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13 Times Pop Culture Referenced Jason Voorhees

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Something that excited me growing up a movie-obsessed kid was seeing film characters and pop culture things referenced in scenarios they weren’t intended for. I can’t explain it, but the discovery of parody and satire had a sublime effect on my developing brain – it showed me that everything kind of exists in the same universe and that anything is possible really. Whether it was Wayne Campbell asking someone at a stoplight if they had any Grey Poupon or Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator popping up in a Tiny Toon Adventures episode, it didn’t matter – it all somehow made sense in this wide, wonderful, referential world of pop culture. And if you understood what they were referencing, it was like you spoke a secret language. To a little kid, learning all this was super thrilling. But what was really exciting and special to me was whenever horror was referenced. As a neo-gorehound, and the only youngster in the tri-state area allowed to watch horror movies whenever he wanted, I felt like catching these little nods was even rarer and more arcane (and therefore more special) than your typical pop reference. And it was always strange yet exciting to me that these bloody, violent, horrific movies were popping up in things intended for younger audiences, like cartoons. Who can forget Leatherface in Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters?

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Last week, I saw Nick Meece post a picture on his Tumblr with the caption “That time Leatherface and Jason appeared on Married… with Children.” And sure enough, there they were being parodied in all their bloody glory. And seeing it reminded me of something else — last month saw the debut of a new McDonald’s commercial that included an animated Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees putting their differences aside, all in the name of fast food. It got my brain churning and grinding, and all these memories of Jason and his infamous hockey mask being used outside of the Friday the 13th series came flooding back into my head. So in honor of this, the most memorable of all horror holidays – second only to Halloween – I thought I’d revisit 13 times (clever, I know) that I remember pop culture using Jason’s image to evoke pangs of nostalgia (at least for us diehard types.) Presented in no particular order!

tumblr_inline_njq2shKVZU1qg31ykI’m gonna kick the list off with my favorite Jason inclusion, which may be the most obscure. In 1988, Triaminic (the company that makes cold medicine for kids) released a video cassette called Kid Safe: The Video. The point of the video was to teach kids about what to do and what not to do if they’re ever left home alone. Stuff like don’t drink your parents booze, don’t stick metal items in a toaster, and only call 911 in an emergency. Second City alum Andrea Martin plays the little girl who’s left home alone, and she breaks every rule only to eventually learn her lesson. By the end however, there is one lesson she does abide by: not to answer the door for strangers. As the video wraps up we hear a knock on her door, which she proudly ignores. As she walks away smiling, the camera pans outside – and who do we see knocking at her door? Jason Voorhees! He’s also joined by a martian, a werewolf, a mummy, and a witch. Jason even shrugs and says, “Ah, well…” I had this video as a kid and watched it religiously. I loved it. It also has cameos by Meshach Taylor and Joe Flaherty as his ‘Count Floyd’ character. But what I didn’t realize until recently is that the video was written, produced, and directed by Stuart Gordon! How cool is that? Unfortunately, I no longer have this video in my possession, but thankfully someone just recently uploaded the full thing to Youtube. I highly suggest checking it out if you haven’t seen it!

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The Arsenio Hall Show. I’ve seen this image brought up many times, so I know it’s alive and well in the hip collective consciousness. But as the child of parents who actually watched Arsenio every night (woof, woof, woof, woof!), I remember this happening in real-time. And I was still young enough to be thinking, “Hey, that’s reallyJason Voorhees on this TV show. The same Jason I’ve seen in all those movies!” Re-watching the clip, hearing how excited the audience is (literally screaming), my appreciation for the early days of burgeoning pop TV soars. I don’t mean to get sentimental, but it was a time before TV was as dumb and jaded as it is now. Having a completely silent guest on a talk show? Just having Arsenio do the talking the whole time? There’s no way they could or would do that now. Nevermind the fact that Arsenio is ‘interviewing’ a fictitious movie character known for slaughtering teenagers instead of an attractive new star promoting their latest film. That was a rare occurrence, one that thankfully lives on through the internet. Major props to Arsenio for pulling that idea off.

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The Simpsons are no stranger to using Jason Voorhees on their show. Over their 550+ episodes, Jason has shown up 5 times (tied with Freddy Krueger, as seen above.)

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But besides using the actual Jason Voorhees character several times, the first time they referenced the character was in Season 5, in an episode where Bart is being hunted by Sideshow Bob a la Cape Fear. Homer is seen, hockey mask on his face and chainsaw in hand, screaming the memorable line: ”BART-DO-YOU-WANNA-SEE-MY-NEW-CHAINSAW-AND-HOCKEY-MASK?!” What makes this so noteworthy is the fact that it is one of the numerous times pop culture makes reference to Jason by pairing a hockey mask with a chainsaw – despite that fact that (as of this writing) Jason Voorhees has never used a chainsaw. I’m not sure if this is a way for companies to get the idea of Jason across while not violating any image copyrights, or if it’s sort of a horror portmanteau used to evoke images of other horror icons, such as Leatherface. Whatever the reason is, there are a lot more hockey mask/chainsaw combos that are included on this list.

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This is not an old memory from my childhood. This is a pretty recent and wonderful use of Jason. It’s for the pop punk song “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” by The Menzingers, and I love it. The song is totally catchy and the video – which sees Jason trying to overcome his homicidal tendencies so he can meet a girl – is a blast! It fits the lyrical content perfectly, and it’s just a really funny, really well done video overall. It was directed by Whitey McConnaughy (no relation to Matthew, that I’m aware of) who directs music videos and commercials, and was part of the Jackass camera crew at one time. And see what I said about the chainsaw connection? Just another example.
There was another very similarly plotted music video released after this one by another pop punk band called Common Shiner. I much prefer The Menzingers song and video, but it’s available on Youtube, so check it out if you’re curious.

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Dude. Listen. MTV used to be so. fucking. good. So incredibly fun, and smart, and cutting edge, and creative. I haven’t watched MTV in near a decade, so I can’t speak for what it’s like now. All I know is, I stopped watching because it stopped being all those things I just said it was. I’m sure I sound like some grumpy old man, pining for the days of yore. But MTV was perfect. If it were the 90′s and I was trapped on a desert island that had cable and only had three channels to pick from, MTV would be #1. No doubt.

Included in its awesome 90s line-up, MTV had two awards shows each year – one for music and one for movies. They ran much looser than actual award shows. I’m not even sure if they still do them, but back in the day they were incredibly enjoyable. The first year they aired The MTV Movie Awards, they awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Jason Voorhees. Before they brought him onstage, they showed a montage of all his kills on a big screen set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. The audience went apeshit, and I was grinning so hard that my cheeks hurt. After Jason comes up to receive his award, however, it’s revealed that it is actually Jon Lovitz under the mask. God I miss the 90s.

tumblr_inline_njq2x9FPK31qg31ykSeeing Jason Goes to Hell in the theater was like my generation’s Kennedy assassination. The event was a thing of such magnitude, such a long-lasting, enduring memory, that the senseless murder of our 35th president is all I can compare it to. Sure, Jason is onscreen for like 10 minutes the whole movie. And yeah, it was lame that he doesn’t actually kill that many people. And sure, it was incredibly dumb (not to mention borderline insulting) that, in the end, Jason turns out to be inhabited by serpent demons (?) and is ‘finally killed’ by a mystical dagger. All that shit blows. But when Freddy Krueger’s glove popped out of the ground at the end of the movie – the Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame – and dragged Jason’s hockey mask down to hell, you could hear an explosion in the theater from everyone’s collective minds being fucking blown. Sure, nowadays if something liked that happened, no one would even blink twice. They’d be hopping on their keyboards to shit all over the idea. But in 1993, it was pure whatthefuckery. Freddy had supposedly been killed in 1991′s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. And now here he was, popping up in the supposedly last Friday the 13th movie? To say there was a buzz among the horror community would be an understatement. For years after that, people were wondering what was going to come of it. I remember talking to the dudes who ran my local video store some six years later, exchanging theories and rumors. We all heard different things. Little did we know it would still be four more years before the world would get the mediocre if nonsensical Freddy vs. Jason. Like I said, everything in the world of pop culture exists within the same universe. And seeing that glove grab that mask in ’93, that was a beautiful thing. I’ll always have that.

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Before Rotten Tomatoes, before IMDB, before message boards and forums, before the internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye, renting horror videos was a crapshoot. The odds of you picking out some low-budget stinker versus some underground classic was about the same as if you just closed your eyes and chose at random. You maybe read reviews in the paper, in magazines. Mostly it was word of mouth. But the greatest factor – albeit it a sneaky tactic – in determining if you rented a fright flick was the box art. Now, I could go on and on about that, but that’s a different article for another day. The point is, as a kid who was obsessed with the Holy Trinity – Halloween,A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th – I would’ve bought/rented/watched anything involving those creeps, any chance I could get. So when I saw the box cover for Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers one day while perusing the horror section, you can understand why I immediately rented it and ran home to watch it:

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Freddy AND Jason? AND a chainsaw, so that Leatherface guy is probably in it, too? This was easily going to be the greatest movie ever made. Or not. Maybe a close second. Needless to say, it doesn’t star those dudes. Although two campers in the movie do dress up like Freddy and Jason to scare the much more terrifying Angela Baker. To be fair, I owe my interest in the Sleepaway Camp series to this box cover – it led to me seeking out the original soon after – so in a way, I guess it did its job.

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Like Mant! in Matinee, Mosquito in Popcorn, Groundhog Day in The Monster Squad, or Stab in Scream, the 1988 remake of The Blob had its own ‘film within a film’: Garden Tool Massacre. It’s a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek ode to the slasher craze that was on its way out the door when this film was released. Y’know, your basic slice and dice. Even though not much of GTM is shown, it’s a tiny but enjoyable detail – one that was appreciated by this little psychopath-in-the-making when he first saw it. Notice again we see the pairing of the hockey mask and chainsaw. And there’s still more of that to come. And check out that weird hockey mask! What a beaut.

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I don’t remember when this DirecTV ad came out – I think about a decade ago. I’m fairly certain it was the first time Jason and Freddy were used in a commercial to sell something (besides Freddy promoting his own product – a hotline number – way back in 1988). And it’s cool, even if it is shilling cable TV. I recall being amped when I first saw it, the giddiness of my inner six year old being woken up, like it was the first time I’d seen Jason on TV. Of course, that was just the beginning. Since then, Jason Voorhees has been used in several commercials – here and abroad – to promote everything from the fast food I mentioned earlier to electronics no one needs or wants. Jason loves Radio Shack and their 3D printers. (I wonder if that was an incredibly clever nod to Friday the 13th III, or just a lucky accident? I’m gonna go with the latter.)

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I’m not an Eminem fan, but I dug when he started rocking the Jason look. The marriage of horror movies and rap goes back to Will Smith and The Fat Boys each releasing their own respective singles that gave a nod to Freddy Krueger (the latter song, “Are You Ready For Freddy” can be found on the Nightmare on Elm Street 4 soundtrack.) But the inclusion of horror movie imagery seems to be a more recent development. Even Marshall Mathers thinks Jason uses a chainsaw:

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In 1989, Jason got his own Friday the 13th video games on NES, but the gameplay was confusing and repetitive, and Mr. Voorhees himself was suspiciously clad in a blue mask and purple jumpsuit. But hey, it was 1989. Even worse, however, was the Friday the 13th computer game that preceded it in 1985. But hey, it was 1985. The strange thing is that in between then – in 1988 – the game Splatterhouse was released, and it was not only easier and more enjoyable to play, but it featured a Jason Voorhees mock-up that was more accurate than the other games based on the actual character. With each sequel of the game, the design changed to make the character look less and less like Jason. But it didn’t end there. While I’m not incredibly familiar with Splatterhouse, I was familiar with the 1993 NES gem Zombies Ate My Neighbors, which I rented more than a few times from Carnival Video (it had direct competition across town – Circus Video. But Carnival Video had the upperhand – they had an old-timey popcorn cart and a quarter operated game where you could win plastic eggs filled with prizes.) Zombies Ate My Neighbors featured a character with – you guessed it – a hockey mask and chainsaw. I loved that game. Look at how cool one of the two leads is: skull shirt and 3D glasses!

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Now, the Hockey mask/chainsaw thing is in tons of games. House of the Dead, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, was even referenced in Virtual Boy Wario Land.

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(And even though it’s not the Hockey mask/chainsaw combo, I still needed to include Kid Chameleon because of how badass the cover art is.)

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Every cartoon ever. As I mentioned in the intro (which seems like ages ago at this point), cartoons loved to inject imagery of the Jason archetype. I’ve included just a small sample below, but the idea of a “hockey-masked, chainsaw-wielding maniac” has been used in many, many animated shows. My first memory of this popping up was around the same time I saw Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters (see: intro), in the animated special Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation. While on a roadtrip to a theme park, the toons pick up a hitchhiker who turns out to be an escaped convict. At some point, the hitcher slaps on a hockey mask and busts out the Black & Decker. The caricature also popped up in the animated Bugs Bunny short Box-Office Bunny:

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and most recently was paid homage to in ParaNorman:

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“Bend over and I’ll show you.” There was nothing more exciting to me than watching this movie with my family around the holidays, and them saying “Hey Joe, look! Jason!”, knowing full well about my love of horror movies (though I’m sure it was more likely that they actually called him “Freddy”, an endearing and stupid but common parent mistake.)

The final entry on this list – Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation – is special for a few reasons. First: chainsaw/mask combo. Second, the type of hockey mask they used. This mask is so recognized and used so often, yet it’s so hard to track down a version of it anywhere online. In fact, it caused some obsessive searching and a little bit of madness on my end. It’s such a unique mask and worth so much exploration that I’ve dedicated an entirely NEW article to it, which you can read HERE.

Before I wrap this up, I think it’s interesting to point out that the really crazy part about Jason Voorhees’ recognizable and enduring image is that he wasn’t even the first horror villain to use a hockey mask. He was the third.

In 1974, the exploitation flick Act of Vengeance aka Rape Squad was released. In it, the antagonist wears a hockey mask. At one point, the police bring in a line-up of guys for the victims to look at. And they’re all wearing hockey mask. Tell me if any of these villainous people look familiar:

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A movie with five Jasons. Pretty trippy. The next movie with a hockey-masked villain was Alone in the Dark. Look at this guy:

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Alone in the Dark was filmed before Friday the 13th 3 (the debut of Jason’s mask) but F13p.3 just happened to beat Alone in the Dark to the theater by a couple months.

And well, the rest – as they say – is ha-ha-ha-ch-ch-ch-istory.

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Dr. Jose’s Favorite 80s Tees

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I’m a t-shirt kinda guy. Always have been, probably always will be. Sure, I clean up nice on special occasions, but nothing beats a comfy tee – preferably with some sort of antiquated, obscure, or flat-out offensive message emblazoned upon it. Yep, I’m one of those types who likes a good ol’ vintage t-shirt. They look cool, and plus they fit better!

No decade embraced this fashion choice more than the 1980s, and nowhere was it more noticeable than the various cult films over the years. My love and appreciation of these films is probably why I have such an affinity for weird, wordy, retro tees. Or maybe it’s my love of weird tees that lends itself to my love of flicks from the 80s?

To celebrate my appreciation of these 50/50 cotton-poly blended gems, I’ve compiled a few screenshots of my favorites from various 80s movies. Now this is far from a comprehensive list; just a compilation of the ones I really dig – the ones that stuck with me. They’re listed, as always, in chronological order. Enjoy and lemme know which ones you like!

I wanna start the list with two honorable mentions, actually. Neither are t-shirts exactly (one is sleeveless, the other is a sweatshirt), but I’ll be damned if they aren’t cool as all get out!

Stripes (1981) & Police Academy (1984)

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First up is Lori Singer in Footloose (1984). I fully support curse words on t-shirts, especially when it’s embracing a healthy and positive message. Or when it’s just cursing for cursing’s sake.

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This next one is a little weird. Not sure if I find it so troubling because I, without hesitation, would take him up on the offer — or if it’s because he wore this to a Halloween party in the real-life drama, Mask (1985). I mean, Cher’s kid Rocky is dying of a super rare disease, and you show up rocking that tee? I guess that’s why nobody puts Sam Elliott in the corner.

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This one may be a little hard to see, but this amazing shirt from Aliens (1986) says, “Peace Through Superior Firepower”. Kinda prophetic, ain’t it? Anyway, I wear a size small (or Youth XL) in case any a-you charitable types wanna snag me one.

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Oh boy, The Feldster. While Corey Feldman’s personal attire has always been pretty embarrassing — especially during his Michael Jackson phase (1988 – Current) — he’s always been pretty decked out in his movies. Look no further than the film The Lost Boys (1987). I always felt his Edgar Frog character was some distant relative to his Ricky Butler character from the film The ‘Burbs (1989), but that’s another article entirely. Feldman’s hard-to-see shirt says “Why Waltz When You Can Rock & Roll?”, and it’s got an AK-47 on it. Look, I’m no gun nut or anything, but there’s no denying: that is a badass shirt. Again, size small/Youth XL for those reading.

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Confession: I own this next shirt. I don’t care if that makes me lame, or wannabe-cool, or a dum-dum or what. Stephen King does, in fact, rule – as does the shirt itself. As does Monster Squad (1987). It’s a win-win-win. Fun fact: I wore this to a horror convention last year and so did one other person — A 50-something grandma type. I still say the shirt is cool.

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Poor Martha Dunnstock. Besides the fact that she’s alienated, picked on and given the nickname “Martha Dumptruck”, her short, permed hair is the true tragedy. It’s so painfully 80s. But at least she’s got that awesome Big Fun shirt. Big Fun, of course, being the fictional band that sings the incredibly catchy “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)”, from the film Heathers (1988). Considering Martha walks into traffic shortly after this scene, I don’t think the song worked. (Don’t worry, she lives! Oh, SPOILERS. Sorry.)

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This beaut from The Great Outdoors (1988) is just a simple, cool looking shirt. Nothing particularly spectacular about it, but it definitely looks like something you could find in your local thrift store if you dug deep enough. Plus, it’s being sported by the dude who gives Danny his magic ticket in Last Action Hero (1993)!

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Okay, so this list didn’t start as a competition, and it’s not intended to be, but these next three characters have to be handled a little differently. There’s no doubt in my mind that they not only are the most memorably-clad of the decade, but that their styles helped influence and solidify the quirky/offensive/wordy t-shirt trend that exists today. Bold statement, sure. But just check these out and tell me I’m way off base.

First up, your friend and mine, Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf (1985). The man might not have been the smoothest operator when trying to score a keg from the liquor store, but boy he sure knew how to wear a t-shirt. Let’s take a look:

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“What Are You Looking At Dicknose”, “Life Sucks Then You Die”, and “Obnoxious: The Movie”. Classics. I know “Dicknose” is a crowd favorite, but – while it does have a nice ring to it – I gotta say my favorite is “Obnoxious: The Movie”. It’s a head-scratcher, which gives it that extra edge. T-shirts should do one of three things: educate, offend, or confuse. If you wear one that can do all three, hell, you’re doing it right. And don’t it look great on that robin’s egg blue shirt?

Next up is probably my favorite character from an 80s comedy, hands down: Dudley “Booger” Dawson, from Revenge of the Nerds (1984). I don’t want to say he’s a direct influence on my wardrobe/personality, because he’s such a scumbag. But I also don’t want to say he’s not, because then I’d be lying.

If Stiles was the high school version of the lame-o who thinks he’s hotshit, Booger is definitely the college version. But what Booger lacks in hygiene and charm he makes up for in amazing t-shirts. Check ‘em:

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“Gimme’ Head Till I’m Dead”, “High On Stress”, “Who Farted?”, and “Greasy Tony’s”. First off, “Who Farted?” is timeless. Secondly, tell me that “Greasy Tony’s” shirt isn’t one you’d see hawked at some store in the mall. And “Gimme’ Head”? I mean, the man is a fashion icon. If you’re a scumbag and you know it, clap your hands *clap, clap*

However, despite his extensive and awe-inspiring collection, Booger is not the ultimate t-shirt idol of the 80s. That honor actually goes to Val Kilmer’s Chris Knight character in Real Genius (1985). While not as offensive as I like, they’re all still really cool. Some may be hard to read, but I’ll go through them:

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“International Order For Gorillas”, “Roy Rogers Olympic Games 1984″, “Summer Games 1984″, “Surf Nicaragua”, “I (heart) Toxic Waste”.

