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Movies

Waiting For The Magic Hour with Jay Sherrange #6: Ghostbusters 3 And Other Horrible Ideas….Nope.

Chris Scalzo

gb3_TFR.png

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon during the summer of ‘84. My mother had some errands to do at the mall and asked if I wanted to call a friend to catch a movie with me while she shopped.  I quickly agreed, knowing that this was just a scheme to make me try on pants…but hey, she knew my price.  I called my friend Brian, tried on the damn pants at JC Penny’s, and finally found myself looking over the 3 movie posters outside of the theater, wondering which one to see.  The movies that weekend were Revenge of the Nerds, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Ghostbusters.  Our first choice, of course, would have been Revenge of the Nerds, but this was a mall theater and there was no way we were getting in to see an R-rated movie.  We had both seen Temple of Doom twice, so it looked like it was Ghostbusters.  We had heard it was supposed to be funny, but that was about it.  Boy, were we in for a treat.

caddyshack2_TFR.jpg

So this was the part where I was going to talk about the Ghostbuster sequel and how it stunk and how Ghostbusters 3 is a terrible idea and how comedy sequels rarely worked and so on…bleh.  I was getting bored writing it so I could just imagine how anybody reading this would feel.  What did peak my interest though, was the list of classic movies that were released the summer of 1984.  I had been checking on what year Ghostbusters came out when I came across it.  Holy crap!  I quickly realized that this had to be one of the most influential summers of my childhood movie going career.  So, instead of whining about failures like the Hangover sequels, Caddyshack 2 or Anchorman 2, (Sorry First Run podcasters, but you gave Will Ferrell & Company an easy pass on that one. Waayyyy too much Brick), I have decided to celebrate the greatest movie season ever with a list of my favorites that came out that summer along with some of my fondest movie memories.

 Disclaimer: I did not see every movie which I am about to list in 1984. I was only 11 for crying out loud!  And don’t forget, movies ran for a lot longer than they do now. Also, studios would re-release them the following year with a few extra scenes or some spruced up special effects.  Yeah, that’s right Futureman, we weren’t able to instant stream our movies two months after they came out!

May

The Natural

A bunch of my friends and I were in Little League when The Natural hit the screens.  I had not seen the actual movie yet, but what I did see was every wooden baseball bat in the dugout with a lightning bolt drawn on it.  After finally seeing the movie a few months later, I turned in my trusty aluminum bat and bought a wooden bat right away. However, not being a skilled artist, I screwed the picture up so badly that I ended up grabbing a lightning bolt sticker and slapping it on the mess.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

I did see this one in the theater.  I believe my friends and I tried to remove each other’s hearts while chanting gibberish on many occasions.  Lucky for us, it never worked.  Also, the famous dinner scene with all the bizarre foods was the topic of many hilarious conversations in the school cafeteria.  One day, a friend of mine, using a pudding cup as a prop, had done such a good impression of the man who slurped out the beetle guts, it made a girl that was sitting with us at our table sick, which got us all in trouble. Freakin’ girls, man.

June

Ghostbusters - See first paragraph

Gremlins

I could recite the rules for Gizmo upside down and backwards, yet I could never remember to feed my fish.  Go figure.  I also remember the movie being a little more disturbing than I was used to at that age.  Come to find out that Gremlins was one of the movies that sparked the debate that eventually led to the creation of PG-13.  Ah well, I came out OK. No harm, no foul.

The Karate Kid

My friends and I all became experts in the art of Karate after watching this one.  Someone should do a study on how many kids went to the emergency room with a broken nose after this movie came out.  I know I came close to one with a well placed crane kick from my friend Charlie.  I also know I hurt my pal Eric with a sweeping kick that actually landed him on his back.  He said he was fine, but I don’t think so.

Top Secret

It doesn’t stand up like the Airplane movies do today, but to an 11 year old, it was comedy gold. How can you not love scenes like this one:


July-August

The Last Starfighter

This is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite movie of the summer.  God, did I love this movie.  It had every pre-teen boy’s fantasy, (besides girls, depending on where you were in your pre-teeniness……I think that’s a word), wrapped into two hours of pure movie bliss.   Who wouldn’t want to be plucked out of your boring life to lead a battle of epic proportions, in space mind you, all because you’re good at a video game?  It’s a shame that nothing else ever came of this movie besides a bad Atari game.  I did here a whisper about a sequel some time ago, but nothing as of yet. Then again, maybe that’s a good thing.

The Muppets take Manhattan

Any sense of humor I posses comes from the Muppets.

