Tag Archives: horror vending stickers

Peel Here #118: The Exhaustive Selectra Horror Prism Vending Stickers edition!

4560287382_404990f06c_oAs I approach my 10th anniversary of running Branded in the 80s I can’t help but feel a pull towards revisiting some of the topics and products that helped to launch the site back in 2006.  I’m a different person than I was at the outset and enough time has passed that I feel like I might have something more to add to those early articles.  Some of it is having a new perspective on the material, and some if it is finally having access to a much larger collection to showcase and the collector in me, the completest, is compelled to set about making something a little more definitive.

Back in 2009 I addressed one of my 80s era collecting holy grails when I wrote about a small collection of obscure horror movie-themed prism vending machine stickers.  Vending stickers are a hard thing to date because of their bootleg and disposable nature.  They don’t feature copyright notices so you kind of have to use context clues to date them.  As a kid, the only vending horror sticker that I manged to get my hands on was one featuring Clive Barker’s 1990 movie Nightbreed, so I assumed that the stickers were released in at least 1990, but I was also working under the assumption that the entire set of stickers (at the time I guessed that there were maybe 40-50 available based on some collections I saw online) were released at the same time.  Now I’ve managed to dig up some more information that leads me to believe that these stickers actually debuted in 1989 and were potentially released in waves throughout the end of 1990 or so.  But before I get ahead of myself let me bring it back to the beginning and talk a bit about what these are and why I love them so damn much.


As I mentioned I found my first sticker back in 1989 while my family made a big move from Florida up to New Hampshire.  At the time I was 12 and had been sort of weaning myself off of stuff like G.I. Joe and Transformers and was turning into an angsty teen who wanted to spend all of his time reading Uncanny X-Men comics and Stephen King novels, listening almost exclusively to Metallica and Megadeth, and watching horror movies.  By this point I’d seen and was mildly obsessed with both Hellraiser films and had just recently picked up a secondhand copy of Barker’s first Books of Blood short story collection.  I was also an avid reader of Fangoria and remember reading an interview with Clive Barker about his new project Nightbreed in the October 1989 issue.  So I was excited for the flick and sometime during the drive up to New Hampshire my folks stopped off at a restaurant that had one of those sticker vending machines in the lobby.  I’m not sure if it was a Pizza Hut or something more in line with a truck stop diner, as we were inclined to have stopped at either, but sometime on that trip I found a machine, slid my two quarters into the push handle and pulled out a little while cardboard sleeve that had a foil prism Night Breed sticker inside.  I was beyond stoked and as soon as we were settled into our new home my dad gave me an old black particle board bookcase from his office and the Nightbreed sticker was peeled off the backing and stuck prominently above my collection of horror paperbacks.

NightbreedI always loved that sticker, partly because it had different imagery than anything else I’d seen relating Nightbreed, and partly because of the super simplified art style of these prism stickers.  Much like art adoring trading card wax wrappers, there’s something that I find really appealing about the bloby, offset, screen tone colors and thick, bold shadowy style of the reproduced line art.  And very similar to my Barfo candy experience, after I found my first prism horror sticker I was never able to locate anymore for a very long time.  In fact it wasn’t until 2009 when I finally found a small set of 5 stickers on eBay, 20 years later.  I mentioned this in the previous piece that I wrote, but these are the type of collectibles that become really hard to find years after their release.  Not only are they most likely unauthorized bootleg merchandise, but they’re designed to be disposable.  I mean they cheapo stickers that are used to adorn trapper keepers and school notebooks.  These things are used, abused and thrown away, so it really rare to see them pop up on the secondary “antique” market.  The best resource for finding them over the last decade has been when small stockpiles of them have been unearthed in old storage lockers and they show up in bulk sets for upwards of $1k on ebay.  But since these are highly prized and sought after collectibles by folks in the horror fandom community they tend to get snatched up and resold individually.  Sometimes you can get a good deal and sometimes folks sell these for $100 a pop.  So if you’re looking to collect these I’d suggest watching eBay like a hawk and being patient.

Over the last 6 years I’ve been buying them here and there and before I knew it I had a pretty sizable collection.  I’m still not sure exactly how many different horror stickers were offered, but I’ve been able to identify at least 93 including variations.  On eBay I also stumbled upon a 1989 catalog for the company that produced and distributed them, Selectra, which answered the question of when they were originally released…

1 Selectra Catalog a

1 Selectra Catalog b

So, without further to do, here’s a gallery of all the awesome Selectra prism horror movie vending stickers that I’ve been able to track down (there are four that I know of that I haven’t gotten my hands on, a second Nightbreed one featuring Dirk Lylesberg, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, one with a lady being force-fed a spider from a movie I can’t identify and a Puppet Master sticker.)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1   A Nightmare on Elm Street 1b   A Nightmare on Elm Street 4

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5   A Nightmare on Elm Street 5b   A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 1

A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 2   A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 2b   A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 4

I find it interesting that there were variations of the same sticker offered in slightly different formats.  Like there were some that were die-cut and didn’t have any prism material showing through the ink like with the second Freddy in the three stickers above.  Also, though obviously they are based on the same promo still of the character, two different artists tackled the stickers with one being way more accurate.  Then there are some that are just downright embarrassing in terms of execution like the Nightmare sticker on the far right in the row below…

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5c   A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 3   A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 6

A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy 5   An American Werewolf in London   Bark at the Moon Ozzy Osbourne

Beetlejuice   Brain 1a   Brain 1b

Then there are weird variations like the two stickers for the 1988 movie The Brain above that are based on the same poster artwork but are vastly different in quality…

Blob   Friday the 13th Part 8   House

Brain Dead   Childs Play   Creepshow

It’s also interesting looking at the imagery that was used for the various movies.  Most of these draw from poster or VHS artwork while some of them, like the Child’s Play sticker above, are more interpretations of the movies, sometimes with some weird logo designs…

Critters   Day of the Dead   Deep Star Six b

Deep Star Six   Evil Dead2   Fly

Then there are some stickers which seem vague when it comes to the title of the film, or at least the entry in a series of films, like the Evil Dead II sticker above that drops the “II”.  Yet the Fly II sticker has the the correct title and tag line.  Weird…

Freakshow   Frightmare   Friday the 13th Part 6

Friday the 13th Part 5a   Friday the 13th Part 5b   Friday the 13th Part 7

Funhouse   Halloween   Halloween 4a

It’s also interesting to me to see what films managed to get stickers, and sometimes, specifically what films that are part of a series.  So some of the more obscure horror flicks like Frightmare and The Brain get stickers, yet as far as I know there are no Pumpkinhead, Night of the Comet, or Lost Boys stickers.  Then there is are stickers for the first and fourth Halloween flicks, but not parts two or three.  Can you imagine a sticker featuring all three Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween 3?!?

Halloween 4b   Hellraiser 1a

Hellraiser Pinhead 1   Hellraiser Pinhead 2   Hellraiser Pinhead 3

Then there are stickers, like the three Pinhead variations above, that were produced repeatedly.  I think there might even be a fourth variation of that design with a plain silver prism fill around the portrait.

Hellraiser   Hellraiser2a   Hellraiser2b

Hellraiser2c   Horror Show   Nightbreed

Nightmares a   Nightmares b

Howling b   Howling   Memorial Valley Massacre

Monkey Shines       Night of the Demons

Phantasm 2a   Phantasm 2b   Phantom of the Mall

Phantom of the Opera   Psycho 3b   Psycho3

Return of the Living Dead Part 2   Return of the Living Dead Part 2b   Return of the Living Dead Part 2c

I love seeing the differences between some of these variations.  I find it interesting how different each of these Return of the Living Dead Part II stickers came out…

