11 Delightfully Dated '80s Magazines

The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive scans magazines and puts them online. It's amazing what you can find in a collection of vintage magazines.

1. Commodore Computer Club, 1982

What it was: An Italian magazine about Commodore computers, complete with early-'80s models hanging around with computers.

Representative quote: "Ma alla fine la bella principessa (Federica Moro, miss Italia '82) se ne innamora pazzamente e fugge lontano col piccolo computer." Roughly translated: "But eventually the beautiful princess (Federica Moro, Miss Italy '82) falls madly in love and runs away with the little computer."

Surprising appearance: Scantily-clad ladies posing with... Commodore computers.

Strangest cartoon: A New Yorker-style cartoon, roughly translated: "We now interrupt your word processing for a series of short advertisements." This was well before the advent of Clippy.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

2. Starlog, 1988

What it was: Starlog was the place to find Star Trek and other sci-fi coverage from the late '70s through 2009.

Most easily answered headline: "Will they kill off Denise Crosby?" It was May of 1988, a heady time when Betteridge's Law of Headlines didn't always apply.

Weirdest article: A six-page feature trying to explain what the heck Beetlejuice would be. Horror film? Comedy? All of the above?

Most dated merchandise: Collectibles from the TV miniseries V. Behold:

Fan club I sincerely wish I had joined: Star Trek: The Official Fan Club. According to the ad, it came with an embroidered patch!

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

3. OMNI, 1986

What it was: OMNI was a brilliant magazine, fitting nicely into the category of "best thing you probably never read." It was part science, part speculative fiction, with great art (of all kinds) and big thinkers.

Best correction: "CORRECTION: To all our readers who noticed that the Dead Sea Scrolls were printed upside down in 'Will We Become a Lost Civilization?' [Continuum, September 1986]: Yes, we goofed."

Surprising appearance: A quiz entitled Can You Talk to the Animals? on page 54. It encouraged the reader to dial a 900 number to hear animal sounds, in order to participate in "the first national experiment in interspecies communication."

Strangest ad: An ad for a Guardian-brand stun gun, complete with freaked-out assailant, typos ("it's [sic] kind"), and the suggestion that it makes a great gift.

Second strangest ad: Dude in an argyle sweater vest who wants you to dream your way to success:

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

4. PC Computing, 1988

Most 1988 sidebar: "PCs & Perestroika." Note that this is the December 1988 issue. A year later, the Berlin Wall fell.

Representative quote: "The fire-breathing power of an 80386 processor in a transportable computer is something to set your spirits aloft, but watch out for the crash: you can forget about light weight, reasonable price, and—for the most part—battery power." From page 93, the beginning of a long review of 386 portables, which also says: "These machines can turn the figures in your account books magenta. Ranging from $6,595 to $7,999 without added-cost options like modems, external floppies drives, and the like..."

Most dated article: Fast Talkers: 2,400-bps Modems, highlighting new modems with price tags from $599-$699. Note that in the 1990s, modem speeds would rise to 56,000-bps (56k) as their cost plummeted.

Weirdest pull-quote: "I used to call my staff and have them round up all the data. Now I get it myself—me and my mouse." —Robert Schoonmaker, shown clutching a keyboard. Where's his mouse?

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5. Today's Woodworker, 1989

Representative quote: From a section entitled Today's Wood (ahem), "When using properly sharpened cutting tools, you'll discover that ash is rather easy to plane, saw, drill and chisel. However, its tendency to splinter when dull tools are being used is less forgiving than with many species. Ash also offers outstanding staining and finishing qualities."

Most progressive article: New Angles for the Futon Sofa-Bed. It's an astonishingly complex walkthrough of how to build your own, uh, futon sofa-bed. Sample quote: "I use Zar's Wipe on Tung Oil finish."

Best/worst pun: An article entitled, What's in Store: The Blade Runner. Sample quote: "It is intended for cross cutting or ripping pieces that are 31" or shorter...." Ahem. No, it's intended for retiring replicants.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

6. Radio Electronics, 1982

Representative quote: Under the heading "Pocket Computers," we get this: "Once thought of as an impossible fantasy, a true computer that you can slip into your pocket is now a reality. Four such units are now available, with two more on the way." Here's is what one of the devices looked like (not pictured is the optional snap-on printer!):

Most awkward photo: This woman carrying a "truly portable" Osborne 1 computer. It weighed 23.5 pounds. (For the record, it really was an amazing machine in its day.)

