Retro Review: A Scary Good Baseball Set

I’m taking a little different approach with today’s post. Let’s talk about horror movies! I have to thank Rick Brown (@rickbrown0814) for getting the wheels turning on this one. We chatted a bit on Saturday about the cheesy horror movies from the 80’s that we loved. Of course, that included some discussion on video stores so it was right up my alley. While our discussion was aimed at cheese, I started thinking a little more about the horror movies that I really loved from the 80’s. For the record, my favorite cheesy movie was “Ghoulies 2” and his was “Zuni Doll” from The Trilogy of Terror. As I was skimming some of the lists online of horror movies from that time period, one year kept jumping out; 1985. There were a number of horror movies I loved from the 80’s and I was looking at pulling together a Top 10 list but I found 5 in 1985 alone so I felt a theme brewing.I was 8 years old in 1985 and didn’t see any of these when they originally came out. But remember, I worked the video store circuit when I was a teen so my buds and I spent many a late night watching these movies in the early 90’s. We went through phases where we would watch all camp movies, then all zombie movies, then maybe comedy horrors but there was a group of movies that were go-to’s whenever we wanted to get serious about our binge watching. We would memorize these movies, look for little clues in the re-watch that we missed the time before and would eventually become “experts” on the particular film.I’ve gone as far as trying to rank them in reverse order but I feel a little bit of regret for ranking any ahead of the other. Of course, stick around for a review of a great baseball card set from 1985 as well. Remember, I felt a theme brewing. I’ve wanted to review this classic set since I picked it up a few weeks ago. My pal Jonathan Coker (@JonathanBCoker) picked this up for me at his LCS and shipped it down to me. He knows what I collect and sent me pics when he visited the shop. I had to have this one for the price. But first, the horror with, hopefully, no spoilers!

#5 – Re-Animator

This is a classic 80’s horror that has all of the requirements to be on the list. We have plenty of gore. The basis of the movie is that a disturbed med student formulates a serum that brings the dead back to life. After trying it on his unsuspecting roommate’s cat, things escalate to the point where his professor quite literally loses his head but the head is brought back to life with the serum. That’s about all I can say without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it. In between the gore, we also have some great 80’s chick action with famous horror actress Barbara Crampton. This was an easy top 5 but somehow couldn’t top any of the others. This movie also has its own trading cards that were just released this year. I had to buy some of those.

#4 – Fright Night

This movie legit frightened me the first time I saw it, no pun intended. It stars the awesome Roddy McDowall as a Horror TV Host that “kills vampires” who gets a request from a teen horror fan who is convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire. There are some major scares in this one and the special effects are top notch. The only other vampire movie I can compare it to is “The Lost Boys”. Vampires are generally not all that scary in movies but Chris Sarandon got the job done in “Fright Night”. It was remade in 2011 (as many old horror movies are) but was not nearly as frightening and entertaining. If you haven’t seen this one, it’s a must see for horror fans.

#3 – Day of the Dead

This is an absolute must see. Every horror fan recognizes “Day of the Dead” as one of the top all time films! The movie was directed by Zombie Movie Icon, George Romero and special effects master, Tom Savini. It was the third in the “Dead” series that also featured “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead”. In this classic, we are led to believe that the dead can be trained to become understanding and cooperative beings. The main test subject is “Bub” and he is the first zombie that I actually cheered for and wanted to “survive”. Bub had headphones and responded to sounds and objects but the military personnel in the testing area just couldn’t leave Bub alone. This movie has a more serious tone than the previous two in my opinion and remains one of my favorite all time zombie movies.

#2 – Return of the Living Dead

Ok, we don’t have a real scary one here but this is probably my 2nd favorite zombie movie of all time and I can pretty much quote it from the opening credits. Return of the Living was not an official Romero piece and was more of a satirical look at how a second outbreak started. Two knucklehead employees at a medical equipment warehouse released a gas found in a drum that was mistakenly shipped through a few years before by the US Military. The drum contains, presumably, one of the subjects from the “Night of the Living Dead” outbreak and when the gas is released, it comes back to life. After more mistakes are made at the facility, a new outbreak is created. There are some scary moments but this is a truly entertaining movie and received a nice 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. It spawned four sequels with each becoming less and less fun.

