There were flashing lights, pulsating music and an iridescent red glow all over the room – if you guessed Saturday night at Tech Noir, good guess…but wrong.
I was inside the training facility for the Siberian Bullet himself, IVAN DRAGO.
For a brief period in the eighties, your Uncle TNUC was working deep cover for the World Anti-Doping Agency in an attempt to bust the infamous soviet fighter for juicing. For the record, I’m not against steroids, they make baseball great and keep these guns at massive pumpage (don’t be a narc).
Anyways, I agreed to chase Drago not for ethical reasons but because I hate the thought of some smug commie putting the hurt on our American boys. I had infiltrated his gym-meets-shuttle launch facility and was able to witness the most unholy bond of highly advanced workout technologies and sheer robotic drive to be the best.
As I strolled throughout the facility in a lab coat hoping to blend in, I saw computer interfaces with metrics and formulas I didn’t understand, much of it in Russian. I didn’t care about that however, I was looking for the dope.
A large brick satellite phone rang on a nearby table and was answered by one of Drago’s lackeys. After a brief, frantic conversation the man walked over to the boombox I stood next to and paused the music, glaring at me. He then approached Drago who took the phone and spoke momentarily before making direct eye contact.
Drago screamed in Russian, and the whole room sprang to action. I picked up the stereo and hit the closest man with it, then ran. I dashed for the exit, using the boombox as a weapon, battering henchmen’s faces left and right. Drago’s screaming echoed louder and louder as I hit the fire escape with a horde of clumsy Russians behind me. I made it out, and disappeared in to the night.
We never busted Drago, but I did get a souvenir, his favorite tape: DRAGO’S POWER HOUR MIX.
Every now and then when I want to experience the absolute apex of high-octane workout music, I put the tape on and go to war with the weights. It may be hidden in a shitty old Maxell cassette, but every track is pure drive – coursing through my bloodstream like so many performance enhancers during the glory days.
I loaded it here for you disciples – use it to get jacked and rise to the highest levels of performance like Ivan Drago. When you’re looking shredded months from now, swimming in babes under a warm California sun, remember what got you there: DRAGO’S POWER HOUR MIX.
Vince DiCola – Drago Suite
Tom Blades – Powerplay
Power Glove – Maximum Potential
Lazerhawk – Fight to the Top
Power Glove – Telecom
Paul Parker & Pamela Stanley – Running Around in Circles
Action Jackson – Girl from USSR
Emerson, Lake and Powell – Touch and Go
Warren Bennett – Going for Gold
Paul Parker & Pamela Stanley – Stranger in a Strange Land
Mitch Murder – Prime Operator
Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder – Good-Bye Bad Times (Instrumental)
If you were a kid around the year 1986, maybe you had parents nice enough to set up the VCR for recording the monumental TV special, The Christmas Toy.
Originally airing December 6, 1986 on ABC, Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy stars a group of toys, including Rugby the Tiger, Mew (the cat’s Toy Mouse), Apple the Doll and many others. When no people are around, the toys come alive and play in the family’s playroom (nine years before Toy Story, mind you)! Since a toy will be frozen forever if a person catches it out of position, they have to be very careful. That Christmas Eve, Rugby the Tiger remembers how he was the favorite Christmas toy last year and wants to be the favorite again this year, as not to be replaced by another toy. With the help of his muppet pals, Rugby embarks on a dangerous adventure and rescue mission through the family house.
I remember watching the 50-minute special so often that I could recite lines from the movie and mimic the Kraft holiday appetizer commercials that aired during commercial breaks. When I watch it now over three decades later, it remarkably still holds up and even a crusty-old veteran like Uncle T had to hold back the tears at times. The characters, story and music will have you laughing but pull at the heart strings at the same time.
Admittedly I miss the grain and hiss from our family’s original VHS tape, but up until now I totally missed the dark tone during some of the movie. Scenes like when the lights go out in the home and all you see is poor Rugby trying to hide from the humans walking around the house are downright terrifying. Much like Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, when it comes to human beings all you ever see or hear are voices, shuffling feet or shadows.
As far as Christmas TV specials go, The Christmas Toy is still my all-time favorite. Instead of analyzing it to death and picking the movie apart to pieces, everyone should just grab a friend or family member and watch the damn movie (for free) on YouTube below. If you can hunt down a VHS or DVD copy, even better...way better. Then nuke’ up a pizza, grab some pillows and curl up in front of the tube to experience it yourself.
Oh, and if you have kids, please have them watch this long before Toy Story. You might be a hero someday because of it.
THE CHRISTMAS TOY (1986):
Thanks for the memories, Jim!
Welcome to another discussion revolving around everyone’s favorite and gooiest topic, P I Z Z A.
I think Uncle TNUC speaks for many of us in confessing that the thought of being a pizza delivery dude is something we’ve imagined doing at one time during this lifetime. Even if that meant filling out a job application for Pizza Hut, working for 1 night and then then throwing a cigarette butt in the manager’s face and quitting, it’s probably worth it just for the experience, right? There’s something about cruising around all night and delivering pizzas to stranger’s doorsteps that is alluring. Whether it’s the unknown adventure or slight dangerous aspect of who’s lurking behind the door, it’s a little bit exciting.
