Posts Tagged ‘80s movies’

 Transmission date: Oct. 16 2014

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Welcome back to the Satellite heroes! Put on your sunglasses as we are about to revisit a Cult classic very popular all the way up here in Space. Ill let you figure it out. Read On! In 1987-88 I was the biggest Wrestling fan you could imagine. I did not miss a show..or a magazine on the rack. I taped everything I could with my handy RCA VCR. Saying all that I was a fan of Rowdy Roddy Piper. The Kilt wearing loud mouthed heel who in 1987  had recently turned into a good guy. He really appealed to me and I wore my Hot Rod T-shirt to school with great pride despite the constant cat Calls..I was a wrestling fan and really in 1987 , so was everyone else. Hogan vs Andre was at the top of all the conversations in grade 7 in my class anyways. The build to WrestleMania 3 was the center of my universe and the buildup to it was all I could focus on. The Rowdy Scott was about to wrestle in his last match before moving into a different world…Hollywood.

 

 

 

 

Roddy Piper had wrestled his supposed last match in March 27 1987 at the Pontiac SilverDome in Detroit. Piper who spent years on the wrestling circuit as a heel headlining two previous Wrestlemanias, had been shuffled to the Mid Card on the biggest wrestling card of them all..the legendary Wrestlemania 3. Piper and The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as it was known at the time, had been not seeing eye to eye as Piper wanted to capitalize on his wrestling fame and try his hand at acting. The WWF sought to own and capitalize on the fortunes of their performers but Roddy was a free spirit . Piper had banked a tremendous amount of money from his wrestling career to that point and the lure of Hollywood projects offer much more of a pull than the squared circle could give him. For once it was Piper who was in control. It was at this cross roads that Rowdy Roddy Piper would go on to wrestle on the Mid card of WrestleMania 3 in what would be his farewell retirement match against his longtime antagonist Adorable Adrian Adonis. My anticipation for this match was so high it may as well have been the main event. Roddy Piper was my  favorite WWF Super-Star at this time and I could not fathom the idea that Piper would lose to Adonis and retire. Of course Piper would be victorious in his match and I watched my hero ride off into the sunset..and on to the silver screen.

 

 

 

The story goes that at WrestleMania 3 Roddy Piper had met horror film director John Carpenter and was instantly kept in mind for a project that Carpenter had been crafting called They Live that was inspired by a short story called “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by author Ray Nelson. Carpenter was well-known on the film scene as he was most famous for such classics as The THING and this classic…Halloween!

 

As a wrestling fan I had read in wrestling magazines and on the very few entertainment shows on TV, that Piper had been selected for the lead role in this new John Carpenter film called “They Live”. In the era where the term Internet meant nothing it was up to you to find out what you could on foot and not through any new wave computer terminal. With Roddy in the front as the lead Carpenter weaved his tale based on his dislike for the commercialization of society. The 80s in particular was heavily focused on TV ad time. Commercials for Soft drinks, Movies, and anything else you could endorse was being sold in a way never seen by society. Those wishing to capitalize on the commercial market were plugging everything that could turn a dime and celebrities were out in full force cash in. Carpenters vision was to exploit this alarming commercialization of society by tacking a Sci-Fi narrative to the issue. With the aid of special sunglasses our heroes in the film can see the sad truth of society.

 

 

We have been overtaken by Aliens who use a Satellite Signal to that project a special broadcast that alters human perception and camouflaged the aliens to resemble everyday human beings. With this signal the aliens control the media specifically advertising, and television to subliminally take control over our minds and thoughts. All the while under the guise of mind control The Aliens ulterior motive is to strip the Earth of the resources and eventually kill us off with Global warming before moving on to another planet to pillage! They have one problem..one man named John Nada (Roddy Piper!) Nada looks at the world a little differently and slips onto the Aliens evil plot where a stranger trys to warn him that the world is not what it seems and gives him a special pair of Sunglasses!

 

When looking through the lenses of the glasses the satellite signal used by the aliens is blocked and the wearer can see the world as it is…including the Aliens true form!! A bit of context here. Looking through the glasses the images are all in black and white this was essentially a direct shot by Carpenter to well-known billionaire Ted Turner who at the time in the 80s ran a multimedia conglomerate and had a very unreasonable share in the Television industry. One of Turners notorious Faux Pas was his colorization of classic movies originally created in Black and White. The coloring however looked so unrealistic and sterile that it was met with worldwide disdain. Hence the glasses and the movie itself was an intentional attack on moguls like Turner who Carpenter thought was the REAL alien!

 

Nada quickly tries to convince others about what he has discovered but many do not believe him. In one of the most hilarious scenes in the film Piper tries to convince co-star Keith David (Frank Armitage) to simply look through the glasses to expose the aliens. Frank thinks John is out of his mind and refuses leading to one of the most hilarious fights ever seen in a movie. Pipers wrestling background comes to play as the two men basically  wrestle a no hold barred falls count anywhere match in an alley complete with a backdrop and all so John Nada (Piper) can convince his friend Frank to just peer through the damn glasses.

Piper is successful and finally Nada has a friend to help him combat the secret invaders. Teaming up with other resistance fighters John, and Frank wage a war against the aliens which includes the most iconic line since Arnold yelled “ill be back” Piper belts the phrase..“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass..and I am all out of Bubblegum.”

 

 

 

So this is the part where I spoil the ending…okay you were warned. In the days of the Hollywood Action film formula, movies usually ended with the good guys finally getting the upper hand on the bad guys and riding off into the sunset victorious and everyone lives happily ever after.

 

 

They Live dared to break that mold.While Pipers character finally exposed the Aliens to the world..John Nada actually dies at the end crushing the Satellite system the aliens used to camouflage themselves from humans. This left many movie goers shocked and confused…even the Aliens themselves were not defeated as such but Nada had exposed them for what they were now Earth was prepared to fight back..thats where we left off! That takes a set of balls!!

 

So why did I like They Live so much? Number one without a doubt..it starred Roddy Piper. He was big..brazen and just magic on-screen. Great actor? Nope..horrible at times but Piper owned this film and I was locked in for the full movie! This was the Roddy Piper show! It also had a unique concept. The sunglasses..the grand illusion of the aliens..it was just fun!

 

They Live was filmed on just slightly over a 3 Million dollar budget that would not pay for most credits in movies today and they nailed it!! The movie originally scheduled to open late October was pushed back to a November 4 1988 as it would have been in direct competition with another Carpenter created franchise Halloween which was launching its 4th installment at the end of October to a very strong audience!

 

The movie was considered a Box Office disappointment ringing in slightly over 13, 000, 000. It did however open at number one at the box office. I was convinced as I watched Entertainment Tonight the week of its release that Roddy Piper was the next big Hollywood Star. Sadly that did not happen but there will always be They Live!

 

 

End Transmission…

 

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Welcome back Satellite subscribers! Time to get your Hero on as today we jump into the center of an Alien invasion! The Alien hordes of the notorious Red Falcon have taken over an island in South America! Fortunately we have the called in the best two damn commandos the word has ever seen..Bill “Mad Dog” Rizer and Lance “Scorpion” Bean. Time to lock em down!! Aboard the Satellite Heli shuttle we have no time to waste..we have to stop the Red Falcon  before they take over the world!

 

Begin Transmission: March 19 2014

This game spoke to me one Christmas as it sat on the shelves of our local Woolco. That X-Mas morning it would be mine!

Of course..if you are not a retro gamer and havent figured it out yet..we are talking about the 1987 NES Video game Contra..It was 1980 something and in a sea of wrapping paper I was nowhere to be found as I was frantically hooking up my brand new NES Entertainment system to my sweet 13 inch color TV in my bedroom! That morning I was bestowed , Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, NES Pro Wrestling, Super Mario Bros (Free with system!) and of course..CONTRA!! Only a couple of months earlier after creating my Xmas wish list I had noticed this game on the locked display cabinets of our local Woolco store. The case itself spoke to me and t was no trouble to see why. First a bit of context.

There was no bigger action hero then “Arnold” in the 1980s! Predator was a huge hit for Schwarzenegger and would be the inspiration for games like Contra!

The 1980s were a time of an action movie explosion. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on top of the world with huge hits such as Terminator and Running man. Predator would become yet another huge win for Arnold and would directly influence many sci-fi movies afterwards. The over the top Austrian known for his witty one liners such as “Ill be back” was the king of Hollywood and would remain as such well into the 90s as well.Arnold would become the inspiration for the Player one character in Contra..Bill “Mad Dog” Rizer. Hot on his heels would be another character would be making waves on the same fast track as Arnold…a guy named Stallone!

Rambo would be Stallone’s second HUGE character that he would be known for and one of my personal faves of the 80s! Rambo 2 was a frequent guest in my VCR!

Sylvester Stallone, better know in the 1980s as Rocky Balboa of the Rocky movie film franchise struck pay dirt again with the character of John Rambo in the movie series First Blood! Like Arnold, Stallone was the ultimate commando fearless and unstoppable, Rambo was a high school boys idol. Hell every kid I knew had a Rambo “Survival Knife” strapped to their side for play. No parent in their right mind would intentionally hand a 13-year-old a hunting knife and tell them to go play! Bottom Line Rambo was hot and was the inspiration for the second player in the game we are discussing....Lance “Scorpion” Bean.

The game itself was VERY challenging. As you ran through the jungles of South America, through highly secure military compounds, though Waterfalls, ad finally directly into the heart of the Aliens lair doing so in the 3 men you were allotted was no fun. In fact…discouraging. This game sat on the “Last In Line” pile as I spent the early months of my NES gaming experience defeating Koopas in Super Marion Bros, Knocking Out Mike Tyson’s ass in Punch Out and proudly defeating Great Puma to with the VWA world title in NES Pro Wrestling. So with all the other conquered games laying in my wake one of my friends who did not have the luxury of an NES system decided we should tag team Contra. Surely our forces combined would whip this game in no time fast. Sadly the answer was no..the Red Falcons hordes were too much for Bill and Lance..that is until we got an advantage..

Nintendo Power changed the way we played video games..no longer a slave to 3 men..this book helped us destroy games like never before!

Nintendo Power magazine came on the fore front of many gamers libraries. Debuting in 1988 Nintendo Power was the premier and longest running video game magazine ever published lasting an extraordinary 24 years! It contained Reviews, teasers, comics, coupons, extras like stickers, posters, but most importantly..cheat codes!!

Nintendo Power provides the goods for the downfall of Red falcon and his Alien goons!

Yes the Konami Code as it would become know to gamers for then till today became an instant hit with Contra fans. First used in the game Gradius but popularized by Contra the pushing of the directional keys UP, UP, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left Right, B, A, Start at the title screen would unlock what Nintendo Power called the “Extra Life Command” and it was awesome! Soon after I learned how to execute the Konami Code Contra was done for. Many evenings after school myself and my good friend John Mckechnie (Where are you bro?) would begin our termination of the Contra Alien races. It was incredible! Level by level we whipped major 8 bit ass and the NES became a destination daily for us. Bill and Lance finally had the revenge we were looking for.

Contra the game was a simple run and shoot type of game. It was a classic 8 bit side scroller filled with challenging stages and enemies.!

Entering the base. The beginning of you Contra campaign!

Contra featured some of the best looking super bads in the 8 Bit world of the NES. The Giant Leaping Disk Throwing Alien that guards the door to the energy zone is one of the best in gaming history!

The Guard at the door using throwing disks to send you to an early grave!

The Base 1 Boss put you to the test!

Red Falcon had an abundance of mechanical technological contraptions sent to block passage to the lair!

Bosses like the stage 3 Waterfall Boss were awesome in its day and a pleasure to destroy! Check out this cool deviant art version of this boss!

Nothing was cooler than coming face to face with the Red Falcon..but was terrified to know that even after killing this bad boy you still had to kill its heart!!

Scorpions be damned. Nothing will stop me with 30 men behind me from taking out the final boss of Stage 8 the very heart of the Red Falcon!

The fun of the game came in using the extra weapons that you could pick up along the way! You start the game with a rifle but there are many more weapons that made your game much more enjoyable.

  • Machine gun (rapid-fires repeatedly while the fire button is depressed)
  • Laser gun (fires one lazer bolt of energy at a time) Sometimes letharigic but incredibly powerful
  • Spreader (Spray) gun (fires five projectiles at once in an array that spreads apart as it travels away from the player) Best weapon in the game. Incredibly powerful and enjoyable to use!
  • Fireball gun (fires spining fire ball bullets)
  • Rapid fire (increases bullet velocity) This one can be added to a gun in use to make an existing gun faster. Deadly when combined with Spreader gun or Lazer!
  • Barrier (temporary invincibility)

Contra, even in its years of retirement as I grew into adulthood would always be played in my house whether it was on my old long lamented NES, emulators or on my Wii Virtual console. My son’s and I (5, and 13 years of age) have spent a lot of time recently playing this game and its sequels and even to this day it remains a favorite in the house. In a sad story during my university years my vast amount of Nintendo cartridges went missing! I accidentally discovered my collection at a used flea market type shop and had to call the police. Only the games I could prove were mine were returned and several games like Contra were stolen from me like a thief in the night. BASTARDS!! I know who you are!! LOL..but I digress.

Hope you have enjoyed your tour of Red Falcon Island..it has been my pleasure to be your guide. But we just blew up the heart of the Red Falcon..back to the Heli – Shuttle …this baby’s gonna BLOW!!

Later Heroes!!

 

End Transmission…

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