It’s time for our fifth batch of Classic Creepy Commercials, provided once again by my friend Larry.
(Not that Larry. The other one.)
If you’ve found your Halloween spirit weakening under the weight of the real world, these grainy old commercials will fix everything. And if they don’t? Well, you’ll still get to see Vincent Price in a turban, talking about sandwiches.
March of Dimes “Haunted Manor” Promo! (1983)
OMG I LOVE THIS TO DEATH.
This was a low (looowww) budget promo for a Milwaukee-based “Haunted Manor” — a charity event benefiting the March of Dimes. It’s just like that old episode of Roseanne!
The safe assumption is that volunteers redressed some loaned building as a “haunted walkthrough,” filled with cheap-but-sincere decorations and a host of folks dressed like monsters. Visitors would donate a dollar or two, see the sights, and maybe get a free lollipop on the way out.
The promo stars Dracula (a very tired and cranky Dracula) and Igor. This Igor is unlike any other! He has a severely injured eye, a top hat, and what I’ve decided is a wrestling t-shirt. In a twist on the norm, Igor plays the straight man.
Pay close attention to the background sound effects. I’m 100% sure that they just ran a Hallmark Halloween cassette on an offscreen tape player. If there’s an idealized “flavor” of Halloweens past, this ad absolutely captures it. Just perfect.
Monster Cereals Commercial! (1989)
I’ve seen more Monster Cereals commercials than is reasonable or healthy, and this is easily one of my favorites. What’s most interesting is the starring mascots. We see Count Chocula and Franken Berry, of course, but instead of Boo Berry rounding out the trio, it’s Fruity Yummy Mummy!
Yep, this commercial debuted during General Mills’ brief focus on Fruity Yummy Mummy cereal, which would be gone just a few years after this aired. We’d then spend more than two decades vaguely recalling some rainbow mummy who sounded a bit like the Kool-Aid Man. (Then, in 2013, General Mills brought our pal back for what BETTER NOT HAVE BEEN HIS LAST HURRAH.)
Strange that Boo Berry wasn’t shown, but back before the Monster Cereals evolved into a pretty strict “Halloween thing,” General Mills always treated that guy like he wasn’t under contract. Boo Berry cereal may have slid in and out of production, but even during the points when General Mills was definitely making it, they didn’t always advertise it. (In fact, I spent years thinking it was deader than Frute Brute before finding it in the Poconos in the early ‘90s.)
Getting back to this ad, we’ve been led to believe that Fruity Yummy Mummy originally died due to poor sales. Watching this commercial, I’m not so sure. Maybe General Mills was afraid that he overshadowed the main guys too much. Here, he was obviously the star.
Cousin Subs Commercial! (1986)
Hey look, it’s our old pal Vincent Price! This marks the FOURTH time I’ve written about a creepy commercial starring Vincent Price. We’ve seen him shill Time Life books, Easter Seals Halloween coupons, and even goddamned Tilex.
Save your “how the mighty have fallen” snarks. By the time Vincent Price became the go-to guy for anyone needing to promote vacuum cleaner bags, he was already at an age that barely half of us will ever see. (And all of those commercials were presumably single day shoots, too. If he did three or four a year, he still made more money than most folks, and then had 300 free days to… I don’t know, dissect bats.)
In most of the spooky Vincent Price commercials, he wasn’t required to do more than just “say things” with that ominous voice of his. The director of this Cousins Subs promo was comparatively ballsy: He actually wanted our hero to dress like a fortune teller.
Vincent Price: I’m here. What are we doing today?
Director: I’m thinking we’ll put you in a shiny turban and have you mess with a crystal ball.
Vincent Price: I see. And what is this commercial for, again?
Director: Fuckin’ roast beef.
Nestle Quik “Witch’s Dungeon” Commercial! (1992)
Many of you will remember this ad, even if it doesn’t immediately spark any memories. It’s all about the shot at the 19 second mark. Go ahead, jump to it. NOW do you remember? The closeup of that ugly witch has always stuck with me. It could have something to do with her resemblance to Gwildor.
Here, a boy and a bunny find themselves in a dank dungeon, trying to stop an evil witch from stealing chocolate. It’s a flimsy conceit, with an even flimsier setup: One second they’re in the kid’s kitchen, and then, for no discernible reason at all, they’re in a dungeon. There’s some lame “magic” explanation given through the kid’s voice-over, but I don’t think that would hold up in court. It’s not like this witch would’ve summoned them there. She was clearly happy stealing chocolate; why ask for trouble?
I WANT MY OLD QUIK COMMERCIALS WITH THOUGHTFUL PLOTS.
Maybe they were just trying to imply that Nestle Quik made kids more imaginative? If there’s anything that’ll get me to start using milk as a mixer, it’s the promise of battling easily-defeatable monsters.
I’m not sure if this was a proper Halloween commercial, but why else would Nestle use a witch’s dungeon to promote Quik?
Burger King “Midnight Zone” Commercial! (1984)
With a Twilight Zone motif, this commercial promoted Burger King’s extended drive-thru hours. Fast food joints staying open past midnight doesn’t mean much in 2014, but back then, it was pretty huge. (And for some reason, buying fast food after midnight seems so strangely Halloweeny to me. Am I alone in this? I’m probably alone in this.)
It’s gotta be the only existing footage of a guy doing a sketchy Rod Serling impression while hamburgers float around his head, and that’s reason enough to love it.
Ending on this particular commercial also gives me a decent segue into this tangentially related news:
If you missed the scoop on Dino Drac’s Facebook page, Burger King now has “Boo Raspberry” Frozen Fantas. I’ve never had a Frozen Fanta, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve never had a regular Fanta either, but only a fool turns down treats advertised by way of “boo” puns and mummy arms.
The taste surprised me. I’m used to blue raspberry having a tart flavor, which this totally lacks. It tastes more like liquid cotton candy. Liquid cotton candy isn’t something I have much interest in trying twice, but I’m still glad I got one. We must all gobble up as many Halloween moments as we can, even if all we’re really doing is drinking B Team Slurpees.
Thanks for reading about old commercials and new drinks. Be sure to check out Dino Drac’s Tiny-Sized Halloween Store, too! That’s where you can sign up for the next Funpack, and grab sweet prints starring Leviathan and Larry!
(Not that Larry. The other one.)