Sometimes I have to remind myself that not every post has to be something precious where I do a bunch of research and try and dig into my memories of the 80s. Sometimes I can just throw up a picture of my Beastmen…
Considering the most recent episode of the Saturday Supercast deals with not only girl’s cartoons from the 1980s, but specifically Strawberry Shortcake, I thought this would be a great time to share this Bettry Crocker branded flatware advertisement from 1982…
I’m not sure exactly what it is about the “real” little Shortcake in the ad, but she freaks me right the hell out. She’s supposed to be cute right? I’m guessing it’s partly the fault of the photography that makes her eyes seem like huge black pools of dead soul, but I think it might also be that I’m “hearing” the voice of Russi Taylor in my head when I look at this little girl and it’s just wrong. These sets are pretty damn fantastic all the same (and thank god there wasn’t a little were-bear boy dressed up like Paddington to send me into further convulsions of horror.) I’m not sure why, but at least one of these Strawberry Shortcake spoons made it into my household while growing up in the early 80s. Considering my sister was in her early teens at the time of this ad, I find it strange that we had one. My mother certainly didn’t buy it for me (though it would have been alright if she had.) I kind of want a replacement, and checking eBay, they’re not that expensive. Hmmm, maybe nostalgia and tax refunds are a dangerous mix…
Also, curiously very few eBay listings make note of how well the “smell” of the Peculiar Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak has held up over the years. You think that would matter to more buyers, but oh well, yat a tat a tat tat, a ta ta ta!…
Holy crap! It’s freaking Podcast-a-polooza here at Branded today. I have not one, but two new shows that went live this morning. First up is episode 4 of the Cult Film Club, the show I co-host with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood. This is our Valentine’s Day episode, and for us that meant sitting down to watch the mostly naked Marc Singer, the topless Tanya Roberts, and John Amos’ butt cheeks in the amazing 1982 flick The Beastmaster!
For those uninitiated with the flick, it follows Dar, a warrior with the power to communicate with the animal kingdom, on his quest to avenge the destruction and mass murder of his village by the tyrannical wizard Maax. Along the way there are plenty of painted tigers, hot-bodied Stygian witches, and freaky bird people that make this film a true fantasy cult classic! In the episode we discuss the fantasy/barbarian genre, the violence and adult content in the film, cinematographer John Alcott and his amazing use of lighting, the special effects, and the wonderful score by Lee Holdridge. We take a closer look at some of the actors in our regular segment, Hey Do I Know That Guy, as well as playing Hollywood moguls in a segment we like to call It’s Time For a Recast!
On the other end of the Valentine’s day spectrum I joined back up with the Saturday Supercast, this time talking with Jerzy Drozd and Dave Roman all about what it was like being a boy growing up in the 80s who watched girl’s cartoons…
We kick off with talk about the surprisingly intense My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle, then move on to The World of Strawberry Shortcake, and close with a chat about outrageous rocker gals on guitar-shaped motorcycles, Jem! You can find the episode at Sugary Serials.com, or you can right click and download it here!
If these shows don’t say “I love you”, then I don’t know what does…
Hey folks, just wanted to take a second an point to the release of the 3rd episode of the Cult Film Club podcast, my new project with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood. We’re having a ton of fun producing this show and if you’re a movie buff like me there’s sure to be something fun in the episodes for you. This time we chose to discuss the 1966 Sergio Corbucci spaghetti western Django starring Franco Nero as the mysterious coffin-dragging gunfighter out for bloody revenge!
I’ve also been writing some articles for the club including my recent experience watching the 1978 Walter Hill flick The Driver and the 1982 punk rock classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. I totally have a crush on Marin Kanter from that flick by the by…
Also, if you want to know what films we’ll be covering next, you can join our totally rad club and get the inside scoop on our plans and access to contests and stuff (like this one where you can win a free shirt from Ript courtesy of the Cult Film Club!)