#1 – Silver Bullet

There is a reason that this is #1, besides the value of the film itself. This was the first horror (creature) movie I ever saw and really paid attention to. Remember, I saw “The Shining” in 1986 but I wasn’t supposed to and I don’t remember it in its entirety. I remember the elevator of blood and “Here’s Johnny” for sure. I first saw Silver Bullet on “BetaMax”. It’s weird that I remember that but it was a strange sight. Anyhow, Gary Busey and Corey Haim star in this movie adapted from a Stephen King book about a werewolf. I have seen many werewolf movies but none scared me like this one. I know it’s because of how young I was when I first saw it but it has stuck with me since then. I own that one now on blu-ray and it is viewed about as often as any movie I still own. It rivals my love for the 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead as my favorite movie of all time, regardless of genre. I so wish I could watch it on BetaMax one more time to get the full effect. Fittingly, the movie features a scene in which Gary Busey and Corey Haim are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash. Haim tries to bet a manager and Busey calls him out. “You can’t bet managers! I’ve told you time and time again, you can’t bet managers! I wonder if they were using the set I’m about to review?So there you have Dub’s 5 favorite horror movies from 1985. Those movies sharing that release year tied in perfectly to my anticipated review of 1985 Fleer. I have owned some singles of 1985 Fleer but I had to have this set because it is really a sweet design for Fleer. The ’84 design was nice as well but up until then, Fleer was kind of a dud in my opinion. 1985 also had some great rookies in it. While the 1984 Update set had first releases, and holds more value, you can find Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden rookies, among others.The set is 660 cards and the cards feature a gray border with team colors surrounding the inset photo. While gray can feel bland at times, the team colors were enough to make the design pop. It’s a very simple design but very classy. The backs of the cards were red, white and dark gray and in the same general design as all other Fleer cards of the 80’s. Though, there was a small photo on the backs of the cards, which was not always consistent with Fleer. The one strange thing about the card back is that the information about the player (Height, Weight, DOB, Etc) was at the bottom of the card. While this was standard for Fleer up until 1985, the information would float to the top of the card beginning in 1986.

Here are some of the highlights from the master set!

The Rookies
1985 had a solid crop of rookies (Joe Carter was actually FFC). Terry Pendleton would go on to win an MVP with the Braves, Doc Gooden would be a force for several years to come and we all know what happened with the Rocket. My favorite player in this group is Eric Davis. I was always of fan of Davis and he was someone I didn’t like to see play Atlanta because I had to root against him.

Young Stars
The young star group can’t get much better than this! If Wallach would be willing to play 2nd, this would also be an awesome All-Star team. I never get tired of adding Tony Gwynn cards to my PC. My favorite player here is probably The Wizard but it’s a lot tougher than that first group to choose from. I wish Straw’s career had taken a little different path and he might be tops on this list.

Veterans
While these guys weren’t quite as young as the previous group, they were stars nonetheless. I’ve said before that one of my favorite all time uniforms was that 80’s Pirates and this Tony Pena card is excellent. I also loved the old California Angels logo. Some of these guys were better known for what they did in other uniforms but that can’t be said for Molitor and Yount! And another Murph for the PC!

Super Star Special
This “insert” set was at the back of the checklist and included many of the stars in the set. A couple of milestones were celebrated with Reggie Jackson’s 500th Home Run and Pete Rose’s 4,000 Hit. And I never get tired of Father/Son cards in baseball.

Major League Prospects
While the set was loaded with great rookies, the prospect cards were a little underwhelming. I was a fan of Shawon Dunston in the late 80’s so this one was nice!

Fun Cards
What would a review of 1985 be without some great names and photos? One of my all-time favorite combo’s was Kent Tekulve. He had a great name and always rolled with the tinted RX glasses. Steve Trout tried to mimic the look but came off more like a villain in Magnum PI. Rollie Fingers was a great pitcher but no pitcher has ever been as great as that stache! Finally, one of the great names in 80’s baseball was John Wockenfuss.

King of the Hill
I always love finding a card of Kurt Bevacqua. He was a masher in the majors but I know him more for being a softball ringer on King of the Hill. Strickland Propane’s arch rival, Thatherton, hired Bevacqua’s wife so he could qualify for the softball team. He was destroying the competition until he ran into Peggy Hill! Great episode!

Rookie Gem
Did you think I was going to leave out the card of the set? This Kirby is actually in very good condition. Don’t judge it from my photo skills. This is the best looking version of this card I have ever owned. I might even send it in for grading and replace the one in the set with another. As much as I love bashing the Twins, I will never bash Puckett. He was a favorite of mine (except for 1991) and I really love the old Twins logo too.1985 was a great year for horror movies but it might have even been a better year for baseball cards. I go back and forth with Topps and Fleer for my favorite set from that year but going through this new addition gives Fleer a slight edge. I guess I need to add an ’85 Topps set so I can be fair and balanced in my decision. In any event, the set gets a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. There are some great rookie classes in the late 70’s through the 80’s and this one is right up there with the best of them. The cards are really attractive for a mid 80’s product and this particular set was in pretty good overall condition. I would love to go through a box of ’85 Fleer and try to pull multiples but owning the set is first priority. I bought this set for $30 and I believe it was money well spent.

Lastly, if you have a moment and a couple of dollars, check out www.gofundme.com/jasessoldiers. Even if you can’t give, just send Jonathan a kind word and good vibes for Jase. Thanks again Jonathan!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Mail Day Review – Cuyler Smith Trading Cards Series 2

I’ve been waiting on this mail day for a solid year so it’s a pretty big one.  When I first heard about Cuyler Smith’s Trading Card Series 1 in 2016, I was too late for the party and almost all of the cards were sold out.  All of the specific cards I wanted were sold out.  The prize of the 1st series to me was the “George Costanza – Assistant to The Traveling Secretary” card with the 1987 Topps design.  I know Mr. Wright, I’ve seen that design enough too but for this particular card, no border would have done it better justice.  But alas, it was sold out so I’m banished to EBay to get that one if I ever want it and it’s not for sale often and it’s never cheap, as evidenced by the last sale in February 8 at $219.95.  Three have sold in 2017 with the lowest being $185.  That’s my luck!You see, to understand the whole picture, I need to give you a little bit of information on the cards themselves.  Cuyler Smith is an artist from California by way of Texas.  I’ve never met him or spoken to him outside of passing comments on Twitter so my bio on him is based on what I’ve read.  After moving to California, Smith obtained a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in animation and MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in illustration.  And his work shows it.  His interest in film and animation took him to Cali and now his fine art degrees are paying homage to film and animation.  The Trading Card Series’ are all about athletes from film and Tv.  The checklist includes such big names as Daniel Larusso, Crash Davis, Bobby Boucher, Kenny Powers, Al Bundy and Ty Webb.  And those names don’t even begin to scratch the surface.  Rocky, Teen Wolf, Mighty Ducks, Caddyshack, Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights are all covered too.So Smith presented Series 1 in early 2016 and it was largely sold out in the first month or so.  The pieces are all standard trading card size and are also signed and numbered by the artist.  I don’t know the exact print run on Series 1 but all of the cards I got today are numbered out of 90 except for one that is numbered out of 45.  So yeah, absolute short prints here.  Series 2 was just released in February and I pounced on the single I wanted and then splurged for a pack.  The singles are around $15 and the pack of 5 is $85 and includes either an “Air Bud” numbered to 45 (only available in packs) or an Artist Proof from a Sold Out Previous Edition.  They are available at www.nineteeneightyeight.com and www.cuylersmith.com and by all accounts appear to be headed for sold out again so I’m glad I jumped when I did.  Does the $219 Costanza make a little more sense now?Now, on to my mailday.  Don’t judge the condition by the photo as this particular card holder was taped by itself to cardboard for shipping and that is what you are seeing.  The cards were in mint condition and shipped very meticulously.  The single that I had to have as a 40 year old who sat in front of the Tv a ton from 10-15, was AC Slater from Saved By The Bell.  Don’t pretend for one second that you didn’t want to emulate at least one of the characters from Saved By The Bell growing up.  Maybe it was Screech, doesn’t matter.  This show is an iconic 90’s masterpiece and AC Slater was Sports on that show.  Football, Basketball and Wrestling, it didn’t matter.  AC was all world.  So I had to get that one out of the way even though I was buying a pack.  If I scored one in the pack too, just call it Christmas in March!After marveling over the Slater for a moment, I turned my attention to the pack of 5 cards.  The pack itself is also signed which is 1) a very nice touch but 2) screams “DON’T BREAK THIS SEAL!”  But I didn’t sit on my hands for the last 2 weeks to only look at an unopened pack.  After all, there was the slimmest of chances that a Costanza Artist Proof was lurking in that pack.  I know, I probably have a better chance of pulling the Babe Ruth card from those retail repacks at Wal Mart.  But hey, isn’t that what ripping packs is all about?So Card 1 was the limited edition Air Bud card.  It is numbered 43/45.  As mentioned above, nothing I received is numbered higher than 90.  As you can tell from the photo of the card, it lists the name, team name and number, which in this case is K9.  The back of each card includes a quote from the subject, “Woof” for Buddy, and a little peek at highlights and background.  The back of the cards have an older Topps set feel to them and it’s really a nice card stock.  The cards are also very well centered, unlike my photos.Card 2 was Fulton Reed, the massive defenseman from The Mighty Ducks films.  The card is numbered 90/90 and speaks of his time on Team USA as a member of The Bash Brothers with Dean Portman.  It also includes the Hendrix logo and his position on the front, staying true to sport card design.  If you’ve ever read my piece on The Video Superstore, you’ll know that this film was right in my wheelhouse, along with others that are covered in the set.  Nostalgia from all angles!Card 3 was Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) from “Back to School” and is also numbered 90/90.  This was another classic from the video store days.  This film was later in Dangerfield’s career but he still had the pizazz to woo the Hidden Valley Ranch spokeswoman from back in the day, Sally Kellerman.  He was also the master of “The Triple Lundy” and has one of the better card quotes, “With the shape I’m in, you could donate my body to science fiction.”  The card includes a diving logo on the front and a background of the high dives from GLU.Card 4 is a classic!  Hamilton “Ham” Porter from the Sandlot, numbered 89/90.  Of course you see the photo but was there any question what his quote would be?  It’s what he is famous for and I have owned shirts over the years that shout it!  “You’re killing me Smalls!”  His character made the film for me back in the day and I couldn’t have been happier with my Sandlot pull!  It even had the year in the top left corner, “1962.”Even though I love the Ham card, I saved the best for last.  Card #5 is none other than Rocky Balboa himself!  A beautiful card with a blue border and red, white and blue stripes, which every knows was Balboa’s signature colors when he defended his dear friend Apollo Creed’s (and the mighty USofA’s) honor in his bout with Ivan Drago, who is also included in the set by the way.  I now have a Trading Card that features Rocky Balboa, who was also Rambo, Cobra and Lincoln Hawk!  This one was numbered 90/90 and the quote is a great one; “Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”

