Monday, February 21, 2011

From The Swamp To The Stars - Two Hidden Gems of the VHS Era

The 1980's were a pretty damn exciting time to be a kid. Saturday Morning Cartoons were (In my opinion) at their peak of were on a level that had never before been seen, nor have been seen since....New Wave music moved us and Mom & Pop Video Stores were springing up like a happy VHS infection spreading across the country.

Our local video shop was called Video Paradise, and it was a video freak's wet dream. It was located in an old strip mall on Main St, Fitchburg, MA....right between a little puppet theater and a music store that sold mostly piano's. The inside smelled of popcorn with a slight musty odor underlying. The walls were wood paneling and white plaster with movie posters. Mobiles hung from the ceiling promoting Wizard Video's newest releases. Everyonce in a while, I'll catch a whiff of popcorn and a wave of nostalgia will wash over me.

Well, now that I've got you feeling all nice and warm and fuzzy with me, let's discuss a couple of the movies that I used to rent way back in the day of the VCR! I remember quite vividly walking down the aisles of the store, eyes agape at all the clam shell and oversized video boxes on display. My young mind could barely comprehend the sheer amount of movies that lay before me. Of course had I known back then that someday I would possess more movies in my home then were in the entire stock of the store, I surely would have creamed myself.....but that's a whole other article unto itself....the part about movies becoming cheap to own....not the creaming my pants part. I mean, why would you read about me crea...ya know what....nevermind. Onward!

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake
Croaked: Frog Monster From Hell
Rana : Hüter des blutigen Schatzes (Gardian of the Bloody Treasure)
Varjojärven legenda (Shadow Lake Legend)

The cover that they had at VP was the badass drawn cover of Rana sitting atop his guarded pile of treasure, reaching for his spear (which he does NOT have in the film). This is one of the classic examples of VHS cover art making promises that the film cannot possibly live up to! Looking at this, you'd think that you were in for a creature feature adventure with a bad ass Frogman monster attacking treasure seekers after is loot. What you really get is a dude in a goofy rubber frogman outfit that only shows up at the last minute of the film to kidnap a girl. Said dude in rubber suit is what they're trying to pass off as an ancient Lake God. This movie is only for a select few: The die-hard cinephiles who love bottom of the barrell flicks like this and the groups who like to get together for thier own home version of MST3K. This one is going to go down a lot easier with some help from some booze....and can actually become quite amusing when watching with several like minded individuals.

The Galaxy Invader
Eisvoleas apo allo galaxia (Visitor From Another Galaxy)

This is another flick that kept staring down at me from one of the shelves. The cover that the shop had was the first one shown, the drawn portrait of our extraterrestrial pal. The tagline on this film was great too: "It came from a galaxy far, far away, an alien explorer. It's Mission....TO KILL"
Oh hell yeah! Sign me up! They came up with a pretty good one for a later video release as well: "Alien Menace Terrorizes Trailer-Trash Rednecks!" Just add Moonshine and we'll be all set! Now the thing with Galaxy Invader is that the alien is not hostile at all. He crash lands in the woods, loses his ray-gun-orb-shooter-thingy, some rednecks decide to hunt down the alien and capture him to make some bigs bucks showing him off. This flick (much likne Rana) is pretty slow paced for the most part, but it has a certain quirky charm to it. The fight scenes are amongst the worst ever filmed and the ending sequence with the abusive redneck father on the cliff has to be seen to be believed. This again is for the die hard bad film buffs, but if you are in the right mind set, you'll find alot to enjoy.....or at least poke fun at.

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake and The Galaxy Invader make a great double feature on a Friday night with some friends, some beer and some pizza. If you think that you might be interested in seeing either of these, they are quite easy to find. Rana can be found on one of Toxie's Triple Terror DVD compilations for $9.99 or less these days. The Galaxy Invader can be found on MillCreek's 50 Sci-Fi Movie MegaPack...which costs about $19.99 at BestBuy. Which means that The Galaxy Invader's costs about 39 cents, and I say it's damn worth it!

Of course you can also go old school and hunt these bad monkies down on and ebay have copies of both films for varying amounts of money. If you are a serious VHS collector, I would encourage you to seek these out because the VHS cover art on these are great. If you just wanna see the movies, then definitely go the DVD just can't go wrong!

Enjoy this trailer for The Galaxy Invader. Dig that crazy synth music!

