Had to make myself scarce this week to handle everyone’s Funpack orders, but I thought I’d take a break to write 800 words about old television commercials. Yes, that’s how I relax.
Welcome to the eleventh edition of Classic Creepy Commercials, featuring all sorts of spooky TV ads from the ‘80s and ‘90s! As usual, some of the commercials featured here are from me, and others were donated by my pal Larry.
In tonight’s batch: Mighty Max, Stu Charno, fruit snacks, and four stray frames from an unrelated Stay Trim “Diet Gum” commercial.
Hallmark Halloween Commercial – 1980s!
Of Hallmark’s many Halloween commercials, this one’s by far my favorite. I mentioned Hallmark’s importance to yesteryear’s Halloween seasons in a prior edition of Classic Creepy Commercials, but this particular advertisement represents the company at their absolute spooky peak.
Most of the items featured were unfathomably popular, from the “THIS IS MY COSTUME” shirt to that awesome skull pin with the chattering teeth, which many of you should remember from Roseanne’s biggest Halloween adventure. Pair those with the “Spooky Sounds” audio cassette mentioned at the end, and it’s pretty much the definitive list of 1980s Halloween novelties.
The best part? The guy wearing the aforementioned t-shirt is none other than Stu Charno, from Friday the 13th Part 2! Stu played Ted, one of the rare characters who made it out of Camp Crystal Lake without a single run-in with Jason Voorhees. Go Stu!
Fencl Tufo’s Chevy City Commercial – 1988!
This is wonderful. Fencl Tufo’s Chevy City was a Chicago-based car dealership, locally famous for its quirky “Monster Dealer” television commercials. (Yes, this is just one of several similarly bizarre ads!)
Actually, it might take you a few views to even realize that they’re talking about cars. After a quick Poltergeist parody, we’re treated to an uppity gentleman surrounded by RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME monster puppets, ranging from a lady vampire to a werewolf to a big fat executioner. (For such a big production, you’ll note that the background music is hilariously incongruous.)
If any Chicagoans are reading, please tell me more about this Fencl Tufo! Those puppets were obviously custom creations, and I’m curious if they were ever put on display at the dealership. (I’m also wondering if any magically survived over the years. I’d pay good money for that lady vampire, and semi-good money for the executioner. Too cool!)
Fruit by the Foot “Aliens” Commercial – 1998!
I grant that this commercial’s ties to Halloween are tenuous, but I think it’s spooky enough. In 1998, Fruit by the Foot came with “secret alien messages” printed right on the paper wrappers.
As you peeled away the strips of cherry deliciousness, coded alien messages would slowly become revealed. A different portion of the same wrappers acted as decoders, thereby rendering the whole idea of coded messages fairly pointless. Thanks for making your codes so easy to crack, random aliens!
I dig how this wasn’t a co-promotion with some cartoon or movie. They choose to imbue Fruit by the Foot with space aliens for reasons that can only be described as “just because.” Believe me, that kind of gimmicky purity wasn’t lost on kids.
(And let’s hear it for that voice-over dude, who sold the absolute shit out of this.)
Mighty Max “Dragon Island” Commercial – 1990s!
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: If you’re a fan of “horror” toys, DO NOT OVERLOOK MIGHTY MAX! So many of that line’s umpteen sets were distinctly spooky, pitting Max against all kinds of micro monsters.
Dragon Island didn’t hit upon classic horror elements as noticeably as some of the other sets, but it did come with Skullmaster, the villainous keeper of the island, who looked something like a roided-up vampire. That’s Halloweeny!
I didn’t really discover Mighty Max until I was well into my collector days, and I’m super jealous of anyone who actually played with those toys as kids. Even the smallest playsets were incredibly detailed, but when you had one of the bigger entries — like Dragon Island — the play value was akin to owning a palm-sized Castle Grayskull that left in every detail.
TBS Super Scary Saturday Promo – 1989!
I love this promo, for a very specific and very weird reason that should only take 45 paragraphs to explain.
One of my all-time favorite movie characters is Grandpa Fred from Gremlins 2, who used the Gremlins’ assault to turn himself from a low budget horror host into the Clamp Cable Network’s hottest broadcast journalist.
The character of Grandpa Fred was clearly based on Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis, but it wasn’t until seeing this promo that I realized just how much. TBS’s Super Scary Saturday featured Al surrounded by cheap “mad scientist” equipment, hosting airings of old movies in awful time slots. It’s EXACTLY what Grandpa Fred did in Gremlins 2!
Seriously, At the Earth’s Core at 10 in the morning? Hosting that is SUCH a Grandpa Fred thing to do. I love it.
Thanks for reading!