I’m not sure exactly what was going through the various heads and brains of Mercury’s marketing department back in 1989, but whatever it was, it seems pretty dire. Or sinister. Or, lets’s be honest here, a bit, um, hellish. I mean, look at that Grand Marquis up there! That was the first big two-page spread of the car, the Panther-platformed swankier sibling to the Crown Vic, resplendent in vinyl tops and opera lights and absolutely velour-saturated inside. So why show it in what looks to be a brimstone-smelling hellscape? Actually, this crimson wasteland reminds me of something really specific from a decade before this brochure was printed, something strange and puzzling from, of all places, Disney.
Back in the late 1970s, every movie-producing entity saw Star Wars and realized they needed something to compete, pronto. Even juggernauts like Disney. So, Disney released their big sci-fi Star Wars-fighter in 1979, the deeply peculiar The Black Hole, Disney’s first PG film and also one of their, um, scariest? Or at least creepiest? It was loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest but took place in deep space and had Ernest Borgnine and some floating robots:
It’s weird. But, more specifically, if you’ll forgive the spoilers for a movie that has been out since before the Reagan Era, the ending is what reminds me of that Mercury ad. Look:
It’s not ever made explicitly clear where this scene takes place, just the implication that it’s through the black hole, the main villain and his robot have somehow merged, and it sure as hell seems like, well, hell.
I do have to say I loved the goofy-cute robot designs in here. They floated, had big funny eyes, and one, the old beat-up model, was voiced by Slim Pickins, here giving you a moving robot death scene:
Dying robots, Mercuries, vague visions of hell: I sure know how to get your day started, huh?