Now, I’m not sure on the history of all these shirts, but the word is that Val Kilmer was friends with Roy Rogers and eventually bought his house, so that may have something to do with the Roy Rogers shirt. But why “Roy Rogers Olympic Games 1984″? Remember: it’s important to confuse. The other shirts are just as bewildering and colorful, and one was apparently popular enough to pop up in another film: “Summer Games 1984″, which shows a runner in a gas mask, carrying a torch, smoggy Los Angeles in the background — that shirt also made an appearance in Repo Man (1984). That’s gotta be a first, right? And “I (heart) Toxic Waste”? Forget about it.

Well, that concludes my list of favorite t-shirts from 80s movies. Although I didn’t include Chainsaw from Summer School (1987). He had a couple really cool tees in that film. As did Billy from Big (1988).

Looks like it’s time to start working on a second list.

Revisiting “The Running Man”

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I’ve seen The Running Man (not to be confused with Marathon Man, which itself is not to be confused with The Marrying Man) several times over last couple decades, almost invariably on some basic TV station, edited for noontime viewing; always in scattered, unorganized chunks. And I’ve never not liked it; if someone asked for an opinion on it, I’d probably say, “Oh yeah, that’s a cool movie”, without giving it much thought. Not much thought, that is, until I watched it again today. If someone were to ask me what I thought of that movie now, I’d say, “Oh shit. Have you seen it?? You totally gotta see it!” And thankfully you can – it’s currently streaming on Netflix.

Like any masterpiece, it not only stands the test of time, but actually gets better with age, and offers new little, trivial tidbits to appreciate with each subsequent viewing. I promise I’m not saying any of this to be ironic or hip; I say these things with an earnest regard. The movie apparently received a lukewarm reception upon its initial release, but I’m here to say: I think this movie is totally solid, enjoyable, and possibly one of Schwarzenegger’s best. Not to mention this movie was the direct inspiration behind the show American Gladiators – and if that’s not reason enough to get you to watch it, well then, we’re done here.

Written by Steven E. de Souza (48 Hrs., Commando, Die Hard) and loosely based on a story by Stephen King, the movie is set in the distant future (I say ‘distant’ because at the time it was filmed [1987] the year 2017 was quite a long time away), and it follows a police officer (Schwarzenegger) who is framed for murder and is forced to participate in a new reality game show that’s apparently one of the most popular forms of entertainment. On this gameshow, convicts are offered a chance at freedom if they can make it through a successive series of heavily armed baddies known as “stalkers”. If the cons survive all the stalkers and get to the end, they can go free.

I’m not sure if it’s just a weird coincidence, but the film shares several tiny parallels with Schwarz’s other films — and not in the broad ‘strong guy fighting bad guys’ general way, but in more specific ways: he wrestles with a woman while she watches an exercise program on TV (Total Recall); he’s implanted with a tracking device while trying to break free from the gurney he’s strapped down to (Total Recall); he tries to escape capture by running down a tarmac (Commando). They are little things, but seeing them evokes flashes of his other movies. I’m sure I could spot more if I watch it again.

So that’s the basic gist of the film, but I wanna point out three things that I think make the movie so enjoyable.

THE CAST

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Yaphet Kotto, Richard Dawson, Kurt Fuller, and Jesse Ventura in a Conan O’Brien-style wig! Not to mention María Conchita Alonso, Mick Fleetwood (!), Dweezil Zappa (!!), and Sven Thorsen. Plus Lynne Marie Stewart (Miss Yvonne) and Lin Shaye! Familiar faces abound, and are all wonderfully cast – from Dawson as the smug and charming TV show host (real stretch), down to the Ventura as the conflicted, glory-day embracing macho man. And speaking of cast, let’s look at the baddies the runners have to face:

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Professor Subzero, Buzzsaw, Dynamo, and Fireball. Does it get any cooler? Buzzsaw rides around on a motocycle while swinging various chainsaws around! And look how mysterious and badass Fireball looks. Plus, if you didn’t notice, Professor Subzero is played by ex-wrestler Professor Tanaka who played the butler in another great Schwarz flick, Last Action Hero. Dynamo is a bit of an oddball — played by real life opera singer Erland Van Lidth de Jeude (probably most well known for his scene as soft-spoken skinhead Grossberger in Stir Crazy), Dynamo isalso an operatic killer who uses electricity to off the runners. And Fireball! Played by the ultimate bad motherfucker, ex-footballer and blaxploitation mainstay, Jim Brown! A mustache-less Jim Brown, at that.

SET DESIGN

Look at any movie from the 70s or 80s that is supposed to be set in the future, and you get either one of two looks: a post-apocalyptic desert-like landscape where people wear bones as a fashion statement, or a vast cityscape full of big angular buildings that are shrouded in smog and neon. I love both of these approaches, but they always seem to be mutually exclusive. However, The Running Man combines the two with great effect! The stalkers, while still being futuristic in their design, are still just rough around the edges enough to evoke thoughts of Mad Max. And the layout of the killing floor is at times both metallic and galactic, but also somehow sparse and dusty. Additionally, the music was provided by Harold Faltermeyer, famous for his bouncing synth scores in movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Fletch, Top Gun, and Tango & Cash – and it compliments the visuals perfectly.

THE ONE-LINERS

Arnold Schwarzenegger is no stranger to delivering a face-slapping punny one-liner just seconds prior to snuffing a bad guy. But this movie is full of ‘em. He even lets the ladies have a little taste:

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At one point, he even delivers two puns after killing Fireball, as if one just wasn’t enough.

