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My Trip to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

All Photographs are taken and edited by me. 

I had the pleasure of “vacationing” at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure last week. I use the word vacation very loosely; I am absolutely exhausted. And all I could think of is the scooter tipping episode of South Park. Well played, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, well played.

Besides the scooter tipping, it really was a great time, and the Harry Potter parks are absolutely breathtaking. The amount of detail is impeccable. Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, you can appreciate the detail and hard work that went into these parks.

As a self-proclaimed film buff, it was fun for me to find some Easter eggs. I am not talking the obvious Hogwarts castle or the Jurassic Park entrance, I am talking the subtle references to films found in the New York side of Universal.

1. Mel’s Drive-In:

Okay, so this is probably one of the biggest landmarks in Universal. But I have to say, most people did not know (especially young kids) knew where this reference came from. And for those of you reading this article, it’s from American Graffiti.

2. Kitty Kat Club: 

Another ode to classic films is the Kitty Kat Club, or the Kit Kat Club used in Cabernet.

3. Stillman’s Gym:

Stillman’s gym is a real-life famous boxing gym in New York City, known for its unsanitary facilities and the famous boxers who trained there. However, this gym is also a reference to two classic films Somebody Up There Likes Me, the autobiographical film about famous boxer, Rocky Graziano. And was also host to a musical number in the film, Its Always Fair Weather.  

4. Louie’s and Genco Imports:


 

Louie’s and Genco Imports are references to the Godfather Trilogy. Scenes where the rise and murder of the mafia and corrupt police officers take place.

5. Hudson Street Home for Girls:


The Hudson Street is not only a home for girls, but is home to one of the most famous redheaded orphan, Annie. Hudson Street is a reference from the musical and movie, Annie.

6. Priscilla Hotel:

 

The Priscilla Hotel is home to the film Thoroughly Modern Millie. Millie moves into the hotel for single ladies in hopes to marry rich. Times never do change, do they?

7. Adrienne’s Pet Shop:

 

I stared at this for a long time, convinced that this was a definite reference to a film. I looked it up, and found out that this (although, a terrible reference) is a reference to the film Rocky. In the film, Rocky’s future wife Adrien works at a pet shop. I appreciate the effort, but her name is spelt incorrectly and the pet shop she work at was called J&M Tropical Fish. 

8. Embryo Books:

This reference is a tricky one. Embryo Books is actually a reference to an Audrey Hepburn musical, Funny Face. In the film, she is a book store clerk at an obscure bookstore, Embryo Concepts. Hepburn’s character is discovered by a fashion magazine photographer and is catapulted into the modeling industry with her unique, somewhat nerdy look.

9. Blues Mobile:

I know, just like Mel’s, I’m kind of cheating. But, this is a classic prop and, admittedly comes from one of my all-time favorite movies. The Blues Brothers, is a film based on a Saturday Night Live skit, and would have to be the best film to come out of SNL.

After visiting Universal and seeing all these references, I quickly came home to sit down and watch them. Next time you are in Universal, check out all the old references, I bet you can even spot some Jaws references in Harry Potter.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

Valentines Day is the one day of the year you are required to either do something nice for your loved one, or be reminded that you are still single. 

In my opinion, this day is awfully commercialized and quite frankly, you should not have one day or one reason to do something nice for your significant other. Furthermore, if you are single, don’t worry about it, and definitely don’t make others feel bad about being in love and being with their significant other (because they don’t care what you think anyways). Don’t be a hater.

Film always makes me feel better (whether or not it’s a holiday). But there are some films I would recommend you not watch on this day. Purely for the sheer fact that they are terrible movies, a total misrepresentation of love or the science disputes it.

1. The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)

These films portray a sickening manipulation, control and stalking in the guise of love.

2. Fifty Shades of Gray (2015)

Twilight is the reason we are plagued with Fifty Shades of Gray.

3. Titanic (1997)

Jack could have fit on that door with Rose.

However, there are other films that are (in my opinion) fantastic films about love, break ups and everything in between. There are way more films that are great representations, but for now, here are few:

1. Annie Hall (1977)

This is a film that shows us opposites attract, but they can certainly lose their magnetism after awhile. Little idiosyncrasies become painful annoyances. The film shows us that although it’s hard to go through relationships, it’s necessary to learn and grow from them, other than dwelling and obsessing over them.

2. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
This film shows us that there are always warning signs in relationships, and we can be so blind to them, only realizing those signs after the relationship.

3. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

It’s true, male and females cannot just be friends. Just ask Harry and Sally.

4. Casablanca (1942)

The ultimate sign of love and the age old statement: “If you love something set it free.”

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This film is a priceless example of: if you knew how terrible the ending would be, would you still do it? Do the good times completely outweigh the horrible times?

6. The Princess Bride (1987)

Classic fantasy film that shows us true love conquers all – except for a nice MLT.

9. West Side Story (1961)

This film is classic for all times; that no matter where a person comes from, what they look like and the prejudice they may face – love is always more powerful than hate.

These films show us that people and love are not perfect but, it’s worth the heartache.

No One Is Safe From Mel Brooks’ Comedic Genius 

Mel Brooks is a comic genius. He’s a writer, actor, producer and director. He makes fun of everyone; no matter if you are male or female, young or old, black or white. No one is safe from Mel Brooks. 

1. The Producers (1967)

The Producers is Mel Brooks’ first film. It stars Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The film is about a Broadway producer (Mostel) and an accountant (Wilder) who come up with idea that they could make more money with a flop on Broadway than with a hit. They find their flop – a play that is a love song to Hitler and the Nazi party.

The screenplay is one of the funniest that Brooks has ever written. Not only does he make fun of the Nazi party and Broadway, but little old ladies are the butt of the joke as well. And let’s not forget unintelligent apartment landlords who, quite honestly all wear the same night gown, shower cap and curlers in their hair.

The song and dance number of the sure fire flop “Springtime for Hitler” is just one example of Brooks’ humor at one of the most infamous hate groups:

“Don’t be stupid, be a smarty. Come and join the Nazi party.”

2. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein is a wonderful screenplay written together by Wilder and Brooks. It stars Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn and Teri Garr. The film is about the relative of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein and how he reanimates a monster.

During the movie, the character of Frau Blucher is an ugly old woman, the running joke is that she is so ugly and horrible, that even the animals know and can’t stand to hear her name:

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Goodnight, Frau Blucher.

[horses whinny]

This film makes fun of old horror films as well as uptight women, horrible, ugly women, neurotic men, and don’t forget – sex with monsters.

3. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor and several others penned the screenplay. It stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder and Harvey Korman. The film is about an African American sheriff who is sent (under false pretenses) to help get rid of corruption in a town, only to find out that the corruption leads him to the very man who appointed him as sheriff.

This film combats racism in the only way a Mel Brooks film can, with comedy. Not one group of people; young or old, straight or gay, hate groups, government officicals were left out the comedic antics of this film. 

4. History of the World Part 1 (1981)

Mel Brooks penned the screenplay for this film. The film stars Mel Brooks, Gregory Hines, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn and many more. The film recites historical events from the Bible all the way to the French Revolution.

Brooks makes fun of history and the social issues that would have appeared at that particular time. As well as taking a stab at historical stories such as Oedipus.

One scene Brooks and Hines’ characters are trying to escape, a beggar is outside and greets Hines’ character:

Oedipus: [walking around collecting donations] Give to Oedipus! Give to Oedipus! Hey, Josephus!

Josephus (Hines): Hey, Motherf***er!


5. Spaceballs
(1987)

Mel Brooks penned the screenplay with Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham. Spaceballs starred Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis, John Candy, Bill Pullman and Joan Rivers. The film is a parody of the Star Wars franchise as well as all Sci Fi movies.

Mel Brooks made fun of a widely popular franchise by not only just parodying the characters and storylines, but the behind the scenes drama of the infamous merchandising rights of the Star Wars franchise.

One of the ending scenes is one of the truest statements – especially with today’s Star Wars obsession:

Lone Starr: I wonder, will we ever see each other again?

Yogurt: Who knows? God willing, we’ll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money.

Why The Original ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ Is Better Than The Remake

Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Just in case you haven’t seen films that came out in 1956 or 1978. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a serial in Collier’s magazine written by Jack Finney. The original was directed by Don Siegel and the screenplay was written by Daniel Mainwaring. The remake was directed by Philip Kaufman and the screenplay was written by W.D. Richter.

Most of the time remakes are terrible. I don’t have to bring up the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho….

However, the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is noted by most critics as one of the best horror remakes of all time. I do not disagree. I do think that there are certain scenes in the original (1956) that makes it better than the remake.

In the original film, the main character Dr. Miles J. Bennell, played by Kevin McCarthy (Twilight Zone) is in a doctors office at the beginning explaining why he was hysterical and trying to warn people. The entire film is based on his recollection of events. Some may disagree with me on this method of story telling, but I think it works for this film. It portrays more anxiety of the main character, pleading with others to believe him. The end is him finally ending his story. The doctors are shown to be as skeptical as he was at the beginning of his story, but finally believe him when they hear of a truck with large seed pods had tipped over.

A scene from both films show multitudes of people (or, rather, aliens) carrying pods to and from trucks. It is implied that they are spreading the pods. I am all for visual story telling, however, the original film did this scene with more of a sense of horror.

Multitudes of people are lining up in the center of town. Three big trucks full of pods park in the center. The police chief stands up, and gets on a megaphone. He instructs the crowd to go to certain trucks based on the towns that a person in the crowd has family living in. This scene portrays more horror and fear because the invasion has gotten hold of family members, people you love and trust, and they are walking right into their family’s homes. It also gives better insight in regards to how they spread the pods and invasion.

I do like one element that the remake does. I watched the remake before I watched the original and there is a scene in the remake that is pretty clever and also a fun fact. At the end of the original, the main character, Miles, is running from the towns people of and makes it to the highway and starts shouting and running into cars like a mad man. The towns people looks on and says that no one will believe him. 

In the remake, the main characters (Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams) are driving in their car when a throws himself on their car shouting warnings of invasion. The same actor who played the main character in the original is the mad man in the remake. Very clever, Philip Kaufman. 

If you have not seen either, I recommend both film. Decide which one you prefer. 

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