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Episode 138- STAY TUNED

staytuned

This week on the show, we talk about 1992’s Stay Tuned, starring John Ritter and Mork’s girlfriend– probably the only movie in the Satanist/Television Parody/Heartwarming Family Film genre. We liked it when we were kids, but how does it hold-up now? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 138- STAY TUNED

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised

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Episode 137- OVERLOOKED SCIENCE FICTION TV

overlooked

This week on the show, we chit-chat about last Sunday’s Oscars before getting into the topic at hand: Overlooked Science Fiction TV. We each selected a sci-fi series from the ’90s that we feel has been somehow overlooked in the larger pop-culture spectrum: Earth 2, Kurt Vonnegut’s Monkey House, and The Visitor. Do these shows hold-up now, or should we have left them be in the wasteland of television obscurity? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 137- OVERLOOKED SCIENCE FICTION TV

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 136- TITANIC

Titanic

In anticipation of the Oscars this Sunday, we turned our attention to past Best Picture winner Titanic, the tragic, timeless story of a handsome business man whose Fiancé callously leaves him for a filthy drifter even after he gives her a big blue diamond. To hear us discuss all things Titanic (nude drawings, Bill Paxton’s fashion choices, propellor guy, bladder control) download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 136- TITANIC

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 135- COOL RUNNINGS

coolrunnings

The Winter Olympics are in their final stretch, and since we know nothing about sports, we’ve decided to join in the fun/humanitarian horrors of the Sochi games by watching 1993’s Cool Runnings. John Candy, Doug E. Doug, slow claps, evil Germans, and an extremely loose interpretation on what “Based on a True Story” means– what could go wrong? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 135- COOL RUNNINGS

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 134- ROBOCOP vs ROBOCOP

robocop

This week on the show, we pit Paul Verhoeven’s classic 1987 Robocop against the newly released remake also coincidentally titled Robocop. We loved the original when we were kids, we just saw the new one in a sparsely populated theatre– which Robocop will reign supreme? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 134- ROBOCOP vs ROBOCOP

For a Robocop remake you can watch right now from home, check out Our Robocop Remake.

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 133- THE SANDLOT

sandlot

This week on the show, we step to the plate and discuss 1993’s The Sandlot, a movie that taught us to love baseball, hate dogs, and fear Dennis Leary. We loved it as kids, but how did we like it now? Is it a loose adaptation of The Lord of the Flies? What happened when The Sandlot franchise injected time travel into the series? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 133- THE SANDLOT

Joining us this week is comedian Brian Ward, whose weekly show Top Shelf Comedy you can find out about here, and follow on Twitter here!

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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BONUS EPISODE: RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

R.I.P. P.S.H.

BONUS EPISODE: RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 132- FIGHT CLUB

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The first rule of Rewatchability is you do not talk about Rewatchability– wait, that’s not right, please tell all your friends if you enjoy this show. This week we chat about Fight Club, the 1999 David Fincher flick about rebelling against corporations, that was produced and released by 20th Century Fox. We’ve all seen it, but does it hold-up fifteen years later? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 132- FIGHT CLUB

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 131- EVENT HORIZON

event

Dr. Alan Grant and Morpheus star in Paul Anderson’s 1997 Sci-Fi Horror flick Event Horizon. It terrified us when we were kids, but how does it hold-up now? Why would anyone build a spaceship that looks like a medieval sex dungeon?  Is space populated mostly with the ghosts of our past regrets? Who names a  spaceship after a Dean Cain TV show? To hear us answer these questions and more, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 131- EVENT HORIZON

Joining us this week is guest Dan Gorman from See You Next Wednesday and Time Bandits, which you can find at modernsuperior.com

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 130- BLANK CHECK

Blank

A small boy steals a million dollars, falls in love with an adult woman, and almost kills an escaped convict– yes it’s Disney’s Blank Check! We enjoyed it back when it came out in 1994, but how does it hold up now? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 130- BLANK CHECK

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 129- GALAXY QUEST

Galaxy

We’re back! It’s 2014 now, so we’re boldly looking into the future by discussing a movie that was made fifteen years ago: Galaxy Quest! We liked it when it first came out, but haven’t thought about it much since… we’re busy, we have lives! Of course the film stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Veronica Mars’ dad– but is it rewatchable? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 129- GALAXY QUEST

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 128- SCROOGED

Merry Christmas everybody! Whether you’re giving small children a forty or fifty dollar piece of milk-fed veal, or debating the visibility of a showgirl’s nipples, have a safe and Happy Holiday.

Episode 128- SCROOGED

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 127- CHRISTMAS IN 1987

1987

With only one week left until Christmas, we’ve devoted this week’s show to three classic holiday specials, all from 1987: the appropriately-titled A Garfield Christmas Special, Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Celebration, and A Muppet Family Christmas. They were thrilling back in ’87, but how do these specials fare today? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 127- CHRISTMAS IN 1987

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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7 Follow-Ups to Classic Christmas Movies That Ruin the Original

by J.M. McNab

While we may have accepted that Indiana Jones met some aliens, or that Francis Ford Coppola cast his daughter in the third Godfather movie, we demand more from our Christmas movies and specials. Unfortunately, many classic Christmas movie characters nevertheless returned for follow-ups that denigrate the original, thus ruining Christmas. If this was a TV movie, Rob Lowe would save it somehow… maybe Dean Cain.

7. Clarence the Angel Gets a Sexy ’90s Makeover

“It’s It’s a Wonderful Life, but sexier, and for the nineties!” is probably how the 1990 TV movie Clarence was pitched by a coked-up, ponytailed screenwriter, to a soulless, shoulder-pad-wearing television executive.

Clarence finds the beloved guardian angel character from Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film (which we discussed on this week’s show) transformed into a younger, handsomer, guardian angel played by Robert Carradine… because, Christmas magic, I guess?

Clarence became a cocky jerk ever since he got his wings.

Apparently Clarence has used his powers (the kind normally reserved for convincing people not to commit suicide) to make himself more attractive and youthful-looking. Isn’t vanity supposed to be a sin? Try watching the original knowing that the benevolent angel you know and love becomes a superficial douchebag.

Also, for some reason, Clarence doesn’t like saving people anymore, and agrees to back to Earth in this movie only because a fellow angel’s widow is contemplating suicide. So basically, he won’t tell people not to kill themselves unless it’s a favor for a buddy. Merry Christmas everybody.

6. Frosty the Snowman is Actually Depressed and Lonely

Everybody loves Frosty the Snowman (except for that evil magician), so one would naturally assume that his sequel would recapture the magic of the original. Well, it turns out it doesn’t. To start with, remember how Frosty sang “I’ll be back on Christmas day” in the original? Turns out that was a big fucking lie. The sequel, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland takes place several years later, for some reason.

Guess what else isn’t fun about Frosty 2? Frosty is depressed and starts crying.

That’s right, it’s bad enough that you have to deal with your family members’ soul-crushing sadness on Christmas, now even beloved cartoon characters can’t keep their shit together during the holidays.

Turns out Frosty has… needs… So the kids build him a snow-woman for a wife– the only problem is she doesn’t have a magic hat to bring her to life, which is, again, depressing. It’s like trying to set your best friend up with a mannequin or a corpse.

Watching this sequel makes you wish those kids in the original had never meddled in dark arts, playing god and creating a whole new lifeform. In light of this sequel, the original Frosty becomes a maddening prelude to a host of unanticipated ethical dilemmas.

5. The Grinch Just Went Back to Being a Dick After Christmas

Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was such a successful TV special, it would be insane for its creators not to produce a new special about the second-most popular holiday and find a way to awkwardly shoehorn The Grinch into it.

That being said, the 1977 follow-up, Halloween is Grinch Night, finds The Grinch once again terrorizing the town of Whoville– which doesn’t totally gel with the ending of the original.

“I did WHAT at Christmas? I must have been hammered that day.”

What happened to The Grinch carving the roast beast? Or his heart growing an, albeit medically-worrisome, three sizes that day? Having a sequel where The Grinch acts like a deranged stalker undoes all of the character development from the original, and accidentally reinforces that most famous of Christmas morals: “Nobody ever changes… pass the wine.”

4. Charlie Brown and Linus Forget the True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the most beloved half-hours of family entertainment. Setting it apart from other Holiday programming is the special’s frank examination of the over-commercialization of Christmas, Yuletide malaise, and the holiday’s disengagement from its spiritual origins.

Originally airing in 1965, it wasn’t until 1991 that the show was released on home video (apparently the stupid 1960s didn’t have VHS). Fittingly, Charlie Brown appeared in a television commercial promoting the release of this seminal work. The ad begins with Charlie Brown and Linus, trudging through the snow, carrying their skates. It almost feels like a proper sequel to the classic special.

Charlie Brown: I’m worried, Linus. Christmas is coming, and I don’t know what to get anyone.

Linus: Charlie Brown, what you need is a gift everyone will like–

Okay, here it comes, another one of Linus’ big speeches! In the original he quoted the Bible, assuring everyone that the true meaning of Christmas didn’t involve material goods–

Linus: That’s it! A Charlie Brown Christmas videotape!

Okay… Well, that makes sense, they have to sell their videotape somehow. It’s not like the only way to purchase the tape would be by buying something else from some kind of billion-dollar corporation trying to lure you into consuming their product using your childhood nostalgia as bait.

Charlie Brown: But where do I get them Linus?

Voice: Participating Shell stations are now offering A Charlie Brown Christmas while supplies last. Only $3.99 with an eight gallon fill-up!

Oh.

The True Meaning of Christmas is big oil.

So the only way to buy A Charlie Brown Christmas, an animated treatise on the non-corporatization of Christmas, is by going to a Shell station and filling up your tank. That’s like if the DVD of Gandhi was only available through Burger King. The worst part is, this betrayal of the characters’ values is enacted by the characters themselves! It’s so out of character, one wonders if Shell was holding Lucy, or Peppermint Patty hostage in exchange for these classic characters abandoning their core beliefs.

3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is Still Treated Like Shit

While it seemed that the original 1964 special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a neat and tidy ending, there have nevertheless been several sequels. One of which, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys from 2001 strangely replaces the quaint, timeless stop-motion animation of the original with hollow, soulless, cheap-looking CGI.

In this movie, Rudolph has to escape from the Nintendo 64 he’s trapped inside.

The most troubling part of the sequel though, is how it undercuts the message of the original. Remember how the ostracized Rudolph was finally accepted at the end? Turns out that wasn’t such a happy ending after all…

As we see in the beginning of this sequel, everyone at the North Pole still treats Rudolph like a freak, like some kind of yuletide Elephant Man, Rudolph is constantly being hounded to perform his nose “trick.” Rudolph leaves the North Pole in despair muttering “Guess I’m just a novelty act around here.”

2. Scrooge Continues to Hate Christmas but Learns to Love ‘80s Rock

The 1983 special Scrooge’s Rock ‘n Roll Christmas produced to, presumably, cure the public of their enjoyment of both Christmas and music, finds Ebeneezer Scrooge working on Christmas day, grumbling about how Bob Cratchit took the day off.

So, seemingly this is both a sequel to Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol (and its many cinematic adaptations) but also a reimagining of it– what would happen if Scrooge wasn’t visited by the ghosts on Christmas Eve? The short answer: he’d still be a dick. The longer answer: he’d be a dick who learns to love bad ‘80s rock.

Through some kind of rip in the space-time continuum, a visitor from the future (ie 1983) enters Scrooge’s office believing it to be a record store. Since Scrooge is all Bah Humbugy, the girl from the future teaches him about contemporary music using a magic snowglobe, which is a thing people totally carried with them in 1983.

Seen here: Scrooge discovers sexual tension.

After witnessing performances by stars such as Three Dog Night, The Association and even meeting The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, who he recognizes for some reason, Scrooge learns to love Christmas…Well, not really, but it does seem like he’s really grooving to those tunes. It’s a disturbing revisionist sequel to one of the great Christmas stories.

Seen here: The Ghost of Christmas Past-Facial Hair

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1. Kevin McCallister’s Parents Really Are the Worst

When Home Alone hit screens in 1990, audiences somehow accepted that Kate and Peter McCallister could accidentally go on vacation without their son, Kevin. In their defense, they did befall a series of unfortunate coincidences, and were firm believers in the controversial parenting tactic of banishing your small child to the attic.

When it happened again in the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, it was less believable. Nevertheless, the filmmakers made a concerted effort to show that Kate and Peter still loved their son and didn’t, say, want him to be murdered on the streets of New York– Which, let’s face it, is what would have happened almost immediately if it were real life.

In the 2002 straight-to-video Home Alone 4 (Home Alone 3 has nothing to do with the McCallisters, who happened to not abandon their child that Christmas) Kevin, who now has a different hair color and looks younger for some reason, is spending Christmas with his recently divorced dad at his dad’s new girlfriend’s mansion.

It’s like looking in a mirror. A mirror owned by a terrible Casting Director.

Because there are really only about three or four active criminals in the United States, the mansion is targeted by a familiar face– Marv of the Wet Bandits… and by familiar face, I mean not familiar at all. Home Alone 4 recasts Daniel Stern’s part with French Stewart, and partners him with some strange lady instead of Harry, the character played by Joe Pesci… which is weird for a number of reasons, mainly because since they made literally no effort to make French Stewart look like Daniel Stern, so they could have realistically cast anyone at all and just called them ”Harry” for the sake of retaining a bare minimum of consistency.

The same woman was later cast in a re-make of Raging Bull.

The most upsetting part of Home Alone 4 is the fact that Kevin is never actually left home alone, instead he’s just ignored by his dad, a negligent parent who is enjoying boning his new girlfriend more than listening to his son’s cries for help.

Kevin is actually attacked by Marv in this movie, and when he tells his dad, Mr. McCallister earns the the Jack Torrence Award for worst father of the year by not believing him. This isn’t just bad writing, it’s irresponsible writing; kids need to know that they can confide in their parents if something bad or dangerous happens to them.

