Pop Culture Poll: Dengar vs. Bossk

Friends, as most of you are already aware, today happens to be May the 4th – that day when the majority of fans choose to celebrate the lasting legacy of the Star Wars franchise. The celebration also seems to manage to tempt many of us to pry open our wallets for some fantastic merchandise, to say nothing of the fact that Disney+ has released both a brand new Star Wars inspired short for The Simpsons as well as the eagerly awaited first episode of the Star Wars: The Bad Batch animated series.

Originally I had played around with the idea of naming these new articles something like Pop Culture Combat, a silly tip of the hat to the likes of Mortal Kombat, but after talking it over with my fellow Pop Culture Retrorama Colleagues… we agreed that was a rather aggressive name to use, right?

So, with these Pop Culture Poll articles we will be taking two Pop Culture characters or properties, talk a bit about them (which is no different from what we usually do) and ask you the reader to tell us in the comments or on social media which is the winner in the proposed situation. And as today is May the 4th, I thought the first poll should be between two of the feared bounty heroes that were first introduced in 1980’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

The Corellian bounty hunter known as Dengar is widely recognized for leaving a path of destruction in his wake while hunting his targets. Thanks to the excellent Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, we learn that Dengar and Bossk were working as bounty hunters during the three-year war that took place between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. In fact the duo worked for the bounty hunter syndicate on Tatooine known as Krayt’s Claw, along with the teenage Boba Fett who was the leader of the group.

Dengar it would seem as the Galactic Civil War came to an end had no qualms with augmenting his natural talents, honed as a gladiator in his early years, by undergoing cybernetic improvements. And while it has not been stated outright, there is a character in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that bears a striking resemblance to Dengar, but is called Rothgar Deng.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Star Wars Explained.

The feared Bossk is a Trandoshan and the son of Cradossk, a famed bounty hunter in his own right who ended up making a good pile of credits working with the Empire during the Galactic Civil War. It has been said that Bossk’s first act upon being hatched on Trandosha was to devour the eggs of his other siblings. And while Bossk would be trained as a bounty hunter by his father, it would seem there is bad blood between the two, with some online sources stating that it involved the younger Trandoshan not being able to capture Han Solo and Chewbacca. It is noteworthy that the Trandoshans and Wookies have a long-standing rivalry, as the reptilian species delights in hunting, capturing, and skinning their prey to be used a gruesome trophies.

Make no mistake about it, the Trandoshans are extremely capable warriors and hunters, known just as much for their fierce nature as their cruelty. Although having said that Bossk would wind up acting as a mentor/bodyguard of sorts to a young Boba Fett, even sticking by the teenager during their period of incarceration in the Republic Judiciary Central Detention Center on Coruscant to protect him. After escaping the prison the two would stay together as a team when Boba founded the Krayt’s Claw syndicate, although the two bounty hunters would find their paths finally diverging, only to meet up again when answering a job from none other than Darth Vader. The job being offered by the Dark Lord of the Sith was to locate the Millennium Falcon and capture those aboard… but no disintegrations.

Like with Dengar, Bossk ended up working for Jabba the Hutt and can be briefly glimpsed in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – although as I understand it, in Star Wars canon as it is now, it is unknown whether the Trandoshan survived the rescue of Han Solo and the destruction of Jabba’s sail barge.

Enjoy this informative video focusing on Bossk and past lore now under the Star Wars Legends line of books, comics, and other media.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Star Wars Explained.

In closing out this article, let us say that both Dengar and Bossk are hired to bring in Preens B’oola, the Twi’lek criminal located on Corellia. Who do you personally think would be the one to succeed in capturing the target?

Do You Have the “Keys To The Game” at GameCrazy?

Today’s game – and training video – is all about selling!  No high pressure sales, or obnoxious sales pitch, but about identifying needs, building relationships, and maximizing the video game experience for guests!

It’s also about a white girl trying ridiculously hard to sound Hip Hop, but also about selling video games!

