80’s arcade games- Tapper and Root Beer Tapper

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1983 Tapper 1984 Root Beer Tapper

One of the coolest things about video games is that they allow you to do exciting things you couldn’t do or wouldn’t get to do in the real world. Games like Galaxian allow you fight aliens while Turbo allows you to drive a car and Tapper/Root Beer Tapper allow you to serve drinks to mean customers. Oh, wait that last one doesn’t seem to be a dream job, but it still manages to be an entertaining gain. You take on the role of bartender in the first game or soda jerk in the second. You are at the tap end of the bar and patrons appear at the other end. When they don’t have a drink you fill up a mug and toss it to them then move on to the next thirsty patron. They advance when they don’t get a drink so you hurry to get them one. If they get to you before you get them a drink they throw you down the bar and you lose a life. It sounds simple and in theory it is, but of course the patrons go faster and the levels get harder as you go along. The first game Tapper had a Budweiser logo and you were serving beer. There was concern that this was promoting serving alcohol to minors so a year later the modified version Root Beer Tapper came out. I played Root Beer Tapper back in the day and liked it. I recently played it again and still found it oddly addicting despite the somewhat non-adventurous premise. When the game was adapted for home systems in the 1980’s they used Mountain Dew logo on the wall, but kept the rest of the graphics of Root Beer Tapper. The bartender from this game can be seen in the movie Wreck it Ralph.

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Night Court-Santa goes downtown

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It’s well after Christmas and a drunk (legendary character actor Jeff Corey) is brought in to the court for trespassing. He’s dressed in a dirty Santa suit and claims to be the one and only Santa Claus. What kind of nutbar are you? No one believes him, but they can’t get anything else on who he really he is. He still keeps going on about being Santa and even says a few things that he shouldn’t know unless he were more than a wino. Meanwhile a young couple of runaways (a pre-Back to the future Michael J. Fox and Olivia Barash) won’t tell who they really are so they are being held as well.  Michael J. Fox plays a real hothead and he is rude to everyone particularly the maybe or maybe not Santa. A file is brought to Harry saying the names of the two young people and the wino Santa asks Harry to let him see the names and he will pretend to the couple that he knows who they are because he is Santa so they can believe in him. He does and after a rough go around Eddie and Mary (the couple’s revealed names) break down and admit they ranaway and Eddies thanks Santa for believing in him. However around this time it’s  revealed that Santa is really a runaway from a looney bin and  he runs away from there every year before Christmas only to be found in early January. That’s it. Oh wait, I forget to mention that ….

A-The folder they gave Santa was the wrong one so he did not learn the runaway’s names from it yet he knew their names.

B-Santa escaped from the asylum employee again.

C-A reindeer showed up in the building.

Roll the credits.

So we get a Christmas related episode set after Christmas. Thanks to Jeffy Corey and Michael J Fox it’s a pretty good one. This is actually only the second episode of Night Court so the main characters are still being established. However the theme here of faith in others works well and allowed the cast to react and really begin showing that this wasn’t going to be just your usual sitcom. I watch this one every year around Christmas.

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Christmas episodes-V-Reflections in terror

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Diana, why couldn’t you have just gotten an easy bake oven?

 

1984

So it’s Christmas time as we can tell from the trees and wreaths here and there. The resistance people (that’s the humans) are supposed to transporting some kids to a safe place with the help of a priest. Some of the Visitors (reptile alien guys) mess with the nativity scene in front of the church and Donovan, Ham and some other guy hammer the visitor soldiers. A while later these guys and some other humans end up drowning out the visitors national anthem with our country’s national anthem, but unknown to them a traitor is taking pictures.  Oh an right before this the nice alien Willie (Robert Englund) screws up some Christmas carols as he provides the comedy relief. The alien/human child Elizabeth (who grew to be like 21 overnight) gets her finger pricked by accident or she thinks as really it’s a visitor ploy to get a blood sample. The bad lizards hope to grow a clone and determine from then why Elizabeth is immune to the poisonous red dust that kills the other lizards. While watching this show I can’t but wonder if the visitors found Earth by accident or maybe they ran out of gas here because they seem to screw up everything they set out to do. The clone gets out of control, smashes some lizard soldiers around and eventually kills a police officer in a park. Meanwhile Ham (Michael Ironside in his normal mean state) growls at a little girl and then feels bad about it. The escaped clone grows up and looks just like Elizabeth. What a lucky break now they don’t have spend money on stuff like monster make-up for the clone. Willie the sillie alien attempts to dress as Santa for a second and we all sort of laugh haha..wait back to the drama and the resistance. An alien tracker dude is after the clone. Elizabeth and Kyle run into the hissing clone and Elizabeth says it’s okay … nice clone, nice clone. The tracker shows up, a fight happens, a small section lizard skin is exposed so we know how evil he is and the tracker and the clone both die in the struggle. Oh, well that’s the end of that. Meanwhile Nathan Bates (Lane Smith) a human who sides with the scaly overlords has the club mentioned earlier in this review blown up in a partially animated explosion. The thought was that is was a hang-out for resistance fighters and this might get some of them, but it just hurts the building. The resistance people go on and celebrate Christmas with a small party complete with Ham as the grumpiest Santa ever. Roll the credits.

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Three wisemen? I think not.

 

The Christmas spirit-There’s enough background pieces of the holiday in there that it seems like more than just a setting.

The negatives-This show had acting that was hot and cold. The plot for this one was okay. Slightly interesting, but not fleshed out so much.

The positives-Any episode with Michael Ironside and Lane Smith in it had something going for it. The pace was overall decent. An alright episode overall, but it gets some props for trying at least a semi-Christmas episode.

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I think one of us is going to die soon.

Conan the destroyer

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Hey, weren’t you mean to Superman?

1984

Who’s in this?

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the shag haired, sword swinging not as barbaric in this film adventurer type. You know Arnold for all his action films both good and bad. He was of course very early in his acting career when he did this film.

Grace Jones as Zula a warrior woman who uses a staff. A singer and actress perhaps best known for her role the following year in the Bond film View to a kill.

Wilt Chamberlain as Bombaata a bodyguard, but he’s suspicious acting too. He was a famous NBA player. Afterwards he did some coaching and had a just a few acting credits.

Tracey Walter as Malik a scruffy thief which isn’t far off most other characters that Tracey has played over the years. He is a veteran character actor who plays scruffy types likely most known as Bob the goon in the 1989 Batman.

Olivia d’Abo as Princess Jehnna well a young princess of course. She is perhaps best known as Kevin’s sister on the Wonder Years.

There are others and really too many to be honest. Other notable people in this film are Sarah Douglas (Superman 2) as a baddie, long time veteran actor/teacher and unfortunately blacklist victim Jeff Corey and Arnold’s long time friend Sven-Ole Thorsen.

What’s this about?

There’s a quest for Conan, he has to babysit a teenage princess and along the ways he picks up all kinds of hanger ons and freaks. He fights monsters, magic, warriors and eventually a big nasty beastie before beating the baddies and saving the day. Yes, there is more to it than that, but really that’s most of it.

The negatives-The story had some merit and I probably like this more than other people. However the worst part is compared to the first film, the comics and the stories this feels like a watered down, very mild version of Conan. It has battles, monsters and magic yet there is always a filter where all these parts are dumbed down or not as violent or blunt as they should. It’s Conan with no edge. Add into that some very unnecessary tag alongs characters and it gets messier. The Malik character and the princess both seem be in the wrong time period as Malik seem very early 20th century or maybe the old west while the princess acts like an 80’s high school girl. There are real chances for this film to be something, but they seemed dedicated to trying to make a Conan for a wider and younger audience.

The positives-The settings are fantastic, some of the best in any fantasy film. The sets and costumes are mostly good as well. The very beginning part with stuff about high adventure is good even if the film doesn’t live up to that promise.  Arnold tries and some of the supporting people do what they can, but the script just didn’t have enough action, intensity or real meat to it. The first Conan films is one of the best of it’s genre. This film is better than some of the other sword and sorcery type movies of it’s decade and overall it’s average or just above yet it’s far below what it could and should have been.

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Take me to prom, Conan!