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Hell, he even says shit that doesn’t make sense but still feels as if he’s trying to be punny:

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And it wouldn’t feel complete without the inclusion of this bad boy:

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Pure Schwarzenegger.

Well there you have it, friends. If you like films like Logan’s Run, Mad Max, Death Race 2000, hell even The Hunger Games, you’ll probably dig this flick. I highly encourage you to check out The Running Man if you haven’t yet – and I also suggest giving it another look if it’s a been awhile since you last watched it!

Dr. Jose on “New Year’s Evil”

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I originally wrote and posted this article on the other site I contribute to, Nerd City. You can read the original article on Nerd City HERE.

Happy Holidays, gorehounds!

Welp, it’s the end of December – and the end of another year. As we wrap up this utter shitshow that was 2014, we should take a moment to reflect upon what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown over the last 365 days.

But since that sounds like a real snoozefest (not to mention, I’d prefer to forget everything that happened this past year), I’m going to take this time to reflect upon the New Year’s Eve-set gonzo slasher flick, “New Year’s Evil”. By my accounts, it’s the only horror film that explicitly uses New Year’s Eve as a plot device (rather than just ‘occuring’ during NYE). The most well-known horror flick to use New Year’s Eve as a backdrop is the fair-to-middlin’ “Terror Train”. But while that film had a pedigree like Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, David Copperfield, and Roger Spottiswoode to help sturdy its wobbly structure, “New Year’s Evil” had absolutely nothing to support its existence, unless you count Roz Kelly – known for playing Fonzie’s girlfriend “Pinky” Tusacdero – as ‘support’. And it probably didn’t do the movie any favors that it was written by a 64-year-old with no prior credits to his name – let alone any horror credits. Incidentally, both films came out in 1980, and neither were huge successes.

“New Year’s Evil” is slasher absurdity at its best; complete with overacting, a paper thin plot, and a twist you see coming within the first 5 minutes of the movie. To help illustrate just how goofy it, I took a bunch of screenshots – which I intend to walk you through now! So, without further ado.. New Year’s Evil!

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A Golan/Globus Production, so right off the bat you know this thing is gonna be all types of shitty. They were essentially ‘The Asylum’ of the ’80′s, churning out mid-to-low budget films that were cashing in on the genre trends at the time. Golan and Globus were behind most of the Chuck Norris movies of the 80′s, as well as “Hercules” (starring Lou Ferrigno), “The Barbarians” (starring the Barbarian Brothers!), and “Masters of the Universe”. Off to a great start.

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So the movie opens with a group of punk rockers driving down some Hollywood boulevard, as you do. And they’re screaming. You can tell by the caption. This goes on for literally 3 minutes. Also, I don’t know if you can see, but there’s 8 people, crammed into that droptop. And they’re drinking. And screaming; don’t forget the screaming. I guess the cops had the night off seeing as it was New Year’s Eve.

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After the long, screamy opening, we’re introduced to our protagonist, “Blaze”, who hosts a yearly New Year’s countdown show. She’s like an MTV VJ type, but far worse. We’ll get to that in a second.

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As Blaze is getting ready to host her countdown show, her fragile son shows up to announce he’s just landed a role in a new TV show! But mom doesn’t seem to care. So junior pouts and asks, “Where’s dad?”, to which Mama Blaze responds, “I don’t know – you know he’s not well…” And as the camera hangs ominously on her bleak expression, the director successfully gives away who our antagonist is going to be. Five minutes into the film! Congrats, must be some kinda record. Anyway, Blaze splits for her gig. And remember how I said she was an awful host? It’s because she says shit like this:

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What the shit is she talking about? No one talks like that. No one has ever said that grouping of words. Ever. I can assure you. “Spin out and boil your hair”? “Slam down and get even”? Oof.

Anyway, it should be noted that this live countdown show is also a call-in show, where callers can…y’know…call in. For what reason? I have no idea. There is a band playing, but they’re not taking requests. In fact, the first person who does call in randomly says “I really like that song ‘Don’t Need No Education’!”, (I’m assuming she was referring to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall pt. II”), but why did this girl call in to the show to announce that? Even Blaze is baffled and says, “Oh, just some hot gossip, huh?”, and HANGS UP. Great, a call-in show with no reason to call in. Anyway, surprise surprise, the next caller is our killer. He uses some sort of voice distortion, ala “Scream”. But it’s so laughably bad and not scary. It sounds like someone who had a laryngectomy. Like from those TRUTH commercials.

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See, even Blaze ain’t buying it. Eventually, our killer makes his grand announcement:

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Now, since this is a call-in show, I assume the calls are being fed through a loud speaker for the audience to hear. I know the calls are being aired on TV, because we see junior hear this call unfold while watching the tube from his apartment – so people at home definitely heard this call. Yet the crowd – the audience at the live taping – do not react to this announcement AT ALL. There are no gasps, no laughs, no cheering. NOTHING. The crowd just sort of mills about waiting for the band to play. Speaking of the band, please welcome to the stage…Shadow!:

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So this show is touted as a “new wave show” and Shadow is supposedly a new wave band. Yet the first song they play is 80′s metal, akin to Grim Reaper or Judas Priest. And then they play this sorta sexy bluesy song. Go figure. New wave was still finding its footing in 1980. Well then we cut to a loony bin, where the patients are watching the countdown show and dancing. And the nurses are laughing at the patients.

