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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR #338  (Vol. 7, No. 37) This edition is for the week of September 11--17, 2006.

The Tampa Film Review For September  by Nolan B. Canova
The True Story of the Royal Guardsmen  by ED Tucker
"The Black Dahlia"  by Mike Smith
"Hollywoodland"  by Nolan B. Canova
The 20 Best Heavy Metal Albums of All Time  by Terence Nuzum
Crazed Fanboy Live! The Musical....Andy's Expedition to Tyrone Square Mall....VHS Grindhouse: "Midnight"  by Andy Lalino
Great Company....Set Phasers on Numb....Speaking of Star Trek....Musical History....Speaking of Music....My Favorite Films, Part 37: "Hoosiers" by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Crazed Fanboy Live! – The Musical
Nolan – I walk up and slap your face with a riding glove, thus issuing forth this challenge: how about a “live” version of Crazed Fanboy? Wouldn’t that be a hoot? I’m sure we can find a venue – even if it was the parking lot of the famous Canovian 7-11 (how’s that for folksy?). We could have the not-so-all-star column writers as part of the panel, and maybe a token fanboy reader joining us. You could moderate. I’m a little unsure if it should be tilted more toward Dick Cavett or Morton Downey Jr. The audience would be regular readers and interested fanboys/Florida crackers.

We could discuss various media (comic books, movies, books) and fantastic genres (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, exploitation) all in a forum setting. We’d have panelists, but also audience members can chime in at (invisible; hey – we’re cheap!) podiums. We could also comment on the week’s late-breaking news, do some multimedia presentations, and even a tribute to fanboy heroes, like Dr. Paul Bearer himself. And I’m sure there would be debates/arguments aplenty.

If you want it to be a huge moneymaker, let’s have a “Sink Terence” dunk tank for $5 a toss.

It would be fun and could do it once a month. Any takers?

Andy, I'm very honored to know you'd think of such a thing, let alone propose it formally! Believe it or not, Terence brought up a very similar idea at least two years ago (likely longer) where at least the PCR writers group could get together about once a month. Although intended to take place at a location like Borders Books (other clubs' meetings were held there at the time), over time, this mutated into Friday and Sunday night get-togethers at Westshore Pizza and/or Hooters, both in South Tampa. Some of these have great turn-outs (Joel & Cathy Wynkoop, Vinnie Blesi, Gus Perez, and Chris Woods are frequent visitors), but at least half the time, it's just William and me. When we start talking about panelists and multimedia presentations and inviting the public, I am forced to recollect the resounding silences to both NolanCon and the invitation to join the "PCR/Tucker group" for lunch at MegaCon. We're not quite THAT big yet, so people are simply not interested, unfortunately.

In addition to the Westhore Pizza and Hooters things, I always go out with the gang at the Tampa Film Review after that show (International Bazaar, second Friday of every month). That party has just been relocated to Gaspar's Grotto from the pizza place we were going down in Ybor City. The conversation there is extremely animated, to say the least!

"The famous Canovian 7-11"....hahahaha, you slay me. Now I've become a descriptive term! While I have received visitations at the legendary location of my current employment (MacDill and Gandy, South Tampa) from Joe Davison, the Guzzo Brothers, Damien Kincannon, Terence Nuzum and Drew Reiber, Ed Tucker and company, Gus Perez, and Rod Griffin (who seems to have forgotten it), it's not a terribly popular stop, because, 1: I'm on the graveyard shift, and 2: it IS my job and I wouldn't be able to partake in my own "Canovian" affair!

For the time being, the best time to find two or more PCR gang members out and around loose, available for slapping and dunking, are Friday evenings at Westshore Pizza, (8:00pm to about 9:30pm, but call me or email ahead to make sure we're going there), and more reliably, Sunday nights at the Hooters on Gandy (7:00pm to about 9:00pm). ---Nolan

Andy’s Expedition to Tyrone Square Mall
After relocating to Clearwater in 1998, I had the rare occasion to trek down to the southern end of Pinellas County to one of my old stomping grounds from the ‘70s and early ‘80s: Tyrone Square Mall. I hadn’t visited there in years. What’s immediately fascinating about the place is that the mall’s theaters are basically the same as they were when it first opened in the early 1970’s, surviving such long-gone iconic movie houses as Gateway Mall 2, Pinellas Park 3, Crossroads 2 (and 8), the Garden Drive-In and of course, my favorites: 5th Avenue Cinemas and the Plaza. Sadly, the movies are different, but a quick peek down the famous hallway that led to the theaters gave me chills, as I remember walking down that carpet to see such classics as “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, and H.G. Wells’ “Food of the Gods” in ’76.

But, more about that later. The mall has been “upgraded” to attract upscale shoppers, but little could hide the fact that the mall is showing its age. The lot’s pockmarked with potholes, and the tiled walkways, though replaced, looked dingy and worn. I took a quick sprint around the mall’s interior, which was both a nostalgic and pathetic voyage. Hardly any of the shops I used to frequent have survived (Camelot Music, Dapper Dan ice cream, The Barefoot Mailman), and those that did are but a shell of their former self (Spencer’s Gifts).

But the biggest nostalgic letdown was the fact that the mall’s video game room is ancient history, replaced by a food court. Its name was “Aladdin’s Castle” – an appropriate moniker for a small dungeon that provided early ‘80s kids with countless hours (and countless quarters) of thrill-packed gaming entertainment. Tron, Gorf, Beserk, Space Fury, Gyruss, Sini-Star – they were all here in their stand-up glory in one of the best game rooms in Pinellas County.

Tyrone once had great shops as well. I used to delight in hitting the following: Waldenbooks, B. Dalton Booksellers, Specs Music, Camelot Music, The Barefoot Mailman (kind of like a Spencers Gifts), etc.

There used to be great places to eat, too: Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips, Farrell’s Ice Cream, Dapper Dan ice cream, etc.

The Tyrone 6 theaters were very popular, and became the hottest place to see the latest flicks, be they first run or cult classics on the Midnight Movie Express. I can’t tell you how many great films I saw there at midnight. It used to be a Friday/Saturday night ritual. Here are some, just to name a few: George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”, Michael Mann’s “The Keep”, “Apocalypse Now”, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, John Russo’s “Midnight” (see below), “Rocky Horror”, and many, many others. Try to find that kind of classic lineup at today’s cinemas. It ‘aint gonna happen.

I couldn’t help thinking how great it would be to have both Will Moriaty and Nolan stroll around with me, as the great memories came back. I know Nole’s a Hillsborough County guy and may have never been to the mall, but Will may have ventured out there, and may have some interesting input. I know that when I was younger I used to trek out to all the malls in the Tampa Bay area in search of LP’s, books, and other items of interest to the fanboy.

We were lucky as kids because my grandparents used to live close to the mall in the Tyrone area. It was pretty much a weekly thing going to Tyrone Mall after eating a big Italian dinner every Sunday. Those were great times. It wasn’t close enough that we could walk (as kids), but my mom was always willing to take us there to play video games or browse the shops.

One of my favorite memories of the mall, aside from Aladdin’s Castle, and the Midnight Movie Express, was during the late 1970’s (or it could have been the very early ‘80s), when one year Channel 44 televised the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon live from there. The cool thing was they had set up lots of games and things to do for the kids. From what I remember, it was one of the better MDA local telethons.

What can I say – here’s to Tyrone Square – you may not be same as I remember, but you are a true survivor, and a genuine Tampa Bay treasure.

VHS Grindhouse – “Midnight”
No, not the John Russo cult classic.

I’ve broken my own rule about reviewing post-1987 horror films in VHS Grindhouse, but I had a feeling that this one wouldn’t be totally unwatchable, and I was right; in fact, “Midnight” looks and feels more like ’86 than ’89 – a very good thing indeed. Another insatiable element is that it features a sexy, Elvira-esque horror hostess, aptly named “Midnight”, played by Lynn Redgrave (oh, those “Happy Hooker” days…). While she may not have the Big E’s cleavage, Redgrave makes a dynamic faux hostess.

“Midnight” opens deliciously as she rises from her fog-shrouded coffin at the taping of her horror show, cracking clever puns: “I was asked for an autograph. I don’t give autographs – I give epitaphs!”, and of course, the standard ‘bloody Mary’ drink gag. Midnight soon gets involved with “Hunk”, an obsessed fan that follows her home. Turns out Hunk’s a wannabe actor, fresh on the LA scene, who she takes under her wing – and bed sheets. Kind of like a “Sunset Boulevard” for the horror set.

Midnight’s career is determined by TV mogul “Mr. B” (Tony Curtis), who’s got a personal grudge against her, despite her rabid popularity. There’s a lot of theatrical bickering between the two over contracts, copyrights, and ratings, which causes the picture’s subplots to stray toward the dramatic. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to call this as a horror film, were it not for an occasional tame murder.

So the stage is set: a popular but aging vamp hostess, her young stud, and the mogul who wants to bring her down. The minor characters come into play in varying degrees of relevance: the loyal butler secretly in love with Midnight, the cold Germanic maid, the blonde siren who lures Hunk to bed while Midnight’s out of town, the double-crossing agent (Frank Gorshin) etc. Things begin to get deadly when Midnight finds many of her adversaries winding up dead via hanging and drowning. I won’t spoil the end revelation, which I guessed a mile away.

Horror fans will enjoy the exciting hostess sequences, which are filmed at an actual TV studio before an audience of screaming fans in costume. Midnight’s puns are good as are the props. Lynn Redgrave gives Elvira a run for her money, and spends the entire film in pale makeup and wig. Midnight can spit venom when she so desires, cursing cast members to die of cancer(!) and V.D(!!). She’s certainly not your horror hostess next door.

I wouldn’t recommend “Midnight” to a gorehound, though there is one great-looking corpse hiding in a small closet. It will, however, turn on the older fans who remember bygone days when horror hosts ruled the U.S. airwaves, especially the sexy female ones. Look for a brief cameo by famous DJ Wolfman Jack at a party scene.

"Oddservations" is ©2006 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.