Remember Kenny Rogers Performing “The Gambler” On The Muppet Show?

Friends, after finishing up that article the other evening on release of the Army of the Dead trailer, which as I pointed out was wise to use Kenny Roger’s popular “The Gambler” tune during the preview, I had the hankering to pull out his 1978 album of the same name. As I was sitting listening to the LP I couldn’t help but think back to when I first heard it at my grandparents on a weekend long ago. Which also reminded me of the time that Kenny Rogers was the special guest on The Muppet Show, a beloved television series that I would watch while spending the weekends with my grandfather and grandmother. While I was not the biggest fan of country and western music as a kid, it was these weekends with my grandparents that I did develop a love for the likes of Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Horton, The Oakridge Boys, Dolly Parton, and of course Kenny Rogers.

To be completely honest, my grandfather wasn’t exactly a fan of The Muppet Show, I think he found it to be far too silly. He would either fall asleep on the couch while it was playing or he would tinker on his motorcycle out in the garage when I was watching the show. I do remember him paying attention though when Kenny Rogers appeared on the October 1979 episode of the series, ending up performing “Love Lifted Me” from the 1975 album of the same name in addition to “The Gambler”.


The character of the Gambler during the segment was performed by the late and great Jerry Nelson. The talented puppeteer who brought us the likes of Count von Count and the original Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street, as well as Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Crazy Harry, and Uncle Deadly on The Muppet Show – to name just a very few of the characters he brought to life in the 47 years he was active as a performer.

You might be interested to know that Kenny Rogers was not the first artist to record “The Gambler”, that honor goes to Don Schlitz who also wrote the song back in August of 1976. As I understand it, Schlitz tried to get other artists and labels interested in the song for two years before Bobby Bare ended up recording it for his album entitled Bare. Besides Schlitz and Bare, Johnny Cash would release it on his Gone Baby album. The tune however didn’t take off until Kenny Rogers recorded a cover of it for his sixth studio album which he entitled The Gambler, so if you are keeping count that is four artists who recorded and released the song in 1978 alone.

Kenny Rogers would earn a Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Male Country Vocal Performance, to say nothing of the fact that “The Gambler” would reach #1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs as well as nabbing the number 3 spot for Adult Contemporary and even taking the 16th slot on their Hot 100 list.

It’s Muerto Las Vegas In Zack Snyder’s Army Of The Dead Trailer

Friends, earlier today Netflix released the official trailer for the upcoming Zack Snyder directed Army of the Dead, which looks like it is ready to double down on zombie action and thrills when it pits Dave Bautista against a horde of the living dead in Las Vegas. This is actually the first of three projects though in this new ‘Army’ zombie cinematic universe scheduled to hit Netflix. As there is also an upcoming anime series entitled Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas as well as a prequel film called Army of Thieves.

Snyder is no stranger though to the zombie genre thanks to 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, itself a remake of the classic 1978 film by the late and great George A. Romero. I was one of those many fans of Romero’s work that looked on the screenplay by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) as well as the trailer for the remake of the movie with a healthy does of skepticism. Being a huge fan of the zombie genre though, I scheduled a day off from work so I could catch the first showing… and ten minutes after it began I was grinning ear to ear and planning on catching the second matinee as well. That opening to the Zack Snyder version of Dawn of the Dead managed to give you a slice of normalcy and calm before aggressively letting you see it all get swept away overnight.

Perhaps the most surprising fact of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead was just how much fun it was – it was a still a horror film to be sure – but Snyder and Gunn definitely provided some dark laughs and action to go along with the zombie carnage. And judging by the trailer for Army of the Dead it is a return to form for Snyder, especially with the “Always Bet on Dead” tagline as seen on the official poster. Word of warning though before you check out the trailer for yourself, there is a brief moment of SALTY language, but thankfully it doesn’t cross the PG-13 line. And kudos by the way to the filmmaker for using the 1978 cover of “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers in the trailer below!


