The Monster Mash-Ups - Part 3: the 1970s


The 70s were a time of excess.  Advertising reigned o'er the land.  And sugar, sooo much processed sugar.

As society confronted more real-world fear, horror movies embraced scares that hit much closer to home.

I guess you could say the mad men won in more ways than one.

Groovie Goolies - 1970

Groovie Goolies was a Filmation cartoon, spun off from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  Remember when someone thought laugh tracks made sense for cartoons?  Yeah, this was that era.  The Groovie Goolies is the name of a far-out rock-and-roll band featuring Drac, Frankie and Wolfie, in a world inhabited by all sorts of monster caricatures.  I blame "The Monster Mash" for this.

Santo & Blue Demon Against the Monsters - 1970
AKA Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos
Written by Rafael Garcia Travesi & Jesus Sotomayor Martinez
Directed by Gilberto Martinez Solares

Featuring: "Franquenstain," werewolf, cyclops, zombies, vampires and mummy

Superstar luchadors, Santo and Blue Demon faced off with all kinds of monsters and foes across more than two dozen films, but this is the one with mas monstruos.  It's sort of the Destroy All Monsters of Mexican wrestling films, which evidently means it wasn't as good as it should have been, but hey, look at all the monsters!  And oh, did I mention there are musical numbers?

Naturally, I want to see this so bad.

SO...  BAD!

Count Chocula & Franken-berry Cereal Commercials - 1971

Amid an evident monster craze, in 1971, General Mills began selling monster-themed cereals in "chocolate" and "strawberry" flavors, each represented by a vampire and Frankenstein's monster, respectively.  These animated commercials were probably more successful than all other monster cartoons combine at presenting crossover monster camaraderie.  They certainly outlasted all the shows.

Dracula vs Frankenstein - 1971
Written by William Pugsley & Samuel M Sherman
Directed by Al Adamson

Featuring: Dracula with a 70s man-perm and a putty-faced Frankenstein's monster

[This film not viewed due to inaccessibility.  I'm given to understand that I'm better off that way.]

Dracula contra Frankenstein - 1972
AKA Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein
Written by Paul D'Ales & Jesus Franco
Directed by Jesus Franco

Featuring: Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and a wolf man

In the years 1970 to 1972, there were three different movies released under the title "Dracula vs Frankenstein" although they didn't all start out that way.  Paul Naschy's 1970 Spanish/German/Italian Los Monstruos del Terror was renamed Assignment Terror for US theaters, but gained the "versus" title for its VHS release.  Al Adamson's DvF came out in 1971 and was sometimes titled Teenage Dracula.  Then Jesus Franco's Spanish/French Dracula contra Frankenstein reached America in 1972, often called Dracula: Prisoner of Frankenstein.

The three films carry a combined rating of 11 on IMDb, although I doubt one's enjoyment would have such an additive effect were they to be watched back-to-back.

Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters - 1972

Rankin/Bass produced this semi-prequel to Mad Monster Party.  Rather than using stop motion models as the original had, this one-shot TV special was made with more traditional (and less expensive) cel animation.  It was also bereft of the influence of Mad Magazine's Harvey Kurtzman.

Boo Berry - 1973

In 1973, General Mills added Boo Berry (a "blueberry" flavored cereal with a ghost mascot, what else did you expect?) to their successful line-up of monster cereals.  I'm pretty surprised it was only 2 years later.  To this day, I still think of Boo Berry as the "new" one.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla - 1974
see link for writing team
Directed by Jun Fukuda

Featuring: Godzilla, Anguirus, King Caesar & Mechagodzilla

Of all the Godzilla movies I've seen lately... this is one of them.

Director Jun Fukuda was responsible for the most notoriously campy Godzilla movies from the 70s, and while GvM is blissfully free of shrill children, it's definitely silly.  Fukuda tries to do some "mod" film making with over-saturated colors and stylish framing.  The monster sequences sometimes have great angles, and sometimes are shot like a ringside camera at a boxing match.  The non-monster parts drag on way too long while making too little sense, which is a shame, because there's some potential in the story.  In fact, a key element of the story -- the summoning of King Caesar -- is done much better in the Art Adams' Creature Features (see Part 8).  Much of the rest of it involves another alien invasion story and a bunch of nitwitted people who are supposed to be smart running around and getting themselves captured.  The effects are pretty lazy.  The quality and quantity of miniature use is way down, and the monsters do most of their fighting in what amounts to a wrestling ring cluttered with vague shin-high scenery.  King Caesar is as goofy as Mechagodzilla is cool.  It's unsurprising that he wasn't used again until Final Wars.  It's a shame, again, because he had potential but was poorly executed.

All that being said, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla is a vastly important film for one single reason.  It gave us the gift of "Mecha."  Everything should have a 'Mecha" version.  Try it out for yourself... MechaBatman (Iron Man; Check).  MechaAliens (Ripley's power loader; Check).  MechaBuffy (Check).  MechaJohn McClane (RoboCop; Check).  MechaNinjas (multiple; Check).  MechaG.I.Joe (Transformers; Check).  MechaFreddy Kreuger.  MechaVincent Vega.  MechaSmurfs.  MechaBlack Swan.

I rest my case.

Fruit Brute - 1975

Two years later, they added the werewolf-mascotted Fruit Brute.  I am shocked to learn that it lasted 9 years.

Monster Squad - 1976

This was essentially a Saturday Morning Cartoon, but live-action.  It was developed by Stanley Ralph Ross who was behind the Batman, Wonder Woman and Monkees TV shows, so that probably gives you a pretty good idea what to expect.  It starred Fred "Gopher" Grandy as a night watchman in a wax museum where the statues of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man came to life to fight monster-themed criminals.  So that's what THAT's about.  It was also about 13 episodes.

The Halloween That Almost Wasn't - 1979
Written by Coleman Jacoby
Directed by Bruce Bilson

What do you get when you take the premise for a Christmas special and apply it to Halloween with Judd Hirsch as Dracula?

I thought I'd never ask!

I have to admit, Hirsch actually makes one of the best stand-ins for Bela Lugosi I've ever seen, but otherwise, oh dear.

Well at least THAT'S over with.  Surely things will get better now, right?  Right???

Nothing more to see here.  Move along to The Monster Mash-Ups - Part 4: the 1980s!

OR go back to the start with The Monster Mash-Ups - Part 1: the 1940s & 50s!

No comments:

Post a Comment