventually, I had to painstakingly assign all of the mechanics to different grids of the park to keep everything in tip-top shape.

If you get into the habit of organization early on in life, or early into a project, the process is generally much smoother with more desirable outcomes. So come on; pull out that agenda, get your highlighters, and assign those mechanics to specific sections of rides.

3. You don’t always have to start over – sometimes a simple fix works.

In moments of frustration, the urge to rip up a piece of paper, throw something away, or rage quit can be overpowering.

You’ve spent forever building that perfect coaster; it goes below ground, loops around a pedestrian pathway, and fits your park layout perfectly. You had to really work for that perfect track. You’re proud of it.

Now, the guests roll in.

“Roller Coaster 4 is too intense for me,” thinks every guest that walks up to the queue line.

Okay, okay. Let’s delete a loop. Open the ride again.

“Roller Coaster 4 is too intense for me,” thinks every annoying little jerk guest that walks up to the queue line.

Let’s delete a corkscrew, make that hill less steep, and delete the boost.

The guests walk up to the queue line again. You know what they’re thinking. Your own reaction towards it is too vulgar to write.

Often, I’ve felt compelled to just delete the coaster, delete the pathway leading to it, and return the land I altered back to its original state. If these ungrateful idiots don’t like this coaster, fine. They can’t have it.

However, if you’re a true Roller Coaster Tycoon pro, you know that intensity is based on the lateral G-force. So before you decide to pick up all the park guests that refuse to ride it and plop them into the lake, go back into construction mode. Slow it down before the curves, and make the turns wider and more gradual.

So before you decide to metaphorically flip a table and storm out of the room, locate the issue. Breath. Fix it. Soldier on!

4. Don’t be afraid to start over.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to start fresh with a clean slate.

Towards the end of the Roller Coaster Tycoon campaigns, the objectives get much more difficult. If you need your park value to increase by at least $20,000 in less than two months, you’ve maxed out your loan, and the running costs of your park are sky high… well…

You can try to see if a miracle will happen, race against the clock to earn some more cash, and try to build a few more rides.

But, the more sensible option is to start over. Take a look at how you began the park last time; did you go in too hot with an expensive roller coaster? Did you build a few rides with too short of lines, leaving a lot of guests to wander around aimlessly with cash in their pockets?

Take a step back, go back to the drawing board, and hit it again. Don’t be afraid to fail. I must’ve played Thunder Rock at least three times before I got it right.

5. Invest in yourself.

We know that beauty isn’t everything. In Roller Coaster Tycoon, a few hundred dollars should probably go towards the construction of a new ride. But sometimes, if things are feeling a little “meh,” there’s nothing wrong with investing in scenery.

I’m partial to placing white flower beds or trees in between ride entrances, shops and stalls, bathrooms, or along pathways to spruce things up. A well-placed fountain can never go wrong, either.

Though added scenery may not make or break the park, it can really bring the park up another level. While it can be easy to race ahead to complete the objective on each park, it can be important to slow down and add a few nice touches.

In life, it’s important to dedicate time, and sometimes some funds, into yourself. Take a walk, a bubble bath, get your haircut, buy a new outfit; remember that it’s not always about the objective at the end.

6. You can’t go wrong being cautious.

You just build a wonderful water slide! I bet you can’t wait to see how much the guests love it.

Yikes.

You probably should’ve decreased the slope there, eh?

No worries, let’s move onto that awesome coaster you built. It’ll go up the slope, and fall back down into the station…

Ahh… nope.

Risks are good, but calculated risks are better. Don’t make the slope too steep at first and don’t make the launch speed too fast.

Planning in life can prevent disasters – though maybe not as extreme as crashing roller coasters – and testing the waters can’t hurt.

7. Have fun.

Roller Coaster Tycoon is more than a game. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a hobby, a passion, a craft that can only be excelled at through years and years of hard work.

The level of mastery I’ve reached at this point didn’t come easy. There were failed park objectives, crashed roller coasters, out-of-control loans, and one too many guests that just couldn’t find a single thing they liked about my park.

But for nearly two decades, Roller Coaster Tycoon has been fun. It’s not always about the park value, the number of guests, money in the bank and miles of tracks built; it’s about the thrill of the experience.

About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Movies that Time Forgot: Starchaser: The Legend of Orin ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/movies-that-time-forgot-orin-the-legend-of-starchase/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f490d Tue, 13 Aug 2019 22:30:55 +0000 There's nothing quite like a Star Wars movie.

Next to that, there's nothing quite like a Star Wars ripoff.

But the first time I experienced the story of Orin, the hard-on-his-luck kid who's been raised his entire life under the guise of a lie, and who happens to be the one last human who can wield the hilt of a sword that emits a laser-like beam that can cut through robots — I didn't really put it together.

In fact, it wasn't until I was somewhere in my 30s, when someone else pointed it out, that I realized it really was indeed a Star Wars knockoff, complete with a gruff pilot of a down-on-its luck yet unbeatable ship — complete with some witty droids on board.

I never did get the chance to see it in its 3D glory, but even as a young kid, I was captivated by the just-almost-too-weird animation and the storyline of someone who had lived their entire life underground, with no knowledge of the big, wide world above.

This was another one of those movies I probably shouldn't have been allowed to watch, considering there were such fun moments as meeting the Man-Droids, half-human/half-robot beings who are decaying and want to literally tear Orin apart limb by limb to harvest his body parts.

And while there are certainly elements of Star Wars here — the New York Times apparently speculated why lawyers hadn't been called in at the time — for me, the movie stands on its own. Perhaps it was only possible because of Star Wars, but I don't recall seeing anything about humans being enslaved for millennia mining crystals for a false god in our beloved space soap opera.

The moral of the story is that you should watch it. The whole thing is currently on YouTube, and pretty easy to get your hands on otherwise. And if you still have a VCR, I'll even lend you the used VHS I got on eBay about 12 years ago.

So here's to chasing stars ... and warring in them ... and all that crap.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 6 Star Wars characters who totally got screwed on their deaths ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/star-wars-characters-lamest-deaths/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f490c Thu, 08 Aug 2019 16:23:29 +0000 The epic, beloved space soap opera — er Star Wars saga — is not lacking in fatalities. Attack of the Clones alone sees about 160 characters meet their endings onscreen; this doesn’t even include the Jedi that perish on Geonosis offscreen.

Some of the residents of this galaxy far, far away perish at the hands of lightsabers, in the cockpits of X-Wings, or in the mouth of a suspiciously gooey Rancor. Many deaths suit their characters, and many are just downright awesome; like General Grievous’ heart and EYEBALLS catching on fire after Obi-Wan shoots him five times.

But, not all characters meet the endings they deserved. Here are six onscreen deaths that should’ve been much, much cooler.

Kit Fisto

Hats off to our brave, Nautolan hero. Jedi Master Kit Fisto survived the Battle of Geonosis, became a Jedi General in the Clone Wars and a member of the Jedi Council. As you can see from his title, he was put on the council and given the rank of master. Better luck next time, Anakin...

We all know the scene. Mace Windu rolls up into Chancellor Palpatine’s office with three other masters – Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin.

“Boy, these are pretty good odds,” someone who has never seen Star Wars might think.

All four masters ignite their sabers as Windu informs Palpatine that he’s under arrest. They seem pretty ready to face a battle, until the elderly man sitting at a desk in front of them ignites a lightsaber, and demonically yells as he twists across his desk. I would imagine that might stun someone, even a Jedi Master, for a moment or two; especially given the gravity of discovering that the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic is actually a Sith Lord. Lots to unpack here, folks.

But Fisto, Kolar, and Tinn are Jedi Masters. They should be ready for what happens next. Instead, Palpatine thrusts his saber right through Kolar, does a little spin and slashes Tiin.

Ahh, what could have been. Come on, Tiin.

While his colleagues get cut like soft butter to meet their tragic ends, Fisto has a brief moment to process, prepare, and react as he and Windu duel the Chancellor. Instead, it takes all of six seconds from the moment Tiin dies to Fisto’s death, as Palpatine cuts his midsection.

Fisto makes this ranking because it’s ultimately disappointing that a Jedi of both his skill and rank was unable to make it out of the 4-on-1 duel alive. Granted, nobody did (if only Windu had a parachute), but for Fisto to last less than 10 seconds before being given the partial Darth Maul treatment is honestly pretty lame.

I cut Kolar and Tiin some slack, because you could argue that there were just simply stunned by both Palpatine aerial corkscrewing towards them and the startling yell. But I firmly believe that Fisto should’ve survived another several seconds in this fight, at least.

But, hey. At least he died knowing that Anakin did the right thing, and that Mace Windu would probably win the duel.

Smile big, buddy. We miss you.

Boba Fett

Alright, let’s jump from Episode III to Episode VI here. Boba Fett, both clone and son of Jango Fett, watched his father get beheaded in the same battle that we just discussed Kit Fisto kicking butt in. Tough start for this guy.

But Fett was tough, and quickly rose to prominence as one of the deadliest, most successful bounty hunters in the galaxy. His reputation was great enough that he was one of the people Darth Vader tasked with getting Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon crew to create a trap for Luke Skywalker. We also all know he worked for the Hutts. This job must have paid well if Fett spent that much time in Jabba’s dank, smelly palace in the middle of a desert.

Coincidentally, this is where he meets a really stupid end. I know, I know – being eaten by a Sarlacc is not the lamest way to die. But hear me out, because my argument here is the manner in which he becomes Sarlacc Kibble.

Han Solo – BLIND – picks up a spear, turns around quickly once Chewbacca warns him that Fett is nearby, and … the spear hits Fett’s jetpack. This sets the jetpack off, Fett hurtles into Jabba’s barge, and he rolls into the hungry Sarlacc, waiting below. Watch the following GIF for a visual.

“Boba Fett? Boba Fett?! Where?”

One of the galaxy’s toughest, most feared bounty hunters meets his end due to a fumbling, temporarily blind guy bumping into him.

For anyone at this point who would say he doesn’t belong on this list, because he could’ve crawled out of the Sarlacc pit and survived.

No. He’s dead.

Jek Tono Porkins

Pull up, Porkins. Pull up. You can’t hold it.

Above: Porkins, not holding it. 

Rebel Alliance hero Jek Tono Porkins, or “Red Six” when he’s in hero mode, played an instrumental role in the destruction of the Death Star. His final flight maneuver during the Battle of Yavin was later called “The Porkins Belly Run” and became part of Resistance training nearly 30 years later.

Porkins helped destroy one of the deflection towers on the Death Star, which was crucial in taking down part of its shield. This, unfortunately, resulted in his death. The debris from the tower’s destruction struck his X-wing and it began to malfunction. Rather than “pull up,” away from the Death Star’s turbolasers, Porkins, well, did not pull up.

Red Six makes the list because had he followed instructions from Biggs Darklighter and removed himself from the danger, maybe he could’ve gotten a medal from Princess Leia on Yavin IV.

Red Six, we’ll always stand by for you.

Han Solo

COME ON.

Putting Solo on this list may be a contentious act, but it’s not without much consideration. When I first watched The Force Awakens, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that THE Han Solo, who needs literally no introduction in this article, was killed by his own son.

Some fans might argue that this killing was pointless. I think the fact that Snoke, in the next movie says, “the deed split your spirit to the bone,” shows that killing his father was a pivotal moment on Kylo Ren’s rocky path.

Look, Star Wars is no stranger to rocky father-son relationships. Vader didn’t exactly teach Luke how to throw a baseball and drive a car. But for one of the most beloved, iconic characters in the Star Wars saga to die at the hands of a character we had just met that movie… blew.

Putting Solo on this list is much more rooted in emotionally-driven opinion. For decades, he was one of the bravest, fearless, funny and incredible characters any of us had ever known. Dying at the hands of his whiny, painfully conflicted son wasn’t the ending I expected or hoped he would meet.

The worst part – Chewbacca had to watch. I mean, rip my heart out already, JJ Abrams. I’m done.

Speaking of hearts…

Padme Amidala

Padme Amidala obviously had to die before Episode IV. But it’s the manner in which she died that is so unbefitting her character.

I mean, this is a woman who fights off a Nexu with ONLY a chain.

Padme is a fighter, through and through. Which makes her death – losing the will to live – so not Padme.

She was a ruler, princess, queen, senator, secret wife of a Jedi (almost Master, on the council, but not quite. Right Anakin?), and a survivor of numerous assassination attempts.

Losing the will to live, but otherwise being medically sound, is a surprising ending for a character we’d otherwise assume would do anything to protect her children from her husband-turned-sith. Her life, filled with strength and power, flickers out quietly like the flames that burned her husband’s armor in a ceremonial fire years after her death a candle.

However, there is an asterisk here. Though the medical droid said she lost the will to live, there is a strong theory floating around that Darth Sidious siphoned what existed of the Force inside of Padme, and put it into Anakin. It’s unlikely that this droid could have detected that her connection to the Force was severed, hence the explanation of losing the will to live.

And we know, based upon Darth Sidious’ conversation with Anakin at the Galaxies Opera House, that it’s very likely he knew how to use midichlorians to influence both life and death. Though this may be a stretch and was never confirmed, we also never get a clear answer on how exactly Anakin Skywalker was conceived; but we presume it was the Force.

Boga

The most painful death in the entire Star Wars saga. Poor, precious, innocent Boga plunges down the Pau Sinkhole on Utapau, just before Obi Wan Kenobi kills General Grievous.

There’s not much to say here, besides the fact that she was adorable, made the cutest sounds, and her death made it feel like I watched a puppy tragically die. There were a lot of sad deaths in Revenge of the Sith, but perhaps Boga was the toughest to witness.

Boga, you were the sweetest of all the varactyl, and you deserve to live forever. Run through the grassy, flower-filled meadows of varactyl heaven, you delightful beast.

About the Author: Kelcey is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Old school Star Wars video games you forgot were awesome ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-top-5-old-school-star-wars-video-games/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4909 Mon, 22 Jul 2019 20:38:51 +0000 I must have been five years old the first time I sat down and played the original Star Wars arcade game.

It was just flipping awesome.

Sitting INSIDE an arcade game, first of all. And second of all, it was flipping Star Wars.

FLIPPING HECK!

And since then, it's been a long love affair where I still regularly play some kind of Star Wars video game. In fact, I may have played every single one that's ever been released since 1983's arcade release.

Even that one chess game that had the animations when you captured a piece. I doubt I actually won a single game of chess on it, but I enjoyed the animations!

Star Wars video games have really run the gamut over that time, from strategy games to movie adaptations to, well, chess games. It's easy to forget some of the gems that we dedicated our lives to at some point and then forgot existed.

Especially those that are at least 15 years old. (You see, that's the criteria for defining "old school" here.)

Thusly, I give you the best old school Star Wars video games you forgot were flipping awesome:

Knights of the Old Republic

With a 2003 release, KOTR just sneaks into the Old School category.

Taking place some 4,000 years before the movies, the Star Wars universe opens up before you in this all-time classic RPG from Bioware.

The sheer magnitude of it is stunning, and it's pure Star Wars without having to be tethered to anyone related to a Skywalker. It's truly its own story.

And, it's YOUR story. Finally, blissfully, here was an RPG where you could choose your path, and depending on your choices you would lean to the light or dark sides, and your character's appearance would reflect this evolution.

This one of the first action-RPGs I remember really getting into. It's more of a fusion of action-RPGs and turn-based, a system that still powers Bioware's games today.

KOTOR isn't exactly an under-the-radar game, considering there's apparently now a movie based on it. But you may have forgotten just how great it is.

And now, you can buy it and play it on your phone while you're pooping.

Speaking of which...

Super Star Wars

It's nothing special. It's a straight-up port of the movies wrapped up in a 32-bit platformer.

THAT'S IT. NOTHING SPECIAL.

And yet, that is what makes it so special.

Surprised?

Pick a hero, play the level, boom.

The whole Super Star Wars series was nothing but just plain fun playing through the original storyline. Hard to beat that.

Rebel Assault

This was the first CD-Rom only game to be released by Lucas Arts — and by the Force did it usher in a new era in a butt-kicking way.

Rebel Assault was more or less a straightforward shooter. And the first chapter was annoyingly impossible the first few times you played it. SO. EASY. TO. CRASH.

Those choppy graphics may not look great now, but man, at the time, it felt like you were ACTUALLY PLAYING THE MOVIE. It blew my mind.

Today, it probably, you know, sucks compared to many of the other options, but for those who played the original in its heyday, there's nothing like reliving that Friday night where you rent a game, sit down with some pizza and soda and just play through it 'til you beat it.

Rogue Squadron

Back in 1998, they had this console called an N64.

It was the natural progression of home video game consoles based on bits: 8, 16, 32 — and 64!!! WOW!

And yes, this was on Windows as well, but whatever. And also, you had to have the N64 memory expansion pack to really get your value out of it. But, also, whatever, shut up.

At a time when the first Playstation had already changed home gaming forever (sorry not sorry 3Do, but you blew it) the N64 had a string of games, many of them Star Wars assets, that kept me coming back to cartridges.

While Dr. Mario 64 deserves its own post, Rogue Squadron was a killer title for this underrated system.

Taking place in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, it was a fast-paced arcade-style game with a heavy focus on space combat.

You can also unlock a bunch of crap.

You probably forgot about this awesome game. I know I did.

Shadows of the Empire

Speaking of games released only on Windows and N64 upon release, we have another gem: Shadows of the Empire

With over 1 million copies sold, and being the third best-selling N64 game of all-time, I feel like I probably am not alone on this one. And calling it a gem isn't really accurate, unless it's a super commonly available gem, like opal. Which is bad luck, apparently. Which is also the type of gemstone I used for my wife's engagement ring ... oops!

Anyways, this game was, is and always will be awesome, but you might have forgotten just how awesome.

Part third-person shooter, part space combat, part just straight-up Star Wars, and just a hint of open sandbox play, Shadows also featured a stellar original story. Told through surprisingly great sound quality with the original soundtrack and cut scenes that felt like the right combination of comic book and video game animation, the game spawned a book and quite a bit more ancillary content and merch.

The somewhat primitive (by today's standards) in-game mechanics kind of make me nauseous now, but this game is good enough that I'm willing to pop a Dramamine every now and then and get down to bizness.

Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi

Call me old-fashioned, but fighting games just ain't what they used to be.

Today's fighting games are either bloated omniverses with so much customization that's all you do, or pointless excursions that lose their appeal after three play-throughs.

And closer to the golden age of fighting games, there was the Star Wars among the Tekkens and Soul Calibers of the day.

And you got to play as a sandperson named Hoar.

Yes, a game played mostly by 12 year old boys with a character named Hoar.

Awesome.

Hailing back to 1997, before legions of us were disappointed by Episode I, it was a really fun, straightforward entry in the Star Wars video game lexicon. I'm down for a fight whenever you are.

The Original Arcade Game

Reddit

The King.

THE. EFFING. KING.

This is the game that changed it all for me. I was so enamored with it I'm pretty my mom would just leave me at the arcade in the local mall, without any quarters, and go shopping. If she didn't she totally could have.

Coming out in 1983, missing the original intent to have it out in time for Return of the Jedi, it was simply called: Star Wars.

I also came to learn later there were ports to the Atari, that I totally could have played, but apparently, my mom never bought them for me. THANKS A LOT MOM! I WANT CHOCOLATE MILK!

Fist off, a game you sit inside of. This is a novelty that has never wore off for me.

And the vector graphics still hold some kind of sway over me. If all the Oculus games were in vector graphics, I would buy 10 each of all of them right now.

Oh, and the music.

Whenever I'm at one of those new hipster bars that have old school video game cabinets, I make small talk for five minutes, excuse myself, and pump $25 into it. Even the upright version (it still has the space controls!!!).

This is it, just a fun, old-school arcade game that gave you the straight-up Star Wars experience in its purest essence — before the millions and trillions of budget dollars, or the better haircuts, or the standalone movies.

As the crappy commercial for the Star Wars arcade game once said:

"This game will be with you — always."

]]>
<![CDATA[ 8 awesome Super Nintendo games that are worth playing again ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-snes-games-worth-playing-again/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f490a Mon, 22 Jul 2019 17:42:00 +0000 We all have fond memories of playing games on the consoles of yesteryear, don't we?

Unfortunately, most of the time when we actually go back and play those games, we realize there's a reason we left that technology behind forever.

But the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was really just that — super.

It gave us gaming gems that stick with us to this day, and beyond the warm fuzzies it gives us to go back and relive those glory days, these games are still legit.

Whether you want some intense gameplay, a compelling storyline or just need a laugh, here are some SNES games that are well worth jumping back into when you're sick of 6-year-olds kicking your ass on Fortnite:

For a high-speed fix: F-Zero

F-Zero was an in-house futuristic racer, and like most of Nintendo's in-house productions, it has always been super fun in all of its incarnations.

The original came out for the Super Nintendo in 1990, and many of the elements it introduced went on to be incorporated in other Super Nintendo games, like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Which of course those franchises went on to, you know, be awesome.

F-Zero revolutionized 3D gaming with its super smooth delivery, and was one of the first racers to really capture the delicate balance of controlled chaos that Nintendo has come to master.

And it's still fun. One of the most fun things to do is to see how far you can launch yourself into oblivion. And for just about $20, you can get your hands on an actual cartridge.

For the weirdo: Earthbound

Earthbound was a truly off-the-wall RPG that received horrid reviews from Nintendo Power.

Of course, it's gone on to become one of the most beloved SNES games of all time since then.

It's set in modern times (or at least, early '90s modern times), giving it a familiarity that most RPGs lack. And Earthbound tried some really interesting features, like auto battle, a battle interface where you only see the enemy, and sneak attacks. And you get to fight everything from a tree to ghosts to the most menacing alien of all time.

It's also apparently one of a trilogy of games, called the Mother trilogy, of which Earthbound is apparently the second entry. I knew nothing of this when I first played this game, and it in no way hampered my experience. It's easily a stand-alone story.

Like pretty much any RPG, there are some truly stupid things that occur, but I gave up on Final Fantasy XV because I spent so much damn time in menus, so it's not like things have necessarily gotten better.

There really is no RPG in history with this cool of a storyline. Without any spoilers, let's just say it truly is worth your time and will not go where you think it's going to go. The dialogue is entertaining and witty, and the world itself is oodles of fun to explore.

If you've never played this one before, I'm sort of jealous that you can experience it for the first time. But even if it's been awhile, revisiting Earthbound is always a good idea.

Getting your hands on the actual cartridge has become cost-prohibitive, but thankfully Nintendo included it in the SNES Classic Mini.

For skydiving: Pilotwings

Besides the way too complicated Microsoft flight simulator, Pilotwings was the perfect way for kids to get their flying fix.

From hang gliding to flying a biplane to flying a jet pack, there's plenty to love about this classic simulator. But let's be honest, the real fun is in plummeting toward the earth and not necessarily deciding to open your shoot.

For a system released very early on in the home console era, it really gives you an exhilarating sense of speed. Plus, the music kicks ass.

Replay value runs a bit short once you earn your licenses, but as GTA proved years later, it's always fun to just jump towards the ground from unreasonable heights for a minute or two.

You can find Ebay for cartridges around $10.

For the hardcore RPG fan: Chrono Trigger

I've already written about Chrono Trigger, so I won't gush even more here. Just suffice it to say: it's one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and it holds up nearly 25 years later.

Play it already.

For the sake of simplicity: SimCity

Building a city is fun.

But damn, take any number of simulation games and they've just gotten more and more complicated, requiring more and more of your time to do anything meaningful.

Super Nintendo kept life simple in its iteration of SimCity. Meaning, the building of your city is intuitive and easy, despite the fact the SNES version actually added more options than the PC version of the time.

Not to mention, it's much easier to just save your game the old fashion way, turn it off, and return to it at your leisure, rather than fire up a simulation that requires 30 minutes just to get loaded.

There are also some sweet Easter eggs in this edition, like Bowser attacking the city instead of Godzilla.

You'll have plenty of fun trying to not go bankrupt or starve your citizens with this all-time classic SNES game. Grab a copy from eBay for around $10.

For the soundtrack: Rock N' Roll Racing

Before there was twisted metal, there was Rock N' Roll Racing.

This combat racer felt like a total novelty, which it is, but it actually also featured some pretty fun gameplay. You got to choose from a silly cast of characters coming from races across the imagined galaxy, including a dude named Cyberhawk and a very clear Chewbacca ripoff.

It was no Forza by any means, but you also had a certain level of customization available, choosing from three types of vehicles and several colors, and had the ability to earn money and upgrade your vehicles.

You could pick up different types of power ups along the way, blow up your opponents and get blown up yourself. Rock N' Roll racing also revolutionized real-time AI commentary with gems like "RIP FADES INTO LAST!"

Incredible.

But what makes this game really fun to revisit is the excellent soundtrack of 16 bit classic rock greats. Including, but not limited to:

  • Born to be Wild — Steppenwolf
  • Paranoid — Black Sabbath
  • Bad to the Bone — George Thorogood

The one downside is the playlist isn't that long, so you end up hearing the same songs over and over again. But how does Black Sabbath not make a racing game more fun?

Unfortunately, this one has become a bit of a gem, so you're going to shell out around $40 for the cartridge on eBay. And if you have the Game Boy Advance version? Just sell it now and put your kids through college.

For no good reason: Aerobiz

I was terrible at this game.

I bankrupted countless airline businesses, time after time. And you know what? I don't care! It was fun, damn it!

Sort of like SimCity, Aerobiz gets excellent replay value because it's a fun simulation game without the absurd complications that have come in recent years.

Especially at the outset, all you have to do is pick where in the world you want to base your new airline, and then get to work building your empire. You get to be the CEO, even assigning specific people with terrible haircuts to negotiate on your behalf.

Want to jack up prices for your flights? Go ahead! Want to buy a hotel in Rome? Do it! Want to name your Airline "ButtAir International"? Do it!

Be terrible at this game. That's what makes it fun.

You can find copies of the cartridge for under $40, but watch out for accidentally getting the sequel, Aerobiz Supersonic, which foolishly adds more options.

For the wannabe god: ActRaiser

Part action platformer, part simulator, ActRaiser really had it all. Plus, people worshipped you.

No, seriously. They bring you gifts ... of course they also come to you begging for help with monsters that are destroying their crops. Greedy bastards.

You split time between helping your worshippers build up their villages while protecting them from monsters and demons, and fighting said monsters with boots on the ground (plus swords and power-ups and stuff).

It's a super fun balance that is rewarding as hell, and well worth playing through again. If you really want to, you can get through the whole thing in a matter of hours, so the commitment's not huge. But when you're a god, what's the rush?

The Super Nintendo was really an amazing console when you get right to it. There are plenty more games worth revisiting, but we'll save that for another post — time to go save the world, and stuff.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Games that Time Forgot: Ground Zero Texas ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/games-that-time-forgot-ground-zero/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4908 Mon, 22 Jul 2019 16:46:00 +0000 There was an age when people like Cory Feldman, Tia Career, and Mark Hamill were starring in video games.

The Golden Age of Live-Action Video Games, or simply GALAVG as some call it (no one calls it either of those).

Of course today we're not talking about Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, which at the time was developed for a then-unheard-of-in-video-games $12 million, and starred the likes of Mark Hamill, Jonathan Rhys-Davies and Malcolm McDowell.

Hell, we're not even talking about Cory Feldman's Double Switch.

No, we're talking about Ground Zero: Texas, released for the Sega CD in the fall of 1993.

Sure, this was full motion ... but the motion itself was squeezed into a tiny window within a much larger control panel system, and it looked worse than when your entire family is streaming HD video at the same time on 50 different devices.

But, at the time (circa 1993), it was mind-blowing. That's why developers kept throwing these more or less crappy games at kids like me.

Ground Zero: Texas didn't have any marquee talent, or much talent at all to speak of, but it did have a storyline that kids across the country could get into: saving the world from alien invaders.

It really was sort of like playing out one of the endless corny sci-fi movies I made my parents rent for me every weekend. And it beat out Independence Day by a solid three years. That was worth a lot.

The gameplay itself centered around a battle-camera system, where the player could switch between cameras located at different points in the tiny Texas town of El Cadron.

When something important to the story was happening, that camera would be highlighted and you'd have to switch over to play out whichever scenario was being played out.

The game suffered from similar quirks compared to other live action games from the time: Weird timing issues where you either can't find which camera you need to be on or switch over just as the critical moment is passing; clunky controls that aren't really controls at all; unnecessarily confusing moments where you have no idea what you're supposed to do; and so on.

This is one that doesn't really stand up to the test of time. If you have a nostalgic attachment to it, you won't mind spending 30 minutes taking a trip down memory lane ... or you'll be over it immediately and switch back to Anthem.

Sometimes, there's a reason time forgot games. Ground Zero: Texas, isn't awful, but it's not really that good either. It's just kind of a novelty, which is likely why it's not anyone's all-time greatest hits. But still, there's something special about this game, even if it wears off after about 10 minutes.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Five MCU characters that should get their own movie ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/five-mcu-characters-that-should-get-their-own-movie/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4907 Fri, 31 May 2019 21:46:18 +0000 If you haven't seen Avengers: Endgame at this point ... well, we don't what to say to you. We might have spoilers somewhere in here, and you know what? We're not sorry, you should have seen it by now if you're reading this article. SHAME ON YOU.

That said, we now know that the next phase of the MCU, at least for now, will provide us with some standalone movies and some interesting shows on Disney Plus. All the planned post-Endgame productions seem to be focusing on individual characters, some of whom are supposed to be dead, but hey, whatever.

We already know Black Widow is getting her own movie, for example, and apparently it will be set in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. That's a lot of war.

And of course we also have the aptly named The Falcon and the Winter Soldier coming to Disney Plus when it launches in November of 2019. Can you guess which characters that show will focus on? Can you?!

Anyways, clearly if the Black Widow movie does well, there will be more like it. Which got us thinking: Do we have any donuts left? And after we all had a donut: Which other MCU characters deserve their moment in the limelight?

These are the characters who have played an important part in the MCU, yet have been relegated to ensemble appearances. It's time for Marvel to step up and give these characters their full due with a standalone movie:

Thanos

Obvs.

This would be a great start in the villain origin movies that will clearly sooner or later make their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there's already some great inspiration out there, such as the quite-good Thanos Rising graphic novel (and board game of the same name, which we have not had the chance to review yet).

There's already a strange attraction audiences seem to have with this ultimate MCU villain, to the point where a Thanos origin story seems like a no-brainer for Marvel Studios.

Okoye

Appreciation tweet to Okoye who took care of Wakanda for 5 years and without question is the best general. pic.twitter.com/YElsGV1MAI

— Golden Avenger (@kingkillmongerr) May 22, 2019

She is possibly the ultimate bad-ass warrior in all of the MCU (sorry Black Widow, but you're not really a warrior, per se). And, with the success of the Black Panther origin movie, there will definitely be more out of Wakanda in the MCU.

I'd love to see Okoye get an entire ass-kicking movie of ass kicking. It could take place after Infinity War, and she just kicks a bunch of ass.

This is one that would do surprisingly well.  DO YOU HEAR ME MARVEL?

Rocket Raccoon

My son likes to play previews — in his mind.

Call it creative, call it childish, call it a mental illness — whatever you call it, he's really good at it. To the point where he won't eat his damn dinner "until the preview is finished."

That said, one preview he recently made up was one for a standalone Rocket Raccoon movie. And dang, that's a good idea!

It could be an origin story of how he met Groot, or a furrific side adventure.

People really can't get enough Rocket (me included), so let's give the people more of what they want: Bradley Cooper's voice in the best package possible.

Hawkeye

He's a pivotal character. He's played by an Oscar-nominated actor in Jeremy Renner, and arrows are cool.

How did he get so good at shooting arrows, anyway?

There's potential origin story material, maybe a Black Widow cameo (in Budapest!), or I'd love to see him cleansing the planet of baddies post-Infinity War and pre-Endgame.

Morgan Stark

Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Not only is a grown-up Morgan Stark an eventuality in the MCU, it was already filmed.

That's right, Katherine Langford played the part of a young adult Morgan. The directors originally wanted to cut to a dreamlike sequence when Tony Stark made his own Iron Snap to counteract the Snapture, where he would see his daughter at an older age.

They revealed all of this in a recent spoiler sh*tstorm podcast that you can check out here.

It would have been a pretty bad ass way to tie the whole Infinity saga together, mirroring Thanos' Snapture moment with a youngling Gamora, but, you know, 4-hour movies aren't as popular as they used to be.

But this scene could be the perfect opening for a Morgan Stark standalone movie, where she inevitably takes the mantle from her father to become Iron Woman.

It would require some weird time-jumping in the overall narrative, but hell, we're already way past that in the MCU.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Movies That Time Forgot: Naked Space ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/movies-that-time-forgot-naked-space/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4905 Thu, 02 May 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Everyone knows the classic exchange from Airplane!

"Surely, you can't be serious."

"I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."

But how many of you know this even more classic exchange from the movie spawned out of a desire to capitalize on the success of the Leslie Nielson high-flying comedy?

"Rozinski, you need to be asexual!"

"I am asexual ... a sexual fiend!"

Despite the fact that Rozinski should clearly be arrested, this is just one of the countless one liners and screwball jokes that the majority of humanity has somehow completely missed. And it's a damn shame.

I remembered vaguely watching a movie called Spaceship with my older brother sometime in the early '80s, and even then I understood it was one of the funniest movies ever made. So imagine my surprise when I walked into a record store during my college years, and discovered a used DVD (who the hell traded that in???) that appeared to be that movie that I had long since given up ever seeing again, albeit with a different title slapped on the cover.

Naked Space, originally known as Spaceship (take your pick of which franchise they were trying to capitalize on), and even more originally known as The Creature That Wasn't Nice, is ostensibly a parody of Alien.

Released in 1983, Naked Space was written and directed by little known Bruce Kimmel, who really didn't do much in the film world after this opus. And who can blame him? When you come up with lines like "Science is my pie," there's no further upside to your career.

The plot follows a group of space explorers who are terrible at their jobs, but somehow stumble unto an unexplored planet that is home to an alien life form. Beginning as some kind of jelly, it eventually grows into a show-tune singing,  one-eyed red monster that wants to eat everyone's faces.

The budget was clearly low, yet they still snagged Nielsen, plus Cindy Williams of Lavern & Shirley fame, and British actor Patrick Macnee — who seems to be the most committed to his character.

The film was apparently widely panned when it came out, but it surpasses even some of the greatest of Leslie Nielsen-driven comedies.

Where they couldn't bring in high-profile cameos or product placements, they opted for some of the purest forms of comedy. One of my all-time favorite moments is when they, for no apparent reason, hold a crew talent show. While there are only six members of the crew, there is a theater set up with dozens of chairs, and a full light show to boot.

These are the kinds of details that make Naked Space so entertaining.

If you're a fan of Leslie Nielsen — or just things that are funny at all — this one's well worth a watch. And lucky for you, the entire thing is posted on YouTube and apparently no one cares whether it's infringing on any copyrights.

Enjoy!

All images copyright by production studio and/or distributor unless otherwise noted, and found at Moviestillsdb.com. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ A Guide to Overwatch For Old People ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/overwatch-for-old-people-guide/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4903 Wed, 24 Apr 2019 14:23:47 +0000 So you’ve been playing videos games since way back when, have finished Red Dead Redemption 2 twice, and rock Fortnight.

You might have strong opinions about the games you play and keep up to date on new releases, but you’re still wondering what this Overwatch thing is about. Maybe you’ve seen confusing clips from the Overwatch League (OWL) with excited commentators shouting as if the delicate balance of life hangs on the outcome of every round, or maybe you’ve even tried playing it on your kid’s console only to be overwhelmed by the number of heroes to choose from, their differing abilities, and the dialogue that makes you feel like you’re watching the sequel to a movie that everyone knows the lines to except you.

For those who haven’t spent a good amount of time with the game there can be questions: Why is there a gorilla fighting a hamster who lives in a giant ball-tank-thing? Cowboys? Wait, which ones can fly? What the hell is an ult!? Didn’t this game come out three years ago? How is it still relevant??

Overwatch’s developer, Blizzard, has somehow managed to create a game that is still going strong at a point in its tenure when many games would either be on a sequel or even just a distant memory. Thanks in large part to the competitive league and a strong marketing presence, it’s now possible to watch games on Disney networks such as ABC, ESPN, and Disney XD. Also, you can buy Overwatch Legos. And Nerf guns.

Ok Fine, Tell Me What It Is

At its most basic level, Overwatch is a first person team shooter. The common modes, and the ones used in competition, are six vs. six on objective-based maps set in various cities around the world. As of this writing there are 30 distinct heroes to choose from, each of them having unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

Players level up (to infinity it seems), but you only earn the right to play with other high-ranked players through that process. That is, you begin with all the abilities the hero has access to right from the start. There are loot boxes, but they only offer skins, voice lines, icons, etc. No one gets better weapons or abilities by virtue of leveling up.

Let’s break down the need-to-knows:

Three classes of heroes

  • Damage: These are the heroes that (theoretically) kill the most. Snipers, gunslingers, ninjas, etc. If your previous experience is limited then start with Soldier 76 or Ashe, with whom you can point and shoot until you figure out what the heck is going on.
  • Tanks: Big heroes who can take a lot of damage, designed to lead pushes, create space, and control strategy. D.Va is a favorite who can fly and has relatively easy controls, but she’s also one of the most played heroes, so she may not be available. Try Orisa who can set up a shield and fire a lot of ammo before having to reload.
  • Support: This class contains the heroes that used to be called “Healers”. They are absolutely key for higher level play, but are often absent in beginner and intermediate pick up games. Ana and Baptiste both shoot and heal with fairly intuitive abilities, or try Lucio, the in-line skater who can add speed to all nearby allies and boop enemies off the map.

Other essentials

  • Ult: Short for “Ultimate”, a hero’s biggest, most damage inducing ability, usable once their ult-meter is full. These run the gamut from bombs to boosts to snowstorms. Experienced players will combine ults for massive damage, but they can also be countered with opposing team’s ults and shields.
  • Game Modes (these are really categories): Without going into too much detail (available elsewhere), there are several arcade modes that vary weekly, Quick Play, a Practice Range, Custom Game options, and finally, Competitive Play.

Maps

To many, the “modes” are the objectives of the maps. Quick Play, Competitive, and OWL are limited to:

  • Control: Teams fight for a geographic location which must be held for a certain amount of time
  • Assault: One team defends a point, the other attacks it. The attacking team must reach 100% of control or some such cacamamy before time runs out.
  • Escort: Accompany a slow moving payload to objective points in a certain amount of time while the other team tries to stop you.
  • Hybrid: Assault/Escort. The offensive team releases the payload by occupying a point, then tries to escort it to the final destination.

If you’re going to sit down with the kids and watch OWL matches then you should also know these common buzzwords:

  • Comp: The “composition” of a team, or in other words, the heroes chosen to compliment each other on a given map.
  • Meta: The current state of Overwatch gameplay based on the most recent patches and hero attributes.
  • Main: the type of hero a player specializes in. For instance, everyone and their dog on console thinks they’re a damage main. Seriously, try support for once!
  • GOATS: A comp consisting of three tanks and three supports, exceedingly popular in OWL season two stage one due to the meta (see how much you know already?), but slowly falling from favor.

Why is Overwatch Still a Thing??

It’s been THREE years! And to be honest it took me nearly two before I felt like I could get past the comic-book tropes and really enjoy the game for what it is. It seems Blizzard has been very clever in creating a long-lived franchise that doesn’t really have and end in sight unless the Overwatch League goes the way of a 20 ounce Starbucks latte and saturates itself stale.

Among their clever marketing strategies:

  • Consistent new heroes, usually preceded by a drawn-out and mysterious internet trail of clues that drives the fan base near to a riotous state of insanity.
  • Periodic new maps.
  • Unique, (relatively) diverse heroes with backstories that appeal to anime and sci-fi loving youth who will then carry the memories of Overwatch with them as a treasure of their childhood.
  • Kick ass animated shorts like this one about Widowmaker, the sultry sniper:
  • And obviously, a competitive league staffed by youthful real life heroes who stream on the side, or perhaps more accurately, compete in OWL on the side of their streaming. (As an aside, Blizzard will need to take care of the young e-thletes in this league if they want to ensure talent continues to gravitate towards OWL, and more importantly, that they remain safe and healthy.)

OK whatever, should I play it or what?

Do I look like your mother?

I don’t know the answer here, but I can tell you that the games are generally fairly short, so you can get some good fun in when time is tight. And while you’re waiting to join a game you’re often thrown into a “skirmish”, which is a random map with the other players who are also waiting for a game.

If you do decide to take the leap, then it would behoove you to spend a little time in the training area, but it’s not completely necessary. You can just jump into the chaos of Quick Play, although considering that someone had to write an article like this to explain the whole thing it might be a bit overwhelming. I would recommend joining up with one or some of your gaming buddies, or having your kid coach you along and easing into the fray. Don't get too hung up on the details to start, just try to stay with your teammates and do what the game tells you to do (escort the payload, attack the point, etc.). Pretty soon you’ll be speaking the lingo and bemoaning the choices of other players with the best of ‘em!

“Young punks, get off my lawn!”

Images courtesy Blizzard press center.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Why I've only read the Game of Thrones books and not watched the show ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/why-i-have-only-read-the-game-of-thrones-books-and-not-watched-the-show/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4902 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:54:07 +0000 Lately I've been turning away from every glance of Facebook.

No, not because they steal my data and let trolls sway how I vote: it's much worse than that.

My feed is filled with nothing but Game of Thrones posts.

From random friends to the New York Times to every single publication and person in between, the only question anyone wants to ask me seems to be: "What'd you think of the Game of Thrones episode?"

Here's the thing: I like Game of Thrones. I bought the Risk version of it basically to play it once. I've read every single book.

But I've seen exactly 1.5 episodes of the show.

So my answer is always: "I've read the books but haven't watched the show." To which most people laugh, assuming I'm joking.

This is no joke.

So why, WHY. haven't I watched the show? Why haven't I joined seemingly most of America in one of the all-time popular nerdy TV shows?

I don't have the damn time

Reading the books was an investment.

The only reason I got through them was because I listened to a good chunk of each on Audible while going on long training runs. When you're on a 22-mile training run, you've got some free time. The names of lords and ladies could easily be zoned out and when something exciting happened it would distract me from the feeling of death in my legs.

For those that don't know, and SPOILER alert for anyone who hasn't got this far in the books or show — the books leave off well before where the show currently is. And "the books" are actually known collectively as A Song of Fire and Ice.

The lasting image from book five, A Dance With Dragons, is that of Jon Snow lying in the ice, having been stabbed, mutinied in essence, by his fellow members of the Night's Watch. Of course, he knew there could be repercussions for breaking the code of the Night's Watch after asking those willing to join him and exact revenge for his family's name.

Does this happen in the TV show? I know Jon Snow gets stabbed, thanks to endless memes, but that's all I could tell you. That's all I want to tell you right now.

So here's the thing: It took me nearly two years to work through those damn books. I've earned my damn GoT keep. And even though I'd love to sit back and spend time watching the visual incarnation of the books I enjoyed, I'm a parent to a young child.

Squeezing in hour long episodes for seven seasons of nudity, betrayal and excessive drinking is not really something that's in the cards for me. Not right now, at least.

It's estimated that it would take 2 days and 17 hours to watch every GoT episode. That's without taking a single break to, you know, use the bathroom, eat, work or ensure your child isn't eating his own feces. And now there's a new season blowing past me.

Picking up a book at bedtime, however, is doable. Listening to audio books on long training runs — I can do that. It's simply too daunting of an undertaking to start up the show now.

Books are always better

Besides, I'm in a place where my images and impressions of characters are still my own, and haven't really been influenced by the actors or production of the show. I saw one image of the Hound, Sandor Clegane, and I was all like:

And that's why books are always better: You get a say in how things look, how people speak and how many scales the dragons have. And, of course, it's simply not possible to transfer everything from the books to a TV format. The production budget would have to be even bigger, and fans would have to be on board for many, many more seasons.

Not to mention you get to learn the character's true inner thoughts and motivations. You don't have to glean them or have them spoon-fed to you.

Do I want to see a real-life King's Landing? Of frigging course I do! But with the next book nearly here (lol), I may as well wait, at least until I work through Winds of Winter.

Bran is annoying enough as it is

From what I can gather, Bran's character in the TV show is a whiny little biatch.

The same is very much true in the books. But, at least I can pretend he doesn't have the same awful haircut he has in the show, and I can pretend he doesn't always have a the Smiths song playing in head.

Again, I'm speaking second-hand here in terms of the show, but he's definitely just annoying. Sure, there's some cool stuff that happens with his storyline, but when his name comes up as a chapter heading, something inside me dies a little.

Why would I want to force myself into more Bran when I don't have to? Give me one good reason.

It's not the same storyline

The storylines already differ, albeit mostly in minor ways that don't affect the overall story arc.

But, I'm invested in different characters. Maybe someday I'll be ready to abandon them like a cold, heartless undead king, but today is NOT that day!

And it's unclear just how much the two will ultimately differ in the end. The writers swear it will all ultimately end up at the same place, although it will take some divergent paths to get there.

On the other hand, George RR Martin has yet to even complete Wind of Winters, and will have an entire book to finish the saga after that one's done. And for A Dream of Spring, the final book, Martin won't have the burden of a major TV show.

It's entirely possible Martin will say "eff it" and throw in a twist ending just when no one's expecting it. I mean, this is the guy that came up with the Red Wedding! How can we possibly trust him?!

I'm willing to see this thing out in the (not so) off chance Martin goes rogue.

Spoilers!

On the other hand, it's entirely possible Martin's GoT TV contract specifies he'll have to pay back a bunch of money if the endings are too different.

Also, he told 60 minutes the main storyline will likely end up more or less the same:

"I don't think Dan and Dave's ending is gonna be that different from my ending because of the conversations we did have," he told 60 Minutes. "But they may be on certain secondary characters, there may be big differences."

I can't just start watching Season 8 now, can I? It would immediately shatter everything I've been looking forward to in the next book without so much as a dwarf's slap. All of it, gone like so much dust in the wind.

That would suck.

Look, I'm not one of those people that's actively boasting about only reading the books. It's just something that happened. I didn't try to do it. I've watched the first episode three times trying to get this thing going, but each time if fizzled out.

It's not my fault, but now here I am, and I have but two abysses to jump into it. So, I'll stick with the abyss I know, at least, for now. And perhaps sometime in the 2050s, when George RR Martin's uploaded brain has finished the series, I'll finally be finished with the books.

Then, perhaps, assuming we're not all slaves for the coming alien race of super-smart grasshoppers by then, I'll give it another try.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Marvel Cinematic Universe movies you can watch with your 5-year-old ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/marvel-movies-you-can-watch-with-your-5-year-old/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4901 Tue, 16 Apr 2019 19:26:44 +0000 My son started seeing previews for Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies and understanding that there was something cool about them before he was even three. And thus began the refrain now seemingly uttered in our house daily: "When you're a little older..."

The MCU offers entertainment value out the wazoo, but one of the reasons the movies have done so well is because they offer a lil' sumthin' for adults. Mostly lots of violence and sexual innuendo, which, some might say, is not appropriate for small children.

But fear not! For parents like moi, that just can't wait to start brainwashing their kids into superhero-loving consumers, there are some Marvel movies that will be just fine for that little bundle of joy that is beginning to realize you have no true dominion over them anyway.

These are the MCU movies that are (mostly) fine for kids, albeit every kid is different and comfortable or uncomfortable with different things. My son freaked out during the opening dream-like scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp but has no problem with T-Rexes eating people off the toilet in Jurassic Park. Go figure.

These five MCU movies will make solid introductions to the MCU for your little ones, with minimal concerns for parents.

Disclaimer: There's no denying it: MCU movies are full of violence, even if it's mostly cartoonish. Marvel movies can be good for a lot of 5 year olds, but not EVERY one of them. Just, you know, be a parent.

Ant-Man

This was my son's first MCU movie and first live action superhero movie, and it was a good call.

For starters, there's a scene where Ant-Man and the Yellowjacket fight amongst a Thomas the Tank Engine set. That will sell kids right away.

And while the plot will likely be lost on most kids, the simple idea of shrinking extremely small is something that will both make sense to them and be appealing as a type of superpower. It won't require a lot of explanation on your part.

The fact that Scott Lang has a young kid and goes to her birthday party also adds something relatable.

Also, Baskin Robbins always finds out.

What to watch out for: There are a few uses of curse words, but no F word. Still, if you have one of those tykes that likes to repeat every curse word they hear, have a chat ahead of time about when and where to use those words. Something like this: "Daddy can use those words when he's playing video games, but you may NEVER say them EVER."

There's also a scene where the villain turns someone into a little pile of goo. My kid barely noticed, but it might be freaky for other kids that are less awesome and amazing.

Spiderman: Homecoming

While Ant-Man was a solid starter, we easily could have — and maybe should have — started with Spider-Man: Homecoming.

What kid isn't already interested in spiders? And the idea that there's someone that basically has all the powers of a spider is easy to grasp, not to mention awesome.

There is also, compared to other MCU movies, very little violence in this one. Even the villain is really just a misguided father.

What to watch out for: There really is very little for parents to be concerned with overall in this movie. It's a very good movie that focuses on a young protagonist learning what it means to really be a hero. There is really only one death, when Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, blasts one of his underlings into oblivion. There's no gore, he just kind of disintegrates into nothingness. If you're uncomfortable with that, I'm questioning why you would even watch a Marvel movie yourself, but hey, whatever tickles your pickle.

Marvel's The Avengers

A mostly light-hearted meeting of the most powerful — and most popular — superheroes on Earth? Check. Tons of cool action? Check. An entry in the series where half the heroes don't blink out of existence? Check.

It's hard to go wrong with the first entry in what has become a film franchise to rival all others in history: Marvel's The Avengers. Hopefully someday they'll remove the "Marvel" from the official title. Just sounds kinda stupid.

There's not a lot of time for depressing backstories when you have all those egos — er, heroes — jam-packed together. And Loki, while a great villain, isn't exactly scary. Even when the Chitauri attack the city, it's with creature-like technology that seems to intrigue rather than frighten young ones.

What to watch out for: It's an MCU movie, so of course there's some violence, and the Other and Chitauri are kind of creepy, but all of that was no problem for my kiddo. The main issue was simply the length. There's a loooot of talking, which I never really realized before. We ended up watching it in two chunks. The last 30 minutes of the movie definitely tilt the scales, but it's a reminder for me that right now my kid's just into action. While I want to sit and explain every detail of the story to him, he ain't havin' it.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Some kids might find Ronan the Accuser a bit scary in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course a mom dying of cancer might not be the greatest way to open a story for kids. None of those iffy things are really present in this installment of the franchise.

The humor is great for adults, but has plenty to offer kids as well. Of course, in some cases, there is no distinction between age and humor (I mean, c'mon, poop is always funny). There are some monsters and some of the ravagers could seem scary, but as one of the "funny" MCU movies, it's always tinged with silliness.

Overall this movie is a visual feast, and while kids might miss some of the nuances, the story is generally pretty easy to follow. Plus, who doesn't love Rocket?

What to watch out for: When the Ravagers stage their mutiny of Yondu and begin disposing of those loyal to him, they do so by sending them into space. In one shot, Tullk, one of Yondu's most loyal men, is put into a chamber and released. We see him freeze and his skin turn an odd color as he perishes nearly instantly. That's not soooo bad (pretty bad), but then the camera pans out and you see there are dozens of lifeless bodies. Might be a good time to throw the blinders on or mention that they're "just taking a nap." There's also a scene where Yondu murders like 100 of his ex-crew, but again, it's very cartoonish, tinged with silliness, and all to a killer soundtrack.

There are quite a few S-bombs, more than other Marvel movies, so again, depends on how annoying your kid can be.

Lastly, the creepiest element might be when Ego the Living Planet is going in and out of form. There's a part towards the end where you see his muscles and skull coming through. It could be icky for a little dude or dudette — although it's likely they'll just think it's cool. Because it is.

Thor: Ragnarok

You may be sensing a theme here: Sequels tend to be pretty good for the kids. Origin stories can be more intense — or just more boring for those short attention spans.

Of course, since all the Thor movies carry the same levity as the Guardians franchise, it's hard to go wrong with any of them, but Ragnarok takes it a step further by allowing Hulk and Thor to fight each other (some more). It's also more straightforward and action=packed than the other entries.

I was actually worried my son would wonder why the crap two of his favorite heroes were fighting. Turned out he thought it was frickin' hilarious.

All in all this one doesn't take itself too seriously, and even the final battle with Hela isn't very alarming.

What to watch out for: Jeff Goldblum. Also, when Thor loses his eye it's a little gruesome. Otherwise, this is one of the lighter MCU movies overall — assuming mini-you doesn't fully grasp the whole goddess of death thing.

****

All images copyright by production studio and/or distributor unless otherwise noted, and found at Moviestillsdb.com. Intended for editorial use only.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Games That Time Forgot: Road Avenger ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/games-that-time-forgot-road-avenger/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4904 Thu, 11 Apr 2019 00:00:00 +0000

I don't know that I begged my parents for anything more than I did the Sega CD.

It was the Christmas of 1992 when they apparently caved, likely putting themselves back into credit card debt at the time, and I screamed in joy as I unwrapped the insanely unreasonably-sized Sega Genesis appendage.

Just snaps right in!

Of course, once the 32x came out (32 bits!!!!!) it was an even more fun game of ensuring everything was not only hooked up correctly, but had a dedicated plug — which wasn't easy with those giant AC adaptors.

Anyways, the point of this post isn't to go over all the Sega Genesis accessories, it's to remember a Sega CD game that never really got its due attention.

By all accounts, Road Avenger has been lost in the annals of video game history, languishing somewhere in between Kung Fu Heroes and the Journey-themed (yes, the band) Atari game.

Tell me more of Road Avenger

According to Wikipedia, Road Avenger was originally known as Road Blaster, and developed by Data East for Japanese arcades in the mid-80s.

For the elderly nerds amongst you (myself included), you may remember Data East as the producers of such classic games as BurgerTime, Bad Dudes and Karate Champ.

This was Data East's foray into the cutting-edge world of 1980s interactive-movie arcade games.

The plot is simple: bad guys kill dude's wife on their honeymoon, dude uses sports car to get revenge. Who hasn't been there? Am I right?

Road Avenger is better than those other games

Here's the thing: Dragon's Lair sucks.

I remember seeing those games when I was a kid and just being blown away by the mere thought of playing a game that was also a cartoon and I got to control it. Holy hell!

Of course, then I actually did get to play it, and I wasted about $5 worth of quarters in 12 seconds, never getting past maybe one or two moves. After my older brother berated me for sucking at life, he couldn't get much further.

Road Avengers does not suck. In fact, it's awesome.

Unlike other interactive-story games of the times, the controls for Road Avenger feel smooth and responsive. And since you're now thankfully playing on Sega CD or an emulator, instead of a quarter-eating arcade machine, you can keep playing no matter how many times you die.

It carries both a sense of fluidity but also that feeling of discovery as you barely make the right choice. The cut scenes are long enough to be entertaining, but short enough that it doesn't interrupt the gameplay.

And that's the key: There's actual gameplay here. Like platformers of ye olden days, you get the sense that you were just about to get past that one part when you died. So you fire up another round, you get a little further, and you repeat until you beat the game.

An entire play-through only takes about 35 minutes — assuming you make it all the way through on one try. It's not a huge time investment, but that also means once you beat it you won't get that fire to get vengeance for your wife's death back for awhile.

But sooner or later your bloodlust will return. And when it does, Road Avenger will be there.

Where do I buy it?

It appears the Sega CD version of this game has become harder to come by in recent years, but you can keep on eye on Amazon for used copies. Ebay is always a good bet, too.  For game-only, it will run you just a tad over $10, but if you want boxing and manual in good condition, you're looking at closer to $40.

You might also be able to find it on an emulator, if you're into that kind of thing. We don't currently have any specific recommendations for you.

Either way, we definitely recommend you give this forgotten bad boy another chance, or maybe a first chance. Here's to avenging the road, or something.

]]>
<![CDATA[ The 8 best punk covers of Disney songs ]]> Riff raff / street rat/ I don't buy that Those words could have been uttered by any number of British punks in the '70s. I can hear Mick Jones belting it out, anthemizing yet another cry of working-class angst. But no, it was a dude and his monkey who sang it. ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/the-5-best-punk-covers-of-disney-songs/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f4900 Tue, 09 Apr 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Riff raff / street rat/ I don't buy that

Those words could have been uttered by any number of British punks in the '70s. I can hear Mick Jones belting it out, anthemizing yet another cry of working-class angst.