Continue reading “Do You Have the “Keys To The Game” at GameCrazy?”

Who’s Who In The DC Universe: Abra Kadabra

Friends, it has been far too long since I last tackled an entry in the ongoing look back at Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, time just managed to slip away from me it would seem. Which is most assuredly something that the third entry in the first issue of the Who’s Who series would know all about, as Abra Kadabra hails from the 64th Century. Before we dive into the history of the character though, here is a brief recap on the Who’s Who series.

Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe originally saw publication back in 1985 and the initial 26 issue run was a rather amazing deep dive into the then current history of the characters of DC Comics. The series was headed up by Len Wein (Swamp Thing), Marv Wolfman (The New Teen Titans), and Robert Greenberger (Starlog). And for those of us of a certain age the Who’s Who series was a beloved guide into the rich lore of the Golden and Silver Age characters of DC Comics – many who can still be found appearing in recent animated and live action series. Such as Abra Kadabra who showed up in the 18th episode of Season 3 of The Flash and was played by David Dastmalchian.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY TV Promos.

Abra Kadabra first appeared in The Flash #128 in May of 1962 and was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, the duo also co-created the characters of Detective Chimp, Elongated Man, and The Phantom Stranger among others. Broome would be hired by DC Comics in 1946, his first story is assumed to be “The City of Shifting Sand” in All-Flash #22. Infantino would join with DC about a year later and the first story he illustrated from a script by Robert Kanigher (Co-Creator of Sgt. Rock) was entitled “The Black Canary”, it was a Johnny Thunder feature and was the first appearance of Black Canary, who began as a villain but would show up as a member of the Justice Society of America just a few issues later!

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ROCKFORD JAY COLLECTION.

The entry for Abra Kadabra in the first volume of the Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe lists this personal data:

Alter Ego: Unknown

Occupation: Former Stage Magician, now Professional Criminal

Marital Status: Unknown

Known Relatives: None

Group Affiliation: None

Base of Operations: 20th and 64th Century Earth

First Appearance: The Flash #128

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 195 lbs.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Black

As we learn in his first appearance, Abra Kadabra is a devoted practitioner of stage magic in the year 6363, while it is commendable that the magician is devoted to his craft, the technology of the era has rendered it all but obsolete. This is something that is obviously distressing to Abra, although upon hearing that scientists have managed to develop a working time machine, the scoundrel decides that it is time to travel back to the 20th Century with his advanced technology, where a stage magician might properly find both an audience and admiration. Upon entering the lab Abra uses the “Hypno-Ray” installed within the gem-flower he wears on the lapel of his suit, stunning the scientists just long enough to get into the time machine and whisk himself away to the Central City of the 20th Century. The trip back in time will only work once, especially since the machine is destroyed when the stage magician arrives at his destination.

Abra Kadabra wastes little time in trying to impress an audience, performing sleight of hand on a busy street corner, while they are indeed impressed they fail to applaud. The offended stage magician then turns his Hypno-Ray on those gathered before him to force their cheers and clapping. And although it is not specifically stated, it is highly suggested that he uses that piece of technology dishonestly to obtain enough enough money to pay for a theater – unfortunately his big debut is overlooked thanks to the final game of the World Series.

Realizing that he needs to come up with an exceptional way to capture the attention of the public, Abra decides to steal the Statue of Freedom during its dedication at the Central City park. Barry Allen is in attendance at the event but as he is about to change into his Flash costume, the magician once again uses that Hypno-Ray to paralyze the stunned audience before teleporting away. This daring daylight heist gets the attention of newspapers as well as the Flash, but Abra Kadabra has no plans of slowing down just yet, showing up at the Central City library to steal (teleport) the oldest book ever printed. The Flash almost reaches the villain before he is blasted by the magician’s Hypno-Ray once again, forced to stomp his feet and clap his hands while Abra gets away.

