Continuing on with the Vicious Videocassette Boxes series, here’s Part 2! Five more dusty old tapes, and the memories they inspire!
#6: Ghoulies II (1988)
Watch the trailer!
You should remember the original Ghoulies from the first batch. This time, the “green toilet monster” shed his clothes and gained an ally! It all seems more deliberately comical than the original’s box, which makes sense, because Ghoulies II was as much a comedy as a horror movie.
When I tell people to give this franchise a chance, I’m mostly talking about Ghoulies II. It was the perfect little monster movie. This time, the Ghoulies – now taking much more central roles – invade a carnival, and spend as much time messing with the attractions as they do the attendees. The film also has a strong contender for “best ending ever,” with the heroes summoning a GIANT-SIZED Ghoulie to come devour the smaller ones. (Words can’t describe!)
Oh, and about that box. While the first movie only used the “toilet gag” in promotional materials, Ghoulies II actually delivered it onscreen. Yep, some poor shitter finally gets it on the ass. If you’re planning a horror movie marathon and want to steer clear of flicks everyone’s seen a dozen times already, PUT THIS ON YOUR LIST.
#7: A Nightmare on Elm Street Double Pack (1995)
Perfection. The double-wide box contains both the NOES and NOES 2 videos, all under a “DOUBLE THE HORROR” banner. Both films were pretty ancient by 1995, so this was an attempt to lure you in with a discount. (Many other horror films were given this treatment. The movies were often associated with one another, but not always.)
Since the tapes are ultra-flimsy releases (complete with typewritten labels), the box is the real star. There’s an unintentional “ketchup & mustard” color scheme going on, and the only thing distracting me from it is their decision to put “Robert Englund” in a font better suited to the opening credits from M*A*S*H.
#8: Munchies (1987)
Watch the trailer!
Until digging through yet another of my bins last night, I had no clue that I owned this. Thank God! I’ve been dying to see Munchies for years. Like the Ghoulies series, the film was another attempt to steal some glow from Gremlins. This time, the creatures were devilish little frat house punker things, capable of mayhem but more interested in partying.
Though I’ve never seen the film, I have seen (and even reviewed) its second sequel, Munchie Strikes Back. (Which followed the second film, called Munchie.) Though the sequels had connected stories, they weren’t associated with the original in any way beyond their titles. (A Troll / Troll 2 situation, basically.) The sequels were about one single good-natured monster (who looked like a castoff from The Rock-afire Explosion), and included none of the more vicious looking creatures from the original.
I need to hook up my VCR, stat.
#9: Donald’s Scary Tales (1983)
During Part 1, I mentioned that my earliest trips to video stores were all about renting various Disney releases. Most of the time, it was one “Donald Duck tape” or another. The biggest one was Kids is Kids, where a duck psychiatrist spies on Donald and his nephews, and ultimately draws the conclusion that they’re a terrible family. The other… was Scary Tales.
The box you’re looking at is a much later release. The original one, which I was always begging to rent, featured the much more haunting image of monster hands threatening to strangle Donald Duck. As I was extremely young, that was enough to set the tone. No matter how many times I rented this video, it always spooked me.
Scary Tales collected a few of Donald’s “moodier” shorts. The top draw was Donald Duck and the Gorilla, which is pretty readily available online. It won’t seem scary now, but imagine watching that when you’re four-years-old.
Only in retrospect do I realize why I rented Scary Tales so often. Those early trips to video stores were always an excuse to look at dozens of horror movies. I wouldn’t touch the boxes (let alone rent the videos), but the genre still seemed so intriguing. Even invigorating. I guess I rented Scary Tales to feel like I was part of the club. Given that I could barely handle Donald Duck tangling with a gorilla, I guess it’s a good thing that I never tried a real horror movie.
#10: Zone Troopers (1985)
Watch the trailer!
Here’s another box that scared me to death as a kid, and why wouldn’t it? Clothes aside, this monster certainly seemed like the type who’d play jump rope with human intestines.
Actually, Zone Troopers featured nothing of the sort. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but the crude summary involves American army dudes teaming up with a displaced space alien to fend off Nazis. And even that makes it sound scarier than it is.
Zone Troopers was “Rambo meets E.T.,” while still seeming “softer” than either film. It’s kind of slow and quiet, and at times even charming. It’s also so incredibly bizarre that you’ll be left wondering how it ever got made to begin with. (That’s not a knock on the movie’s quality. It’s just that Zone Troopers is so damn off the wall.)
I’m including it mainly for the memories of THAT BOX. More confusing than scary, it was just another clue that the entertainment spectrum beyond my jurisdiction was a dark and bewildering place. I kinda wish I’d never seen the film. I’d rather still believe that it was about buggy aliens in Jedi robes who wanted to enlist me as a food source. I don’t know why.