Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Planet Cool Stuff - My Full Segment on Rob McCallum's New TV Show!


I recently had the incredible opportunity to appear on Rob McCallum's TV series, Planet Cool Stuff. The show features the lives of pop culture collectors and enthusiasts, highlighting their passions and the fascinating stories behind their collections. I’m excited to share that I’m featured in Season 1, Episode 2, where I discuss my long-standing interest in video games, my writing career, and some of the books I've authored.

In the episode, I delve into how my love for video games began and how it has influenced my professional journey. From playing classic arcade games beginning in 1975 to collecting since 1982 (late ’70s if you count handheld electronic games), video games have long been a significant part of my life. This passion, combined with my enjoyment of reading, naturally transitioned into writing about video games, allowing me to combine my love for gaming with my talent for storytelling and research.

During the show, I talk about my Classic Home Video Games series, which offers comprehensive guides to video game consoles and their games from the 1970s through the 1990s. These books are a labor of love, meticulously documenting every US release for each console. I also discuss my other works, such as The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 and The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment Systemand Its Games, Volume 1 (A–L), featuring a foreword by The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg. I’m very proud of these full-color hardcover books, which I hope are as fun to read as they were research and write.

I also discuss my enjoyment of doing video game conventions, where I sell and autograph books and pose for photos with fans. For those interested in seeing my segment on Planet Cool Stuff, I’ve uploaded the entire segment to my YouTube channel, with Rob’s permission. For those not in the know, Rob also directed Nintendo Quest, and I will be in his next movie, Nintendo 64 Quest.

Being a part of Planet Cool Stuff was an amazing experience. It’s wonderful to see a show that celebrates the geeky hobbies and passions that people have. Whether you’re a video game enthusiast, action figure collector, comic book reader, cartoon buff, Universal Monsters fan, or just curious about different collections, I highly recommend checking out the series. Rob McCallum does a fantastic job of showcasing the stories and dedication behind these fascinating pursuits, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in the world of popular culture.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I enjoyed being a part of it. Keep gaming, and keep exploring your passions!


And, as always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Hollywood Zap - Video Game Movie Review - Troma Entertainment

Hollywood Zap (1986)

Movie Review

Distributed by Troma Entertainment, the company co-founded by Lloyd Kaufman, Hollywood Zap is a peculiar piece of cinema that encapsulates the weird, random, raunchy, and crude humor that Troma is known for. Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker David Cohen, this film ventures into the bizarre with a reckless abandon that is both its strength and its weakness, more the latter for sure.

The movie revolves around two main characters: Zaxxon video game expert Nash, played by Ben Frank, and ineffectual protagonist Tucker “Downer” Downs, portrayed by Ivan E. Roth, who is on a quest to find his father (who turns out to be…oops, no spoilers!). Their journey is anything but conventional, laced with oddball characters and surreal scenarios that defy logic and taste. The plot, if one can call it that, meanders through a series of vignettes that seem stitched together by nothing more than a shared sense of absurdity, which isn’t surprising given the Troma name.

The narrative kicks off with Downs setting out to find his estranged father. His journey leads him to cross paths with Nash, a master of the arcade game Zaxxon, a fun isometric shooter that was graphically amazing for its time (it blew me away when I discovered it at The Land of Oz arcade in the local mall back in 1982). The duo's adventures are filled with eccentric encounters, including a memorable appearance by Chuck Mitchell, famous for his role in Porky's, as a shady lawyer. Mitchell's performance is one of the film's highlights, delivering his lines with a blend of sleaze and comedic timing that perfectly fits the film's off-kilter tone.

David Cohen's direction and writing are unapologetically unrefined. The humor is often gross and crude, pushing boundaries in ways that are both absurd and occasionally funny. Scenes are strung together with little concern for continuity or coherence, giving the film a dreamlike, or perhaps nightmarish, quality. It's a film that revels in its own low-budget aesthetic, with cheap sets, wonky editing, and rudimentary special effects that only add to its peculiar appeal for Z-grade movie fans.

Despite its many flaws, Hollywood Zap has moments of genuine humor. There are scenes so absurd that they transcend bad taste and become oddly endearing, such as the little dance the Zaxxon hustler does just prior to playing the game. The film’s randomness keeps viewers on their toes, never quite knowing what bizarre twist will come next. This unpredictability can be as exhausting as it is entertaining.

The performances range from bizarrely compelling to outright bad. Ben Frank's portrayal of the Zaxxon expert is oddly charismatic, while Ivan E. Roth's protagonist is goofy and weak, embodying the awkward everyman lost in the chaos of a nonsensical world. The supporting cast, including a host of characters that defy easy description, adds to the film's eclectic and erratic energy. And, of course, it’s cool to see a vintage arcade with games like Baby Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, and Moon Patrol. At one point, Nash even mentions Walter Day’s legendary arcade, Twin Galaxies, implying he aspires to go there to break the Zaxxon world record—such a great time capsule!

Released on VHS but never on laser disc, DVD, or Blu-ray, Hollywood Zap has achieved a kind of cult status among fans of obscure and unconventional cinema, and among gamers, at least for those who have heard of the movie—it’s one of the most obscure video game-related films ever released. For those curious to experience this oddity, it is available for rent on Amazon Prime for just $2.

After years of knowing of its existence (in addition to loving video games, I’m something of a film buff), this was my first time watching the movie, and having long wanted to see it, I found it at once perplexing, disappointing, and strangely satisfying. In other words, it was a hot mess, but I kept watching as though it were a train wreck, and I couldn’t look away. Essentially, it makes Joysticks, the 1983 B-movie directed by Greydon Clark, seem like Casablanca in comparison, but the video game angle and sheer weirdness kept me interested and even entertained to some degree.

Hollywood Zap will appeal to a very specific audience—those who appreciate the outré, the gross, and the random. It fits right in with Troma Entertainment's legacy of pushing cinematic boundaries and embracing the bizarre. If you're in the mood for something entirely out of the ordinary, have a taste for the crude and the cheap, and love classic arcade culture, Hollywood Zap might just be worth a watch.

 

Monday, June 3, 2024

YouTube Channel Subscriber Milestone for Brett Weiss - 5000 Subs!


Hello, fellow retro gamers!

I’m thrilled to announce that my YouTube channel my YouTube channel, simply called Brett Weiss, has reached the milestone of 5,000 subscribers! When I started this journey, I had every intention of building such an amazing community of passionate gamers who love the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s as much as I do, even though naysayers said my channel would never grow. Your support and enthusiasm mean the world to me, and I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you.

It’s been a blast sharing stories and reliving the golden eras of gaming with you, from arcade gaming on the cheap to the first console I owned, the ColecoVision, to the first time I played Super Mario Bros., we’ve covered a lot of ground together. Each video, each story, and each game we discuss is evidence of the impact these classics have had on our lives.

Your comments, likes, and shares have not only supported the channel but have also created a vibrant community where we can all reminisce and celebrate the games that defined our childhoods. I’ve enjoyed reading your memories and hearing about your favorite games, and it’s been fantastic to connect with so many like-minded people who share a love for retro gaming.

As we celebrate this milestone, I’m excited to share that there are many more stories to come. We’ll continue cover video game history, exploring lesser-known titles, and highlighting the cultural impact of our favorite classics. I have some special content planned, including more Mount Rushmore videos, where I’ve been showcasing the four most iconic games for each console. These videos will be a fun way to celebrate the games that are famous, great, and emblematic of each system.

I also want to mention how much I enjoy meeting many of you in person at retro gaming conventions, such as Corgs this past weekend. These events are a highlight for me, offering a chance to connect, share stories, and immerse ourselves in the nostalgia of our favorite games. If you see me at a convention, please don’t hesitate to say hello, even if you aren’t in the market for a retro gaming book—let’s talk games and anything else pop culture!

To all 5,000 of you, and everyone else reading this, thank you for being a part of this journey. Your support is the gamer fuel that drives this channel, even more than caffeine, and I’m grateful for each one of you. Here’s to many more stories, many more games, and many more memories together. Please share the channel, and let’s get to 10,000 subs sooner rather than later!

Stay tuned, keep gaming, and, as always, keep it retro!

Oh, and thanks for reading. 😊

Best,

Brett Weiss