This card pack has made a big difference in my life as a collector and I could not be happier with the card selection, design, packaging and most importantly, the artwork in this set.  This has been an amazing “non-traditional” trading card few weeks for me.  First, I got my first set of “Welcome to The Show.”  If you haven’t made that purchase yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.  I’ve already ordered my second set.  Then I finally added some Cuyler Smith Trading Cards to my collection.  I’m about to get my second pack of that as well!  Unfortunately, time may be out on some of these cards but go look for yourself on the links I’ve provided above. He’s also on twitter under the handle @cuylersmith.  His twitter feed will lead you to the link to purchase these amazing cards.  If you’re intrigued like I was last year, don’t make the mistake I made and wait too long to get on the site.  These will go fast!  Score is obvious in this one!

Dub Score – 5

Fright Fest

They don’t make em like they used to.  This phrase could be used for a million different things.  The saudade in all of us can appreciate its meaning.  Movies are one of those million things but are one of my favorite things.  Horror movies to be specific, as evidenced in previous posts.  Hollywood has increasingly resorted to remaking the good ones and they still can’t get it right.  The fact is that they have run out of original ideas, so they rehash the old ones and add more gore and shock value.  This usually makes for a worse adaptation and comes off as trying too hard.  Scary for me has typically come in the form of being led down a dark tunnel and fearing what you can’t see as opposed to what you can.  So for me, the gore does nothing.  

As I was compiling my top album list, the thought hit me that I needed to put this one together too.  I have compiled the top 10 horror movies of my personal collection that would outperform anything being put out today.  As I put this list together, I tried to follow a general formula that included the scare factor, level of rewatchability (may or may not be a word) and quotable value.  I wound up with some classics, some mainstream favorites and some cheese as well.  I think they are all representative of my tastes in the genre.  While they may not be widely accepted as top 10’s, they are in mine and that’s the perks of having a blog.  I think I’ve even successfully put them in order.  So, let’s go to the movies!

10.  From Dusk Til Dawn (1996) – This Quentin Tarantino vampire classic blew me away the first time I saw it.  A group of us rented it not really knowing the plot other than it being about a couple of criminals on the run.  Yeah, that’s a minor subplot.  It’s loaded with a who’s who list of performers; Clooney, Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Tom Savini, Cheech Marin, Juliette Lewis and a personal favorite of mine, Danny Trejo.  It also introduced me to an actress by the name of Salma Hayek, who played the lovely Santanico Pandemonium…..whew!  The more I thought about this one, the more I wanted to move it up the list but I can’t justify it.  It’s largely entertaining and has plenty of scare value as well but also goes off script a little too much to maintain some level of believability to keep the tension.  It teeters back and forth between horror, action and comedy, which helps it maintain its top 10 spot but also keeps it from threatening the top 5.

9.  Fright Night (1985) – This one to me was legit scary.  The effects in this movie were ahead of their time.  For a movie made in 1985, the vampires made me nervous to walk down a dark hallway.  Another level of fear for me at the time was the thought of knowing something and not being able to have anyone believe me.  That’s a kids worst nightmare.  This movie plays on the notion that there are monsters all around us but we can’t prove it.  I haven’t like Chris Sarandon since I saw that movie and can only envision him as a bad guy whenever I see him in other movies.  This is one that was remade in the 2000’s and fell way short in my opinion.  Could’ve been Colin Farrell or the lack of Roddy McDowell or a combination of both.  If you haven’t seen this, be sure to watch the ’85 version first.

8.  Return of The Living Dead (1985) – Ok, before you say it, I know this is one of the cheesiest zombie movies ever made but it was supposed to be and it was made obvious.  On the quotable level, this would probably be #2 as it is packed with 80’s goodness.  I also liked the fact that this movie actually revealed the origin of the pandemic as opposed to leaving it in the background.  It was even a plausible story as zombie apocalypses go.  A zombie (along with its gasses) is released in a single building but the dumb responses by the employees in the building lead to the widespread infection.  Oh, and the government is behind the whole thing.  Sounds reasonable.  This is a classic that will make you laugh more than anything but is still a horror by definition and is firmly in my top 10.

7.  The Shining (1980) – I believe this is Stephen King’s second best story, as you’ll see when I get to number 2.  It is more psychological than gory and keeps you thinking that it could legitimately happen.  This movie introduced viewers to “Redrum” and me to Scatman Carruthers.  Take a kid who sees dead people and talks to imaginary friends and put him in a haunted hotel and you’ll likely scare me every time.  Of course, this also included a performance by Jack Nicholson that is likely unmatched in his catalog, with the possible exception of Cuckoo’s Nest.  I catch myself to this day being a little anxious walking down a long hotel hallway thanks to those creepy twins.  It probably didn’t help that I saw this for the first time when I was about 6 thanks to a babysitter not caring what we watched.  

6.  Day of The Dead (1978) – This classic zombie flick made the list for one prominent reason.  Along with being a very entertaining film to begin with, it introduced us to the idea that a zombie could be domesticated if given the proper attention and teachings.  Bub was a lovable walker that enjoyed listening to his headphones just as much as I do.  Of course, the villains in the film, which weren’t the zombies for once, couldn’t understand or accept this so they eventually pushed him to be the monster he was.  There was a certain realism that was scary in this film that was unrelated to the zombies and has been taken to all new levels with The Walking Dead.  Sometimes, it’s the living that you have to be more afraid of than the dead.  

5.  Evil Dead (1981) – For the most part, I’ve never been a big fan of demonic or paranormal movies.  This is the glaring exception.  I don’t know if it was the setting I first saw this movie in or if it was the movie itself but it really creeped me out.  The first time I saw it was when I spent the night with a friend who lived out in the country.  Just down the road from his house was an old church and graveyard.  We would go to the graveyard as a group and see who was bravest among us to walk through it in the dark.  After watching Evil Dead, I don’t think we ever did that again.  Another film that was remade in the 2000’s and taken to a whole new level of shock value, the better version remains the original.  The disappointing issue with the film is that it spawned a couple of sequels that were purely spoof comedy and totally went off the rails.  If it had started that way, I could understand it but by the time we got to Army of Darkness, I was lost.

