Get set for the fourth edition of Tiny Tributes to Minor Monsters, featuring everything from a zombie wrestler to the Godzilla version of Satan. Everything you need, really.
The Fake Undertaker!
WWF SummerSlam (1994)
I never love pro-wrestling more than when it’s at its most preposterous, and on that front, this was a tough act to follow. The main event of WWE’s SummerSlam ‘94 pay-per-view was the Undertaker versus… the Undertaker.
No, really! After a long hiatus, fans discovered that their beloved Undertaker had been bought off by the evil Ted DiBiase. As the Undertaker had by then spent over two years as a hero, it was hard to believe that he’d throw so much goodwill away for a fistful of hundreds.
As it turned out, he didn’t! At SummerSlam ‘94, the real Undertaker returned for a match against his imitator. Total Boba Fett / Jodo Kast situation. The “UnderFaker” lost the battle and the war, never returning to WWE after his defeat.
While it’s true that fans obsess over WWE canon way more than the company itself does, nobody can scratch this from the record books. You could not write a complete list of past-and-present WWE superstars without listing the Undertaker twice, and that is the best.
PS: The phony Undertaker was portrayed by Brian Lee, who’d later wrestle as Chainz, a sort of stock “biker” character.
Giant Cave Spider!
The Ewok Adventure (1984)
Opinions are divided on The Ewok Adventure, but I love it. I saw the made-for-TV movie on its debut night back in ‘84, when I was the absolute perfect age for a kid-targeted Star Wars flick starring alien teddy bears.
The film’s main villain is the Gorax, who is like a cross between an Orc, a pirate and a skyscraper. Since I’ve already written about him, I’ll settle for the movie’s second-best villain: This giant spider!
While trying to help two kids rescue their parents from the Gorax, the Ewoks climb across a giant spider web, which is never a good idea. The web is home to several huge spiders, but one in particular — the spider pictured here — is the size of a freakin’ horse.
Now sure, the effects were a few degrees lower than what we normally expected from George Lucas. The giant spider model was not unlike something you might buy from a Spirit store in October. My view is that the crudeness only upped the creep factor, in the way that a doll from the 1920s is scarier than one from 2018.
(For those wondering, no, the giant spider didn’t eat any Ewoks. They used magic to hypnotize it and then chopped down the web, which sent the poor thing plummeting to its doom.)
The Supreme Monstrosity!
Dinosaurs Attack! (1988)
I might catch some heat for including the Supreme Monstrosity, since this is like the eighteenth time I’ve written about him. Indulge me, guys. He’s just too perfect for this series.
The Supreme Monstrosity was the “big bad” of the Dinosaurs Attack trading card series, made by Topps in 1988. If you’ve somehow never encountered that card set, just know that it was absurdly gory and beyond R-rated. Picture Jurassic Park by way of Hellraiser.
The story involves dinosaurs “blinking” into present day and eating the shit out of everything. In the climax, a poor guy sacrifices himself to the Supreme Monstrosity — the dinosaurs’ giant, Satan-like god — to buy his wife just enough time to save humankind.
This was heavy stuff. I’m still amazed that Topps got away with it. For all of the complaints about how gruesome the Garbage Pail Kids series was, Dinosaurs Attack cards were a hundred times worse. Even kids who bloomed early with horror movies never saw anything like them… which explains why the set left such an impression!
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
The general line on the Mortal Kombat movies is that the first one is crazy good and the second one is crazy not good. But that’s only if we’re adhering to set standards about what makes movies work.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation turns absurdity into art. It is relentlessly stupid by almost every objective measure, but it is never dull. Here the heroes fight enough bad guys to cover ten sequels, in battles that begin suddenly and end abruptly. I doubt that you could find even three consecutive seconds in this film that aren’t loud.
Just look at Baraka’s appearance, which lasts all of 90 seconds. He appears out of nowhere, trades a few blows with Liu Kang, gets knocked into a pit of fire, and that is IT. Annihilation plays out like a series of cutscenes from an old FMV game.
If Baraka’s scene seems artificially dark, it was probably to hide his iffy costume. His blades are supposed to be organic forearm extensions, but here they’re just swords taped to his wrists. This wouldn’t have been so obvious had they not fitted Baraka with a Seinfeld pirate shirt that was three sizes too big.
Hey, no complaints here. In a movie like Annihilation, off is on.
The Ghouls of Grayskull!
Masters of the Universe (1982)
People my age still consider Castle Grayskull the perfect action figure playset. It was an unending source of inspiration, plus something for your toys to fight over. Compact yet somehow sprawling, Castle Grayskull had everything from a working drawbridge to a trap door.
Yet for all of its accessories and advanced features, my favorite thing about Castle Grayskull was one little sticker on its ground floor. This sticker suggested a basement dungeon filled with all sorts of beasts and monsters. Like every kid who had this playset, I was obsessed with it.
There are around ten creatures visible under that grate, from a Krangish squid to some sort of frog. Since none of those characters had action figures nor cartoon counterparts, we could only wonder about how they looked, sounded and acted. (And wonder we did. Constantly!)
Thanks for reading about more minor monsters. If you missed the previous chapters, follow the links below!