Get set for the 26th edition of Classic Creepy Commercials, featuring spooky ads that I rescued from decaying VHS tapes. This series is as old as Dino Drac itself, and it wouldn’t be the Halloween Countdown without a few new chapters!
The Real 976-EVIL Hotline! (1988)
If you’ve never seen 976-EVIL, it’s about a “novelty” hotline secretly run by Satan, who possesses anyone who calls in. It’s a fairly famous film that I’m sure you’ve at least heard of, but here’s something even hardcore fans don’t know: 976-EVIL inspired a *real life* hotline!
That hotline promoted the film, sure, but it was mostly there for a quick buck. It even borrowed 976-EVIL’s “horror-scope” concept, which I assume involved protracted descriptions of the terrible things that would happen to callers after they hung up.
In this extremely rare TV spot (I think I’m the first to put it online), you’ll note that every single shot is from 976-EVIL. As I was only nine when this commercial aired, I consider myself lucky that I never caught it during any of those late night Cheers reruns. Shit would’ve wrecked me!
Elm Street: Dream Warriors! (1987)
In this post-release spot for Dream Warriors, we get rave reviews from “regular people” who saw it in theaters — likely for free at a special screening, though I don’t doubt that they truly enjoyed the film. It’s my favorite in the Elm Street series, and maybe even my all-time favorite horror movie.
If it feels like the fans were being fed their lines, well, they probably were. I’ve worked on spots like this (granted, not for anything as cool as an Elm Street movie), and as much as you’d like to collect truly off-the-cuff stuff, eventually you crack and just tell people what to say. If I’m right, that adds a whole new dimension of awkward awesomeness to lines like “Freddy rocks!”
Still, they were real people — not actors — and I’ve become pretty obsessed with them. Somebody should’ve put that crew into an Elm Street movie. My money’s on Maybe Molly Ringwald for Final Girl.
Bonus points: The testimonials were staged near the classic Dream Warriors theatrical standee, which was later retooled for the VHS release and shipped to video stores. As far as horror movie standees go, it’s one of the most famous ever.
Double bonus points: I pulled this ad from a 1987 broadcast of Saturday Night’s Main Event. The one where Andre tossed Hulk out of that battle royal during the lead-up to WrestleMania III. Meaning, yes, I 100% saw this spot as a kid.
Count Chocula’s Werewolf Marshmallows! (1994)
Count Chocula endured a midlife crisis in the 1990s, and the results were fantastic! The cereal had more than a dozen variations during that decade, with constantly changing sets of marshmallows and new box designs to go with them.
Chocula was determined to stay hip, and this even extended to the company he kept. By the end of the ‘90s, he was totally ghosting on Franken Berry and spending all of his time with an army of random monsters who were his, all his.
In 1994, the Count became friends with a wolf and immediately let that wolf star as one of his marshmallow shapes. Then he gave the wolf top billing on a box of Count Chocula — even over himself — which was the kind of desperate be-my-pal move that I ABSOLUTELY relate to.
(If General Mills ever does another “retro” release with the Monster Cereals, they’ve gotta look closer at the ‘90s boxes. They were so artsy and gaudy and fun.)
Dodge and the Scary Aliens! (1989)
When Dodge signed off on a “sci-fi spoof” pitch, ya gotta wonder if they had any idea that it’d end up being this frightening. Those space aliens look so good (and so bad) that I’m convinced some major SFX star — like Rick Baker or someone on his level — had to be involved.
It’s like they grabbed assorted Star Trek aliens and had them make babies with Jabba’s skiff guards. They’re actively terrifying, and unlike many of the ads featured in this series, this one could’ve aired at any time of day. It wasn’t like you’d only catch it at 3AM while watching Dracula Eats Frankenstein or whatever.
Imagine it! You’ve got a fever, Mom keeps you home from school, and you’re on the couch with Lipton soup. Next thing you know, wham, you’re getting hit with this alien shit during The Price is Right. At least you’d have a blanket to hide under?
Kenner Aliens: Queen Hive Playset! (1994)
Among other things, this spot highlighted Kenner’s Queen Hive Playset, which was the inarguably *the* showpiece of their Aliens collection. I’ll try to describe it, but it won’t be easy.
The playset came with a “Mother Alien” action figure. If you can imagine the Venom symbiote grafting itself onto Queen Amidala, you’re in the area. Mom’s black-and-green “hive” let her trap victims and cover them in ooze, working like an organic Masters of the Universe Slime Pit.
Taken as a whole, the playset looked like an expensive bong. Sealed-in-box specimens currently sell for around a hundred bucks, which is a bargain considering the age, size and wow factor.
As for the commercial, it was another home run from Kenner. I doubt that very many kids were paying that close attention to the actual Aliens and Predator films, so it was really these brilliant commercials — and those sweet clearance sales at KB Toys — that made us interested in the figures.
Expect at least three more editions of Classic Creepy Commercials before the end of this year’s Countdown. If you’d like to browse through the previous 25 (!!!) chapters, they’re over here.