Saturday Frights Podcast Ep. 087 – Cutting Cards

Friends, on this episode of the Saturday Frights podcast, we are once again going to be discussing an episode of the hugely popular Tales from the Crypt television series that aired on HBO – beginning it’s seven season run on June 10th of 1989 and lasting until July 19th of 1996. On this show the Projectionist and I discuss the 1990 episode entitled Cutting Cards which happens to star the likes of Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Near Dark) as well as Kevin Tighe (Emergency!, Rose Red) – as two high-stakes gamblers who are willing to go to painful extremes to see the last of each other. While as always we have done out best to shine the spotlight on those in front of and behind the camera – on this particular show we have presented a pretty deep dive into the history behind EC Comics – the original comic publishers of Tales from the Crypt.

As I mention on the show itself, a lot of great information was found thanks to Digby Diehl’s Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives. If you consider yourself a fan of the HBO produced series, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book – you can find an affordable used copy on Amazon.

You might be surprised to learn just how many people it took for the TV adaptation of Tales from the Crypt to make it to HBO in the first place. It was only the combined Hollywood power of Richard Donner (The Goonies, Lethal Weapon), Walter Hill (The Warriors, Streets of Fire), Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump), David Giler (Alien), and Joel Silver (Die Hard, The Matrix) that allowed the proposed series to get the greenlight.

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 – before you deal yourself a new hand of cards though – we hope you will take the time to listen to our discussion of Cutting Cards.

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Do You Remember Roger Rabbit And The Secrets Of Toon Town?

Friends, when Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released back on June 22nd of 1988, I feel it is safe to say that it did quite well for itself. Director Robert Zemeckis’ (Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future) film adaptation of Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit? earned over 320 million dollars on a budget of 50.6 million. I believe you will agree that certainly buys an awful lot of carrots for it’s animated star, right?

And in hindsight it is easy to see why Who Framed Roger Rabbit made a killing at the box office – just the technical special effects married with animation alone were enough to dazzle audiences. Throw in an amazing performance by the late and great Bob Hoskins (Super Mario Bros.) with the likes of Christopher Lloyd (Clue), Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner), plus the voice talents of Charles Fleischer (Deadly Friend) as well as Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone) and you can see why it was a hit.

Betty Boop still has it!

Of course it didn’t hurt the film any that it also featured an astounding number of classic animated characters – all together for the first and possibly last time on the big screen. Were you aware though that a little less than three months after the film premiered – on September 13th of ’88 that CBS aired Roger Rabbit and the Secrets of Toon Town? It featured Joanna Cassidy as hostess and gave folks a behind the scenes look at how the technicians were able to pull off such incredible effects. To say nothing of how much hard work and planning was done by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Hoskins while filming Who Framed Roger Rabbit – although at one point the actor jokingly admits he was planning on offing his Director. In addition you get a behind the scenes look at the animators, voice artists, and even sound effect technicians at work on the film.

Video and Article Image Provided by VHSfx.

As I was writing this article I noticed on the Internet Movie Database that there is an entry for a Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2 project slated for 2022 – although it is listed as being in pre-production. Perhaps this is something akin to TRON 3 where talks begin on producing a third film and then it all kind of gets derezzed before it manages to get off of the Game Grid. I think a new Roger Rabbit picture could be very interesting – not just catching up with some of our favorite characters but perhaps seeing how they fare with modern animation franchises.

Interview with Pop Culture Historian And Archivist Rob Klein!

Rob Klein - Back to the Future Trilogy Exhibit - Hollywood Museum Premiere Event - 2019

Friends, today I am extremely grateful to be able to share an interview with Rob Klein – curator of the Rob Klein Collection and pop culture historian for the last 30 years. You might know Klein’s name, especially if you happen to be a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy – as back on December 6th of 2019, the Hollywood Museum presented the Back to the Future Trilogy: The Exhibit. This celebration of the classic science fiction/comedy series happened to feature over 130 pieces from his and Jennifer’s collection and a screen accurate DMC time machine he built after working on the hero A car’s restoration (now on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum) there is a documentary about the restoration of the hero A car on all the Blu-ray and DVD sets for the BTTF trilogy. Its a great documentary. In addition those items on display included costumes from the trilogy as well as props, and even promotional materials too – they are all in their coffee table book entitled BACK TO THE FUTURE ALMANAC 1985-2015 THE OFFICIAL COLLECTORS GUIDE!