Embolden by getting away with his crimes as well as showing up the Flash, the magician realizes that the hero could be a true threat to his crime sprees. Abra Kadabra decides to lay a trap for the speedster by publicly announcing that he will host a free exhibition – in addition to performing the greatest magic trick ever seen. When the Flash shows up at the theater to arrest the magician, Abra uses his ‘magic’ to rocket Barry Allen sans costume into space, thankfully the hero’s speed aura protects him while hurtling through the solar system. Landing upon an asteroid, the speedster runs so fast that he is able to launch himself back to Earth.

In an attempt to track Abra Kadabra down, the speedster vibrates until he matches the radiation left behind by the magicians ‘magic’. Upon finding where Abra is holed up, the Flash moves faster than light, physically placing the villain smack dab in front of his own paralyzing Hypno-Ray. The Flash not only returns all of the items that Abra Kadabra stole but deposits the paralyzed trickster in jail, wondering where the magician came from and how he came by his dangerous abilities.

In closing out this article, it should come as no surprise that Abra Kadabra eventually shrugs off that paralyzation beam and has managed to become a recurring thorn in the Flash’s side since his debut 59 years ago in the pages of The Flash #128. Over the years the villain has managed to obtain actual magical abilities instead of just relying on his superior technology – courtesy of making a deal with the demon Neron in exchange for his soul during the Underworld Unleashed mini-series event.

Do You Remember The Jurassic Park Fighting Game?

Friends, I was killing some time at work the other day by visiting Bloody Disgusting, which is an excellent source of horror news for all of you Fright Fans. I was reading an editorial from Luiz H. C. regarding Jurassic Park: Trespasser, the rather infamous computer game from DreamWorks Interactive and Electronic Arts that was released in 1998 and acted as a sequel to the events of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The game even featured the vocal talents of both Minnie Driver (Grosse Pointe Blank) as well as Richard Attenborough (The Great Escape). However, the article also happened to mention two other games that were based off of the Jurassic Park films, and while I knew of 1997’s Chaos Island: The Lost World as I owned it… I had no recollection at all of Warpath: Jurassic Park which was released on October 31st of 1999.

As during that time I was employed at the local Suncoast Motion Picture Company in the mall and was able to frequently visit the EB Games and the FYE stores, just a few doors down the hall, I really do not understand how I missed Warpath: Jurassic Park. Especially considering that it looks a little similar to an arcade title that I absolutely loved back in the day, 1994’s Primal Rage by Atari!

Warpath: Jurassic Park was developed by Black Ops Entertainment and released by Electronic Arts and DreamWorks Interactive for the PlayStation, the fighting game offered 7 modes of play ranging from arcade to a museum feature that let you learn about the dinosaurs themselves. At the beginning of the game, a player had to choose from eight dinosaurs, although as I understand it when beating the arcade mode an additional six dinosaurs would be made available in the select screen.

It might surprise you to learn that Velociraptor is not an option in this Jurassic Park fighting game, but considering the size of the dinosaur I suppose it is understandable. Having said that however, a player could choose the Megaraptor in addition to Acrocanthosaurus, Albertosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Spinosaurus, Stygimoloch, Styracosaurus, Suchomimus, Triceratops, and of course Tyrannosaurus.

If you have an hour and a half of free time, you can watch a playthrough of Warpath: Jurassic Park!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Completionator.

Creepshow Season 2 Finale Ties Into 1972’s Horror Express!?

Friends, it was just a few days ago that we saw the conclusion of the all too brief second season of Shudder’s Creepshow. Although it has to be said that over the nine stories or segments that made up Season 2, the love for classic monsters and horror films was most assuredly front and center. This season started off strong with the absolutely fantastic segments “Monster Kid” and “Public Television of the Dead”, with the latter basically being a continuation of the Evil Dead franchise. Having said that however is the staggering amount of horror alumni that Creepshow landed for this second go around, just a few notable actors include Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), Kevin Dillon (The Blob), Ted Raimi (Evil Dead II), Ali Larter (Final Destination), Keith David (The Thing), Ryan Kwanten (Dead Silence), as well as Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers).