I couldn't find a trailer for Rana....just the following clip of the beginning of the movie, in which the dude in the boat gets killed.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The End is Nigh....So Kick Some 8-Bit Zombie Ass!!!

The Dead Rising series is cool....especially the sequel and it's DLC off-shoots where you get to make weapons out of just about anything and everything.  Bucket-Drill Helmet of Doom?  Check.  Double-Oar-Chainsaws?  Check.  Moltav-Cocktail-Dispensing-Gumball-Machine?  Um....not sure on that one, but I think it's probably do-able.  I Left for Dead 1 & 2, you actually feel as though you are living through a zombie apocalypse and play through some great and intense 30 - 45 minute campaigns.  Again, it's really satisfying to destroy some Gut-Muncher's grey matter with an electric guitar. 

"Gee, that's fantastic, Wiz...but those aren't 8-Bit!"  you say?

Well, as great as these two games are, I have been spending far more time with a game called Mutant Warzone.  You play the part of the last survivor in a city overrun with mutants/zombies.  I know....bummer.  They're all hungry and you are looking mighty tasty.  So armed with your trusty machine gun and some bombs, you set out to find more supplies, rack up a gnarly high score and (if you truly master your zombie/mutant slaying skills) clear the city of the thousands of infected !

Mutant Warzone was designed and created by my buddy Robot over at 8-Bit City.  If you've  never been to his blog, I highly recommend heading directly over.  If you are a gamer, then you need to check it out!  You can find the link to 8-Bit City over in my Links section.  The current versioin available is Beta 4.0....but I'm sure there will be more on the way.  Not only that, but there is a great 8-Bit soundtrack being composed by mrjordak.  You can also check out his blog mrjodak Video Game Composer in the links section.

"Okay, so what's so great about this game?"  you ask

Well, I'll tell ya.  There are those of us out there who still have cherished memories of booting up our 286's and feel a nostalgic wave when we hear the bloopy blips of PC speaker sound.  Yep, that's right kids, back in the day, your PC didn't COME with full sound.  You actually had to buy a soundcard to hear full multi-track music.  Otherwise it was that glorious blippy bloop that so many of us love.  Not only that, but this game was created using Megazeus, which means it was rendered in 8-bit and glorious ASCII.  Now THIS is what gaming is all about.  No cell shaded, particle overlayed backgrounds here.  It's just you, your trigger finger and thousands of hungry little pixilated mutant zombies comin' for your brains.  Think that a game can't raise your heart rate without a full orchestral score and the latest in shadow effects?  Put Mutant Warzone on fast mode and see if your not shitting your pants within 30 seconds as you become surrounded by the mutated living dead.  I have yet to clear the city of this plague, but I'll be damned if I'm not having the time of my life trying.

You are armed with a machine gun and limited ammo.   You must also collect bombs (of a lesser and more powerful variety) plus hearts (for life points, natch), gems....which I dunno what those do yet....and keys to access buildings and even some dungeons....including one entitled HELL.  Oh yeah.  You know what they say about Hell, don't ya?  When there is no more room*......but I digress.  Gameplay is fast and furious as you are almost instantaneously assaulted by zombies upon starting the game.  Staying alive is easier said than done as well.  You will need to use quite a bit of strategy as well as have an itchy trigger finger when dealing with the living dead.  Bombs are a great way to keep the zombies at bay, using them to make an effective fire barracade on streets surrounding you.....but alas I don't want to give away too many tips.  Half the fun is trying to figure out how to survive and developing your own strategies.  Just like we did back in the day....there was no GameFaqs or IGN to give us walkthroughs.  If you were lucky enough to have a friend that beat a game, then they might help ya out....but for the most part you were on your own!

*Some of you got the Dawn of the Dead reference, and I am proud, but actually the premise of this game reminds me more of Nightmare City....perhaps because they are mutant/zombies......not just your regular run of the mill living dead.  This, to me, has given the game a decidedly Italian Zombie flair to it.  OR maybe like The Astro Zombies......hhhhmmm.....ya know what....go ahead and enjoy clips from Mark of the Astro Zombies and City of the Living Dead!  No need to thank me!

