Tag Archives: Nightmare Nostalgia

The Thanksgiving Miracle Nobody Wanted: The Gobbeldy Gooker

Ahh, Thanksgiving 1990. An Italian family gathering I remember quite well as the entire clan was not only unbuttoning our pants to make room for the 12-course-meal that awaited, but for the beerfest that was assuredly going to happen with the adults in conjunction with the highly-anticipated Survivor Series! And this PPV event brought on by the glorious WWF at the time would both mark the debut of one of the greatest Wrestling Superstars of all time, while also bringing about the company’s greatest blunder- the goddamn Gobbeldy Gooker.

Recently, I went over the great introduction of the phenom, The Undertaker, which marks his 30 years in the WWE. Now, let’s dive into this weird gimmick that really pissed people off. Oh, how I miss the days where we only had men dressed up as giant turkeys to be upset about.

Hey man, I’m just a Gooker trying to make a living!

Well, anyways the WWF promoted this “Big Surprise” they had in store for us that would be revealed at the Thanksgiving Survivor Series via promos and displaying this oversized egg at live events leading up to the big day. So of course, we were all riddled with anxiety, placing bets on what exactly was inside this damn thing.

I’ll never forget the reaction from my family when the moment finally came where Mean Gene debuted this monstrosity. It may as well had been an episode of The Steve Wilkos Show in the Butrico house.

That weird anger, although I certainly understand it, I feel was misplaced. It certainly wasn’t the Thanksgiving surprise anyone expected; or even wanted for that matter. However, over the years Vince McMahon had said this was something more for the kids and not the adults. It seems to me while ol’ Vince might be savvy to what we wanted to see in regards to Wrestling, it’s pretty clear he was kind of out of touch with what us kiddos wanted. I mean, I wasn’t really impressed. I was eight-years-old and more confused than anything. That thing with its protruding golf ball eyes was umm…. a little terrifying actually.

JUST LISTEN TO THOSE BOOS! Looking back as an adult, I feel really bad for this poor guy (later identified as Hector Guerrero) as the blame really falls on Vince and the higher-ups for this debacle. It’s quite clear the trio of Okerlund along with Piper and Monsoon announcing tried to make the best of this now awkward situation. It was and still is, so damn amazingly cringe-worthy.

Courtesy of Scott’s Wrestling Collection

While most of us know by now that Hector Guerrero of the infamous Guerrero wrestling dynasty donned the outfit, it was acknowledged pretty recently that The Undertaker himself was scared to death thinking that HIS debut was going to be not as the iconic dead man, but this awful gimmick instead as he described in Steve Austin: The Broken Skull Sessions:

“So about the time I got my phone call, they were doing this promotion where, on the show — back then they’d do three or four weeks in a row — they had this gigantic egg on the set.  So this egg appears on the show, right? And all of a sudden my mind just starts going like, ‘Aw, man, they’re going to bring me in — now this is how outlandish the gimmicks were back then too — I’m going to be ‘Egg Man.’ I had convinced myself, to the point where my stomach hurt, that I’m going to be ‘Egg Man.'”

I mean, that would have fucking sucked for Mean Mark Calaway.

Instead, Guerrero pulled on the Turkey get-up and according to an interview with Sports Illustrated, he has little regrets about it and seems to have embraced the big Razzie Award of the WWF. He also recalls just how awful and visually limiting that costume really was- I mean, looking at it are we really surprised by that?

The Gobbledy Gooker is called the biggest flop in professional wrestling history, but it wasn’t meant for the adults. It was for the children. Vince wanted to do something noble, which I take my hat off to and respect. But the circumstances were not favorable. I couldn’t see. The eyes were outside and they were bubbled out—it was almost like they drilled holes through golf balls.

I had to get in the egg early before the show. There was a box under the egg, and I had a fan down there to keep me cool. I had a light, I had a monitor, and that’s where I was. As soon as I came out, you heard the boos—the real bad ones, and a lot of them. Gene Okerlund went through our routine, and he worked really hard, even going in the ring with me. I was flawless and didn’t miss a cue, but the stares and looks from the crowd made me feel like the biggest flop in the history of wrestling. That’s just the way the people reacted. I was in a bad situation, and you don’t blame the boss. You blame the performer.

We went to Madison Square Garden two months after the Survivor Series flop. We shouldn’t have showcased the Gobbledy Gooker at Madison Square Garden. I came out cold turkey, and they told me they’d spotlight me when I walked out. The building went black and they shone the lights on me, and all I could see was white. I couldn’t see down, up, left, or right. I tried to feel my way to the ring. I handspringed into the top rope, but I couldn’t see the floor. I landed on my bottom, and then they finally turned the lights on and I went through my routine—cartwheels, high-fives, a little jiggle-jiggle-jaggle, and dances with the kids. I get back into the dressing room, and they were giving me the dirtiest faces. Vince wouldn’t even look at me and then he walked away. I started to undress, and Gorilla Monsoon walked in and said, ‘We finally figured it out. You couldn’t see, right?’ You think? Everything was wrong. They wanted to put me in a spot, but I was blind and couldn’t see.

Hector Guerrero

So now that we know all that, do we really have to continue this undefined hatred for the Gooker? I think enough time has passed where we can learn to embrace the whacky Thanksgiving mascot and I for one would love to see the gimmick one more time for Turkey Day via the WWE.

So, let’s partner up with The Bushwackers, Tugboat, and others to show some love for the Gookster this holiday season!

Credit via WWE

[Review] Shudder’s “Exorcist” Documentary : LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST

Brigade Publicity

Let me start off by stating that I’m fairly certain, I could be the world’s biggest whore for horror film documentaries. To dive into the behind-the -scene encounters involving those who made some of our most cherished genre pictures, is close to Godliness. Also, it totally helps at those Horror Movie Trivia nights. So when I caught wind that Shudder was releasing an documentary exclusively with William Friedkin on The Exorcist, I damn near had a happy anxiety attack as TRUE docs on the film are scarce with the exception of a few under-the-radar specials on networks such as REELZ and A&E.

To put it it mildly, I was pretty excited to see the mastermind Friedkin going pedal to the medal with his infamous visionary experience of Blatty’s novel. And to my delightful surprise, the documentary was A LOT more than a “making of” type deal. So much more…

Brigade Publicity

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist run time sits in at about 105 minutes of an in-depth exploration of Friedkin’s inspirations that led to his directing-style approach for his notable films; including of course The Exorcist. If one ever wanted to sit and pick the brain of the 85-year-old director, this documentary gives you close to everything you would want to know and more. One would even go so far as saying that if you’re an aspiring film-student, than this is basically some free and sound advice from one of the best- so if you’re in that group, might want to put this in your watch queue.

When touching on The Exorcist, this doc will absolutely give even the BIGGEST Exorcist fan a few new nuggets of knowledge one may have not known about the film unless you just so happen to be in Friedkin’s inner-circle. From where exactly the idea of that infamous, iconic image of Merrin on the street cam from, the casting of the actors, (one of which might just blow your mind) and the journey into finding the perfect instrumentals for the picture, this will give everyone a new appreciation for all the painstaking blood, sweat, and literal tears that went into making the horror masterpiece.

Brigade Publicity

Obviously I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but one thing I will say that won’t take away any “eureka moments” is the recurring theme throughout the doc that Friedkin is heavily influenced by the arts of the Renaissance Period which truly gives this doc some really beautiful cinematography and visuals that one usually doesn’t see in well, a horror film documentary. This chronicle of The Exorcist is visually speaking, the prettiest looking-thing I’ve ever seen in this type of arena and I have to really give a shout-out for making this aesthetically appeasing to the eyes as well as keeping me intrigued throughout the duration of the program.

With all that being said, LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST premieres on Shudder November 19th, 2020 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.


More Than A Montage: Rocky IV Delivers Powerful Messages 35 Years Later

I don’t exactly remember the first time I experienced Rocky IV in my youth, or any film in the franchise for that matter. What I do know is that the entire series was a normalized staple in the VCR rotation in my VERY ITALIAN household and for all I know with my family, I was probably born during Rocky III‘s Eye of the Tiger montage playing in the background- I mean, that would be a pretty sweet way to enter this world. What I do remember however, is how this movie made me feel watching it not only as a kid, but as a grown adult as well that has faced underdog challenges throughout my thirty-something odd years on this planet. And hey, who hasn’t gone through some type of their own personal hell these days, eh?

Up until my later teenage years when you know, I could get a job, buy things on my own and all that wonderful jazz, the only copy I had had of Rocky IV was on a recorded VHS that held three films in this order: Back to the Future, Rocky IV, and A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge; of which we dubbed “the Glorious 1985 Film Saga”. Even better was knowing these filmed were taped over some sort of aerobics rock exercise videos that would glitch in-between each movie; which gave that Scotch homemade VHS some real 80s’ feel-goodness. It was pretty sweet.

Anyways, before I ramble on too much and get off-topic about my weird fetish for VHS recordings, lets steer into the magnificent yesterworld of Vince DiCola /John Cafferty montages , a rare bearded-Sly, and slave robots.

Oh and this really phenomenal James Brown number that is about as American as it gets that basically tell the Russian guests to lick their assholes. ‘MURICA.

The Rocky franchise is one of the very few series of films that holds a consistent theme of love and triumph that holds the attention of a variety of audiences; not specifying gender, age, or sexuality as all can easily relate to feeling like an underdog in all areas of life. However, Rocky IV keeps these themes WHILE adding another life lesson: CHANGE.

1985 begat a very tense period of years between America and the Soviet Union, and Sly had no bones about making his own statement using his beloved character Balboa and his feelings on the situation. The film is riddled with symbolism, metaphors, and well yes montages but hey those testosterone-filled songs help drive those points home. Take an example the exhibition match between Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago that starts this whole damn mess. Creed represents the stubborn nature and sometimes ignorantly arrogant nature of America while Drago shadows the very cold and uncertainty ways about the Soviet Union. The two are destined to clash and so they do. With America coming out like a pufferfish so very sure of himself, only to get pummeled as you should never underestimate what your opponent could and will do to you. The boxing in this films no longer serves as a metaphor for “going the distance”. The athletic aspect in the film now rears into the horrifying world of a war between two powerhouse nations.

Drago is younger, stronger, and the most intimating opponent Rocky has faced yet. To beat him, Rocky is gonna have to change his approach. He has to work harder. Train harder. Give it every goddamn thing he has if he is to literally come out of this mess alive. The Soviet Union was formed in 1922 and while this film is set 63 years later, in territory terms that is fairly young. So what does the Rock do? He sends himself into the lion’s den (the heart of Moscow) to train in the most barbaric and simplistic of ways possible. All while growing a most excellent machismo man beard scruff. Facing harsh criticism, unwelcoming neighbors and being babysat by Russian nationals all along the way, Rocky devotes every second of the day and night to strengthen not only his physique, but his mind as well to focus on one thing and one thing only- sheer victory.

In regards to the final fight, the immanent theme of change begins as our American hero is booed all the way to the ring. The entrance is dark, dank, and smells of uncertainty. Whereas Drago’s entrance tells the same tale only with favorable crowd and a WAY more sinister feeling- we will definitely attribute Dicola’s Drago Suite to the anxiety in the room as we prepare for war.

As the fight progresses and the pair of soldiers are beating the ever-loving shit out of each other, the change begins. As Rocky our series underdog keeps taking the licks and getting back up, the communist crowd begins to favor the Italian Stallion and his perseverance. This of course, doesn’t sit well with the Russian officials overseeing the fight and one of Drago’s main drug-dealers, erm, I mean overseers runs down to the ring to give him a good what-for. Drago ain’t having this shit and basically tells him to fuck off while throwing his little ass to the ground. Throughout the film, Drago is seen sort of like an object. A Russian robot slave with no authority over himself. This, is the turning of the tides in the film where he is no longer fighting for anyone but himself. However, too little too late as Rocky has the upper-hand with his unforgettable determination and gives him a good knock to the jaw, putting him out for good.

And then… the speech. The speech of change. A speech just as relevant now as it was then and will forever be so in this insane world that we live in under constant threat and fears of the unknown. That if we can band together to come to a consensus, regardless of our background, we can live peacefully and without regret.

As of writing this, Stallone is currently working on a grand director’s cut of this phenomenal piece of cinematic goodness. Of which, you bet your ass I’m keeping a close eye on for updates. In the meantime, happy anniversary to the greatest metaphorical montage films in American history!