Talk Back: The Morton Downey Jr. Show – Slasher Films

In the 1980’s talk shows, both daytime and nighttime, were all the rage as names like Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, Arsenio Hall, David Letterman, Johnny Carson and Oprah Winfrey all hosted must-watch shows TV for viewers. Each covered topics that the masses cared about like celebrities, racism, devil worship, gay rights, wrestling, scandals, horror movies, heavy metal music, teens dressing weird, serial killers and everything in-between. While thinking of what kind of subjects I wanted to cover for my Made For TV updates, I knew that late night and day time talk show episodes had to be talked about as they were shows I grew up watching and have good memories of some of the over the top topics! When selecting the first talk show host and episode to showcase, many came to mind and Geraldo Rivera was always in the lead as his show was always my favorite and some of his episodes are ones that are blog worthy for sure! But I made the choice to cover an episode of The Morton Downey Jr. Show as I really think he was the true start of trash TV when it comes to talk shows and was Jerry Springer long before over the top antics and overly sleazy TV was cool. So for my first every “Talk Back” update here at Rotten Ink, I have decided to cover a Morton Downey Jr. Show that I feel captures the true nature of the show as well is a topic I am interested in back then and still am now and that’s Slasher Films! That’s right the topic, I will be covering is about the 80’s boom of Horror Films that not only flooded theaters but also the video store shelves. So this will not only be my first Talk Back update but will also be my first update in my countdown to Halloween! So let’s sit back and Zip It with this first update in my Talk Back theme.

Sean Morton Downey was born on December 9, 1932 in Los Angeles, California to parents Morton Downey who was a popular singer in the 1920’s-1930’s, who was given the nickname The Irish Nightingale, and mother Barbara Bennett who was an actress known for her roles in films like Black Jack from 1927 and Syncopation from 1929. Downey was raised rich and lived a good life even attending college at New York University. In the 1950’s he started work in radio, first as an announcer and program director and then became a disc jokey where he started perfecting his snarky attitude and take no prisoners rants. Around this time as well Downey tried his hand at becoming a singer songwriter and recorded such songs as Green Eyed Girl that charted on Billboard reaching # 95! While he was not a popular singer, he was a solid one that showed he did get some of his father’s talent.

Downey was a loose cannon, and by the mid 80’s he had been fired by and avoided by radio stations. Also in 1980 Downey made a bid for the President as a Democrat; he was not selected but he did stay active in politics for a short time hosting Pro Life rallies. In 1987, Downey decided to try his hand at TV and started a show called the “Morton Downey Jr. Show” that started on local New York/New Jersey station WWOR-TV and by 1988, the show went into syndication and became a very controversial late night talk show, and made the phrase “Zip It” popular in the vernacular of viewers.

His rise came fast and hard, as viewers seemed to not be able to get enough of his in your face style of talk show hosting and this lead to him getting appearances on TV Shows and even Movies…and even more crazy is the fact that his own peers in the world of Talk Shows seemed to be puzzled to why people enjoyed his show. On his show, Downey covered all types of taboo topics of the time, and he played two sides against each other and would be rude to everyone by playing devil’s advocate during most shows. But because of his type of hosting, many stations got worried about airing the show and sponsors as well were reluctant to advertise during it…and this was the beginning of the end for it! In 1989, Morton Downey Jr. also recorded another album this time based around his show, during that same year Downey was “attacked” in the bathroom at the San Francisco International Airport by neo-nazi’s who held him down tried to shave his head and painted a swastika on his face….this was looked at as a fake incident that Downey fabricated in order to help his falling ratings.

On September 15, 1989 the show came to an end and as fast as he rose to power, he just as fast crashed and burned. After the show was gone and his star fading, he filed for bankruptcy in 1990, but still took small roles in films like Revenge Of The Nerds III, Body Chemistry II and Meet Wally Sparks to name a few. Things got worse for Downey as in 1996 he was diagnosed with lung cancer from years of chain smoking, and this made the pro smoker change his stance on cigarettes and he spent years trying his best to warn others of its dangers. But sadly on March 12, 2001 Morton Downey Jr. passed away from pneumonia and lung cancer. While in modern times Morton Downey Jr. and his show are almost forgotten, his legacy of “take no crap” hosting style lives on with shows like Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos. Plus for those readers who want to know more about Morton Downey Jr., there have been books written by him as well as a documentary movie made about his life, so check those out as well.

Growing up I can remember the craziness that was The Morton Downey Jr. Show as my parents disliked him lots. I can remember my Mom always saying that he was a jerk to his guests and that she didn’t understand why people watched his show…this of course made me and my brother more curious about it and even made us watch a few episodes from time to time. I can also remember him being parodied in MAD and Cracked Magazine. But for me the main reason I knew who Morton Downey Jr. was came from WWF WrestleMania V that took place in 1989 when the loud mouth Downey Jr. came face to face with Rowdy Roddy Piper on the set of Piper’s Pit! In this segment while Piper tried to interview Downey kept smarting off and blowing cigarette smoke into the face of the wrestler, and finally Piper asks for a cigarette of his own and when Downey is lighting it up, Piper gets a fire extinguisher and blasts Downey several times in the face with it! As Downey flops around on the mat, Piper seems to be enjoying himself. This was 100% classic old school WWF wrestling and showcased that Roddy Piper was the man when it came to putting celebrities in their places when they entered the squared circle. I also growing up enjoyed Morton Downey Jr. as Tony Pope a loud mouth journalist in the 1990 Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Predator 2, and this role was perfect for him!

One thing about Morton Downey Jr. is the fact he loved drama and pushing boundaries as well as pushing the buttons of guests and viewers. And many of these style episodes will be the ones we will cover here on my “Talk Back” update and the one I choose to start with is the episode were Morton Downey Jr. talks about Slasher Films and their impact on viewers. So I am not going to give this Talk Show a star rating nor a grade, but instead I am going to just break down the episode from commercial break to commercial break and discuss the topic and mood of the guests and audience on hand. I want to thank my brother Bryan for getting me this copy of the show for this update, and now I must Zip It so we can get to this classic episode of the Morton Downey Jr. Show.

Morton Downey Jr. Show: Slasher Films
With: Michael Berryman & Rick Sullivan       Topic: Movie Violence     1989

Morton Downey Jr. starts the episode off wearing a Freddy Kruger glove and mask and tells the viewers about how Horror Movies are super popular, and then asks the question if they know what kind of films their kids are renting from the local video store…he then says Slasher Horror Movies are the night’s topic and we are treated to his overly cheesy theme song as well as the amazing graphics of him that go along with it. The crowd already seems hot and ready for some arguments and extreme debates.

Morton starts off with his big white teethed grin and pulls out his pack of cigarettes and warns parents that in this episode they will be showing clips from slasher films, and warns that some of the weaker stomached viewers may puke! He then introduces us to his first two guests, John Anastasio, a film critic, and Rick Sullivan, who works for Gore Gazette and claims slasher films are “Cotton Candy For The Mind.” After asking Rick a question, Morton quickly cuts him off to show a clip of “Last House On The Left” by Wes Craven, and then asks Rick what he finds so sweet about the clip that showed a young woman being stabbed. Rick takes up for the film and says that most viewers go to see the state of the art effects, and to watch the villains get theirs in the end when John adds his two cents in claiming that all the viewers really go to these movies for is the blood and gore that rots the viewers’ minds and hearts, and the crowd goes crazy cheering him on.

Morton then asks the question that while kids cannot see these films in theaters, they can however rent them from Video Rental Stores, and both Rick and John agree that the same rules should be held at both to not allow kids to view these films without a parent’s permission, But then John turns it around to that no one should watch these films all the while Morton is making jokes about his ex-girlfriend and then asks Rick about Good beating Evil in these films. Rick says that everyone knows in the last reel good will win and that kids love these films because people like John tell them not to, and compares it to Rock N Roll Music.

Morton then brings out an issue of Rick’s magazine with a graphic image on the front and John spins it around to his other issue with Slasher films being the sex and degrading nature of women in the films. Morton stands up for the magazine and Horror when he claims there is nothing sexual about the image on the cover! Morton then asks if films like Cannibal Holocaust should be used to teach people about good and evil, and John says no movies like the Star Wars Trilogy and Universal Monster Movies Dracula and Frankenstein should be uses as it shows good beating evil without blood and extreme violence, Morton says to him in Frankenstein good did not prevail over evil as you are set as the viewer to feel bad for The Monster. And with that Morton brings in our first commercial break.

I must say that in this first segment I am shocked about how Morton does a great job of being down the middle for the most part, but does seem to be more on the side of the Slasher films as he points out more of what he dislikes about what John is saying as he comes off really bad as a snotty film critic who thinks his opinion is what matters. Meanwhile Rick Sullivan is pretty well spoken and is clearly a true fan of Horror Movies as he is ready to debate to stand up for the genre he loves. The crowd is also mixed, but so far seems to be more on the side of John thinking these films are trash cinema, with only a small amount cheering for the Slasher flicks…in fact, the crowd while cheering at times are pretty tame for now with only a few outburst of laughing at the guests. So far I would say the mood is pretty tame and Morton is doing a great job of keeping the topic fast paced and entertaining.

When back from the commercial the crowd is yelling and cheering as Morton next welcomes actor Michael Berryman to the show who is the star of films like The Hills Have Eyes, and they show a clip from the film. Also on stage is Feminist Paige Mellish who is against pornography and claims that Slasher Films have studies done about them that prove men want to attack women more after watching them. The crowd does not like her statements.

Michael comes back and says that if people find the sick actions of what happens in horror movies sexual then they are unbalanced people, and he does not make films that promote that kind of thoughts. The Crowd loves what Michael says and he gets a loud cheer and a few laughs at his jokes about dates jumping into your arms during Horror Movies in the theater. Paige then comes back and claims that all the violence in these films is sexualized and says a quote from serial killer Ted Bundy and the link of sex and violence before he was “killed” when Morton says he was not killed, he was executed and goes on to call Bundy a liar and slime!

Paige is un-phased and sticks by the statement that Horror Movies and violence toward women go hand and hand, Rick is asked if Slasher Films and his Magazine are pornographic and he says they are not, when John points out the Gore Gazette code that links some sex to the films…Rick claims it’s taken out of context. Because of this Rick and John start to go back and fourth over the topic, and Michael chimes in that even TV Shows have rotten moments and Morton once more cuts a joke acting like the actor was going to say his show, as Rick and John still go back and fourth with John saying his magazine is garbage!

Morton comes into the argument and says the magazine is sold to 17 and up, and they are adults and no one needs to be their censors, when Paige chimes in that its adult males that attack women when Morton brings up a case of a woman who was attacked an put into a coma by teenagers in New York. Paige agrees but goes back to saying men who watch horror attack women, and Morton cuts her off and takes us to our next commercial break.

Once more I will have to say Morton does a pretty good job of walking the line between the two sides, but it is clear he sides slightly more with the Slasher fans as he hates the fact John is talking censorship and Paige is on a role that all horror is porno! Plus I love how Morton gets worked up over Ted Bundy and runs the psycho’s name through he mud and back again. Michael Berryman comes of well spoken and funny, as Paige Mellish seems really hung up on the “facts” that horror and adult films and crime go hand and hand, and that’s crazy talk. I think Paige really chose the wrong talk show to get her message out as the crowd does not like what she is saying nor does the host. Watching Rick and John go back and fourth is lots of fun, and I almost wish it would have gone on longer as John clearly was getting annoyed as he sunk so low to trash another guests magazine. The crowd is having a blast with this topic as they seem to be laughing, cheering and booing all the while with grins on their faces, so far a solid episode for Morton as he is handling the topic at hand really well.

