Category Archives: LaserCola Lists

TOP TEN BEST MOVIES OF 2011

First off, I apologize for the lateness of this piece. I realize that a “Top Ten Best Movies of 2011” list isn’t exactly timely at this point, but I blame the movie studios for releasing approximately 437 films during the last two weeks of December, several of which I’m certain would’ve made this list had I had time to actually go see them. So sadly, movies like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Descendants, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, won’t appear here, nor will critical darlings like The Tree of Life or Drive. I did manage to see a lot of really good movies this year, and since we’ve already waded through all the crap, let’s take a look at the cream of the crop:

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THE TOP TEN WORST MOVIES OF 2011

Was 2011 a great year for film? Well, yes and no. It certainly was much better than last year’s crop of freshly-laid turds, many of which made me question my continued desire to live on a planet that allows January Jones to have a lucrative TV and movie career. Still, 2011 was marred by record low attendance and a staggering number of sequels/remakes with 28 — the most in movie history. Now, I’m sure many of you are expecting this list is to be filled with cinematic diarrhea  like  Jack & JillThe Smurfs, Zookeeper, Chipwrecked, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I, New Year’s Eve, etc., because it’s obvious these are the types of “films” that are the retarded harbingers of the horrifying future America Mike Judge warned us all about in Idiocracy. But, I can’t in good conscience write about those stinkers because I didn’t pay to sit through any of them. I had to limit this list to the movies that I plopped down my hard-earned cash for either in the theater or through the magical glowy wonder box Netflix Instant Streaming. That being said, even though you won’t get to see me eviscerate Hank Azaria’s performance as Gargamel, there is still enough horrific celluloid shlock here to make you wish that movie cameras were never invented. So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Worst Movies of 2011!

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THE BEST AND WORST OF HALLOWEEN

Another Halloween is upon us boys and girls, so I thought I’d take a time out from posting about grown men getting paid millions of dollars to pretend they are superheroes, and draw on fond (and miserable) memories to list some of the best and worst things about this crazy, kooky holiday.

Best: Halloween Specials

It’s hard to believe now, but once upon a time the major TV networks felt it was perfectly reasonable to fill an entire night (or sometimes even two) of prime time programming with animated Halloween-themed specials for the kiddies. The best of the bunch was something that, to the best of my knowledge, still gets shown to this day –  It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,  a.k.a.- The One Where Snoopy has a Really Bad Acid Trip. Sitcoms also regularly jumped on board the bandwagon with Halloween-themed episodes, one of the most memorable being Roseanne‘s famous “Tunnel of Terror” show during the second season:

Worst: Having to wear a jacket over your costume

Since Halloween is at the end of October when some of the most unpredictable weather can occur (especially if you gew up in the Northeast), it’s a crapshoot as to what kind of elements Mother Nature is going to throw your way in your attempt to amass copious amounts of fun-size Snickers bars.  I can remember Halloweens where the nights were balmy and clear, and others where you could see your breath and a shimmery sheen of frost covering the jack o’ lanterns. Those Halloweens were the worst, because that meant your Mother was going to make you wear your winter coat OVER your costume, thus negating the entire purpose of putting together a cool costume in the first place. Jedi Knights and Zombies don’t wear jackets!

Best: Ben Cooper Costumes

Certain brand names have become synonymous with the Holidays. On Easter, you use Paas coloring kits for your Easter Eggs, on Thanksgiving you eat a Butterball turkey, and in the 1970’s/80s, it just wasn’t Halloween without seeing a giant store display of these iconic Ben Cooper vinyl costumes. These “highly inflammable” death-suits consisted of nothing more than a creepy molded plastic mask and the cheapest, Z-grade Chinese-made vinyl body coverings that would’ve instantly transformed a cheesy, inaccurate Batman costume into the world’s most authentic Human Torch costume with one stray match. Still, these bargain-boxed costumes were adored by kids (and lazy parents who didn’t want to spend any time sewing). Plus, the unique smell of that cheap-o vinyl when the box was first popped open is one of the all-time greatest “kiddie-high” smells, right up there with fresh Play-Doh and uncapped magic markers.

Worst: Crappy Treats

One of our nation’s most hallowed rituals is the post-Trick or Treat sort, where a long night of soliciting processed sugar from neighbors ends when you rush into your house, dump the contents of your bag onto the kitchen table, and examine the goodies like a Pirate who just made off with a chest full of jewels and doubloons. If you were like me, you separated the candy into three distinct piles :

  1. The quality, name brand stuff – Kit-Kats, Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Twix, etc.
  2. “Second-tier” candy – Tootsie Rolls, Milk Duds, Starburst, Tootsie Pops, etc.
  3. The “reject pile.” We’re talking stale popcorn balls or  anything “healthy” like a box of raisins, and the terrible off-brand candies like Bit O’ Honeys, Squirrel Nut Zippers, black licorice, peppermint wheels, and other assorted inedible horrors. Receiving these as a child on Halloween was akin to opening a brightly wrapped Christmas gift and finding socks inside. Let’s not even get started on the clueless do-gooders who felt the need to give out those travel-size kits containing a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush. There’s a special place in Hell for you, buddy.

Best: McDonald’s Halloween Pails

In the mid-1980’s, fast-food giant McDonald’s unleashed one of their greatest and most memorable Happy Meal promotions of all-time. The greasy treats came in these fantastic orange plastic Jack O’ Lanterns, which could then be used as a handy candy receptacle on Halloween night. They also made wonderful containers for toys, as I can recall storing hundreds of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures in them.

Worst: School-sponsored Halloween Parties

Halloween parties that took place in your elementary school gymnasium or cafeteria almost always sucked. If they were anything like the parties at my school, they were dull, sparsely decorated, poorly organized, and the costume contests were always rigged so that the kid whose Dad was on the town’s Board of Aldermen won first prize, despite having a shitty costume.

Best: Elvira

What is Halloween without Elvira, Mistress of the Dark? It’s 100% less sexy, that’s for sure.

Worst: Getting too old to go out Trick-or-Treating

I think we can all look back on the day we realized that it was no longer “cool” or appropriate to put on a superhero or monster costume, and go door-to-door asking other grown-ups for candy with tremendous sadness. I think my last excursion into a crisp October night to trick or treat was when I was 12 years old, and that was a half-hearted affair that involved a quick application of face-paint and a grocery bag. The cold, bitter realization that you were too old to go out on Halloween was one of life’s most depressing rites of passage. It was a crushing bummer, until you hit 17 or 18 and started going to “adult” parties. That was when the magical discovery of “sexy” Halloween costumes took the holiday to a whole new level…

JEFF’S TEN FAVORITE 70’S & 80’S TOYS

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the late 1970’s/early 1980’s was the golden age of children’s plastic playthings. The introduction of Kenner’s 3.5 inch Star Wars action figures in 1978 revolutionized the toy industry overnight, and Hasbro’s heavily-articulated line of 3.5 inch G.I. Joe soldiers took the concept even further in the early 80’s. In an era not yet dominated by video game or computer technology, plastic action figures, accessories, and playsets seemed like the pinnacle of human achievement to an imaginiative nine-year-old. Perhaps I’m biased, but as a child growing up during this amazing time, I feel our monsters, starpilots, commandos, robots, and superheroes were simply the best toys ever made. Here’s a look at ten of my personal childhood favorites.  I hope you enjoy this and feel free to list some of your faves in the comments!

10.) Zartan action figure with Swamp Skier, (Hasbro G.I. Joe line-1984)

Ahhh, the evil Cobra master of disguise. This action figure was highly sought after in 1984 as part of G.I. Joe’s third (and some would say, best) wave of military-themed toys. Other figures in this now-legendary wave included The Baroness, Mutt & Junkyard (the first toy G.I. Joe dog!), Firefly, and of course, the awesome ninja Storm-Shadow. Zartan, however was the Holy Grail of this series, mostly due to two unique characterisitcs: 1) He could turn color when exposed to sunlight, and 2) He came with a small vehicle, the uber-cool Swamp Skier!

The first feature was probably the coolest and held the most appeal for G. I. Joe-crazed youngsters. However, this gimmick got old pretty quick and was rather disappointing as the dramatic “color changing skin” turned out to be just one sickly shade of purple. I don’t know how useful it would be for someone’s skin to turn purple in the middle of a battlefield, but hey, it was pretty cool at the time. Zartan (an oh-so-clever re-working of ‘Tarzan’ with the T and Z swapped), also came equipped with his super-secret disguise kit, which was basically a snap-open backpack with a creepy little rubber mask that you could affix over Zartan’s face. It sort of looked like Henry The VIII. Again, I don’t know how this really qualified as a “disguise”. Any G.I. Joe member worth a lick would’ve just said, “Hey look, it’s Zartan wearing a Henry VIII mask!”, then promptly shot him.

This figure was so rare and so desirable that I vividly recall the only store with Zartan in stock was a place called Service Merchandise. The gimmick of this particular store was that everything was behind display cases, and there were no cash registers. You had to punch in the item number into the computer, then go over to another area of the mall where the items you ordered would be waiting for you to check out. Anyone remember that store? Very odd.

9.) M.U.S.C.L.E. figures (Mattel, 1986)

M.U.S.C.L.E. stood for “Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere!”, and boy they certainly were lurking around my house as a kid. I literally had hundreds of these little pink-colored plastic monstrosities, which I kept in three of those awesome orange plastic Jack O’ Lantern MacDonald’s Happy Meal containers. The M.U.S.C.L.E. line, like many of the most popular toy lines of the 1980′s, was imported over from Japan where it was known as Kinnukuman (Muscle Man). It was a popular comic book and animated series that followed the adventures of a bizarre intergalactic wrestling federation.

Of course, beyond the wrestling theme, very little of the Japanese concept made it here to the states. In fact, beyond the two “main characters” (in which there are several different versions of each), Muscle-Man and his arch-nemesis Terri-Bull, none of the characters were even named! Children were left to imagine names andstorylines for themselves, which was actually pretty cool and was a huge part of the appeal of collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

M.U.S.C.L.E. figures came in packs of 4, 10, and 28. The 10-packs were my favorite because they came in a cool plastic trash can container, and for those of you who remember collecting these things, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say the smell of the plastic when you popped the lid produced an awesome “kiddie-high”. You couldn’t tell what 10 figures you were getting in these 10 packs, but I loved the surprise factor and the heated trading sessions that would take place the next day at the schoolyard to get rid of my doubles.

M.U.S.C.L.E. toys also hold a sort of bittersweet place in my heart because they were one of the last toy lines I collected before adolescence kicked in and the comfort of plastic playthings was replaced forever by hormones and junior high dances.

8.) The Adventure People Daredevil Sport Van (Fisher-Price Adventure People line, 1978 )

 Wow, now this is going wayyy back. If you are reading this and actually remember the Fisher-Price Adventure People line, you have my utmost respect and admiration. The Adventure people line was designed to transition children from their Fisher-Price “Little People” playsets to more grown up “big boy” toys. Early on the toys featured Earth-bound, adventure themes with toy jeeps, rescue boats, motorcycles, parachutes, etc., and later they expanded to some very strange space-themed toys as the Star Wars craze swept the nation.

The Adventure People Daredevil Sport Van was pure fried awesome dipped in gold! I absolutely loved this thing, and you would not believe the play value I got out of it. Let me tell you, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore. This sucker was durable. I received this on Christmas Day 1978 and it was in service to my action figures well into the 80′s. Heck, even Duke, Flint, Snake-Eyes and the boys used this van on their weekend camping trips while on leave. Of course, their camping trips would always end up with Cobra showing up and shooting the hell out of everything, but that’s another story.

The Adventure Van came with a cool motorcycle, a kayak, and for some reason, a parachute that you could lash to the top with what appeared to be an industrial strength woman’s hair tie. it also had a a sweet 70′s stoner mural on the side. Classic.

7.) G.I. Joe Skystriker (Hasbro G.I. Joe line, 1983)

Few things in 1983 compared to the majesty of G.I. Joe’s first toy fighter-jet, the Sky Striker. Oh Lord, was this thing glorious. Modeled after the Air Force’s very own F-15, the Sky Striker was gleaming white plastic perfection, with swing-wing action, a cockpit ejection seat (with parachute), the “Ace” pilot figure, retracting landing wheels, and enough missiles and bombs to annihilate a third-world nation. I wanted one of these so bad in the Spring of 1983 that I quite literally got on my hands and knees every weekend and begged my parents to take me to that holiest of Holy ground, Toys R Us, to procure my beloved Sky Striker. Sadly, I had to wait until my birthday to get a hold of one of the darned things, but it was so worth the wait. Awesome.

6.) Optimus Prime (Hasbro Transformers line, 1984)

When Transformers mania hit during the Christmas shopping season of 1984, it hit hard. It certainly whacked me upside the head, as I was desperate to see the mighty leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, under the tree on Christmas morning. Thankfully, the toy Gods deemed me worthy and Prime arrived in all of his die-cast metal and plastic glory.

Sadly, my affinity for Transformers toys began and ended with Optimus Prime. While I enjoyed playing with him and his cool trailer that opened up into a mini-base, I just felt the Transformers toys were a bit flimsy and I didn’t want to invest any more into adding Autobots and Decepticons to compliment Optimus. I was a G.I. Joe kid through and through. Still one of the coolest toys ever though!

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TOP TEN MOST RIDICULOUS MOMENTS IN COMIC BOOK MOVIE HISTORY

Comic Book films have come a long way from the days of Adam West in chincy satin Batman tights spraying a rubber shark attached to his leg with “Bat Shark Repellent,” but just because Hollywood studios have learned to give comic fans faithful, serious takes on superheroes like The Dark Knight or Watchmen, doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of cheese being served up at the cineplex.  Even the most grim, ultra-realistic depictions of caped and cowled avengers feature head-scratching scenes, moments, gags, one-liners, and hell – even entire sub-plots – chock full of idiocy. Here then, is a look at ten of these incredibly ridiculous moments in comic book movie history.

10.) Punisher Parkour

Hollywood has attempted to successfully adapt the Punisher to the silver screen three times, and they’ve completely missed the mark on each and every one of them. The most recent crack at the character, Punisher War Zone, came the closest to a faithful and suitably dark adaptation, but it was ultimately dragged down by a cheap Saw-esque look and a fair share of absolute squirrel-nut zippery craziness. In addition to some very over-the-top gore, War Zone features this silly scene where the Punisher miraculously hits a free-running street thug in mid air with a rocket launcher. I’m not sure what’s more ridiculous here, the fact that he is able to hit the parkour guy in mid-jump, or that there is no trace of blood or flying limbs, despite the previous scenes of  Frank punching a bloody hole in a guy’s face and another thug getting his face blown away by a shotgun at point blank range.

9.) Green Lantern’s Hot Wheels Racetrack

So let’s say you have just been chosen to become a member of an intergalactic peace-keeping corps, and given a magical power ring that can create anything you can think of. Now let’s imagine a scenario where you have the opportunity to be a big hero by using said ring to save hundreds of people from being chopped into bloody bits by a helicopter careening out of control. Now, the logical thing to do would be to create something like a giant, glowing green catcher’s mitt that will contain the helicopter and gently lower it to the ground without turning anyone into ground sausage, right? Nope. Not if you’re writing the screenplay for Green Lantern. Then you’d idiotically have Ryan Reynolds create a giant glowing Hot Wheels© racetrack, and place the chopper inside a big green racecar that actually made the damn thing go faster and careen even more wildly out of control, making the situation 100% more dangerous. Brilliant.

8.) Superman’s Schoolyard Games

I can’t claim to have read every Superman comic in existence, but I have perused more than my fair share of the Man of Steel’s adventures, so I think I can say with the utmost confidence that at no point in the 70-plus years he’s been around, has Superman ever been able to make duplicates of himself that he can then teleport around a room in an effort to fool evil (and stupid) Kryptonian criminals. Nor has he ever removed the “S shield” from his chest, magically transformed it into a giant piece of cellophane, and thrown it over anyone in an attempt to deprive them of oxygen, either.

All of this is mere prelude to the true bugfuck craziness happening in this strange sequence of events in the Fortress of Solitude. At one point, Superman turns to Lois and says that he “played these games on the schoolyard and was never very good at them.” This is mind blowingly insane, because either A.) The writers forgot that Kal-El was only an infant when he was rocketed to Earth and never had a chance to attend Kryptonian elementary school, or B.) Superman was implying that he would deflect laser beams with his hand or suffocate normal human kids with giant cellophane “S shields” on the playground at  Smallville elementary.  Either way, it’s frighteningly crazy and makes absolutely zero sense.

7.) Daredevil’s See-Saw Flirt Fight

This idiotic sequence dovetails nicely from the “schoolyard” shenanegans of Superman II, as we are treated to more playground tomfoolery by Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in 2003’s crap-fest Daredevil. In this ludicrous scene, blind lawyer Matt Murdock (who is secretly the blind, red-clad avenger of the night, Daredevil) is stalking and sexually harassing socialite Elektra Nachios (who is secretly the deadly ninja assassin umm…Elektra), while she is just trying to walk down the street and mind her own business. Murdock follows her to a schoolyard playground and continues his persistent stalking tactics in an effort to get her name. She tries one more time to shake the creep, but he grabs her arm, igniting an impromptu kung-fu fight on the playground which eventually spills over and onto the teeter-totter.

Now imagine if you have never read a Daredevil comic book in your life, or knew absolutely nothing about the character and you randomly came upon this sequence on a Sunday afternoon on the FX channel of Ben Affleck playing a blind dude trying to whack Jennifer Garner with his walking stick on top of a see-saw. You’d probably say, “what in the name of fuck mountain is this, and why am I watching it on FX? I think need to go outside and kiss girls!”  Hell, even in context this scene is horrible and stupid.

6.) The Hulk Battles Mutant Pooches

I’ve previously mentioned these ridiculous gamma-irradiated schnauzers  in the Top Ten Lamest Villains from Superhero Movies list, but the sequence in which they battle the Hulk certainly deserves a spot in this piece as well. Basically what happens here is that The Hulk’s insane and abusive father David Banner (played by a crusty and disheveled Nick Nolte) is doing his own home experiments with gamma radiated nano-whatevers, juices up three dogs with them, (one of which is a fluffy white show poodle), and sends them off to attack his son for a reason that is too stupid for me to remember right now. The end result of this is one of the most bizarre and ridiculous fight sequences in movie history. The dogs end up looking as ludicrous as you would imagine – creepy and cartoonish – almost like the dog towards the end of The Mask with Jim Carrey.

Continue to Part 2!

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