Revenge of the Nerds

Now of course, I did not see this one in the theater.  In fact, I don’t believe I saw this one until it came out on video a few years later.  However, I did have the pleasure of watching it with a bunch of friends at a sleepover one night.  My friend Aaron’s older brother secured us a copy and as luck would have it, we were all spending the night at Eric’s house, whose parents were older and always tired.  Jackpot.  As soon as 9:00 hit, Eric’s mother went to bed and his father was already passed out on the couch.  We went downstairs to the rec room and had an awesome movie experience.  How could you not with a character named Booger and a bunch of naked college girls?

Red Dawn

Not the best movie on the list, but still a fun one. The opening scene, when the school is attacked by commie paratroopers still terrifies the 13 year old in me every time I see it.

C.H.U.D.

Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers!  Need I say more?

The summer of ’84 also had such gems as Breakin, Sixteen Candles, Star Trek 3, Purple Rain, Bachelor Party, Cannonball Run 2, Conan the Destroyer,  and Sheena: Queen of the Jungle.  Crazy, Huh?  Thinking about these movies or any movie for that matter has always been a great way to jog my memories about the past.  Whether it’s a great movie, a catchy song, a thrilling book series, an amazing piece of art or even a sports team that you’ve followed since childhood, any form entertainment can trigger your memory just as well as going through an old photo album or looking at a scrapbook.

So, do you have a better year in mind?  Think you can do better than 1984? If so, send us your list to feedback@thefirstrun.com. Good luck, though.  I don’t think it can be done. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just received a text letting me know that I have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada.  I hope this isn’t that damn Tea Party guy again.

Waiting For The Magic Hour with Jay Sherrange #5: Best…Horror…Anthology...Movie…Ever!

Chris Scalzo

I have always been a fan of Horror Movies.  For myself, I enjoy the creepy, spooky ones like last summer’s The Conjuring more than the Slasher films, but that’s just me.  Now i’m definitely not taking anything away from Michael, Freddy or Jason.  I have a special place in my teenage heart for those guys.  With any of these horror films, it’s almost a given that no matter what your watching or where you’re watching it, there is a good chance you are going to have fun. However, there seems to be one type of horror movie that never seems to click with audiences, no matter how hard they try or what big names are involved:  The Horror Anthology.

What is it about these movies that do not seem to gel with the general movie going public?  I can’t think of one movie in this genre that you could say was a total success in the box office.  Sure, there are some cult classics like Creepshow or Grindhouse, but in my research for this blog, (IMDB for about 10 minutes), I couldn’t come up with one major domestic success story for this type of movie in the history of American cinema.  

The only theory I have about this is it just works better on television.  Shows like Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside, The X files, The Masters of Horror, (and don’t forget Treehouse of Horror), have been doing it right for years.  So why does it not translate well to the movie screen?  I think it’s because in any of these shows, no matter how good they are, there is always going to be a stinker in there. That’s ok if you’re sitting at home watching it for free.  However, in a movie theater there is no escape when a weak story comes on. You are just going to have to grin and bear it, which is not something people really want to do after shelling out $20 or more for the evening.  The audience will always remembers there favorite story in the movie, but they also will always remember there least favorite as well, and who wants to see a movie that has a ½ hour to 45 min part that can only be described as  “meh”.

So with all that in mind, I have decided to put together a movie of my own, using the best parts from all of the horror anthologies that are out there, (that I’ve seen).  Then, after you read this, I’ll need you to go look through the different streaming services, search out these movie clips, copy them, (illegally if you have to), mash them into a YouTube video using some sort of computer wizardry that escapes me, and let me know when you’re done so I can watch it.  Won’t that be fun?! (If it gets a lot of views, put my name on it.  If not, don’t bother).

Before I get started with the list, we have to take care of the filler. Almost every anthology has one.  It’s either something like some weird guy telling stories around a campfire, introducing each one with a sinister laugh and bad puns or they have the filler actually be a story unto itself. All of them usually fail. So in my movie, let’s just use the fake trailers from Grindhouse.  If you’ve never seen them, I highly recommend searching them out.  Unfortunately, it’s probably the only popular part to come out of the movie, which is a shame. I had a great time watching the whole movie and hoped they would do another one. I guess I’ll just have to settle with the Machete movies, which isn’t a bad thing.  But I digress.  Let’s start the show:

      Best Horror Anthology Movie Ever!

                  Trailer - Machete

                  1: “The Raft”- Creepshow 2

                       The only truly creepy story in both of the Creepshow movies.

                  Trailer - Don’t

                 2: “Prank gone too far”- Trick ‘R Treat             

4 teenagers invite an outcast to join them in their journey to an abandoned rock quarry where a tragic accident with the school bus with eight troubled children happened thirty years ago. The movie was so-so, but this section gave me the heebie-jeebies.

    Trailer - Werewolf Women of the SS

     3: “….And all through the House”- Tales from the Crypt(1972)

I’ve seen and read many different versions of this “maniac dressed as Santa” story, but this one creeps me out the most.

    Trailer -Thanksgiving

     4: “To Let” - 6 Films to Keep You Awake

A married couple have looked at several apartments but none have worked out. Finally the realtor assures them the next one will be perfect but they arrive at an abandoned building without any residents or people in sight. And then all hell breaks loose. The most intense hour I’ve encountered watching any type of horror movie out there, this is a must see for anyone that loves to be scared shitless. I also recommend the other films in this Spanish series, especially The Baby’s Room.       

That’s it my friends.  And remember, to avoid fainting, just keep telling yourself it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie…

Waiting For The Magic Hour with Jay Sherrange #4: Rewind

Chris Scalzo

My wife, son and I were driving back home from a pleasant Sunday dinner with the family, when out of nowhere my wife starts humming the song Rawhide.  “Can you guess what this song is?” she asked. “It’s Rawhide,” I said obviously.  “Nope,” she said with a grin.  I asked her to hum it again, and again she hummed Rawhide.  “It’s clearly Rawhide,” I said.  “It’s clearly not,” she replied, and then sang the words:

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’/Keep those movies rollin’

Keep those movies rollin’ all niiiiigghhhhtttt!

You can keep each movie 3 days/And every tenth’s a free one

No one rolls them out like Tommy K’s

Hyah!

 Photo copyright Mike Franzman. http://www.flickr.com/photos/franzphoto/

Photo copyright Mike Franzman. http://www.flickr.com/photos/franzphoto/

We laughed for quite a while.  Why the song popped into my wife’s head was a mystery, but it brought back fond memories of a time and place that I and many other’s frequented from the mid 80’s to only a few years ago.  The video store.

I remember back when renting videos first started becoming a thing.  It was our local Quality Market that offered VCR rentals and a choice of about 15 to 20 different movies.  That’s right, they actually rented VCR’s back then. It just was not common to own a VCR when they first came out, at least not in the small upstate New York town I lived in.  There was nothing more exciting than going to the grocery store and crossing your fingers, hoping that all of the VCR’s hadn’t been rented yet and then looking at the small cardboard place cards they had, showing which movies were still in stock to rent.  My friends and I spent numerous Friday nights eating pizza and watching Ghostbusters, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future over and over again.

Soon, actual video stores started popping up all over the place.  It seemed like every block had its own neighborhood store.  For me, it was Take One Video, Applause Video, Carl’s Movies, Tommy K’s and probably 2 or three more that I can’t remember,  each one of them with their own style and all of them with their “adults only” room.  I remember those rooms quite well as a teenager, daring myself or my friends to sneak a peek through the old-saloon style swinging doors that seem to frequent most of them. (Never did figure out the reason for that.  Were they serving up dirty movies or shots of whiskey?)

Then the first nail in the coffin came.  Places like Applause Video and Tommy K’s started expanding, opening more and more stores around the state.  At first it was exciting.  A Tommy K’s opened up pretty much right down the street from my house, which meant I didn’t have to drive to the next town over anymore.  However, I do remember Carl, whose small video store was one street over, swearing up and down when he saw the sign go up. “I’m going to call the city about this,” he said, “They can’t put up a damn sign that big.  It will grab too much attention!” Now even I, as a stupid high school kid, knew that that was the point Carl, but I just nodded in agreement and handed him my copy of “Three Amigos” that I was probably renting for the 10th time.

 Photo copyright by The Daily Grindhouse. http://dailygrindhouse.com/thewire/requiem-blockbuster/

Photo copyright by The Daily Grindhouse. http://dailygrindhouse.com/thewire/requiem-blockbuster/

And then the second nail.  Blockbuster.  The local stores fell quickly and soon the smaller chains did to.  They could not even come close to the availability of new titles that places like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video could stock.  Still, there were a few small video stores out there, surviving in towns that put their noses up to big business trying to come in. And it worked for a few more years, until the final two nails, Red Box and the Internet. Who is going to rent a movie for $5 when they can rent it for $1?  No one.  And who is going to go out to a store when they can stream the thing for next to nothing?  Nobody.  The few small stores that were left quickly vanished and Blockbuster soon followed.

Do I love the convenience of streaming?  Of course I do.  How can you beat a treasure trove of movies just waiting to be played with a click of my Wi remote?  However, I , being of an age that yearns for nostalgic thoughts and feelings have decided to do what I love to do most, make a top 5 list.  So here is a list of my top five favorite things about my long lost love….The local Video Store:

5. The Hunt

I once was put in charge of finding a copy of “Back to the Future II” the night it came out on video.  I went through 5 different video stores before I finally witnessed the sight of the video box pushed up from the wall, signaling that there was a copy behind it.  You couldn’t just press a button on your iPad back then to get the latest movies.  You had to work for it, dammit.

4. The Promotions

Rent 10 get one free,  free bag of popcorn with a rental on Tuesday nights, $1 off of a recommended rental, punch cards, Coming Soon magazines and so on.  The more creative they were, the more I had to take advantage of them.

3. What’s Behind the Curtain?

Nothing was more fun for me and my pre-teen friends than standing in the back of the store and making stupid comments about who came out of the “adult” section.  That is until the parents of one of my friends walked out from behind the curtain one day.  Yeah, that was awkward.

2. The New Discovery

My world of movies would have been awfully small if it were not for video stores.  My tradition was to always rent two movies, one new release or favorite, and one I had never heard of or seen.  I discovered films such as Evil Dead, Network, Blade Runner, The Birds, Seven Samurai and many others that I would have never heard of if it was not for the different genre sections in some of the larger stores.  Of course, Netflix and Amazon have that search option as well and on a much larger scale, but it’s just not the same as picking up a frayed cardboard box and reading the synopsis of the movie on the back.

1. The Cast of Characters

Ah the video store clerk.  There was nothing better than turning in your movie and having them comment on it.  Even when it was a snarky one.  Take One had its own version of Siskel and Ebert , two dudes who would yell back and forth at each other whenever someone came up with a copy of a movie that elicited such a response, like arguing if Deckard was really a replicant.  Classic stuff.  My favorite though, was Carl from Carl’s video.  A tall lanky man with a beard and shaggy hair, Carl looked like someone who would frequent the “adult room” on a daily basis.  He was usually cranky, always had a cigarette dangling from his mouth and refused to carry more than one copy of a new release because, in his words, “they stopped making good movies after 1979.”  Why did I keep going there?  They man knew how to recommend a movie.  He could take a look at what you were renting and give you two other recommendations that usually blew the movie you picked out away.  He introduced me to Scorsese, Woody Allen, Bogart, Hitchcock and countless foreign films and cult classics that I had never even know existed back then.  Can you get that from iTunes or Hulu.  No way.  Not on that level.  I owe him and every other video clerk out there a huge thank you for introducing me to different level of filmmaking.

So do you have any fun memories of a video store that you frequented back in the day?  Leave a comment or email this website at feedback@the firstrun.com.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have me a hankering for some whiskey.  No, really, I feel like a drink.  What do you think I……oh.

                                                                                                                           - Jay

Waiting For The Magic Hour #3: Blame It On The Nachos (Or, A Course In Movie Theater Concessions)

Chris Scalzo

Waiting for the Magic Hour

An unnecessary, one-sided discussion on movie culture

By Jason Sherrange

It has gotten out of control.  Lines have been crossed. I can’t take it any longer and I am asking all of my fellow moviegoers out there to help me end it. If we all band together, you and I can stop the travesty known as the modern day movie concession stand. Am I talking about the prices? No. And stop complaining about it. We have been over-paying for snacks at every entertainment venue from movies to sports since they figured out we’d shell out $7 for a Bud light. 

Candy.JPG

What I’m talking about are the ridiculous choices that have been put before us on the concession stand menu. Pizza?  Chicken Fingers? French Fries? Mozzarella sticks? Pretzel Bites? Jalapeño poppers? Really? Are we attending a movie or eating at Applebee’s?  How did it get this way?  

Not too long ago it used to be three choices; popcorn, candy and soda.  Sure, there was a different addition to the menu here or there, depending on which movie theatre you attended.  Maybe the Wintergarden Downtown*had one of those spinning hot dog cases or perhaps the theatre in the Chataqua Mall* had slushies to wash down your salty treat.*(Insert the name of your own hometown theatre), but that was the extent of it. Now I’m not one to dwell on the past. I understand that you can’t stand in the way of progress, but I’m not talking about this change happening 20 years ago. This has become a major issue in the last 5 to 10 years, and after much research and discussion amongst friends, I have determined it has come down to the addition of one menu item that slowly made this all ok to the masses. It was the Nachos.

The addition of Nachos to the menu did not make sense to me when I first saw them on the menu. Why would you want to dunk a chip in a hot glob of cheese-like substance held by a flimsy cardboard box or plastic container in a dark theatre?  Also, it always looked like the metal bin they ladled the cheese out of came from the backroom of a 7-11 from 1975.  I laughed. 

Silly movie theatre owners. Who would buy these? Well, apparently a lot of people. It wasn’t too long before I was stepping on discarded containers filled with cheese that you just knew turned cold by the time you got through half of your chips.  And then the s’ hit the f’.  Soon, chicken fingers were on the menu, which begat fries…. which begat pizza….and so on.  These additions have made concession lines longer, have made the theatre smell like fried food, and will contribute to even crazier experiments. I have seen now that some theatres are offering healthier alternatives like trail mix and smoothies. Sneak that crap into the movies in your pockets or your hippie girlfriend’s purse like a normal human being and stop messing with my world! Whoah…sorry. I got a little heated.

So, here is my plea to all of my fellow moviegoers out there. Don’t be tempted. Train your children.  Mock your friends that order this junk. Stick with the Superfoods of the cinema; popcorn, candy and soda.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself in the not-to-distant-future, waiting in line behind a family of five, ordering their salmon burgers with extra kelp noodles, and there you go. You just missed the previews.

Do you disagree?  What is your favorite theatre snack?  Any crazy discoveries at your local Cineplex? Let us know in the comment section or at feedback@thefirstrun.com.

 

To “T” Or Not To “T” or Why Do I Keep Giving Vince Vaughn My Hard Earned Money?

Chris Scalzo

Waiting for the Magic Hour

An unnecessary, one-sided discussion on movie culture

By Jason Sherrange

vince-vaughnWEDDING.jpg

Well, I’m doing it again. I’m deciding whether or not to go see “The Internship” with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.   I’ve seen the previews. It does not look that great. I’ve read the reviews. Not very kind.  And yet here I am, looking at the movie times for tomorrow night’s showings.  What’s wrong with me?  Why do I do this to myself?  I’ll tell you why. I want Trent back in my life. 

Is that fair of me to compare an actor’s greatest creation to all of his other work? Probably not.  The problem is that I keep waiting for that same spark I saw back in 98. Just take a look at this list of movies he’s had top billing in from the last 10 years:

1. The Watch                      6. The Break-Up                        11. Old School

2. The Dilemma                 7. Wedding Crashers                 12. Domestic Disturbance

3. Couples Retreat            8. Be Cool                                  13. The Cell

4. Four Christmases          9. Dodgeball                              14. Psycho

5. Fred Claus                    10. Starsky & Hutch                    15. Made

I should have stopped at “Made”.  Wow, was that bad.  But I kept watching, hoping against hope that my beloved “T” would return in all of his Trent-filled glory.  And then he kind of did in “Old School”.  Unfortunately after that, it was all downhill. (Sorry Wedding Crashers fans. The second half of the movie was dull)  Still, I and America kept giving the movie studios our money to keep Vince Vaughn on the big screen. “Wedding Crashers “was a huge hit, as well as “Dodgeball”, “The Break-Up” and “Four Christmases”.  It’s only been in the past five years that America has seemed to be catching on.  So why can’t I?  I should have walked out on “The Watch”. That movie was just lazy.  But here I go again, looking at IMDB, wondering what Vince will be up to next. 

What is it about some actors that keep making you come back; hoping that it will be different this time.” I’ll make it right baby,” Vince is saying to me at the end of each movie,” Just give me another chance.  I know I messed up. It will be like it was before. It won’t happen again, I promise. I’m only human, you know. “  And damn it all, I fall for it all over again like a love struck college girl.

This is not just my problem.  For some reason, Adam Sandler still has movies coming out.  So do Ben Stiller, Luke and Owen Wilson, Nicholas Cage, John Travolta (who I secretly blame for Vince’s bad choices. F’ you Scientology!), and many others who keep churning out horrible stuff, only to have it make enough money for them to keep being employed. 

Here is my plea to Mr. Vaughn.  It’s simple.  Take a break.  Read some scripts.  Stop hanging out with Stiller and the Wilson brothers.  Let’s get hopped up and make some good decisions. Please, I can’t do another “The Watch”….I just can’t.

So who is your Vince Vaughn?  Is there an actor that you go into the theatre blindly with, no matter what? Leave a comment or email this blog at feedback@thefirstrun.com.  You’ll have to excuse me now.  I need to go to fandango to purchase my “Internship” tickets.  I am hopeless.