But no, it was a dude and his monkey who sang it. Well, just the dude, but the monkey was there.

Disney songs can be great, or infuriatingly catchy. There is literally no in between. But one thing they always have in common is getting covered by all kinds of bands and musicians.

Here is the definitive list of the best punk covers of Disney songs. All the other lists are lies, plain and simple.

The Rainbow Connection — Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

After being bounced around for some time, the Jim Henson Company along with the Muppets, like most things in life, ended up being purchased by Disney. That puts this classic song about freaking out about the illusion of rainbows on the list.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are a who's who of modern punk royalty, featuring members of NOFX, Lagwagon and Swingin' Utters. So naturally, they needed money, and covering songs like these pays more bills than singing about your floor.

While seemingly a song about the power of hopes and dreams, I think this is actually about a delusional person who is losing there mind. Here's the key lyric, with zero alterations:

Have you been fast asleep

And have you heard voices,

I've heard them calling my name

Someone's been licking frogs.

Bare Necessities — Bowling for Soup

Bowling for Soup has been around long enough that it wasn't long after the original Jungle Book came out that they first starting hanging out. In fact, the legend is that frontman Jaret Reddick and original drummer Lance Morrill first met in kindergarten in 1977.

This is just a good ol' fashion romp through one of Disney's all time, and most covered, songs. I'm sure Baloo would approve.

Chim Chim Che-ree — All

I'll be honest, this is far from All's best work. But, hey it's All, so it makes the list. In case you don't know All (what's wrong with you?), it's basically the Descendents minus frontman, Milo Aukerman.

It's a pretty straightforward rendition, and actually sounds kind of sad.

Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me — Mickey Mutineers

So this isn't really a band so much as it is a blog and podcast from a punk dude that just REALLY loves Disney and just apparently put this together. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

And there are a ton of covers of this song. It just lends itself to a sing-along punk feel, and out of all of the most famous Disney songs, this one probably lends itself to drinking the most.

Mickey Mouse Club March — Andrew WK

If you don't think Andrew WK is punk, first off, I will fight you, and secondly, I will fight you.

That said, this rendition of the theme song to the show that projected both Justin Timberlake and Annette Funicello to fame is by far the best.

And if you've never been to an Andrew WK show — I actually won't fight you, I'll just go with you.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — The Vandals

First off, kudos to whoever put this video together. It really is fantastic. Secondly, it's the Vandals, and as usual they do not phone it in on this one and make it their own.

These guys have been being more punk than anyone you know since 1980, putting them into hallowed territory — and they're still pumping out good stuff and putting on shows with more energy than bands a third of their age.

A Whole New World — Tartar Control

You've got to go through at least the one minute mark to truly enjoy the magic of this one.

Tartar Control is basically just two dudes making music out of L.A. who occasionally tour to a crappy punk venue near you. Actually, a not-so-crappy venue near you, but it doesn't sound as cool when you put it that way.

This is definitely one of their finest moments.

Making Christmas — Rise Against

Yep, this is the band that put out that awful song that got really popular. Something about swinging.

But this band has some street cred. Anyone who puts out albums on Fat Wreck Chords automatically earns some level of respect.

This cover is much better than those majorly successful hits that probably brought them lots of boring money and fame. There's almost a bit of a Bad Religion feel to this. And The Nightmare Before Christmas seems like ripe pickings for some punk-ification.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 5 video games I still find time to play as a dad ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-games-i-still-find-time-to-play-as-a-dad/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48fd Thu, 04 Apr 2019 17:31:09 +0000 One of the most annoying parts of being a parent is the amount of time it takes away from playing video games. That and being pooped on.

But there are those hallowed games that are just too good, too alluring, too its-better-than-being-pooped on to NOT find time to play.

As a dad to a rambunctious child, these are the games that I still find myself squeezing in whenever I get the chance.

Super Mario Bros. 3

At least twice a year, I have to sit down and play Super Mario Bros. 3 until I beat it. It's like getting your physical or going to the dentist: It's just something you do.

Pretty soon the kid will figure out what I'm up to and demand to play, and I'll end up spending most my time exasperatingly trying to explain where the next 1up or warp whistle is, and why HE NEEDS TO LISTEN TO HIS DAMN FATHER OR GO TO BED.

But until then, I'll blissfully fire this bad boy up, whether as a download on my Wii (yes, I still have that) or the original NES edition itself.

Star Wars Battlefront

Yeah, I didn't specify which one, because it really doesn't matter. If it involved me getting to live out my Star Wars battle fantasies, I'll play it.

I'm still hooked on SWBF2 (as you can tell by the articles on Hoary Gamer, duh), but I'm also looking forward to reliving the original SWBF2 when it gets re-released on Xbox Live Gold. Hell, give me anything with the words "Star Wars" and "Battlefront", I don't care — I'll play it.

FIFA soccer games

I'm not one of those dudes that's itching to get the latest FIFA, but I do enjoy me some video game soccer. Hell, I've been playing it since at least FIFA 93 on the Sega Genesis. I remember on FIFA 95 you could stand in just the right spot when the opposing goalie had the ball and just keep jumping in front of him, ultimately heading the ball into the goal. What a dumbass goalie!

Sports games are great for dads — you don't have to spend an hour just getting through the intro before you even play anything, and there's a clear, finite amount of time you can play without losing any progress. Play a game when you have time, turn it off, repeat. The kids don't even know what we're up to. Ha, stupid kids!

Chrono Trigger

SNES, emulator, Wii download, 3Ds — whatever, just give me some Chrono.

I still remember the immense responsibility I felt the first time I played through Chrono Trigger. It was up to ME to save the frickin' world. Not to mention I thought the princess might actually come to life and marry me. I was like 14, ok?

Today's RPG's take about 6 hours of cut scenes before you ever even do anything. I'm sick of it and I don't have the damn time for it.

In Chrono Trigger, you jump right in. I still get caught up trying to chug that drink or pick the winner of the race or all the other awesome fair games you get to try right off the bat.

I've played through it countless times, and each time I relive the glory, agonize over which party members to bring along and cry when I see what the future holds.

And it's still on my list to go back and play through Earthbound, too.

Columns

Just one more quick game, I tell myself. It will only take a few minutes. I can work later.

But then you fail just before reaching that next high score. I should have moved the purple bar to the left, you say to yourself. And on and on and on it goes.

Columns was a package game with many of the early Genesis console boxes. Way before Candy Crush warped everyone's brains, it asked — nay, DEMANDED — that you match colored bars of various and random kinds in horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines.

It's called perfection.

Just be careful and remember to eat.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Nobody knows why matter and antimatter aren't equal ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/nobody-knows-why-matter-and-antimatter-arent-equal/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48fc Tue, 02 Apr 2019 08:00:00 +0000 It seems like most scientists sort of have things figured out.

You have your gravity, your ability to send humans to space and, of course, the microwave.

Science!

And yet, apparently not a single one of those eggheads can figure out the asymmetry problem.

Here's the deal: When the Big Bang created our little universe, it sent out a whoooole bunch of stuff. Particles and whatnot. Some of it became matter — i.e., everything you can see or touch — and some of it became antimatter.

According to Einstein's general theory of relativity — which, you know, blew everyone's damn minds and changed how we look at the universe — and the Standard Model of particle physics — which is another important science thing — everything we know about physics is telling us that the Big Bang should have created matter and antimatter in equal parts.

But that's not true. We know because we can measure, and even produce our own, antimatter. And we know, because we all exist. When antimatter and matter come into contact, they destroy each other and leave only energy. Sort of like King Kong vs. Godzilla.

No, Physicists Still Don't Know Why Matter (And Not Antimatter) Dominates Our Universehttps://t.co/xBqaDB3O8d
It's incredible: we've measured CP violation now in strange, bottom, and charm quark systems.

But we're no closer to solving the matter/antimatter asymmetry problem.

— Ethan Siegel (@StartsWithABang) March 29, 2019

But we have waaaay more matter than antimatter in the universe, as evidenced by, once again, the existence of the universe. If things were equal, there would be nothing but energy. And, well, someone seems to be typing this and reading this.

There are also hints that some particles can change their properties from that of matter to antimatter. Sort of like when your uncle goes from totally normal dude to super creep at Thanksgiving.

Just chalk it up to yet one of the many failures of science.

]]>
<![CDATA[ We played Game of Thrones Risk with 6 players and it was epic af ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/we-played-game-of-thrones-risk-with-6-players-and-it-was-epic-af/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48fe Wed, 27 Mar 2019 21:04:29 +0000 As you gear up for the Season 8 premier of Game of Thrones, ask yourself a critical question: What happens when you get six old nerds together in a cabin somewhere in the mountains of Colorado after a huge snowstorm?

Yep, you guessed it — a game of Game of Thrones themed Risk breaks out spontaneously.

And if you didn't guess that, well, what's wrong with you?

OK, maybe it wasn't totally spontaneous. I mean, I had to buy the game for starters, and then not so subtly demand we play it, because clearly my wife and child were going to suck at it and this was my one shot to really get a sense of whether it was really a legit game or just a novelty.

And it ain't cheap. If you're in the market, Risk: Game of Thrones edition, will run you in the neighborhood of $65 to $75.

So what do you get for all that mula? Let's find out.

What's in the box

Lots of cards, army pieces, gold, special units – AAAH!

The box itself is a pretty generic looking black box, not much different than what you get when you buy any other number of the USAopoly themed board games. But simply picking it up you can feel the weight of it — it's easy to tell this is no ordinary game of Risk.

For starters, there are two — count 'em, two — game boards: one for Essos, and one for Westeros. Generally speaking, Essos is for two-player games, while Westeros can handle three to five.

