Alien Game

Happy Alien Day! Let’s Play The 1979 Alien Game!

You might remember earlier this year when I shared my discovery of the 1979 Alien Game by Kenner. I was quite surprised to learn of course that a board game had been published for Ridley Scott’s cinematic masterpiece. I would remind you that Alien is certainly a horror movie after all. In addition to the hard R rating the film received and for good reason!

Having said that I will point out that the late seventies and early eighties were a different era. Naturally. So I’m guessing that Kenner was attempting to reach out to those very kids that couldn’t see the movie. They did produce more than a few pieces of merchandising after all, right?

Check out the 1979 “Alien Attack” movie viewer!

Besides a terrifying 18-inch Xenomorph figure and the film viewer, it was the 1979 Alien game that most interested me. As I have written about on more than a few occasions I consider myself a pretty big fan of board games. It so happened that my co-worker at the Arkadia Retrocade saw my post and found a very affordable copy online. She surprised me with it at the arcade one evening and some of us stayed after work to play the Alien Game.

Furthermore I was delighted to learn that the game hadn’t been used before. Chiefly the player pieces for the Xenomorph and Nostromo crew hadn’t even been punched out.
Alien Game

I will admit to a small feeling of regret at having to alter what was pristine for 38 years. On the other hand the Alien Game was naturally meant to be played and enjoyed. At the very least it is now in the hands of those who will appreciate it the most.

As for the rules of the Alien Game, players attempt to get a single member of their crew from the Nostromo to the escape shuttle. All the while attempting to thwart their fellow players with their personal Xenomorph.
Alien Game

After choosing a colored starting area that matches the color of your playing pieces, you must travel clockwise around the board. I chose LV-426 or Acheron as my starting location, which is of course how April 26th was chosen as the date for Alien Day!

The Xenomorph also travels through the corridors of the doomed Nostromo. In addition to being able to pop up across the board by way of using the air shafts dotted across the board. Which I will point out that I used to great effect on one of my co-worker’s astronauts!

Consequently in the next turn she turned around and used it to greater effect on two of my three crew members. I know that Alien famously said that “In space no one can hear you scream“. I can you assure however that everyone could hear my screams of despair at the arcade.

There are a few safe spots for players to park their astronauts where the Xenomorph cannot reach you. Bear in mind that you can do nothing against the Alien itself besides running and hiding. From our few rounds of the Alien Game we found that it is one of the most tense board games we can remember playing.

In any event there can be only one winner in the game. While all of us playing managed to get within reach of the escape shuttle, it was the owner of the game that won. She even added the mental image of waving to us as she blasted off to safety.

I supposed I can take some small amount of comfort with this thought. Perhaps those of us left behind were spared the deadly kiss of the Xenomorph…when the Nostromo exploded. So if you get the opportunity I highly recommend you track down a copy of the Alien Game for yourself. I truly found this to be one of the best designed board games I’ve played in quite some time.

So if you cannot get your hands on the Alien Game why not celebrate Alien Day a simpler way?


Obviously I would suggest you spend it watching Alien or perhaps Aliens? In fact, why not take a moment and listen to Ridley Scott talking about directing the 1979 movie?

[Via] Film4

Space Invaders

Celebrate Atari Day With Space Invaders!

Being the 26th of the month once again it is time to celebrate Atari Day. There is so very much to love and celebrate as well when talking about Atari of course. Although as usual I am focusing on a particular game for the Atari 2600. A port of the massively popular as well as legendary Space Invaders from 1978!
Space Invaders - Flyer

When Tomohiro Nishikado set out to create Space Invaders I certainly doubt he realized how popular it would become. In Japan there were arcades that offered nothing but the “fixed shooter”. Just rows and rows of Space Invaders for gamers to spend their money on. As a matter of fact it’s been reported that by the end of 1978, Taito, who produced the game had manufactured over 100,000 arcade cabinets.
Space Invaders

To say nothing of the amount of money that the success ofSpace Invaders earned for the company. I ask you, how does 600 million dollars sound? Having said that, bear in mind that was only for Japan in its first year alone.

Now as you might imagine when Atari announced they were going to be producing a home port for their Atari 2600. It was kind of a big deal. Not only did it mark the first arcade title to be licensed for home use. It smashed sales records for the 2600 as well. Steven L. Kent’s 2001 book The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon has in fact said that it helped to quadruple the sales of the Atari 2600.

Were you aware the Atari 2600 port was part of the How To Beat Video Games Series?

Which leads us to why in particular Atari made sure to mention their home version of Space Invaders in print. As much as possible. As well as producing rather charming television ads like in the case of the one below entitled Uncle Frank.

[Via] Dig That Box RETRO

Far smarter people than myself have pointed out that the Space Invader themselves have become almost an iconic symbol. Representative of video games itself – more well known than even the likes of Mario!

Listen to Uncle Vic’s hit novelty song inspired by Space Invaders!

Now the great news is you can easily join the Atari Day celebration and play Space Invaders right this second.


By and large it’s available online in one form or another, I would recommend the online services of the Internet Archive.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

Sky

Sky is the limit

The 1970s were a bold time for children’s TV in the UK. A generation of writers weaned on the weirdness of Doctor Who were coming into their own, proposing original projects that had some of that show’s sci-fi and fantasy DNA…mixed into a frothy brew with a bit of local legend and superstition and sinister tales. Shows like Children Of The Stones and The Tomorrow People were becoming the norm. And shows like Sky.

Created by writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who had already written for Doctor Who earlier in the decade and would continue to do so well into the late ‘70s, Sky is a bizarre supernatural tale of natural forces personified and anthropomorphized. In the opening moments of episode one, a gaunt, pale boy appears out of thin air in a forest, and immediately seems to be under attack by the surrounding foliage. (Let’s take a moment here to appreciate young star Marc Harrison’s enormous patience in allowing the crew to throw buckets of leaves on him for these scenes throughout the series.)
Sky

Three youths, who have grown tired of watching their adult relatives duck hunting, find the boy, who is quickly named Sky, since they assume that’s where he came from. But it’s a bit more complicated than that: Sky Is from Earth’s possible future, and he has powers beyond those of mere mortals. But there are vast powers ranged against Sky as well: like the immune system of a body under attack by disease, Earth itself is rejecting this out-of-time, out-of-place visitor, manifesting as a bearded, sinister man known only as Goodchild. He stalks Sky throughout the show’s seven episodes, intent on wiping him from the face of the Earth and restoring the natural balance of things.

Actor Marc Harrison is the best young actor that the show’s makers could have found to play Sky. Thin and pale, and wearing scleral shells that no only make his eyes look huge but are frequently used as part of the show’s somewhat meager special effects, Harrison is more Bowie-esque than Bowie: if the rock star had adopted his Thin White Duke persona in his teens, one imagines this is what he would have looked like.

His youthful co-stars include Richard Speight, who played kid-from-the-future “Peter” on Sky’s ITV stablemate, The Tomorrow People. In one episode, you can even catch a glimpse of David Jackson, a few years before he became strongman Gan on the BBC space opera Blake’s 7, as an affable policeman who isn’t quite buying what he’s being told about sinister supernatural forces on the march.

Adding to the considerable atmosphere of the show is the spooky music. There isn’t a lot of it – maybe all of five minutes of music was created, repeating throughout all seven episodes – but it’s full of foreboding atmosphere that does a lot to set the stage.

[Via] Weird Network

Sky is available as a region 2/PAL DVD, but…there’s a problem. Let’s talk about the British broadcasters and their tendency to lose tapes and entire shows. At the time that this show was made, two-inch open reel videotape was the industry standard…but it was also expensive and took up a lot of space, at least as much as reels of film. In 1975, there was no afterlife for television shows – home video recorders were an incredibly expensive rarity – and once they were shown once or twice, it was customary to wipe and reuse the tape.

As it happens, the original 2” master tapes for Sky still existed through the 1990s…but two of them were fatally damaged in storage. Episodes two and seven on the DVD are represented by VHS backup recordings of those masters, the quality being noticeably lower than the other episodes…but again, when there are classic UK series missing episodes or even whole seasons, the alternative would be a show lost to time. It’s better than nothing.