Dave Bautista plays Scott Walker, a former soldier who leads a team of mercenaries into the remains of Las Vegas in the hopes of securing $200 million dollars locked in a vault. Not only does the group have to contend with what looks like intelligent zombies and an undead tiger, but they only have 32 hours before a nuclear bomb is dropped on Las Vegas. If you listen closely to the news report at the beginning of that trailer, the city that never sleeps has been walled off to prevent the zombie hordes from spreading. So I think it’s safe to say that the $50 million pay out will still go a long way for Walker and his team… assuming any of them survive the job, right?

In addition to Bautista, the film also stars Theo Rossi (Luke Cage), Ella Purnell (Sweetbitter), Tig Notaro (One Mississippi), Ana de la Reguera (Goliath), Hiroyuki Sanada (Westworld), Omari Hardwick (Kick-Ass), Matthias Schweighöfer (You Are Wanted), Raúl Castillo (Ghost Tape), Nora Arnezeder (Safe House), Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood), and Samantha Win (Mortal Kombat: Legacy).

As I understand it from reading online, Army of the Dead will be released in select theaters beginning on May 14th with it hitting Netflix one week later.

Godzilla: The Series Vs Kong: The Animated Series

Friends, with the release yesterday of the highly anticipated Godzilla vs. Kong from Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures, the promised confrontation hinted at in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters has arrived. As a matter of fact if everything had gone according to plan, you would be hearing a non-spoiler review of Godzilla vs. Kong on a new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast today, however it was not to be… you’ll just have to wait a few more days to learn what we thought of the new film.

Having said that though I thought today might be the perfect time to remind you of two animated series that featured the adventures of Godzilla and Kong. In this case that would be the late ’90s Godzilla: The Series as well as Kong: The Animated Series from the early ’00s, both shows interestingly enough found themselves being aired on Fox Kids.


Godzilla: The Series ran for two season on Fox Kids beginning on September 12th of 1998, with the last new episode airing on June 15th of 2001. A continuation from the events that took place in the big budget reboot attempt by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin of Independence Day fame. While Godzilla was not a box office bomb, the amount of revenue earned by the live action feature wasn’t enough for TriStar Pictures to invest in continuing the film series. And while the movie wasn’t exactly met with open arms from longtime Godzilla fans, the animated series turned out to be surprisingly popular.

The show followed the exploits of Dr. Nick Tatopulos, voiced by Ian Ziering (Beverely Hills 90210), who it is revealed found one egg that was left intact after the bombing of Madison Square Garden. The egg hatches and the new Godzilla imprints itself on Nick, who as a founding member of H.E.A.T. (Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team) takes care of and trains the giant Kaiju to protect humanity from the increasing number of mutated creatures who have begun to appear all over the World.

The popularity of Godzilla: The Series led to two different Game Boy Color titles being released, with Godzilla: The Series published in 1999 and Godzilla: The Series – Monster Wars the following year. In addition there were plans for Trendmasters to produced a toy line for the animated series in ’99 but it appears the line was cancelled before it went into mass production. At the very least we have this unaired TV spot for the proposed toy line, featuring Godzilla and Cyber-Godzilla, the latter being the alien resurrected corpse of the Godzilla from the live action film!


As I understand it, the popularity of Godzilla: The Series did not go unnoticed, which is why Kong: The Animated Series was put into production. Airing as part of the BKN block of animated shows in 2000, the American-Canadian series would jump over to Fox Kids in 2001, where the first 13 episodes were aired over the Summer. Kong: The Animated Series would eventually be brought to Toon Disney in 2005, to take advantage of the hype for the then upcoming Peter Jackson helmed remake of King Kong.

Kong: The Animated Series focused on the friendship between a young man named Jason Jenkins and a cloned version of King Kong, from samples taken by Jason’s grandmother, Dr. Lorna Jenkins, after the tragic death of the Kaiju by the squadron of biplanes during the incident at the Empire State Building. Thanks to the Cyber-Link technology invented by his Grandmother, Jason is able to merge on a genetic level with Kong and lend his intelligence and martial arts skills to the giant ape. Interestingly enough the show explains that this merging is not an easy balance to maintain, each personality is attempting to become the dominant one, so this link cannot be maintained for a great period of time.

The main antagonist in the series is an evil scientist by the name of Professor Ramon De La Porta, who manages to steal Dr. Lorna Jenkins’ Cyber-Link, which he uses on various animals to create Kaiju strong enough to battle Kong. In addition the Professor is after the Primal Stones located on Kong Island, powerful artifacts that were originally used to imprison a demon named Chiros the Destroyer. With the Primal Stones in the Professor’s possession he would be able to take over the world, so it is up to Jason and his friends with the help of Kong to put an end to those plans.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY KONG – The Animates Series – Official Channel.

Kong: The Animated Series released two direct-to-video films after the television series came to an end. The first was Kong: King of Atlantis in 2005 and the second was Kong: Return to the Jungle and was released two years later. In addition the animated series managed to have two games developed and produced for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, the 2002 game was based on the television show while the 2005 title was based on the first animated film.

So there you have it, a look at Godzilla: The Series and Kong: The Animated Series. You might be interested to know that the latter is available to watch from that official YouTube channel link, a nice way to while away the hours before you can head out and see Godzilla vs. Kong for yourself.

Let us know in the comments if you remember watching these animated series, or if perhaps you preferred The King Kong Show from the late ’60s or even 1978’s Godzilla cartoon instead?

Check Out The 1977 Super 8 Version Of Star Wars!

Friends, until the release of Star Wars in 1982 to the home market on the likes of VHS, LaserDisc, Betamax, CED VideoDisc, and even the European based Video 2000 videocassette, the only way to enjoy the first entry in the original trilogy was to catch it in theaters in limited re-release engagements. As I understand it there were four times that the original Star Wars returned to theaters, with the first being in ’78 and then the following year, as well as in ’81 and then for the last time on August 13th of 1982.


But to the point of this article, the Star Wars fans who were lucky enough to have access to a Super 8 film projector in 1977 could enjoy selected scenes released by Ken Films to the home market. There were three versions of Super 8 reels offered to the public by Ken Films, black and white as well as silent, a color edition with no sound, or color with the addition of sound. The scenes offered on the Super 8 reels were of Luke Skywalker being told about his Father and the ways of the Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. Then followed by Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Luke, plus R2-D2 and C-3PO making their escape from the Death Star. Concluding with the thrilling TIE Fighter attack on the Millennium Falcon as they make good their escape to the rebel base on Yavin 4.

Star Wars - Super 8 - TIE Fighter - Ken Films

With the popularity of Star Wars it will probably not surprise you to learn that the Super 8 reels sold very, very well indeed. So much so that Ken Films produced two more reels of selected scenes afterwards that were twice the length of their initial offering, resulting in about half an hour of 1977’s Star Wars when all was said and done.

The reason for this article is that the other day before I went to work at the arcade, I received a message from Gary Burton, not only a fellow author on this site but the chief technician at the Arkadia Retrocade. Gary asked if I might be able to come in just a little earlier than normal because he had picked up something at an antique store that he felt I would get a kick out of. That turned out to be something of an understatement as he powered up his 1973 Kodak Moviedeck 435 film projector and showed me the 1977 black and white Star Wars reel he had picked up earlier in the week. While possessing no sound, the scenes did provide subtitles so that the viewers could make sense of the highly abridged story of the classic 1977 film.

  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Kenobi - Ken Films - 1977
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Han Solo - Death Star - 1977 - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Princess Leia - Death Star - 1977 - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - 1977 - Droids - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Death Star - Luke - 1977 - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Kodak Moviedeck 435

In closing out this article, there was one other way to enjoy Star Wars at home back in ’77, and that was thanks to the excellent film cartridges and viewer released by Kenner. However if you would like to see the black and white Ken Films version of Star Wars for yourself, I found this copy that was uploaded on YouTube.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY rockyracoon86.

