Well, here’s the 25th (!!!) edition of Classic Creepy Commercials, which’ll also be the last edition posted during this year’s Halloween Countdown. (I hate how final that sounds. Can I take it back?)
I wasn’t expecting to find enough ads for another chapter, but two friends came through with VHS tapes that gave me jussst enough to cross the finish line. Big thanks to Chris Glass and Spooky AS — loved the tapes, and love you guys for thinking of me!
Halloween McNugget Buddies! (1996)
I always associate McDonald’s Halloween McNugget Buddies with the early ’90s, not just because that’s when they debuted, but also because I was at that point still young enough to be almost within the target demo. Almost.
It’s kind of a shock to realize that new sets were being released as late as 1996. Actually, the set featured here turned out to be the last of the McNugget Buddies, but at least they went out with a bang. The McNugget dressed as Ronald McDonald was arguably the set’s highlight, but there was also a “Dragon” McNugget that more closely resembled Gill-man. Really, flip a coin between those two.
And yeah, I wish McDonald’s would do “self-branded” Halloween Happy Meals again. They absolutely ruled the season for so many years, and then it was just… nada. I get that it’s dumb to expect McD’s to develop kid-targeted toy promotions with old geeks in mind, but can you imagine the online buzz if they put out a new set of McNugget Buddies, or even just re-released the old McBoo pails?
Give us a reason to come back, Ronald. Also, you come back too, Ronald.
UFO Cover-Up? Live! (1988)
UFO Cover-Up? Live (and God, I hate having to type it out that way) aired in October of ‘88. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the TV special, but still enough to send kudos to host Mike Farrell (of M*A*S*H fame) for making cockamamie stories seem plausible.
I’m surprised that this wasn’t on my radar at the time. (“Radar” of course being both a UFO and M*A*S*H pun, for double points.) Space aliens were my everything at that point, and I accepted every story about ’em at face value. I practically needed to see aliens unmask themselves and stitch U.S. flags to incorporate any level of skepticism.
I don’t know if “gullible” is the right word, but if it is, I sure miss being gullible. The world was much more interesting when I thought it was swarming with ghosts, sea monsters, aliens and sasquatches. I also used to think that you got the same amount of gas no matter what you paid the attendant, and that it all worked on a sort of honor system. I sooo wish my kid brain’s interpretation of the world was accurate. Free gas, and tons of Ogopogos.
Toy Story on VHS! (1996)
Toy Story was released on VHS on October 29th, 1996. Halloween surely wasn’t a factor in that decision, but Disney still saw fit to create a TV commercial with a decided Halloween theme.
With an assist to Babyface, there was just enough spooky shit in that movie to pitch it as a “Halloween thing.” This commercial basically presented Toy Story’s VHS release as a consolation prize for kids who had nothing better to do on October 31st.
I actually find that… kind of cool? I mean, I sure spent my share of Halloweens doing absolutely nothing, and used to latch onto anything that gave the holiday some extra oomph. Toy Story, a big blanket and maybe 30 bucks’ worth of Pizza Hut? Cool with me! Lock the door on your way out.
The Stephen King Library! (1996)
Confession: The only Stephen King book I’ve read is The Mist, and I don’t even know if that counts as a book.
I’ve always wanted to read them, though, even dating back to when I was a child. I’d see those spooky covers in my older siblings’ bedrooms, and imagine every book as a portal to Hell. They intrigued me to no end, even if they were never gonna compete with the likes of WWF Magazine and my Far Side collections.
I’m still not a particularly strong fiction reader, but I’m sure I’ll eventually find myself stuck in a hotel with spotty Wi-Fi and a copy of The Tommyknockers in its gift shop. (That was the one with Traci Lords, right? People losing their teeth or something?)
Given what I just wrote, maybe it’s hypocritical to say that I love the idea of a Stephen King “book of the month” club. Then again, it’s all in the pitch. The visuals in this commercial evoked everything from Clue to Unsolved Mysteries to a 1995 screensaver. If you want me to read your novel, just make me think of Robert Stack, Tim Curry and a Compaq Presario 150.
This isn’t a Halloween commercial by any stretch, but since that one kid built a jack-o’-lantern out of Lite-Brite pegs, I’m totally counting it. You can’t stop me.
In any event, it’s one of the most famous toy commercials of the ‘80s, thanks to that lullaby-like jingle, which still makes me feel warm and tingly and less misanthropic. Go on, listen to it. Listen to it every single day. Tell me if anything’s improved after a few weeks.
Side note: I got much more mileage out of Lite-Brites during my teen years than as an actual child. I’d spell out edgy words and leave the things on in perpetuity, like lava lamps that made statements. I was so punk rock, what with my misused toys and my No Alternative compilation album.
Thanks for reading!