From time to time I find myself flipping through 30 year-old issues of various Mom magazines looking for inspiration and cool ads to scan for the site. Over the past couple years I kept running across a series of ads for Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes that tugged at my mind, but I wasn’t quite sure why. There’s nothing all that special about the ads except for a cartoon crow mascot (aptly named the Honey Nut Crow), but even he seemed more like the hillbilly cousin of Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird and nothing that would really make for an interesting article on Branded. Then out of the blue this past week I encountered the perfect storm of coincidences that finally led me back to those ads and a weird realization about how insanely complex and difficult the marketing of branded products must really be.
Let me back up a bit to 2010 and a free box of the newly launched Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereal that I received through Amazon Vine. For those that don’t know, Amazon Vine is a goofy program where you can get early access to select products in exchange for reviewing them. It’s mainly ARCs (advanced reading copies) of books, but from time to time there are DVDs, toys, and the occasional newly launched food item. Basically the companies that publish or produce these products offer them to Amazon customers for free so that they can get product reviews (positive or negative.) When I see food pop up I tend to grab it because I’m all for saving money on the grocery tab (and it’s hard to pass up free eats.) I thought it was a little weird when the Crunchy Nut cereal popped up because I couldn’t imagine that cereal reviews on Amazon really make any sort of difference in the grand scheme of things. Books and DVDs are one thing, but who stops while browsing the cereal aisle to look up reviews on the web, let alone Amazon? Anyway, it was free, so I ordered it and ended up really loving the Crunchy Nut (it basically tastes like Cracker Jacks in cereal form.)
Though I really dug that cereal, it was way sweeter than the stuff I typically buy so I haven’t actually bought any more in the past two years. This past week though, I was suckered into picking up another box as there was both an amazing sale on Kellogg’s ($2 a box), and if you bought two boxes of cereal you could get a free branded cereal bowl (from an in-store display), and I really wanted the entire set of four bowls. Eight boxes of cereal and one embarrassing trip through the checkout line later I was the proud owner of four cheap character bowls and a couple boxes of Crunchy Nut flakes. Later in the week I found myself inexplicably humming the commercial jingle to the extinct Nut & Honey Crunch cereal (I say inexplicably, but let’s be honest, this is the type of crap that is constantly floating around in my brain.) Anyway, this all leads up to yesterday when I was flipping through some 1982 issues of McCall’s looking for something (I can’t even remember right now), and I came full circle back to one of those Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes ads featuring the Honey Nut Crow, and then all of a sudden it dawned on me that all three of these incidents were connected. It was like that moment at the end of the Usual suspects, only I was flipping through a 30 year-old woman’s magazine while stuffing my face full of cereal…
I grabbed my copy of The Great American Cereal Book to confirm it, but was slightly devastated that there was no entry for Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Cornflakes. There was an entry for Nut & Honey Crunch though, and listed as a bit of trivia was that the Honey Nut Crow was a former mascot associated with the cereal (though I don’t remember the Nut & Honey boxes ever featuring that character.) I did a little digging on the internet this morning and sure enough, all of these cereals (Honey & Nut Corn Flakes, Nut & Honey Crunch, and Crunchy Nut cereal) are one and the same. I’m pretty sure it was also marketed under the name Honey Crunch Corn Flakes (marketed with the Kellogg’s green rooster mascot.) How could this one cereal keep popping up in my life under so many different circumstances? And why did I never make the connection before?
It’s kind of hilarious when you look back over the cereal’s sordid merchandising timeline between its introduction in 1979 to today. Whereas most cereals have stayed pretty consistent for decades, this one seems to be one hell of a hard sell to the public, even though it had a semi-successful ad campaign at one point (the “Nuttin’ Honey” commercials of the late 80s, early 90s for Nut & Honey Crunch.) Why has the product been in need of re-branding no less than four times? I mean, it’s nut and honey covered corn flakes? How much simpler can you get? I can see how the Honey Nut Crow was a misfire as he resembles Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird a bit too much perhaps, but outside of that issue the tone of the marketing has been all over the map. Initially the campaign focused on a “see it, hear it, taste it” motif (as seen in these two commercials from 1980.) Then there are a series of commercials that tried to sell the cereal as “so good it needs to be stolen” (as seen in these two commercials from 1986 and 1989, as well as this British ad starring Hugh Laurie from 1985.) In 1987 there seemed to be a pretty major fracturing of the ad campaign as it’s rebranded as both Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes (aimed at adults and placed in a black box, a food packaging no-no if there ever was one), and as the afore mentioned Nut & Honey Crunch (here are a couple more commercials from 1987.) Then by the mid to late 90s it had been re-branded again, this time as Honey Crunch Corn Flakes (I guessing that nuts weren’t cool in the 90s after grunge rock hit.) Now we’re back to the Crunchy Nut branding, though they’re dropped the Corn Flakes from the name. Honestly, judging by their all-over-the-board advertising for the current branding I’m not convinced they know how to handle it even today (I mean, Inception and She-Males?!?) Also, thank goodness for the archive of cereal commercials on youtube…
All of this leads me to the weird realization that in a way I’ve been able to taste the past. When I first came across the old ads in the McCall’s magazine I was curious about what that cereal tasted like and was bummed that so many cereals have been retired by companies like Kellogg’s. This was compounded by reading a tome like The Great American Cereal Book (filled with exciting extinct brands), and all the recent hoopla surrounding the bankruptcy of the Hostess company and thinking about the possibility of a product like the Twinkie disappearing from store shelves. The idea that I wouldn’t be able to taste these things was sort of sad, but in realizing that some of these cereals still exist, just under different branding is sort of cool. It’s like having a time machine for my mouth. Anyway, I’m glad to have finally closed the book (the proverbial cereal book) on this flaky caper. I’m going to call this one, The Case of the Honey Crow that Couldn’t Sell His Damn Cereal for Nuts…
Paxton, Jaime and I are back with the second meet-up of the Cult Film Club. For this episode we decided to side-step a discussion of a particular film in lieu of talking about cult movies as a genre. We attempt to break down what makes a film “cult” (is it the content, the audience, or other criteria), while also tackling some questions about what it takes for a film to maintain that elusive status. Can a movie lose its cult? Can a box office blockbuster be forgotten and become cult over time? We also spend some time looking back at (ranting about) our shared experiences with Kevin Smith’s Viewaskewiverse, and we try to figure out what went wrong. We ended up recording a much longer conversation than anticipated, so we broke this one down into two parts. You can expect part 2 in the coming weeks.
Head on over to the Cult Film Club and give the episode a listen, or you can right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #2: General Cult Talk, Part 1.
If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.
You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us!
We do our best to scratch the surface of the general discussion of cult, but it’s impossible to cover it from every angle so we welcome your thoughts, comments and questions on the topic.
For the inaugural meeting of the Cult Film Club, Paxton, Jaime, and myself convene to watch and discuss the 1986 sci-fi, western, carsploitation flick, The Wraith.
Plot in 60 Seconds: A young gang of road pirates are on a rampage terrorizing a desolate south western town until a lone hero mystically emerges from the netherworld. Equipped with a sleek futuristic car, this techno-wraith begins stalking the gang, seeking vengeance with automotive carnage at every precarious turn.
In this episode, we discuss all aspects of the film including our favorite scenes, the Hollywood legacies associated with the actors, the various film influences and homages, the pitch-perfect hair metal soundtrack, as well as the director’s outline for the sequel that never materialized. Listen to find out how Johnny Depp is tied to the film, how we almost got a scene with a desert witch, and whether or not Charlie Sheen had a terrible case of turtledick during filming!
(Or right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #1: The Wraith)
If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.
You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us.
So I know it’s been pretty quiet around here, but that’s not all that strange as longtime readers will know that this is sort of my unofficial yearly hiatus time. But, this year there’s a better reason for the sparse posting as I’ve been working on a super secret project that I can now start talking about!
Announcing the Cult Film Club, a monthly podcast and blog about MOVIES WE LOVE TO DEATH (despite how bad, weird or obscure they are.) In fact, we love them because they’re bad, weird or obscure! Collectively our hosts Paxton Holley (Cavalcade of Awesome.net & the Nerd Lunch Podcast), Jaime Hood (Shezcrafti.com), and well, me, will be discussing and analyzing cult films from the 60s and beyond. We possess an impressive amount of useless pop culture knowledge, but we’re no cinema snobs–just a couple of guys (and a girl) who really like movies. Jaime did an outstanding job on the website, too by the by.
So grab a Big Kahuna burger and a tasty beverage–our Feature Presentation is about to begin!
The inaugural episode of the Cult Film Club Podcast is scheduled to debut on December 5th, but in the interim we invite you to check out our new website where you can listen to a show promo and consider joining the club.
You can also find the promo and subscribe to the show on iTunes.
You can also sign up for the Official Cult Film Club Bulletin to get access to these cool benefits:
-Our Official Member Bulletin email
-An early heads-up about which movie(s) we’ll be covering next so you can watch along with us and be ready to hear the discussion
-A social media shout-out and a link back to your site or blog on our Members page*
-A stylish badge for your site
-Chances to participate in our contests and giveaways
-Securing +100 to your cult film cred and our humble gratitude!
*Cult Film Club reserves the right to deny membership and/or linking privileges to any person or website we deem unworthy due to suspicions of spamming, inappropriate content, or for any other reason based solely on our discretion. We may love terrible movies but we do have some standards…
Crikey, real life is dragging down the daily posting of the Halloween countdown this year for sure. I’m hoping to catch up scanning animation cels and stuff again this weekend. In the interim, I wanted to point everyone’s attention to a super awesome nostalgic cartoon project that I’ve been meaning to mention for awhile now called Little Billy…
Little Billy is the brainchild of animator Chance Raspberry (the Simpsons, Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends), and is about a precocious little kid with a unique condition that requires some special needs. Raspberry’s vision is to create a throwback cartoon that’s fun and entertaining while also bringing to light the issues a lot of kids face with special needs education. In fact, one of the goals of the Kickstarter project to get Little Billy off the ground is to create a pilot episode that can also replace those some of those unfortunately seriously outdated special education awareness videos in schools around the country. But don’t just take my word for it, check out what Chance has to say about the project in his presentation video on Kickstarter…
The project is pretty darn close to achieving its funding and it only has a little over one more day to go. I’d love to see this reach its goal and for Chance to be able to reach out to kids with special education needs all over the country know that they’re not alone and that people do care!
So if you have a second, check out the Kickstarter for Little Billy, watch the trailer, and then spread the word about this interesting cartoon!
Alright, with today’s two monster animation cels I’ve finally gotten caught up on my 31 Days of Monsters Countdown! These cover days 16 & 17, and once again features creatures from both the Filmation and Real Ghostbusters cartoons. First up is this cel/production photocopy background from the Filmation show featuring the main gorgon herself, Medusa!
Unfortunately Eddie Spencer, Jr. is part of the photocopy in this image, but it does go really well paired with the Medusa cel (and seeing as how he’s holding up a mirror I can pretty safely assume that this is an accurate background image.)
Though it would have been nice to get a cel that showed her full face, I’m going to go ahead and make the claim that I didn’t want to inadvertently turn any Branded readers into stone. Yeah, that’s the ticket (said in my best imitation of Jon Lovitz…)
Next up we have this cute little guy from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon…
Unfortunately I can’t quite place this character from a specific episode at the moment. I’ve been watching so many episodes lately that my brain is becoming fried and resembles a ghost trap after it’s just slammed shut and is still smoking…
So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun. John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.