It doesn't get better. Not for a while, anyway. The classic monsters were presented in super merchandisey ways in the 80s. Godzilla took a vacation. Slashers were the I-scream flavor of the decade.
Drak Pack - 1980
Hanna-Barbera goes back to the monster well... and takes a monster dump in it. The Drak Pack were Drak, Frankie and Howler, the grandsons of popular monsters who redeemed their respective family names as teenage superheroes battling other monsters, or something.
Looking at the adjacent image, I'm reminded how much creatures of the night thrive in the open desert.
Also, why is Frankenstein's grandson a Frankenstein? Getting an organ transplant doesn't give your offspring an organ transplant too. I shudder to think how he spawned offspring in the first place. And for another thing...
The Monster Club - 1981
Written by Edward & Valarie Abraham
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Featuring: Vampires, a "Shadmock" (werewolf) and Ghouls
The Monster Club is an anthology of 3 short stories, each telling a separate tale of monstrosity, within an overarching framing narrative. Perhaps more importantly than the monsters are the legends of horror that it brings together -- Vincent Price, John Carradine & Donald Pleasance.
The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, episode 8
A Halloween Hassle at Dracula's Castle - 1984
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Staff
Scoob and the gang get invited to a Halloween party where the monsters are actual M-M-MONSTERS!
Paul Dini would go on to write and produce many episodes of Batman: The Animated Series & co-create Harley Quinn. So let that be a lesson to you recent college grads who think you're too good for humiliating entry level work.
Monster Squad - 1987
Written by Shane Black & Fred Dekker
Directed by Fred Dekker
Monsters by Stan Winston & Stan Winston Studio
Featuring: Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, Gill-man
The expectations for special effects nowadays have gotten so arch that sharp-eyed viewers can see the difference between a current big-budget blockbuster and one from just a few years ago. While it's true that Monster Squad uses pre-digital techniques, the monsters by Stan Winston still look amazing. In fact, they're the least dated thing about the movie, which suffers from a lot of homophobic slurs for what is essentially a kids' movie. Yes, Monster Squad falls into that screaming kid adventure category of 80s film making, although nowhere near the class of, say, E.T. or Goonies. For some reason, the monsters are converging on a generic American town for an evil ritual because the magic gem just happens to be there. And for no reason at all, it's a gang of screaming kids that stand against them. I also can't see the kids with guns flying too well in the civilized parts of this country today. Bad movie, but ohhh, Stan Winston doing his versions of the Universal Monsters... [drool].
Yummy Mummy - 1987
General Mills pays homage to the Universal Monsters once more with Yummy Mummy. I graduated from high school in '87 so I was sleeping late on Saturday mornings by that point. This is a new one on me too.
Waxwork - 1988
Written & Directed by Anthony Hickox
Featuring: Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, a Mummy, the Marquis de Sade and more
Waxwork, I am happy to say, was a bright spot in the 80s that paid homage to the Universal monsters and then some. A new wax museum opens up on Any Upper Middle Class Street in Any White People Town, USA. The displays are all based on macabre scenes of evil. Visitors who cross the velvet rope (and there always seems to be a reason to do so) find themselves pulled into the world of the scenario. There, they are inevitably hunted and murdered, thus becoming a wax model in the scene themselves. For example, the first victim we see is one of a group of college kids invited to a private viewing. He drops his cigarette lighter into the werewolf display, so waits until no one is looking and steps in. Instantly he's transported to a dark and misty wood. He reasons that he must have been hypnotized (no one will bother reasoning after this) and as an old cabin is the only thing he sees, he goes to it. He's told to go away but enters anyway, meeting a man raving about the danger. With moonlight streaming through the windows, he transforms into a werewolf and attacks. A couple wolf hunters burst in and then decide to load the silver bullets. By the time the wolf is killed, it's too late, and the kid has been bitten. As he begins to transform himself, the surviving hunter plugs him with silver and he becomes a part of the museum's display. Many of the scenes are based on the classics, going so far as to turn black and white in the tribute to Night of the Living Dead. It turns out that there is an even greater evil at work, and it falls to two of the surviving college kids to end it.
It's not especially well directed or acted, and the effects are hit and miss. Nevertheless, there are some fabulously hammy performances from character actors like David Warner, John Rhys-Davies, Patrick Macnee, Jennifer Bassey and J Kenneth Campbell. The werewolf comes off as a rather furry mask, but the mummy is outstanding. Waxwork isn't really scary and you won't catch me calling it "great film making" or anything, but it is tremendous campy fun.
Scooby-Doo & The Ghoul School - 1988
Written by Glenn Leopold
Directed by Charles A Nichols & Ray Patterson
Made-for-TV movie in which "the gang" encounter a school for the daughters of classic monsters. "The gang" at this point in history consists of Scooby, Shaggy and... Scrappy Doo, so even if the little monstresses held some appeal as a concept, you'd still end up wanting it burned out of your brain.
|Let's get a better look at that Stan Winston Gill-Man|
Don't stop now! Keep on moving to The Monster Mash-Ups - Part 5: the 1990s!
Or take it from the top with The Monster Mash-Ups - Part 1: the 1940s & 50s!