Siskel and Ebert Weigh In On 1978’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Friends, when Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasions of the Body Snatchers was released to theaters on December 22nd of 1978, it played in a mere 445 theaters and by the time it had completed it’s run it had managed to earn 24.9 million against a budget of 3.5 million dollars. Not too shabby a return for 1978 but perhaps even more impressive is that the Kaufman (The Right Stuff) helmed filmed managed to be one of the rare cases were a remake was just as good or perhaps even better than the original film, the classic 1956 picture starring Kevin McCarthy.

While it should be mentioned that not all critics at the time were impressed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the majority seemed to enjoy it even if they saw it as just a bit of entertaining fluff. As mentioned in a very early episode of the Saturday Frights podcast, while it played at the local Drive-In theater of my youth, I didn’t catch it until a couple of years later after it had been released on the Movie Channel. Both my Father and I were quite impressed with the remake, the slow burn of what first appears to be a citywide wave of paranoia quickly dives into a satisfying science fiction/horror scenario. Or perhaps it would be better described as being a solid entry in the apocalypse genre?


In some of those original reviews for the movie I was shocked to find that Philip Kaufman’s direction was pointed out as being lacking, personally I think he did a fantastic job. Kudos to the screenplay by W.D. Richter (Big Trouble in Little China) as well, although it doesn’t hurt that the source material, the 1954 The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney is equally entertaining. You might be interested to know that the story first saw print in serialized form in the pages of Colliers Magazine, it wouldn’t be until the following year that Dell Books would publish it as a novel.

The 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake is particularly enjoyable thanks to the extremely talented cast that Kaufman assembled. You have the likes of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, Art Hindle, and Leonard Nimoy. The late and great Nimoy in particular manages to pretty much steal every single scene he is in, which is saying something considering the amount of talent I just mentioned.

But what about Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, what did they think of the picture? Thanks to this uploaded segment of Sneak Previews we can find out for ourselves!


In closing out this article, if you happen to take the time and listen to that episode of the Saturday Frights podcast – please bear in mind it was at a time that we were attempting something different with the audio presentation for the character of the Projectionist.

Mulder And Scully Crossed Paths With Michael Myers?!

Friends, I highly doubt I am fooling anyone with that header, obviously Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) never actually came across the Haddonfield horror known as Michael Myers during their investigation of the X-Files. However that isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be a thrilling crossover to watch if they had, which is of course why this fan-made trailer for X-Files Case: Michael Myers was concocted by Deformed Lunchbox and uploaded to their YouTube channel. Taking scenes from various episodes of the long-running Fox series The X-Files and splicing them with moments from a number of the films in the equally long-running Halloween franchise – giving us a taste of that alternative dimension where Mulder and Scully crossed paths with Michael Myers.

In fact Deformed Lunchbox provided this description for the video itself:

“It’s Halloween, and Agents Mulder and Scully have a case more deadly than they could imagine… In the small town of Haddonfield, a serial killer named Michael Myers has escaped from a mental hospital and is on a gruesome rampage! Following the trail of bodies (mostly teenagers) Mulder and Scully are investigating to no avail. The two are unsuccessful at stopping the invincible boogie man, and they are failing to stop the bloodbath. Will the two agents be able to put at end to Michael Myers, or will they succumb to his carnage?”


In particular I think the music that Deformed Lunchbox used in this fan-made trailer is the icing on the cake. I can truly say that I was a devoted fan of The X-Files in the beginning, much of that was thanks to watching The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., which was the show that aired before the former. Although I must also admit that I walked away from watching the series every single week starting around season 8 – which is the long way around to admitting I am not sure what episodes were used for the trailer.

However I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that not only is the original Halloween featured in the fan-made trailer but so is the 1981 sequel as well as Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween: Resurrection, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, and of course 2018’s Halloween.

In closing out this article, if you recognize scenes from the fan-made trailer by Deformed Lunchbox that we missed, make sure you to point them out in the comments sections.

A Jawa Plays Eruption: A Tribute to Edward Van Halen

Friends, little did I know that today I would end up writing two articles featuring stop motion animation, but that is absolutely what has happened. In the earlier post about the David Allen produced 1972 Volkswagen commercial featuring King Kong, I shared how I was introduced to not just the iconic 1933 film but the style of animation used by the likes of such masters as Willis O’Brien (1925’s The Lost World) and later Ray Harryhausen (Clash of the Titans).

Thanks to a friend on Facebook, courtesy of a post by Greg Kennelty of Metal Injection – we can enjoy this stop motion tribute by Thomas J. Yagodinski. A tribute that I should add that mashes up Star Wars and Van Halen. Yagodinski uploaded this astoundingly awesome video just last week and it has already garnered 302,455 views and for good reason, as is pointed out in the comments section the Jawa puppet matches the fingering and two-handed tapping guitar technique that the late Eddie Van Halen used in 1978’s “Eruption”.

“Eruption” is a guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen that was released on the Van Halen album on February 10th of 1978. And appears to have been voted as the greatest guitar solo of all time by the readers of Guitar World magazine in 2013. In addition to reaching the number 29 spot on the New Musical Express’ 50 greatest guitar solos of all time.

While I am no scholar on the subject of anything, much less music – I try to leave those articles to Earl Green and Allison Venezio-Preston – I do know what I like. Such as the comment left by Tenderfoot Prepper on Yagodinski’s tribute video:

“These notes — too accurate for Sand People.”


It turns out that Thomas J. Yagodinski created the Jawa puppet himself, taking the 16 inch guitar and modifying it to resemble the one that was built by the late musician and Matt Bruck. As I understand it, that particular guitar is one of three that brought in more than $422,00 dollars at a recent auction.

Retro Records: The Story Of The Wizard Of Oz (1978)

Friends, I have shared many times in the past that I have fond memories of listening to my small collection of Disney Read-Along book and records – thanks to a subscription that was a birthday gift from my Grandmother. In fact the very first book and record that I received was Walt Disney’s Story of Davy Crockett – which as I understand it is the 1977 version – featuring the extremely popular 1955 “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” tune by The Wellingtons. Over the following year I also received Disney Read-Along book and records for the likes of TRON, The Black Hole, Pete’s Dragon, The Rescuers, and Lady and the Tramp to name a few.

One of the book and records that I didn’t get my hands on though was The Story of The Wizard of Oz – which was released back in 1978. Although having said that, in my limited research from online resources, it does appear that this is actually a truncated version of an LP entitled The Story and Songs of The Wizard of Oz that was either released in 1969 or the following year. As a matter of fact I believe that The Story of The Wizard of Oz was originally released in 1970 and then reissued in 1978.

The Story of The Wizard of Oz is based on the writing of the classic series by L. Frank Baum – you will notice that Dorothy is wearing silver shoes instead of ruby slippers – having said that though it does contain renditions of “Over the Rainbow” as well as “We’re Off to See the Wizard” from the 1939 film.

An interesting bit of trivia is that this particular Disney Read-Along book and record is narrated by Hal Smith – who was no stranger to voicing characters in various animated Disney films and Saturday morning cartoons. Although Smith is probably best known for playing Otis Campbell, the lovable town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show.

Video and Article Image Provided by Kids Records.

In closing out this article – I wish I could have found who provided the illustrations for The Story of The Wizard of Oz – the artwork is similar to that found in the animated specials by Chuck Jones!