4.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The only movie on this list that has decent remakes is Chainsaw Massacre.  None beat the original though.  I think there is even another one coming out this summer.  I’m pretty sure me and Zibby are going to see that one as no one else will watch them with me.  The last Chainsaw Massacre I saw in the theater ended up with Alicia going to Wal Mart about 20 minutes in and not talking to me for a week.  This movie produced many imitations over the years but remains one of the original “creepy family kidnaps teenagers and tortures them” films.  It could probably be #1 on this list and many others but I have personal reasons for my top 3.  Still, Leatherface will go down as the scariest monster in my book.  An actual crazy person that has a taste for blood and enjoys wearing skin as a mask.  No thanks!

3.  Halloween II (1981) – The Halloween series and Michael Myers is probably my favorite collection of all time.  The only movie I didn’t like was III and it was an oddball movie about masks that went way off script from the general story.  While the original Halloween is considered the classic of the series, part 2 was the most entertaining to me.  This was partly due to the setting, a hospital.  Hospitals have always been one of the scariest settings for a horror movie to me.  I’m not entirely sure why but they make the hairs on my neck stand up.  Add Michael Myers to the setting and you’ve got a real creepfest.  Now would be the time to say that while I enjoyed Rob Zombie’s Halloween films, I would have been much happier had he just created his own movies instead of using Halloween, which should have remained as it was created.  If not for Malcolm McDowell playing Dr. Loomis, I’d be totally out on the new Halloween.  Which leads to my last point.  Sam Loomis may be the best character in a horror movie ever, aside from the killers themselves.  I love Donald Pleasance!

2.  Silver Bullet (1985) – This might not be a popular pick among most horror buffs but this one holds the #2 spot on my list. This is likely because it’s one of the first horror movies I watched from beginning to end.  I was probably 8 or 9 when I first saw it and some friends over at Fort Gaines had it on Beta, for those of you who remember that.  I can still plug that movie in today and watch it all the way through, fully entertained.  Corey Haim was pre Corey Feldman and Gary Busey was pre Gary Busey.  This is Stephen Kings greatest accomplishment in my opinion.  The effects were a bit corny and don’t hold up at all today but the story continues to be a haunting twist among many werewolf plots. It’s also very quotable.  So much so that I could probably act out the movie, playing each part, and only miss a line or two.  The movie is worth watching, if for no other reason, just to see Gary Busey tell his “jackass” joke.  When I decide it’s time for Bailey to start watching horror movies, this will be the first one she sees.  I may even watch it tomorrow night myself.

1.  Night of The Living Dead (1990) – I’ve already told the story behind this movie.  You can read all about it here, Old Friends.  This is the movie that got me hooked on zombie films for life.  The downside of the film was that I later could not enjoy the Candyman series due to my appreciation for Tony Todd and my dislike of his portrayal of a killer. My horror collection begins and ends with this film and it will forever be #1.

I couldn’t list just 10 movies so I listed a few more as potential list crackers but, for various reasons, didn’t make it.  

Honorable Mention:  

Aliens – Classic movie but just not quite a top 10 film.  It’s actually been a while since I’ve seen it.  I hope it still holds up.

28 Days Later – Great premise, great visual style, great effects.  The execution was just a little off and it lost me the closer I got to the end.  Great movie but not a list buster.

Shaun of The Dead – No doubt in my top 10 comedy list.  I just can’t bring myself to classify this as a horror.  That is the only reason it’s not in the top 10.

Friday the 13th – The series absolutely deserves to have a film in the top 10.  I will not argue that point and I’m disappointed in myself that it’s not there. I just couldn’t pick one out of all of them.  That’s it.

The Devil’s Rejects – This is what a Rob Zombie film is.  It’s really not a film I would go around recommending to just anyone either because you have to have a pretty strong tolerance for explicit scenes because it really pushes the envelope with its themes.  Great movie but really not for everybody.

So this is my list and I stand by it but feel free to tell me where I screwed up and what I left off.  If you haven’t seen all of these films, I’d recommend checking them out but keep an open mind as it relates to time periods.  I have these on DVD so come over and we’ll watch them together.  I’ll try not to quote them as we watch.

