Tag Archives: Trick or Treating

IT’S ALIVE! Branded gears back up for the 2014 Countdown to Halloween

It’s been pretty quiet around here during this past summer as I’ve been juggling a lot of projects, but things have calmed down a bit and I’m fully ready to tackle my 9th Halloween at Branded in the 80s.

Before I talk about this year’s theme, I wanted take a second and point again to the Countdown to Halloween site, a hub for sites who are participating in the month-long celebration of all things Halloweeny.  I recently re-skinned the website for this new year and added a brand new batch of participant badges, all with a monstrously aquatic theme in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the release of Universal’s Creature From the Black Lagoon!

Julie Adams and the Gill Man in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, 1954.

I had a lot of fun fudging the 3-D effect for the new site banner as well as picking some creature-rific imagery for the 2014 badges.  This year there’s also a special project I’m working on specifically for the countdown site that I hope to announce in the next few days.  So head on over to the Countdown site. check out the list of participating websites, and join up if you’re planning on celebrating on your own site!

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As for Branded, this year I’m finally going to spend some quality time talking about one of my favorite films, probably my most favorite, Fred Dekker’s 1987 kid-adventure, horror masterpiece The Monster Squad!  I’ve written and talked a little bit about the flick over the years, though mostly it was either reviewing the bootleg DVD, lamenting the lack of an official DVD release, and then when the film was finally released on disc, it was to lament the horrible cover art that adorned it.  I fully intended to spend a week talking about the movie when the 25th anniversary came up a couple years ago, but I got sidetracked and just wrote one short piece about seeing the film for the first time.  I also did a breakdown of Eugene’s room when I first started my exploration of 80s era kid’s rooms on film.  I still feel though, that I haven’t sufficiently tackled a discussion of the flick, so for the next 31 days I’m going to do my best to dig into all aspects of my favorite movie of all time!

10655011_1449641078658365_981214608_nI have a pretty ambitious line up of articles and features planned to celebrate this cult classic, so I hope you’ll join me each day as I examine all aspects of the movie from the script, the marketing, the home video release, trivia, behind the scenes footage and so much more.  As an added bonus, each day this month I plan on posting a treat for your virtual McDonalds Halloween Boo-Pail.  I’ve always been bummed that the movie didn’t have a big merchandising push like other kid’s flicks from the decade, so there were never any read along adventure books, Burger King Collectors glasses (a crime since they were so prominently featured in the movie), or toys.  We didn’t even get a set of Topps trading cards!  We all know how much I love Topps, wax wrappers and junk, so I’ve taken it upon myself to create a mini set of collectible digital Monster Squad trading cards, and I’ll be “handing” them out in place of candy for all you trick or treators who stop by Branded this month.  To get you started I’ll post the first one below.

27 Scraps F-B

Thanks again for reading Branded and I look forward to kicking some Wolfman nards over the next month…

countdown button 200 2014 Robare

One of the few non-candy treats I could really sink my teeth into!

So, confession time.  I was a, er, late trick-or-treater quitter, or how ever you phrase that concept.  I had a hard time giving up the costumes and pillowcases when I got into middle school, and even the first couple years of high school.  I was never one to “do what I was told”, and lets be honest, going door to door in your local neighborhoods at night dressed up like a monster getting free candy?  How in the hell does one just quit that?  That’s like quitting smoking (I hear) or heroin (a closer comparison I would have to guess.)  Anyway, I had a very hard time giving up the ghost (costume), and found myself going door to door with a small group of like-minded geeky friends back in 1991.  My costume?  I was Riff Raff from Rocky Horror.  But I didn’t have moolah in the costume budget for a fake bald cap or wig, so I wore an old fireman’s helmet my ex-EMT uncle gave me.  My concept?  Riff Raff was a volunteer fireman on the weekends.  Everyone needs a hobby.

Halloween 1991

So, when I wasn’t awkwardly telling folks to give me treats, smell my feet and all that junk, I was pretty big into collecting comics, and more specifically, at the time Marvel trading cards printed by Impel.  I had a huge collection of the 1st-3rd series cards, and even though I was a die-hard Topps kid, Impel really impressed me with their card quality.  So, where am I going with this?  Well, in addition to my rather large candy haul that year (king-size pillowcases were the way to go), there were some surprises mixed in that had me way more excited than the eventual chocolate-induced stomach aches that awaited.  When I got home that night and dumped the bag of candy out on the floor I saw a very familiar logo at the bottom of a pack of trading cards I didn’t even realize made it into my loot…

impel

That’s right, in 1991 Impel marketed a tiny set of Universal Monster Trading Card Treats that folks could buy and give out instead of candy.  Though I’d normally frown on this sort of non-candy treat heresy, I was actually really excited to see these.  Not only was I a pretty big fan of trading cards, I was also a budding monster fanatic too.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the wherewithal to archive these cards (or any of the tons of Universal Monster merch that littered the shelves that year), and I have no idea what ever became of the specific ones I scored that night.  But as luck would have it, on my first trip up to Bel Air Maryland to meet Jaime from Shezcrafti.com, we stumbled into a local antique store that just happened to have a few packs in stock for super cheap.

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As far as I know the set consists of six cards featuring the main stable of the Universal Monsters including Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature, and Frankenstein’s monster and his Bride.  Now I’m not calling the Bride “Yoko” or anything, but seriously, remove her photo-bombing behind from that card art and you’d have a mean Monster Squad rogue’s gallery.  Just saying…

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I do like that someone (either the artist or someone in the design department at Impel) decided to stick the Bride and the monster on the same single card.  I’m sure Impel wanted these to be six to a pack for some reason.  Anyway, I like that you get a nice range of portraits and group shots on these cards, and I’m so glad the Creature get’s his own featured card considering he tends to get overlooked on a lot of merchandise…

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So the Wolfman gets kind of screwed on the cardbacks.  His synopsis story is eschewed in favor of a “Night Safety” hint.  Also, nice job on the monster movie release date brain teaser Impel, I mean the answers are printed right under the question and they’re not even tiny or upside down!

Thinking about these cards and organizing the monster-themed GPK stickers for my main countdown this year has me wondering, why hasn’t Topps put out a Halloween themed set of Garbage Pail Kids in time for the holiday (you know, for treats?)  I would literally go broke buying boxes of spooky gross stickers.  Topps, get on that.