Craziest project: Complete instructions to make your own "video titler," a device to add text and graphics (sort of...) to your home videos. It's many pages of hardware assembly, in order to create the "baseball" graphic shown below, on the right. This was pretty amazing in 1982.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

7. Comedy, 1980

Best article: Believing in Buster, an oddly moving profile of two women obsessed with Buster Keaton. Sample quote: "...A remarkable set of documents emerge—transcriptions of her conversations with Keaton's, uh, spirit, in the worldly form of a Ouija board. They are genuine, she assures me."

Most inconvenient truth: in the Sit-Com ratings, we learn that Three's Company is beating M*A*S*H.

Most dated ad: Video Shack, Inc. (with various locations in New York) advertises that "Now, the movies come home to you." Of course, the selections are available on both Beta and VHS.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

8. The Space Gamer, 1989

What it was: The Space Gamer was all about sci-fi/fantasy games, with a special emphasis on role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS.

Most boundary-crossing article: The Electric Knight: Introducing High Tech Into Fantasy. It suggested bringing "energy lances" and "light swords" into fantasy role-playing games—which, let's face it, is totally fine. But my 11-year-old self would've hated it.

Most period-appropriate game: It's a tie between RPGs based on Ghostbusters and Willow. Behold:

Best ad: "Do monsters haunt your dreams?" Now they will.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

9. Ares, 1980

Best informational table: From the article No, You're Not Going to the Stars, this table explains relativistic effects of space travel, among other things. The whole article is great, including the quote: "Where you get the anti-matter is a good question in itself." Indeed.

Best game: WorldKiller, a complete role-playing game published right in the magazine. It's impressive, and includes the instructions: "Open the magazine to the center, bend the staples with a penknife or screwdriver, life out the rules and close staples." Boom, you just bought a game for three bucks and got a magazine for free!

Most negative review: In the Film & Television column, Scott Bukatman rips into Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He just hates it, calling it "Roddenberry's moralistic fortune cookie." Bukatman has a point, but when he calls it an "empty, joyless film" he loses me.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

10. The American Woodworker, 1985

Yeah, I know, another woodworking magazine. They were big in the '80s! And this one is classy.

Coolest project: The Birth of a Whale Cradle, an article (plus detailed instructions) on how to build a cradle (or LP holder) with playful whale ends. It's adorable, and it actually seems possible to make.

Most awkward ad: Christian Becksvoort selling his book, In Harmony With Wood. The problem is that he left off the price, though he did include the $2 shipping fee. These days you can get it for $7.95 from Amazon.

Weirdest armoire ad: Why does an armoire need to be anything more than an armoire? I guess the "or just a closet" bit seems to handle that all right.

Least helpful pull quote: From The Basics of Steam Bending, this pull quote doesn't add much:

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

11. Famous Monsters Film Fantasy Yearbook, 1982

What it was: I'm just going to put this out there: This is not a good magazine. It's amazing. Famous Monsters is basically a poorly-written summary of all the year's best (and/or goriest) movies, with a lot of awkward ads thrown in. I suppose the idea was that if you had seen the movie but wanted to re-live it (remember, most of us—especially kids—didn't have home video at the time), you'd read this silly thing.

Best/worst ad: This is really a tough call, but I have to give it to the $9.95 Dracula soil. Yes, this claims to be one gram of soil from Dracula's castle in a pendant (well, technically it's Vlad the Impaler's castle, but still). Limit three per customer. Just under 10 bucks. Look:

Second worst ad: Yoda Cap & Indiana Jones Action Figure! I was squarely in the target market for both of these products, and I can tell you right now, there was no way 4-year-old me was going to put on a frickin' Yoda Cap, despite the choices of "green, yellow, red, and royal blue" for kids. The Indy action figure? Maybe.

Worst pun in a headline: Ouch.

Second worst pun in a headline This is almost good, but no. No. (I do give them points for an interview including some info about Richard Donner's involvement with Superman II, though.)

Worst action figures: These guys. Wow.

Read this magazine online, courtesy of The Internet Archive.

All images courtesy of The Internet Archive.

10 of the Best Indoor and Outdoor Heaters on Amazon

Mr. Heater/Amazon
Mr. Heater/Amazon

With the colder months just around the corner, you might want to start thinking about investing in an indoor or outdoor heater. Indoor heaters not only provide a boost of heat for drafty spaces, but they can also be a money-saver, allowing you to actively control the heat based on the rooms you’re using. Outdoor heaters, meanwhile, can help you take advantage of cold-weather activities like camping or tailgating without having to call it quits because your extremities have gone numb. Check out this list of some of Amazon’s highest-rated indoor and outdoor heaters so you can spend less time shivering this winter and more time enjoying what the season has to offer.

Indoor Heaters

1. Lasko Ceramic Portable Heater; $20

Lasko/Amazon

This 1500-watt heater from Lasko may only be nine inches tall, but it can heat up to 300 square feet of space. With 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings—for high heat, low heat, and fan only—it’s a dynamic powerhouse that’ll keep you toasty all season long.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Alrocket Oscillating Space Heater; $25

Alrocket/Amazon

Alrocket’s oscillating space heater is an excellent addition to any desk or nightstand. Using energy-saving ceramic technology, this heater is made of fire-resistant material, and its special “tip-over” safety feature forces it to turn off if it falls over (making it a reliable choice for homes with kids or pets). It’s extremely quiet, too—at only 45 dB, it’s just a touch louder than a whisper. According to one reviewer, this an ideal option for a “very quiet but powerful” heater.

Buy it: Amazon

3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heather; $79

De’Longhi/Amazon

If you prefer a space heater with a more old-fashioned vibe, this radiator heater from De’Longhi gives you 2020 technology with a vintage feel. De’Longhi’s heater automatically turns itself on when the temperatures drops below 44°F, and it will also automatically turn itself off if it starts to overheat. Another smart safety feature? The oil system is permanently sealed, so you won’t have to worry about accidental spills.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Aikoper Ceramic Tower Heater; $70

Aikoper/Amazon

Whether your room needs a little extra warmth or its own heat source, Aikoper’s incredibly precise space heater has got you covered. With a range of 40-95°F, it adjusts by one-degree intervals, giving you the specific level of heat you want. It also has an option for running on an eight-hour timer, ensuring that it will only run when you need it.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Isiler Space Heater; $37

Isiler/Amazon

For a space heater that adds a fun pop of color to any room, check out this yellow unit from Isiler. Made from fire-resistant ceramic, Isiler’s heater can start warming up a space within seconds. It’s positioned on a triangular stand that creates an optimal angle for hot air to start circulating, rendering it so effective that, as one reviewer put it, “This heater needs to say ‘mighty’ in its description.”

Buy it: Amazon

Outdoor Heaters

6. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy; $104

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Make outdoor activities like camping and grilling last longer with Mr. Heater’s indoor/outdoor portable heater. This heater can connect to a propane tank or to a disposable cylinder, allowing you to keep it in one place or take it on the go. With such a versatile range of uses, this heater will—true to its name—become your best buddy when the temperature starts to drop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater; Various

Hiland/Amazon

The cold’s got nothing on this powerful outdoor heater. Hiland’s patio heater has a whopping 40,000 BTU output, which runs for eight to 10 hours on high heat. Simply open the heater’s bottom door to insert a propane tank, power it on, and sit back to let it warm up your backyard. The bright, contained flame from the propane doubles as an outdoor light.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Solo Stove Bonfire Pit; $345

Solo Stove/Amazon

This one is a slight cheat since it’s a bonfire pit and not a traditional outdoor heater, but the Solo Stove has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon for a reason. Everything about this portable fire pit is meticulously crafted to maximize airflow while it's lit, from its double-wall construction to its bottom air vents. These features all work together to help the logs burn more completely while emitting far less smoke than other pits. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants both warmth and ambiance on their patio.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dr. Infrared Garage Shop Heater; $119

Dr. Infrared/Amazon

You’ll be able to use your garage or basement workshop all season long with this durable heater from Dr. Infrared. It’s unique in that it includes a built-in fan to keep warm air flowing—something that’s especially handy if you need to work without wearing gloves. The fan is overlaid with heat and finger-protectant grills, keeping you safe while it’s powered on.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Mr. Heater 540 Degree Tank Top; $86

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Mr. Heater’s clever propane tank top automatically connects to its fuel source, saving you from having to bring any extra attachments with you on the road. With three heat settings that can get up to 45,000 BTU, the top can rotate 360 degrees to give you the perfect angle of heat you need to stay cozy. According to a reviewer, for a no-fuss outdoor heater, “This baby is super easy to light, comes fully assembled … and man, does it put out the heat.”

Buy it: Amazon

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15 Halloween Movies for People Who Don’t Like Horror Movies

Peter Boyle and Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein (1974).
Peter Boyle and Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein (1974).
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

As soon as the first cool breeze blows a few crunchy leaves off their branches, horror fans come crawling out of the woodwork, eager to indulge their love of every movie that features a chainsaw, a massacre, or a chainsaw massacre. Meanwhile, people who prefer to celebrate Halloween without having to sleep with the lights on return to a few safe favorites—classics like Hocus Pocus (1993), Beetlejuice (1998), and The Addams Family (1991). While your steel-nerved friends are busy with slashers and scream queens, here are 15 gently spooky movies for you to check out.

1. Halloweentown (1998)

What Bette Midler did for Hocus Pocus, Debbie Reynolds does for Halloweentown (though, regrettably, Reynolds doesn’t get a chance to show off her singing chops beyond the odd incantation). The Singin’ in the Rain star plays a kooky, kindly witch whose three grandchildren follow her to Halloweentown—home to every magical creature imaginable—and battle evil forces with their newly discovered powers. The film was first released as a Disney Channel Original Movie, and it quickly became a fan favorite among ’90s kids. Unsurprisingly, Disney happily capitalized on this success: By 2006, three sequels had been made.

2. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s 2014 mockumentary—the basis for the equally hysterical FX series of the same name—follows a few wacky vampires trying to navigate roommate conflicts, nightclub dynamics, and other modern-day situations without drawing attention to their more murderous predilections. Not only will the film have you screaming for mercy (due to laughter, not pain), it’ll also make it impossible for you to ever fear a vampire again. Warning: Though the movie is undoubtedly a comedy, there is a lot of blood featured.

3. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Mel Brooks’s 1974 mock horror film stars Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, a doctor who has spent his life trying—and failing—to distance himself from his embarrassing elder relative. The younger Dr. Frankenstein reluctantly takes a trip to Transylvania to scope out his inherited castle and ends up embroiled in experiments that involve several creepy servants (played by Cloris Leachman and Marty Feldman, among others) and, yes, an undead monster. Wilder is wild-eyed, wild-haired, and side-splittingly hilarious throughout the film, making this a must-see for everyone who thinks all horror films should actually just be comedies.

4. The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical been acclaimed as a feat of theater for more than 30 years. But not enough people appreciate Joel Schumacher's 2004 film adaptation, which boasts earnest performances by Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, and Gerard Butler (plus Minnie Driver in a standing-ovation-worthy supporting role). It’s not exactly a ghost story, since the titular phantom is a real man, but it does have plenty of eerie organ music, secret passageways, and possibly the best underground lair of all time.

5. Practical Magic (1998)

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as spirited sister witches with cursed love lives (literally—their beaus always die young) in this big-screen adaptation of Alice Hoffman’s beloved novel. One accidental murder and an ill-advised resurrection spell later, the pair ends up being investigated by a dashing, steely-eyed detective played by Aidan Quinn. Think Gilmore Girls, but with magic.

6. Death Becomes Her (1992)

Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play aging frenemies who toss back questionable cocktails from the enigmatic Lisle Von Rhuman (Isabella Rossellini), who promises them wrinkle-free eternal life. They soon find out that “alive” and “not dead” aren’t exactly the same state, and plastic surgeon-turned-mortician Ernest Menvill (Bruce Willis) scrambles to keep them from (quite literally) falling to pieces. It’s equal parts campy and macabre, complete with creaky old mansions and dark stormy nights.

7. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Some films may have a bloodthirsty talking plant, a sadistic dentist, or Rick Moranis, but the 1986 remake of 1960’s Little Shop of Horrors is the only one with all three. Said dentist, by the way, is played by Steve Martin, and Levi Stubbs lends his bluesy baritone to the plant. Bill Murray and John Candy both make memorable cameos, and Tisha Campbell heads up a ’60s-inspired trio that narrates the action, Greek chorus-style. Did we mention that everyone is constantly singing?

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)

Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 children’s book, this enchanting movie from a couple former Studio Ghibli filmmakers tells the story of a girl who stumbles upon a magical flower and gets carried off to a witch’s school in the sky. She has to fight a few evildoers, of course, but the film overall exudes the same curative charm as Ghibli projects like Howl’s Moving Castle (which easily could’ve landed on this list, too).

9. Scooby-Doo (2002)

Everyone’s favorite inarticulate Great Dane and his meddling friends head to a theme park called Spooky Island to investigate possible demon activity. The mystery itself is mildly engaging, but the cast’s commitment to their caricature-ish roles is what does the heavy-lifting for this goofy movie: Linda Cardellini as Velma; Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne; Matthew Lillard as Shaggy; and Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred. And in case you forget mid-movie that this takes place during the early 2000s, Sugar Ray’s beach concert should help you remember.

10. Van Helsing (2004)

This kitschy monster mash features Dracula, Frankenstein, Mr. Hyde, some werewolves, and Kate Beckinsale’s Transylvanian accent. The unifying factor is Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing, an upstanding monster assassin with the swagger of Robin Hood and the general vibe of Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. It’s almost as if writer/director/producer Stephen Sommers (best known for 1999's The Mummy) challenged himself to see how many monsters he could fit into one film in the same way that you might stuff your cheeks full of marshmallows. The result is just as entertaining.

11. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

A devilish stranger named Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) shows up in a small Rhode Island town and promptly begins seducing three local friends, played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon. As the women grow closer to their mysterious new man, they start to discover some latent powers of their own. (Their hair also gets significantly bigger, which seems to be some stylistic indication that magic is afoot.) The film isn’t scary, but it will teach you not to enter into a polygamous relationship with a man who keeps hinting that he’s the devil.

12. Corpse Bride (2005)

The Tim Burton-produced The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) has all the obvious trappings of a Halloween film—pumpkins, skeletons, monsters, a town called “Halloween Town,” etc.—but his 2005 fantasy Corpse Bride is just as spooky. Through almost no fault of his own, a spindly young groom ends up married to a dead, maggoty maiden, who leads him through the underworld to help him get back to his real bride. It’s very Gothic, vaguely Orphean, and much more quirky than scary.

13. Beautiful Creatures (2012)

In modern-day South Carolina, a teenage “caster” (as in spellcaster) races to break a curse that will determine whether she’s good or evil as soon as she turns 16 years old. Listening to Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons drawl in syrupy Southern accents is a good enough reason to watch this box office flop, and the fact that there’s a giant spell book with shadowy ink spilling from its pages (among other seasonally appropriate special effects) justifies doing it around Halloween.

14. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

When a doe-eyed young woman (Susan Sarandon) and her clean-cut fiancé (Barry Bostwick) run into car trouble, they happen upon a creepy old castle that they hope has a working telephone—so far, pretty predictable. What follows is anything but. Inside, a self-described transvestite named Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) is hosting various ghoulish punks for the Annual Transylvanian Convention, where he debuts a glistening, muscly boy toy of his own creation. Innocence is lost, the Time Warp is performed with gusto, and this film (which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year) is not appropriate for young kids. It is, however, appropriate for Halloween.

15. The Witches (1990)

If 1991’s The Addams Family and its 1993 sequel made Anjelica Huston a Halloween icon, 1990’s The Witches set her on that path in the first place. It’s a Jim Henson-produced adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel, and Huston plays an elegant, cackling witch with big plans (namely, to transform all children into mice). By next year’s holiday, you’ll be able to compare Huston’s performance to Anne Hathaway’s—as she’s reprising the role in a remake tentatively scheduled for 2021.