Ah, the first Classic Creepy Commercials post of the 2016 season. I can bleed again.
If you’re new to the site, old TV commercials with a Halloween slant are my favorite things in the world. Every year, I do my best to infect everyone with that same peculiar passion.
Below are six more spooky ads from the ‘80s and ‘90s, joining the hundred-or-so already buried in the Dino Drac archives. May they spark memories of regrettable costumes and pillowcases full of chocolate.
Real Ghostbusters Toys! (1980s)
If the shots from Ghostbusters II are any indication, this one’s from 1989. By then, the Real Ghostbusters collection had already been around for years, leaving Kenner with no choice but to keep getting weirder.
New on the block was the Super Fright Features set, which was another of Kenner’s attempts to make kids buy the same four characters they’d already bought seventeen times. It sounds exploitative, but real heart and soul went into each wave. There may have been 200 Egon figures by the time Kenner threw in the towel, but none of them were remotely alike.
On the Halloweenier side, this spot also features The Mummy Monster from the aptly-titled Monsters series, where Kenner borrowed monster characters who were already famous long before Peter Venkman ever got slimed.
Given how creative Kenner was in creating custom ghosts for the toy line, I can’t in good conscience say that the Monsters line was a step up. On the bright side, they were really cool monsters!
Count Chocula Meets Bela Lugosi! (1987)
As covered back in June, 1987 was not an especially great year for General Mills. While creating a limited edition Count Chocula box that co-starred Bela Lugosi, a mishap in the art process left Dracula’s pendant looking like an undead ringer for the Star of David.
Tl; dr: They made Dracula Jewish.
Many were offended, leading General Mills to cease production on the boxes and plead ignorance. Course, after seeing this commercial, I’m thinking they may have smelled the smoke. Notice how we never get a close-up shot of the box? I can just picture the top brass at General Mills HQ, watching the trucks leave the factory while chewing their nails off. Like Carmela after she sold that spec house made from the rotten wood.
Franken Berry Meets Boris Karloff! (1987)
Aha! Bolstering my “they knew” theory is the fact that Franken Berry’s version of the commercial — starring Boris Karloff — features a much closer view of the cereal box.
Though Franken Berry’s box was free of sacrilege, my hunch is that General Mills pulled its plug at the same time. Would’ve been weird to let Franken Berry hang there with a spooky horror box even after the Count had already crept back to Toontown, no?
In any event, both TV commercials were killer, and they’re further evidence that these goofy cereal mascots must’ve been gateway drugs to the horror genre for sooo many millions of kids.
Universal Studios Tours! (1984)
This one was donated by our old pal Larry P., and it’s loaded with the good stuff. Promoting the Universal Studios Tour, a chatty little girl drags Frankenstein’s Monster from one Kodak moment to another. They get to see KITT from Knight Rider, the van from The A-Team, and then even some other things that have nothing to do with cars.
I visited Universal Studios Hollywood just a year or two after this commercial aired, back when I was still young enough to have very screwy ideas about what “Hollywood” meant. For starters, I thought that literally every movie, cartoon and sitcom that ever existed was made right there in the theme park, and also that every actor who ever appeared in anything lived within earshot.
My autograph book added no pages that week, but man was that a great vacation. I don’t know why riding sweat-stained trolleys with tourists made me feel like I was hobnobbing with celebrities, but it did, and I couldn’t wait to brag to my friends back home.
Fruity Pebbles for Halloween! (1995)
Everyone remembers the Pebbles Cereal Christmas commercial, where Fred’s about to kill Barney but then since it’s Christmas decides that 12 ounces of cereal really isn’t worth murder. It’s sickly sweet and one of my all-time favorite TV commercials.
Sadly, there were never any equivalently good Post Pebbles commercials for the Halloween season, but this one — kindly donated by Rewind Eats The Tape — was certainly better than nothing. (I actually don’t know if this was a “Halloween” commercial or just one that happened to be spooky, but since it features the living skeleton of Barney Rubble, I think it’s safe to include on the Countdown.)
My favorite part has nothing to do with Fred and Barney’s brouhaha. It’s that shot of the “balanced breakfast” from the very end of the commercial. A bowl of Fruity Pebbles, half an orange, a glass of milk, a bunch of grapes and enough buttered toast to make an elephant tired. I couldn’t imagine eating that every morning, yet all I want to do is eat that every morning. It’s like the continental breakfast from a 2 star hotel mixed with a fucking circus.
Spooky Dunkin’ Donuts! (1990s)
This one has choppy video, but like I was gonna let that keep me from gushing over a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial that threw Fred the Baker and Hervé Villechaize into a haunted castle. You don’t trash the Mona Lisa no matter how much the colors fade.
It’s the kind of Halloween commercial I love most, with a gothic set, organ music and neon candy sprinkles.
Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t get nearly enough credit for rocking the Halloween vibe waaaay before most companies hopped on the bandwagon. In fact, their spooky donuts may be the very first “Halloween exclusive” foodstuff that I can remember noticing. Hell, even by the time I started doing these Countdowns, Dunkin’ Donuts was still one of the few companies that you could 100% count on for monster bullshit.
Thanks for reading about old, weird commercials. If Halloween ads are as much your jam as mine, here are the previous eleven installments of this series: