10 Things I Would Have In A Monster Squad Style Tree House Horror Hangout!

treehouse

I’ve never participated in a blogger challenge / blogger round table before, but, when I saw this one, I just couldn’t pass it up. Johnny Squires, the man behind the genius blog Freddy In Space, threw down a gauntlet in a big, bad way, and it totally excited me to no end. Thus, I present to you, my entry in his challenge asking to identify what “10 Things I Would Have In A Monster Squad Style Tree House Horror Hangout.”

I don’t think I’ve been asked such an interesting question in a long, long time. I mean, anyone who knows me knows that 1 – I’m in a perpetual state of arrested development, 2 – my love for “The Monster Squad” is huge, huge, huge (I’m sitting mere feet from my “Stephen King Rules” shirt as I type this, and 3 – my nostalgia for my horror-fueled childhood is never-ending. I’ve read a few of the challengers’ lists (as of this posting, Jack’s Attic and The Miscellaneous Pile), and they’re both excellent reads, as is the original post at Freddy In Space. So, ghouls and boils, I offer MY list, and, as any obsessive horror fan knows, this is, by no means, complete… but hey, I wanted to play before it was too late!

1 – Remco’s Mini-Monsters Figures

Remco Mini Monsters

Ok – this is one that sort of dates me. I’m not sure WHEN they started releasing the Remco Mini-Monsters, but I’m pretty sure it was around the very early 80’s. That’s when I started collecting them. I had all six of these classic movie monster toys… think G.I. Joes for weird kids. Mom tells me when I was little, I’d never leave the house without at least one of these in a death grip… and who can blame me?? I mean, they’re the classic Universal Monsters, and they’re toys! Holy crap! Sadly, I’ve lost track of these over the years, but I pray that most, if not all, of them are packed somewhere in my mom’s attic… just waiting to be dug up!!!

2 – Matchbox Talking Freddy Krueger Doll

Matchbox Talking Freddy Krueger

Unlike the sad tale of my Remco Mini-Monsters, I DO know where my Talking Freddy Krueger is… RIGHT HERE IN MY APARTMENT. Oh man, this was pretty much the jewel of my childhood, and I can’t imagine my own personal Monster Squad Treehouse Hangout being complete without him/it. I was a weird child, much like many of you, and I actually slept with my Talking Freddy as a stand-in for a normal child’s teddy bear. I don’t know if this says as much about me as it does my parents… you know, letting their child fall asleep cuddling with a talking representation of an infamous, albiet fictional, child murderer, but hey… my parents were pretty cool. After the American Family Association filed complaints, this toy’s production was halted, and Matchbox stopped advertising… but it didn’t stop Freddy from traveling with my into adulthood!

3 – Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

My childhood love of horror wasn’t contained to the big or small screen, and, like many horror-kids, Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” was an important part of my childhood. With AMAZING illustrations by Stephen Gammell, and no punches really pulled in the storytelling, this original book (and it’s subsequent sequels) fueled many a nightmare, and much of my horror-filled-imagination. Sadly, these books have been regularly banned from school libraries, and, more recently, the illustrations have been tamed down to the point of tragedy. As John Waters says, “no crime has ever been committed by reading a book,” but, the sad truth is that some crimes have been committed TO books, and this is truly disappointing indeed. As an excellent representation of how horror for children doesn’t have do be dumbed down, the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark series will ALWAYS have a place on the bookshelf of my Monster Squad Hangout!!!

4 – Madballs!

Madballs

Madballs!!! Who loves Madballs?? I love Madballs, you love Madballs, EVERYONE loves Madballs!!! I mean, c’mon, this is just the pinnacle of childhood rudeness and gross-out humor! Madballs were Nerf-like, softball-sized balls that didn’t really bounce, weren’t shaped for rolling, and were too hard to throw at your friends (not that THAT stopped us), but Hell, Madballs were fun. The subject of comics, books, and, strangely enough, a Saturday morning cartoon series, Madballs were nastily designed rubber balls with the visages of monsters and beasties with names like Screamin’ Meemie, Oculous Orbis, and Aargh (although my personal favorite was the mummy, Dust Brain). I wanted to include Boglins on this list, but, as Freddy In Space had already listed the Halloween Boglin, I thought I’d show a little Madball-love (Freddy In Space DID mention a Madball-bank, but, c’mon, you gotta have the original toys, too!!!).

5 – Shrieks & Creaks Talking Boardgame

Shrieks&Creaks

Board games were an important part of my childhood, and, as some of the blogs participating in this discussion/challenge have already named a few of my favorite horror board games, I thought I’d offer my very favorite one… Shrieks & Creaks!!! This board game was awesome, mixing a “Maniac Mansion” sort of board game with a horror-host sort of persona, Sir Simon Shriek. Basically, this game led characters through a haunted mansion, and, the players were directed by a cassette tape that was activated by a “Talking Tombstone,” which was this adaptor that you plugged into a tape player’s microphone port. You would place your character’s “player key” and corresponding “room key” into the Talking Tombstone adaptor — which would give you a command, which would either be a penalty or a reward. Clips of this game can be found on YouTube, but, for the real fun, I’d suggest you hit up eBay!!!

6 – Horrible Horror VHS, hosted by Zacherley.

Horrible Horror

Horror Hosts were a big part of my childhood, and, hey, they’re still a big part of my life today (I’m even friends with some of them!). While I’m not representing my own local horror host on this list (Sammy Terry, Indiana’s favorite ghoul), or even discussing the reigning queen of 80’s Horror Hosting, Elvira, I did feel that SOMETHING needed to represent this — and I found it in the VHS compilation tape “Horrible Horror,” as hosted by one of the pioneers of horror-hosting, Zacherley!!! This tape contains clips, trailers, and behind-the-scenes (screams?) footage of some of the classic, and not so classic, horror films of yesteryear (including the film that was my childhood introduction into horror, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein). This tape is great to put on at parties, and, even if I didn’t have electricity to run a tv/vcr combo in my Monster Squad Hangout, I’d still keep this tape proudly displayed. And hey, the whole thing is streaming over at YouTube:

7 – Death Waltz Recording Company’s Entire Catalogue

Death Waltz

Ok, I’m cheating a bit here. Whether it was explicitly or implicitly stated, I feel a good rule-of-thumb for a Monster Squad Hangout is looking at vintage (oh sweet lord my childhood is vintage I am old) tricks and treats for filling your Groovie Ghoulie clubhouse. That being said, I’ve got to give my favorite record label, Death Waltz Recording Company, a shout-out for being so damn good to us horror-kids, young and old. Vinyl WAS a part of my childhood, for, as cool as my parents were (see Talking Freddy Kruger Doll, above), my mom was slow to update my technology, so, even though cassettes, and later CDs, became the norm, a good deal of my childhood was also spent listening to good old fashioned wax. The folks over at Death Waltz have been churning out amazing vinyl packages of some of the greatest horror scores ever, including Halloween II & III, The Fog, Zombi 2, House By The Cemetery, and, most recently, The Fog. While these repressings are new, nearly all of the films represented are not, and that’s why I can, without too much guilt, include them in my Monster Squad Hangout. Sadly, the score to the Monster Squad has not been released (yet) by Death Waltz! Bogus!

8 – McDonald’s Halloween McNuggets

Halloween McNuggets

McDonalds – now HERE is definitely something that will bring back childhood nostalgia. Years before I became a vegetarian, I, like most children, loved to go to McDonalds. I was a Happy Meal Kid, what can I say? McDonalds was great a getting children addicted to their greasy-but-delicious non-hamburger-hamburgers, and, c’mon, McDonalds always had the best toys. I came close to including the McBoo Halloween pails on this list, but I had to go with the Halloween McNugget figures – mostly because they were pretty great toys. I don’t think Happy Meal toys have stayed as high-quality as the ones people my age had when they were kids, but man, these were pretty great. I mean, who does want an anthropomorphized McNugget dressed up as Dracula? Not anyone I’d like to meet, at least!!! Yep – these babies are DEFINITELY going to be in my Monster Squad Hangout.

9 – Back issues of Fangoria magazine

Fangoria

While I believe that most of the items listed on this list hold a special place in the perpetual Eddie Munster that lives inside of me (with the exception of the then-non-existant Death Waltz albums), perhaps none of the items were quite as essential to my knowledge of horror as Fangoria. The magazine that I had to beg and plead to have bought for me, Fangoria was, and still is, a treasure trove for horror fans. Even though Fangoria now faces stiff competition from great magazines like Rue Morgue and HorrorHound (both of which are entirely welcome in my horror hangout), the premiere choice of horror magazines in MY Monster Squad Hangout would be Fangoria. It was my generation’s Famous Monsters of Filmland, albiet much, much gorier, and it still makes me smile every time I see it at my local bookstore.

10 – The Monster Squad poster

Monster Squad Poster

Oh, please. You had to know that SOMEONE would post this, and dammit, that person is me. The Monster Squad was my Goonies, even though I absolutely love The Goonies. The Monster Squad is still in my top ten films to date, and that’s not even with a caveat of “Top Ten HORROR Movies” or “Top Ten CHILDHOOD Movies.” Nope, from Dracula and his pals, to the Scary German Guy, to Fat Kid’s revelation that Wolf Man does, indeed, have nards, my love of The Monster Squad has no bounds. This movie may very well be the perfect film for any horror-kid. Yeah, it’s definitely not PC by today’s standards, but The Monster Squad does kid-horror right by not going soft on its treatment of it’s monsters. I love Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, but, for my money, Duncan Regehr IS the definitive Count Dracula. All of the monsters in The Monster Squad are given their due (even if it IS a little skimpy on its Gill-Man action), and I could plop down and watch this movie any day of the week, and that’s why, if I’m displaying ONE  poster in my Monster Squad Hangout, this is the one I’m hanging.

MonsterSquadDiagram

That’s it, kids, the Top 10 Things I Would Have In A Monster Squad Style Tree House Horror Hangout. If you have some thoughts about what YOU’D proudly display, leave a comment below or go post over at Freddy In Space. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see a Scary German Guy about translating Dr. Frankenstein’s diary… before I return this call from Mr. Alucard, that is…

 

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About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

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