Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lamest Batman Villains

* Everyone else at Five-O-Rama seems to have taken the month of April off for some reason, so here I am working on my birthday. Never fear though, I can assure you this will be another list of outstanding quality, well up to my usual standard of Super Gold Excellence Extreme. While my colleagues skip and laugh and play, I toil on. So let's get to it.

I don't think it's any great secret that, as awesome as Batman is and the world he exists in is mostly also awesome, the guy has run up against some lame foes over the years. And yeah, I know, sometimes that was the point. So no gag characters like the Condiment King will be included here. But even if you look at some of the most well-known members of his sizable rogue's gallery, you will quickly note that a lot of them are...pretty dumb. They almost could have been gag characters themselves if the writers hadn't decided to try to salvage them.

But I'm not going to go after dear old Oswald Cobblepot or even the retarded Ventriloquist and his "partner" Scarface. No, even though they are truly quite lame in many ways - the former being one of the few Batman antagonists NOT to be insane and NOT particularly dangerous on his own either; the latter...well, you know - they've still been fairly well used over the years and writers have cleverly found ways to take at least a few layers of lame off them. I've become so accustomed to The Mad Hatter I can't even put him here as much as it seems like it's where he belongs. And I will only count characters who have had multiple run-ins with Batman - no one-hit blunders.

So let's look at the Bat baddies who truly have no excuses and cannot be saved.

5. Kite Man (first appearance: Batman #133, 1960)
I would have forgotten all about this lamewad if I hadn't seen him in a flashback scene of the new (crappy) Batman cartoon, Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Well, his name says it all: dude uses kites. He basically flies around with one, uh, big kite, and uses other smaller kites to...I don't know - confound his enemies? Cause them to double over laughing while he makes his escape? I have no idea. And he's also got to get points for just calling himself Kite Man. I mean, he could have at least been a villain with a decent name who just happens to use kites. But Kite Man does not compromise! It's either all about the kites or nothing.

He's actually been killed off TWICE in somewhat recent continuity. I would imagine current writers enjoy this so they'll probably bring him back at some point so they can off him again. I know I would like to.

4. Calender Man (first appearance: Detective Comics #259, 1958)
Most people are a bit familiar with this guy as Jeph Loeb used him in the somewhat acclaimed Batman: The Long Halloween. We'll get to how that went in a moment. Julian Day was originally a colourful yahoo whose crimes corresponded with certain dates of significance, mostly holidays. He would even dress in costumes that fit the theme of the holiday in question which is, I assure you, every bit as stupid as you would imagine. His crimes were usually flamboyant robberies and he never hurt anyone, let alone killed anyone. Yes, the guy is crazy but not in any scary or dangerous way.

Which is exactly why Loeb's attempt to bring the character back into the DC Universe's conscience couldn't really work. In Long Halloween, Day is among the inmates at Arkham Asylum and he begins cryptically assisting Batman on the case of the serial killer dubbed Holiday. Loeb is really trying for a Hannibal-Lecter-in-The-Silence-of-the-Lambs thing but as the guy behind the glass is crazy in more of a ridiculous way than frightening, it really doesn't work. With his shaved head and extremely calm and serene expression, Day LOOKS like he should be a creepy psycho killer. But he's not. He's just a mostly harmless wacko who freaks out on Labour Day.

3. Catman (first appearance: Detective Comics #311, 1963)
No matter how many times they update this guy and try to make him look cool, he'll always just be frigging Catman. Probably the oddest thing about this character is that he WASN'T originally conceived as a joke. I mean...Catman? I really don't think I need to go into any explanation of why Catwoman works and this clown doesn't so we'll just skip it.

At first he really just was sort of a crappy rip-off of Catwoman, basically operating as a cat burglar and wearing a similar kind of costume. But his obsession with cats was even more amped up. He believed he really did have nine lives and all the stuff he stole was cat-themed. He also sometimes runs around accompanied by a pet tiger.

In Marvel, the Black Panther is pretty cool - his costume is a lot like Catman's and his basically non-superhuman abilities are very similar as well (Olympic-level athlete and gymnast, skilled at hand to hand combat). Only, with T'Challa, no writer was dumb enough to run away with the whole cat thing and they gave him a cool name.

In recent years, Catman has actually been all over the place in various DC comics with different writers and artists trying to make him seem tolerable. But if you ask me, he'll never be able to live down his first ever appearance on the cover of Detective Comics #311, accosting Batman and Robin while riding a giant cat.

2. Maxie Zeus (first appearance: Detective Comics #483, 1979)
Pretty straightforward stuff with this loser - he's an ordinary human convinced that he is in fact the god Zeus from Greek mythology. So I guess he's not exactly an ordinary human, he's a nutjob. Which is fine. I mean, the vast majority of Batman's enemies are nutjobs of one sort or another. But all you have to do is read a few lines of Maxie's dialogue in in any comic and you'll get a headache. And don't say it's the same thing with Thor in the Marvel Universe - he really is Thor, god of thunder, he can talk as he likes.

Despite his really annoying schtick, Maxie is actually given a bit of credibility as he's often been portrayed as a somewhat competent criminal mastermind, orchestrating various plots and leading other villains in his endeavors. But whatever. He's still painfully lame, prancing around in a toga and spouting ridiculous dialogue.

Kevin Smith recently revived this joke of a villain to include in the Batman: Cacophony storyline where Maxie is engaged in a turf war with the Joker. He starts off seemingly cured of his delusions but towards the end it becomes clear he's becoming unhinged once again, and of course in the same delightful "I am the god Zeus" way.

I only have one comic in my possession that contains Maxie Zeus and he's in just a couple of panels. It's part of the Knightfall saga and the part in question is the mass breakout of psychos from Arkham as orchestrated by Bane and his henchmen. We see Zeus among the crowd of freed prisoners running through the woods and as usual, he's talking to himself, even convinced that the escape was all his doing as no walls can contain the power of Zeus or whatever. As he's blathering on he fails to look where he's going and smacks headfirst into a tree, knocking himself out cold. 'Nuff said.

1. Killer Moth (first appearance: Batman #63, 1951)
Originally wearing a winged spandex costume with a colour scheme that included green, orange and purple, Killer Moth's big idea was to be the "anti-Batman". Ok. In many ways, I suppose he was as Batman is dark, menacing and most definitely, cool. Killer Moth is emphatically none of those things.

In his first and lamest incarnation, Killer Moth, in addition to his wings (which did at least work) used a cocoon gun (no, I'm not kidding) which fired a sticky stream of goo to trap targets and he even sometimes drove...wait for it...a mothmobile. He also had some sort of infrared moth signal thingy that he gave to criminals he'd aided. I guess it was so they could summon him or something. Then they went so far as to give him a billionaire playboy alter ego to counter Bruce Wayne. Yes, Killer Moth - THIS is the guy they decided should be set up that way. Ye gods.

Anyway, as stupid as he was, Killer Moth was actually fairly consistently used throughout the Silver Age as a serious Batman foe. That's right - this douche in a moth costume was actually considered a legitimate threat. By the nineties writers seemed to finally realize that this character was hyper lame and even made a point of showing him to be second-string in the world of Batman enemies where he actually put together a team that included fellow listmates Catman and Calendar Man. A little after that, some demon transformed Killer Moth into some sort of giant moth monster called Charaxes, I guess because they didn't know what the hell to do with the character.

A few other Killer Moths have surfaced in recent years but I don't really know anything about them other than I figure they were a really, really bad idea.

Funniest Places to Throw Up

I refuse to let April slip by without me contributing at least one list to the site. But we here at Five-o-Rama are a busy crew, spending most of our days designing spaceships, and most of our nights fighting crime.

As you well know, one of the most horrible things to experience is throwing up. However, the concept of throwing up is indeed one of the funniest things you can think of. So, here is my list of the absolute most hilarious places to blow chunks. I've tried to be as specific as possible. Enjoy.

5. A Mask
When you gotta evacuate your stomach, the last thing you want is something blocking your face. This could be a theatre mask, a tribal mask, a gas mask, a surgical mask. Anything works. Even a goalie mask is funny. Whether you're fencing, playing paintball, or welding, there's something hilarious about needing to puke, and the puke having nowhere to go.

Best Case Scenario: *Ding dong* "Trick or Tre-blllaaargl"/ "And what are you supposed to be?"/ "Please get a towel."

4. Through Any Wind Instrument
Music and humor go together in such a beautiful way, and what's funnier that someone trying to make music while hurling? The concept is funny because the image of someone funneling vomit through the narrow mouthpiece of a trumpet, tuba, clarinet, etc, goes against the impulse to find a basin, sink, or toilet. It seems like an ideal combination. Even a didgeridoo sounds like someone barfing in a cave.

Best Case Scenario: While playing as part of orchestra, some trumpeter's notes begin to sound wet and suddenly a geyser of vomit erupts out the bell of the trumpet, showering the crowd. The player should still be desperately trying to play the appropriate notes.

3. Into An Aquarium
This is the sort of thing that could conceivably happen. You're having a party, you have some friends who can't hold their liquor, and you have large open-topped aquarium. It the perfect storm of hilarity. This idea has already been explored by the likes of Jeff Foxworthy, and it even happens in the recent comedy Superhero Movie (one of a handful of moments that caused me to lose my shit).

Best Case Scenario: I picture a large study in an expensive house, with a long aquarium filled with tropical fish. A smug looking middle-aged man is talking on the phone behind his desk while his maid dusts the shelves and books. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, she rushes to the aquarium and lets fly. All the man can do is stare in horror at the technicolor cloud billowing downwards through the water.

2. In The Change-Box on A Public Bus
This image first popped up during a conversation with friends in university (as most funny ideas do), and it still cracks me up. Why is it funny? Because it's random as hell. It's a change-box on a bus! Why and how would anyone ever do that? How would people react? Who would clean it, and how? It's a joke filled with mystery.

Best Case Scenario: A man is running as fast as he can to catch the bus and finally the kind-hearted bus driver brings it to a stop and opens the door. Once the running man clambers aboard, he immediately throws himself upon the change-box and vomits through the narrow slot. Upon finishing, he stands up straight, catches his breath and says, "No need to count it. It's all there, I assure you."

1. Up Someone's Sleeve
If you've read this far, then you've obviously not easily offended and understand that sometimes a joke can be gross. Well, I can't think of it getting any messier than this. Up someone's sleeve. A stranger's sleeve. The sleeve of a jacket, a turtleneck, a Christmas sweater. Whatever it is, puke is traveling via sleeve. Although it's disgusting and crazy, there's something undeniably funny about it.

Best Case Scenario: A man is walking down the street, minding his own business. Another fellow, who is obviously sick and clearly about to throw up, runs up to the walking man and frantically begins clawing at his shirt. The walking man desperately tries to push the sick man away, to get him to release his grip. Finally, when the struggle can go on no longer, the sick man grabs the walking man's sleeve and vomits in the wrist hole, holding it to his face as if it were an airsick bag. He does it with such force, that barf sprays out the neck hole of the walking man's shirt.

For those who say this is completely sick, I know. I thought it up. I wouldn't want to be part of that equation in any way. I don't think I could even handle witnessing it in person. But it makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh when I think about it. And that's awesome.

P.S. Funniest place I've thrown up: A dresser drawer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Non-Superstar Playoff Heroes (forwards)

We're well into the NHL playoffs once again and once again I find those teams I'm most interested in on the outside looking in. And despite my almost yearly vow to not go out of my way to watch games this spring, I find myself pulled in and watching a ton anyway. Once again.

So in the spirit of the season, I've cooked up a list of those less obvious playoff performers because less obvious is always more interesting. I mean, did you know that Wayne Gretzky, the greatest scorer of all time, was also the greatest playoff scorer of all time? Well, it's true. Oh and Joe Sakic and Rocket Richard are a couple of the best clutch playoff scorers in history. Fascinating, huh? Yeah...not really. I've limited myself to just including forwards because if you factor in defencemen and goalies, this becomes one hell of a difficult list. So maybe each position will get a list as the playoffs go on.

Without further ado, here are the top five playoff forwards who aren't household names in the world of hockey.

5. Bob Nystrom

The Islanders' dynasty is one of the greatest in all of hockey - some people say it eclipses even those of the Canadiens of the late fifties and late seventies or the Oilers of the eighties. However you slice it, the fact is they won an astonishing four straight Cups from 1980 to 1983. Because, obviously, they were amazing teams. They had Potvin, they had Bossy, they had Trottier and they had Billy Smith. But they also had Bob Nystrom.

Every year a mid-range scorer in the regular season, Nystrom always scored some goals but fairly low assist totals kept his point totals under the sixty mark. And that's all they needed from him, really. On a team rich in frontline talent, you still need your secondary scorers. But in the playoffs, Nystrom's scoring became anything but secondary. It was essential. He started slowly, scoring at a fairly mediocre clip in his first five visits to the playoffs. But in the spring of 1980, when the Isles were about to embark on their incredible run, Nystrom heated up. His 9 goals and 9 assists in 20 games was only good enough to be fifth on the team in scoring (if you can believe it) but it was still a huge offensive surge for him.

Not only were these totals well above the frequency in which he scored in the regular season, Nystrom made his goals count. He scored the last goal of that playoffs - the overtime winner in game six against the Flyers to win them their first of four straight Cups.

While Nystrom's 7 career game winning goals in the playoffs is bested by lots of players who also weren't really superstars, I still give him the nod here because 4 of them came in overtime. Only the aforementioned Sakic and Richard have more. And that's pretty awesome.

best playoff performance: 1980, New York Islanders

4. Dave Keon

Keon arguably was a superstar but here I am arguing it, I suppose. Actually, there's plenty of people out there who consider him to be the greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of all time but the fact is while he was a good scorer and got a lot of points, he still wasn't flashy and his numbers aren't mindblowing. No, Keon was more of a two-way player, just as talented at the defensive side of the game as he was at creating goals. While I am really emphasizing goals, particularly game winners on this list, I simply cannot overlook Keon's achievements.

His 68 points in 92 career playoff games (note that it took less games to win the Cup back when he played) is certainly more than respectable but it's this combined with his effectiveness and tenacity as a checker that gets him on this list. His virtuoso performance came in 1967 and it helped the Leafs win their last Stanley Cup to date as well as earning him the first Conn Smythe Trophy ever awarded. He scored a modest 3 goals in 12 games that spring and while he'd actually had more points in two previous playoff runs, here everything just came together for him as he was that year's most valuable player in the playoffs.

best playoff performance: 1967, Toronto Maple Leafs (won Conn Smythe Trophy)

3. Esa Tikkanen
Here's a guy who was born for the playoffs. Much like Nystrom, Tikkanen mostly played the role of supporting player on a team brimming with offensive talent. Throughout the eighties and the Oilers' five Stanley Cups (the last coming in 1990), Tikkanen played in the shadow of such huge names as Messier, Coffey, Kurri, Anderson, Fuhr and, of course, Gretzky. But that was fine with him. And come playoff time, the fesity Finn (no, I'm not sorry for using that term) shone. Three times in his career, Tikkanen scored 20 or more points in the playoffs, also putting up at least 10 goals each time.

By the 90/91 season, the Oilers were significantly depowered. They'd managed another Cup, sans Gretzky, the year before but with injuries limiting Messier to 53 games and Anderson performing a disappearing act, Tikkanen lead the team in scoring with just 69 points. But even though Messier was healthy for the playoffs, Tikkanen continued to be their leader, scoring 12 goals and 20 points, proving his previous high numbers in the post season hadn't simply come from playing with superstars.

He was part of the Cup winning 94 Rangers (along with a few other ex-Oilers) but surprisingly only scored 4 goals. I don't know if any were game winners. Still, after stops in St. Louis and Vancouver, Tikkanen returned to the Rangers during the 96/97 season and exploded for 9 goals in 15 games in the playoffs, playing with Gretzky once again.

His last hurrah came in 98 Washington Capitals' Cindarella run to the final where he contributed 3 goals and 6 points over the 21 games.

When all was said and done, 11 of Tikkanen's 72 career playoff goals were game winners. One of the few players to have more goals than assists in the playoffs (72 to 60 in 186 games), the guy was clutch.

best playoff performance: 1990, Edmonton Oilers

2. Claude Lemieux
I will just come out and say that I cannot stand this guy. However, I cannot argue with facts. And the facts state that the "other" Lemieux (I just call him the dirty Lemieux) is one of the greatest playoff performers of all time, even if you do include superstars. To me, this basically proves that he sometimes dogged it during the regular season, really. He only had one season where he produced at a point-a-game clip and yet he always tore it up in the playoffs.

Late in the 85/86 season, a twenty year old Lemieux was called up to play ten games with the Habs, where he produced an unremarkable 3 points. When the playoffs started, what with the decline of the team since the seventies and the meteoric rise of the Islanders and Oilers, I doubt much was expected of the team. Less was expected of Lemieux. Now anyone who knows hockey knows it was another mostly unknown twenty year old that was mainly responsible for the Canadiens' surprising Cup win that spring, goaltender Patrick Roy. Roy would capture the Conn Smythe Trophy to begin what would be an incredible career. As careers go, Lemieux certainly can't match that. But his 10 goals and 16 points that year would be a sign of things to come for him as the playoffs would seem to ignite him almost every year.

Actually his playoff totals with the Canadiens after that would be fairly modest but he found the magic again in New Jersey, scoring 18 points in 20 games in 94 then firing 13 goals the next spring as the Devils won their first ever Cup. He won the Conn Smythe that year.

Lemieux was thirty when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche but he still contributed as they won the Cup that year although he was surpassed by Joe Sakic in playoff scoring. The folllowing year, the Avs would lose to Detroit in the playoffs but Lemieux still scored 13 goals and 23 points in 17 games giving him huge playoff performances with three separate teams over his career - few players have that on their resume. His 19 game winners in the playoffs ties him for SECOND on the all-time list. Only Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull, each with 24, have more. The guy's a prick but he could score when it mattered most.

best playoff performance: 1995, New Jersey Devils (won Conn Smythe Trophy)

1. Chris Drury

Before he played professional hockey and even before playing US college hockey (where he would be named winner of the coveted Hobey Baker Trophy), Chris Drury knew something about coming through in the clutch. In 1989 he pitched his hometown team of Trumbull Connecticut to a Little League World Series championship, defeating Taiwan in the final.

The Hobey Baker win pretty much sums up his college career and then he joined the Colorado Avalanche for the 98/99 season. Twenty goals in the regular season was fairly impressive for a rookie (he actually did win the Calder Trophy as top rookie but that's irrelevant here) but then he added 6 goals in 19 games in the playoffs, where the Avs made it to the Western Conference finals before bowing out.

In the 2001 playoffs, Colorado went all the way and captured the Stanley Cup, bolstered by 11 goals by Drury. He left the Avalanche for the 02/03 season having scored 11 game winners over his four playoff appearances with them. That year was sort of a forgotten year for him, playing with the Calgary Flames who did not make the playoffs. The next year he joined the Buffalo Sabres and became a leader there but the team missed the big dance. The next season was wiped out entirely by the NHL lockout so there were no playoffs for anyone. However, the following year Drury made it back to the playoffs and pretty much picked up where he'd left off, scoring 18 points in 18 games, including 9 goals. He added another eight the spring after that.

As of this writing, Drury has played in 128 career playoff games and from his 47 goals he's amassed an amazing 17 game winners, four coming in overtime. This has him tied for third on the all-time list. It's crazy enough when you consider all the stars he's got more playoff game winners than - names that include Yzerman, Messier, Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Fedorov and Francis - but then one must also factor in that Drury has played in less games than most of these guys as well (ok, not Mario). Claude Lemieux has played in over ONE HUNDRED more playoff games than Drury so far. And overtime heroics always count for more with me and Drury is tied for third all time in playoff OT goals while any players with as many or more game winners than him actually have NONE, the lone exception being Captain Clutch himself, Joe Sakic (19 game winners; 8 in overtime - most all time). I know that's a lot of numbers to sort through but what you should be able to come away with is the fact that there's just something about Drury that makes him score big goals when they matter the most.

Now Drury is captain of the Rangers and is yet to deliver another great playoff performance but he scored a goal just the other day and, yup, it was a game winner.

best playoff performance: 2001, Colorado Avalanche

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Totally Nineties Movies

Movies can often be viewed as a snapshot of their time. As someone in his mid twenties, my most formative years were bookended by that wacky decade, the nineteen nineties. So here's a little list of those movies that to me scream nineties more than the others and get me feeling nostalgic for plaid shirts, alternative rock and slow modems. Obviously, I only included movies that are actually GOOD so maybe there are some other films out there that are even more nineties but they suck so who the hell cares?

note* Someone might ask why a movie such as Boyz n the Hood (1991) isn't on this list. The simplest answer is that I am not so much white as I am WHITE (but, uh, not in the supremacist way) and I honestly couldn't tell you if that movie is a good example of black youth culture in the nineties or not. So I'll mostly be sticking with what I know best - middle class suburban white kids.

5. The Crow (1994)

No suburban kids here. Based on a comic written towards the end of the eighties, there are a lot of eighties elements present. But still, the biggest reason this movie makes the list is, rightly or wrongly, it will forever be associated with goth culture. That also started in the eighties and bands like The Cure (on the soundtrack) had been making their own brand of gloomy music for years but the whole goth movement (?), didn't really catch on until the nineties. I actually liked a lot of goth stuff growing up but at the end of the day, it just took too much effort for me to really embrace. I mean, I don't even like to shave regularly.

But back to the movie. Brandon Lee also helps ground The Crow firmly in the nineties by having it be the last film he ever appears in. Much like River Phoenix before him, here was a talented actor on the cusp of stardom dying far too young. Because of his career track and the time of his death, Lee will always be linked to the nineties and The Crow was his greatest work.

4. Chasing Amy (1997)

I think all four View Askew movies from the nineties (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma) make for good snapshots of the decade but I pick Chasing Amy mostly for its portrayal of the comic book industry just before the Internet swooped in and shook things up. This also came before the big Hollywood superhero comic book based movies that helped make comics more popular overall. It's a nice shot of the world back when comics and related things were still seen as fringe and certainly not mainstream. The convention stuff works really well.

It's also here as sort of a final farewell for Ben Affleck as a semi-indie film guy. In the same year he would go on to crazy stardom with Matt Damon after Good Will Hunting. He would still return to do other Kevin Smith films but at that point, he was a completely different guy considering the way his career now stood. And he takes centre stage in this movie as the perpetually mixed-up Holden - a character I relate strongly to. I think any movie where Ben Affleck plays a character I can actually relate to deserves some sort of award (although making one of my lists kind of counts). It's also arguably the last movie Kevin Smith made before becoming a household name himself. It marks an interesting transition for him as indie darling to...mainstream curiosity? I dunno. Jason Lee is still a relative unknown at this point too.
The soundtrack isn't quite as nineties as it could have been but it still fits pretty well.

3. Hackers (1995)

A teen aged Angelina Jolie! And she's rocking some sexy short hair too. Hackers dishes out a plot based around a group of city kids blessed with mad hacking skills who stumble upon a cyber terrorist plot to unleash a worldwide computer virus. There's a lot of hanging out in weird underground clubs based around, um, computer stuff and the characters don't really dress like it's the nineties - it's more of an attempt to dress like how they thought we might dress nowawadays or something. Anyway, there's a lot of black and silver. And how about those awesome, clunky laptops they use, complete with custom spray paint jobs? With the technology we enjoy these days, it's easy to poke fun at the themes of Hackers but it's still a fun ride and as great an example of a totally nineties movie as you'll ever find. Mess with the best - die like the rest.

2. Scream (1996)

By the nineties the slasher genre had completely run out of gas. The two biggest franchises of the eighties (Friday the Thirteenth, A NightAdd Imagemare on Elm Street) had mostly gotten worse with every sequel and by 1989, they were done (ok, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare came out in 1991 but no one really noticed). In 1994, the landscape had changed and it seemed audiences actually wanted something called "plot" to go with their murders. So both franchises tried a radically different sequel. One was a dismal failure while the other was a fairly good idea, not so perfectly executed. The idea of having a crossover came up but that wound up stuck in limbo for a decade.

The absolute last gasp of the old guard came in 1995 with Halloween's part six: The Curse of Michael Meyers. I actually like that movie a lot more than I probably should. But one thing it wasn't going to do was save the genre.

Which brings us to Scream. I realize I'm on the brink of writing an essay here on the evolution of the slasher film instead of talking about the nineties so now I'll try to cut (oh, I'm clever!) to the chase. Scream is totally nineties because it introduces the nineties take on a genre that enjoyed its greatest popularity during the eighties. It was pretty simple, really. All they had to do was recognize the conventions of the eighties slasher genre and make reference to it and actually discuss it. Finally, we have the characters recognizing they're caught up in something almost exactly like the movies and some even realize there are certain "rules" established within that they must follow. And keeping the identity of the killer unknown throughout most of the action (pretty much not done in the eighties) also keeps things interesting.

Then there's the cast. All the major characters of the trilogy were played by actors I pretty much only associate with the nineties. (Cole's biggest nineties actress crush? Neve Campbell. Well, almost.)

This was suburban North America in the nineties - the clothes, the music, the vibe. When I was in junior high I had hair just like Billy Loomis! Or tried to anyway.

1. Empire Records (1995)

A fun little movie about a day in the life of a neighbourhood record store and its young employees encapsulates the nineties better than any other movie worth mentioning. Mostly, it has to do with music. If you want a nineties soundtrack for alternative rock, look no further. But even the music that exists only within the movie illustrates popular music of the decade beautifully. Asshole pop star Rex Manning's music, while hilariously awful, actually does closely resemble some of the shallow pop of the day and the song "Sugar High", performed at the movie's finale, is a pretty catchy rock song with nineties flavour.

This film even features a cameo by costumed rockers, Gwar. Maybe that's not particularly nineties but it is cool.

As far as the cast goes, worth noting are Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger for almost opposite reasons. While Tyler has aged very well and is still very attractive, Empire Records is about as close to attractive as Zellweger ever got. Here they're both pretty nice to look at. It's also pretty much the only movie where I can stand her. Also noteworthy is that the kids at the store all dress in distinctly different styles but each is one we can recognize from the day - these are the kids we went to junior high and high school with who weren't preps or jocks. These are the kids like myself who just sort of filled out the spaces in between the extremes. But Empire Records also shows how we dress or what music we listen to doesn't completely determine who we are. Sure, it's a part of us but there's more to us as a whole. The movie celebrates how we kids of the nineties, while different, are really very much the same deep down, how we often want the same things out of life. And no other film makes me miss the decade more.