Guess it’s lame to do another Classic Creepy Commercials post so soon, but I have a lot of great ads to get to this year. I’m worried there won’t be time for them all!
(God knows your Halloween season won’t be complete until you watch a promo for a 1994 TV movie about Roseanne.)
Des Moines Theatrical Shop – 1992!
(Donated by Kevin B.)
This is quite possibly the single greatest commercial ever featured on Classic Creepy Commercials. Holy cow. It couldn’t be more perfect.
I’ve never heard of the Des Moines Theatrical Shop, and I’m actually only 30% sure about where the city of Des Moines is. Still, almost every state in the country had some version of this ad, which stretched its five dollar budget to Ed Wood levels.
Despite the fact that the commercial aired during children’s programming, it was decidedly not for kids. Oh, you’ll see ALF and maybe even Spuds MacKenzie, but beyond them, it’s just a parade of horrors.
We begin with shots of Freddy and Jason in what appears to be a Lazer Tag arena, or maybe a set from a Sheena Easton music video. The incredible thing is that they’re hardly the scariest sights. The Des Moines Theatrical Shop had its fair share of utterly bizarre $100 monster masks, and like we told you on the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, those masks were terrifying to children.
When I visualize the “scarier side” of my childhood Halloweens, it’s basically this commercial. This thing hits every bullet, from horrible masks to foggy darkness to the sounds of tuning forks having weird sex. Watch it, love it, remix it.
Frightening Fruit Wheats – 1980s!
(Donated by me, just me and nobody else but me)
I only have a vague recollection of Fruit Wheats cereal, which was kind of like Hidden Treasures, but specifically a version of Hidden Treasures that had never been to Pacific Sunwear. Don’t act like you don’t get me.
Though the cereal was kid-friendly, it didn’t exactly revel in the excesses of kid-friendly advertising… which makes this spooky Fruit Wheats commercial pop extra hard.
So you have this young boy, and he really wants to know how Nabisco gets the fruit in there. It seems like magic, so naturally, he consults with a wizard. Less natural is the fact that this wizard lives inside what’s obviously Dracula’s castle. Brave little dude, this one.
Speaking of bravery, this was apparently the first-ever Fruit Wheats commercial. Odd introduction, huh? If I was tasked with getting people onto the jelly-filled Shredded Wheat train, I don’t know that “haunted wizard castle” would be my first pitch.
Spooky Waterbeds – 1980s!
(Donated by Aaron G.)
I believe this one is from 1986, which means I would’ve been seven years old when it aired. It’s a good thing we didn’t get commercials for California mattress outlets here in New York, because this would’ve KILLED me.
Look, I know it’s cheesy and adorable, but I also know what my childhood buttons were. Sentient jack-o’-lanterns shouting over thunderstorms? That was a big motherfuckin’ button.
Gotta admit, I miss that aspect of Halloween, when there were subtle frights everywhere I looked. These days, spooky stuff is practically my aesthetic. I love it, but it doesn’t unnerve me. I still bury myself under blankets in October, but it worked better when I felt like it was an act of self-preservation.
Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes – 1994!
(Donated by Kevin B.)
This is precious. Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes was a TV movie about, duh, Roseanne and Tom Arnold. That movie had nothing to do with Halloween, but since it debuted on Halloween night, NBC gave its promos a spooky flavor.
I’m guessing that the movie was scheduled for Halloween as a wink at Roseanne and Tom’s “horrific” marriage. The promo makes it look like a god-awful cash grab that had little respect for its inspirations, but from what I’m reading, it actually treated Roseanne and Tom somewhat delicately.
(At least more delicately than the era’s tabloids did. Since everyone still loves Roseanne’s sitcom so much, it’s easy to forget how polarizing she used to be.)
I don’t recall watching this, but since Halloween ‘94 would’ve been during my freshman year in high school — when I was too old for trick-or-treating and too friendless for anything else — I probably did. Just me, my Oreo treat packs, and Fake Roseanne. Happy Walloween.
Gobots “Free Creepy” Promo – 1980s!
(Donated by Justin E.)
Creepy (yes that’s his name) was one of the best Gobots figures. The villainous robot was essentially a scorpion mixed with a mangled Ford Taurus, and was enticingly marketed as a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster.
Even if you were ambivalent towards his design (and I don’t see how anyone could’ve been), the fact that Creepy was presented as a straight-up “movie monster” made him a must-have.
This commercial baited kids with the promise of free Creepy action figures in a special mail-away promotion. At the time, Creepy wasn’t available in stores. He eventually would be, but only with a darkened color scheme.
IMO, the green and purple version seen here — which was exclusive to the mail-away promotion — was a hundred times cooler. Like lime sherbet mixed with traces of grape sherbet, which is all I’ve ever asked for in my scorpion/robot action figures.
Thanks for reading. By the time most of you do, it will be October. Don’t waste it, my friends. This is your month. Fill it with pandemonium and Twix.