In this edition of Tiny Tribute to Minor Monsters, I’ll be covering everything from alien bounty hunters to big spooky trees. I like to have fun.
Masters of the Universe (1987)
Think of Karg as a mix of Sophia Petrillo and Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun. He was one of Skeletor’s minions in the Masters of the Universe film, which y’all really need to see. It’s like they threw He-Man in a blender with The Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future and a bunch of Jordache commercials. AMAZING movie.
Karg wasn’t a terribly important character, but he arguably made a stronger impression than anyone else in the film — including He-Man and Skeletor. It all came down to the costume, which was so wicked and menacing that it almost felt out of place… even in a movie like this.
Karg was meant to be a bat-like creature, but you’ll more get the impression that someone used a Thunder Stone on one of the Crites. The fact that he was obsequious and even a touch histrionic did little to keep Karg from turning our dreams into nightmares.
TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
During the climax of TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze, a frustrated Shredder drinks a whole container of mutagen and transforms into THE SUPER SHREDDER — a massive mutant with muscles that look like stepping stones.
Shredder’s costume transforms right along with him, growing extra long spikes. Of course, mutagen wasn’t supposed to affect inanimate objects, and you’re not a serious Ninja Turtle fan until you’ve explained this to at least 50 people.
I love how we came to accept Super Shredder as an individual character, connected to OG Shredder but still entirely separate. (And that distinction would happily follow Super Shredder into the more recent TMNT revivals!)
PS: Super Shredder was portrayed by Kevin Nash, who already scored one appearance in Tiny Tributes to Minor Monsters for his work as World Championship Wrestling’s Oz. Way to go, Big Kev!
Sunkist Fun Fruits Trees!
Various TV Commercials (’80s & ’90s)
Sunkist Fun Fruits ruled the fruit snack aisle for a considerable portion of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and with good reason: They were delicious! Soft little gems with perfect levels of tartness and sweetness! We loved them!
(Am I the only one who used to swallow Fun Fruits whole, as if they were pills? Sometimes I’d have the glass of water and everything.)
In the commercials, Fun Fruits grew on Fun Fruit Trees, which were huge, sentient and had faces. The Fun Fruit Trees’ catchphrase was “OHHH HOOO HOOOO OHHHH WHOAAA,” which is as irritating to write as it was pleasant to hear.
“Screaming trees with giant eyeballs” sounds frightening and kinda was, but we couldn’t stay mad. After all, these guys gave out free fruit snacks. Don’t judge books by their covers, or trees by their gaping maws.
No Holds Barred (1989)
No Holds Barred was critically panned and I get that it maybe wasn’t objectively good, but whatever. I saw that shit when I was 10, and I thought it ruled.
For the uninitiated, it stars Hulk Hogan as someone who isn’t Hulk Hogan but is still totally Hulk Hogan. To make it through the movie alive, he’ll need to defeat Zeus, a psycho street fighter who dresses like a cross between Lord Dread and a couch.
Back then, I completely bought Zeus as The Most Frightening Man Ever. He wasn’t presented just as a vicious brawler, but as a literal monster. Something borderline inhuman. Zeus would slap a dude, and the dude would sell it like he got hit by a car.
Vince McMahon later turned Zeus into an actual WWF superstar, despite the fact that the guy who played him — Tom “Tiny” Lister — had no wrestling experience. Zeus lost something in the transition, but his promos with Savage and Sherri are still on my list of the greatest things that’ve ever happened in wrestling.
Congo is one of my favorite movies, but it might not even crack the top 100 without those grey gorillas. An evolutionary offshoot apparently localized to the Lost City of Zinj, these were battle-scarred apes with old man hair and a collective bloodlust.
Or, as Amy more simply put it, “ugly gorillas.”
The grey gorillas have their big moment in the final act, when dozens of them attack and maybe even eat Tim Curry. They’re so deadly that the only possible equalizer is a diamond-powered laser gun that slices their limbs clean off. Congo is just one of those movies, man.
The film was sorta positioned to be a Jurassic Park-level theatrical event. I concede that Jurassic Park was “better,” but 19 times out of 20, I’d prefer to watch Congo. It’s McDonald’s in movie form, and I’m never not in the mood for McNuggets.
Thank you for reading about more minor monsters.