Posts tagged monsters
Posts tagged monsters
Can we just be honest with ourselves here and admit that Universal Studios made some of the best classic horror films of all time?
We can? OK, good. Let’s continue with the article then.
Around the time Universal’s poorly-received monster mash-up Van Helsing was released, the studio decided to be extremely awesome and release “Legacy Collections” of their most popular horror franchises. And I ate them up like candy.
I only have three on my collection now, but I dare say they’re three of the best.
I’ve mentioned in passing before that I’m a huge fan of The Wolf Man. I definitely prefer him to, say, Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster, because his entire mythology is so much more fascinating. Pity the remake was a pile of wank.
The Wolf Man was written by Jewish writer Curt Siodmak in 1941, right after he escaped Nazi Germany. Obviously, the whole “Hitler wants to kill Jews” thing shook him up a bit, and got his creative juices flowing. The Wolf Man, in turn, is really a terrifying satire on the uprising of the Nazis (if you think about it). Plus, Lon Chaney Jr. Nuff said, guys.
The Invisible Man is a ton of fun to watch, simply because of Claude Rains, who plays the titular Man. His voice is booming and demands to be heard, and his dialogue is brilliant and terrifying (“We’ll begin with a reign of terror, a few murders here and there…”). Plus, the whole “he’s invisible” gimmick is done mind-blowingly well, considering this movie was finished in 1933.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon is also great fun, especially considering its two fsequels actually create a trilogy chronicling the Creature’s story, instead of just three unrelated movies starring the same monster. And as much as I love the Gill-Man, I still find him more of a sci-fi monster, like the Xenomorphs or the Predator, than a horror monster like the Wolf Man.
No hard feelings, Gill-Man.
These DVD sets would be awesome if they included nothing but the one movie by itself, but Universal went above and beyond. The Wolf Man set includes three extra films (including the phenomenal Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), The Creature set includes two, and The Invisible Man set includes a walloping four!
If nothing else, the box designs looks great, especially for Halloween. If my Mood Table wasn’t so small, I would’ve stood them up and made them month-long decorations. I guess I can settle with just watching them, of course.
I feel like once I hunt down and buy the Frankenstein set, my collection will be complete (I was never a huge fan of Dracula, and I prefer the ‘99 Mummy over the original…haters gonna hate.)
Spoilers: Party City is the winner.
"Wait, Steve," asks nobody in particular. "How can you be so sure?"
Because the very first thing I saw when I first stepped foot into this Halloween paradise was this:
Nope. Done. That’s it. At that exact moment, I knew that Party City was the victor. There was no more competition. Party City was Michael Phelps and every other party store were water noodles. Everything else beyond the inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was going to be just toppings on the cake.
And continuing with that analogy, holy crap, this was the most delicious cake I’ve ever seen.
Party City is actually pretty boring for ten months out of the year. Even Christmas can’t necessarily make it worth strolling into. But come September and October, Party City transforms. It doesn’t just throw some Halloween stuff onto the floor and call it a day, it freaking EVOLVES.
Skeletons hanging from the ceiling. Animatronic zombies popping out from the ground. Spiderwebs literally everywhere. Party City is now Halloweenville USA. Population: a very happy Steve.
Let’s take a tour, shall we?
Zombies have been big for a while. Then The Walking Dead aired, and zombies freaking exploded. If, by any bizarre chance, you’ve forgotten how enormous zombie are in pop culture, Party City will remind you. Make-up, plastic signs, window clings, assorted body parts…zombies are the monster for 2012.
Look up. Where are you? You’re in a graveyard, on a planet without gravity, with skeletons and grim reapers floating in the sky.
It doesn’t take you very long to get to Mona Lisa of Party City: The Costume Wall. Don’t lie to yourself. You know every single time you walk past this thing, you spend five minutes just staring at it. Even I can’t help but gawk, and I don’t buy prepacked costumes anymore.
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, you can’t find the costume you’re looking for on the Costume Wall. Party City’s totally got you covered. See, all of their costumes are stored in the back, leaving the rest of their store plenty of room for props, costume pieces, make-ups, wigs, and literally anything else you could possibly need to make almost any costume ever.
Aisles and aisles of stuff, guys. Even if you don’t plan on trick-or-treating or whatever, this place is still paradise for actors, cosplayers, or people who are socially awkward. You want something for your costume? Move to Party City.
What’s that? You’re asking for masks? All of this awesome stuff, and you want more? Fine, you greedy bastards.