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So the killer – disguised as a doctor – breaks into this hospital. And he immediately starts hitting on a nurse. And within seconds, they’re making out:

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Told you. But then he kills her right as the East Coast countdown reaches zero:

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So with his promise fulfilled, he makes his way to a payphone to call up Blaze and announce the deed hath been done. And again, I just wanna point out what a goofy sonofbitch this guy is:

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Like, besides being only one of two people to have called in, you’re the only dude who’s called the show and address himself as “Evil” using some weird voice distorter. Why would you say, “Remember me?” How could they forget?

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So that’s junior, being a total nut. I promise I have not altered and shifted any of these screenshots to try and change the tone of the film or what actually happens. All of this insane silly bullshit happens.

So, our killer makes his next move. He plans to kill three women total (one for each timezone – clever!) He slaps on a fake mustache, goes to a disco, and uses this line to pick up his next victim:

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On what planet, in what dimension, would that pick-up line ever work? Anyway, shockingly, it DOES work. But the girl insists they bring her friend along. Mr. Suave hesitantly agrees. They stop at a convenience store and our killer sends the friend in to buy a bottle of champagne so that he can have some alone time with this poor, gullible gal.

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Why! Why would say that about your friend who you dragged along, especially while she’s in the store not able to defend herself? Also, it’s not like the friend asked, “Can we stop so I can go to the bathroom?”, so why in the world would you just randomly say that about her? I take it all back, this girl deserves to get whacked.

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See that giant, green nug in that bag? Yes, he actually suffocates her with a bag of pot. No joke. This movie is groundbreaking. (Note: more screaming.)

So after killing this chick – and her poor diarrhetic friend – he changes costumes once more. This time, he suits up as a priest. As he’s driving around, he crashes into some bikers.

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This plot point serves absolutely no purpose. He escapes to a drive-in theater (where the films playing on screen are better than this actual film), and hijacks a new car, and gets away. That’s it. No idea why the producers felt the need to include this utterly random scene. Also note the caption above says “fighting” despite the fact that it’s just some bikers biking through an alley. This shit is too heavy for me.

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Oh great. Hey, look everyone. It’s junior. Being a total crazy fuck, again. What the fuck is going on. He looks like he should be in Madness.

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I guess the killer is a cop now. He finally makes his way back to the studio where the live show is taking place (which also happens to be the same building where Blaze’s apartment is – convenient!)

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This Stan Laurel mask is by far the creepiest our killer has looked the entire film. He should’ve worn this the whole goddamn time. We should have never seen his face! Anyway, while in this garb, he abducts Blaze, who happens to be HIS WIFE! You had this figured out already, right? Like immediately? Good. So, our creeptastic killer takes her to an elevator and gets philosophical for a second:

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Great. You realize you’re a guy and you’ve been killing people, right? Killing innocent women, mind you. This movie is deep! This dude is one tortured cat!

So he ties her up to the elevator cables in the shaft, hoping that she’ll fall to her death or get crushed. But as she’s banging around in the shaft, the greatest line of the whole film is delivered by a completely random character:

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Just as I was about to give up on this film, some dude who looks like he got kicked out of Pure Hell pulls me back in. Okay, let’s wrap this baby up.

The cops bust into the building and save Blaze. They also track our killer to the roof. He stands perilously on the edge, and decides now is as good a time as any to quote some Hamlet:

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Okay, sure, why not. Then he jumps!

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Wheee!

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Oh, great. Look who it is. So, Junior, distraught over his father’s death (seriously, I hope you pieced that all together long, long ago), decides maybe he’ll drop the acting and get into dad’s line of work. So as Mama Blaze gets loaded into an ambulance, we see the driver…

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Hey! Wait a minute!

Notice all the people in the background, obviously witnessing that some deranged kid has put on a freaky mask, subdued the driver, and is now driving the ambulance himself. But are they gonna do anything to stop him? Hell no. Why should they! Now that I think about, it might be that same braindead, emotionless zombie crowd from earlier in the film! Hey, I think it is!

Well, that’s it friends. I hope you’re able to glean some important life lesson from my walk through of “New Year’s Evil”. Even if that lesson is as a simple as “wearing sunglasses over pink pantyhose is a bad look”.

Here’s to a (hopefully) diarrhea-free 2015!

Dr. Jose on “Terror Train”

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I originally wrote this review/article for Shit Movie Fest‘s “25 Days of Shitmas”. You can check out the original article on their site, here.

I think I was near 20 years old at the time. This is about a decade ago. I was taking the Amtrak from Chicago to go see my parents in Southern Illinois. The train was empty enough, and I was thankful for that. I sat alone; had both seats to myself. In the pair of seats in front me sat a young girl – probably 16 – and a guy maybe about my age. I couldn’t see their faces at the time, but I could hear them quietly bickering pretty much from the get go. You know, young love.

Night fell and I spent my time completely zoned out, headphones on, staring out into the absolute darkness that sped by. I don’t know how it caught my attention, but as I faced the window my focus shifted. Reflected by the glass, I could see the girl who sat in front of me. She was facing the window, staring directly back at my reflection, and she was mouthing the words, “Help me.”

I sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds before I fully processed what was really happening. It takes awhile when there’s no tense string score to punctuate how you should be reacting. When it hit me that this girl could actually be in real trouble, and that the guy she was with was possibly bad news, I went cold. I hate to use such a trite phrase, but it’s true: I felt an actual rush of icy numbness.

Seemingly by luck, the guy who was sitting with her got up right then and either went to the bathroom or to go get food. Regardless, it was just enough time for this girl to look over the back of her seat at me and start frantically spilling her story: she didn’t know who this guy was; he had snuggled up to her as soon as she got on the train; he was being too forward, too touchy, too aggressive; he was drunk; she was afraid. She didn’t know what to do.

Now, thinking on my toes has never necessarily been my greatest strong-point. I do best with a few hours, a couple beers, and a notepad. I could have said a million things to this girl, the easiest and most logical being, “Get a conductor”, or even just, “Move seats right now, sit next to me!” But under pressure for an immediate response — and yes, this whole story has been 100% true, including the next few lines — the first thing that came to my lips was: “Set him on fire?”

I’ll let the insanity of that bizarre suggestion set in for a second, but I won’t wait too long because this story somehow gets crazier, and quick. As if I’d just handed her a Christmas gift she had been begging 364 days for, this girl’s face lit up. Her eyes got big and her smile broadened. “Great idea!”, she enthused, without a single drop of sarcasm. Again, this all really did happen.

She plopped back down in her seat just as the mysterious aggressor returned, resuming his place saddled up next to her. I sat there, motionless, slack-jawed. Just as quickly as it had started, it was over – seemingly back to normal. And there was no one around who witnessed it, so I couldn’t actually be sure it really even happened. A part of me thought, “Is this it? Is this how these types of situations are handled in real life? Is everything okay now?” I must have accepted whatever conclusion came from my internal dialogue as an acceptable resolution, because I soon recommenced submerging myself in the vast darkness on the other side of my window.

But that’s when I heard it. The distinct “chk, chk” of a sparkwheel striking flint, from a lighter low on fluid. “Chk, chk”, again, only this time followed by a “Yeow! What the hell are you doing, you crazy bitch?” The creeper shot up from the seat in front of me, rubbing the side of his head. He continued mumbling to himself as he made his way down the row of seats, far away from the one he’d just been sitting in. I couldn’t believe the girl had taken my advice, but moreover I couldn’t believe it worked. But then again, if someone sitting next to me tried to set my head alight, I’d hightail it out of there, too.

Like a gopher, the girl popped back up, still grinning: “That was so awesome!” I asked if she was okay, she said she was, that it was just some unwarranted attention from a tipsy stranger. Before I could ask anything else, she spoke again, but in a weirder, more hushed voice: “You know, I think I’ve seen you before…” That icy, uneasy feeling I spoke of earlier? It returned in waves. I had no idea who this girl was, I had never seen her in my life. I smiled and shrugged. I asked where she lived.

“Oh, I live at Brookside. Have you heard of it?” I had heard of it. As I was aware of it, it was a boarding school where troubled kids were sent. And it was just a couple blocks away from my parents house. On the same street. I suddenly realized that there was a real chance this girl had seen me before, and that creeped me out even more. She was still smiling, her eyes wide and fixed. She asked how long I was going to be in town for. “Maybe we could hang out…” Her voice was soft and terrifying. I still hadn’t said anything in a few minutes, mostly because I was still reeling from how this whole thing had unfolded. I felt broadsided. I was sucked into a situation and thought I had helped, but now I just felt like the second fly on a spider’s web.

“I…I…”, was all I could manage. I probably sounded like a pirate.

“What’s your phone number?”, she pressed. Still smiling, eyes black and burning.

I blurted out ten random numbers. It was the first smart move I had made this whole time. She wrote them down on a piece of paper, which she tore a chunk from and handed to me. Her number was written down.

“Call me.”

I looked behind me down the long row of seats for the unaccounted shady dude from earlier. I wondered if he had unwittingly been made the pawn in a game of loony lust, and if I had been the intended target the whole time. I felt weird, tense, confused. I turned back to the blackness outside and I looked out as far as I possibly could.

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Terror Train is actually a lot like this anecdote, and not just because of its locomotive setting. It’s long – much longer than it needs to be – but the big reveal at the end is just satisfying enough to make it all worth it. Would you want to hear it again? No, of course not. But the first ride’s pretty fun.

The first time I saw Terror Train, I was honestly pretty blown away. Even if it was just to cash in on the burgeoning slasher craze at the time, it has a clever enough concept and a reveal at the end that’ll leave you braided as a pretzel. I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you’ve never seen it, because the less you know the better.

A graduating class of med students board a train on New Year’s Eve to celebrate their success, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s a costume party! As a mysterious killer makes their way through the iron horse, they take the costume of each successive victim, making the killer harder to track. It’s a fun flick – and the only film magician David Copperfield has had a starring role in – but repeated viewings will definitely make the holes in the plot more apparent. Still, I consider it to be a top contender to all of its early-80’s slasher ilk, and I’m surprised it doesn’t get more recognition – because it should.

Well, that’s all my prattling for now. Go watch Terror Train.

This has been Dr. Jose, saying: Happy Holidays, Hail Satan, and Cowabunga.