You need this game.  You need it now.  I'll make it ULTRA easy on you.  Click HERE.  There, see?  That wasn't that hard!  Now go and wipe out them no good dirty zombie bastards!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fever Dreams and Bouts of Insanity

Oh man.  I have been ill.  Now, when I say ill, I don't mean a case of the sniffles and a bit of a cough......I mean.....ILL!  Holy Kryptonite Batman!  After getting home from work on Thursday evening at about 9:30, I promptly passed out.  I woke up Friday at about noon, called work to inform them that there was no way in hell I was going to make it in that night, downed half a bottle of NyQuil and again fell into the sweet void of unconsciousness until my wife got home at about 7 with some groceries, as well as a humidifier and more medicine for me.  I ate my dinner and was out like a light again until about 11am Saturday.  I managed to stay awake for like 4 hours on Saturday before going in and out.  That's when the sweats and the chills started.  One minute I was under 30 pounds of blankets with a portable radiator next to me, unable to stop minute I was sweating and thought about jumping naked into the snow.....which trust me, no one would have wanted to see.  As I tossed and turned, my body flipping between extremes of heat and cold, something happened to my brain.  I blame the fever.  I started the think irrationally.  At one point, whilst sweating like it was my job, I found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror, wetting my lips with water from the faucet.  As I stared into the sunken eyes looking back at me, I remember thinking:

 "This is exactly how it started for Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.  OH MY GOD!  I'M GONNA MUTATE!" 

I wish that I was just making that part up to try and be funny.  Unfortunately, that actually happened.  Not my proudest moment to be sure.  After realizing that I wasn't going to be regurgitating on my donuts anytime soon, I shuffled back to bed where I started to have what can only be described as "Thought Dreams"  I wish there was a better way to describe them, but there really isn't.  No visuals.  No audio.  Just.....thoughts.  Ideas....abstract ideas.  Thankfully I made it through the night and managed to get myself vertical for more than five minutes today!  Still feel like a can of smashed assholes, but I'm slowly getting better!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Childhood Nightmares

When I was a kid....there was a lot that scared me.  Okay, pretty much everything scared me....however there were somethings that just absolutely made me lose sleep at night!  So without unneeded exposition, allow me to present you with a run down of the things that kept me awake at night, armed with a flashlight and protected by my sheets.  You know it's a funny thing about sheets.  They seem to possess this magical protective quality.  The most hideous monster could be lurking underneath your bed, but as long as you were covered with your sheet (no matter how thin) you KNEW that you were protected.  Didn't matter how sharp the monster's tooth or were safe.  Okay now that I've gone off on my Magic Sheet tangent, let's get back to the business at hand.  Stuff that scared the shit out of me as a kid!

This is in no particular order, so I am not even going to number it:

The Halloween Episode of Facts of Life.  Holy shit.  This scared me to tears.  Go ahead laugh.  I know it's ridiculous.  But this absolutely terrified me as a boy.  See, the girls are told a story about a murder that occurred in the house years earlier by this weird dude.....then the think that Mrs. Garrett is possessed by the murderer.  Tootie plans an exorcism but things go straight down the shitter when the weird dude disappears and dead bodies start popping up.  The episode is narrated on camera by a guy doing his best Rod Serling impression....which is quite  I'm not going to ruin the end of the episode for you because I'm gonna let you watch!

See what I mean?  That was horrifying to a single digit aged child!  I had a closet in my room that couldn't close all the way and as I lay in bed, peering into the impossible darkness......I couldn't stop thinking about this episode.  The terror got the best of me and I ran screaming from my room into my mother's arms, convinced there was a killer in the closet watching me. 

Unsolved Mysteries.  Robert Stack standing in a cemetery or some other God forsaken location at 3 o'clock  in the friggin morning.  Staring intently into the camera and telling me in his monotone voice that some poor slob was never seen or heard from again after vanishing mysteriously off of a small party boat in the Bermuda Triangle.  Okay so I just made that up off the top of my of my head, but I'm sure if you consulted with an episode guide, you'd find something pretty damn similar.  Of course then a year later there would be a special update where Mr. Stack would inform you that her remains have been found sealed in a refrigerator that was found underneath a giant oak tree when they were clearing out some woods for a new shopping center.   

UM covered everything from unsolved murders, to ghosts, ufo's, bigfoot sightings and everything in between.  Each case was given the same treatment....all would have interviews with victims families, witnesses, etc...there would be re-enactments with second rate actors who usually looked absolutely NOTHING like the actual person and of course Bob Stack giving us the low down, standing in some creepy location while wearing a suit and a trench coat.  Now just about everything about UM was absolutely terrifying to me, but it was the soul destroying music that sent me running every time.  This music still runs through my head every time I find myself alone at home. 

Weekly World News.  Yep the weekly supermarket tabloid that would inform us that
The President is an Alien!  
 Satan's Face Seen In Fire After Plane Crash! 
 Real Photo of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!

I didn't understand that this was a fake newspaper as a kid....and as I would thumb through it's pages, finding more and more incredible stories about killer snowmen, psychics that can cause your brain to explode and monsters living in the sewers, I would wonder why the other newspapers didn't report this stuff.   A couple of the guys at school had told me that the local papers weren't allowed to report this stuff.  So I spent the better part of my single digit age thinking that Weekly World News was a special paper that reported all the stuff that the others couldn't.  I can remember quite vividly a front page stating that they had received an actual photo of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  At age seven, I was quite sure who the horsemen were, but that grainy photo of a skull-faced man on a horse haunted me.

There was one other that stands out in my mind and it wasn't about monsters, demons or was after The Challenger Disaster that a front page headline stated that the crew did not die instantly in the explosion, but rather lived for another two minutes as the crew compartment plummeted to the ground.  Now this part may indeed be true.  According to the Official Report by Dr. Joseph Kerwin, the astronauts may have very well survived the blast, but more than likely due to loss of cabin pressure would have very quickly lost consciousness and were not awake at the time of impact on the ocean.  According to Weekly World News, the astronauts not only survived the initial blast, but spent the next two minutes in an agonized panic as they plummeted helplessly to the water below.  The following is a snippet from the Weekly World News Article:

A secret NASA tape reveals that the crew of the shuttle Challenger not only survived the explosion that ripped the vessel apart; they screamed, cried, cursed and prayed for three hellish minutes before they slammed into the Atlantic and perished on January 28, 1986.
The tape is said to begin with a startled crewman screaming, "What happened? What happened? Oh God - No!" Screams and curses are heard - several crewmen begin to weep - and then others bid their families farewell.
Two minutes forty-five seconds later the tape ends. That's when the shuttles crew compartment, which remained intact after the vessel exploded over the Atlantic, hit the ocean at over 2,000 miles per hour, instantly killing the crew.
"Cover up? Of course there was a coverup," declared Robert Hotz, a member of the Presidential commission that investigated the disaster." NASA can't face the fact that they put these astronauts in a situation where they didn't have adequate equipment to survive. NASA doesn't give a damn about anything but covering its ass," he said.
The official account released by NASA ends with shuttle pilot Michael Smith saying, " Uh-oh! " Some NASA employees have evidently heard more-much more. And they provided the rest of the account based on what they've discussed within NASA in the last five years. The astronauts had time and realized something was happening after the shuttle broke up.
"All shuttle astronauts carry personal recorders and the tape in question apparently came from Christa's (McAuliffe), which was recovered after the shuttle disaster," said Hotz. Jarvis was sitting beside her, and when he figured out what was happening he said, "Give me your hand."
"NASA insists there's nothing like that on tape but they're talking about the mission tape, not Christa's. So they're not lying, but they're not telling the truth, either."
A journalist with close ties to NASA was even more emphatic, "There are persistent rumors, dating back to the disaster, that this tape is absolutely bone-chilling."

The following transcript begins two seconds after NASA's official version ends, with pilot Michael Smith saying, "Uh-oh!" Times from the moment of takeoff are shown in minutes and seconds and are approximate. The sex of the speaker is indicated by M or F.

T+1:15 (M) What happened? What happened? Oh God, no - no!
T+1:17 (F) Oh dear God.
T+1:18 (M) Turn on your air pack! Turn on your air...
T+1:20 (M) Can't breathe... choking...
T+1:21 (M) Lift up your visor!
T+1:22 (M/F) (Screams.) It's hot. (Sobs.) I can't. Don't tell me... God! Do
T+1:24 (M) I told them... I told them... Dammit! Resnik don't...
T+1:27 (M) Take it easy! Move (unintelligible)...
T+1:28 (F) Don't let me die like this. Not now. Not here...
T+1:31 (M) Your arm... no... I (extended garble, static)
T+1:36 (F) I'm... passing... out...
T+1:37 (M) We're not dead yet.
T+1:40 (M) If you ever wanted (unintelligible) me a miracle... (unintelligible)... (screams)
T+1:41 (M) She's... she's... (garble) ... damn!
T+1:50 (M) Can't breathe...
T+1:51 (M/F) (screams) Jesus Christ! No!
T+1:54 (M) She's out.
T+1:55 (M) Lucky... (unintelligible).
T+1:56 (M) God. The water... we're dead! (screams)
T+2:00 (F) Goodbye (sobs)... I love you, I love you...
T+2:03 (M) Loosen up... loosen up...
T+2:07 (M) It'll just be like a ditch landing...
T+2:09 (M) That's right, think positive.
T+2:11 (M) Ditch procedure...
T+2:14 (M) No way!
T+2:17 (M) Give me your hand...
T+2:19 (M) You awake in there? I... I...
T+2:29 (M) Our Father... (unintelligible)...
T+2:42 (M) ...hallowed be Thy name... (unintelligible).
T+2:57 (M) You...over there?
T+2:58 (M) The Lord is my shepherd, I shall...not want. He maketh me to lie down in green
pastures... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no evil... I will dwell in the house...
T+3:15 to end None. Static, silence.

I strongly recommend reading this article exposing the hoax of the final recording. 

I remember not feeling right after reading that article.  Something inside of me changed.  I had trouble sleeping and all I could think of was the horror that these people experienced as they fell to their deaths.  To this day, every time someone mentions The Challenger, WWN's article is the first thing that I think about, as a chill runs down my spine.

Of course I got older, WWN quickly became a weekly addiction with some truly great cover stories and of course the photos to go with it.

I mean come on!  Alien Ghost Haunts Roswell?!  Satan Captured in Iraq?  This is tabloid GOLD!  I'm telling ya, I shoulda been a tabloid writer!  I coulda been like Zak McKraken!

V  Jesus when I was a kid, nothing scared me more than watching people rip off their faces to reveal that they are really reptile people with glowing eyes.  Ugh.  My Mom LOVED this show when it was on and I wanted to be like her, so I kept saying that I wanted to watch it.  Of course every time an alien ripped their human flesh off, I would jump behind the couch!   Hey man, it was friggin creepy!  Here, check it out:

That second scene with the alien baby being born creeped me out bigtime too!

As I write this article, I realize that this will go on forever if I let it.  So let's call this article Part I and I will continue to exploit my childhood fears at another time!  Hey, gotta get you guys comin' back SOMEHOW, right?  So until next time, kiddies.....keep them sheets over your head!

Gross Out Toys of the 80's - Garbage Pail Kids

The Garbage Pail Kids.  I don't think that there was a single kid in the 80's who didn't own a shit ton of these....or at least have a sibling who did.  Created by Topps Chewing Gum Inc. in 1985, GPK (as they're affectionately known by fans) were a cash-in and parody of the ever popular Cabbage Patch Kids that were all the rage at the time.  The artwork very closely resembled said dolls until Xavier Roberts sent Topps a cease and desist letter stating that their creations too closely resembled his dolls and they were bordering on copyright infringement on their IP.  The "Kids" were portrayed in various gross out ways, from having their bodies covered in oozing pustules, eyeballs all over their bodies to heads exploding into a nuclear mushroom cloud.  There were also more abstract "Kids" as well, who would take the form of inanimate objects with a face, usually being abused in some horrible fashion.  Besides being a "gross out' gimmick, a lot of these cards (which were also peel off stickers!) were quite heavily steeped in horror imagery.  It ran the gamut from really sick and twisted to having more of a fun Halloween vibe. 

Here's some of my favorites

Wormy Shermy.....this guy is one of my favorites because the worms look like The Monster That Challenged The World!  Yes, I know that technically TMTCTW is technically a mollusk.....but still
gotta admit, it's a pretty close resemblance!  Perhaps these little fellas are actually mollusks themselves.....highly intelligent alien mollusks from beyond the moon planting their flag on the sleeping kids face.  You can't see it from the vantage point on the card, but their UFO is park just outside the kid's window!

Abandoned Amanda.  There is something that is just absolutely disturbing about this particular piece, to me.  Apparently Cthulhu dropped off a baby from Innsmouth at this house.  What Lovecraftian horror are these people in for???  I imagine that the tentacles will all vanish before someone opens the door and Dagon's servant will go unnoticed for quite sometime....until the stars align and the time to strike is upon her.  AI AI AI!

A-Bomb Tom. I don't know exactly why, but there was always just something about the GPK's where an inanimate object is personified. To this day I can't think about someone "pressing the button" or WWIII without this card popping into my head!  When I was a kid, we had a Commodore 64 and I used to imagine that at night, it would come alive and look something like this guy. 

Dead Ted.  One of the first and one of the best!  This guy was in the 1st Series of cards and is an excellent marriage of the GPK artwork with EC Comic's art style.  One of my all time favorites!  This guy reminds me a lot of the zombies from Return on the Living Dead and just has that totally awesome zombie vibe to it!  Aside from being rotted and missing an eyeball, I often wondered how Dead Ted came to be dead.  What horrible GPK fate had he endured?

Jugglin' Julian. As if clowns aren't creepy enough,  the sick mothers at Topps decided that it would be a good idea to have this guy juggle his eyes and teeth in addition to the balls.  All I had to do was MENTION this card to my sister and she was huddled in the fetal position in the corner!  It's like when Homer built Bart the clown bed....CAN'T SLEEP, CLOWNS WILL EAT ME!

Bern-Out.  Again, inanimate object personified!  This is awesome!  When I was a kid I would make up little stories about GPK's and how they got to the place they were in on the cards.  If I remember correctly, Bern here, was a light bulb left behind when the people who owned the house moved.  He just sat there, alone with no one to talk to.  Years went by before the house was sold.  Bern went insane.  Eventually, when a new family moved in, as soon as they flipped the light switch, poor Bern here was so far gone, it blew his mind.

 Yul-Tied. This is one of those cards that seems like some random wacky card, but the more I looked at it, the more disturbing it became.  Here's what I see:  Some backwoods Texas Chainsaw type wackos took this poor kid and did horrible, unimaginable things to him.  Then after leaving him in the shed for a bit to decompose, they thought "Hey, he'd make a nice Christmas Tree!"  So they wrapped his corpse in in garlands, hung some ornaments on him and ramped a star into his noggin.  Bingo.  Yul-Tied.  Tell me this isn't one of the most fucked up things you've seen!

Spacey Stacy.  Eight eyes, Six limbs, three antennae and a forked tongue.  What's not to love about this girl?  Apparently she lives on one of the many tiny moons that orbit Saturn....judging from the size of the gas giant in the background, I'm gonna guess that it's one of the farthest moons out.  Tiny too!  I'm sure she's a nice girl though....the people in the rocket she's holding think so too, I'm sure.

Juicy Jessica.  Sounds like the name of that chic who smells like Boston Harbor that is always hanging around your favorite bar trying to pick up guys, doesn't it?  But alas, this Jessica is a Venus Flytrap gone mad.  I mean, holy crap she's HUGE and she's eating someone!  I actually can't help but think about the end of Creepshow II.  The kid leads the bullies to the junkyard, where giant venus flytraps (that I can only assume he planted there) eat them all.  Friggin awesome.   

Lee Tree.  This one absolutely horrified me and I will tell you why.  There was a story I read.  Can't remember for the life of me what book it was in, but there were these people who were camping and one of them at an apple and started to turn into an apple tree.  It freaked me out as a kid to think about how scary it would be to turn into a tree and not be able to move.  This card was like a physical representation of that fear.  Of course there was also the scene in Troll II where the kid was turned into a tree.....  

Meltin' Elton.  Snowman Suicide is a pretty heavy subject to stick on a kid's trading card, but Topps pulled it off with flying colors.  As per usual, I would always find some strange obscure thing to obsess about.  In this particular case, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell the people in the house behind him would think if they saw this icy death scene take place?  What would YOU do if you looked out your window one snowy winter's evening to find a snowman melting himself over a fire he made in the back yard?  Again, this is seriously disturbing stuff.  I LOVE IT!

Monte Zuma.  One of the few examples of a GPK who ISN'T being abused in some horrific fashion.  I'm not sure exactly what it was that I found fascinating....perhaps the fact that he's a giant evil looking dude with horns adorned with the skulls of insubordinate guards who failed him in some way.  One of the great ambiguous things about this piece is that they IMPLY that this is a statue....but we know we're in the GPK we know better!   

