Check Out 1982’s Video Games: A Public Perspective From Atari!

Friends, I hope you are more than ready to take a trip back to 1982 with Video Games: A Public Perspective, which was a public service video for communities worried about video games and arcades. During the Golden Age of the arcades it is certainly easy to see why Atari would spend the effort to produce and fund the nearly 20 minute long PSA, the older people who are interviewed at the beginning of the video itself sum up a lot of the fears that were running rampant back in the day.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Patrick Scott Patterson.

As was demonstrated in that video by Patrick Scott Patterson, it’s not like video game worries have ever truly ceased to be a concern for panic among certain groups. Before I dive into why you should set aside your time to watch Video Games: A Public Perspective though, I need to point out that until yesterday I didn’t even know it existed. It was all thanks to the historians over at Atarimania who have shared the 1982 Atari community awareness pamphlet, which besides offering a VHS copy of the public service announcement, also added the option for an industry spokesperson to appear in front of a concerned community group to discuss any lingering fears.

Now I feel that bit of Atari history is worthy of a post all on it’s own, to demonstrate how the legendary game company was trying to get out ahead of the very same fears that managed to cause pinball to be banned for so many years in most cities. Having said all of that however, Video Games: A Public Perspective also happens to provide an amazing look back at the Golden Age of arcades and video games. In addition it also features interviews with the likes of Dona Bailey, who of course designed the Atari classic Centipede back in 1981. Bailey just so happens to live in my neck of the woods, although as far as I am aware, she has yet to pay a visit to the arcade I work at.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Motherboard.

Perhaps what is most surprising in the video though is how many level-headed concerns as well as solutions are brought up in Video Games: A Public Perspective. Granted most of them fall on the side of pro-video games, but my favorite comes from Vinnie Settembre – who looks like he could whip up a mean pizza!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Bill Lange.

The Last Starfighters Sizzle Reel Is Remarkable

Friends, much like in 1982 the sheer amount of classic and cult classic films that were released in 1984 are astounding. Ghostbusters, The Terminator, Amadeus, The NeverEnding Story, Gremlins, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Night of the Comet, Streets of Fire, and The Last Starfighter are just a very few of the movies released for that year. And in similar fashion as 1982’s TRON the box office take of The Last Starfighter was enough to save it from being a flop but did not generate enough revenue to warrant an immediate sequel. In addition these happen to be two films that are near and dear to my heart, to say nothing of the latter being something of a snapshot of my youth.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Movieclips Classic Trailers.

I grew up in small and sleepy little town, just down the street from a trailer park, where most entertainment was to be had at the local gas station on the weekends. From ice cream, to picking up a comic book off the rusty spinner rack, and of course playing video games. As far as I know however I was never a contender for being recruited to defend the Universe from the invading forces of Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. No matter how much Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator or Time Pilot might have made me feel like Alex Rogan in the film.

Over the years there has been talk of a sequel or even a reboot of The Last Starfighter but nothing has materialized as of yet. Although just a few days ago there was an article from Josh Weiss for SYFY Wire that revealed that we might be getting a sequel and possibly sooner than we might realize. From that article which also provided a sizzle reel for the proposed sequel entitled The Last Starfighters, Gary Whitta (Star Wars Rebels, Mouse Guard) who is the attached screenwriter said:

“[We are] right on the one-yard line,” he said. “After pushing the boulder uphill for years, we are very, very close … I believe it will happen.”

The Last Starfighters sizzle reel is quite remarkable, set to storyboards which have been illustrated by Matt Allsopp and it benefits from a reworked version of the memorable theme from Craig Safan by Chris Tilton (Fringe, Assassin’s Creed: Unity). Whitta has been able to work with Jonathan Betuel, the writer of the 1984 screenplay – which is fantastic news as I think the sizzle reel proves that the two will be able to deliver a film script that is a worthy successor to The Last Starfighter.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Gary Whitta.

In closing out this article on The Last Starfighters, I will admit I teared up pretty hard at the end of the sizzle reel with Tilton’s score playing over those lines from the 1984 film between Lance Guest’s Alex Rogan and the late and great Robert Preston’s Centauri. So, here is to hoping that in the near future we will be able to see a new generation of Starfighters piloting a fleet of Gunstars on the big screen, protecting the Universe from whatever intergalactic threats might pop up.

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.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Star Wars.

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.

Ex-Activision Luminaries Form Audacity Games For Retro Game Systems!

Friends, some pretty exciting retro video game news dropped on Saturday – three of the luminaries of the Golden Age of Activision have decided to join up and form the Audacity Games studio. David Crane as well as Garry and David Kitchen have started up the new company to produce new titles for retro gaming systems – including the likes of the Atari 2600 and more.

Activision as you probably are already aware was formed all the way back on October 1st of 1979 – when David Crane along with Larry Kaplan (Kaboom!), Alan Miller (Robot Tank), and Bob Whitehead (Chopper Command) decided to leave Atari. The reason being that the game designers felt they should be getting some of the vast profits that Atari was raking in on the games they came up with, in addition to being given credit for the games themselves. When those requests were not met, the four decided to finish up their business with Atari and create their own company, with Activision becoming the first third-party developer.

David Crane might be best known for 1982’s Pitfall!, the record-breaking cartridge published by Activision that has been said to have sold over 4 million copies. Garry Kitchen not only had a hand in the port of Donkey Kong to the 2600 but also created the likes of Keystone Kapers and Pressure Cooker for Activision. Dan Kitchen created Crackpots for the iconic third-party developer in addition to working on River Raid II and Ghostbusters II among others. It bears pointing out that a handful of the nearly 50 titles produced by Activision have managed to be discussed on the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast – including Pressure Cooker, River Raid, and even a Top 5 episode.

Here is the official press release announcement for Audacity Games:

“Today, former Activision Co-Founder David Crane and ex-Activision Game Designers Garry and Dan Kitchen announced that they have partnered to form Audacity Games, Inc., a video game publisher focused on designing and publishing boxed game products for a variety of retro game systems, starting with the Atari® 2600™ Video Computer System™.

“With the popularity of retro video games, we saw an opportunity to create new titles for these still popular systems”, Audacity Games co-founder Garry Kitchen said, “and it gives us all a chance to design games again for the platforms that helped launch our careers.” Co-founder David Crane added, “For years our fans have been asking us to create new games. We heard you, and have decided to do just that. I have always said that I have as much fun making games as others do playing them, and the retro game systems are my favorites.”

About Retro Gaming: Retro Gaming is a movement to preserve, collect, and enjoy games and game consoles from a simpler time when video games were easy to understand and fun to play. Retro games demonstrate that a game can provide hours of enjoyment without using the latest technology. The buyer of a retro game gets to own a physical part of gaming history rather than a download of a license that can expire at any time. Each of Audacity Games’ products were authored by original retro game designers, designed to be fun to play, and come as physical game cartridges in a collectible box.

About Audacity Games Inc.: Audacity Games is a premium retro-game publisher founded by legendary game designers David Crane, Garry Kitchen and Dan Kitchen. Every game produced by Audacity Games™ is manufactured to order, and each copy is customized with a unique serial number. Every game connects to the internet through your connected mobile device for registering high scores, gives the player a chance to earn a physical high score patch like those from the golden era of 2600 games, and comes in a full-color box with colored label and printed manual to add to your game collection.

About the founders: David Crane, one of the most successful video game designers of all time, is best known for his smash hits PITFALL!™, DRAGSTER™ and GHOSTBUSTERS™ to name just a few. Garry Kitchen’s work spans five decades of successes with such hits as KEYSTONE KAPERS™, PRESSURE COOKER™ and the Atari® 2600™ version of DONKEY KONG™. Dan Kitchen rounds out the trio with over 40 years of game design experience creating such games as CRACKPOTS™, and the Atari® 2600™ versions of KUNG-FU MASTER and GHOSTBUSTERS™.