These pizza providing fantasies typically stem from watching movies. On so many occasions we’ve witnessed guys in goofy uniforms carrying big, steaming hot pizza sleeves, walking up to a house about to ring a doorbell and see where fate takes them. For some reason the most common scenario ends with the pizza guy being used or abused in some way (beat up, mugged, seduced, kidnapped, stiffed for a tip, etc.).
To honor these brave men of society (to this day I’ve never seen a pizza delivery lady), today we’re counting down our TOP PIZZA DELIVERY DUDES of all eternity!
#5 “Pizza Guy”
Restaurant: Pedros Pizza & Pancakes
Movie: Men At Work (1990)
Kicking off this countdown is our old pal “Chainsaw” from Summer School (Dean Cameron) who plays a pizza guy at the wrong place and wrong time in the trash truck driving epic Men At Work. When he shows up to Emilio Estevez’ place to drop off an innocent pie, he witnesses them wheeling a lifeless body through the apartment. Before he can split, the lunatic Vietnam vet played by Keith David decides very quickly that the pizza guy has seen too much. On top of having to wear that uniform in public, the guys kidnap him, put his head through a wall and cause the poor delivery boy a whole lot of heartache.
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Restaurant: Pink Pizza
Movie: The Last American Virgin (1982)
This movie proves that being a virgin who delivers pizzas in a hot pink station wagon across the valley can eventually lead to endless adventures, even if that means getting into trouble. Dropping off pizzas allowed Gary and his friends to be invited inside the home of a mature nymphomaniac who wanted more than a hot lunch. In fact, she was seeking a triple-sausage special which if you haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil it for you.
TNUC rates The Last American Virgin up there with the greats like Revenge of the Nerds and the Vacation movies. It’s THAT precious.
P.S. Pink Pizza also delivers beer with their pizza which is a monumental plus.
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Restaurant: Pizza Hut
Movie: Gleaming the Cube (1989)
Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk shows up with his floppy California-butthead hairdo as one of Christian Slater’s friends in 1989’s Gleaming the Cube. “Buddy” works for Pizza Hut….but not just any Pizza Hut…1980’S PIZZA HUT. You know, the place with the red vinyl booths, golden crust aroma, stained-glass chandeliers, brick walls and respectable pizza! Uncle T could go on for days about this golden era (and we have).
Buddy cruises around with his skater friends in the infamous and mysterious Pizza Hut red-roof-delivery-truck, which we actually spent an entire week researching it’s authenticity and existence a couple years ago. This little truck with epic proportions featured a miniature version of the restaurant’s signature red roof as it’s car topper. Even when I was younger and couldn’t drive a car, I wanted that little roof for the top of my backyard treehouse.
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#2 “Pizza Dude”
Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Some of these pizza delivery dudes deserve their entire performance to be posted in full video form, and the Domino’s pizza delivery dude from TMNT is definitely one of them.
There’s a lot to love about this movie, but what’s stuck with me the most throughout the years is the grimy and gritty portrayal of New York City. For a live action movie about four giant Turtles who know karate, the creators kept the movie as dark and real as they could swing for a PG rating. Scenes of mugging, warehouse parties, dank sewers, city creepers and secret underground clans kept kids on edge and never allowed the story to came across soft at all.
This pizza guy fits the aesthetic perfectly as he’s clearly built up a toughness for what strange shit comes his way in the city, as shown when he accepts a 10 dollar bill being handed up to him from a sewer. Instead of running off into the night when he hears voices from underground, he slips the Domino’s box through the grates and even complains when the Turtles don’t tip!
Fun Fact: “Pizza Dude” was played by Michelan Sisti who also played the Michaelangelo character inside the rubber costume!
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#1 “Pizza Boy”
Restaurant: Little Nero’s Pizza
Movie: Home Alone (1990)
During not only the greatest pizza delivery dude scene ever but also one of the best moments in motion picture history, Little Nero’s #1 pizza boy goes toe to toe with local professional prankster Kevin McCallister and the result is an all-out audio machine gun assault courtesy of an 8 year old. Other reasons why “Pizza Boy” rules this list:
• Patience level while trying to get the $122.50 someone in this rich obnoxious home owes him
• Speedy delivery. Ever notice how hot n’ steamy Kevin’s pizza is when he opens the box? Maximum respect, pizza boy.
• Crucial hair-flop under that Little Nero’s ball cap!
“Pizza Boy” joins an unbelievably rich group of legends in Home Alone including Kevin, Buzz, Fuller, Uncle Frank, Marv, Harry, a pet tarantula, Gus Polinski, Snakes, Johnny and Old Man Marley. There really isn’t much else to say about him…just go watch this holiday hit of the season!
HUNGRY now? Wet your appetite by revisiting our Ooey Gooey Cheesy Pizza Mixtape below!
More people need to be talking about 2015’s The Mind’s Eye.
When I first learned that Zombi’s Steve Moore was brewing up a hot bubbly score to an upcoming science fiction horror film that revolved around a telekinetic revenge story, my body reacted with feverish excitement. Being a long time fan of Moore’s work in Zombi, his solo projects, remixes and other soundtracks, I was pretty much locked in already. But given the fact that this particular score was headed into dark, whackjob sci-fi territory, I felt like this was a long time coming.
With so many of us listening to this guy crank out brooding, mind-destroying synthesizer music over the past 10 years, there’s always been this question of “when are horror/sci-fi directors going to wake up and use this guy?”. Keep in mind, this was long before the synth-soundtrack craze took off like we’re experiencing these days.
Then in 2011, it all seemed to come into fruition when two lower budget horror movies surfaced – Gutterballs and Star Vehicle – with Moore providing music under the Italian maestro alias Gianni Rossi. Fast forward to 2014 and Adam Wingard (You’re Next) taps Moore to score his upcoming military PTSD thriller The Guest. Then just a few months later, a foreign film called Cub arrives with another impressive release from Steve. It all seemed to be finally happening.
With those releases under his belt, next up was hearing what this guy could do for a movie which looked to feature promising things like head explosions, snowy landscapes, telekinetic mind trauma and balls-to-the-wall practical gore effects. Enter director Joe Begos’ THE MIND’S EYE…
Well disciples, I’m happy to report that this is THE ONE. Never before has Moore’s music been such a integral part of a film than it is in The Mind’s Eye. Not to take anything away from prior work in other films (because they’re seriously great too) but this one just seems like the mega match up. The pulsating electronic drive and emotional synth-shrieks heard throughout the 90 minute feature create such a heightened tension when it’s needed, while swooping down and getting eerily subtle during quieter moments. The score elevates outrageous scenes of blood n’ guts to their absolute fullest while never taking anything away from the film nor distracting you from what’s happening on screen. Hear “It’s Complicated” below [TNUC exclusive!]
You know how impossible it is to imagine The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street or The Fog without their crucial musical themes we know so well? That’s how it feels with this one.
I had the privilege of catching The Mind’s Eye in a packed theater on a gigantic screen in Los Angeles last year, which felt like the best way to see this movie immediately after seeing the words pop up on screen before the intro titles “THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD”. There were scenes in the movie where people were literally cheering and applauding what they were watching on the screen. It’s aggressive. It’s nasty. It rules.
I can’t say enough positive things about this score. At 85 minutes in length, it remarkably still feels like an album you can just throw on the car stereo and cruise around all night, much like one of the Zombi records. Now Relapse Records will be releasing Steve Moore’s mesmerizing score to The Mind’s Eye on 2xLP/CD/digital on December 2nd!
Your bored and have nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Not old enough to drive but still too young for permission to walk around town. Then suddenly, your sister screeches up the driveway in the wood-paneled, family station wagon and calls out to you…
“HEY LET’S GO TO THE VIDEO STORE”
Whether it was Blockbuster or the little ratty video store on the corner with the grumpy desk clerk who also sold cigarettes and rubbers, EVERYONE misses video rental stores. The current age of “movie browsing convenience at your fingertips” will never hold a candle to walking those carpeted aisles of endless VHS wonder. The ritual of physically walking into a video store to choose a movie is something we didn’t even realize at the time was so precious.
Anyone remember TNUC’s Love Letter to Blockbuster? That was basically our attempt at an apology on behalf of all the online bashing the video rental legend received from whiny nerds who somehow were still complaining about their “bad experiences” at Blockbuster back in the day. Mind you, this was also happening while the business was rotting away and slowly closing their stores. Soulless idiots!
I have just as many fond memories of browsing rows of VHS covers at the mom n’ pop rental places as I do at Blockbuster. When I was in 5th grade I clearly remember reaching into the bargain bin at our Blockbuster and pulling out a copy of Surf Nazis Must Die for $2.99. Normally I’d be too intimidated by horror titles to actually rent one during that time, and browsing around just staring at them was enough excitement. But a Nazi with a robotic hand and machine gun, surfing a wave over a babe looking up in pure terror? Count me in.
There are many things these days that instantly remind me of being at the video store. Fake-buttery popcorn, microwaved pizza, clam-shell plastic, weird carpet smells…the list is massive. Also whenever I see those rubbery Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from from the 1990 movie…instant video store dreams.
One strange memory that sticks out in my mind from video store days, which would actually foreshadow an obsession later down the road, was this:
I’ll never forget combing the action/adventure section and seeing 1987’s THE BARBARIANS staring right back at me. I’d usually do one of those quick looks back and forth while moving down the aisle, excited but a little uncomfortable at what I was looking at. It isn’t everyday a 9 year old comes across an image of oily, bulging twin meatballs in loin cloths.
Are there any video rental locations still in operation where you live? Did your local shop have an adult XXX section with those bizarre saloon doors? Tell TNUC everything in the comment section!
† R.I.P. †
[Local-Hot-Spot-Of-The-Month is a adrenaline-thrusting history lesson and celebration of signature hangout spots one might recognize from television, film or real life. Our objective is to not just rediscover and dissect these places, but more importantly create a feeling like you’re really there. Take your time with these entries. Hang out. Turn some music on.
To visit the rest of ’em, go here.]