Batman Broadcast on WWOR Channel 9

Batman WWOR 9 TV Guide Ad

Constantly claiming that things were always better 15-20 years ago is a habit that I never wanted to get into. While it’s not true in some cases, everything always does seem better in hindsight. The music sounded better, movies were more entertaining, and in this case, there was more to watch on TV –¬†even though I only had 6 channels. Nowadays, with a copious amount of programming options, like 800 channels worth, it’s no cliche to say that I still can’t find anything to watch.

When I was a kid I remember the period of time when we did not have cable TV. Although cable was gaining popularity, we held out. At that time, we secretly lusted for channels like HBO, MTV, and Nickelodeon. We eventually convinced my Dad to let us get¬†cable, but I remember being fine with the typical broadcast channels. WPIX 11 was one of my favorites because they always showed cool reruns and great afternoon movies, but I was also loyal to WWOR 9. Channel 9 relocated to Secaucus NJ in the early ’80s and my family and I would pass the building all the time on our way to visit with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins.

If you aren’t from Jersey then it’s difficult to fully understand how slighted we are media wise. We are a state so jammed with people and yet if you live in the northern and central regions of the eastern part of the state,we have to watch New York stations and those to the south and west watch Philadelphia stations. What the hell is that about? The minute you drive down to southwest Jersey everyone is in love with the Philadelphia Eagles and watches Philly TV news broadcasts. Never made sense to me.

Channel 9 had the same annoying problem that the old Giants Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium have. People always refer to them as being in New York. Why do we even have MAPS!?! Talk about being a state that gets crapped on. Can’t we just have our own things? New Jersey is the Peter Brady of the United States.

The above ad is just an example of how great channel 9 was. Not only did they offer quality programming but also created amusing ads for the TV Guide! It goes to show how cool the ad was since I kept in for over 20 years now. I used to get so excited when The 1966 Batman movie was on TV. Several years later channel 9 became even more awesome to me when The Howard Stern Show premiered. And people who weren’t aware or didn’t care still thought Secaucus was in New York City.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.16: The Legend of Jason Voorhees Begins!

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Why should I beat a dead Kevin Bacon and sound completely redundant when I know damn well that more in depth information about the relationship between Friday the 13th and New Jersey exists all over the place? (You can visit Weird NJ for the best in New Jersey lore, myths, and legends.) What inspires me to touch on the subject here at the Armpit is that I find myself baffled. I often speak to people locally that have no idea that the first Friday the 13th film was filmed right here in our very own state of New Jersey! I can’t expect everyone to be obsessed with horror movies, but how about some awareness of pop culture history folks? To assume that everyone knows that Camp Crystal Lake was actually Camp NoBeBoSco is definitely pushing it.

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In anticipation of the new version of Friday the 13th hitting theaters in a few weeks (2/13/09), I figured I’d brag a little bit about New Jersey being the place where the legend of Jason Voorhees began.

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The unbelievable website Friday the 13th films.com, offers a thorough tour through the New Jersey sites that appear in the film. The site offers a “then and now” look at Blairstown, Hope, and Hardwick Township, New Jersey. It’s fascinating to see how the screen shots match up to photos taken close to 6 years ago. The rest of the films in the series completely ignored New Jersey as a filming location, possibly because of the exorbitant fees associated with filming here. The Friday the 13th franchise further snubbed N.J by choosing to have Jason “take” a certain place that eternally shadows New Jersey in part 8.

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Jason (Ari Lehman) and Alice (Adrienne King) share a poignant moment in between takes.
The township of Blairstown seems to be embracing it’s starring role in the iconic 1980 horror film. Check out the Blairstown Theater Festival website which also details the township’s connection with Friday the 13th.

“On July 13, 2007, Friday the 13th was screened for the first time on Blairstown’s Main Street in the very theater which appears shortly after the opening credits. Overflowing crowds forced the Blairstown Theater Festival, the sponsoring organization, to add an extra screening at 11:00 PM. The event was covered by local media and New York City’s Channel 11.”

Movie Review: Don’t Go To Sleep

“Don’t Go To Sleep” (1982) is a pretty cheesy made for TV thriller that conjures up all kinds of great memories for me. When I was a kid I would watch ANYTHING that was promoted as remotely frightening. As a kid from suburbia there wasn’t much excitement going on so basing my entire night around a movie that was showing on TV wasn’t unheard of. Luckily my big sis was usually as motivated as I was to watch something scary so it made it more fun. Don’t get me wrong I was completely obsessed with horror icons from Frankenstein to Freddy, but I took what I could get if my mother hadn’t taken me to the video store to rent a tape that weekend. Local stations like WPIX 11 and others would show horror movies all throughout October. (See Matt at X-E for a great article on this) Other times even when it wasn’t “Shocktober” they would have Saturday Night Cinema or something to that effect. As a kid television played a much bigger role for me as “must see TV” than it did at any other point in my life. Damn, my whole family gathered for shows and movies and even Married With Children!

It was time for my sister and I to check out this thriller they were promoting for a week. Don’t Go To Sleep starred Valerie Harper who many know from Rhoda and Valerie’s Family and Ruth Gordon from Rosemary’s Baby. The synopsis goes like this: After the death of one of their daughters, Jennifer, a family moves into a new home (what was the house #? = 13666, I swear!) now joined by Valerie’s cranky mother. We’re not seeing gory blood and guts or SFX monsters here, this one’s all psychological. It’s cliche’s galore including bad dreams, shadows, moving dolls, and sinister voices. In her dreams, Valerie’s (I’ll call her Valerie from now on) daughter Mary is haunted by her sister that was killed in a car accident. Her dreams continue and she’s even caught talking out loud to her. Mary’s parents send her to a psychiatrist to see if they could stop these dreams. The shrink doesn’t do much good because Mary’s certified nutso and her dead sister Jennifer is basically telling her to eradicate the entire family.

To get revenge on her grandmother for loving Jennifer more than her, Mary steals her brother Kevin’s iguana Ed. We then see the the camera follow Ed and it looks as if it’s floating, but we know it’s being carried by Mary. She then puts Ed under grandmother’s sheets as she’s sleeping. As she wakes up, poor Ruth Gordon was literally scared to DEATH! It was now time to get rid of that imp Kevin. While playing a fun, non-threatening, opposite of murdering someone game of Frisbee, Mary “accidentally” threw the Frisbee with so much force that it landed on top of the roof near Mary’s window. Oops! Kevin, trying to be the macho, zabkaesque hot-shot of the family didn’t want to wait for dad to get home to get it so he climbs up on the roof himself. Next thing you know the windows mysteriously open up while Kevin’s standing up there and he loses his balance causing him to plummet to his death. Now, Jennifer, the grandmother, and Kevin are all dead. Then, in possibly the creepiest scene in the film that has nothing to do with horror, Mary is in the bathroom while her father is drinking martinis in the bathtub! Yes, you read that correctly. The father (Dennis Weaver) couldn’t hear the ballgame over Mary’s blow dryer so she moves it closer to the tub filled with water. Who can guess what happens next? Mary pushes the radio into the bathtub and electrocutes poor ol‘ Dad who works hard so they can live in a nice huuuge house and have nice things. That ungrateful little bitch! At the very least she could’ve let the man hear the end of his ballgame!

What this movie is really known for is Mary’s attempt on her mother Valerie’s life. It is by no means an average attempt at murder. Mary wigs out and ravages the pizza that was ordered with a pizza cutter. Did Mary get a chance to have a slice or did she just leave it to get cold? Obviously the director didn’t think that was important because the camera then follows the pizza cutter as if the utensil was floating up the stairs and rolling it’s blade on the railing. Clearly the pizza cutter had a mind of it’s own. They loved that shot! What do you expect from a movie co-produced by Aaron Spelling? Back to the pulse pounding conclusion: Trying to call 911, Valerie was mortified to find her daughter holding…A PIZZA CUTTER. The line was disconnected because Mary cut the phone line! The havoc this Mary has wreaked merely with a pizza cutter! Can we send her over to the middle east with that pizza cutter? No one would even try fucking with her!

I’ll leave the rest to you since I know I’ve scared you out of your gourds already. That’s enough scary for one night. I don’t want to send you into cardiac arrest. If this masterpiece doesn’t make it’s way to your must see list I don’t know what will! haha. I must say that there are some decently frightening scenes but you won’t be disappointed in the eerie final scene. Check it out and you’ll see why Valerie shrieks and possibly soils the bed.