Of course the original walked that line of rooting for the McCallister parents and calling Child Services on them, but somehow they made it work. This movie, however, ruins all of that goodwill. How can you enjoy the first two movies when you know that Kate will allow her son to stay with Peter who has become an irresponsible sociopath? Kevin would be better off being adopted by the Wet Bandits, or that crazy old man who turned out not to be a murderer, but was still really, really creepy.

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Episode 126- IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Wondeful

Our month of Christmas-themed episodes continues with a discussion of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a perennial holiday favorite, but is it rewatchable? Is George Bailey kind of just a big jerk? Who would win in a fight between Mary and alternate-universe Mary? Is it just us, or does Pottersville look way more fun than Bedford Falls? And what the hell kind of name is Zuzu? To hear us answer these, and more, important questions, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 126- ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE

Joining us this week is guest Anne T. Donahue, who you can follow on Twitter.

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 125- ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

All

It’s December, and that means it’s time to kick off our month of Holiday programming. First off, 1991’s All I Want For Christmas, a charming tale about a little girl (Thora Birch) who asks Santa (played by Leslie Nielsen) to meddle in their parents’ private affairs. Will Santa force her recently divorced parents back into a loveless relationship in time for Jesus’ birthday? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 125- ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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6 DIE HARD Rip-Offs That Time Forgot

DH

by J.M. McNab

In the early to mid-nineties, it seemed as though almost every action movie imitated Die Hard to some extent. Several movies straight-up lifted the Die Hard premise (one person in one location against a slew of bad guys) adapting it to a variety of locations: a boat in Under Siege, a hockey arena in Sudden Death, a plane in Air Force One— but while those movies are still relatively well-known, there are many Die Hard rip-offs that simply faded into obscurity.

In conjunction with our recent podcast about Die Hard With a Vengeance, we present 6 Die Hard Rip-Offs That Time Forgot. So if you’ve worn out your VHS copy of the original Die Hard and you’re looking for a new, probably terrible, alternative this holiday season, check out one of these six films.

6. Masterminds (1997)

masterminds

If the producers of this  1997 film had any sense, they would immediately re-release it on DVD with the new title CAPTAIN PICARD VS. PETE CAMPBELL. That’s right, Patrick Stewart is a mustachioed villain and a teenaged Vincent Kartheiser is our Bruce Willis surrogate (not to be confused with the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates) when a wealthy school is seized by criminals. Also the school’s principal is the homeless pigeon lady from Home Alone 2… so that’s pretty cool.

The movie was directed by Roger Christian, who won an Oscar for his Art Direction for Star Wars, and was nominated for his work on Alien. While this, his eighth directorial effort, was a box office flop, the stars aligned for his next project: big-budget, A-list movie star, based on a best-selling novel. What could possibly go wrong?

Battlefield_earth_poster

Oh…

5. Skyscraper (1996)

3

If you love Die Hard but think it would have been better if John McClane was a buxom blonde, than this movie is for you… weirdo. Skyscraper stars Anna Nicole Smith as a helicopter pilot who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in a subtle twist on the original Die Hard, this one is about terrorists who seize control of… a building! Not that different you say? Did I mention it’s a really tall building? Maybe if we compare the two posters.

One has “Forty stories of sheer adventure” the other has “eight-six floors of action-paked terror”… Different.

4. Assault on Dome 4 (1997)

Assault_DVD_INLAY

Employing the same creative tactic used by franchises like Leprechaun and Friday the 13th, Assault on Dome 4 takes an existing story (Die Hard) and rejuvenates it using the magic of making the same events happen in space. Bruce Campbell steps into the Rickman role for this Sci-Fi Channel movie, but instead of a building, he takes a scientific colony, the titular Dome 4, hostage. What he doesn’t know is that one of his hostages is the wife of interstellar lawman Chase Moran. Why stop there? Is there an intergalactic cokehead who keeps hitting on Chase’s wife, do they keep playing Space-Ode to Joy?

Oddly, because Bruce Campbell is the biggest star in this movie, the poster features him firing a machine gun looking cool. Ideologically, this seems to suggest that the film’s villain is actually its hero– would Die Hard be as successful if it featured Alan Rickman on the poster, implying that we were supposed to be rooting for Hans and his friends?

3. Blast (1997)

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“What if all the hostages in Die Hard were women in swimsuits?” Is a thought no one should ever have had– but for some reason someone did, and that inane notion evolved into the screenplay that would become the movie Blast. Despite it’s bland title, Blast actually has a pretty wacky premise: terrorists have taken the women’s swim team hostage at the Olympic games, and the only one who can stop them is the building’s janitor, a former Tae Kwon Do champion turned alcoholic soiled towel-cleaner-upper. So maybe the next time Justin Bieber decides to pee in a janitor’s bucket he stop and make sure that he’s not disrespecting a former Olympic athlete in desperate need of redemption.

Like most of the entries on this list, the cast of this movie is pretty great: the McClane-ish hero is played by Linden Ashby, who sounds like he’d be a Jane Austen character, but is actually the guy who played Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat. Stepping into the villain role is Andrew Divoff, who played eye-patch guy on LOST. Also, Rutger Hauer appears as a Rutger Hauer-ish type character.

2. Demolition High (1996)

demhigh

Similar to Masterminds, Demolition High is about terrorists seizing a school. Not similar to Masterminds, instead of a former member of the Royal Shakespeare company and a future cast member of one of the greatest television shows of all time, this straight-to-video action movie stars Corey Haim, Alan Thicke, and Dick Van Patten– thus breaking the unwritten rule of Hollywood: that Dick Van Patten and Alan Thicke should never, ever star in an action movie.

Strangely the movie spawned a sequel the following year. Demolition University featured Haim again, plus Robert Forster and SNL’s Larraine Newman. Even stranger still, for some reason, Demolition High was referenced in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. But don’t look for any Assault on Dome 4 references in There Will Be Blood, I’ve already checked.

1. No Contest (1995)

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With the blank in the phrase “Die Hard in a [blank]” being filled by every conceivable location or mode of transportation imaginable by desperate movie studios, logistically, like an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters, it was inevitable that an executive somewhere would come up with “Beauty Pageant” to fill that blank. Satiating America’s appetite for both gratuitous violence and the mindless objectification of women, No Contest may be the most bizarre riff on the Die Hard template. At the very least, it’s the most bizarrely cast.

Starring in the McClane role, who in No Contest is a beauty pageant host/kickboxer, is Shannon Tweed. Fulfilling the movie’s Gruber-quota, the hostage-taking villain of the film is played by master thespian Andrew Dice Clay. So basically, bearing the dramatic weight of this film is a former Playboy model and a washed-up comedian. To lend some Die Hard-cred to the film is Robert Davi, who played Agent Johnson (one of them) in the actual Die Hard. You know, the one not set at a beauty pageant. In fact, the movie’s poster makes it seem as though he’s the star, even though he plays the cop on the outside, along with Andrew Dice Clay– this is like putting Hans and Al together on the poster for Die Hard.

Surprisingly, like Demolition High, a sequel to this movie was made in quick succession. No Contest II stars Shannon Tweed and Lance Henriksen… which mainly just makes me feel bad for Lance Henriksen.

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Episode 124- DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

DHWAV

With Christmas just around the corner, and a past history of discussing Die Hard movies during the holidays, late November seems like a good time to talk about the decidedly non-Christmas-centric Die Hard With a Vengeance. We loved it when we were kids, but how does it hold up now sandwiched between the two original Die Hard films, and ones that feature Kevin Smith and Russia? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 124- DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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5 DISNEYLAND TV SPECIALS (THAT ARE COMPLETELY INSANE)

Disney

by J.M. McNab & Robert Laronde

There’s always been something inherently insane about Disneyland and Disney World— think about it, why would anyone willingly visit a castle owned by a rodent in a land populated mainly by cartoon characters and robot presidents?

The new film Escape From Tomorrow purports to portray a unique vision of Disney World, one that’s dark and surreal. However, in conjunction with this week’s podcast (which is about Disney World in ‘90s sitcoms), we present to you five made-for-television specials that portrayed Disneyland and Disney World as batshit crazy wonderlands as far back as the ‘80s and ‘90s.

5. MICKEY’S 60TH BIRTHDAY (1988)

Most people spend their 60th birthday receiving humorous greeting cards concerning farts and an inability to maintain an erection; beloved character/corporate trademark Mickey Mouse, on the other hand, celebrated in style. In 1988, Mickey’s 60th birthday was marked with the greatest honor any entertainer could hope to receive: a TV movie.

What followed was a strange mix of eighties sitcom character cameos and a dark, Kafka-esque probe into the nature of identity.

Plus a cameo by Burt Reynolds.

For some reason, the wacky romp finds Mickey angering an evil wizard who, in a disturbingly existential twist, steals Mickey’s identity. There’s still a famous cartoon character named Mickey Mouse, but no one recognizes Mickey to be him, everyone just thinks Mickey is some random jerk. It’s kind of like the plot of Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

One thing Philip K. Dick never thought of? Incorporating the cast of Cheers.

Without his identity, Mickey drifts aimlessly through life—and by life, I mean other television shows. Mickey visits the Keatons from Family Ties, and, when they don’t recognize him, he heads to Cheers. That’s right, facing the slightest adversity Mickey goes straight to a bar…

In addition to Cheers and Family Ties, Mickey visits, in what must have been a special treat for the kids, the set of L.A. Law. It’s a nice little advertisement for NBC’s Prime-Time Lineup sandwiched inside the larger advertisement for Disneyland.

Even more disturbing, with Mickey absent for his big party at Disneyland, Donald Duck is thrown in jail for kidnapping Mickey. Remember when these cartoons used to be about fun things like driving steamships? Eventually Mickey reclaims his identity by singing with Phylicia Rashad for some reason.

4. BELIVE YOU CAN… AND YOU CAN (1983)

In 1983, Disney was ready to reintroduce the newly refurbished Fantasyland to the public. But just as Fantasyland had changed, in the almost thirty years since the park first opened, America had also changed. Even that guy from Disneyland’s grand opening was now president of the United States!

Disneyland was where Reagan got the idea for the Star Tours defence system.

Of course, during the Cold War it wasn’t appropriate for Reagan to visit amusement parks– America had stopped believing in believing.

To remedy this problem, and promote their new Fantasyland attractions, Disney produced a TV special called Believe You Can… And You Can. The special featured Heather O’Rourke, The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Morey Amsterdam as well as all your favorite…

“Wait, O’Rourke? Isn’t that the girl from Poltergeist? The one who died?”

Yes, but please don’t interrupt.

The simple story follows Heather, playing herself, who is upset that her family is moving. Her mom says it’s because of Dad’s job, but she’s lying– it’s totally evil spirits again.

Heather is pretty bummed she hasn’t said goodbye to the Disney mascots, who seem to be her only friends. Naturally, Heather’s brother takes her Disneyland one last time. Also naturally, once there he quickly abandons her to mack on his girlfriend over at the Haunted Mansion (presumably because she is a ghost, and Heather’s brother is Woody from Cheers—more on that later).

Sadly, Heather discovers that Fantasyland is mysteriously closed. This is where it gets creepy; the park is completely empty, it’s like the rapture happened and only Heather was left behind.

Suddenly she’s accosted by some kind of demon who’s taken the form of Morey Amsterdam. He begins spouting some nonsense about “believing” that sounds like he’s inducting her into a cult.

Then he offers her a free stress test.

Finally he takes Heather to see her beloved Disney characters, but they all decide that her “believing” isn’t strong enough, so they do what Disney characters do best: they teach her a lesson through song! No, wait, I’m wrong—they put the poor eight-year-old girl on trial and threaten to execute her by decapitation. Seriously.

In this dangerously dystopian Disneyland, anyone can be put on trial at any time apparently.  It’s scary. The Witch from Snow White berates Heather while Winnie the Pooh nods in agreement and Mickey Mouse applauds—

Pooh has always been a supporter of the Dark Arts

No lie, this is the scariest infomercial in existence. Am I supposed to want to take my kids here? When is Timmy’s turn to be put on trial?

Even The Country Bears become menacing in this demented freakshow.

Producers may have thought only a horror veteran like O’Rourke would be tough enough to get through filming these horrific events, but couldn’t they have found an actress with a little more charisma? Was Drew Barrymore unavailable?

3. EPCOT Center: The Opening Celebration (1982)

Oh, Drew Barrymore was already in a Disney special. Just a few short months before Believe You Can… And You Can was released, Disney aired this special featuring the OTHER talented young actress Steven Spielberg discovered in 1982. Also Danny Kaye.

The purpose of this special was to celebrate the opening of EPCOT Center. EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was originally envisioned to be a cutting edge model city and community that Walt Disney would use to test ideas of urban planning. Sounds boring, right? Well, luckily Walt Disney died and his successors were like, “Mm, let’s just build a giant golf ball and some world pavilions.”

We here at Rewatchability regret the sentence “luckily Walt Disney died.”

The two major parts of EPCOT are Future World and World Showcase; the former showing what people from the 1980s believed the future (i.e. the early 2000s) would be like. They were WAY off. For example Danny Kaye tells Drew Barrymore she’ll probably go to high school in outer space. That did not come to pass. It would have been more accurate if he’d said that instead of going to school, Drew would be so high it seemed like she was in outer space. Partial credit to Mr. Kaye.

Woah, do you see a dragon Mr. Kaye or am I just tripping balls?

Drew introduces Danny Kaye to a robot, who introduces them to an imagination wizard, who has a pet dragon, and this is when you start to wonder what was in the brownie your roommate just gave you.

Then we move on to the World Showcase, colloquially known as Stereotype Land– I’m sorry, but Canadians aren’t all Mounted Police Officers and Lumberjacks. Many of us are merely fur traders or log drivers.

We also visit Alex Haley, the author of Roots, who tells us about the Equatorial Africa pavilion (that never actually opened) and a guy who looks a lot like John C. Reilly sings “This Land Is Your Land”– but if that song is true then why do I have to pay admission to get inside?

2. KRAFT SALUTES WALT DISNEY WORLD’S 10th ANNIVERSARY (1982)

Appropriately, this 10th anniversary special is a quality program in the same way Kraft Dinner is a gourmet meal. Beginning with an excruciating musical montage, father Dean Jones rounds up his apathetic family, including son Ricky Schroder, shoves them in an old station wagon bound for Walt Disney World.

Once at Disney World they rendezvous with Aunt Angelique (played by the great Eileen Brennan) who for some unknown reason is caring for a small Asian boy named Bobby who won’t say anything, either because he’s really shy or Stockholm Syndrome has taken effect.

Seriously, the only non-white character is given no lines whatsoever.

Also, for some other unknown reason, Brennan’s character is perpetually wearing a cowboy hat, and instead of staying in a fancy hotel with the rest of the family, she goes camping with Bobby at Fort Wilderness to “give him an appreciation of the old West,”– you know, that time period that was so fun for Asian-Americans.

Doesn’t sound so strange to you? Did I mention the bellboy at the hotel is a manic, smarmy Michael Keaton?

Not only is he smarmy, he actually drops the family’s luggage as he leers at a female guest who walks by. Apparently, despite it’s squeaky-clean reputation, Disney World is mainly staffed by inept perverts.

“Come to Disney World where our friendly staff will mentally undress you.”

Then they sing a bunch more songs while they explore the park, including one where the mother and daughter (along with clerk Michael Keaton who apparently has to work two jobs at Disney World) launch into a tune about buying gifts for all their friends and family in the gift shop. This isn’t a satirical parody of corporate consumerism, someone actually wrote a song about buying shit in a gift shop.

Eventually, the whole family goes out for a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant where, surely, the waiter won’t also be Michael Keaton–

Fuck it, I’m done.

1. DISNEYLAND’S 35th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (1990)

If you were to spend an evening drinking moonshine, consuming expired dairy products, and obsessively watching sitcoms from the eighties and nineties, your ensuing dreams would probably look a lot like Disneyland’s 35th Anniversary Special.

Ostensibly to commemorate the park’s anniversary, while simultaneously advertising its many attributes, the 1990 special features an eclectic roster of entertainers so diverse it’s as if the show was booked by a chimpanzee throwing darts at a 1990 TV Guide.

Like any tolerable trip to Disneyland, this one begins with a visit to a bar–specifically Cheers (again). The popular sitcom’s characters are discussing, not surprisingly, Disneyland. The conversation takes a disturbing turn when the affable barflies begin discussing which Disney character they find the most sexually attractive– The Little Mermaid, Snow White, or Cliff’s contribution, Lady from Lady and the Tramp. You know, the dog.

Perhaps hoping to distract from the lingering unpleasantness, Woody tells everyone a story about the time he visited Disneyland as a child. In a flashback we see an Are You Afraid of the Dark-esque vignette in which Woody rides The Haunted Mansion, and falls in love with a young girl who turns out to be a ghost…

If R.L. Stine scripted an episode of Cheers, this would be it.

Within only ten minutes, this special managed to introduce both bestiality and necromancy into the Cheers universe.
Eventually, Disney CEO/soulless mannequin Michael Eisner introduces Tony Danza as the host. Danza is our guide through a bizarre melting pot of pop-culture icons, the strangest of which is perhaps when he meets C-3P0 and R2D2. Frankly, it`s weird to see any element of the Star Wars universe interacting with Tony Danza– Witnessing C-3P0 address him as Master Tony (presumably because he is, in fact, The Boss) may be one of the strangest moments in television history.

As for THE strangest moment in television history, that occurs when Danza rides the Jungle Cruise. Now, you might assume that this whole special is basically just an advertisement for Disneyland– but you’d be incorrect. If it were, why in God’s name would they include a scene in which Disneyland patrons are casually murdered by animatronic animals. This isn’t a joke, this happens.

First a man falls into the river and is eaten by a crocodile.

Disturbingly, the ride’s operator doesn’t seem to notice or care that one of his passengers has just been brutally killed. Next a woman is strangled by a snake–

Still the operator takes no notice… but when Tony is being strangled, finally the operator responds to the emergency situation in a manner that I can now only assume is standard procedure for all Disneyland employees: by wildly firing a gun into the crowd of families, forcing them to jump off the ship or be killed by an armed madman.

This special is as much of a promotion for Disneyland as Halloween was for kitchen knives. Surprisingly, this upsetting barrage of morally dubious Disney-themed sketches was directed by legendary filmmaker John Landis, and not, say, an illegitimate nephew of Walt Disney who had never made a movie or seen a television show before.

Summing up the rest of the special’s content quickly: the Muppets show up, probably to lighten the show’s “murder-heavy” tone, Jim Varney plays Ernest’s father in the Ernest backstory everyone in 1990 must have been demanding, plus Will Smith (billed as The Fresh Prince) and DJ Jazzy Jeff attempt to permanently eradicate the relevancy of the rap genre with a cover of Hip-Hop pioneer Julie Andrews’ Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

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Episode 123- THE DISNEY WORLD EPISODES

Disney

Remember in the ’90s when all of your favorite sitcom stars visited Disney World or Disneyland, regardless of character motivation or narrative believability? This week on the show, inspired by the release of the new film Escape From Tomorrow, we discuss the Disney World episodes of some of our most beloved sitcoms, including Family Matters, Roseanne, Boy Meets World, and Full House. To hear the happiest podcast on Earth, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 123- THE DISNEY WORLD EPISODES

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 122- INDECENT PROPOSAL

IP

Robert Redford is a sexist monster, Demi Moore is the underwritten female lead, and Woody Allen Harrelson plays himself in Adrian Lyne’s erotic drama Indecent Proposal. It was a box-office smash back in 1993, but is it any good? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 122- INDECENT PROPOSAL

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 121- LABYRINTH

Labyrinth

This week on the show, we talk about the beloved children’s film in which on old androgynous pop star kidnaps a baby in an effort to lure a teenage girl to his castle… come to think of it, it doesn’t sound so wholesome. Oh wait, there are puppets. So it’s okay, I guess… Of course, we’re talking about Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. We loved it as kids– except for Rob who had never seen it before– but how does it fare today? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 121- LABYRINTH

Reminder: The day this podcast comes out, Thursday Nov. 7, J.M. and frequent guest Alexandra West will be participating in a live Stephen King debate. More info can be found here.

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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Episode 120- A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

Nightmare

We round out our month of listener requests with a Halloween-themed discussion of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the blockbuster 1984 horror flick that introduced the world to Freddy Krueger, Johnny Depp, and a bunch of people no one cares about anymore. It was a phenomenon back in the ’80s, spawning a myriad of sequels, toys, video games, and even a Freddy Krueger album– but how does it play now? To find out, download the link below, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes! And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Episode 120- A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About EERIE, INDIANA

by J.M. McNab

In conjunction with this week’s podcast about Eerie, Indiana we’ve compiled five facts that you may not know about the cult show:

5. Tobey Maguire Played a Ghost

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Before Tobey Maguire learned the Cider House Rules (which were about abortion or something) or re-invigorated then later ruined Spider-Man, he starred in an episode of Eerie, Indiana. In “The Dead Letter” Maguire plays an old-timey clothes-wearing ghost who enlists Marshall’s help in delivering a love letter to his former sweetheart. In a scene that is both touching and creepy, the young man is reunited with his love who is now a haggard old woman– it’s like a scene from Harold and Maude, or Madonna’s life.

4. The Show’s Co-Creator Also Wrote The Motorcycle Diaries

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After Eerie, Indiana was cancelled, Jose Rivera (who co-created the show with Karl Schaefer) wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed film The Motorcycle Diaries. While the exploits of the famous Argentine revolutionary and noted T-Shirt logo model Che Guevara might seem like quite a departure from depicting children battling werewolves and zombies, it might interest you to know that Rivera began his career as a celebrated playwright. He also wrote for Family Matters, but you probably find that less impressive.

3. They Rebooted the Show Six Years Later

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With the original show finding a new audience through syndication and a series of novelizations, a reboot of the original concept (that could also be considered a spin-off because it’s technically another dimension) was produced. In Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension, the original protagonists Marshall and Simon were replaced by their Bizzaro-world equivalents Mitchell and Stanley, played, of course, by entirely different actors. Sadly even the alternate universe iteration of the show lasted only one season.

2. Bob Balaban Directed Several Episodes

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While famed director Joe Dante acted as a consultant for the show, and directed many episodes himself, another name you might recognize contributed heavily to Eerie, Indiana. Bob Balaban, who people know mainly for his acting roles in Christopher Guest’s films, Seinfeld, and Gosford Park, just to name a few. But Balaban is also an accomplished director, having helmed feature films such as the insane and underrated Parents, as well as My Boyfriend’s Back, the zombie romantic comedy that came out way, way before that sort of thing became trendy. He has also leant his cinematic chops to a myriad of TV programs including Oz and Tales From the Darkside. He directed three of the nineteen episodes of Eerie, Indiana.

1. It Had the Craziest Final Episode of All Time

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Most TV shows try to up their game for the final episode, whether it’s Bob Newhart waking up in bed with his former TV wife, or Breaking Bad doing a bunch of things we’re not allowed to freely talk about on the internet yet. Even shows like The Prisoner or Lost that steered their finales firmly into the surreal didn’t have the chutzpah to do what Eerie, Indiana did. In a sly nod to The Twilight Zone episode “A World of Difference” Marshall discovers a script for a show called “Eerie, Indiana” and suddenly finds himself on the set of a TV show where his entire reality is revealled to be a fiction. His parents and friends are all actors and refer to him as “Omri Katz” (the name of the actor who plays Marshall). It’s probably the most existentially disturbing finale of any TV show, let alone a one intended for kids.

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