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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2008!
   Assistant Editor:  Terence Nuzum.                                                          HOME       ARCHIVES
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our ninth calendar year!
Number 420  (Vol. 9, No. 15). This edition is for the week of April 7--13, 2008.

Charlton Heston The Sci-Fi Years
Guest Editorial/Inaugural Column by Chris Munger
Charlton Heston Rip .... Planet Of The Apes Dvd Set .... Moh Updates .... New Top Ten h
Welcome To The New Guy .... Rock Chalk Jayhawk .... Darwin Award Nominee .... Tripping The Light Fandango .... Count Da-money .... Heston .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1976 Should Have Gone To... e
Charlton Heston, R.I.P.
The Closing of Tampa's Unique Video
New Columnist for PCR?

"Gitcher stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"
With those words Astronaut George Taylor made known to the future ape world he'd been transported to that at least one human was capable of speech. And life would never be the same for him....or them. Or me.

The scene above is, of course, from the 1968 landmark sci-fi film The Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston (as Taylor), Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, and Maurice Evans.

Last weekend, superstar actor Charlton Heston died at the age of 84. As of his passing, only Linda Harrison remains of that stellar line-up.

Although Heston's career spanned decades from 1941's Peer Gynt to -- with some irony -- an uncredited cameo in Tim Burton's remake of Apes -- and a few small parts after that, my favorite Heston movies of all time fall squarely in a 7-year period between 1968 and 1975: The Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Earthquake, and Airport 1975. OF COURSE, two exceptions I would be remiss not to mention are his roles in the "big religious pictures", 1956's The Ten Commandments and 1959's Ben Hur (the latter of which won him an Academy Award). While those amazing and immense productions defined Heston as a historical character actor for most of the movie-going population, I always thought his larger-than-life presence equally served the later science-fiction films he was in the weight and authority they deserved and only he could bring them.

"Soylent Green is People...it's Peeeooooppplllleeeeeeee!"
1973's Soylent Green re-united Heston with who would've been his co-star on Apes, Edward G. Robinson. (Originally cast as Dr. Zaius, Edward G. couldn't stand the monkey make-up. The role then went to the very capable Maurice Evans.) In a world plagued by over-population and hunger, Heston is cast as an everyman looking for the origins of the only plentiful foodstuff provided by the government. Hunted down to silence him, Heston stays one step ahead of his adversaries until he ultimately discovers the morbid formula for the once-delectable snack!

All Shook Up
Back when star-studded disaster movies were all the rage, Charlton Heston made his mark saving survivors of Earthquake, 1974's "event" movie which featured SENSURROUND that simulated the low-rumbling quakes in your local theater! (I felt these myself when I attended the movie upon its initial release.)

"Read me the Altimeter..."
And of course, Airport 1975, Heston saved the passengers of a jumbo jet that had been damaged in mid-air by a collision with a small private plane, by being lowered into the now-open cockpit by helicopter(!!). Taking over the controls from the embattled stewardess (Karen Black), Heston is able to navigate the crippled liner through dangerous mountains to safety. (It is this movie and its predecessor Airport that provided endless fodder for spoof movies like Airplane and the like that came later.)

No obit of Charlton Heston is going to overlook his high-profile championing of gun ownership rights. While this is noteworthy in that it was obviously a cause he passionately supported (as do I), I'm only really interested enough to gloss over it for this piece, as I don't want to get too buried in politics in this memorial.

And Finally....
To best summarize my memory of Charlton Heston the actor, I'd like to quote, in part, Pauline Kael's review of Planet of the Apes from the February 17th, 1968 New Yorker, that put it perfectly:
Charlton Heston as the hero. I don't think the movie could have been so forceful or so funny with anyone else. Physically, Heston, with his perfect, lean-hipped, powerful body, is a god-like hero; built for strength, he's an archetype of what makes Americans win. He doesn't play a nice guy; he's harsh and hostile, self-centered and hot-tempered. Yet we don't hate him, because he's so magnetically strong; he represents American power.

Ain't it the truth? It's a madhouse. A MAAAAAAAAADHOUSE!!!!!!!

The Closing of Tampa's Unique Video
Long-time readers might remember for a good while last year the message board featured several forums and dozens of posts related to Tampa's only cult video store, Frank Granda, Jr's, Unique Video and the enthusiastic fandom it seemed to generate. This was followed up by CULT-O-WEEN, the Andy Lalino/Frank Granda staged event where several of us from Crazed Fanboy gathered at the store to talk fandom, watch videos and hopefully meet other fans. We had a great time, and while it wasn't exactly standing-room only, it did mark our first meeting with PCR comic artist John Miller. Later, Frank bought a large ad banner we placed on the CF homepage, and at the same time, arranged for a CF Fan Club Card discount to any and all who applied. I didn't hear from Frank for while (nor Andy, but that's another matter), but I certainly thought things were rosey. I didn't know it until just the past few days that our sincere efforts were apparently too little and too late. Acting on little more than rumor, I asked Lisa Ciurro (FANGRRL) to please do some investigating. She was able to contact Frank and the news wasn't good.

April 1st, 2008, Unique Video closed its doors for business after 21 years. Although the phone answering machine still picks up (presumably until the current phone billing period runs out), it's an old message having to do with going DVD-only. I can't drive by the store myself, but I imagine the videos and shelf racks are gone by now.

In Frank's email response to Lisa's inquiry, a response I characterize as sad, bitter and disappointed, Frank related several reasons for his decision to close the store. Customer traffic had fallen off to near zero. Our joint promotion (along with any others) had evidently gone nowhere. But his second career as a Miami-based radio talk show host and theatrical actor had taken off and he felt more appreciated there than here. And as what I perceive to be the last straw, the landlord in Tampa had raised the rent for the tiny store to astronomical proportions. Great economic times we live in. Frank decided it simply wasn't worth it anymore.

Most of all, Frank seems to feel disappointed and almost betrayed by the supposed Tampa cult-film fan community. I agreed with Lisa not to discuss publicly the play-by-play at the root of his angst (some other time, perhaps), but suffice it to say he feels there's more talk than action here and that his future is brighter in Miami.

There will be no going-out-of-business sale of old cult videos so don't ask. Frank is keeping them for now, but will likely piece them out on eBay.....unless he opens another store, he said (but I'm not holding my breath it'll be anywhere close to Tampa, if it happens).

I sincerely wish Frank Granda, Jr. the best of luck with his new endeavors in Miami, and sorry to hear things worked out the way they did (we are in a sh*tty economy). Maybe, in time, Frank, you can have another go at it.

Introducing "Sports Talk"
As long-time readers know, I ask just about everyone in my orbit at one time or another to take a stab at becoming a PCR writer, at least people who I think can handle it. I dunno, I guess it helps me form a more solid sense of community and family. And, of course, while I've had some terrific successes with that, experience has shown that sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. Doesn't stop me from wanting to try new things.

And as you all also know, I've never been really strong on sports chat (mainly being that I'm not really a sports fan myself), but from time to time have entertained the idea of supporting a sports column here. It's pop culture and certainly has fandom. We've had some fairly brazen attempts in the past: Chris Woods' wrestling article a few months back, and if we go waaaaay back, my former work partner George Streets (aka "G-Money") threw in some thoughts on pro basketball. These were all worthy, but predictably short-lived pieces. (I'm not ignoring Mike Smith's excellent sports sections in his weekly Rant, you know -- but he's got enough on his plate.)

Despite the unpredictability of who one encounters on the graveyard shift, I've been lucky the last couple years to be scheduled with some interesting work partners. One of them, Christopher Munger, has been working with me only a few months, but I saw possibilities in him (always on the lookout that I am, haha). He and I began to discuss a regular sports column.

So....the first edition of "Sports Talk" appears in this week's issue of PCR as a Guest Editorial, for one, to let Chris get his feet wet on what it takes to do this and what to expect as far as reactions, and two, to give me time to format a header/banner to go at the pagetop to his column.

I hope you like Sports Talk. Let me know. (And I know you will, haha.)

Readers' Comments

The Readers' Comment section for this issue of PCR is now closed. To continue to interact, please use the Message Board or write a Letter to the Editor! The comments below are listed starting with the most recent. Thank you.

Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.
Terence [14-04-2008 13:58] 
i love 70s apocalypse movies and am all for Heston acting like a bad ass but Omega Man sucked balls. Last Man On Earth is far better. too bad the movie couldnt have gone that direction instead.
Andrew Allan [14-04-2008 10:16] 
Nice write up, Ed. Omega Man crisis averted.
Andrew Allan [14-04-2008 10:09] 
No mention of Omega Man?!!??!!?! You creatures of the wheel.
paul guzzo [14-04-2008 08:25] 
In regards to columns, I am very sorry I haven't written anything new in the past month ... been working on a huge article at work for La Gaceta ... and have been busy with Charlie Wall stuff. I promise to get busy here again in a few weeks.
Nolan [14-04-2008 06:53] 
Paul, thanks, I'm glad you like it. I've passed everyone's comments onto Mr. Munger who's very excited. He's a little shy from posting on here just yet, but he's read everything and thanks eveyone for their support. He's told me his next column is on the way.
Paul Guzzo [13-04-2008 16:55] 
Crazed Fanboy with a sports column?!?! Has hell frozem over?! Very good column, though ... I am a meathead sports fan at heart, so am excited to see the column added to the site.
matt [12-04-2008 03:09] 
welcome aboard chris!
Lisa C [11-04-2008 09:46] 
To Chris -- Welcome to PCR!!

