Get set for the best edition of Classic Creepy Commercials yet. I’m serious. I’m Babe Ruthing this mofo.
All of these ads were rescued from taped-off-television compilations. For maximum effect, imagine them sandwiched between seven-minute stretches of DuckTales and Scooby-Doo. You were wearing Skidz and eating Tato Skins, and you hoped that nobody could see you.
Local Haunted House! (1990)
Whenever I write about old TV commercials, there’s a percentage of you who take my word on things and never actually play them. PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T DO THAT WITH THIS ONE.
From El Paso, Texas — Halloween capital of the world — it’s Junior Woman’s Haunted House Spectacular! From what I can tell, this was some sort of local, low-fi Halloween event where kids could meet Dracula and other costumed creeps.
That such a thing even had a TV commercial is amazing enough, but the fact that they pitched Junior Woman’s Haunted House Spectacular with a custom rap makes watching this the best possible use of 30 seconds.
It’s oh-so-imitable, and the replay value is through the roof. I encoded this six months ago, and I’ve seriously watched it more than 200 times. It’s become my go-to medicine for whenever things are bad.
Best part: The music was added in post, which explains why every one of those three dozen kids appeared to be dancing to a different song.
The Slime Pit! (1986)
If you put me on the spot, I might say that the Masters of the Universe Slime Pit is my all-time favorite action figure playset. I don’t think that it’s the objective best one, but my God, as a kid, nothing turned me into a wackadoo storyteller quite like that thing.
A bony torture device that spews slime is certainly interesting, but if you didn’t grow up with the Slime Pit, you might not understand all of the fuss. This commercial goes a long way in explaining why hundred-year-old goblins like me are so obsessed with it.
If you were the right age in 1986, it’s not like you could just watch this and get on with your life. From that moment on, owning a Slime Pit was all that mattered. You were like Reggie Jackson in The Naked Gun, only your version was less about killing queens and more about sliming Spikor.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5! (1989)
I was still pretty hands-off with horror movies when this spot aired. In a way, I’m glad. As a kid, I saw TV spots for horror flicks constantly, and what I imagined them to be was so much scarier (and often more interesting) than they actually were.
Back then, my “headcanon” version of Elm Street 5 played out like a two-hour music video, filled with nothing but bizarre death scenes. The movie is indeed brutal (and a contender for “meanest” in the Elm Street series), but the things that used to pop into my head when I was side-eyeing the television were SO MUCH WORSE than anything in the film.
It sounds weird, but there are so many horror movies that I hold in high regard because of how they affected me before I saw them. It’s mostly thanks to TV spots like this. Those old memories surround the films like armor, shielding their flaws and making them stronger.
Freaky Fruity Pebbles! (1998)
This might not qualify as a “Halloween” commercial, but since it was staged from a haunted house, and since Barney dressed up as both a ghost and a skeleton… yeah, fight me.
One sad byproduct of watching old Fruity Pebbles commercials is the reminder of how GOOD the stuff used to taste. I get that certain ingredients fall out of fashion, and that companies constantly tweak formulas to make their foods seem less garbagey, but man, a bowlful of Fruity Pebbles used to be like a trip to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
(Another bittersweet byproduct is remembering a time when I could genuinely believe that four slices of buttered toast were part of a balanced breakfast. Now I can’t even look at bread without going to confession. Midway through, the priest tosses his cassock. It’s fuckin’ Barney!)
Halloween 5 on VHS! (1990)
This short-and-sweet commercial for the Halloween 5 VHS tape puts me in such a Halloweeny mood. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised?
That slow zoom into the jack-’o-lantern would’ve done me in even without Carpenter’s theme over it. Dig those dead leaves, too. If you’ve had trouble getting into the Halloween spirit, this ad will fix you immediately.
The visuals are so good that I’m wondering if they were really produced for this commercial, or just borrowed from something else. Most VHS commercials relied on montages from their associated movies, but here we got imagery that was honestly more effective than anything actually *in* Halloween 5.
My hat is off to whatever miracle worker successfully pitched “let’s put the tape in a pumpkin” to the suits at CBS/FOX Video.
Thanks for reading. If you dig this series, there are still more editions of Classic Creepy Commercials yet to come! While you wait, dive back into the nineteen previous chapters.