Linger on Youtube for a little while and you’ll likely find at least fifty toy collectors and or pop culture buffs that have a slew of videos looking back at classic toy lines and franchises. What makes “Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2” such a unique series is that it attempts to offer up much more than memories. Creator Brian Volk-Weiss’s series could very well have fallen back on pure nostalgia, but instead opens up the scope of these world changing toy lines. There’s deeper insight, stark truths about how and why these toys were created, and a look in to the business of it all.
In 1988 my kindergarten class was having a Halloween party with just the class immediately after lunch. It was a very exciting experience for me considering I’d never done anything like that before. At the time we couldn’t really afford elaborate or huge costumes, so my dad bought me a generic mask in a box with the classic plastic smock. I was a mutant. So for a few Halloweens we opted for the sweaty plastic mask with no peripheral vision, and odd smock. That is until they were phased out. For years one of the highlights of Halloween was seeing the rows of boxes of plastics masks and smocks for various characters from Superman to Popeye.
So many times whenever a production company or director has chosen to explore the history and influence of kung fu movies, they choose the more obvious routes. They go about exploring how kung fu movies influenced Hollywood and Western cinema. What director Serge Ou does is explore the influence on Western cinema, and how kung fu movies influenced the entirety of pop culture as a whole. Everything from action cinema, modern movie stars, and even hip hop is explored here and how they took from the genre and it amounts to a very unique and creative take on the outstanding legacy of kung fu films and martial arts cinema.
You could basically call “Power of Grayskull” one of the first spin offs from Netflix’s “The Toys That Made Us.” The hit documentary series about the creation of some of the most popular toy lines of all time recently ran an episode about the fascinating history of He-Man. The monstrous eighties toy line and eighties franchise apparently warranted its own documentary. If you haven’t seen the episode, “Power of Grayskull” is a wonderful documentary about the series that digs a bit deeper in to the weird history of He-Man and the Mattel toy line.
What do you do when the world you’re in is too boring, too stressful, or too miserable to endure? You retreat into your own imaginary world, of course. “Monster Camp” is one of the many documentaries taking off from the ilk of “Trekkies” and “Ringers,” in which we spend a time in the lives of folks who just love their hobby. They don’t just love their hobby, but it’s something of a way of life that manages to have a positive influence on them and everyone around them.
“In boot camp, we used to every night we had to say–before we went to bed, we’d have to sing the Marine Corps Hymn, and laying at attention in bed,we’d sing the Marine Corps Hymn, and then we’d say,”Another day in the Corps, sir, for every day’s a holiday and every meal’s a feast. Pray for war. Pray for war. God bless the Marine Corps. God bless my drill instructors. Pray for war.” And every night we had to say that, and when we’d run and we’d sing songs, we’d sing, like, they’d say, “Kill, kill, kill.” And when we–at our–at judo practice and knife fighting practice and bayonet fighting practice it was always, that was the yell: “Kill, kill, kill.”’
BOOTLEG FILES 696: “Stop Messin’ About! – The Very Best of Kenneth Williams” (1996 documentary on the British funnyman).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Due to its lack of availability in the U.S.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.
One of the joys of the long-running British film series of Carry On comedies was the brilliance of its ensemble – this was the rare series where every member of the cast enjoyed a wealth of laugh-out-loud dialogue and sight gags. But if there was a first among equals in the Carry On crew, it would have to be the immortal Kenneth Williams.
Director Annie Deniel’s “Steampunk Connection” will likely be admired in the same vein as “Trekkies,” in that it examines a strong fan movement that allows people to connect through a broad scope of science fiction. It’s also been integrated in to their everyday lives and for many of them, the art form of Steampunk has allowed them to grow as people, and realize their potential in mediums like mechanics, engineering, and fashion. If there is anything that may push audiences away is that director Deniel digs so deep in to the following that it’s almost too niche for a broader audience.