[Via] Lee Wells

Sky is an acquired taste – it takes a little while before the show tips its hand as to what it’s really about – and it reflects the theme of many a ‘70s show from that era, questioning whether or not human technology is outracing human wisdom…and trying to find a way to play that struggle out dramatically.

Pamela Voorhees

Saturday Frights: Pamela Voorhees Is Doin’ It The Best She Can

Pamela Voorhees. The name should conjure up images of a distraught but loving Mother. In addition to a grisly drive for punishment against Camp Crystal Lake as well as its counselors. And while I certainly admit that she perhaps crossed the line, I must say there is part of me that feels sorry for Pamela.
Pamela Voorhees

Of course I should add that I also feared the likes of Pamela Voorhees. Which is certainly one of the reasons I avoided heading to summer camp. Ever. Not to mention worries of the types of wildlife one might bump into while attending camp. Like snakes…and eels.

By all means I was a strange and lonely child. Having said all of that however it is a fact that Pamela Voorhees is an icon of horror. You don’t have to just take my word for it however. I’m willing to bet that friend to The Retroist and myself, the talented Travis Falligant would back up my statement. I would direct you to take a look at his Halloween coloring contest page featuring none other than Pamela from 2016.

Pamela Voorhees - Travis Falligant

Image courtesy of IBTrav.

It was Travis in fact that was kind enough to share this humorous video the other day. Combining the theme song from the 1988 hit TV show Just the Ten of Us with the…antics…of Mrs. Voorhees. Perhaps an alternate world’s intro to a different Friday the 13th television show?

I would warn that if you’ve not seen 1980’s Friday the 13th for yourself. Everything in the video below is a SPOILER!

[Via] Just the Ten of Us

A big thanks once again to Travis for the heads up on this video.

Read: Check out some of Travis’ work we’ve featured on the site!

Now that you’ve seen what a Pamela Voorhees sitcom might look like. How about checking out this commercial for the series premier of Just the Ten of Us?


I bet you Saturday Frights fans might find this interesting. Three of the daughters from Just the Ten of Us made appearances in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series!

[Via] TV Repeater

Don Rickles

Rest In Peace: Don Rickles (1926 – 2017)

Don Rickles was a legendary entertainer. Furthermore he earned that title through his years of incredibly cutting humor. As well as receiving the moniker of ‘Mr. Warmth’, which was bestowed on him by Johnny Carson in fact. Don Rickles owed his big break in TV thanks to Carson, not that you would see him acting thankful. No, I would add that it caused him to lean in with the insults even more. To say nothing of taking shots at his special guests, like Frank Sinatra.

[Via] Johnny Carson

I think it is quite important to understand that Don Rickles never actually meant what he said. It was all part of the act. Beyond a life of stand up comedy, Rickles of course worked in film and television. Appearing in everything from The Twilight Zone to Innocent Blood. While he might have best been known in his later years as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story animated films and shorts. I remember the very first time I was introduced to him, thanks to a showing at the 62 Drive-In. It was in 1970’s Kelly’s Heroes as the sarcastic supply Sgt. Crapgame!

[Via] Movieclips Trailer Vault

I feel that if you really want to see Don Rickles at the top of his game however. You need only take a look at his appearances on the popular The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. For example, I think you will enjoy how he handles the then Governor Ronald Regan.

[Via] John W. Hardin

On the other hand, Don Rickles was also known to momentarily go after his fellow roasters, temporarily letting the roastee off the hook. Remember I did say temporarily as is proven in this clip from the roast for Jerry Lewis.

[Via] Farmer Jon

The world is a bit sadder for the loss of Don Rickles, friends. Of course we hockey pucks have a silver lining. And that is Rickles certainly has left us with an impressive legacy. 62 years of solid performances and laughs.
Don Rickles

One of my favorite TV appearances by Don Rickles was his role in the Tales from the Crypt episode entitled The Ventriloquist’s Dummy. The perfect blend of horror as well as humor.