Morton comes back and welcomes guest Doug Harpool, a representative from Missouri who wants to pass a law that makes it illegal to rent rated R movies to minors and talks about how he heard about a 12 year old and his friends renting Slasher movies from the video store and his parents being so upset about it.

His next new guest is Tony Timpone of Fangoria Magazine who says to him the government should not be stepping in and saying what kids can and can’t watch as the video store should regulate themselves and not be forced by the government. Morton says that Video Stores will not do that as he compares it to the lewd acts that happen at adult video stores and says the regulation needs to happen with the people who make the movies, and Tony disagrees and says it should be up to the person if they want to watch the movie or not, and that parents should be the ones who step in with their own kids and decide if they should be watching the movie or not. Morton mocks him for this statement and acts like parents cannot be everywhere to look into everything that their kids like or want to do, and before Tony can respond, the crowd cheers for Morton’s snarky response.

Paige quickly jumps in with a law that was being drawn up that is about if victims of a terrible crime can prove that a film is what caused the crime, the company who put out the film can be sued. Morton laughs that off and says the it would never pass the Supreme Court, and many of the guest get riled up over this as both sides clash. Doug Harpool takes up for his bill and says the government has had to step in on many issues when it comes to what kids can read and watch and that times are hard as many families have both parents working, leaving kids alone to make decisions. As Paige talks more about adult males hurting women, Tony screams about kids liking Horror Movies! John chimes in after Morton asks him about if he caught his child watching “I Spit On Your Grave” about how he would react, and Michael Berryman chimes right in with you need to talk with your kid and about it!

John then admits he has never even watched a full Slasher film from start to finish, and Rick lets him have it.  Paige once more starts in on adult men watching these films and attacking women and her study facts, and Morton once more just goes past her claims. Doug Harpool talks about the laws on what type of films would be off the books for kids from the Horror genre and says his bill would not block kids from seeing Slasher films – they could with a parent renting it for them.

John does not like what he hears and starts to go after Morton for saying that parents cannot always see what their kids are watching, as Morton once more says how can they when many worth 10-12 hours a day and that both parents have to work now because of mistakes of the government. John says it’s a matter of money or being there to make sure your kids grow up right. Paige starts on adult males and Ted Bundy talk again when Rick screams “Oh come off it with The Ted Bundy…are you in love with him or something?” And Morton takes us to the next commercial break.

This part of the show is a little more heated as I think Rick and Tony are very much sick of the Slasher film bashing. John clearly has zero clue on what he is protesting and Doug Harpool and Michael Berryman chime in when needed as Paige just babbles about Ted Bundy and crimes done by adult males. At this point of the show it’s also more clear that Morton is stirring the pot and getting both sides worked up against each other and playing up to his audience. And it’s clear both sides of the argument are just ignoring the words of Paige who almost seems like a broken record at this point. The crowd was loving all the back and fourth, and this segment showcases the true nature of Talk Shows being trash TV, and it’s amazing.

Morton welcomes us back, and he has a new guest filmmaker Dave Juskow, who made the indie Cannibal Slasher Musical film “Splatter Girls.” They show a clip, but not before Morton takes a few shots at the film and its production. After the clip the crowd boos, as they clearly did not like what they saw and some shout that it was stupid as Paige enters the talk and brings up more violence against women as Dave looks annoyed.

Morton asks an audience member what she would do if her kid brought Splatter Girls home, and she responds she would throw it away and Morton once more pokes fun at the film. Tony tries to take up for the film saying its no more violent then a cartoon, as Paige again talks about adult male violence against women and Dave gets worked up and pushes Paige off the microphone. Morton asks why he has an upside down baby for an earring, as Dave and Paige go back and fourth about Horror films and if it pushes toward real life acts of violence against women. Morton once more corrects her and says teens also do bad crimes and Michael Berryman says that people who do these acts should be thrown in jail.

Morton asks would Splatter Girls fit in the bill that Doug Harpool wants to pass about video rentals and he says yes. Tony quickly tries to win the crowd back with a statement about what would you rather have your kids doing smoking crack or watching Horror Movies. The crowd as started to turn on some of the Pro Horror Guests as Dave has come off as a loud mouth wise guy punk. As he starts saying kids should be able to watch these movies with no restrictions, the crowd boos him loudly and Morton asks if kids should be able to watch snuff films or even a fake snuff film? Dave says they should not watch a real one but a fake one is okay. Morton then takes us to a commercial break.

Wow, while Michael Berryman, Tony Timpone and Rick Sullivan have done a good job defending Horror Movies and their fans, indie filmmaker Dave Juskow undid all their hard work by coming off as a cartoon parody of a punk rocker indie horror movie maker with his dumb responses and goofball faces. It feels that Dave’s whole function on being in this episode was so the producers could show a stereotype of what mainstream media and critics thought all horror fans was like. Morton again is clearly just stirring the pot and getting the guests and the crowd to feel more emotions from his questions and the answers given. Poor Paige really is this episode’s punching bag as she has a one-track mind and the crowd and the guests are sick of hearing it. A good segment this was even, if Dave made Splatter fans look like goofs.

With this part of the show, Morton opens up the microphones to his audience and lets them talk about their thoughts on the topic of Slasher Films being a bad influence on those who watch them and kids.