My history with Star Trek-The early years 1982-1985

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My brother was into Star Trek some and I kind of remember seeing an episode or two in the 70’s but couldn’t tell you what it was. In early 1982 I was in sixth grade and the channel that had been showing NFL films shows started showing Star Trek. The first episode I saw was Shore Leave and I was hooked. The characters, the story and all of it just clicked with me. After that was Squire of Gothos which was just as exciting. This channel only had Star Trek for about three months so I saw maybe a dozen episodes before they took it off and stuck on a MLB highlight show once baseball season started. I had just started to like Star Trek but now it was off. However about two and a half months later a UHF channel – channel 5 out of DC advertised they were showing the two part epsiode The menagerie one night. I had to beg my very non-sci-fi friendly parents to let me watch it and eventually they agreed. I still remember how exciting it was watching it that night and even better news was on a commercial during the show they said channel 5 would start showing Star Trek every night starting the beginning of July, yes!. That summer I begin to consume the episodes. At the same time we were going to two different used book stores as well as the library and I checked out and bought several of the epsiode adaption collections from James Blish as well as the animated adaptions by Alan Dean Foster (I had yet to see this series though) and the Spock must die novel also by Blish. I spent much time that summer reading these in the basement. Star Trek 2 came out that summer, but I couldn’t convince my parents to take me to it. Oh,well. I also discovered Starlong magazine that year and would get to buy an issue every so often.  By 1983 I was reading more novels and STTMP came on TV, it was long and slow but I stuck with it and was still glad to see it. My interest in Star Trek grew that year even though other kids were making fun of me for it. I was still trying to see every episode on channel 5 and sometimes the station would not come in well or I would not be out shopping with my parents and miss one so it wasn’t until fall of 1983 that I saw Space Seed which was the last one I needed to see to have seen all of them so I was finally complete and re-watching them. We were going to the library regularly at this point so I was reading every Trek novel or related book I could get my hands on. DC comics started up their Star Trek comic series in late 1983 and I was all over that too. The winter of 1983-84 was all about getting ready for Star Trek 3. I had missed the second film, but had read the novel, the photonovel and the official magazine. Now I was following updates on the third Trek film in Starlog and I was asking and nagging my parents about going to the upcoming film and they were hemming and hawing over it, but I was determnined to get to it. My brother was back from college by this point and the first weekend Star Trek 3 was out he took me to see it. It was at a theater that was just months old although it’s long gone now. We stood in along line and crammed into a theater and I mean it became more crammed as they let people sit in the the middle on the floor to squeeze in everyone who wanted in. It got dark and the film came on and finally I was getting to see Trek on the big screen. I loved it then and although it’s not one of my favorite films now it was a great experience then to see it in the theater. It was a flawed movie but my love of Star Trek was even stronger for the rest of 1984. I was already into trying to draw ships and write stories. Even though I stunk at both Star Trek helped me to try to be creative. What I loved about Trek then was the idea of searching for more and exploring.  Two years into Star Trek and my love for it was stronger than ever. I started high school that fall and I was still into Star Trek and comics despite being teased about it I didn’t care. High school was tougher in subjects, I was lazy and things at home were not easy because my dad’s job was always up in the air between 1982 and 1988 plus my mom had ongoing health problems. I still stuck with Star Trek by reading the comics and the novels although by late 1984 channel 5 had taken it out of their rotation after having it on for over two years. By 1985 I think I was pulling away from Star Trek some due to not getting to see the show. However in the summer of 1985 a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to a Star Trek convention for a day. I did, it was expensive, crowded and the only time I have ever been to any convention. However the highlight was standing against the wall in a huge packed ballroom listening to Deforest Kelley tell stories and answer questions. That definitely pulled me all the way back int Trek again. So many people were asking him and trying to pull out what was Star Trek 4 was going to be about. Of course he couldn’t say much but assured the fans they were going to like it. After this convention I was back into reading the new novels, comics and drawing ships thinking the new Trek film was over a year away and I couldn’t wait for it come.

*** I will try to write a second part of this maybe on Tuesday and just cover the years 1986-1991 to wrap up the original movie series.