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Shudder.

The iconic Greg Nicotero (Day of the Dead, The Walking Dead) wears many hats on Creepshow, being the showrunner, in addition to a writer, and director. In fact he directed the Season 2 finale entitled “Night of the Living Late Show”, from a script by Dana Gould (The Simpsons) – who just so happened to have starred in the Season 1 segment “Skinwalkers”. While the Season 2 finale benefits from having such actors as Long, D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place), and Hannah Fierman (V/H/S) in it’s ranks, it is the fact that it revolves around 1972’s Horror Express that is the really incredible part!

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Arrow Video.

I will not be going into full spoilers as this article is not exactly a review of “Night of the Living Late Show”. But the basic gist of the story though is that Simon (Long) is an inventor who has created something revolutionary that he calls the immersopod, a virtual reality device that possesses hundreds of cameras that aid in inserting a user into any film they might desire. In the case of Simon, that means he can enjoy being an extra in Horror Express, interacting with the characters played by the late and great Christopher Lee as well as Peter Cushing. The advanced technological marvel that Simon has created though allows for total sensory input, meaning you can be an active participant in whichever movie you might choose.

As was touched on in both the original novel by Ernest Cline and the 2018 Ready Player One film adaptation, that type of virtual escape if it existed in the real world could be extremely addictive. At least that appears to be the case with Simon who quickly begins to ignore his wife, Renee (Carden), in favor of the affections of Countess Irina Petrovska, who was played by Silvia Tortosa in 1972’s Horror Express but is doubled by Fierman in this segment. Throughout the story though it is revealed that perhaps Simon hasn’t been honest with Renee for quite some time… and the poor woman might have had enough of it.

“Night of the Living Late Show” really does pull off some impressive merging of Long’s character of Simon and Renee into Horror Express, while it might not always come off without a hitch, considering the low budget of the Creepshow series it is an impressive feat nonetheless.

In closing out this article, I want to say that this second season of Creepshow has proved entertaining and I hope that we will have many more seasons of the series to look forward to in the years to come. Of course with any anthology series there were some stories that were better than others, but I wouldn’t say that any segment was outright a failure when all is said and done. And for what it is worth, Shudder has already given the green light to a third season of Creepshow – one can’t hope that come this October that we might be getting a treat instead of a trick, right?

Lux Radio Theatre: The Birds (1953)

Friends, while it is true that the Projectionist and I just tackled Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds on the latest Saturday Frights podcast, that doesn’t mean that the iconic director was the first to adapt the original story by Daphne du Maurier. Ten years before Hitchcock put the likes of Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor and the citizens of Bodega Bay in peril by the unexpected attacks of the birds, it was Lux Radio Theatre that featured an hour long adaptation that starred Herbert Marshall (Foreign Correspondent) in the role of John Waite, the narrator and main protagonist for the episode.

Like most adaptations, the script for the radio play by James Cole takes some liberties with the source material. For one thing the main character of Maurier’s story is named Nat Hocken and whose occupation is as a part-time farm hand. In the thrilling Lux Radio Theatre version however, Waite happens to be a writer by profession and resides with his Family in a modest home on the Dover coast. It is his journal that is being read from during the episode, giving us a firsthand account of the uprising of the birds. Beginning with multiple odd occurrences to the Waite Family and their neighbors, eventually becoming an all out aggressive avian assault by the end of the episode.

You might be interested to know that the Lux Radio Theatre began as a radio program that would adapt popular Broadway productions, being first broadcast on October 14th of 1934 and would continue until June 7th of 1955. As I understand it, after two seasons of popular radio plays, the format changed to adapting motion pictures and eventually stories like The Birds.