And thanks to the Beyond the Marquee Show YouTube channel uploading this video you can not only see Rob Klein taking pride in his pieces in the Back to the Future Trilogy: The Exhibit – but get an excellent look at some of those items.

Video and Article Header Image Provided by Beyond the Marquee Show.

Rob, I want to thank you once again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. I have been fortunate enough to look over a few of your photographs on the Rob Klein Collection Facebook page – astonishing really doesn’t quite cover what you and your Wife have been able to archive – an absolute visual treat.

Well, thank you. The RK collection page had been greatly helped because my friend Dave Mandel told me I needed to start an Instagram page to share knowledge and or visuals. Instagram makes it easy to post often as you can do it right from your phone. Perfect thing to do when you are in a waiting room, or just have a few moments to kill. (I try and be humble and not to put RK Collection on the top of my archive, but I learned from my childhood heroes Sid & Marty Krofft who I was able to work for while restoring their only remaining Sleestak suit for their offices. I got to know each one a little, so they told me a story that Walt Disney said to them “Always place your name above your work” It was both Sid and Marty at different times who each told me their version of this story. So,classic!

Image Property of the Rob Klein Collection.

I have been a fan of movies since the age of three – the first film I can recall watching was 1931’s Frankenstein on the Late, Late Show and the very first movie I saw in a theater was the re-release of Blackbeard’s Ghost. You most assuredly have a love for film judging by your collection – I was wondering though if you might share with the readership a bit of your personal history, what is the first movie you can remember where you found yourself just being captivated by the magic of cinema.

I can’t remember my first movie, we went all the time to see Disney animated classics, and Disneyland was a big part of inspiration. I wanted to learn how to make audio-animatronics. My parents were really supportive of the arts, movies theme parks, music and baseball. Years later I actually archived the very same audio animatronics when I was manager of the Disney Archives that I used to marvel at visiting Disneyland, and regarding Frankenstein I found and restored the original Mitchell 35mm camera that worked on the film and it’s sequels.

I grew up in Bing Crosby’s house, across the street lived Andy Griffith (in another one of Bing’s houses that he had built in Toluca Lake) he would wave to my brother and I when we were in the front yard horsing around. When we would go up the street to the market, it was on the corner of the old Columbia Ranch. The exact same place where the Three stooges filmed all their shorts. When you would be in the parking lot, you could see the facades from sets, and when you drove by and looked through front gates you could see the back lots buildings from Bewitched and Partridge Family. Up the street was the Burbank Studios, (Warner Brother’s lot called Burbank Studios in the 1970s) when we would drive home from school, we would pass by the CBS Radford studio lot, where they shot Gilligan’s Island, and you could see the Western sets from Wild, Wild West. It was all still there in the 70s and early 80s.

AND…my grandmother worked at Universal Studios. So all these things to me now is simply documenting my hometown, and what I remember seeing as a kid. The same way anyone does when they start to document or save things for their family from their childhood / family years to pass down. Its just for me, the stuff I like to save and archive is same stuff that a ton of people have an interest in, pop culture.

I am extremely curious as to what events in your life put your feet on the path of becoming a historian and archivist for film and television? In addition what was the first piece of pop culture memorabilia that you collected and what drew you to it?

I loved Star Wars as we all did, I was 6 in 1977 and we all needed more sci-fi to get our fix on, lol. I loved Battlestar Galactica, and thought the colonial laser pistol was amazing. So, I asked my grandmother to get me one from the show. She got me the Mattel electronic Colonial laser pistol from the Universal Tour. It was neat, but it was not the prop, and the toy looked nothing like it.

Years later, they filmed V: The Final Battle a block over from out house in Toluca Lake. One of the neighborhood hoodlums “ended up with” an original light up V prop laser pistol. When I saw that, I was captivated. The construction, the art direction, and how a studio could make numerous examples literally up the street at Warner Brothers fascinated me. I wanted to learn all about how castings and molds were made. Which are all part of the equation of archiving. It took years to learn that though molding original items is something I do not support. It ruins them and in most cases it cheapens the originals all because someone just wants to make money off of something that needs to remain one of a kind…

I was working on TV shows while I was in Film School, as a production assistant and started making some money as it paid well. I had heard that Universal had sold off their entire sci-fi collection and that’s when I was blown away with the thought that the studio DO NOT care about their history. I thought if Universal are selling their stuff off, and they have a Tour where the public comes to see their history and they are selling stuff, I am going to go and save it. As a Battlestar fan I was blown away to see racks and rack of the custom made wardrobe for the show, sitting there all for sale. I bought a complete white colonial warrior costume. Still have it to this day….

After working on a lot of film production I realized the Hollywood that I loved did not exist anymore, so I started to focus on tracking down original Hollywood artifacts and using what I had learned from my grandfather and father about how to fabricate to stabilize treasures, make display forms, which is all a part of being an archivist. One should know what the items is, and then how to care for it and male sure it will survive as long as possible.

Real quick, I’m dying to know the answer to this – on Facebook I couldn’t help but notice a wonderful photograph featuring you and what appears to be a bust of the Lawgiver from 1968’s Planet of the Apes. Have you in fact added this beautiful prop to your collection?

Image Property of the Rob Klein Collection.

I am so proud of my Planet of the Apes props and costumes, I am an Apes fans. (Peter Jackson has a few pieces I let go of) I do not use the word “fan” lightly, as it is waaaaay over used, and one cannot be fanatical about everything, lol. Much of my Apes collection is in the in the book that comes with the Blu-ray set of 5 feature films. I have the apes’ rifles, machine gun, the General’s costume and a complete Cornelius. My crowning achievement was piecing back together Charleton Heston’s ANSA space suit complete with boots and survival kit back pack. Each and every piece was a struggle to obtain. Its not like today when the items are sold right after a film wraps and in many cases costumes are still complete, head to tow in their bags from the set.

Regarding the Lawgiver courtroom bust, I had known about it for years so when it came up for auction a friend asked if I knew if the piece was authentic, which I did, so he bought off of my giving it the thumbs up. I was helping him get it home to his museum in one piece.

I think it is safe to say that you and your Wife are quite the fans of the Back to the Future trilogy – considering you both wrote an amazing collector’s guide for the franchise – tackling not just the films but even the comic books and items related to the Universal Studios theme park ride. You even worked with Bob Gale, the co-writer and co-creator of the Back to the Future trilogy – on the making of the Back to the Future Almanac: 1985 – 2015 Official Collector’s Guide. So what is it about Gale and Zemeckis’ films that draw you to it – is it the perfect blend of comedy and science fiction – or perhaps just the overall fun of it all?

I need to point out I could not do this on the level that i have without the complete support and encouragement of Jennifer who gets it and loves it too. We have a hallway of Evil Dead Ash costumes, and people cant believe these are her’s when they see the museum. I think Evil Dead 2 is wonderful, but it would not have been on my list of things to track down or archive. It really satisfying when you put a costume away and then a decade later they are making action figures out of the same costume we found at the bottom of card board box at a studio liquidation sale.

BTTF is a masterpiece. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II Wrath of Khan, and Back to the Future are masterpiece films.
With a masterpiece, everything comes to together: script, directing, acting, wardrobe props, costumes, production vehicles, BTTF has it all. I also loved the sequels. Anyone who does not appreciate part II and part III need to go back and re-watch them. They are not as perfect as Back to the Future (1985) but they are really exceptional films. BTTF part II is the ultimate Twilight Zone movie, go back and rewatch it with that in mind. Game changer if you did not get BTTF part II. The first time.

The BTTF merch was something I was always looking for and it just was not made in the amounts you would of expected. No action figures and as I teenager I knew “wow, somebody made a huge mistake at the studio” I mean they made “Over the Top” action figures for goodness sakes, and no BTTF, not even a Hot Wheels DMC Time Machine. Whooops!