J-Dub

Video Superstore

   

 One post about movies is all it took for me to have this rush to the forefront of my mind.  I am one of the lucky ones to be alumni of that great establishment.  In Camilla, in the early to mid 90’s, there was really only one place for a teenager to work and be happy.  That was the Video Superstore.  They had one in Pelham too but come on, it was Pelham…..sorry Pelham folks, it’s just how I was raised.  Let’s be clear about the timeframe too – 1992-1995 was absolutely the heyday.  It was around a while later too but so was Saved By The Bell, The College Years.  

VS was nestled in the Wal Mart shopping center between Subway and Winn Dixie.  That was prime real estate during that time period and the video business was at the top of the entertainment game.  There was no Netflix, no Redbox, no YouTube.  I’m pretty sure the Internet didn’t hit the scene until 1995.  Before all of that, there was the video store.  And VS was a shining example of one!  It was the small town version of Empire Records.  We had so much fun there that most of the time it felt like we were getting paid to goof off.  Which I guess is a fairly accurate assessment too.

Sure there was work; dusting the shelves, vacuuming, window cleaning, checking the box and movie to make sure they matched up.  The managers even went through and jumbled movies from time to time to make sure we were doing the job.  “The Man” always has a way of dragging you down.  However, I knew those shelves like the back of my hand and they would’ve had to get up pretty early to get one over on me.  But back to the fun.  Friday and Saturday nights at VS were absolutely nuts!  Those were the nights everyone came to rent a video and those were also the nights that all of the other teens were riding back and forth through the Wal Mart parking lot.  The place was hopping and the doors were usually crowded with friends who would come “sit around” and just people watch.  I can still see my boys just hanging around the front door, in and out, making jokes and flirting with girls.  Usually, that last part went unrequited.  Still good times though.

There were other perks of the job too.  The T Shirts were a prize commodity.  All of my friends wanted a VS T Shirt, which came in short and long sleeve versions with the VS in the shape of the Superman logo.  We could also select any movie, below R Rating, to watch on the 3 TV’s scattered throughout the store.  During slow times, mostly mornings, you could watch entire movies between customers and catch anything that you might have been wanting to see for a while.  But perhaps the greatest perk was early viewing.  When movies came out on Tuesday, they would arrive at the store on Monday and the employees could take them home, provided they had them back before the store opened at 10 the next day.  Don’t underestimate the power of having a VHS tape in your possession before it was even released at 17 years old.

The customers were also a plus.  For some reason, most people going out to rent a video in those days were generally happy when they were in the VS.  Twenty-one years later, I can still remember one customers account number strictly based on the way he said it.   I even remember Alicia coming in the store pre-relationship.  She made it a point for me to remember.  She would ask a question like “can we come in without shoes” just to talk to me (her words not mine) and then just walk around the store and position herself so she could still see me (again, her words).  This was all after they would do a drive by to see if I was working.  I’m tellin you, that VS T Shirt did wonders for my social life.  But don’t worry, all of that infatuation dissipated during my umpire days.  But that’s another story for another day.

There are a ton of memories that I carry with me today that involve that hallowed place; Steven’s stirring rendition of Sammy Kershaw’s “Third Rate Romance”, Black Belt Jones, Lightning Jack, Shaq Fu, Munt watching movies with me on slow days and the gum ball machine that spit out tinfoil gum balls that represented a free rental.  Even the night I flipped a golf cart, bleeding all over one of the greens at Pinecrest Country Club started at the VS.  I guess that’s yet another story for another time.

Sadly, the run had to end at some point.  Of all the great aspects the store had to offer, one of the downsides was being open 365 days a year.  As it would work out one year, I had to work on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  That was enough to send this 17 year old packing in search for a more laid back schedule.  Little did I know, that would be the most laid back workplace I would ever see.  I have since joked to my friends that in high school I had envisioned living a life like that in the “Clerks” movie, working at a video store and my best friend working next door.  Eventually, the store closed and the industry as a whole disappeared as more accessible and convenient ways to watch movies emerged.  But as easy as it is to turn on Netflix, they will never be able to replace the feeling of hanging out at one of the most popular spots in town on a Friday night, watching movies and trying to get phone numbers.  Oh, and getting paid for it the whole time. I love you VS!

Joey