Happy September! It’s arguably the best month of the year, but inarguably the month that kicks off the best quarter of the year. From now through 2020, we’ll always have some holiday-related bullshit to help us forget our troubles. Yes!
Get set for the latest edition of Classic Creepy Commercials, featuring spooky TV commercials that I’ve personally rescued from old VHS tapes. (I gathered enough to cover a few editions during the 2019 Countdown, so if this stuff is up your alley, more of it is coming soon!)
Halloween H20 at Blockbuster Video! (1998)
I’m one of those “forever fans” of Halloween H20. Actually, I had no idea that the movie was so divisive until just a few years ago! I don’t begrudge anyone who isn’t into it, but the film always worked for me.
I especially dig how it’s a nice gateway drug for people who are just dipping their toes into horror. It’s neither too gory nor too out there, but nobody would mistake it for a family film, either. (In fact, of all the films from all of the major slasher franchises, it might be the first one I’d pitch to someone who’s tentatively interested in seeing what they’re about.)
The big draw of this particular commercial is its Blockbuster branding. Halloween H20 was “guaranteed to be there,” which just meant that Blockbuster locations were shipped so many H20 DVDs that it would’ve required an actual act of God to deplete the supply. God was too busy to fuck with random Blockbusters on a lark.
McDonald’s Halloween Pumpkin Pails! (1986)
I’m fairly sure that this was the first TV commercial for McDonald’s Halloween Pumpkin Pails, which I’ve gushed about many times before.
What’s interesting is that the ad never once implied that the pails were meant to hold Halloween candy. Of course, many of us used them for that purpose while trick-or-treating, even if the pails weren’t nearly large enough for it. You’d complete one measly block and already be spilling Snickers.
We were instead urged to fill the pails with whatever we pleased, and hell, we did that too. From crayons to action figures to LEGO bricks, the pails became a sort of bedroom tupperware, utterly indispensable and utterly indestructible. (….which explains why they’ve remained so cheap on the collectors’ market. Nobody threw those buckets away, nor did they ever seem to break!)
I can’t get over the fact that Freddy Krueger had his own 900 number. Yeah, pretty much EVERYONE did at the time, but it still stands as a tribute to when Freddy was at his absolute peak position in pop culture, treated more like a funny rascal than a guy who’d turn you into a cockroach.
Kids could hear one of Freddy’s “deadtime stories,” which were updated often enough to warrant calling multiple times. Sketchy memories of Freddy’s hotline have been floating around the internet for as long as I’ve been on it, but a few years ago, the actual recordings were finally unearthed. (And they won’t cost you thirty bucks to listen to!)
Fun fact: I *did* call that number, exactly once, on a night when my sister was babysitting me. Since my parents weren’t around to ask, I figured I was allowed to call on a technicality. I didn’t stay on the line for more than a minute, but even that was enough to fill the whole evening with dread and paranoia. In a way, I loved it.
Trick or Treat Movie Promo! (1986)
Full disclosure: I’ve still yet to see Trick or Treat, though there’s a good chance Jay will force a correction before the season ends. At this point, not having seen Trick or Treat is what makes me me.
I still know what the film is about, though, and I have seen key scenes. Certainly enough to know that this wasn’t a very “showy” TV spot, which conveyed the general plot but didn’t do much to highlight how wackadoo it gets.
Even so, I kinda love it. It comes off like a movie you would’ve wanted to see in your town’s dingiest theater at the latest possible hour. From everything I know about Trick or Treat, that’s accurate as hell. There should be people making out to the left of you, and someone throwing Raisinets to the right.
PS: If you’ve never seen the movie, yes, that’s Marc Price — aka Skippy Handelman — as the lead. With that knowledge, you can effectively create a whole damn horror marathon using the cast of Family Ties.
The Pumpkin Kutter! (1986)
Here’s another old Pumpkin Kutter commercial, different from the one I featured back in 2016. The Pumpkin Kutter was a “safe” tool that lets kids carve jack-o’-lanterns with less supervision. (I’m putting “safe” in quotes not because it wasn’t, but because there’s only so safe even a dull knife can be.)
I had several Pumpkin Kutters as a kid. Around here, they were sold at virtually every supermarket, drug store and pumpkin patch, all throughout October. How well they worked was wholly dependent on the pumpkin. A softish fruit would be agreeable enough, but if you got one of the hard ones, you’d be begging Mom for a steak knife after two minutes.
Unlike the kids featured in the various Pumpkin Kutter commercials, I never carved mine indoors. The smell of pumpkin innards just got to me too much. I needed open air to handle that shit, and even then, a direct waft left me retching. I guess my senses have dulled over the years, because now I find the smell totally inoffensive.
Thanks for reading! If you didn’t visit Dino Drac over the weekend, you missed the start of the Halloween Countdown. Check out all of the new stuff over here, or jump straight to the first Madd Matt video of the season. There’s so much more to come!