Have You Seen the ACTUAL Version of “The Devil’s Gift”?

Spoiler Alert: “The Devil’s Gift” is terrible regardless of the version.

But first, on a semi-related note…

It’s my BIRTHDAY!!!!

I’ll give you all the pertinents:

  1. I’m thirty-five.
  2. I’m aware I don’t look it.
  3. This post is relevant to birthdays.

All of that said…

The Devil’s Gift…Is A Hell Of A Birthday Present!

Let’s face it, we all get that one gift we don’t like. We suck it up and thank the giver for their efforts…then focus our time and undivided attention on something else. I’ve never had that experience (honest!), as rumor has it I’m easy to shop for.

However…

Someone needs to tell the kid in this movie that he should have played with his other birthday gifts. Because this movie would have been over faster!

The Devil’s Gift is a 1984 feature film directed by Kenneth J. Berton, he of the stinker Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders, which is only watchable with riffing and Ernest Borgnine.

For me, that’s probably because my Uncle Sam looked just like him. This is actually Borgnine, not my Uncle Sam.

The Devil’s Gift is infamously known in its heavily-edited, child-friendly form (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000), and until recently, this was the only version I knew about. I figured, “oh, it’s a short film and it was needed to pad out the runtime of this longer film.” It was version I saw as a sixteen-year-old MSTie in 1999, and several times years later.

Nope.

…and the DVD cover that makes me scream B.S.!

The Devil’s Gift is an actual living, breathing representation of what a truly terrible movie one can make (that doesn’t involve Tommy Wiseau), and how it can absolutely feel disjointed even without heavy editing. Again, not involving Tommy Wiseau.

The original version is darker and more “violent,” but just as cheap, ugly, poorly-plotted and clunky as the version seen on MST3K.

Again, I’m absolutely certain Tommy Wiseau’s name does not appear anywhere in the credits.

Oh, the “Plot…”

Michael Andrews receives a cymbal-banging monkey as a birthday present, purchased by his father David’s girlfriend, Susan. The toy monkey was found among the ruins of a burned-down house, untouched by the damage surrounding it, and brought to an antiques shop, where Susan later decides this monkey is a Great Gift Idea.

And that’s where the fun begins!

*Cymbals Banging*

Each time the monkey bangs his cymbals of his own accord (the first clue this “toy” could not possibly be safe to play with), something happens. And by “something,” I mean death. Houseplants, the family dog, a housefly. And if it isn’t death, it is near-misses involving Michael: a near hit-and-run, attempting smothering, and attempted drowning. The monkey wants this kid dead, and two out of three times, it wants Susan to be the killer. The other time, it wants a car to kill him.

This is a terrible, horrible, ugly, schlock-filled, low-rent film that tries to be horror/thriller, and comes up comedy/Not Thriller. And the ending…let’s just say Merlin doesn’t arrive to retrieve his monkey.

The plot of the film is similar to Stephen King’s short story The Monkey, which is obviously an insult to King’s genius, since this movie is far from the caliber of Stephen King’s genius (it is alleged that the movie is plagiarized from that story). I’ve used “clunky,” “ugly,” “cheap,” and “poorly-plotted” to describe this movie, all of which is accurate. The acting is ugly, the people are ugly, the general look of the film is ugly, and I swear that 1970s couch every grandparent had is prominent in this house. I recall laughing at the riff “Hello, 1970s house” hysterically as a teenager, acting like I totally got why it was so funny.  As an adult, I get the joke…this is a 1970s house. This is 1976 trying to masquerade as 1984.

The runner up for laughs? This scene with riffing…

Upload via WhiteBimboMan

If the guys from RiffTrax ever get their hands on it, I will be proudly claim firsties forking over the cost to see it in the theater. I have no shame.

The Devil’s Gift

Behold, the gift you don’t want, in its original form, complete with home video logos and trailers at the end.

For me, the real “gift” is that it is the 1985 Vestron Video print, complete with that screeching logo.

Anyway, celebrate my birthday with me over a movie about a possessed toy, and that toy’s determination to kill. It’s a helluva gift that you might just say the devil had something to do with…

Admit it, you giggled a little.

Anyway, here’s the ugly truth of a film…

Upload via m1lkm4n

But, if you prefer the equally awkward, heavily edited, family-friendly B-story of a Z-grade film, then by all means, watch the original, if only for Ernest Borgnine.

