The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story (2020)

If you have to ask, then you’ll never understand how big and important Nickelodeon was, once upon a time. For many, “The Orange Years” from Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney might feel like yet another bit of 90’s nostalgia for Millennials, but the documentary is a look at television, its history and how Nickelodeon blazed a trail for a massive industry, and set a precedent that many studios would aspire to topple.

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The Last Starfighter (1984): Remastered [Blu-Ray]

Nick Castle’s science fiction adventure film is one of my all time favorite “Star Wars” rip offs. It’s a film that fully embraces the hero’s journey trope and has a damn good time with it, bringing in robot clones, big headed aliens, and a pretty great mythology begging for a franchise. “The Last Starfighter” thankfully hasn’t lost any of its luster even in the midst of the glut of “Star Wars” wannabes, and it’s still a big personal favorite of mine.

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Fan Theory: Roy Burns is possessed by Jason Voorhees in “A New Beginning”

There’s some supernatural element in “Friday the 13th” that doesn’t fully reveal itself until “Jason Lives.” Before that, Jason was more of a mortal superhuman capable of being killed and he is presumably stopped in “The Final Chapter.” In Danny Steinmann’s “A New Beginning,” Jason is definitely dead and Tommy has difficulty moving on as he’s haunted by Jason’s image time and time again. Since the fifth film apparently still takes place in the town of Crystal Lake, Tommy is still facing the trauma of battling Jason, even though it’s established he’s buried.

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Class Action Park (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Easily my most anticipated film of Fantasia Fest 2020, “Class Action Park” is not just a visit to nostalgia, but an exploration of a criminal who was able to do whatever he pleased at the cost of children and families looking for a good time. Once upon a time there was a place called “Action Park,” a large water and adventure park set in the middle of New Jersey. While it was the place of memories for many kids, it was also a hellscape filled with death, corruption, negligence, and a founder who would stop at literally nothing to protect his own interests. 

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Five Great Animated Series Based On A Feature Film

After learning recently that “Fast and the Furious” actually had an animated series on Netflix for kids, I was stunned, but not entirely shocked. There’s still some cash to be mined from the series, and there’s room to appeal to kids. In either case, with that and with “Gremlins” also being turned in to animated series, I couldn’t help but think back to five great animated series I watched as a kid that were based on feature films. What are some of your favorites? 

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TV on DVD: Toys That Made Us Season 1 and 2 [Blu-Ray]/Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray]

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.

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Halloween in a Box (2019)

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.

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The Lasting Mark of John Carpenter’s “Halloween”

The best way to explain the considerable impact John Carpenter’s original slasher has had on me can best be expressed through that infamous Halloween eve when I was a kid. Long before cable, network television played horror movies on Halloween; My brother and I were given the option to watch either “Creepshow” or “Halloween” my brother and I took the option of sitting to watch “Halloween.” I can fondly remember it as one of the worst Halloweens ever because when we sat to watch John Carpenter’s classic we were so scared by the second half that we started crying. This decision later was regretted by us and my mom took the time out to calm us down by letting us watch “Creepshow.”

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