Friday, September 30, 2011

Scooby-Doo Movies - A History

Scooby-Doo has been delighting the world for over 40 years and is just as strong now as he was then. But there was a dark time in the Scoobyverse. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo ended in 1991 which lead to a seven year period without any substantial Scooby-Doo release (I don't really Arabian Nights...sorry).

But after that time, Scooby-Doo came a big way.

In 1998, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island was released and so began the first era of direct-to-video Scooby Movies. The main draw of this new film was that the monsters WERE REAL! If you look into Scooby lore, you will find that this isn't the first time that the monsters weren't just people in fact, a lot of the material had him and the gang pitted against real monsters. But for me, as a seven year old kid, I couldn't have been more excited for it. The monsters were real! PINCH ME I AM DREAMING! If you ask anyone born in the late '80s, early '90s what Scooby-Doo cartoon they remember most, the answer will be Zombie Island. You just can't top this movie...I dare you to try.
The next year, Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost was released. Again, the monsters are real and this movie is brilliant. You get the sexy Hex Girls (I love Thorn...always will) and a Stephen King style character helping Mystery Incorporated solve the mystery. It's so can buy this movie at Wal-Mart or Target for $5. So I highly recommend getting it.
I guess it's true what they say..."Nothing Gold Can Stay". Alien Invaders, while not a bad movie, was not nearly as exciting as it's predecessors. But it holds a soft spot for me as Shaggy gets a musical number all to himself. Since the embedding feature is not being my friend, here is a link to that song. Groovy
Again, not really the best Scooby movie out there. While it's pretty nifty to see the alternate versions of the gang at the end of the film, Cyber Chase steps too far out of the general formula of Scooby-Doo. But it's still a very watchable movie.

After the first era of Scooby movies proved to be such a success, Cartoon Network began airing a new show called What's New, Scooby-Doo? It was nice to see Scooby on the air again, but this led to the second era of movies.
I'd be running too...Starting in 2003 and going until 2009, the second era of Scooby Movies were pretty poor. You have Legend of the Vampire, Monster of Mexico, Loch Ness Monster, Aloha, Scooby-Doo, Where's My Mummy?, Pirates Ahoy!, Chill Out, Scooby-Doo, Goblin King and Samurai Sword. These films used the animation style from What's New, Scooby-Doo? and I genuinely dislike a few of these. I do really enjoy Goblin King, as it's a lovely Halloween romp that focuses on Shaggy and Scooby much like the telefilms from the '80s.

In 2010, Warner reboots Scooby-Doo and we entered the third era of Scooby movies starting with Abracadabra-Doo.
Using a better style of animation more similar to the original series, Abracadabra-Doo was a triumph. I love every second of this movie. It brings back songs as well, which I felt was a very effect part of the first era Scooby movies. Followed by Camp Scare and this month's release called Legend of the Phantosaur, the third era of Scooby-Doo movies is where I hope we will stay for awhile. I'm still getting the bad taste of Aloha, Scooby-Doo out of my mouth.

On a personal note, I love enjoy how Warner is keeping the show, Mystery Incorporated on Cartoon Network it's own thing. There is no need for the films to use the same style of animation or story telling. It's more varied and I love it!

So if you want to get a little Scooby-Doo into your Halloween festivities, I would say the first two of the first era, Goblin King and then all three from the third era. That would be enough to make to bring a smile to any Scooby-Doo fan! Just grab a box of Scooby Snack and get to it!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Spooky Trip...

I always enjoy going shopping during Halloween time, because really no matter where I go, Halloween has a presence. Since I go out late at night a lot, Wal-Mart is the only place to go and since most every single Wal-Mart in the world is 24 hours a day and there are a ton of them within driving distance, I tend to go to a few.
I always love these displays. Can't get enough of the jack o'lantern made out of packs of soda. So pretty. Sadly, only one of my Wal-Marts had one of these.
I am not sure exactly what this is, but I could tell you it was amazing. Year after year, these pumpkin pails just line shelves just waiting to come back after no one buys them. I swear...some of these have to be from before 2000...but suspending them in the air with like a cobweb slide into a pool of more pumpkin pails? Color me impressed Wal-Mart.

I'm going to get a little serious here folks...I love Christmas. It's a great holiday and I look forward to celebrating it. But it's Halloween time right now...SO RESPECT THAT WAL-MART! You can put out your lights, as I know that it takes some people months to make their house Christmasified, but you will not weasel in ornaments, decorations and all your other bull crap into my Halloween. It's freakin' September! Honestly...piss me off...
Wonder if that puts me on the naughty list...

Candy Corn is Changing...

If you are like me, you love candy corn. It's not a seasonal treat, but unless there is a distant Halloween feeling to a day, I like to eat it strictly around Halloween time. I have always been just a standard guy, but it seems that life is trying to force new candy corn treats down my throat...literally.
I love candy corn...I love popcorn. This can't go wrong right? Well, I must say...I think it did. The box above is an older design, this is what it looks like today.
It's lovely, it's purple, it's covered with bats and it's $4 for 20 bags of popcorn. Can't be that. So naturally, I opened it up and got to business.

Lovely. I get strong Halloween III: Season of the Witch vibes off the bag itself. This just keeps getting better and better.
Even the instructions are in orange and black. You really thought of everything ACT II.
Isn't that beautiful? Not to mention it made my kitchen smell like sweets and marshmellows!
With anticipation, I put my hand inside that bag that it was full of a million dollars, but sadly, it wasn't. I didn't like it. I really didn't like it. I became sad...but since one of my friends really likes it, I am going to be forced to try this again...I hope for better results. But this wasn't the only product I had to try...

I love candy corn, I love white chocolate and I love M&M's! How could this not be amazing. So I poured some into shot glasses and it became time for the tasting of what I hoped would be the Halloween Treat to end all Halloween treats.

The colors, the's more than I can bare! So I popped a few of these bad boys and with blissful ignorance hoped for the best...again...I was wrong. When you tell me you are going to be white chocolate flavored, I don't expect strawberries. Honestly...two different flavors (Who have a history of being paired together in Eerie Scream.) Did white chocolate miss strawberry and kept her perfume? I'm not sure nor am I qualified to supply you an answer for that one. But what I can tell you is that I hated these M&M's. Which again...makes me so sad. These had such hope and promise...they could have been a contender...if they didn't suck.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30 Years of Monster Goodness

They are here! The Monster Cereals. Every single year, I wait for these to hit store shelves. I am a devoted fanatic of Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry. I can't wait to buy a bunch more and enjoy them throughout the course of the next year!

It's been 30 long years since these cereals were first introduced to the public. Sadly...I know there might be some of you out there who don't know about the Monster Cereals, so let me share with you the history of these delicious Halloween treats.

The Character History
In 1971, General Mills introduced Count Chocula and Franken Berry to the masses. Both plays off of their respective Horror Movie originals, these characters would always feud in the commercials over whose cereal is best.
Needless to say, they never really resolved the issue and have been feuding about it to this day. In 1973, General Mills introduced the blueberry flavored cereal known as Boo Berry. He was always good at getting the other monster's ghost. Hehehehe
Just can't get enough of that Peter Lorre impersonation. I love it. Within the next few years after the release of Boo Berry, the Monster Cereals were joined by, my favorite, Fruit Brute.
Now, I wasn't alive during the time when this was available, but he is my favorite because I love werewolves. And he is just so awesome, sadly, he didn't last too long as a Monster Cereal and was discontinued in the early '80s. But his discontinuation, led to the creation of another Monster Cereal, using the same general flavors as Fruit Brute, called Yummy Mummy.
A little bit annoying, but since Yummy Mummy is a pretty awesome character himself, I have to allow it. Yummy Mummy didn't last long either and was discontinued by 1993. This is why, unless you research, listen to me rant and rave about these characters or are old enough to remember, you probably have no clue who Fruit Brute or Yummy Mummy really are. Sadly, unless the time machine is invented, I don't think I will ever have a box of either...but at least I can get my fix with the others once a year, so that's good enough for me.

The Box History
Almost as important as the characters themselves are the boxes. They are iconic. Since 1971 the boxes have changed quite a bit. Through various redesigns and promotions, there are hundreds of different designs out there. I will try to keep somewhat in line with their release years, but I make no promises as I don't entirely know them.

The "Big Head" box were the originals for each of these characters. These varied a lot and, but always kept the same general style to them.

In 1984, after the discontinuation of Fruit Brute, these boxes featured the Monsters pouring milk into their respective cereals were released. These have always been some of my favorites.

 The Monster Mallows design was a little weak on Boo Berry, but it's a homerun for the rest of the monsters.

In the mid '90s, the Monsters were complete redesigned. These designs were molded and shaped and used for various different boxes until the late 2010. These three are the last boxes to feature the redesigned Monsters.

Taking cues from the past and showing off a new look, these redesigns were great. They just kind of hit each and every note that they needed to. Sadly, these designs lasted less than a year when General Mills released these on us.
There is no real rhyme or reason as to why the Monsters needed another redesign so shortly after one. These are the boxes you will currently find on your store shelves and probably will for the next few years all depending. But really, while the boxes are important, it's the cereal that will leave it's mark. Because while the faces of the Monsters change, they cereal is as sweet as ever.

Hopefully you learned a thing or two and will be picking up a few boxes to celebrate 30 great years of cereal. I'll leave you with another commercial. Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So Many Skulls...

Since last weekend, Crystal Skulls have become a new love of mine. While shopping today, I came across some of the most amazing things I have ever seen...and I couldn't pass them up.

Goblets, shot glasses and a jar. I love them so.
 My new Halloween Bat named Vespert enjoyed the jar quite a bit. How adorable is he?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society...

If you grew up in the '90s, you know this show, you lived this show and if you are like me, you still love this show. Are You Afraid of the Dark? scared everyone during it's run and, if you are lucky enough to see it, still scares kids. I know there is the new "The '90s Are All That" airing on Nick, but I don't know if Are You Afraid of the Dark? is in its rotation yet or will be, but hopefully it will.

Like most TV shows, there are some episodes that are a lot better than others. But when Are You Afraid of the Dark? was was really great. Spanning seven seasons and ninety-one episodes, it's hard to pick just ten to write about, but I'm going to try!

The Tale of Laughing in the Dark - The second episode of season one is a strong one and if you can forget Zeebo the Clown, I envy you. This tale follows a kid trying to be cool in the eye's of his friends and steals the nose from a funhouse clown named Zeebo. But soon, strange things start to happen and you know where the story goes from there. I don't know if everyone born in the '90s who is afraid of clowns can attribute it to Zeebo...but I am sure he didn't help.

The Tale of the Twisted Claw - A take on the classic tale of The Monkey Paw, two troublemakers receive a shriveled hand that gives them three wishes. The story never changes and these wishes get the boys into trouble. I'm sure there were a few people out there, who when reading The Monkey Paw later in life, said to the teacher "Hey, is this based on that Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode?". Come on...we all know at least one person who would say that.

The Tale of the Super Specs - This one introduces that loveable guy named Sardo, who owns a magic shop and is very particular about how you say his name. This is the classic story of boy likes girl, boy buys super specs, girl tries on super specs, girl sees other dimensional beings, girl and boy and magic shop owner try to fix it and it ends bad. Wait a minute...

The Tale of the Prom Queen - Now, this is the story we have heard before. Sorry for the mistake. Then again, I'm a sucker for the stories in the style of Resurrection Mary. It's generally the same story, with little variations here and there, but this is one of my favorite takes on that story.

The Tale of the Midnight Madness - I am also a sucker for the "Movie Comes Alive" story (Which would explain my love of Last Action Hero). Featuring the return of Dr. Vink, with a va-va-va, this episode also includes the title character from the movie Nosferatu. I love the usage of this classic movie. This is truly one of the best episodes from the whole run.

The Tale of the Midnight Ride - Who doesn't love The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? I know I sure do. So when that classic story and Are You Afraid of the Dark? combine, it's magical. It's a very fun episode and certainly one I will be rewatching before Halloween.

The Tale of the Curious Camera - With strong ties to a Twilight Zone episode, The Tale of the Curious Camera can't be bad. With twists, turns and clever contraptions to foil the evil object, I enjoyed this episode a lot, but it might just make you afraid to have your picture taken.

The Tale of the Quicksilver - There is always something scary about ghosts mixing with children and Are You Afraid of the Dark? doesn't disappoint with this episode. When two brothers move into their new room, they find that something lives there that wants only one thing...them. Gives you shivers...doesn't it?

The Tale of the Crimson Clown - Zeebo wasn't the only clown to terrify kids on the show. The Tale of the Crimson Clown, taking strong tips of clown doll scariness from Poltergeist, is the tale of what happens when a young boy is too greedy. I will admit, this is one of the ones I find creepy even today. Scary stuff.

The Tale of the Chameleons - This one has always stuck with me. I don't know what it is about this episode, but since I first saw it, I can't shake it. Guess I just really don't like lizards.

I know I said ten, but you can't write an article about Are You Afraid of the Dark? without bringing up...
The first three episodes of Season 7 encompassed The Tale of the Silver Sight, arguably one of the most famous episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. This story merged the real world with the story. I remember being so excited for this and loving every second of it when it aired. I want to say this was shown all at once, but I don't know for sure. After all, this was eleven years ago. I remember the special being a little bit better, but it all comes together gloriously in the end.

I always enjoy nostalgia and Are You Afraid of the Dark? reminds me why I love horror so much. I will always have a place in my heart for the series and, hopefully, so will future generations. Fingers crossed.