Dinosaur Dracula!

7 of my favorite kaiju. Well, kinda kaiju.

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When you hear the word “kaiju,” your mind probably drifts to Godzilla, or to the creatures from Pacific Rim, or maybe to the monster from Cloverfield. It’s all stuff like that, right?

But see, “kaiju” just means “monster,” and by that definition, there sure are a lot of them to celebrate… even if we adhere to the extended definition of a very large monster.

Here are seven kaiju — or kinda kaiju — that don’t hit these lists nearly as often as they should.

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#1: GORAX!
The Ewok Adventure, 1984

The Ewok Adventure is way better than you’ve heard. The first of two made-for-television Star Wars movies starring tons of Ewoks, this one sent two crash-landed youths searching for their parents with the help of everyone’s favorite droid-worshipping teddy bears.

It turned out that said parents were being held captive by the Gorax, a gnarly beast that was at least 30 feet tall. In the film, camera tricks and special effects did little to hide the fact that the Gorax was just some guy in a goofy ogre costume, but that’s kind of what made it such a great monster. That thing could really move!

There’s only one Gorax in the film, but supplemental materials indicated that there were actually a fair number of them, roaming Endor and looking for trouble. Since certain Goraxes are over a hundred feet tall, they have no problem wreaking havoc on the Ewoks’ treetop villages.

Coolest thing? While Goraxes do eat Ewoks (and stranded humans), they’re just as interested in keeping them in cages… as pets. (more…)

Ranking the Elm Street VHS Box Art!

A long while back, I ranked all of the Friday the 13th films based strictly on the merits of their VHS boxes. It was only natural that I’d do the same for Freddy Krueger!

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That’s my weird goal for today, and it isn’t as pointless as it seems! As I’ve mentioned before, videocassette boxes used to be of utmost importance. When we were cluelessly wandering video stores looking for anything that looked interesting, “great box art” often trumped movie reviews, word-of-mouth advertising and even TV commercials. This was especially true in the horror genre, where we weren’t even aware of many movies’ existences until we saw them sitting on the shelves of Ma and Pa’s Viddy Yo Emporium.

Before I start, some ground rules:

1. I’m not including Freddy vs. Jason or the remake. (Freddy vs. Jason is too much a “shared entity” to fit in, and I don’t think the remake even had a VHS release.)

2. Remember, these rankings are based on box art alone. I’m trying to toss aside everything I know about the movies to do this. If NOES was new territory, which boxes would grab me most?

3. With the Friday the 13th series, the quality ranged from “blah” to “awesome.” By contrast, even the “worst” NOES box is still pretty good. A low-ranked box definitely doesn’t indicate suckage.

Off we go! (more…)

Obscure Nightmare on Elm Street Playset.

One of the coolest A Nightmare on Elm Street toys… technically has nothing to do with A Nightmare on Elm Street.

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Bear with me. This’ll take a little explaining.

In 1988, Tonka launched a small line of Wrecking Crew toys. These were various construction vehicles that could plow over and/or straight through break-apart playsets, affording kids the chance to do what they did best: Smash shit.

With such a simple gimmick and a nearly generic look, very few people remember the Wrecking Crew series. That’s unfortunate, because hiding deep in the line was an awesome and unmistakable nod to none other than Freddy Krueger.

Seriously!

Shown above is the Abandoned School House Playset. It might not look very remarkable now, but once I show you the finer details, you’re gonna flip. (more…)

Five Ghoulish Ghostbusters Goodies!

Thanks largely to the media blitz surrounding its 30th anniversary, Ghostbusters seems hotter than ever. You know how I’m always saying that every Halloween season has “one thing” that ultimately sets it apart from every other Halloween season? In 2014, it’s gotta be Ghostbusters.

Let’s review. The movie returned to theaters. Krispy Kreme made some legendary donuts. There’s more GB merchandise now than ever before, since “doodad makers” have the luxury of catering both to kids and to old idiots like me. Tack on the confirmation of a new movie, and yeah, it’s been a great few months for GB fans.

All of the buzz inspired me to do one last Ghostbusters post before Halloween, so here are five random GB items from my collection. I’ve had some of these things for years, but most were recent pickups. You reading about them justifies me buying them, so thanks in advance!

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#1: Stay Puft Glow Mask! (1986)

I admit that I paid too much for this mostly-broken Halloween mask, but how could I resist? It’s Stay Puft! And, to the best of my knowledge, it’s pretty rare.

Cheap, plastic masks remind me of my earliest Halloweens, back when the ol’ mask-and-smock combo was the In Thing. (You know the kind. You’d get a crude plastic mask based on your favorite cartoon character, along with what was essentially an enormous lobster bib.) Had I spotted this Stay Puft gear back in ‘86, I most definitely would’ve been a Marshmallow Man for Halloween.

It’s worth noting that there isn’t a face this mask would fit. Even imagining myself with the head of a four-year-old, there’s just no way. I think it was sold less on the basis of “hey wear this” and more on the basis of “hey buy this because it’s a glow-in-the-dark Stay Puft head.” Challenge accepted, albeit 28 years late.

I can’t envision a scenario wherein I’d ever have a taxidermied deer head in my house, but I’m going to hang this mask in exactly the same fashion. It’s a trophy I can be proud of, and when I get up in the middle of the night to eat half a brick’s worth of Cracker Barrel cheese, Stay Puft’s faint glow will keep me from stubbing my toes on table legs. (more…)

The RETURN of the SCARY MARY HOTLINE.

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Uh oh!

It’s the return of Dinosaur Dracula’s…

SCARY MARY HOTLINE.

If you don’t know what this is about, I’d suggest reading this article from last year.

Or, if you don’t feel like clicking around, I’ll just repeat myself!

Back when pay-per-minute telephone hotlines were a huge deal, it seemed like every kid-targeted “thing” had one. Teen idols had them, musicians had them… hell, even cartoon characters had them. We gobbled them up! Needlessly protracted messages from our favorite stars may sound like a waste of money, but in a world with far fewer ways to kill a few minutes, they were pretty great. Stupid, but great.

The best of them — in my humble opinion — took us deep into the bowels of hell. There were TONS of horror hotlines in the ‘80s and ‘90s, featuring everyone from Freddy Krueger to Grandpa Munster to ghouls of a more generic sort. What made them special was that they weren’t just for hardcore fans. Kids who were typically petrified of “horror stuff” could test the waters, listening for as long as their nerves (or wallets) would allow.

Hotlines being what they were, keeping you on the phone for as long as possible was the goal. Sometimes, you’d have to wait for the end of the message to find out how you could win a free bicycle. Other times, your narrator just spoke very, very slowly. The only kids who listened to the entire messages were the ones who gave no fucks about what their parents would do when the bills came in. The rest of us hung up early, satisfied that we “talked” to Freddy Krueger for even one measly minute. What a story to tell at school!

It’s easy to make fun of those old hotlines. They were exploitative and goofy, and in 2014, it’s hard to imagine paying for such a “privilege.” Still, I have nothing but fondness for my own experiences. Those hotlines put unique stamps on otherwise boring days, and in the case of the horror hotlines, the thrill was more akin to a roller coaster — but one you could step off of whenever the going got rough.

…which leads me to the return of Dinosaur Dracula’s SCARY MARY HOTLINE! (more…)