Atari and Atari 2600 are trademarks of Atari Inc.; All other trademarks, service marks and company names are the property of their respective owners.”

In closing out this article I want to give a big thanks to Earl Green for the heads up on this exciting news. Earl is not only a fellow writer for the Pop Culture Retrorama site but is also behind Phosphor Dot Fossils, the Logbook, in addition to being a key contributor to the Sci-Fi 5 podcast – your daily five minute look at science fiction history.

Retro Records: The Thief Of Castle Grayskull

Friends, it was in 1982 when Mattel toys released the initial first wave of action figures for their new Masters of the Universe toy line, and it was a massive success. Perhaps kids of the day were primed to accept the sword and sorcery setting thanks to the likes of Dragonslayer, The Beastmaster, and Conan the Barbarian to name a few of the movies released during that time. Whatever the reason was, I can definitely tell you that I was bowled over the first time that I laid eyes on both He-Man and Skeletor at a little toy shop in our local mall. While money was extremely tight when growing up, for some reason my Father allowed me to pick out two action figures that afternoon. And my choices that day were limited to only four characters from the Masters of the Universe toy line, the aforementioned He-Man and Skeletor as well as Beast Man and Man-At-Arms. It seemed like a rather easy choice however and both the ‘Most Powerful Man in the Universe’ as well as ‘The Lord of Destruction’ came home with me to begin their long battle of good versus evil.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY 80’s ToysNow.

Thanks to my Grandparents I was gifted the impressive Castle Grayskull playset on my birthday the following year, it stands as was one of the biggest surprises in my youth, I had not asked for it and when I ripped the paper off and saw that beautiful artwork by Rudy Obrero… I started jumping up and down in excitement. And while I may no longer wage epic battles between He-Man and his fellow Masters of the Universe against the evil legions of Skeletor for the fate of Castle Grayskull – those adventures of my youth still echo in this ‘fortress of mystery and power’.

It was two years after that first wave of Masters of the Universe figures had hit shelves when Kid Stuff Records and Tapes released The Thief of Castle Grayskull, a book and cassette tape set. Interestingly enough the read along book is totally the same as the Golden Storybooks version released the previous year, featuring a story by Roger McKenzie with illustrations courtesy of Fred Carrillo. The former might be best known for his work on Warren Publishing’s line of horror magazines like Creepy, Eerie, and even Vampirella, although in addition he did write for both DC and Marvel Comics. Carrillo also worked with Warren Publishing but was perhaps better known for illustrating a slew of the DC Comics horror tiles such as Weird War Tales, Ghosts, and House of Secrets.

The story for The Thief of Castle Grayskull finds He-Man, Teela, Stratos, Man-At-Arms, and Battle Cat with a serious problem – Skeletor has used his magic to summon a vortex that rips Castle Grayskull from the very ground to transport it to the Land of Shadows. Can He-Man and his allies prevail against the threats of a demon army and Skeletor’s minions?

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Grayskull Warrior.

George Takei Explains How Hard The Kobayashi Maru Game Truly Is

Friends, the other evening as I was getting off work at the arcade I noticed a message from a friend about a new game that had been released. It seems that the legendary no-win training simulation that all cadets at Starfleet Academy must experience, and was made famous in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, is now a free to play online game courtesy of Scopely called appropriately enough Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru. One that is designed to reveal how the potential cadet might react to a situation in which there is no possibility of overcoming defeat (unless you cheat like Kirk). Which as the rather humorous ad for the Stark Trek: Kobayashi Maru game depicts with narration by none other than George Takei… the answer is people do not respond well to failure in the least.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Star Trek Fleet Command.

The simulation itself as most of you that visit this site are aware, is named after the civilian vessel in distress in the fictional exercise, which requires a Starfleet Academy cadet to make a very difficult decision in how to react to the request for assistance. Which as was revealed in the 1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan film, generally involves finding oneself thrust in a deadly Klingon ambush with only prayer as any sort of advice from then Admiral James T. Kirk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tWmSckE40
VIDEO PROVIDED BY These Are The Voyages.

Now Scopely is well known for more than a few popular mobile games such as Looney Tunes World of Mayhem, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, but perhaps most importantly Star Trek Fleet Command. Unlike that last title however the Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru game plays more like an old school computer game that you would have enjoyed on the likes of the Commodore 64.

IMAGE PROVIDED BY Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru – Scopely.

The reason that Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru is kind of big news beyond the fact that it is a fun way to waste time is that there are some impressive prizes up for grabs, for the three Players who manage to beat the game in the fastest time. The contest is open until February 25th and the prizes include a lifetime subscription to the upcoming Paramount+ streaming service, an Eaglemoss ship collectables package, and even a Star Trek shop gift card. You can find out more information about the Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru contest by following the link here.

Jerry Reed And Glen Campbell Sing Southern Nights (1982)

Friends, “Southern Nights” is an absolutely wonderful and joyous song made popular by Glen Campbell back in ’77 from his album of the same name. You might be familiar with it as Director James Gunn picked it to be featured in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as well as on the soundtrack. Gunn used the classic tune to great effect in the scene involving the nefarious Ravagers trying to sneak up on Rocket Raccoon, who obviously laid a few traps for the unwary group of scoundrels. Because he is Rocket, right?

You might be interested to know however that the late and great Glen Campbell was not the artist who originally wrote and recorded “Southern Nights”. That honor belongs to Allen Toussaint, the singer, songwriter, and record producer who came up with such songs as “I Like It Like That”, “Working in the Coal Mine”, and of course “Southern Nights” – which was recorded and released in 1975 from the album of the same name. As Toussaint, who sadly passed away in 2015, was legendary for his New Orleans style of rhythm and blues – the song is a more soothing version compared to Campbell’s rather spirited take. Both versions are fantastic but Toussaint’s original song just makes me relax and smile after a long day at work.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Fernando Vieira.

As I understand it from doing a little research, both Toussaint and Campbell were quite fond of each other’s version of “Southern Nights”. As a matter of fact it’s been said that Glen Campbell claimed when listening to the ’75 tune it reminded him of his youth, growing up on a farm near Pike County, Arkansas. Campbell recorded his version of the tune on October 2nd of 1976, with some minor alterations to the lyrics, before releasing it as a single on January 17th of 1977. One of the changes included a guitar lick that was suggested by Campbell’s friend Jerry Reed, as is mentioned in the video below, a segment from 1982’s Jerry Reed and Special Friends.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY W103WWRW.

In closing out this article, Campbell’s version of the song managed to snag the number one spot in January of ’77 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and hold onto it for two weeks. In addition to reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in April as well as staying in the number one spot for four consecutive weeks on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart!

So Which Films Of 1982 Made Siskel And Ebert’s Stinkers List?

Friends, in past articles I have mentioned how my Father and I would make sure to catch Sneak Previews on the local PBS station every Sunday evening before it was time to turn in for the night. My Father as a matter of fact rarely agreed with a review by Gene Siskel, especially with films in the horror genre. In fact at times I couldn’t help but wonder if he somehow enjoyed going off on a rant when the iconic critic delivered a verdict against a movie he had enjoyed. It was in 1982 when Siskel and Ebert left the popular series due to what seems to be a rather heavy-handed attempt at them accepting a new contract – the result was a brand new show called At the Movies. To be fair it was pretty much the same successful format they had made use of with Sneak Previews – including the best and worst films of a particular year – although as usual the two critics didn’t always see eye to eye.

For this particular episode of At the Movies, which originally aired on January 14th of 1983 – Siskel and Ebert chose ten pictures from 1982 for their “Stinker List”. Obviously when this episode was first broadcast, there were more than a few on this list that I had not seen, or even would have had interest in seeing due to being the ripe old age of ten at the time.

So which movies from 1982 were considered cinematic waste by Siskel and Ebert? The list includes Inchon, If You Could See What I Hear, Yes, Giorgio, Porky’s, Amityville II: The Possession, Six Weeks, Halloween III: The Season of the Witch, Grease 2, I Ought to Be in Pictures, as well as Partners.

Now I will admit that I strongly disagree about Halloween III: The Season of the Witch, I have always been rather fond of that film, and the attempt by the filmmakers to make the Halloween series into an anthology series of films. But without further ado, grab a bowl of popcorn and your favorite beverage and prepare to travel back to 1982 with Siskel and Ebert.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Magnetic Tape Head.

Jack Palance Reveals Real-Life Inspiration For Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Friends, in the early ’80s on Sunday evenings there was a television show that my Family would never fail to watch, that was the ABC series Ripley’s Believe It or Not! A wonderful show with the iconic Jack Palance (Batman, City Slickers) acting as host – inspired by the newsreels, radio series, books, and comic books of Robert Ripley. After testing the waters with a television pilot on May 3rd of 1981 – ABC picked up the series and the first episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! aired on September 26th of 1982. For four seasons viewers were guided by Jack Palance through the more bizarre elements of history, noteworthy individuals, and interesting cultural activities. Just a few of the subjects covered on the TV show included the research on cryogenics, a prisoner who took his life with the aid of playing cards, a fire that burned non-stop for eight months, and Stephen Hawking. Palance did not host the show alone, as he was joined by a trio of co-hosts for various segments throughout the 76 episode run of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. That included the likes of Catherine Shirriff (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), Marie Osmond (Donny & Marie), as well as Holly Palance – who not only joined her Father for two seasons on the show but was recognizable from her role in 1976’s The Omen!

Jack Palance was the perfect choice as host, there seemed to be a merry twinkling in his eyes and barely restrained glee when he was discussing something gruesome. The fact that the audience could see that Palance was having fun sharing these interesting facts and legends – it helped to knock a little edge off the sometimes more gruesome subject matters featured on the show. Having said that however, it did nothing to diminish the chills I would experience from the rather memorable intro to the TV show. Which just so happened to feature a theme song composed by none other than Henry Mancini (Peter Gunn, The Pink Panther).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVT3kOxqStA
VIDEO PROVIDED BY CNNRotatingSquare.

Which brings us to the point of this article, the real-life inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. In the nearly four minute segment, Palance points out the inspiration came from one William Brodie – a man living two very different lives – respectable member of the community by day and a flamboyant burglar by night. The short segment in addition features Palance from his role in the 1968 made-for-TV movie adaptation of Stevenson’s famous story… believe it or not!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY spookylorre.

As far as I know, the excellent Ripley’s Believe It or Not! series has yet to be released on any version of home media. Which is truly a shame as the show was a whole lot of fun. At the very least we can enjoy the various segments that have been uploaded on social media, right?

Saturday Frights Podcast Ep. 088 – Top 5 Tales From The Darkside

Friends, it has been a little over a month since we have been able to release a new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast – I address the reasons for that on the show itself – but in short I became ill back in October. I am feeling much better as is the Projectionist, who I might have passed my illness to if we are being totally transparent on the subject. Let us hope that we have the podcast back on schedule for the remainder of Season three – starting with this show – which is a look at the Top 5 Tales from the Darkside episodes as voted on by fans of the television series. In this episode we give a synopsis and thoughts on what we liked most about each of the Top 5 episodes – as well as a brief history on Tales from the Darkside itself.

Of the five episode of Tales from the Darkside that made the grade, you might recognize some of the names of those in front of and behind the camera. Like George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead), Stephen King (Pet Sematary), Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs), Robert Bloch (Psycho), and Michael McDowell (Beetlejuice) to name just a few.

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 VicSagePopCulture@gmail.com 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.

We sincerely hope that you are enjoying the third season of the Saturday Frights podcast so far – will your favorite episode of Tales from the Darkside make cut?

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