All along the ceiling are masks. Dozens of ‘em, in all shapes and sizes. You want a creepy skeleton demon mask? Check. You want a hilarious giant chicken mask? Check. You want a Bart Simpson mask? Check, but…why?
Now, I’ve mentioned that weapons are important to me when it comes to Halloween stores. The whole “quality vs quantity” thing is thrown around a lot, and I guess I can agree. If a Halloween store only has a few select weapons, but those weapons are amazingly awesome, I can let that slide.
Party City’s got weapons. And more. Lots, lots more.
You know what’s amazing about Party City? It’s inexpensive. And I don’t mean “cheap”, I mean “Spirit-quality Halloween stuffs that’s half the price.” It’s the win-win-iest of win-wins.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Party City wins. Hands down, bar none. Crammed to the roof with the best Halloween stuff around, plenty of costumes to choose from, more decorations and props than you can shake a proton pack at…Party City is the definitive Halloween store around. Six out of five eyeballs.
And, hey, remember this?
I love you, Party City.
Happy October, all!
This countdown is a tad bittersweet. I have the bizarre feeling that this is going to be my last great Halloween for a while, simply because I’m growing up so fast. I’m going to be 23 next year, despite the fact that I normally act like I’m 7. Jobs and school will take over a large portion of my life, even more than they do now. It’s all creeping up on me so fast, and it’s kinda freaking me out.
So how will I find time to surround myself with the Halloween spirit when I’m so busy doing adulty things? Enter the Halloween Mood Table ™:
Monsters that Scared Steve as a Kid:
The Headless Horseman
This one is perhaps the most random and specific.
As a kid, I read Wishbone books. They were my crack, OK? Well, one of my favorites was an extra-long “Super Adventure” titled called…well, it was called The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But, dude, I kid you not, it scared me. Of course, when I was a kid, I wanted to dive deeper into the things that scared me. So I became addicted to anything and everything Headless Horseman.
Including sneaking into the Tim Burton movie, the first and last R-rated film I ever snuck into as a kid. It scared me so freaking much. In fact, I distinctly remember covering my eyes and ears for most of it, only peeking my head out for scenes that took place in the daytime. I never actually properly saw the film until much later, but…yeah. The Headless Horseman scared me.
Even the cartoon version from the Disney flick scared me! And that incarnation is embarrassingly laughable by today’s standards.
Man, I was a pussy kid…
Monsters that Scared Steve as a Kid:
Remember when I said that, as a kid, dinosaurs were my number one obsession? That’s only partially true. Dinosaurs were 50% of my elementary school obsessions. The other 50%?
I have no clue how I began my obsession with aliens. It might’ve been a bunch of books I bought from the book fair (remember those?) about alien abductions. Or maybe it was various terrifying episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. Doesn’t matter. Aliens scared me to death.
I think it was because, unlike mummies or trolls or demons that zombify people, aliens could have existed. In fact, in my little elementary school brain, they did exist! How else could you have explained all of those bizarre testimonies and freaky as shit hypnosis sessions?
Different victims had different stories. Some people said they simply blacked out for four hours after seeing a strange light in the sky. Others say they were hypnotized, sliced open, bitten, experimented…gah. Knowing that it’s possible for creatures to just pop out of nowhere and do this kinda crap to you at a moment’s notice? Terrifying.
Monsters that Scared Steve as a Kid:
I was approximately 12 years old when I first watched the first Evil Dead flick.
That was a very big mistake.
That was back before I knew The Evil Dead was a bit of a campy flick. Not intentionally, of course, but it was still made by a bunch of 20-somethings with a tiny budget.
Man, this movie was a freaking trip. The creepy loud POV shots of the demons flying through the woods creeped me out, and the raping tree also scarred me for a while. But those Deadites…what the hell, Raimi?
It was the make-up! The blank white eyes! The maniacal, dubbed-over laughter! They were clawing at people, biting at people, sticking pencils into ankles! And just a few minutes ago, they were Ash’s best pals!
That’s the thing that still kinda creeps me out about the Deadites: they’re like zombies, except you can’t kill them. Ash uses a shotgun, a dagger, a shovel, and anything else he can get his hands on to fight them off, and they just. Keep. Coming. Back.
Zombies are tough. I get that. I’m still scared of zombies, scouts honor. But zombies are slow and brainless, and a swift smash to the skull will end them for good. But with Deadites, it’s the Necronomicon or nothing (again with the cursed books). And if the pages of said Necronomicon go missing, or are torn to little bits, or whatever…you’re pretty damn hosed.
Along with the rest of the human race.
Damn, Deadites, you scary!
Monsters That Scared Steve as a Kid:
This is a new segment for the Countdown. They’ll be mini articles, like the Micro-Machines of this blog. Let’s begin, shall we?
When I was nine, I saw The Mummy. Wow, that movie was awesome. It was everything a nine-year-old wanted from an action flick: it had an epic mythology, sword fights, ancient curses, and cat-and-mouse chases, all wrapped up in an Indiana Jones-styled package. This movie was my holy grail at nine.
However, this guy…holy shit.
Nowadays, it’s almost laughable. The CGI in ’99 clearly can’t hold a candle to what’s possible today. Duh. But back then, Imhotep (the titular “mummy”…come on, guys, keep up) was still just the scariest thing.
The scene where Evie is reading from The Book of the Dead and the decaying, rotten corpse of Imhotep literally roars back to life like an undead gorilla was one of those “Whelp, time to hide under the blankets like a pussy” moments of my childhood.
Then there was the fact that he could crawl on the ceilings like Spider-Man and suck the life force out of people! Ugh…I swear I peed due to fright the first time I saw that.
Oh, and who can forget that time he stole Burns’s eyes and tongue…and then came back to drain his body of its fluids?!
Considering I was still watching Muppet Babies at nine years old, this sort of movie monster was total nightmare fuel.
The Cabin in the Woods is still one of my favorite 2012 films so far.
And this marketing campaign for the DVD release is bloody brilliant.
I think September 18th officially begins the Halloween season, wouldn’t you say? Prepare for the Countdown!
So I had to drive about an hour away from my city to stop by very remote GameStop the other day. The reason: that was where the only used copy of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in the entire state of Michigan was located. It was a journey that tested my very humanity, but I finally had the precious game in my hands.
See, I had played Wind Waker a long time ago. Borrowed it from a friend. He took it back and I never played it again. With my brand spankin’ new used Gamecube chilling in my room, I knew that I needed a brand spankin’ new used game to go with it. Wind Waker was that game.
However, this article isn’t about Wind Waker (that will be a much longer post filled with happiness and exclamation points). Nay, this is about the Toys R Us that was right next door to the GameStop, and the pretty awesome stuff I found there.
See, I’ve been out of the loop for a while when it comes to kid toys. I have no clue what the kids are into anymore. There was this thing called “Beyblades” that was hip for a while, I think, but now it’s something called “Bakugan”? I don’t even care. It’s all silly stuff that I would’ve never played with as a kid.
However, deep within the confines of this Toys R Us were…
TOYS I WOULD HAVE PLAYED WITH AS A KID
Stinky Little Trash Monsters
I wasn’t into the Garbage Pail Kids growing up, but I was into Meanies. Does anyone remember those bad boys? They were basically spoofs of Beanie Babies, which were insanely popular at the time. They had such wonderful creatures to collect, like the “Velocicrapper” and “Floaty the Dead Fish.” This little guy is named “Preemie.”
Yup. I ate those things up with a spoon as a young, impressionable child.
My point is that I’m no stranger to the “gross/bizarre” toys that are marketed to young boys. We are, after all, made of snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails. Guys like sick stuff.
I’m not sure the Stiny Little Trash Monsters live up to their names, but they are pretty cool. They each come in their own trashcan and have stickers attached to their bellies that are supposed to represent their insides.
The “gross” factor is still there, but it’s much tamer than it was when I was a kid. I’m alright with that, though, because 7-year-old me would’ve still wanted to collect all of these guys.
Any guy who was born in the late 80s/early 90s remembers Creepy Crawlers. They were my “thing” in the family when I was young: my sister had Polly Pocket, my brother had Sonic the Hedgehog, and I had Creepy Crawlers. I made so many of those stupid sticky bugs and plastered them all over the house, constantly trying to reenact the commercial by freaking out my sister. It never really happened.
This box looks like it’s straight from the 90s, complete with the original logo and dark, colorful Creepy Crawler-making machines. This was, again, trying to cash in on the “boys like icky stuff” notion, and I played right into their hands.
My parents stopped buying me Creepy Crawlers after my fifth one got stuck in the carpet…anyways, moving on.
RETRO SONIC THE HEDGEHOG TOYS
Sonic the Hedgehog was the character that got me into gaming oh so many years ago. I played every single one of the games (Except Knuckles’ Chaotix. Even as a kid I wasn’t interested), watched the cartoon religiously, and even read the comics. However, I never did have a Sonic plushie. Lord knows I would’ve wanted one.
This is nice because, in an attempt to help sell (the rather brilliant) Sonic Generations, Toys R Us and Sega have been releasing retro Sonic toys. I’m insanely tempted every single time I see one to just buy it. Because I like my blue hedgehogs to be short, plump, and have black eyes. Modern Sonic just isn’t my Sonic…
Anyways, speaking of which, go play Sonic Generations if you haven’t yet. It’s pretty fun and filled with nostalgia.
UNIVERSAL MONSTER PLUSHIES
I wasn’t crazy into classic Universal horror as a kid, but damn am I now. However, there was no Wolf Man in sight, so I passed on these.
IRON MAN WEARING CAP’S MASK
This has nothing to do with anything. Just thought it looked funny.
KENNER STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES
As a child, I loved Star Wars. All of them, but especially Return of the Jedi. I had playsets, Legos, action figures, toy lightsabors, a ton of model ships…it was amazing.
Then Phantom Menace came out and suddenly it wasn’t cool to like Star Wars anymore. That didn’t stop me from having my B-Wing and Slave I duke it out in a dogfight to the death.
Anyways, these Kenner action figures are now being sold in the old-school packages, which delights the hell out of my inner child. Example, this guy is a B-Wing Pilot. He has no name and, aside from the fact that he pilots one of my favorite ships in the series, he means nothing to me.
But I was still tempted to buy him just to stare at the box he was in.
I figured I wouldn’t have to talk about this as much, because you can’t walk into the video game section of any store without seeing this set-up. As an adult, I can see that this is all a scheme to get parents to spend a ton of money on unnecessarily-expensive toys that really don’t add much to the game.
But as a kid…this would’ve been my new Pokemon. It’s literally perfect for kids: Kids love collecting stuff. Kids love monsters. Kids love video games. And kids love toys. This combines all of these aspects into one epic money-grabbing game.
Don’t make that face. You know if you were 8-years-old you would be begging for all of these. And if you don’t think you would, think about that time you cried because your mom wouldn’t buy you that Beanie Baby you really wanted.
Skylanders is one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen for kids in a long time. However, this list has been building up to something. A toy I saw that literally made me do a double take. I would’ve wanted it as a kid, and I want it now.
TEST TUBE ALIENS!
Guys, out of everything on this list, this is the one I wanted the most. They’re aliens that you raise in a plastic test tube. They’re like Sea Monkeys and those stupid “it grows in water” toys you see in dollar stores, only better!
But look at this box. Just look at it. The premise is so simple, but the box says “No. This is important and amazingly awesome. You need this Test Tube Alien.”
Again, there are six gruesome aliens that you can collect. However, upon further research, I discovered that there were six more you could find. And these new six aliens were “pure evil” and fought the “good” aliens.
Ignore the phallic cocoon this guy is in. Because, according to the box, once you add water, the cacoon will dissolve away and reveal an infant alien. Inside of this alien are lights in the chest and brain that will freaking glow once it’s hatched, representing a brain and a heart.
Like…there is so much more I could go into, but holy crap I need these now.
There’s a whole backstory to these guys, too. And each little alien has their own name and bio. The guy I was drawn to was a little blue dude named Spron, who, according to the back of his box, “uses his beady red eyes for human mind control.”
I dunno, this was the sort of crap I was into as a kid. Creepy monster stuff that had a backstory , like Skannerz. Anyone remember Skannerz? Talk about an epic marketing campaign! I think I even still have mine…
Aw yeah! These things were awesome!
Anyways…I’m seriously gonna go back and buy one of those Test Tube Aliens. Maybe even two, just for kicks. I’m glad that there are toys out there that still rely on and fuel a child’s imagination, and aren’t just there to sell movie tickets.
MINI MUGGS NICK FURY
Because I spent a ton of my money on Gamecube games earlier that day (I regret very little), I didn’t want to spend too much money at TRU. I settled on a little Nick Fury toy, part of the Mighty Muggs line. I’ll be honest, I never saw the appeal of the Mighty Muggs. They looked silly and weren’t as cool to collect as, say, MiniMates or the Hasbro 3 inch figures.
But I picked this fella up today, not because I’m a particularly big fan of Fury, but because I want him around in case I have a really stupid day. I can look at him and pretend he’s inviting me to be a part of the Avengers Initiative.
I’m a little pathetic, but I’m OK with that.