NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 119: KISS at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City!

Today’s t-shirt memorializes the very KISS stadium concert at Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium in 1976! This tee is available at their official page KISSonline.com

Wow, we love demolishing stadiums in this state, don’t we? Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City was a baseball stadium that opened in 1937 and was demolished in 1985. Sure, it had its share of memorable sporting events and concerts, but one in particular featured my favorite band ever, KISS.

When you think of famed KISS concerts, you may think of Cobo Hall in Detroit, or even Madison Square Garden in New York City, but merely days after America’s Bicentennial 4th of July celebration, on July 10th, 1976, KISS played very first stadium show right in The Sexiest of all Armpits.

Headlining a big baseball stadium was no easy task. The band had to be louder and crazier than the crowd was, and naturally, KISS was up for the task. At the time, they were riding high on what would become their biggest album of all time, Destroyer, so they were properly equipped to blast everyone directly out of the stadium with their mammoth sound and explosions, and that’s exactly what they did.

For non-KISS fans, it’s easy to believe that if you’ve seen one KISS concert, you’ve seen them all, but I’m here to tell you that’s just simply not the case. There was a special kind of magic going on with the early KISS shows. A group of musicians with a wild idea to mix ghastly face paint, elaborate costumes, and an explosive stage show were still in their formative years as a band. Hell, much like some of their other early concerts, the Roosevelt Stadium show was filmed in black and white, lending it an even more macabre atmosphere. B&W is one quality that always intrigued me with early KISS shows and bootlegs, especially knowing that Gene is such a horror movie fanatic.

Many of you have lived through the many incarnations of KISS. For over 40 years now KISS has been evolving their music, their look, and their stage show. To me, nothing beats those early years. Their music was darker and more seedy, their look was more basic, albeit scary. I wasn’t lucky enough to live through their ’70s heyday, but I relived them on my own through VHS bootlegs as a kid. Now, all that footage is on DVD box sets and of course, YouTube! You can see footage from the Roosevelt Stadium show below.

*Opening for KISS at Roosevelt Stadium was The J.Geils Band and Point Blank. It’s a heinous crime that at of the time of this post this show was somehow not included in the notable KISS concert list on Wikipedia. That is totally insane. Someone please fix this!

Nerd Lunch Halloween Special!

Nerd Lunch PodcastMy goal in life at this point is to become the Alec Baldwin of the Nerd Lunch podcast. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but hopefully one of these days I’ll be in contention. What can I say, I have lofty aspirations! This time around I was a guest on their Halloween Special which I was very excited to be a part of. For episode 59, C.T wasn’t around, but Pax, Jeeg, Shawn from Branded in the ’80s, and myself discussed both the 1976 Paul Lynde Halloween Special and the 1986 TV movie The Worst Witch. It was a lot of fun as always and let it enhance your Halloween celebration. You can download it from iTunes for free, or go and visit www.NerdLunch.net and catch it there!

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.69: Alice Sweet Alice

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Alice Sweet Alice is a Jersey horror movie that isn’t afraid to admit it. This independent film was certainly influential to the slasher genre, especially since it was released in 1976. Some horror fans swear by it, while others are luke warm. Either way, Alice has become a cult classic. Rather than go into a long, boring dissertation of the film, I’ve gathered comments on the film from several fellow bloggers on the Internet. After you read those, I’ll give you mine!

The film was a pioneer not because it was Brooke Shields first film, but mostly because of the killer’s creepy as hell mask and raincoat look. Jeff from Dinner with Max Jenke supports this claim: “Slasher icons like Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, and Leatherface are celebrated for their iconic looks, but to my mind, none of them can hold a candle to the creepy countenance of Alice’s diminutive killer.”

What I loved about Dave Stewart’s review at Bloody Terror was that he pointed out the New Jersey aspect of the film. “In fact, the atmosphere is key to the flick’s effectiveness. Shot in the ’70s and set in the ’60s, Alice Sweet Alice has a terrific feel for its working class New Jersey backdrop.”

Aside from offending devout Catholics, Alice Sweet Alice didn’t leave a huge impression upon it’s release. It’s impact has been felt more in the decades that followed. Captain Cadaver points out at his Happy Horror Blog that Alice was shot in the summer of ’75, way before slasher movies really took off with Halloween in ’78, and goes on to praise the film: “As many shocks as Psycho, as much religious commentary as The Exorcist, with as much atmosphere as The Haunting, there’s no reason why this well written, acted and directed genre masterpiece shouldn’t be listed as a classic right beside all of the aforementioned.”

One aspect of the film that I only found a few bloggers mention is the feeling of being short changed by the resolution. I was let down by the film, but that’s not to say it’s without merit. The majority of horror films feature a swerve, and I was expecting it, even from an early slasher like this one. But I felt unfulfilled. Andre from Horror Digest also had a minor gripe with it as well, and I completely agree with her statement that “…I still think Alice still stabbed the aunt.” You should watch it and decide for yourself! Andre sums it up by saying that the film “…was suspenseful, surprising, and really kept you on edge.”

Being let down by horror movies seemed to be a trend, at least for me as I was growing up. I’d go to the video store and pick horror movies based on whether the VHS cover scared me or not. That turned out not to be such a successful system. Horror Movie a Day brings up a good point about this: “The only thing that really bummed me out was that nothing in the film was as creepy as the film’s poster which used to scare me at the video store as a kid.”

Considering that Psycho is the grandfather of all slasher films, Alice Sweet Alice has got to be looked at as the original niece of the slashers. The issue for many viewers is that we’ve seen so many incarnations of essentially the slasher same film since the ’70s that Alice doesn’t feel as original as it actually is. Perhaps if I saw it back in ’76 it might have been more disturbing. It’s still awesome to see Paterson, NJ in the mid ’70s, especially the scene at Great Falls waterfall. I’ll end with another quote from Jeff at Dinner with Max Jenke – in fact, the same quote he ended his review with – “If you want to know what scary is all about, go ask Alice.” I’ll let you determine that yourself, or you can wait for the remake!

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.67: I Wanna Hold Your Hand

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Protests, Police, Prostitutes, and PAUL!!!

Some DVDs linger on my “must watch list,” but for one reason or another keep getting passed up in favor of repeat viewings of Mr. Mom and Nightmare on Elm Street. Those things happen. I’m rendered powerless when I turn on the TV and see Psycho on, but when there’s a hundred movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years and I still haven’t followed through, then that’s a problem. Recently, I finally watched one that has literally been on my list for more than 5 years.

Talk about underrated! I hereby add 1978’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand to the most underrated comedies ever. While growing up I never even knew about this film. It didn’t really play on TV all that much and it didn’t make a ton of money at the box office either. Considering all the movies that have gone unnoticed in theaters and eventually became legendary on VHS and DVD, by rights this should be one of them, but it’s not. As we take a closer look you can be baffled along with me as to why I Wanna Hold Your Hand doesn’t always show up on those lists of classic rock and roll comedies.

There’s several reasons why you’ll want to check this movie out. What’s most noteworthy is that the film was written and directed by Robert Zemeckis and get this – it was produced by Steven Spielberg! If they aren’t the movie Mega Powers, I don’t know who is! Secondly, my notion of the film before I watched it was that it was probably some sort of Beatles biopic like a more straight laced version of Spinal Tap. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Beatles merely serve as the catalyst for the teenage characters to get to the Beatles legendary performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Remember when Clark Griswold said “Getting there is half the fun, you know that!” Well that is definitely the case and the Beatles take a back seat to all the craziness that happens along the way.

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand has more in common with a teen period piece like American Graffiti than a straight up rock and roll film. It’s a time capsule of Beatlemania. Naturally it will have more of an effect on you if you lived through the ’60s, but that didn’t phase me one bit. The cast is fantastic and it includes Nancy Allen who makes out hardcore with Paul McCartney’s bass, the late Wendie Jo Sperber in her film debut (you may remember her from Bosom Buddies and as Mary McFly’s sister in Back to the Future) in her funniest role, Marc Mclure (Marty McFly’s brother), and Eddie Deezen who played the geek Eugene in the Grease films.

In 1999, the KISS version of this film was released as Detroit Rock City. That’s not an exaggeration. DRC is one of my favorites, but I couldn’t believe how much that film borrowed from I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Oh, and last but not least…the film opens in Maplewood, New Jersey! 

The Monster Van Is On The Move!

Monster Van NJ

Driving cross country has always been on my list of things to do. A Winnegabo is too much real estate for me to be hauling around, I prefer smaller vehicles. A ’70s style custom van is what I need. How about some black lights and a kickass Sexy Armpit mural on the sides? A man can dream can’t he? Until then I’ll admire other people’s cool vans.

I spotted this “Monster Van” heading down 287 the other day. I’ve seen van artwork before but it’s not often you see one plastered with actual photos of classic monster movies affixed to it on the highway. Whoever owns this van must turn a ton of heads. I HAD to snap a picture with my iPhone (as you can see above) and it actually came out amazingly well considering we were driving close to 60 miles per hour! Right after that, the van sped up and disappeared out of sight. Maybe he was heading back to Transylvania via route 287?

*The van had New Jersey plates but I blurred out the plate number. Also, if you look closely at the back window there’s a Frankenstein window cling!

ReVision’s Rocky Horror Show Reviewed

Rocky Horror Asbury Park

On October 28th, 2010 I attended an electrifying performance of The Rocky Horror Show presented by The ReVision Theatre in The Carousel House on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. I had no idea there was anything going on in the Carousel House, and it’s great to see that The ReVision Theatre may find a permanent home there, if they can raise the funding. If you haven’t been able to catch the show yet, you still have time since they’ve extended the run through November 13th! If you’ve seen the 1975 film, but never a stage production of Rocky, it’s a whole different experience!

If sexual innuendos, and bisexuality make you feel uncomfortable, then you can stop reading this now. I always seem to run into plenty of people who have never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show in any form, and much of the time it’s because they think it “looks weird,” or they don’t dig transvestites. I say lighten the f*ck up! It’s one of the most fun shows you will ever witness. Although, I can see why some folks may be apprehensive to step into it’s erotic world of sci-fi, horror, and comedy. It’s the one aspect of Rocky Horror that I don’t like…the audience interaction.

While the majority of hardcore fans of Rocky Horror have memorized the lines, crowd retorts, and what to throw at the stage and at what time, it gets old really quick. Having to shout “SLUT,” every time someone utters the name “Janet” is annoying. Tying to pay attention to the dialogue becomes extremely challenging. The crowd lines become a whole seperate script you need to remember so they provide you with help via word bubbles Pop Up Video style on the set’s big screen above the stage. Those types of jokes are funny the first few times but it tends to make people shy away, especially when newbies hear terribly embarrassing stories about being a “virgin.” Believe me, that part is not as bad as you may have heard.

Since it’s tough to beat the production values of the Broadway version of Rocky Horror that ran in the early 2000’s, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two. Scoring the likes of Sebastian Bach and Joan Jett is out of the realm of possibility, but the Asbury Park show still manages to go over the top, even without big name stars. In fact, having Chris Hall in the role of Frank N. Furter made this show more genuine. He was definitely inspired by Tim Curry’s Frank, and more flashy and brave than actors who have previously portrayed the character in the New York productions that I’ve seen.

With a freakish frizz of fake hair on top of his head and a wild makeup job on his face, Hall strutted around stage like he owned it. There was even a moment when he accidentally kicked a stage light and it broke. He nonchalantly referred to it while in character and the audience loved it. Hall was so comfortable in the part that I hope when some asinine filmmaker decides to remake RHPS, that they consider Hall for the role. His Frank N. Furter was glittery and his soaring vocals grabbed the audience by their sack…of props.

I did have a few minor issues, but that’s only because I’m forever tied to the film version. Hernando Umana’s Riff Raff had green hair, and looked less like Richard O’Brien in the film and more like The Joker. Umana’s voice was incredible and he added in some very entertaining mannerisms, so I’d say he’s in the right business. The narrator, played by Brett Colby, had great comedic timing, I wonder if he does stand up? Tap dancing and tripping on drugs and into our hearts was Jesse Wildman as Columbia. She was a lot of fun to watch and provided a fresh take on the character. And as Janet, actress Jennifer Bowles was hysterical as she humped various parts of the stage and writhed around in her underwear during “Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me.”

The last couple of gripes I had may have been fixed by now since I witnessed the first show of the run. First, some of the special effects cues were out of sync. For instance, when Janet changed channels on the TV screen, the last channel came up too late, well after she stopped changing channels. Little details like that happened with the big TV screen several times. There were also instances when some of the audience interaction prompts were not the same as what the crowd was yelling. And finally, certain sections of seats were different than others, and even though ours had little pillows on them, they were uncomfortable to the point where I would have preferred sitting on the floor.

Overall it was a great time for a very reasonable price, and an easy drive on The Garden State Parkway! Support local independent theater and check out The ReVision Theatre website for more info!

Greatest Mask EVER…

Diabolical Disc Demon Mask

I was literally stunned to see this mask at a booth at the New York Comic Con this year. For those of you who are not familiar with who this mask is supposed to be, you need to take a trip back to your childhood! The slab of rubbery glory is a triumph for Scooby-Doo fans, well, for me at least. The mask is based off of The Diabolical Disc Demon, a villainous knockoff of Gene Simmons from one of my all time favorite episodes of Scooby Doo: Where Are You? that first aired in 1978. I’m pretty sure The Disc Demon could’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling stoners and their dog! Other classic Scooby villains are also available in case you for some reason haven’t figured out what to dress up as for Halloween.

Click below to read all about The Disc Demon episode and the appearance of KISS on Scooby-Doo in a classic Sexy Armpit post: