Get set for another batch of Classic Creepy Commercials, featuring everything from horror movies to space aliens to bugs made out of Play-Doh. We’re gonna have a time!
The Official Boglins Hotline! (1988)
Yep, this was a real thing that really happened. An official Boglins hotline!
As I’ve mentioned before, 1988 must’ve been THE biggest year for kid-targeted 900 numbers. It seemed like virtually every person or thing that kids were even mildly interested in had one.
This commercial was low-fi in the best ways. Though the Boglins brand was owned by Mattel, this was clearly not Mattel’s work. (Part of the ad’s charm is knowing how easily one could do a frame-by-frame recreation with a couple of toys and a goofy voice. And hey, I’m free on Saturday.)
You’ll notice that each caller could score a complimentary hologram card, though I assume that only callers willing to listen to fifteen minutes’ worth of Boglins gibberish ever learned how.
Wes Craven’s SHOCKER! (1989)
I’ve still never seen Wes Craven’s Shocker. Worst part is, Shocker is one those movies I’m sure I’ve lied about having seen. With my luck, three of those lies are in old Dino Drac articles. Sorry! I promise I only lie about stupid stuff, like my height and my weight and apparently Wes Craven’s Shocker.
Even so, I still have fond memories of the movie… or more specifically the movie’s associated TV spots, which were CONSTANTLY on. I couldn’t name a horror movie I saw more ads for as a kid, but the truth might be that Shocker’s promos were just more memorable than most.
I had a love/hate relationship with spooky TV trailers as a kid:
I loved them because they added an air of excitement to otherwise humdrum nights spent watching my crummy bedroom television.
I hated them because they made me think of terrible boogeymen during those past-midnight tiptoes into the kitchen. I’ve lost count of the nights I risked life and limb for a stack of Saltines.
The Play-Doh Bug Oozer! (1992)
My guess is that this was Play-Doh’s preemptive strike against Creepy Crawlers kits, which returned that same year. Pure conjecture, but it sounds believable.
The purpose of the Bug Oozer is weirdly tough to discern from this commercial. I think it let you give plastic bugs neon hair while also creating an army of smaller bugs that you could viciously smash? Something like that.
This was just one of many Play-Doh sets that were appropriate for the Halloween season, but I much preferred making monsters of my own design with regular Play-Doh cans. They looked terrible and their heads always fell off, but they were my babies.
Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? (1996)
There was a quiet “space aliens” fad throughout most of the ‘90s, mostly thanks to The X-Files, but boosted by everything from Fire in the Sky to Independence Day, not to mention shows like Sightings and Unsolved Mysteries.
Boy, aren’t all of those italicized titles annoying to read?
As a kid, I bought into almost every “alien encounter” story. Morsels of proof became irrefutable evidence, and even the most outrageous tales rang true so long as the people telling them didn’t have bad hair.
(I sincerely miss being able to believe in things so easily, whether we’re talking about UFOs, ghosts or imitation crabmeat. Skepticism may be healthy, but it’s also boring AF.)
Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction was an even bigger deal than I’d remembered, garnering great ratings even after repeat broadcasts. Though the promised autopsy footage is now known to have been faked, the special is still way fun to watch. (It was also hosted by Jonathan Frakes, as if seeing doctors pull guts out of space aliens wasn’t awesome enough already.)
The Phantom of the Fridge! (1989)
Leslie Nielsen really made a killing off of those Naked Gun movies, huh? Not just from the films directly, but from all of the “spokesman” spots he got because of them, where companies basically paid him to play Frank Drebin again.
The Phantom of the Fridge was a Halloween-themed sweepstakes from Coors. Nielsen starred in several of the corresponding TV spots, lurking around a shadowy supermarket.
Given how much kids loved The Naked Gun (even if it wasn’t made for them), it’s surprising to see Neilsen in a beer commercial. Soda seemed more his speed. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I was ten years old when this commercial aired? Probably!
The best thing about this sweepstakes was the giant cardboard store display, which was in every major supermarket across the country.
Halloween-themed beer displays are still staples of the season. To this day, no October is complete until I’ve gone grocery shopping and spent half the time figuring out how to steal an inflatable Modelo bat (or some shit) without anybody noticing.
Thanks for reading!