Pop Culture Retrorama Podcast Ep. 014 – Godzilla And A New Direction

Friends, as the last episode of the first season for the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast was back in March – I am willing to bet that waking up to find a brand new episode was pretty low on your list of things to expect today. The reason for this new show as I mention in the podcast itself, is to not only remind folks that the show is still being produced – but to also give you a taste of the new direction the podcast is taking. I will still be doing in depth episodes on all manner of pop culture related subjects – case in point for this show – the animated Saturday Morning Godzilla series from 1978. However, for the second season of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast I will be joined by fellow writers from this site – all discussing their own subjects. For example, Rockford Jay shares some history on Queen’s memorable “Don’t Stop Me Now” – which just so happens to have been released in 1978.

Also joining us on this episode we have Ashley Thomas aka The Nerdy Blogger of Fangirlish – who shares the sad news that we have lost Norm Spencer – the voice of Cyclops from the X-Men animated series. Thomas provides her own memories of the talented Spencer but also provides some remembrances of those who worked with him – such as Cal Dodd (Wolverine) and Lenore Zann (Rogue).

Allison Venezio-Preston has decided to give everyone the lowdown on the updated Mall Madness board game – which includes new characters and stores – but still sounds like it is just as fun as the original 1989 game.

The esteemed Earl Green is also on this episode – taking time out of his busy schedule at The Log Book and writing for this site to discuss 1978’s Star Bird by Milton Bradley. A science fiction toy that I too coveted in my youth.

Bear in mind that the second season of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast will not start until we are finished with the current season of the Saturday Frights podcast. So we hope you will enjoy this sneak peek at how the new PCR show will presented in the near future.

If you have any suggestions for topics you would like for us to cover in a future episode -or possibly you have comments on the current show itself, email them to me at You can also contact me on Twitter and on Facebook. In addition I certainly hope you will take the time to visit the Saturday Frights Facebook Page. There you can find posts from Rockford Jay, Preston Griffith and myself on a daily basis.

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1978 View-Master Spaceman Theatre Commercial With Ricky Schroder

Friends, at the risk of sounding like a broken record even more than I usually do – in my youth I cherished and desired any toy that would give the illusion of watching or showing a movie. That is of course the reason that my Family bought me both the Fisher-Price Viewer as well as Movie Theater for the Holidays – I received these gifts at the ripe old age of five and I am quite proud to say that I still have them and they are in excellent working condition. Those might have been my favorite but they were by no means the only movie viewers that I would receive in the late ’70s. For example I also got my hands on the Kenner Star Wars movie viewer and even the Snoopy Drive-In Movie Theater – going to bed after that magical Holiday, meant my Father had to sit through multiple showings of Goofy, Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, and Pink Panther cartoons.

Video Provided by The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

At the end of the day between the two Fisher-Price products, it was the Movie Theatre that was my favorite – it had quite a bit to do with the fact that you could cast the image on a nearby wall. It was this same toy that I have mentioned in regards to my brief stint as an unlicensed representative of the Ghostbusters in past articles. It not only helped to fan a deep love of animation but also gave me the chance to study the process of making cartoons – with that ability to go frame by frame when watching a cartridge.

Video Provided by Mason Dixon Dolls.

There was another toy however that helped scratch that itch of watching a movie whenever I felt like – sort of – I am referring of course to the View-Master. Which in my case was a hand-me-down given to me along with a handful of reels by my Grandparents one Summer evening. Compared to the ability of the Fisher-Price Movie Theater with it’s truncated versions of some of my favorite cartoon shorts – the View-Master viewer initially seemed to be a lesser form of entertainment.

I think we can chalk up that misconception to a folly of youth as I began to realize how wonderful the View-Master truly was. In addition the View-Master beat Fisher-Price and Kenner by how many franchises they managed to sign up – reel sets were produced for the likes of Batman, The Brady Bunch, Buck Rogers, MASH, Gremlins, Doctor Who, and Star Trek to name just a few. In fact you will see a few of those franchises in this 1978 View-Master television commercial – one featuring the Space Theatre in the Round set – as well as a very young Ricky Schroder (Silver Spoons, Lonesome Dove).

Video and Article Image Provided by Sean Mc.