Monthly Archives: June 2009

Cool cover art

I love looking at the cover art on old horror movie VHS tapes. From lurid paintings to goofy staged photographs, they have a unique style that today’s DVD covers rarely match. So you can imagine my delight to discover Critical Condition Online’s cover art gallery. Not only does it have tons of cover scans, but it also lists the various home video companies of the 80’s/90’s, provides company histories and even includes scans of vintage promotional material!

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Happy Father’s Day!

Watching television with one’s father is a time-honored family tradition. So on Father’s Day, why not relive those moments with your father by heading over to Youtube?
Both MGM and Lionsgate have uploaded several full-length movies and television shows onto their Youtube accounts. GdL readers should be interested in Amityville II: The Possession, Dark Fields, Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, Parents, The Outer Limits and The Addams Family. And if the old man isn’t a horror fan, then there’s plenty of other types of movies and shows to watch. It may not sound like the most glamorous way to spend Father’s Day, but I’m sure dad will like it more than getting yet another tie.

Grandpa and the Midnight Mutants

In 1990, Atari and Radioactive Software released an interesting action game for the Atari 7800 system called Midnight Mutants. The game dealt with a young boy’s quest to save his grandfather, who has been turned into a pumpkin by Dr. Evil. What’s really interesting about the game is that, as you can see from the screenshots from the game shown here, the grandfather in question is Grandpa Munster! Or is he?

You see, the game technically wasn’t related to The Munsters. Apparently, only the use of Al Lewis’ likeness was licensed. But, thanks to his appearance being so strongly linked to his portrayal of “Grandpa” from the series and since he was used to represent the captured grandfather of the game’s protagonist, many assumed that the game involved Grandpa Munster. If the rights holders for The Munsters had attempted any legal action, I’d assume that Radioactive Software and Atari would’ve pointed out that since the main character was named Jimmy Harkman, then it would mean that his grandfather would be named “Grandpa Harkman” and wasn’t related to character from The Munsters in any way. I’m not saying that it would necessarily hold up in court, but I’m sure they’d make that sort of argument. Although the character from the TV series is informally referred to as “Grandpa Munster” by many, he was actually referred to as “Count Dracula” in a few episodes of the show. This is because he was only the father-in-law of Herman Munster.

This unusual licensing strategy was also used on other occasions. Lewis hosted horror movies on TBS as “Grandpa” during the 80’s and also hosted a series of VHS tapes from Vintage Video (aka AmVest Video). Notice that, although the Amazon listings refer to him as “Grandpa Munster,” he is merely called “Grandpa” on the packaging. In these appearances, he did not wear the same makeup design used in The Munsters television series or films.

I have to wonder why they chose to use “Grandpa” in that game. Were reruns of The Munsters really all that popular with the youth of the time? Perhaps they were inspired by a similar game for the NES called Fester’s Quest, which featured characters from The Addams Family. However, unlike Midnight Mutants, this game had licensed the characters. But even if that was the case, one has to wonder why they thought that children of the 80’s would want to buy a game about a character from a 60’s sitcom battling aliens.

Is this the end of civilization as we know it?

MGM/Comcast’s “Impact” OnDemand channel is now offering the 1986 post-apocalyptic trash classic Robot Holocaust for free. Yes, as in the one that appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Although the film’s print is very good and has all the footage that was cut from the MST3K version, those who remember Wizard Video’s claim that it was “too gory for the silver screen” are going to be disappointed. Although it does have its fair share of severed limbs, it isn’t very gory and the tagline was only putting a positive spin the fact that it was a direct-to-video movie. On the plus side, it’s chock full of killer robots, mutants, buck-toothed worms and other bizarre creatures!

I hope that it gets a DVD release under MGM’s Midnite Movies line sometime soon, if only to see what movie it would be paired with. My best guess would be the similarly-themed Mutant Hunt. I love the original VHS box art for that movie; not only does it make promises it can’t keep regarding the film’s quality, but it also appears to show a half-naked Inspector Gadget going on a rampage.

Also, the big switch from analog broadcasting to digital is scheduled for midnight tonight! It also seems that even those who have converter boxes or cable might experience a little trouble. From what I could glean from the news today, you might have to press your remote’s menu button and hit any option that has the word “Scan” in it if you are unable to get certain channels. You can find more information on the matter by looking around here.

I’m sure that some of you readers have fiddled with a TV antenna trying to get some horror movie to tune in a little clearer or settled with a snowy TV signal from a distant station since they were airing something you desperately wanted to see. Although the switchover will make that impossible for modern viewers, some will surely miss the ability to do that sort of thing. If you have any memories like this which you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment.