90’s nostalgia

Bring back my simple movie theatre….

Now that the megaplex has taken over all across the nation, I feel it’s time to reflect back upon the movie theatres of yesteryear. And by yesteryear, I mean the 90’s.

Not Georgetown Cinemas, but you get the idea.

As a kid, I remember the theatre that I would go see movies was called Georgetown Cinemas. It was right beside the Miracle Mart (no longer) in a strip plaza. This theatre had a whopping 3 movie theatres! That’s right, 3. You walked in and paid right at the front door. It had low hanging ceilings and always had the scent of mould. The snack bar (if it deserves to be called that) consisted of the basics: pop, candy and popcorn. The syrup never seemed to be mixed at the right ratio, it was either too watery or way too sweet. They always put way too much butter on the popcorn, so it was a pile of gunk by the time you hit the bottom of the bag. When you went into your theatre, you sat in those squeaky chairs that had that burlap style fabric in colours like brown, orange and yellow. And they were not stadium seating, so you were out of luck if someone tall decided to sit right in front of you. The theatre was also designed in a way that anytime the door opened, all the light would come pouring into the theatre from the lobby. The one thing I remember most is how sticky the floors were. No matter when you went to see a movie, it seemed like they were permanently covered in gunk. The screen was about 1/4 the size of modern cinemas, and the surround sound was not THX Certified. They just had speakers around the theatre that gave the illusion of a 5.1 audio soundtrack. Regardless, I have fond memories of seeing such epic films as Jurassic Park, Titanic and The Matrix in this theatre.

Monster mega theatre

Compare that to the movie theatres on steroids that exist now: With 20 screens, 500 seat theatres, and endless food options (I’m talking to you Burger King, Pizza Pizza and YogenFruz). No longer is picking a movie experience a simple choice, you need to decide if you want to see it the normal way, VIP, Ultra AVX, IMAX, IMAX 3-D, or D-Box, . It also can cost upwards of $20 dollars to see a movie depending on how many bells and whistles you would like. And that’s without all the snacks and other garbage you can buy. The studios and theatres wonder why people are spending more money on home theatre systems and staying home. I’ll tell you why, it’s much easier to sit on my couch infront of my 42″ LCD TV with surround sound these days than it is to drive through suburbia, navigate myself through the food court to the theatre that seems further away than the moon and attempt to watch a movie with 15 year olds on their iPhones texting throughout the movie. And don’t get me started on the 20 minutes of advertising before the movie…

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing an epic action flick like Transformers in all it’s HD glory on a massive screen with amazing surround sound. But at the end of the day, I still miss the simple movie going experiences I had as a kid. Maybe someone will bring back the simple theatre, where it’s about the movie and not all the other stuff.

How do you feel about the movie going experience of today vs. in the past? Leave a comment below.

The 5 Best Canadian TV Shows made before 2000

Being a Canadian kid in the 90’s was sometimes difficult. Growing up we never had Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or MTV. We were deprived of channels and shows that we heard about but couldn’t get access to. What’s a kid to do? Luckily, we had some great homegrown TV shows that helped us fill our time with good natured fun. While Americans are familiar with Degrassi, when it comes to many other great kids TV shows they have no idea what childhood gems they missed. Some of these did air in the U.S., but were never as popular as American shows. Here are a few Canadian made TV show that I really liked and still do. What are your favourite Canadian made shows?

Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High

Not that remake, were talking the original series here people. With Spike having her baby, Joey Jeremiah getting some guy to buy him beer, Snake as an awkward teenager, the Twins and their abortions. You know, all the usual examples of drama the average Canadian teen grows up experiencing. There is so much to love here. The hair, the “real” life story-lines, and if you live in Toronto, the many locations used for the show. You can watch episodes online here, thanks PBS!

Fast Forward

I completely forgot about this show until I started writing this article. It aired on Family Channel I believe. It’s been so long I can’t even remember anything about the show other than I liked it. Here’s the IMDB description:

Tucker and Becca are close friends. So close that they live next door to one another with facing second story windows and share a birthday. Tucker is at times an absent minded goof-off while Becca tends to be opinionated and in a hurry to grow up. Now in middle school, they find themselves caught in everyday events that turn into comical adventures. Throughout the show, Tucker, Becca, and their friends speak directly to the audience, telling the story as they remember how much more simple everything was when they were five. If they can survive junior high, then their friendship can survive anything.

Ready or Not

This show followed Busy and Amanda through the drama of growing up. I don’t know why I liked it, maybe because they are having so much fun in the photo booth. Stop judging me! I do remember though when I worked at McDonald’s, they had a Crew (that’s McD’s speak for employee) magazine that featured the time Lani Billar (Busy) came to a McDonald’s. And this was years after the show. Isn’t that exciting!

Popular Mechanics for Kids

This was an awesome show that gave us insight into the world of technology and cool stuff. They had a wicked episode about Islands of Adventure before it opened. Jay Baruchel was one of the hosts, and so was Elisha Cuthbert. I loved her. Seriously. Then she was in a bizarre TV movie called Lucky Girl and the awful but hot The Girl Next Door. Now she’s on Happy Endings which is awesome! Jay became part of the Judd Apatow crew and was in Undeclared and the great movie She’s Out of My League.

Breaker High

This was about a high school on boat and the hijinks of the teens that went there. Hmmm…sounds alot like The Suite Life on Deck doesn’t it? Regardless, it starred a pre-movie star Ryan Gosling and Tyler Labine who’s always “that guy” in tons of movies but you don’t know his name. I remember hearing this show might be cancelled and joining a petition on the web to keep the show alive. Were talking like a Geocities website here. Wow, I’m dating myself.

3 Cheesy-awesome Halloween movies from the 90’s

As the leaves start changing colours and the temperature dips, I instantly snap into Halloween mode. This time of year I read about all the haunted houses all over the country and wish I could build one on my front lawn. As a kid, I did have fog machines and dry ice for Halloween and would try to conjure up a pretty cool lawn display. Plus all the television shows and movies that help celebrate the season. I’m too old to trick-or-treat, but I’m not to old to curl up in a blanket to watch some of my favourite Halloween movies. Everyone has their own favourite movies for Halloween, some love the classic “Nightmare on Elm Street”  or “Friday the 13th” films, while others like the latest flick hitting the theatres like “Paranormal Activity 3.” I love tons of movies, the type that are full of cheese, spectacle and awesome storytelling. Many films hold a special place in my heart that I can’t explain. I simply love them. Generally were made in the 90’s. I have a very long list of Halloween favourites, but these three movies I must watch every year. They take me back to my childhood, being a kid and not having to worry about jobs, money or what the future holds. Plus, have you ever met anyone who can say these movies suck? Check it out and let me know your favourite movies to watch for Halloween.

Hocus Pocus

Out of every movie made for Halloween, “Hocus Pocus” is the best. It’s over the top, hilarious and has a great storyline. The film stars Omri Katz of “Eerie Indiana” fame, along with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najiimi. It usually plays a billion times on television during October, especially on The Disney Channel. Unfortunately for us in Canada, we don’t get Disney Channel. Thank goodness for DVD or Family Channel, the half assed version of Disney Channel. This is the type of movie that gets better the more times you watch it, and seeing it now as an adult it’s fun to notice some of the inappropriate jokes that fly over your head as a kid.


Sleepy Hollow

A fantastic movie starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci based on the Washington Irving short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Expertly directed by Tim Burton, this stunning film visual qualities he’s known for and is simply one of the best mood setting films for Halloween. It’s also on of his best films. And bonus points because Johnny Depp is awesome!

Halloweentown 

Out of all the Halloween movies I love, this is by far the cheesiest and over to top film. The basic plot: Marnie learns she’s a witch and must save Halloweentown from something evil. It’s a Disney Channel movie that came out in the late 90’s. It was so popular it spawned 2 sequels. Even though the acting is awful and the movie has that low budget, made in Canada TV movie look, it’s pretty fantastic! Definitly gets me in the Halloween Spirit!

Is Dixon on “90210” headed down the same path as “Jessie Spano”?

If the new “90210” had not become on of the most ridiculous shows on television by now, tonight it has. It goes like this: Dixon is trying to pump out some beats for a record producer that he’s meeting in the morning, but can’t focus. In comes his roommate who offers him some ADHD medication to help him stay focused and awake. Now I’m not saying this idea is super original or that it was stolen, it just takes me back a bit. Instantly another show comes to mind, if you haven’t figured it out yet read on. I’m sure this is a setup for some sort of meltdown later in the season, and I’m hoping it’s exactly like one of the best episodes of “Saved By The Bell” entitled “Jessie’s Song.” If you have never been blessed to see this epic story, Jessie is studying for the SATs and needs to stay up late to study. She’s also trying to make it big in her pop group “Hot Sundae” with friends Lisa and Kelly. So much pressure that she comes to rely on caffeine pills to stay up and study all night. (Not caffeine pills!) Zack and Slater find out and are not happy, which results in a majestic meltdown that lives on as one of my favorite moments on television. See below for video. Seems so tame compared to the issues they show on television these days! What’s your favorite television moment of all time?

The 5 best “Are You Afraid of the Dark” episodes

Are You Afraid of the Dark” is an immensely popular kids show from the mid-1990’s that is cited as one of the all time favourite shows for Generation Y. Personally, I can watch episodes of this show over and over, never getting tired of the “Midnight Society” and cheesy 90’s-ness of the whole thing. I’m proud that it’s Canadian, and that it’s become such a popular show over the years despite being over 10 years old now. I have never heard anyone speak badly of it, and it tends to come up as a favourite with many people when speaking of favourite kids shows.  Nickelodeon in the U.S. will beairing it on “TeenNick” as part of their “the 90’s are all that” nighttime broadcast slot. It stirs my emotions in the same way as “Saved By The Bell” and “Full House“. Reflecting upon the show now, it’s the type of show that would not be made in this day in age. Some of the themes are very dark and scary for kids. Goosebumps was created to fill the gap for tamer fare in same kids horror genre, but it never lived up to the standard set by “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” I recently downloaded the entire series from the web. I intended on purchasing them, but DVD copies are out of print and fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay. In case you weren’t aware, the show had 5 original seasons, went off the air, then had a revival for another 2 seasons. While the original series is amazing, the revival never lived up to the original premise of the show. Regardless, in the spirit of nostalgia, here is my countdown of the best 5 episodes of the show. You’ll notice they are from the first season, as it’s best and more frequently aired.

“The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors”: Emma and Dayday Toll suspect that their new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Braun and their son Lex, may be vampires when people in town start to get sick. The Brauns are originally from Eastern Europe, wear black, collect blood, and only are active at night.

This episode scared me so much as a kid that I still have thoughts of vampires flying through my window in the middle of the night. As a kid I would sleep with the blankets wrapped around my neck so that if they did get into my house, they couldn’t suck my blood. Super creepy!

“The Tale of the Lonely Ghost“:  A girl, Amanda Cameron, goes to stay with her Aunt Dottie and desperately wants to be friends with her snotty cousin, Beth, and her group of friends agrees to spend the night in the haunted house next door, which is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a preteen girl, to become part of the group. Beth’s nanny tries to warn Amanda to stay away from that place.

This episode comes to mind everytime I think of the show. It’s such a touching story, not as scary as many other episodes. It also has the girl from “Ready or Not” so it gets bonus points.

“The Tale of the Phantom Cab”: Two brothers, Denny and Buzz Crocker, get lost in the woods, and come across a mysterious cab driver, Flynn, and a very unusual man, a reclusive backwoods scientist by the name of Dr. Vink, who won’t let any of his victims go unless they solve a riddle: “What is it that has no weight, can be seen by the naked eye, and if you put it into a barrel, it will make the barrel lighter?”

This episode is excellent because it introduces us to an awesome character named Dr. Vink. He makes appearances throughout the series and is always fun to watch.

“The Tale of the Pinball Wizard”: Campbell, a mischievous kid who is obsessed with pinball, finds himself trapped in the mall at closing time after he loses track of time when working at a repair shop for Mr. Olson—and the protagonist of a real life pinball game. He must use all of his skills to escape the enchanted mall and save Princess Sophie, but soon learns that he is not the only one playing.

An excellent episode that takes place in a mall and always reminded me of the Stoneroad Mall in Guelph, ON.

“The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: Berkham, a high school outcast, awakens an ancient secret hidden in the school about an evil wizard named Goth after a lesson with Dr. Oliver. After his friend, Alix, discovers what’s going on and is the only one that knows, and it’s up to her alone to not only save Dean, but stop him from releasing the evil sorcerer.

The coolest part of this episode is the secret swimming pool and the sorcerers staff, which always reminded me of  the one that”Jafar” had in the Disney movie “Aladdin.”