Paige gets into with a guy in the audience about males being the attackers in crimes against females as he points out most crimes against other males are done by males. As a female member of the audience goes off on Dave about him saying that kids should be able to watch any of these types of films. She said when she was twelve she was able to get into an R rated movie at the cinema and she thinks that it was wrong. Tony asks how it affected her and the crowd is getting worked up as all sides are trying to make points and counter points against each other with Morton playing devil’s advocate in the middle. One audience member who is against Slasher films starts to talk about Child’s Play and says that the killer is a little kid with a knife named “Charlie” once more proving that the haters of Horror have never really watched these films and just want to jump on the hater train, and they compare kids with guns to them renting Horror films. The sides are split as Morton goes to our final commercial break.

With the audience now joining the debate the tensions are growing as both sides are super passionate about why they hate or love Slasher films and as always Morton plays both sides as he takes up for them and also trashes them. Both sides make good points and both sides as well make some eye rolling points, with the young woman who was allowed to go into a theater to see an R rated film being very well spoken and a true New Yorker…I think they should have given her a talk show. A very quick portion of this Hot Topic of the 80’s themed show and helped both sides get their message out to home viewers.

Morton ends the show  asking why the side for Slasher films are for it, but before an audience lady answers, she takes a shot at Paige for saying these films are what causes attacks on women, with a gentleman from the none-fans speaking against them as he brings up that kids emulate and look up to what they see on the TV and that kids should not be watching Horror Movies, the Slasher fans saying parents need to teach their kids and make the judgment call on what their kids watch. The sides go back and fourth on kids watching Horror Films, and Morton once more clashes with Dave Juskow who still thinks kids should be able to watch all types of Horror Movies.

In the end Morton takes a shot at Tony Timpone for not wanting ratings on direct to video films and calls him “Uncle Barney” and implies that he would do things with kids before running off and ending the show as the crowd and guests clap and cheer and Tony looks annoyed.

This last segment is pure audience member arguing with audience member with the guests chiming in and Morton lurking around. For me the whole show the Horror Fans make more sense and are correct in that parents should be parents and that not all who enjoy and love these films are weirdos looking to commit crimes against young ladies. I do think Morton Downey Jr. does a great job of handling this topic and while he does take a few shots at the guests who are pro Horror, it’s clear he is more on their side even if its only by a little. The one thing that Morton did that was a cheap shot is the joke he makes about one time Fangoria Magazine worker Tony Timpone as it was uncalled for and then he runs off with the microphone not allowing him to respond as he had to stand their with an annoyed smile on his face as the show ends.

Over all a great episode and one that’s topic is something I am very interested in. Also I really want to say that I am not sure if Dave Juskow was a director and producer of Horror Movies as youcan not find anything about his film Splatter Girls and its very strange they let his clip go on for longer then the others, you almost get a feeling that he and the film could be fake or he maybe he was just a shot on video filmmaker who never made it.

I grew up on watching Horror Movies as the classic Universal Monsters, Godzilla and King Kong were films that I could not get enough of, and thanks to many Horror Hosts like Commander USA and Grampa Munster and shows like USA Up All Night and Saturday Nightmares, I was introduced to so many other types of Horror and Cult Cinema. And with rental stores, the doors to these films opened even wider and helped grow my love for the genre and introduced me to so many Slasher films. And while I have seen films like A Nightmare On Elm Steet, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th and Trick Or Treat at a young age none edited, I have never had a notion to go out and do a terrible crime. I mean sure, I have had my fair share of fist fights and arguments, but I have never grabbed a rubber mask and a knife and stalk people in the night. And that’s because from a very young age I was taught by my parents that you can not do the things you see in movies or on wrestling to other people as that would hurt someone and was not right…you see, I have fantastic parents who took time with me to shape my creative mind and also really put me on a path to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, right from wrong and respect. I take the stand that if your kid was like me growing up and a monster kid who is into horror movies, let them watch them and teach them they are fantasy and that it’s not ok to mimic what they see in any film, TV or Sports Entertainment! Just my quick two cents on this topic as I for one loved Horror Movies as a kid and still love them to this day.

I hope you enjoyed this first “Talk Back” update as I had a blast writing it, and to be honest I as well hope you enjoyed this format for it as I think this is how these updates will end up looking on future update for Talk Back as well! Plus I feel that Slasher Films on Morton Downey Jr. Show was also a great way to kick off my countdown to Halloween 2020! And I should say with these Talk Back update, we will be covering some very fun stuff like Films, Music, Celebrities and Oddballs but we will also cover topics that are very serious like Murder, Racism, Religion and Politics, so please keep that in mind when our next one goes up in 2021. But for our next update we are walking away from Talk Shows and Slasher films and are heading to the forest that a witch roams around in…but she is not the topic the troll that wonders those woods named Irwin is! That’s right, we will be taking a look at Broom-Hilda’s Own Irwin Troll and the paperback comic made around him. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a Talk Show or two and as always support your local Horror Host. I cannot wait to chat about Irwin Troll, as he is a true icon of classic comic strips.

A Garfield NES Christmas Eve Challenge!

Merry Christmas Eve to all my family, friends and readers!  I am sure that you’re like me and are looking forward to spending your holiday with loved ones and remembering the past Christmases. When thinking about what topic to cover for this Holiday update, I racked my brain to pick one that would be not only fun but also nostalgic for all of you. I thought about covering an Amazing Spider-Man storyline that took place during Christmas, I thought about covering one of the following toys that had comics Dino Riders, Air Raiders or Battle Beasts that are all toys from my youth. I even thought about covering the Horror Movie Krampus and the comic based on the film. But in the end I decided that I was once more going to cover Garfield as looking back on his Halloween Special a few months ago made me want to re-read his Christmas Special! So make yourself a mug of hot coco and be ready to spend a part of your holiday with Garfield and me as we have a cheerful good time.