Come for the laughs, stay for the Borgnine!

Do You Remember The Proposed 1984 “My Little Pony” Pilot?

I remember a whole other time in the world of My Little Pony.  It was pre-brony, but just as colorful and cheesy.

Didn’t They Make This My Little Pony Movie Already?

So there’s this movie out this weekend, you’ve probably seen at least one movie poster for it on your way to the bathroom in your local movie theater…

*Snort* I wish.

It’s more like this…

If you type in the exact title My Little Pony: The Movie, you’re going to see two very different posters.  And depending what era MLP you like, you’ll likely react with nostalgic awe toward one, and revulsion toward the other.

Can you imagine that dividing line, moms versus their daughters?

Just Like Her Aunt…

I have a 2 1/2 year old niece.  Right now, she’s not watching My Little Pony in any way, shape, or form, but she has a sippy cup (courtesy of my mom), a MLP figure (also courtesy of my mom), a Ty Beanie Plushie (courtesy of me), and a t-shirt (again, courtesy of me).  The sippy cup was kept at my parents’ house, and my niece loved it so much, she took it home.  My sister-in-law told my mom on the phone a week later that all my niece wanted to drink from was her “pony cup” and she would yell “PONY CUP!  PONY CUP!” constantly.  Kid loves that cup.

Of course, I loved my cup when I was three years old, but mine had a spinning pony attached to the straw! I’ve tried to find pictures of that cup, to no avail.

Me with my brother (my niece’s daddy) at four years old (1986). That’s also the same year I started watching and collecting My Little Pony stuff.

I have my doubts that my niece will see the current (and same titled) My Little Pony: The Movie right now, but when I was slightly older than her, I saw the original 1986 movie, albeit not in the movie theater.  I know I liked it at the time, but time has made it look kinda cheesy, and well, the Cinema Snob made it look downright terrible.  I’m sure in 30 years, this new release will look just as bad.  And of course, the 1986 version will flat out look ancient.

In the Beginning…There Were Ponies!

35 years ago, My Little Pony took the toy world by storm, and it was only a matter of time before the toys became primetime specials, a movie, and then two TV series during Generation 1 (I should note that the original TV series actually came after the movie).  The toy series has gone through several generations’ worth of changes from that point to now, and my mom decided to tell me in a store that the newer generation (G4) is much cuter than the ones I played with 30 years ago (G1). I always knew that she believed they were ugly, but to say these new ones are cute…um, no.

Over on You Tube, I was looking (like my search for the cup, completely to no avail) for the 1984 special which was pre-movie and pre-orginal series, and I came across a promo for it (which was the proposed pilot)..including the special.  And as you know with anything nostalgia, I’m in my glory.

My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle Promo

This obvious end-of-another-video trailer is for the 1984 primetime special known as “Rescue from Midnight Castle,” and omits the scary part where the ponies get turned into dragons.  Good lord, that scared me when I was little!

If you need something to compare it to, I recommend that scene in The Care Bears In the Land Without Feelings where Professor Coldheart turns the little boy, Kevin, into one of his green servants.  That’s just scary now because the animation is terrible, but the dragons in this special are well-animated and terrifying.

This looks like a marketing trailer for retailers, based on the narration.  In fact, on a Vestron/Children’s Video Library video, this trailer and Rainbow Brite: Peril in the Pits (that show’s pilot) come complete with prices should you want to buy it…

Seriously?!  It’s not like Vestron was this amazing film company. People were buying these for their children – do you know how many kids watched videos until the tape eventually broke?  $29.95 USD in 1986 equals…$66.16 today.

WHAT?!

And don’t get me started on the Canadian price!

Now I understand why I didn’t own any videos that weren’t destined to become timeless classics.  Because this price!

Anyway…

My Little Specifics

Marvel (yes, THAT Marvel), Hasbro, Sunbow, and Toei produced the special, with Claster Television distributing it. The pilot originally aired on April 14, 1984, and was followed by “Escape from Catrina.” The feature film opened in theaters in the spring of 1986, was a box office disappointment, and combined with the disappointing box office returns on Transformers: The Movie (why, I have no idea), resulted in a proposed Jem movie’s cancellation, and GI Joe: The Movie releasing direct-to-video in 1987.

But don’t weep for the ponies! They had another chance when they got their own series! My Little Pony ‘n Friends. The “friends” were a B-side cartoon featuring either GloFriends, MoonDreamers, or Mr. Potato Head, his wife, and their children (the cartoon centered around the Potato Head Kids). The series ran in first-run syndication on weekdays from September 15, 1986 until September 23, 1987, spanning two seasons and 65 episodes. The GloFriends had 27 segments, Potato Head Kids 23 segments, and the MoonDreamers had 16 segments.

Fun fact: The first ten episodes of that series, “The End of Flutter Valley,” (airing September 15-26, 1986) served as the sequel of sorts to the feature film.

Of course, something had to come first, and after quite the search, I found the original special in its entirety!

I also made this. Because I can. :-)

Reaction

Um…

That’s just as freaky as I remember. And the songs are terrible! I remember this plot like I just saw it (especially that Sea Ponies song, which sounds like a commercial jingle), and it has been at least 9-10 years since I’ve seen it on You Tube. Like everything else we loved growing up, this hasn’t aged well in terms of the actual dialogue, but the animation is pretty.

I remember in the original cut, an overly excited voiceover informs us that Sandy Duncan and Tony Randall are the stars of this show! And no, they didn’t make it to the actual TV series, though Randall did play the Moochick in the feature film. As an adult, this feels dark.

And Tirek the Centaur…*shudder*. As for Scorpan, you could feel his humanity trying to surface when he helps Megan and the ponies escape Tirek’s Rainbow of Darkness. And if you can last until the end, you’ll understand why.

As a plot, it works, but the uncut version is the better version. For some reason, the cut version that aired within the TV series feels disjointed when split up. Plus, one of those terrible songs was part of that cut. I hate to say it, but if that was the reason it felt disjointed, then maybe it was worth it?

And of course, there’s a happy ending. Because why not? Tirek is destroyed, his dragons are once again the innocent creatures they originally were…and Ember is allergic to butterflies. And giggling…lots of giggling to go around.

Oh, and bonus points if you remember which of the ponies you had.

Ten extra bonus points if you had the Megan and Baby Spike dolls (I did!).

Of course, if you’d like to see the special, you can! Just click play below!

My Little Pony: Rescue At Midnight Castle

From Daily Motion, Upload via Ponyrokkusu Pony

 

My Little Pony, My Little Pony…Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye

I have no doubt in my mind that today’s kids will have no clue there was originally a My Little Pony movie some ancient time 31 years ago, or how the whole animated world began with a pilot episode involving turning ponies into dragons. They were dark times indeed.

Do me a favor. If a little MLP-loving kid really needs to be shown the dark side of the Ponies, show them this special. If they question it, tell them this is all we had in the Dark Ages.

Get it? Dark cartoons, dark ages?

It sounded funnier in my head.

Let’s Play 1984’s The Temple Of Doom Board Game!

By the time that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom hit theaters back on May 23, 1984. I was impatiently counting the days up until it’s release. When my Father and I finally had the chance to see it, I was all set to join Indiana Jones again and brave that Temple of Doom.

Film Trailers

Of course it helped that television ads were all over the place. It must be remembered as well that Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of took everyone by surprise in 1981. It seemed like the studio was truly doing its best to get the word out about Temple of Doom.

Having said that I must admit that I do not ever recall seeing the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom board game back in the day. Thankfully this matter was corrected when the Arkadia Retrocade received a copy of it a few months back.

Joining me for this special event was none other than my fellow author on The Retroist, PLCary.

I must point out the nice design of the Temple of Doom board itself.
Temple of Doom

Each Player also receives a little board that connects to the main board – which features exciting moments from the film as well. Such as the plane crash, waterfall, the palace and of course Club Obi Wan!

After a go with the spinner, a Player must travel the full number of steps. At the very beginning you must choose to take the shorter path which is more dangerous. Or the longer path giving you more opportunities to avoid landing on a danger – sending you back precious steps or even to the beginning.

Dotted across the board are symbols featuring both Indy’s hat and whip and the visage of Mola Ram. When landing on these symbols a Player spins the spinner – if it matches the symbol you have landed upon, two outcomes take place. A match of symbols while on Indy’s hat means a Player can move a piece up to 3 spaces. Where as if you match while on Mola Ram’s symbol – you lose your next turn…probably trying to avoid having your heart ripped out.

Another key point is that a Player isn’t allowed to jump over another of their pieces. Which means there are moments in fact during the game where you are stuck. An opposing Player is allowed to land on your piece – placing your piece where they just were. An act by and large that can become beneficial in certain cases, especially when you enter the temple itself.
Temple of Doom

After navigating the treacherous temple, avoiding the sulfurous pitfalls. By foot or using the stairwells as shortcuts, you begin to move Indy, Willie, and Short Round to the appropriate colored mine carts. A Player must get all three of their playing pieces on the cart before they can race for the finish line.

In our game, while PLCary pulled ahead at the beginning – I made it through the mines first. But on the negative side you need an exact number to cross the rope bridge and win the game. All three of your pieces must have crossed before you can claim victory.

I was getting bad spins and PLCary easily caught up with me. It was a battle across the rope bridge but in the end I lucked out and managed to get all of my pieces across first.

Which in the spirit of Temple of Doom meant I of course paused to cut the rope bridge.


Generally speaking board games based on 1980’s franchises were something of a crapshoot. I can say though that the Temple of Doom game was exceptionally fun. If you can get your hands on it – it is most worth adding to your collection.

1984 PAAS Halloween Make-Up Kits Commercial

Halloween make-up kits were rarely used in my youth. While they might have been safer – at least in terms of no costume to get tangled up in. They couldn’t compare to the majesty of dressing up as Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and Stormtroopers.
darth-vader-boba-fett-stormtrooper-halloween-costumes

I might also add that the lure to play the hero was incredibly strong during Halloween. How could a kid resist donning the garb of Superman, Wonder Woman, or even Batman?
batman-halloween-costume

At the same time there was definitely one year at least where Halloween make-up kits reigned supreme. These were the very same make-up kits that PAAS was advertising on television in 1984. I was twelve and found myself attending church related “Fall” events. After all we were not supposed to be celebrating Halloween, right?

Of course that didn’t stop a parade of Werewolves…
paas-halloween-make-up-kits-werewolf

Vampyr…
vampire-paas-halloween-make-up-kits

And even restless spirits traipsing up and down the halls filling our sacks with delicious loot.
ghost-paas-make-up-kits

Now is just so happened to be that I was invited to three different celebrations that year. Two at churches and one at school. None of them being held on Halloween itself of course. The PAAS Halloween make-up kits were available at our local grocery store and quite cheap. In the light of this discovery I was able to wear three of the four kits in this 1984 commercial!

[Via] The Creepy TarHeel

I was a veritable Lon Chaney Sr. as I proudly became a Vampire one night, Werewolf the next, and finally a Ghost! Although I have absolutely no fear of clowns they’ve never been my thing.

Halloween make-up kits had their downsides!


Now I will not argue that the make-up kits definitely made it easier to see, with no mask to obstruct your vision. But to be honest they had some problems too:

  • The chemical smell really messed with my eyes – I’m not sure if I was allergic or what. They would just start to water if a breeze or AC was blowing in my face.
  • The face paint was easy to smear and you had to be careful to make sure that obviously nothing touched your face.
  • The plastic teeth would shred your gums – to be fair this had equally the same result with any plastic teeth back in the day.

Be that as it may, the memories of those three Halloween events remain very vivid. All thanks to the PAAS Halloween make-up kits!

Dungeons and Dragons Figures

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Last year I wrote a short article about some Dungeons and Dragons figures I found at a local toy store. Although when I wrote the article I hadn’t purchased them, I went back shortly and did just that.

Since then I’ve added four more figures to my collection: Strongheart the Paladin, Elkhorn the Dwarf, Warduke the Fighter, and Zarak the Evil-Half Orc Assassin.

Dungeons and Dragons figures (excluding the miniatures) were released in two series and two sizes: the traditional 3 3/4″ scale and a larger, 5″ size. Some of the figures were released in both series and in both sizes, making collecting all of them a bit confusing. This page over at the Toy Archive does a pretty good job of identifying them all by series and size.

Here’s a great video that shows off most of the figures. (It starts off a bit dramatic and gets to the figures about a minute in.) Man, if nothing else, I’ve got to get one of those rotating displays.