To Terence -- Ditto what JMiller and Nolan said. I never said that stores like Best Buy have a vendetta against stores like Unique Video and are trying to wipe them out. Will finish this thought later. Gotta run for now...
Paul Guzzo [11-04-2008 05:40] 
Actually, in regards to big business killing mom and pop stores ... when you go to big cities, you will notice the LACK of major chain stores in a downtown area. Mostly mom and pop stores ... just an odd observation I have been making lately.
Nolan [11-04-2008 04:07] 
To everyone: The current Message Board outage happened after I did some routine website maintenance in the wee hours of Friday morning that should not have disturbed anything, it never has before.

This one just doesn't make any sense. So I'm blaming it on some glitch down at the webhost for right now. Unfortunately they're in California, so the three-hour time difference will delay our communications (tech support isn't 24/7, unfortunately).

Doing the best I can, everyone. Luckily, Readers Comments is still working fine.
Nolan [11-04-2008 03:58] 
Lisa -- the superfluous posts have been deleted. One of them was my fault, I don't know how the other one crept in there.

To Terence and JMILLER -- I don't think Lisa was making a case that Best Buy, Target, and the like are trying to put mom-and-pop stores out of business (tho the spectre of Wal-Mart looms large there), merely that it's such a shame that a mom-and-pop stores can't exist anymore with competition like that. Neither in locations, nor in keeping prices down.
J.MILLER [10-04-2008 23:28] 
I dont think anyones really blaming big corporations for the closing of Unique Video...Id actually praise Frank for being wise enough to manuever around them successfully for so long...
Terence [10-04-2008 19:24] 
still the idea that best buy is finding Unique Video stores a threat and trying to wipe them out is like ridiculous. blame the dvd companies who sell El Topo to best buy instead of exsculsivly to a mom and pop store. Best Buy carries it because it was on their catalog ordering form not because they want to wipe unique video stores out.
J.MILLER [10-04-2008 16:17] 
Terence - Believe it or not I found a copy of El Topo in Super Targets IFC section...And Im pretty sure Best Buy carries EraserHead as well as a few other niche titles...
matt [10-04-2008 14:49] 
Ed - Being that you are much more a fanboy than myself (me much more of the Monster Kid variety), I am inclined to defer to your information regarding audio and redubbing. The rumour mill I mentioned based the information from inside sources at Fox. The exact specific statement regarding Conquest was as follows:

Word is Fox has even discovered the original ending from the preview cut of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

i'll add that this new set (in blu ray) is tentatively scheduled for the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year.
Terence [10-04-2008 13:59] 
Lisa wrote: bit by bit, local history and flavor are being replaced by corporate, impersonal chains...

I dont agree Lisa. they are both suffering. the difference is is that Best Buy can afford to stay open even when losing money where as a Unique Video couldnt. i think the days of believing Walmart and Best Buys are running out the small guys are now over. that whole idea was ridiculous anyway. as if Best Buy or a large retail really carries El Topo or Eraserhead. how exactly are they nudging out guys like Frank again? if they arent selling the same things?
Lisa C [10-04-2008 12:42] 
Matt -- Good idea about the Charlton Heston list. I've started on mine (although I'm cheating a little and doing a list of best Heston performances instead of Heston movies so I can sneak in a non-movie thing).

Nolan -- Nice tribute to Charlton Heston. RE the UV thread: Um, wow, what an intro. I guess I'd better get busy writing. Also, one of my comments posted twice...don't know how that happened. Would you or Terence mind deleting that when you get a chance? Thanks.
Nolan [10-04-2008 11:29] 
Lisa, that's very thoughful. But what I meant was for the trouble you went to for me/us to have this story, I wanted to make sure you had plenty of space to expand with original material for your personal blog regarding this matter, and make decisions on how personal to get (i.e., "naming names") with Frank's extensive remarks.

For PCR, I was mainly interested in sharing the "big chunks" of the story with our readers, that is the main points on when and why Unique Video closed. For that I am grateful, thank you.

To everyone: if and when Lisa blogs the rest of what Frank sent her, it'll be MUST READING, hahaha. Brace yourselves.
Nolan's BFF [10-04-2008 10:56] 
That is VERY professional of you, Lisa.
Lisa C [10-04-2008 10:49] 
I would also like to say that I feel a little weird about sounding like the Mati Hari of Crazed Fan Boy and would like to add that I have Frank Granda, Jr's permission to share everything he told me in any manner and to whomever I choose.

Nolan -- I have no problem with what you wrote, so please don't think otherwise. (And if I did, I wouldn't try to solve it on the board anyway.) I just needed to let everyone know, for the record, that Frank's ok with my sharing what he told me.
Paul Guzzo [10-04-2008 10:37] 
Which is why we all need to support events that support indie art ... COUGH ... Cheap plug for TFR Friday ... COUGH.
Lisa C [10-04-2008 10:31] 
I missed the argumentative posts, so I don't know what the gnat who keeps flying around this site was buzzing about. I agree with what's been posted here about Netflix, gas prices, etc. and I agree that 21 years is a great run.

That being said, OF COURSE Frank Jr would be disappointed, angry and bitter. I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to watch your once thriving store doing less and less business over the years. To finally make the difficult decision to close up shop would be painful for any business owner, but it's especially painful for someone who enjoyed the store and the movies and the customers like Frank Jr. did. It was more than just a business to him.

Legitimate, economic reasons aside, it's upsetting to me that Unique Video is closed. Just like with drive-in theaters, independent bookstores and various mom-and-pop stores and restaurants....bit by bit, local history and flavor are being replaced by corporate, impersonal chains...
Nolan [10-04-2008 07:50] 
To ED: Several of the "argumentative" posts you're referring to (that have since been deleted) are actually the work of only one disturbed individual under a variety of assumed names. He does this to make it look like there are several posters who share his viewpoint. The same individual we've been having trouble with for many months and have had problems blocking. Terence and I monitor the Comments as often as practical, but occasionally, flaming rants still make it on here.

That said, I, too, agree that 21 years is a good run for a type of business on the decline in America due to technological advances. I do not share Mr. Granda's attitude about local film community support, but he is entitled to his view -- as stated in the article (and ED reiterated), better support was shown for two decades. Unique Video will still be missed and that's a fact.

Paul Guzzo [10-04-2008 07:32] 
I agree Ed ... with everything so easily acceddible, nothing is really "unique" any more. 21 years ... wow ... that is a long time for any business to survive.
ED [10-04-2008 07:27] 
Like the political discussions on this board, I want nothing to do with the agruments involving the Tampa film community either, especially since I am not a part of it. I would like to point out one piece of information that everyone seems to have overlooked prior to launching into this latest tirade. Doesn't the fact that Unique Video was open in Tampa for 21 years mean that the cult film community was supporting it for 21 years? As J. Miller pointed out, 21 years is a good long run for a specialty business of this type in any community. It is more likely that the technological advances gave the community more options to choose from and they outgrew the need for this type of business.
ED [10-04-2008 05:40] 
Matt - RE: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It's nice to hear that the original ending has been found and fox will be using it to sell another boxed set. I bought the Ape head set with all the movies, TV, and cartoon shows but I waited and got a remainder for about $60. My understanding is there really is no lost footage from Conquest just audio. The film was shot on such a low budget for what it was that they could not afford to rettakes after they decided to make the apes more merciful. The footage they had was recut and Roddy McDowell returned to do a new voiceover that was badly dubbed into the existing footage.
J.MILLER2 [10-04-2008 00:45] 
"Most of all, Frank seems to disappointed and almost betrayed by the supposed Tampa cult-film fan community."

I tried supporting Unique Video for as long as I could both through business and word of mouth...Eventually it just became to expensive and opted to instead purchase any rare cinema for much cheaper through outlets such as Amazon, Ebay, or used dvd/video retailers closer to home...Why spend five-six bucks renting something and using gas to travel back and fourth when I could purchase the same film used for sometimes equal or lesser value...

With the accessablity and low prices of used dvd's, the emergence of online distribution through Netflix, etc even the major corporate chains are wounded or closing up shop completely...Video rental stores in general are an endangered species and have outlived their usefullness...Being open twenty-one years is an accomplishment in itself and Mr. Granda should take great pride in knowing he lasting as long as he did...
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
End of Comments    

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2008 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "FANGRRL" is ©2008 by Lisa Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2008 by ED Tucker    "Filmlook" is ©2008 by Paul Guzzo    "CANOVA: The Online Comic Series" is ©2008 by John Miller      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova    
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