Dustin to Dust.  So here we've got a rather disturbing looking tombstone with rosy cheeks smiling at us.  I imagine that this graveyard is somewhere in the Dunwich, Massachusetts.  Our boy Dustin here is a living tombstone that is sealing one of the 7 Gates of Hell.  It is THIS tombstone that breaks open when a priest hangs himself in the graveyard, unleashing the living dead upon the living.  He is in that church in the background, preparing his final sacrifice at this very moment.  Damn you, Dustin....DAMN YOOOU!  

Ground Chuck/This is a card from one of the later series....with the obvious change to to the face, no longer resembling a Cabbage Patch Doll.  Though the faces have changed the sick (and often very dark) sense of humor is still there.  I didn't really have too many of the later series cards and to be honest, I just came across this one and though it was suitable nasty.  I've noticed that a good many of these cards involved GPK's attempting (usually succeeding quite smashingly) suicide in some awful fashion. 

  Fryin' Ryan.  Now you can't write an article on GPK's without including one of my favorites!  Topps' homage to Godzilla is AWESOME.  I mean seriously how can you not love a giant baby-faced reptile tearin'up a town and ruining everyone's day?  I think that Ryan here was sent by Monte Zuma to go and punish the civilized world for encroaching on his lands.  That's why he had that smug look on his card.  Seriously, he did!  Scroll back up and look!  I'll wait. . . .see?  I told ya so! 

Garbage Pail Kids had a pretty good run through 1988 until eventually going the same direction as everything else that was awesome in the 80's.  I had a pretty massive collection of these and I'm sad to say that unfortunately I have NO idea what the hell happened to them....but looking around on E-bay, they seem to be pretty easy to find...though they are a bit on the pricier side depending on what series and what condition they are in.  However, if you are a collector it's well worth it!   There were also several toys that were made from the GPK brand, including their Cheap Toys with Crummy Candy Line!

The GPK machine managed to squeak out a movie that was (believe it or not!) released in theaters. 
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was released by Atlantic (whose top grossing movie of all time was Teen Wolf....random factoid there for ya!) to 374 theaters on August 21, 1987.  It's opening weekend grossed  $661,512 in total (which equals out to about $1,768 per theater on average....not that you'd really want to know that....but I'm just really trying to drive home the point of how badly this flick did!).  As of now, it's total domestic gross is $1,576,615.  Now after telling you all this info about how poorly the movie did, I'm gonna go ahead and tell you that I friggin LOVE this movie.  $6.25 of that $661,512 from the opening weekend were mine.

  It is the type of terrible movie that dreams are made of.  It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the card series and to be honest, out of all the characters they had to pick from.....they chose the most BORING characters you can think of.  Messy Tessy, Greaser Greg, Nerdy Ned?  Really?  That's the best you could do?  Why the hell couldn't Atom Bomb, Loony Lenny and Alien Ian been in there?  Those characters are the friggin bomb! 

 Michael Bay, if you are reading this (yeah right!) you need to make a summer popcorn blockbuster!  They brought the cards back in 2003, so let's get a new movie in the works!  Think of how awesome it would be to see some of the most outrageous GPK's up on the silver screen in 3D IMAX!  OH HELLS YEAH! 

GPK even was made into a short lived Saturday Morning Cartoon. which only aired it's premier episode in the US (CBS cancelled the show's 13 episode test run when the movie flopped)  However the show did run in Canada and the U.K.  I only vaguely remember watching the premier episode.....and I was probably extremely upset that it never got it's full run....but I don't remember.

Now much like every other Pop Culture phenominon, the GPK were imitated and ripped off ad nauseum.  He's a few of the rip offs that I remember:

TRASHCAN TROLLS:    Yep.  They took them cute little guys with the crazy hair and turned 'em into a GPK clone.  Here's  a couple of samples:

This fellow's name was Monster Kit

Phil D. Grave   Ha ha!  Get it?
Next up we've got an  attempt at some toilet humor with The Bathroom Buddies.  These guys weren't even trying to be cute or clever....check out a couple:

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They even tried to merge Beanie Babies and GPK's, creating the Meanie Babies......yeah I wish I was kidding about that too.  Check it out:

Well, I was going to just go ahead and end this article with the inclusion of the rip off's but instead I will leave you with these awesome slides of all the GPK cards up to Series #15 that I found on You Tube!  Enjoy!