There are territory decks for each board, similar to the territory cards in classic Risk, but there are also three new decks for cards you've never seen in a Risk game before: character cards, objective cards and maester cards.

In addition to the usual five dice for Risk, three red and two black, there are also four 8-sided die.

This is your first clue that you're in for something truly epic.

There are also seven armies for seven of the main houses from Game of Thrones: Martell, Stark, Baratheon, Lannister and Tyrell for Westeros; Targaryen and Ghiscari for Essos.

There are pieces representing one unit and three units, that's it. I guess since this was ye olden days, really no need for markers of 5, 10 or more. Armies are kept pretty small overall, leading to a more evenly matched game all around.

Each army has its own cool three-army marker related to their house: A sunspear thingy, wolf, stag, lion, rose, dragon and harpy, respectively.

The almighty three-army units of GoT Risk.

There's also a castle piece for each house — this will come into play later.

Finally, each house has it's own "character sheet." These are a mystery when you first open them, but boy do they come into play later on.

What is all this extra stuff for?

You can go ahead and start playing classic Risk on whichever board you have the number of players for. The same rules can apply, leave everything but the board, armies and six-sided die behind. For speeded play, a end game card can be put into the bottom half of the territory deck. When it's pulled, you add up units and territories and the winner is decided.

But if you really want to get the Game of Thrones experience, and give Risk some serious steroids, then you have to play Dominion rules.

Dominion rules rule

This is what sets the game apart from any other Risk theme. Dominion mode truly makes you feel like you're inside the story, with deception, backstabbing and shocking twists at every corner.

On our second play of the game, someone commented after their first turn: "This is already brutal."

Yes, lovely, beautifully brutal.

Dominion rules introduce one well-known Risk device in an objective/mission based path to victory. Objective cards provide different levels of reward, scoring from one to four points. The winner has to not only hit 10 points, but also hold their seat of power at the end of the turn to win.

Yep, I said "seat of power."

That's what those little castle pieces are for — when playing dominion you place that bad boy where your main seat of power goes. For example, Winterfell for house Stark. You also get a free 3 army piece that is placed in your seat of power.

From there you place army pieces just like you would for any other Risk game —  but remember, your goal here is points, not world domination.

What's up with gold and maester cards?

At the beginning of your turn, you'll count up your territories and army bonuses, just like you always do with Risk. But for GoT Risk, you also get gold — in the hundreds for however many armies you get.

This gold can be used to activate your character cards, which will give you little bonuses related to your house's characters (i.e., plus one on all attack dice for an invasion), or buy maester cards or objective cards.

Character sheet from GoT Risk.

Maester cards are really the game changer in GoT Risk. During one turn, someone was attacking, and they brought their entire army. Too bad the person they were attacking had 500 gold and a maester card that allowed them to immediately defeat said entire army. No game boards were thrown, but it was definitely a GoT-worthy "wtf" moment for all. And it was glorious.

Hoars gettin' hoary with GoT Risk. TWO BOARDS.

So stock up on those bad boys, but also ensure you've got the gold to use them.

Oh yeah, you can also get special units — knights, catapults or fortifications — that give you other bonuses wherever you place them and carry their own special rules.

What's up with ports and castles?

Ports and casltes on the GoT Risk Westeros board.

Ports are new to the traditional Risk player. They allow an additional point of attack that makes moving across the maps very interesting — and yes, you can travel across the Narrow Sea.

Turns out, the North has a lot of ports, so, you know, watch out for that.

Some territories also have a castle marker on them. When you're adding up your army and gold bonuses, you get extras for castles (and ports for gold), so these become really important in Dominion play. There are also objective cards which will reward you for how many/which and castles you hold.

Do I need to watch the show to have fun?

Nah. Actually, I've barely watched it. But, I have read all the books, so I'm pretty up to speed on everything.

But even if you aren't a GoT fan in some form, you can have fun with it, especially Dominion mode. Anyone can truly win, and you never know who is going to get screwed. What else can you ask for?

We officially call it Hoar-approved. We just made that up, but still.

You can buy it here, or just come over to my place, I'm pretty much always up for a game.

]]>
<![CDATA[ 2 big things we hope don't get effed up in Star Wars Battlefront 3 ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/5-things-we-hope-dont-get-effed-up-in-star-wars-battlefront-3/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48f8 Wed, 27 Feb 2019 19:29:22 +0000 Star Wars Battlefront 2 is now selling for as low as $14.99 for digital versions. While Anakin as a playable hero has revitalized the game slightly, it's clear this title's days are numbered.

It's pretty likely there will be a new developer for Battlefront 3, so we're getting ahead of the game and helping out whoever ends up taking on this hallowed franchise.

I personally loved a lot of things in SWBF2: The arcade-like quality of choosing different trooper classes; the flexibility to earn battle points and become really good at certain things and influence the outcome without having to be nothing but a killing machine; the updated hero selection system so dudes and dudettes can't just camp out by the hero powerups; the overall feeling of massive battles in Galactic Assault and the speed and chaos of some of the other modes.

But there was a lot that they completely screwed up, too. Effers.

Here are the two biggest things they need to fix for Star Wars Battlefront 3:

The frickin' squad system

SWBF1 made it pretty easy to spawn on anyone that was in your party during gameplay. This eliminated having to literally run for two minutes just to catch up to your teammates — as you must do in SWBF2 — by which time they are already blasted or the game has already ended before you even have a chance to do anything.

They've taken some steps on improving the broken spawn system in SWBF2, but it can still be infuriating. You can at least spawn with your squadmates, but they're still arbitrarily assigned and the benefits of sticking with your squad aren't enough to keep players from just running away from each other immediately.

This needs to be addressed upfront in the next iteration of the series. I'd love to see something innovative, or short of that, at least something that just works on a basic level right out of the box.

Heroes vs. Villains

I have to admit, HvV got a huge upgrade for SWBF2. I actually have fun playing it and enjoy getting my hero fix in and buffing them up. Every now and then you end up with an epic battle between classic characters that just gets you excited.

And every now and then you have a great match that goes down to the very last target kill.

The key phrase here is "every now and then."

Usually one team completely dominates the other, resulting in a controller-throwing-kind-of situation. Matchmaking is essentially broken, and when you do find a good match it just reassigns you anyway. WTF dudes? And why is the new spawn system not implemented in HvV yet? Seriously!

The idea is great, and definitely improved overall from the last iteration, but imagine if this mode was really nailed, and you got to live out all your Star Wars epic battle dreams.

What do you hope doesn't get effed in Star Wars: Battlefront 3? Oh right, WE DON'T CARE.

]]>
<![CDATA[ Star Wars Battlefront II: OK, Obi-Wan is kind of awesome ]]> https://www.classicnerd.com/swbfii-ok-obi-wan-is-kind-of-awesome/ 6259c40a7a87e0003d1f48fa Fri, 15 Feb 2019 16:17:17 +0000 We all know the Star Wars Battlefront II developers clearly hate their audience. That's the only explanation for why they have basically made every choice they've made so far. You know, like start out by rewarding pay-to-play players and dropping the ball on promised content updated by over a year or so.

Of course, I've still played it almost daily since it was released, so, you know.

That said, they finally brought us some new heroes in the forms of General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Count Dooku — so far. The thrill of getting to play these heroes was short lived for me, resulting in being brutally murdered within about 20 seconds every time I managed to actually select one of these heroes. Not to mention the fact that I had to blow 35,000 credits, aka lots of game time, just to unlock them (and am still working on getting enough to unlock Dooku, turns out).

Obi-Wan seemed perilous at first. It was so cool to see him standing there, but I really had no clue what any of his powers did or how to use him. No surprise there, besides the fact I've spent way too many hours in Heroes vs. Villains and normally feel pretty confident which whomever I'm playing as.

Fast forward a couple weeks, a few cards unlocked and post-everyone-only-wants-to-play-as-Obi-Wan-so-I-can-never-freaking-beat him, and I'm starting to come around.

Here's what I've picked up so far:

Mind trick works great — if you can sneak up from behind

The "Restrictive Mind Trick" ability promises, and I quoteth: "A Jedi’s mastery of the Force can influence the weak-minded, and in the case of Master Kenobi, even subvert his enemy’s desire to dodge his attacks and use their abilities against him."

Sweet! Just tag 'em with that bad boy and everything's gravy, right?

WRONG, you simpleton.

Mind Trick is great if you need a quick escape, or if you're able to sneak up on someone, hit 'em with it, and then go to town. If you can do that, you have some guaranteed kills on your hands.

If you're facing someone head on, especially a villain hero, be careful, they can often fight through the haze and do some serious damage, all while you think they're supposedly vulnerable.

Obi-Wan is great at escaping

If you're in a pickle, especially playing Heroes vs. Villains, Obi-Wan is great at getting you out of the jam.

Being chased down? Turn around and use Defensive Rush to push past those losers. Obi-Wan's dash ability (aka battle roll for regular troopers) and force-powered jump will also help to get you out of a bind.

Spend some time upgrading cards

Yes, it can be a pain in the arse, but you've simply got to spend a little time in Heroes vs. Villains where you can nab Obi-Wan and unlock and upgrade some cards.

Investing in increased health regeneration and increased All-Out Push range are going to give you a pretty big boost. And speaking of All-Out Push, remember that you have to aim it at your target for it to really work.

I'm still bummed that the SWBF2 developers didn't follow through on their promise of releasing new content like maps and heroes regularly from the get-go, but I'm starting to like this Obi-Wan guy OK.

What's your favorite SWBF2 hero? Oh, right, we don't care.

]]>