Jim Davis is the creator of the Garfield comic strip, and I think we should take a brief moment to talk about him and his life. Davis was born on July 28, 1945 in Marion, Indiana and lived the farm life with his family and their 25 pet cats! Davis was a member of Theta Xi Fraternity while at Bell State University where he studied business and art, and in 2016, he himself became an adjunct professor at Bell State. In 1969 Davis worked for an advertising agency and helped on the comic strip Tumbleweeds as well created his own strip called Gnorm Gnat that ran in Indiana newspapers. He would create Garfield in 1978 and it would become a major hit in the world of comic strips with over 300 million readers on a daily bases! With the popularity of Garfield, Davis opened up Paws Inc. in 1981 in order to manage the high demand of the character as well as created the Professor Garfield Foundation that helps promote children’s literacy. Along the way he also created the comic strip “U.S. Acres” and “Mr. Potato Head” based on the classic toy. Over the years, Jim Davis has been married twice and has three kids. He has won a number of awards for his art and comic strip work. At the time of this update, Jim is 73 years old and shows no signs of slowing down and continues to deliver a high quality entertaining comic strip based around a character that is well loved worldwide.

On December 21, 1987, the cartoon animated special “A Garfield Christmas” was first shown and entertained the young and young at heart. Being a youngster who was really into Garfield, I can remember waiting and counting down the days to when this was coming on, and as always, my parents were super cool and let my brother and I watch it as they always did for Holiday Cartoon specials. And I must say most of Garfield’s holiday specials have always had a special place in my heart just like the Peanuts ones as they were always must watches for the holidays for me and my brother. A Garfield Christmas special was loosely based on Jim Davis’ holidays with his family, and he added some dramatic plots to spice it up and give it that make sure to always cherish your loved ones vibe. The special was nominated for awards and was well liked by viewers and critics and would run on TV all the way till 2000 before finally being taken out of broadcast rotation. In 2004, the special was released on DVD and was a big hit with buyers who wanted to watch this holiday special again. Say what you will but if you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I am pretty sure you watched and enjoyed this special at least once in your life. I want to also note that before the DVD this special was also released on VHS for fans to own and watch when ever the mood struck them.

Growing up, between my brother Bryan and I, we had lots of cool Garfield toys and one of the oldest things we had was a very old plush doll of the fat cat. It was my brother’s, and I am not sure were he got it from, I just remember it was around in our youth. We also had several PVC style figures that I can remember playing with in my Toy Wars as Garfield was always on the side of the Jedi and was always back at the Rebel base alongside other “good guy” figures. I can also remember growing up having some Garfield items that came from McDonalds like glass mugs that was released in 1987 and can remember drinking Kool-Aid, Milk and Pop from them while watching cartoons or Horror Host shows on USA Network. I also remember owning a few of the Happy Meal Toys from 1988 that had a mini Garfield figure and a vehicle. Not to mention, we also had many of his comic strip books that I would get from School book fairs and from Half Price Books. So as I have said, Garfield was always around in my youth.

The Nintendo Entertainment System was a major force in the 80’s and 90’s as home console video games were at a fever pitch, and any kid who wanted to be cool had to have a system and tons of games to impress the neighborhood kids and school yard pals. In fact, we Brassfield Brothers got our first video game system that was a Nintendo for Christmas one year, and we could not get enough games fast enough. One game that was made but never released here in America was one called “A Week Of Garfield,” a side-scrolling game released in Japan on home computers that was met with very mixed reviews that has you as Garfield having to save Odie in a week in game time. But thanks to the fine folks at Fan Brew Games I am able to get my hands on a copy of the game that plays in the RES System and one I can have a NES Challenge with! So take a drink from your Hot Coco as we are about to go gaming, and see if we can save Odie for this Holiday season of 2018.

After waiting forever for Fan Brew Games to send me the game as it was a special order, I chose October 16 2018 to play the game as the weather outside was perfect to stay indoors and get my retro game playing on. So I hooked up the good old RES (Retro Entertainment System) and put the game into the system and hit power and was ready to save Odie! And sadly my original RES died, and I had to select another day as I had to buy a new one. So the next day I selected was December 19 and I poured myself a tall glass of water as well as some cola and set my sights to focused on my mission at hand and that’s to beat A Week Of Garfield for the NES well or at least give it a good play. My first impression of the game when firing it up was that this game had a cool soundtrack as well as some good classic 8-Bit graphics…but then I started to play this game, and all I can say is, wow is it boring! As Garfield, all you can do is walk, crawl, look up and kick and for the most part all you do is dodge bugs, frogs, mice and other animals and when hit, your blood goes down pretty fast. You start with only one life and this leads to you playing the same levels over and over…and sad to say readers and friends, all I can say is this is one I walked away from after playing for a little under an hour as it’s just so bland and I felt I could do something better with my day before work like watch some Horror Movies and read some comics. So in other words, avoid this game unless you’re a massive Garfield fan and like games about walking.

I also want to let you all know that the Cinemassacre did a video play through this game that had James Rolfe and Mike Matei trying to play and review “A Week Of Garfield” back in 2017. And hearing these two play this game was lots of fun as they pointed out the flaws and over all cheesy nature of this kids game. And for those who enjoy video game and movie reviews and discussions, check out their Youtube station as it’s always packed with fun uploads. So did they like it, well you will have to watch the video and find out!

So now that you have all seen me fail at beating a kid’s game of Garfield for the NES, we should gather around the warm fireplace and take a look at the comic strip book adaptation of the Garfield Christmas Special! I want to thank an Etsy seller for having this book in stock. Plus as I sit here near the fire, my cat Leslie wants me to remind you all that I am grading this book on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the book stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So take a drink of your eggnog or hot coco as it’s time to spend a part of Christmas Eve with the Arbuckle Family as well as Odie and Garfield!

A Garfield Christmas # 1  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $5.95     Ballantine Books   # 1 of 1

Garfield is having a dream about a mechanical Santa Claus that will give him any gift he can think of, and just as he is getting all the jewels and riches he can think of, he is awoken by Jon who needs him to get ready for their trip to spend Christmas with his family. Jon along with presents and his pets Garfield & Odie hit the road and arrive at the family’s farm in no time. They are all greeted by Ma and Pa Arbuckle as well as Grandma and Doc Boy who is Jon’s brother. Jon goes out and helps his dad and brother do some chores around the farm as Odie and Garfield as well must go outside and “help” before they all can have a good home cooked meal. After dinner as a family they set up the Christmas Tree, sing a carol together and even Pa reads them all a Christmas tale! Garfield all the while bonds with the Grandma who feeds him food during dinner and sits in a rocking chair and pets him while remembering back to her husband who is no longer with us. That night they all go to sleep with joy and love in their hearts as the next day is Christmas and it’s a perfect snowy night. The next morning Jon and Doc Boy open their presents, Garfield gets one from Odie and the final gift given is when Garfield finds old love letters in the barn written by the deceased Grandpa to the Grandma when they first started dating! In the end the Arbuckle family are happy to have each other for the holiday, and Garfield lets everyone know that the best thing about Christmas is love.

This comic strip book captures the good feelings of Christmas and showcases the small country feel for this holiday as family is very important and chores still have to be done. The plot of this one is simple and has Jon, Odie and Garfield visiting Jon’s family at their farm for Christmas and all spend time together and just enjoy being around each other and partaking in family traditions. Jon Arbuckle is a man who loves his family and his pets and while he has been away from the family farm, he still lends a hand when needed and tries his best to do it the best he can when clearly he is rusty at farm life. Garfield while still being himself in this books shows lots of love to his family and is not only super kind to Odie but also has a real bond with Jon’s Grandma who is clearly having a rough time missing her husband who has passed away, and while Grandma is a very strong woman with a big personality she still has a soft side that enjoys sitting by the window watching the snow come down and petting a cat. Odie is as fun loving as ever and even makes Garfield a present that’s a back scratcher. Once more Odie shows that he is just an all around good dog. Ma and Pa Arbuckle are good folks who enjoy their farming life and celebrate the holidays with big meals and lots of love. Doc Boy who is Jon’s brother is a farm boy who enjoys having his brother around as they always seem to be picking on each other. What really works for me the most about this comic strip book is the atmosphere as who doesn’t want to spend the holidays with loved ones with good food, great talks with snow fall coming down and no place to go! There is just something very special about this book and Garfield in general for me as I really does bring me back to my childhood and when times were simple and everything seemed larger than life. The cover for this book is fantastic and has the Arbuckle Family with Garfield and Odie sitting around a piano and the tree enjoying carols. Jim Davis’s art is as always on point and is classic 70’s and 80’s Comic Strip stuff. This was a prefect read for me and was one great flashback as well, so if you like Garfield and want to read a simple Christmas comic strip this one is for you. Check out the art below to see the holiday cheer that are packed into each panel of this book.

Thanks for spending a part of your Christmas Eve with me here at Rotten Ink as this update. I hope made you think back to your connection to Garfield as well as the NES and just brought a little cheer to your day. Well for me I am going to sit back with a mug full or eggnog while sitting in my backyard and look back at how great this year has been for me when it came to creative stuff! But I will not take up any more of your Holiday time and with that I will see you next update as I break down my best in cinema for 2018! I think I hear Santa and his reindeer, so I need to say I hope you all have a great Christmas and I will see you here again in 2019!

Garfield vs. The Ghost Pirates On Halloween Night!

October is almost here. The air is turning cold, and the ghouls and ghosts are gearing up to run the streets in preparation of Halloween, which is only slightly over a month away! For this third countdown to Halloween update I wanted to take a look at something that I owned as a kid. The TV special it was based on was something I watched every year, and of course I am talking about “Garfield Halloween Adventure” that was shown on local TV and was something I truly had to watch when on. Garfield is a comic strip character I grew up reading in the Sunday Funny Papers; next to Peanuts it was a must. I also grew up watching all of his TV specials as well as his regular cartoon series. While I love the toon “Garfield and Friends,” the specials all hold a special place in my heart. Not to mention I also would buy his books, and between my brother and I, we had many of his toys and stuff animals. Garfield really is an iconic character who for the most part has withstood the test of time, and it’s with great pleasure that on this update we not only get one step closer to Halloween but also take a look back at things from my childhood. So get a costume on and let’s go trick or treating with Garfield and Odie.

On October 30th 1985 CBS premiered the 24-minute “Garfield Halloween Adventure,” which combined two of my favorite things Halloween and Garfield! My brother Bryan and I were glued to the TV and watched with pure delight as the cartoon special brought some scares and lots of entertainment. We also made sure to tape it on Beta and watched it all the time year round. The best part of this airing was that it was paired with the very classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and made for the perfect Halloween season viewing. I can also remember many of the kids on the playground chatting about it, and everyone flipped when the comic strip book adaptation of it was offered in the Scholastic Book Club order form, with almost every kid I knew ordering it. The cartoon also did well in the TV ratings and almost all critics loved and praised it making it a staple for the holiday up until 2015 when it was finally taken off the schedule for good. The special also won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and was the third Garfield special to win it, showing that he was one of the 80’s most popular cartoon characters. After its airing, the special would go on to be released on VHS and DVD and still is a well loved classic Halloween TV special.

So at this point I am sure you’re ready to take a Halloween Adventure with that lasagna loving fat orange cat Garfield and his simple minded canine friend Odie. I know that I am as I have not read this comic strip book since I was a kid, and am looking forward to seeing if it holds up as I loved it when I was a kid and re-read it every Halloween up until I was a teen. This is in my opinion is a great way to gear up for October and is a perfect third update for our countdown to Halloween. Before we get our trick or treat bags ready, I need to remind you that I am grading this book on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to think Amazon for having this in stock and making this update possible. So lets costume up and go out with Garfield and see how much candy or even rocks we can get!

Garfield In Disguise # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price $5.95     Ballantine Books    # 1 of 1

Garfield is awoken by Binky The Clown on TV who screams and demands that all of the viewers exercise with him, and right as Garfield turns off the TV, he hears the words Free Candy and quickly turns it back on to find out that it’s Halloween! Garfield goes around the house under a bed sheet and scares Jon and Odie and even has a little breakfast before tricking Odie into going trick of treating with him so he can get double the candy. Garfield and Odie go to the attic and look through old clothes and items and decide to go as pirates when finding costumes in a chest. After stealing Jon’s lasagna dinner, Garfield and Odie head out and start trick of treating! As they wander the streets getting candy and being spooked by real life ghouls and ghost, they end up getting into a rowboat and by accident they lose the paddles and float until they land on shore.  The only house around is an abandoned one lit by a fire. Once inside, they warm themselves by the fire and are surprised by a very old man who warns them that the island is haunted and that the ghosts of pirates from a hundred years back will be back at midnight to claim their buried treasure! While Garfield and Odie are shaking with fear, the old man steals their boat and leaves them at the mercy of the coming ghost pirates! Garfield and Odie hide in a cabinet as the ghosts appear and bring up their hidden treasure, and when a sneeze alerts the ghosts who chase them out of the house, Garfield steals a ring from the treasure chests. He and Odie jump into the water and swim to shore. Once on shore they find their candy and the boat and head home only to be attacked by the ghost pirates who followed them home. Once Garfield returns the ring they disappear, and Garfield and Odie go home where Garfield shares the candy with Odie and Halloween comes to an end.

This comic strip book is a great mood setter for Halloween as it captures the playful nature of trick or treat and the spooky feeling of that night. Our story has Garfield and Odie going out for Halloween in order to get lots of free candy.  When Garfield gets greedy, he leads them to an old abandoned haunted house, and they are witnessed and stalked by ghost pirates who have returned after 100 years! As I said the feel and atmosphere of this comic strip book is fantastic and much like “Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” really captures the feel of Halloween. Garfield lives up to his normal behavior and is self-absorbed, self centered and always looking for food to gorge on, but while he is sarcastic, he also does have a caring and grateful side. Odie is your typical dog that is loyal, goofy and smart and several times in this adventure saves Garfield’s butt from danger. Jon is just around in this one, mostly carving pumpkins and tying to enjoy meals that his cat ends up stealing. The old man who once worked for the pirates some 100 years ago is creepy and seems to get joy scaring those who stumble into his old home, plus the Ghost Pirates are very much mean and scary but really just want their treasure. This comic strip book does justice to the made for TV cartoon special and does a great job of capturing the mood and only thing missing is the musical numbers. Jim Davis, who is the creator and mastermind behind the world of Garfield, does the art and story, and both are well done and show why Garfield has remained a popular comic strip character all these years. The cover as well is amazing and eye catching and has a real kid friendly Halloween look to it. If you enjoy Garfield and love Halloween, this is a great read and one that brought back lots of great memories of my youth, and this comic strip book held up well and is a great read. So check it out as well as the art from it.

I hope that this update has put you into the Halloween spirit like it did for me writing it! Made for TV Halloween specials are something that almost seems as if they are dying off as most broadcast stations only focus on their current shows and allow them to do a Halloween episode that most of the time are not very good with only a handful of series being able to pull it off. But for me just like “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” the Garfield Halloween Special is a one of my all time favorites and is one I suggest you watch every year. But now we have to leave the world of Garfield and the ghost pirates behind for our next update as we are now in full countdown to Halloween mode and our next one will have us looking at another in what I call “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” as we look at the killer Metalface and his film series Playing With Dolls! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a cartoon or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bloody good time.

Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family

Hey friends and readers! As you can see I am a little behind here at Rotten Ink as I have moved!! That’s right I have a new home base and sadly my comic collection is all over the place.  This has made it impossible for me to find the comics I need! So I’m sad to say that The Mummy has been put on the back burner until I can find it, and to hold you over, I will use a fill in update.  So sit back and enjoy this write up I did a few years back. I should note that this was to start off a update series called Made For TV that would have had me talking about all the movies made for the small screen I grew up watching, so sit back and enjoy this “lost” update as I have more unpacking to do!

Welcome back fellow Comic readers.  For this update, I decided to take a break from the ink filled comic pages and instead took a look at a made for TV reunion special. In 1977, NBC decided that after 9 years off the air, the world needed a Halloween special with The Addams Family! This special, simply named “Halloween With The New Addams Family,” would act as a reunion for the cast as all but one original cast member stepped back into their cooky outfits and hammed it up for the viewers. The only original actor not to appear was Blossom Rock, who played Grandmama, as she has very ill at the time so actress Jane Rose stepped in to fill the role. I first saw this special on a VHS that was put out via Goodtimes Video that I bought for cheap from the secondhand store called Replay Media.  After the first watch, I was not super impressed but did enjoy the over all silly nature. In 2014, I decided to watch this special again and while it has never made it to DVD, I was able to get a copy on DVD-R to watch again and bring you this update that I am calling “Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family”, so sit back and enjoy this look at a true gem of television.

The first really cool thing that one will notice when finding this special on VHS or DVD-R is the fact that the cast from the classic spooky TV show is back, and while older, most of them don’t seem to miss a beat. John Astin plays Gomez Addams and is still terrific in the role as he does all his classic faces from when he’s sad to when his wife speaks French to him and his eyes bug out.  Astin is one of my favorite TV actors and truly doesn’t miss a step in the ’77 special proving he was born to play this part! Carolyn Jones plays Morticia Addams and is also terrific in her performance and is as deadpan and sexy as ever. Between her, Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, they are the reason I grew up loving Goth girls. While it’s clear she is older in this special, she still holds that magnetic charm and appeal not only with her appearance but also with her acting. Jackie Coogan returns as Uncle Fester, and while great in what he does, to me it seems as if his character takes a backseat and is not given anything to make him the stand out character he truly is. Ted Cassidy rocks it once more as the butler Lurch and like the rest thus far doesn’t miss a step in his performance and delivers all the deep voiced grunts and lines fans would want to hear. Felix Silla returns as Cousin Itt and is what you would expect from a character that doesn’t talk and his sounds are added in after it filming. Lisa Loring plays Wednesday Addams again, and she does a great job and hams up her performance making it feel like your watching an episode of the Banana Splits.  I must say she grew up to be a very pretty young lady. Ken Weatherwax plays Pugsley Addams, and while it was nice to see him in the role again, he was not a very good actor in this special, and it almost seems like he knows he’s being too cheesy by the smiles on his face. The rest of the cast as new to the legacy of The Addams Family so I will rush through them as this is the only thing they did for this series: Henry Darrow plays Pancho Addams who is the younger brother to Gomez and is really good and his performance is a more sleazy version of Astin’s Gomez. Jane Rose takes over the role of Grandmama and while she tries, she just ain’t no Blossom Rock, as she seems to be missing something that makes her the lovable creepy character from the show. The rest of the cast all do a great job and all add the right amount of silly and hammy to their performances.

Made for TV Movies that acted as reunions for shows were not uncommon and many shows did this such as The Brady Bunch, Saved By The Bell, The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard, to name a few. Many times they were made for cheap and to cash in on the remaining fan base who wanted to catch up with their favorite characters, while other times they acted as a way to pitch a return series to see if a fan base was still willing to watch a show’s return to TV. The TV Reunion movie had been a thing of the past when I first rewatched this special, but recently, we’re seeing TV reunions in the form of special event seasons of shows like Gilmore Girls, The X-Files, and very excitingly just announced, Roseanne. Below I am going to talk about the plot of this special and then after that my thoughts on it.  So let’s turn on the boob tube and enjoy this 1977 flashback.

Halloween With The New Addams Family
Starring – John Astin & Carolyn Jones       DVD-R        Not Rated         1977

The Addams Family is having a Halloween Party for family only, but Gomez has to leave town in order to become a higher-ranking member of his club. But in town is Pancho, his brother who has a crush on Morticia and is trying to take over the Addams home! Also around at the Addams Mansion are Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior younger kids of the Addams, Uncle Fester, Thing, Lurch and Grandmama all helping out to get the party just right for the family reunion Halloween party. Meanwhile a gang of thugs have the mansion bugged and want to steal the family fortune while Gomez is away, even going so far as to send one of their own into the Addams home to get a look around acting as an inspector. This con man watches as Wednesday and Pugsley return home, each with new careers as Pugsley is now a Witch Doctor and Wednesday studies and plays music.  He also watches as the spirits of the deceased members of the family make noises from their graves, their pet lion attacks him for stepping on it’s tail and even is attacked by a plant! The con man escapes and returns to home base ranting out of his mind and quits the team, but this does not stop the others from going through with their plan to steal the fortune.

This special was clearly made to try and help usher in a New Addams Family TV series, but I think by 1977 and making it in color some of the charm of what the series was about, poking fun at society and classic cheesy black and white horror films of that time, was lost. But with this said, this made for TV special also has a lot of charm and captures the feel of late 70’s programs with the laugh track that seems like it was taken from Scooby-Doo cartoons to all the lame and dated jokes. I loved the updated sets with the cemetery backyard being really cool as is the new and improved mansion. One thing that makes this movie interesting as well is the fact they added two new kids to the family and named them Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior showing that if a new series was to be made they would still capture the kid characters with these two new brats, and the original kids would be reduced to cameos from time to time. Speaking of the older kids, I must say that Lisa Loring as the grown up Wednesday was stunning and in one scene she is dressed as a tennis player for Halloween and she is very attractive, plus it weird cause they have her playing a piccolo a lot in this film and at times it almost comes off sexual, but I was A-Ok with it. What made this cheesy made for TV film work is seeing all the classic characters together again on the screen.  I mean Lurch, Thing, Uncle Fester and all the other Addams clan have always felt like family to those who grew up watching them during first run or even reruns and while this reunion movie is flawed and not perfect, it’s still an amazing watch that offers lots of entertainment for fans who just love the Addams Family. So if you get the chance and find this on VHS, DVD-R or if a TV Station ever decides to play it again make sure to give it a watch as its filled with laughs, eye rolling moments and a classic 70’s feel.

Halloween With The New Addams Family is a forgotten gem of films made for TV and is one that’s mostly over looked in the history of chatting with friends about The Addams Family. So what I would like right now is for all you readers and friends to take a moment and let me know in the comments below if you remember watching this film? What were your memories and thoughts about it? How did you enjoy seeing the characters back? So go on and don’t be shy. Leave a comment below and share with me about Halloween With The New Addams Family!

We will be leaving the world of Made For TV Movies and moving away from The Addams Family.  Next we’re taking a look at the world of Horror Comics and my love for them as I revisit a comic series called Body Count that was released by Aircel at the start of the late 80’s. So I hope you had a great time with this update, and who knows, maybe I will do another update in the Made For TV series. So until next time read a comic or two, watch some TV and as always support your local Horror Host!