Return to Horror High   Scanners   Scarecrows

Screaming Mad George 1   Screaming Mad George 2   Screamtime

I also think it’s interesting that of all films to be adapted into sticker we get not one, but two variations on Brian Yuzna’s Society (above), neither of which is the more famous imagery of the face emerging from a butt

Shocker 1a   Shocker 1b   Slaughter High 1

Slaughter High 2   Sleepaway Camp 3   Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 Leatherface

Supernaturals 1   Supernaturals 2   Swamp Thing

The Gate a   The Gate b

They Live   Thou Shall Not Kill Except   ToxicAvenger

Vamp   Werewolf   Zombie Nightmare

So, are there any other Selectra prism horror vending machine stickers floating around out there that you’ve seen that I didn’t cover here?  I’m curious just how many different ones were made…

The Repo Man has entered The Grid!

Lots of little personal projects going on this month behind the scenes at Branded, but of all the stuff I’m working on the thing I’m probably the most excited for is the launch of Season Two of the Cult Film Club!  It’s been just over a year since I helped launch the CFC Podcast with my bitchin’ co-hosts Paxton Holly (of the aptly named Cavalcade of Awesome & the Nerd Lunch Podcast) and Jaime Hood (who runs my favorite blog on the interwebs Shezcrafti.com.)

CFC Cover Photo

We do our best to get together about once a month to talk about all the cult movies that we love to death.  Outside of 80s era kids junk (and the branding that goes with it) my other main passion/hobby is watching movies and deconstructing them with friends.  So the Cult Film Club has been a great outlet for me to help start the conversation on some of my favorite flicks.  Now we’re not limiting ourselves to just the 80s, but readers of this site will surely be interested in a good chunk of the movies we’ve tackled so far as a lot of them have fallen square in the domain of what I’d normally cover here at Branded like Miami Connection, Better Off Dead, Karate Kid III, Zapped, Beastmaster, Troll 2 and The Wraith.  We just kicked off our new season with an episode dedicated to the late Mr. Harold Ramis (where we cover a trio of his films, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.)  So for anyone who might enjoy hearing me blather on about 80s stuff in a podcasting format and who hasn’t checked out the show, you might enjoy it.

In honor of the CFC gearing back up, I wanted to take a moment and talk about a segment of an film I just caught last night that is the sort of stuff the Cult Film Club was built to discuss, which also just happens to fall directly into the middle section of the CFC/Branded Venn diagram.  There’s a horror flick from the early 80s that I’ve been meaning to watch forever called Nightmares (released in 1983.)  I first stumbled upon this flick years ago when I was hunting for some of those elusive foil prism horror vending stickers that I had when I was a kid.  I ended up winning a lot on eBay and included in with the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th Part 6, and Vamp stickers was one with a couple of hands, a pair of eyes and the text Nightmares.  I thought it was just some sort of generic horror sticker the seller threw in, but it turns out that it was for this obscure anthology movie starring Richard Mauser (the dad from License to Drive), Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Near Dark), Billy Jacoby (Just One of the Guys), and an early performance by Emilio Estevez.


It’s been on my radar to watch for years as I love horror anthology flicks (all those wonderful Amicus films from the 70s and stuff like Creepshow, Tales From the Darkside or The Monster Club.)  Well I saw that the full film was on youtube last night so I threw some pizza rolls in the oven, popped the top of a Red Rock grape soda, and finally caught up with this movie.


For the most part the flick is a snooze fest, but the second chapter titled The Bishop of Battle was amazing!  Where do I begin?  First off, this segment stars Jacoby and Estevez as a couple of arcade junkies.  Estevez plays J.J. Cooney, a cross between Newman’s The Hustler and Doug Masters from Iron Eagle.  The segment opens with Jacoby and Estevez hopping a bus from their suburban neighborhood in the Valley to Venice Beach so that they can hustle the local gangs that hang out in the arcades.  Estevez’s Cooney is an game wiz, the best in California, and he needs some quick cash that he owes to the mysterious Bishop.

Nightmares 5

Cooney finds his mark playing a Pleiades machine and he goes in for the kill setting him up with a spiel from Jacoby’s character about how Cooney is always blowing his money on arcade challenges.  Before you know it Conney is down $6 and decides to go for broke and up the ante with one final game for a whopping $25.  The gang member has to go check with his boss, but gets cleared for the dough and the two battle it out in one final game which of course Cooney wins.

Nightmares 7

So aside from the fact that it’s kind of ridiculous how “serious” it becomes when $25 is at stake, I love this sequence because Estevez’s Cooney gets into “game mode” by slipping on his Walkman headphones and blasts some rad early 80s punk.  This is way before similar sequences in Iron Eagle that I also love, and a full year before Estevez would play punk Otto in Repo Man.  In fact this whole segment is set to the music of Black Flag, X, and Fear which is amazing.

Nightmares 6

The gang is onto Cooney unfortunately and they end up chasing the two out of the arcade into the streets where Estevez and Jacoby narrowly jump another bus to the safety of the Valley.  The two make their way to the local mall and after an argument about going to see the Bishop, Cooney leaves Jacoby behind and continues on into the local arcade.  Can I just say how sad it is that there aren’t arcades in malls anymore?  You’d think with the amount of teens that still hang out in local malls these wonderlands of video games would still manage to be profitable.  I mean I know that gaming has evolved past what a lot of these machines were capable of and most kids get their fix with apps on their phones, but still there’s something magical about the noise and lights and standing at a cabinet that I miss so much.

Nightmares 8

Anyway, we quickly learn that the “Bishop” isn’t a person, but rather a game called The Bishop of Battle, a game that Cooney has yet to beat and is his sole focus.  In fact at one point he tells his parents that after he beats the Bishop he’s going to retire from gaming and concentrate on school again.  No more late nights and missed classes.  No more stealing quarters and hustling Latino street gangs for bread to feed the Bishop.  Cooney decides that today is the day he will finally get to the 13th level and take down his rival.

Nightmares 12

Nightmares 11

The game is very much like Beserk or Nightstalker with a maze-like grid and wandering aliens you have to blast with a laser gun.  As the game opens you hear: “Greetings Earthling.  I am the Bishop of Battle, master of all I survey.  I have 13 progressively harder levels. Try me… if you dare!”  Cooney pumps up the volume on some punk and then proceeds to the 12th level where he’s promptly taken down by the Bishop.  The crowd that gathered dissipates as the arcade closes and the owner literally has to pry Cooney off the machine.

Nightmares 13

This is where the film takes a turn for the speculative and horrific.  Later that night after having a huge blowout with his parents, Cooney sneaks back to the mall and breaks into the arcade so that he can have his final showdown with the Bishop.  He’s hot and ends up finally beating the 12th level at which point the arcade cabinet freaks out, overloads, and literally crumbles to pieces…

nightmares 15

Cooney thinks he’s finally beaten the Bishop, but it turns out that the 13th level was way more than he bargained for as he has inadvertently freed the Bishop who sends his pixelated minions to do battle with Cooney in the real world.

Nightmares 3

Looking down, Cooney sees he still has the laser gun from the cabinet in his fist so he instinctively starts zapping the flying enemies in the middle of the arcade, destroying arcade games left and right.  It’s sort of like the opposite of Tron and is kind of freaking awesome!

Nightmares 1

I can’t believe I went 36 years without catching up with this 25 minutes of pure awesome cinema.  Estevez is at his best, cockily grinning up a storm and is really into the role no matter how cheesy some of the dialogue is.  The effects in the live action arcade sequences are pretty top notch as well and totally hold up 31 years later.  Between the Tron homages, Estevez and the rad punk soundtrack, Nightmares: The Bishop of Battle is well worth seeking out.  Just be careful you don’t buy it on the 13th level because the consequences are much worse than the game being over!

Nightmares 4