A legion of talented actors would appear on the show, often in adaptation of the films they were currently starring in after those first two seasons. Just a few include the likes of James Stewart (Winchester ’73), Bette Davis (Burnt Offerings), William Powell and Myrna Loy (The Thin Man), Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood), as well as Fay Wray (King Kong).

In addition the long running radio series also found itself becoming just as popular when it made the jump to television as the Lux Video Theatre on October 2nd of 1950. Beginning on CBS it would jump to NBC in 1953, featuring none other than James Mason (Salem’s Lot) as host for the 1954 – 1955 season, and would last until 1957.

Toon In: Puppetoon’s Tubby The Tuba (1947)

Friends, for this week’s Toon In offering we are not going with the traditional cell animation for this go around, but a classic 1947 bit of “stop-motion” animation courtesy of the George Pal Studio. One of his popular Puppetoon series of theatrical shorts, 8 of which you might be interested to learn were Oscar nominations. That includes Tubby the Tuba which was originally released to movie theaters back on July 11th of 1947, although I must point out that the Academy Award went to Tweetie Pie, which happened to be the very first Merrie Melodies animated short to feature the characters of Sylvester and Tweety Bird.

To be fair, the Puppetoon series was a subgenre of stop-motion animation called replacement animation. A technique where the animator uses multiple premade parts on the stop-motion model, many time those will involve facial features, with the artist just snapping them on and off. For a fantastic example of the replacement animation style, one need only recall the exceptional The Nightmare Before Christmas from back in 1993 or Coraline from 2009.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY LAIKA Studios.

When all was said and done, around 70 Puppetoon shorts were created between 1932 until 1948, George Pal would have done more however but the cost of making them soared after World War II. As I have read online it has been reported that a theatrical short animated this way would take thousands and thousands of carved parts. Although the ceasing of making such animated shorts ended up being a boon for Pal, as he would go on to become a director of such live action films as 1960’s The Time Machine – which did in fact feature stop-motion animation.

In Tubby the Tuba we are introduced to a cast of characters that make up an anthropomorphic orchestra. The titular character is not happy though as he feels left out of the fun of playing beautiful melodies like those his fellow instruments provide. All seems lost for Tubby until he happens to come across a very helpful frog, who on seeing how depressed he has become gifts him with a tune that is appropriate for a tuba. The question of course is will this be enough to impress the conductor of the orchestra?

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Copyright-Free Cartoons.

You might be interested to know that Tubby the Tuba was based off a 1945 song of the same name by Paul Tripp and George Kleinsinger, with the Puppetoon short featuring narration by Victor Jory (Gone with the Wind).

Check Out This 1983 Gremlins Promotional Documentary

Friends, in the over ten years that I have been writing online, from my original blog to the Retroist and now with Pop Culture Retrorama, I think that I have successfully gotten across the point that I am a fan of horror. It has always been my go-to genre thanks to being raised as a Monster Kid on the likes of the Universal Monsters, The Twilight Zone, Creepy magazines, and Weird War Tales comic books to name a few. However it always seemed like that besides my Father, the rest of my family and friends never cared to discuss any of the horror movies that I saw on the weekends. That changed though when Gremlins was released to theaters on June 8th of 1984, because it seemed like every where I went I could find people to talk about the film.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Movieclips Classic Trailers.

Of course let us not forget that almost everywhere you went after the film was released you could also buy merchandise such as toys, video games, clothing, and Ralston Gremlins cereal!

VIDEO PROVIDED BY JoBlo Horror Trailers.

Here is a fun fact for you, the first actor featured in that television commercial is Jonathan Ward (Charles in Charge), who would also appear in the excellent 1985 Twilight Zone episode entitled “The Shadow Man”. Which just so happened to have been helmed by none other than Gremlins‘ director Joe Dante – which for what it might be worth was featured in an earlier episode of the Saturday Frights podcast.

Which brings us back around to the subject for this article, this Gremlins promotional documentary which as I understand it was produced by Laurent Bouzereau (The Warriors) and features behind the scenes footage captured by the iconic Mick Garris (Fantasy Film Festival, Nightmare Cinema). Both Garris and Dante are two directors that I greatly admire, so it is a blast to get to see the latter kidding around with the likes of Hoyt Axton and John Louie on the set. In addition to featuring brief interviews with Steven Spielberg, Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, as well as Chris Walas – who was responsible for the design of the hilarious yet deadly titular creatures of the film.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Mick Garris Interviews.

Saturday Frights Podcast Ep. 095 – The Birds

Friends, we have a brand new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast for you today, and this time the Projectionist and I are tackling yet another classic picture. Most of you Fright Fans might recall that on the last show we discussed 1981’s The Howling… well… on this episode we are talking about 1963’s The Birds. While Alfred Hitchcock most definitely has legions of fans when it comes to his films and even his popular and long running television series, it kind of seems like a lot of people are rather dismissive of The Birds. That is something that the Projectionist and I bring up in this episode, in addition to possibly providing a little more background information than usual on the making of the film.

Although we do mention it in the episode itself, The Birds wasn’t exactly well regarded when it was originally released on March 29th of 1963. That might have had something to do with the box office success of Psycho in 1960, the popularity of which seems to have also caused Hitchcock to spend a couple of years attempting to find just the right movie to be his next project. And The Birds turned out to be a pretty daunting film to bring to the big screen, with a much bigger cast and lots of special effects.

I think it is safe to say that Alfred Hitchcock was up to the task though, although the film did have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the cast. From Tippi Hedren (Marnie) as the lead to the likes of Rod Taylor (The Time Machine), Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), Veronica Cartwright (Alien), and Suzanne Pleshette (The Bob Newhart Show) to name just a few.

We thank you as always for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to the show, so without further ado, let us all take a trip to Bodega Bay… but beware of The Birds!

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.

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Dark Fantasy: Pennsylvania Turnpike (1942)

Friends, it has been a little while since we’ve had a new Retro Radio Memories offering. This time we are going to be enjoying an episode from the Dark Fantasy series entitled “Pennsylvania Turnpike”, which was originally broadcast on March 20th of 1942. For what it might be worth, we have actually shined the spotlight on Dark Fantasy in the past, with “W is for Werewolf“, but that story focused on a couple visiting a private island and getting involved with lycanthropy. “Pennsylvania Turnpike” would have made a nice episode to adapt for The Twilight Zone television series!

I was a latecomer to the Dark Fantasy series, in fact I found out about it thanks to my time writing at the Retroist. Debuting on station WKY in Oklahoma City on November 14th of 1941, it would be carried on NBC affiliate radio stations for a total of 31 episodes until June 19th of 1942. Although two of those episodes include a lost show entitled “Curare” and the final broadcast was a second reading of “The Devil Tree”, which was originally broadcast on December 5th of ’41.

In “Pennsylvania Turnpike” we are introduced to a most curious stranger. At the beginning of the radio show, we find out that this ‘old’ man has all sorts of bizarre mannerisms. From the way he is dressed to the coins he carries on him, in addition to the the fact he has never heard of a sandwich. It would certainly seem like this man is from a different period of time, which is of course exactly the case – no spoilers there, you will hear for yourself he is quite up front about the whole situation. Of course the question is why this man would appear in modern times? The desire for justice can be a powerful force, friends… perhaps strong enough even to sustain a person until they can right a past wrong? Although having said that, like with The Twilight Zone on a rare occasion, an innocent person might be targeted.

So turn down the lights if you are able and find out what is going down on the “Pennsylvania Turnpike”, courtesy of Dark Fantasy as well as the Old Time Radio Researchers Group.

While I have said it before in regards to Old Time Radio programming, it does bear repeating that it still is a valid form of entertainment. It’s ability, at least in the case of shows like Dark Fantasy to give us the creeps 80 years later – that is something pretty incredible, right?