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Tag Archives: Cult Classic

February 17

February 17, 1995 – The Live-Action Feature Film Heavyweights Premieres in Theaters


“I’ve gotta ask you something, something very serious: are you ready for the best damn summer of your life?”

On February 17, 1995, the live-action feature film Heavyweights premiered in theaters. The film was part of a partnership deal Disney had with Caravan Pictures. Although the film was not a box office or critical success, it has since garnered a cult following. The film was written by Steven Brill and Judd Apatow and directed by Brill. It stars Aaron Schwartz as Gerry, Ben Stiller as Tony Perkis, Tom McGowan as Pat, Shaun Weiss as Josh, Kenan Thompson as Roy, Leah Lail as Julie, Paul Feig as Tim, and Tom Hodges as Lars.

The film begins on the last day of school, and overweight teen Gerry has a miserable time getting home: he misses his bus, gets mocked for being unable to throw a baseball over a fence, nearly gets attacked by a dog, and scares small children by drinking all of their lemonade. When he arrives home, he is greeted by his parents and a salesman named Roger Johnson in a strange sort of intervention-type meeting. Mr. Johnson is there to talk about Camp Hope, although Gerry doesn’t want to go to camp. After watching the informational video, Gerry is almost sold on the idea – until he finds that it’s a “fat camp.” Gerry refuses to go, but finds himself on the next flight to the camp. On the plane, he meets fellow camper Roy, who reassures him that Camp Hope is awesome. After getting off the plane, Gerry meets the fellow campers, as well as camp counselor Pat, and starts to realize that camp is going to awesome.

The bus arrives at Camp Hope, with everyone unaware of what danger the summer will bring

The bus arrives at Camp Hope, with everyone unaware of what danger the summer will bring

As they arrive at camp, Gerry is ready for fun and adventure, until he sees a foreboding sign at the gate of a camper shaking his head and looking morose. He soon forgets about it as he gets himself situated. He notices the other campers teasing a counselor named Tim, who Roy explains used to be fat, but has lost the weight; Tim however, has a great sense of humor about it, and nearly embarrasses himself in front of the pretty new nurse, Julie. Julie walks up to Pat and introduces herself, but Pat is nervous in front of her and makes a fool of himself. He helps Gerry take his belongings to the cabin, and tells him that he’s staying in the best cabin in the camp: Chipmunk. Inside, Roy talks to Josh, a godfather-like figure in the camp. Josh gives Gerry the nickname “Captain” thanks to the pair of wings a stewardess gave him, then shows him around the cabin, including where they keep their secret stash of junk food.

The day continues with fun activities, and concludes with a meeting with the Bushkins, the owners of the camp. However, the Bushkins have an important announcement to make: they are no longer the owners of the camp. They sadly say their goodbyes and leave as the new owner introduces himself with a flashy entrance: fitness instructor Tony Perkis. The kids aren’t exactly receptive to his arrival, and the arrival of his staff. Pat is then kicked out of the Chipmunk cabin and replaced by fitness instructor Lars, who tries to bond with the campers, but comes off rather terrifying instead. The morning is no better, as the campers wake up to a strange motivational speech from Tony. The first exercise session with Tony is an unmitigated disaster, with the campers unable to stay upright. The campers also head to their first weigh-in, and are given their weight loss goals. During swimming lessons, Lars tries to hit on Julie, but she politely rebuffs his advances.

Pat greets the head of Camp MVP, and asks him to go easy on the Camp Hope kids

Pat greets the head of Camp MVP, and asks him to go easy on the Camp Hope kids

Tony then sets up a game with the nearby sports camp, Camp MVP, and Tim relays his misgivings. The game is another disaster for Camp Hope, with almost every camper being sent to the nurse. That night, Tony conducts a raid on the cabins to find the secret stashes of junk food. As Tony interrogates Gerry as to who brought the food into the camp, Josh decides to “tell the truth” and humiliates Tony. The next morning, the campers wake up to find Josh gone, and rumors run rampant about the camp, ranging with him being homeless, to being in jail, to being dead. Gerry sends a letter to his grandmother, relaying how the camp has become hell, with the dismantling of the go-carts and other fun activities, as well as the bad food. Tony arranges a dance with the nearby girl’s camp, hoping to humiliate the boys into losing weight. The dance is uncomfortable, with the boys and girls just staring at each other. Pat talks with Julie, and it seems that a romance is budding between the two. When Julie asks him to dance, he nervously responds that he can’t, and walks away. Tim, fed up with the mood of the dance, decides to take matters into his own hands and start dancing, figuring that if he starts dancing, everyone will want to join in. Pat joins in to try and impress Julie, and the boys start dancing just to have fun. The girls then decide to join in, and everyone starts mingling. However, Tony soon calls an end to the dance once he sees everyone having a good time.

Later that night, Gerry sits in one of the broken down go-carts, lamenting his summer. Pat finds him and tries to cheer him up. Gerry admits that he was really excited about the go-carts, as he wanted to be fast for the first time. Pat then pushes Gerry in the go-cart, unaware that Julie is watching him with a smile on her face. As the boys sleep that night, the door suddenly opens, and Josh reappears. Although he first tricks the campers into believing he’s had a lobotomy, he tells them that Tony kicked him out, but as his father is a lawyer, Tony had no choice to bring Josh back. When he finds that Tony took all the junk food, Josh comes up with a plan to steal the food from Tony’s cabin. As the campers raid the cabin, they can’t find the junk food, but instead find all of their letters to their families. After they narrowly escape the cabin, the boys find a fellow camper eating a hamburger in a bathroom stall. They find that there’s a secret food stash in the woods: with the right amount of money, a counselor will go buy the food and drop it in a hollow stump. A few days later, the boys have their midway point weigh-in, and Tony is angered to find that the kids have gained weight. Tony has a minor freak-out in front of the kids, and tells them that they’re heading on a twenty-mile hike the next morning.

As Gerry tries to cheer up Pat, the two come up with separate plans on how to stop Tony

As Gerry tries to cheer up Pat, the two come up with separate plans on how to stop Tony

After Tony humiliates Pat in front of the entire camp, Gerry finds him later and tries to cheer him up. Pat tells Gerry to get the boys through the hike, while Pat, Tim, and Julie will find a way back at camp to stop Tony. The hike begins, and the campers struggle to get through it. As Pat, Tim, and Julie struggle with a plan, they finally get an idea when Kenny the cameraman complains that Tony owes him a lot of money. The boys come up with their own plan to get rid of Tony, and trap him in a pit in the woods. They return to camp victorious, and keep him locked up in the shed. The kids take over the camp, and celebrate with a giant campfire party with all the junk food they can get their hands on. The next morning, however, Pat makes them realize that they really need to learn to take control of themselves before they can take control of the camp. Between fun exercises and healthy cooking classes, the kids start to have fun while becoming healthy. On Parents Day, Gerry greets his parents and shows them around the camp while Nicholas goes to give Tony his meal. Tony tricks Nicholas and gets his way out of the cage during the presentation to the parents. Meanwhile, the parents are shown a video of what has really been going on at camp. The parents are horrified, and wonder why their kids never said anything.

Tony crashes the presentation, and Gerry stands up to him. When Tony threatens Gerry, Gerry’s father punches him. However, after Tony attacks back and tries to do some impressive backflips, he knocks himself out. Tony’s father quickly arrives and takes him home, and offers to close up the camp. The kids protest, and Tony’s father offers to keep the camp open if a responsible adult will be in charge. Pat is the one put in charge, and the camp turns back into the Camp Hope it once was. It is then time for the Apache Relay, the main competition between Camp MPV and Camp Hope, and this year Camp Hope just wants to have fun with it. In the first event, the obstacle course, Camp MPV takes a strong lead, but Camp Hope is able to quickly catch up. In the second event, the Hall of Intelligence, Camp MVP falls far behind, leaving Camp Hope a chance to catch them and move ahead. Gerry prepares for the final event as the driver of the go-cart, and is sent flying through the woods as the Camp MVP player plays dirty. Although he struggles, in the end, Gerry is able to fly over the MVP cart and finish in first place, winning Camp Hope the trophy for the first time in history. Pat then kisses Julie, and the camp celebrates. Gerry then thanks Pat for the “best damn summer of [his] life.”


July 16

July 16, 1993 – The Live-Action Feature Film Hocus Pocus is Released to Theaters


“Oh, come on! It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus!”

On July 16, 1993, the live action feature film Hocus Pocus was released to theaters. The film used computer graphics to create the illusion of a talking cat, and the flying scenes were done with wires on a soundstage in the Disney Studios. There is a Beauty and the Beast cameo in this film, as one child trick-or-treats as Mrs. Potts. Although the film garnered mixed to negative reviews on its release, it has since become a cult classic on video, and has been shown on ABC Family for its Halloween television events to a rather large audience of at least 2.5 million. The film was directed by Kenny Ortega; the story was written by David Kirschner and Mick Garris, with screenplay by Mick Garris, David M. Evans, and Neil Cuthbert. It stars Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson, Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Omri Katz as Max Dennison, Thora Birch as Dani Dennison, and Vinessa Shaw as Allison.

The film begins in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. Thackery Binx wakes to find that his sister Emily is missing, and runs to the woods, as the witches that live there have kidnapped her. Although he tries to save her, he is too late, as Emily has taken their potion, and they steal her life. Since he spilled their potion, preventing them from stealing more lives, the lead witch, Winifred Sanderson, turns him into an immortal black cat, having to live with his guilt for all eternity. The town takes the witches outside and hangs them, but before they die, the witches cast a spell that will bring them back on a Halloween night when a virgin lights a special black flame candle.

Max, new to the area, doesn't believe in Halloween, nor does he believe in the Sanderson witches

Max, new to the area, doesn’t believe in Halloween, nor does he believe in the Sanderson Witches

In 1993 Salem, the tale of the Sanderson Witches is still being told in class, and Max Dennison, who is new to the area, doesn’t believe a word of the tale. He is told off by another student named Allison when he reveals his belief that Halloween was created by candy companies, but is rejected when he gives her his phone number. Things get worse when he runs into two bullies in the cemetery on his way home, who steal his shoes. He is then forced to take his sister Dani trick-or-treating, where they run into the bullies again. Max and Dani get into a fight, but quickly make up. They arrive at Allison’s house to trick-or-treat, and the three decide to check out the old Sanderson house, which was once a museum, but closed due to many mysterious occurrences. Still thinking the Sanderson sisters are a myth, Max attempts to light the candle before he’s attacked by a black cat. However, he lights the candle, and the flame turns black.

Max, Allison, and Dani hide inside the house as the sisters return to life. Although overjoyed to have returned, they begin to wonder who lit the candle. When they attempt to kidnap Dani and use their spell on her, Max intervenes, but Winnie quickly overpowers him. Allison and Dani quickly attack the witches, freeing Max, who confuses the three by setting off the sprinkler system. He takes the book before he leaves, and the three kids quickly leave, with the witches in quick pursuit, although the witches quickly get distracted by modern inventions, including paved roads and fire trucks. Winifred explains to her sisters that they only have until sunrise to take the lives of the children of Salem, or they will turn to dust. Max, Allison, and Dani, following a talking black cat (Thackery) to the cemetery, which Thackery explains is hollowed ground. He then tells them that the legend is true, and he is doomed to live his life protecting the candle, making sure no “airheaded virgin” lights it on Halloween night. He then vows to be ready to face the Sandersons for what they did to his family three hundred years ago.

The witches arrive at the graveyard, ready to take the book away from the kids

The witches arrive at the graveyard, ready to take the book away from the kids

Just as Thackery finishes his explanation, the witches appear in the sky on their broomsticks. Winifred tries to take back her book, but Thackery prevents it by sitting on it. As the witches can’t catch the kids, Winifred brings back to life her former lover Billy Butcherson, whom she tasks with retrieving the book. The kids escape into the sewer, and the witches begin their plan of kidnapping children, using a bus driver’s help. They are confused by the tradition of children dressing up in costumes, and soon confuse a man dressed as the Devil as their master. Max, Dani, and Allison also run into trouble, as they try to tell a man dressed as a police officer what happened, although it’s just a man in a costume. They then run to the Town Hall to find Max and Dani’s parents, asking for help, although their parents don’t believe them. The witches then arrive at the party and bewitch all the parents into dancing until they die. The kids escape, with Billy and the witches in hot pursuit, but Allison gets an idea to take the witches to the high school.

At the high school, the kids trick the witches into the kiln in the art department, where they burn them alive. Thinking they’ve won, the kids celebrate, and head back to the Dennison’s. While they sleep, the witches leave the kiln, fried but still alive. They encounter the bullies when they search for the three, and kidnap them, trapping them in cages in their house. Winifred calls out for her book, and when Max and Allison decide to look at the book, it lets out a special light that alerts Winifred to its location. The witches travel to the Dennison’s, grab the book, and kidnap Dani and Thackery. As the witches travel back to their house, Sarah begins singing her enchanting song, magically hypnotizing the children of Salem to travel to their house. Max and Allison realize they only have until the morning to save Dani and the children, and come up with a plan. Max arrives just in time to stop Winifred from feeding Dani the potion, and tricks the witches into thinking the sun is rising. After freeing Dani and spilling the potion, the kids escape and drive away.

The sisters look at the remaining potion and bottle it up to use specifically on Dani

The sisters look at the remaining potion and bottle it up to use specifically on Dani

The sisters realize they’ve been tricked and bottle up the remaining potion, as Winifred wants to kill Dani specifically, in revenge for Dani calling her “ugly.” The witches quickly catch up with the kids, and they drive to the cemetery, where they run into Billy Butcherson. After cutting his mouth open, Billy explains that he wants nothing more than to see Winifred turn to dust, and helps keep the kids safe in his grave. The witches arrive at the cemetery to retrieve Dani, but Max readies himself with a baseball bat, although it proves ineffective against Winifred. Allison uses salt against the other witches while Winifred knocks Billy’s head off. Dani leaves the grave to help Billy find his head, which gives Winifred a chance to grab Dani. She forces Dani to drink the potion, and Thackery quickly jumps to the rescue, knocking the potion into Max’s hand. Seeing this as the only way to save Dani, Max drinks the potion. Winifred grabs Max and begins to suck his life away, although he squirms and struggles.

Max struggles enough to send Winifred flying from her broom to the ground, dropping Max as well. As she begins to suck the life away from Max, she has sucked enough life to turn into stone as the sun rises. The two other sisters turn into dust, as does Winifred, and Thackery is allowed to die, free from the curse. Max and Dani reunite and hug, and Billy returns to his grave. When Dani discovers Thackery’s body, she starts to cry, but soon spies Thackery’s spirit in the graveyard, letting her know that she helped to free his soul. His sister Emily appears, calling to him, and the two walk away together into the sunrise. All of the witches’ spells are broken, and everyone is free – except for the bullies, who are still caged in the Sanderson house.