Jenny and I pitched the book to Universal and Bob Gale about celebrating the BTTF franchise through the merchandise and promotional materials. My goal was to impress the Studio with our work on this first BTTF book, and then do another that just focused completely on the making of trilogy. I did not know at the time, that book this second book I wanted to write was being written at the same time Jenny and I were writing our book.

One thing I think many will find hard to believe is that everyone of the original prop and costume collectors I knew in the 90s didn’t care about BTTF, or they just ignored it, or made comments like “glad he collects the crap, that leaves the good stuff for us.” Never knew or still don’t know what the “good stuff ” was that these people were referring to. The only other person I knew who liked BTTF I learned was just collecting it because I liked it, who knew what his intention or plan there was?

I had no competition and BTTF was scattered. There was no Universal Archives department then and so much stuff was sent to Florida for the BTTF ride.

Regarding BTTF wardrobe, so many of the costumes and costume pieces were lost as they were either sold off when Universal sold their western collection along with their Sci-fi stuff (unrentable wardrobe stock that took up valuable rack space in their wardrobe department for stuff that actually rents) and the costume house that the BTTF wardrobe department worked out of sold off racks and racks of stuff with unidentified BTTF costume pieces. That is why we have not a single complete Marty McFly 1985 costume left in the world. I know of one McFly Guess jacket that survived the production, but there is ALWAYS more than one made for a film or TV show (in most cases) and no others have yet to surface. After 35 years it is doubtful a pair of his Guess jeans exist, they are lost. Perhaps some girl out there somewhere is rocking a pair of Michael J. Foxes jeans unknown to her. Those would be a very valuable pair of pants. I would bet the most sought after pair of jeans in the world.

I also want to say that sometime when you work with your heroes it changes things, some times for the best, and some times not so much. Bob Gale has been a continued support to me. I am very proud of that. He does not suffer fools, and the fact I had to earn his good will, means much more when it is granted. I mean if someone would have told me, in the future you will often visit him at home and coffee is always presented to me in the same John Wayne mug, that is very special. I think I may have made the cut with Bob Gale when he learned I was a Republic serials fan. He very promptly gave me DVDs for all the serials I had not seen yet. Plus it is great to get to spend time with a creator like Bob Gale. Every now and then he will say something, or make an observation and you think to yourself: “yep, I can totally see after that comment how he created and was able to write Doc Brown’s character.”

Robert Zemeckis is another force of nature. He visual style is unmistakable. One of the best directors of film on the last 50 years. His movies all have a certain magical look to them (not taking away anything away from Dean Cundy who shot the BTTF trilogy who has his own signature look to all his films) In a weird way I believe that Forest Gump and BTTF are a part of the same visual universe. They have the same glow to them.

The thing I respect most about that duo Gale and Zemeckis is that they refuse to sell out and make a BTTF part IV. They know they have captured lightning in a bottle and they could not do it over again (nobody could) and therefor leave their masterpiece intact. I don’t think their peers have learned that lesson, as without naming names, many have watered down their franchises or even worse, their entire body of film work continuing to produce and direct films that they themselves would have scoffed at had they not been the ones to have made them.

I am sure like any collector you have a prop or piece of wardrobe that you consider a holy grail item – what might that be?

For me that was locating and obtaining the only complete and original Adventures of Superman George Reeves Superman costume from seasons 1 and 2. Most in collections are fakes. (a story for another time)

Image Property of the Rob Klein Collection.

Growing up in the early 70s watching reruns of color and back and white TV shows was magical. It was just like listening to 8-track, cassettes and records all in one entertainment system. I got exposed to all of it. I thank god I was fortunate enough to be able to appreciate George Reeves’ Superman when only a few years later, we got the gift of Christopher Reeve.

I feel like there is too much material available to one these days, how is someone going to be exposed to Adventures of Superman or classic MGM films unless they know someone who knows film and TV history to make them watch it. My son loves all the classic and he is even teaching me things. At 6 he and I went down the Godzilla rabbit hole and he, his mom and I all have been become enlightened knowing all the subtleties of Godzilla and his friend and foes, lol.

How do you normally obtain memorabilia for your collection? Auctions or possibly personal connections?

All of the above. I used to go and find it right from the source and then make an offer, trade etc… but now days with this stuff being big business these prop businesses have all the studios on lock down and only let the stuff go to auction. I am really only looking for vintage stuff, and most of that stuff was long gone from the studios even before I started archiving.

Are there any new items you have managed to secure recently that you would like to share with the readership?

I always have something to share, most often though its finding a piece to something I have been trying to complete. Collectors take for granted how hard it is to have any ensembles added to that go together from any productions prior to the 2000s. Just getting original pants to go with a 1960s Star Trek star fleet uniform is something that just doesn’t happen. Though I found the entire rack of 1960s star trek pants and now I have complete uniforms, and many other do now as a result of me looking to complete what I have in my collection.

There are a lot of people who collect that really don’t dig deep enough. These are rich people with plenty of money, so they cant use the excuse it was a bad time or whatever… I have offered Trek pants to Trek collectors who turned them down who have the original tunics to go with them. Once you see an original tunic displayed with the original pants (which have tiny sparkles throughout them) you can never just display a tunic solo after that. The costume is the shell of these iconic characters. The more there to display, the more the character reveals himself.

I want to thank you for your time once again, Rob – if my fellow pop culture aficionados wish to see what new treasures you might have discovered, what spots on social media can they check you out?

I have been asked to be on more TV shows these days. Watch ME TV and History channel, and you may see me doing my thing…but the best place is to watch is my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Perhaps you could share some my props and costume discoveries with your people when neat stuff comes up. I have met some of the most fascinating people doing this, its one of the neatest parts about archiving.

I also urge everyone to see the BTTF Exhibit at the Hollywood Museum, it is truly something special. These artifacts may never again be together under one roof. Go see it before you are OUTATIME.

One more time I want to thank Rob Klein for being so kind to answer my question – I will MOST DEFINITELY be glad to share some of the exciting new pop culture memorabilia that he obtains in the near future.

This 1970s Dr. Pepper Commercial Is Like A Musical Time Machine

1970s Dr. Pepper Commercial

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a Drive-In movie theater not too far from home – this was called the 62 Drive-In as it was located on Highway 62. While I have talked about it ad nauseam on the Saturday Frights podcast and a couple of times on the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast – the truth of the matter is that I saw some incredible movies at that particular outdoor theater. Some of them I have written about on this site like 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock but others included 1977’s Wizards, the theatrical version of 1979’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and 1986’s Aliens to name just a very, very few of the films I caught there. While only open for the Spring and Summer seasons I look back at those days now and truly believe I grew up at the 62 Drive-In. Most of that time was sitting next to my Father watching so many double features… but the truth of the matter is on occasion he would pick a movie that I had no interest in – I mean as a ten-year-old Sophie’s Choice wasn’t really in my wheelhouse. Those were the Summer nights that the playground at the 62 Drive-In called to me or the concession stand when they started carrying arcade games like Starship 1. Another thing I recall about the 62 Drive-In was the music that played before and after the feature films – I have shared before music wasn’t part of my household when growing up – so I can remember the first time I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival or Paul Revere and the Raiders at the outdoor theater. Actually in regards to music it was normally television commercial jingles and such that I would learn and frequently sing out loud at home or even on the school bus. But in the late 70’s when my Father and myself would visit the 62 Drive-In there was one Dr. Pepper commercial that I looked forward to seeing every weekend – and after you watch it I think you will find that it is absolutely the most mellow ad you’ve ever seen!

Video and Article Image Provided by Panaflex‘s YouTube Channel.

A far cry from David Naughton in his jaunty Dr. Pepper commercial, right? Quite a few years ago I stumbled on this 1970s version – which is the exact ad I caught at the 62 Drive-In and it was like I pulled back 40 years in time. I closed my eyes and I honestly could smell the hot dogs and fresh popcorn that was sold at the concession stand – I remember standing in front of the miniature merry-go-round and looking up to see that Battlestar Galactica had begun before racing back to my Father’s car. It may not be the type of time machine that H.G. Wells or even Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale dreamed up – but it’s pretty amazing that for at least a minute this 1970’s Dr. Pepper commercial can act as a musical time machine!