Saturday Frights: Ray Bradbury Theater – “The Playground” (1985)

Saturday Frights - Sean Hartter
Welcome back you fright friends to another installment of Saturday Frights! Tonight we are sharing an episode of the Ray Bradbury Theater entitled “The Playground”, a chilling thriller starring William Shatner. I want to thank our very own Doug McCoy for the suggestion of this episode by way of his awesome Found Footage Films Podcast. His latest podcast deals with the many wonderful TV anthology shows we were lucky enough to have back in the 80s like Tales From The Darkside, Twilight Zone, Tales From The Crypt, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Amazing Stories, and of course the Ray Bradbury Theater to name a few. In the podcast Doug is joined by Claymation Werewolf and Phishbon3s to discuss their favorite episodes of some of the mentioned series including this very episode we present tonight.

The story deals with Charles Underhill (Shatner) who lives in a suburb with his young son Steve (Keith Dutson), but he does not allow Steve to play in the nearby playground with other children. Charles has a childhood trauma with the bully Ralph and his friends, and he frequently sees his nightmarish spectre challenging him, until the day he decides to go to the playground with Steve and face them down. What price might he have to pay to stand up to Ralph?

[Via] Vondur

Thanks as always to Sean Hartter for the awesome artwork you see up top.

Retro Radio Memories: Lights Out – The Dark (1937)

A big thanks to the Retroist’s very own Claymation Werewolf as well as Dan Killershrew over at the Retroist Facebook Page for the wonderful suggestion for this week’s Retro Radio Memories.

For this installment we present “The Dark”, a very highly regarded episode of the classic Lights Out radio program that ran from 1937 until 1947 across various radio networks until it made the jump to television.

In 1933 NBC writer Wyllis Cooper conceived the idea for what would become Lights Out, he envisioned “a midnight mystery serial to catch the attention of the listeners at the witching hour.” though the serial aspect was changed so that it became an anthology series.

The Dark debuted on Lights Out on December 29, 1937 and concerns a Police Officer named Sam and a Doctor that are called in to investigate a report of someone being hurt at a dilapidated old house on a country road.

What a perfect time for all of us to let our thoughts turn to dark fancies as we celebrate with a month long salute to Halloween. Now sit back in your favorite chair and gather the family around and let yourself be taken back to a simpler time and be sure to turn all of the Lights Out!

[Via] Silver Demon 456

I originally had an upload on SoundCloud but I got hit with a copyright issue in their system, so this YouTube audio will have to suffice this week.

Do You Remember The California Raisins NES Game?

Well if you don’t recall the California Raisins: The Grape Escape you shouldn’t feel too bad because it was never released to the general public. Capcom produced the NES title back in 1990, four years after the Vinton Studios got the ball rolling thanks to their wonderful claymation work for the California Raisin Advisory Board commercials.

The California Raisins: The Grape Escape had been reviewed by game critics and advertised in the Capcom games of the time as coming soon. It has been assumed that the waning popularity of the Raisins in 1990 caused Capcom to pull the plug on the title, but obviously Roms are floating around the internet and you must consider yourself lucky if you get your hands on one of the rare NES carts.

The storyline of the game sounds like it might have some ties to the Meet the Raisins special, that our own Claymation Werewolf spotlighted yesterday. It seems you took on the role of a California Raisin in a side-scrolling platformer where you tried to rescue members of your band and get their instruments back from the fruits and vegetable characters that stole it. I wondered if the band responsible for this was Lick Broccoli and the Herbicides but watching this video on YouTube it says the Wild Bunch are the culprits responsible.

[Via] MegaScorcher TV’s YouTube Channel

RoboCop: The Animated Series – The Full Moon Review!

**One monster’s continuing mission to explore strange new (old) cartoons. Shows he has never seen! Watched in small segments and reviewed immediately. No research! No rewinds! No shame! Join me as I embarrass myself for your reading pleasure. This is Full Moon Reviews!**

My earliest memories of Robocop were probably the same as everyone else’s…the movie. It fit the mold of pretty much all of the other blockbuster 80’s action movies in that it was as weird as it was bloody. I remember that I really liked Robocop…I wasn’t crazy into the movie or looking for merchandise or anything, I just liked it. In fact, I don’t actually even remember any merchandise for the film though I would be willing to bet that a lot of my fellow retro fans could easily prove me wrong.

Though I didn’t have any Robocop sheets or toys myself, “Robocop Fever” must have been spreading through my fellow kids like wildfire. So much so that someone decided that the nation needed a Robocop cartoon! It must have been interesting to be a writer given the task of adapting the hyper-violent story of an undead cyborg cop in his gritty and gory war against the vicious Red Foreman in dystopian Detroit. It must not have been a huge success since I’ve seen bootleg DVD’s at a couple of comic conventions.

Seeing those DVDs is the single only experience I have ever had with the cartoon. I’ve not seen a single episode. I will also not look up any information in this review, so if after the first segment I predict something like “I bet Robocop dies at the end” and he actually ends up going bowling… you’ll know why.

Ladies and Gentleman! Robocop: the Animated Series: Episode 11

Wow. Part one was some pretty exciting stuff! All the normal police apparently still hate Robocop. The bad guys are pretty laughable; we’ve got a crazy scientist who has built a new stop-motion robot thing to kill Robocop (I think he might actually be the Red Foreman character) and an even eviler bad guy who bullies him and steals the robot, with the help of a ridiculous goon (named…Hope Crusher) who looks like a turn-of-the-century circus strongman.

Robocop and his female (less-robotic) partner are for some reason bodyguards at a high level peace talk between the world’s most generic Middle Eastern diplomats (one of whom sounds exactly like Bowser from the Mario Bros cartoon). The talks succeed in about 3 minutes (just like real life) but get broken up by the big robot. We then get a pretty sweet wrestling match/laser gun shootout, which breaks a bunch of stuff and results in RC getting hurt. Robocop gets repaired by a sexy bespectacled scientist lady but, get this, all his systems aren’t back online yet! That crazy cyborg decides to head out anyway. On top of all this, one of the offensive Arabic stereotypes has been mercilessly hitting on RC’s partner! I predict some sweet romance and wacky Inspector Gadget style hi-jinks, kids!

Haha! I just want to point out a moment in part two where Robocop is going to go break in to Red Foreman’s secret laboratory. He walks up to the gate and walks through while saying out loud “The guard is missing. That is probable cause.” No search warrant needed! That must have been for all those constitutional-minded 8 year old viewers!

This segment is non-stop action! After the bungling human cops get done running around embarrassing themselves, Robocop immediately blows up the main bad robot (the scientist labeled the weak spot in the armor on the blue prints) and then he goes looking for Red. After he breaks into the lab compound (totally legally!) the baddies let out not one but two more robots! Robocop gets the crap beaten out of him for a while.

Foreman seems to be pulling one of those “side-with-the-good-guy-against-a-common-enemy” thing now and helps RC beat the bots. Mean while, Robocop beats up all over Hope Crusher The Astounding! The main bad guy escapes to go after Prince Something-or-other. The horrible stupid mean cops let the assassin right into the room but luckily he stands there holding a gun on his victim for about 20 minutes before shooting. Robocop saves the day and the two diplomats pledge that from now on everything is perfect forever! Finally the prince makes his move on Lucy. He asks her to marry him which she is clearly leaning towards accepting till she figures out it’s a harem. Oh well, back to being a cop!

All in all this was pretty entertaining stuff. I probably would have been a weekly viewer when I was a kid. Interesting to have the bumbling robot-ist cops, playing up the whole “enemy on your side” angle. Little note in the end credits- Executive Story Editor: Stan Lee…I knew I recognized all those clichés from somewhere. The guy who I keep assuming is Red Foreman is a strange cat. He always wears sunglasses and seems to have metal hands. It makes me wonder if maybe he was Robocop-ized at some point. If so, he didn’t seem to get any weapons or fighting skill since the goons pushed him around like they were elementary school bullies and he was…me in elementary school. Maybe he got the brains to be a scientist instead of a criminal and invent giant robots with super obvious flaws that allowed them to be destroyed with one shot. Oh, the power!

Robocop was clearly jealous throughout the flirting between Lucy and the Prince/diplomat. At the end when the two partners walk away exchanging witty banter, it occured to me that the writers were trying to spark a little romantic tension between the woman and the reanimated dead guy. It all seems much to touchy-necroFeely to me.

I’d buy that for a dollar!

Q and A With The Haunted Drive-In’s “Projectionist”

As you may know, on Monday I received a rather interesting box in the mail, you can find that post with the unboxing video I did right here. Opening the burned package I found some film, parts of the trailer for the 1970’s King Kong, a bunch of greasy and smelly popcorn, and a handwritten note that had my nom de plume and a statement that read “The Haunted Drive-In Opens Soon…” and on the back of that note there was a YouTube address.

It would also seem that our very own Claymation Werewolf had received something similar on Monday as well, an envelope with a vintage flyer from the Starlight Starbright Family Drive-In. A little research earlier though states that the Drive-In had burned down around 60 years ago.

The Retroist it turns out has been getting submissions from someone concerning old movie theaters and Drive-In’s, but the contact e-mail was either wrong or the person didn’t want or couldn’t reply. I tried myself with the info the Retroist sent me but…I got nothing…until about 3 AM this morning when the Inbox revealed this: “Did you like your care package?”. Well, I can tell you that there was nothing frightening in the e-mail but after requesting a Q and A and receiving the answers back this evening we now have a better understanding of what is going on…sort of!

Thank you for taking the time to contact me…I see from your e-mail you are calling yourself the Projectionist…so is that your profession?

I’m pleased that you enjoyed your care package. Carl, my associate, has a way with finding things with his computers so I hope you did not find yourself too confused as to the meaning of the contents within that we sent.

I am in fact a Projectionist by trade, I have been as far back as I can remember. Longer sometimes than I find I wish to recall, even with all of the glorious features the Starlight Starbright had the privilege to share with the close-minded simpletons of Haddonfield I refuse to step down from my position as her caretaker.

That YouTube video you sent me caused me to try and dig up some information about the Starlight Starbright Drive-In…I found some information but it claims that a fire destroyed it 60 years ago. Are you carrying on the tradition in a way by using it’s name?

Those oh so noble and pure citizens TRIED to burn her down. Film endures and it always shall, while they stopped me from entertaining the masses for many a year, slowly I was able to rebuild the Starlight Starbright over the years but as I would learn from my associate, Carl, the youth of Haddonfield took to calling it the Haunted Drive-In. I felt it fitting to use the youthful description for her rebirth.

Why have you decided to contact us here at the Retroist?

Thanks to Carl I learned of the popularity of your “online” entertainment venue and with his help I made it known to the Retroist that I intended to share my expertise of the industry with those of your publication. I hope that you will forward the project I am working on with my assistant when it is ready for the public at large to witness, I believe you will find it to be of great interest.

On the outside of the “care package” you sent me, the sender’s name was “Carl”…who is that by chance?

Carl takes care of the menial tasks of the Haunted Drive-In.

I asked about six more questions but the Projectionist did not answer them…they ranged from what his favorite movie might be to if I can expect any more packages. I’ll update if I learn anything more!