Night of the comet

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1984

Who’s in this?
Catherine Mary Stewart as Regina (Reg). Sister of Samantha, she works in a movie theater, loves playing Tempest and knows a lot about guns thanks to her dad (military). Stewart is best known for this movie, The last starfighter and Weekend at Bernie’s.

Kelli Maroney as Samantha. Sister of Regina, cheerleader and not quite as shallow or silly as she at first seems..well maybe. Maroney is perhaps most known for this movie and Chopping Mall.

Robert Beltran plays Hector. An alright guy who stumbles upon Reg and Samantha after the rest of the planet goes bonkers. Best know as Raoul in Eating Raoul and as Commander Chakotay in Star Trek Voyager.

Geoffrey Lewis as Carter the leader of a group who is draining blood from other survivors to help themselves survive. Long time character actor Lewis is perhaps best known for the half dozen or so appearances in Clint Eastwood movies mostly in the 70’s.

Mary Woronov as Audrey co-worker of Carter. She has been acting for almost 50 years mainly in B movies. Best known for her parts in Death Race 2000 and Eating Raoul.

What’s this about? Alrighty then our planet earth is going to pass through the tail of a comet that hasn’t come around since the dinosaurs were wiped out. You more more clever people may see what is coming here. Everyone is outside having parties to celebrate the grand occasion, whoo-who. Well, almost everyone. Reg stays with her boyfriend at the movie theater that they both work at over night. Samantha stays in a shed after a fight with her slutty stepmom. Turns out the comet turns Earth’s sky orange and a bunch of people who was outside got turned dust that looks like orange Kool-aid powder. Some others got turned into zombies. So if a major comet comes around just stay inside and you’ll be okay. Reg’s boyfriend gets whacked by a comet altered zombie, but Reg manages to get past the grey goon and get home. Samantha is clueless to what is going on and is getting ready to go to cheer leading practice. Reg tries to set her straight because it’s so easy to believe that people were turned to Pixie stix powder. Eventually they go the local radio station only to find out that the voice they heard was taped. They soon run into Hector a dude who has also seen the zombies. He has a vehicle and says he’ll go gather some stuff and take the girls with him. They decide to do what anyone would do during this time…go shopping at the mall. However a group of half zombies all dressed in black are watching them at the mall. This results in a shoot out and the girls get overpowered. Meanwhile some stiff people in blue-grey jumpsuits sit around in a bunker observing from a far and look very serious. Eventually these people show up and save Reg and Samantha from the half zombie dudes. Reg is taken back to the bunker while two of the other serious people stay with Samantha. They plan to kill Samantha since they deem her as being unsatisfactory for their vile needs (you’ll find out in soon). Reg gets grilled by Carter and unknown to her they are planning on using her to produce blood for the serious people, the horror the horror. Reg is no dummy she begins her escape and gets a gun to boot. She grabs some kids who were also supposed to produce blood and then they run into Samantha who has escaped her own doom and made her way there. Hector has learned where the bunker is and shows up with wheels. Reg, Samantha and the kids make it to Hector, but Carter and his turning zombie goons are on their heels. Carter gets in a baddie car, turns the key and kapow! Oh, wait that’s the car that Reg and Hector booby trapped. Tough luck, zombie puss. Then it rains and the wetness from above washes away the itsy bitsy spider or actually it washes away the orange crap and the earth is clean again. The girls, Hector and the kids go to the city. While there they change clothes because all this zombie fighting must have made them yearn for some clean duds. Reg and Hector begin to act like parents to the kids they saved. Samantha goes off with some flop haired guy who owns twenty some cars. Roll the credits.

The negatives? The film doesn’t finish out quite as well as it started. The blood taking sub-plot isn’t nearly as fun or as original as the parts before it.

The positives?The first 2/3 of the film was very strong. Maroney is great as the slightly dim character who doesn’t quite to believe that her world has changed. Masterson is equally good with her character seeming to embrace the situation as an exciting escape from the boring existance she had before the comet. The early scenes with Reg playing Tempest are cool. Also the shots into the theater will have anyone with any kind of taste hitting the pause button to see what 70’s and early 80’s movies posters you can spot. The film doesn’t quite deserve total cult status because the last third should have been better, but it’s certainly worth seeing.

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