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September 5, 2015

The kinder, gentler Halloween monsters of children's television - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Oct 29th 2008 12:04PM

Unless you're afraid of numbers, Sesame Street's The Count is pretty benign.Children's television is the ultimate pacifier. Where else in the world can a terrible, horrific monster that destroys both life and property with nary a whiff of sympathy be turned into a soft, cuddly character who has his own line of soft, cuddly dolls being sold at the local Wal-Mart? It's only later in life, after they've adjusted to these de-fanged monsters, do they realize that their beliefs were so wrong. Aaaannnddd, that's where the therapy comes in.

But, we're not here to talk about the emotional problems that are paralyzing you today. We're here to talk about those vampires, ghosts and mummies that were stripped down and made to be funny, clumsy and even musically oriented. After the jump you'll see a few examples of what I mean. Don't worry, they won't scare you...they've been homogenized for your nightmare-free pleasure.

Monster Squad - This live-action, Saturday morning entry from 1976 starred a pre-Love Boat Fred Grandy as a criminology student/night watchman who brought to life three wax dummies of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Werewolf. To correct the mistakes their real-life counterparts had made the three decided to use their powers for good rather for evil. Using a customized van and a 'utility belt' of tools, the Monster Squad battled evil and wrapped it all up in 30 minutes.

Drak Pack - Here's a cartoon that you wouldn't remember until you saw a video of it. Drak Pack was a Hanna-Barbera production (actually, HB's Australian subsidiary) that aired on CBS Saturday mornings from 1980 until 1982. It featured three teenagers, descendants of the original Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf, who could transform themselves at a moment's notice. As their superhero identities of Frankie, Howler and Drak Jr. (though, he was just called Drak most times) and under the guidance of the original Count Dracula, known as Big D, the Pack would fight the evil doers of Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises (OGRE).

Groovie Goolies - Not only were Frankie, Wolfie and Drac fraidy cats, they also kowtowed to a platinum-haired teenage witch most of the time. Geez, so goes the curse of fame. Well, at least these three descendants of the original monsters got to sing a song during each episode of this Filmation, Saturday morning staple of the 1970s.

Count Duckula - From the studio that gave viewers Danger Mouse in the late 1980s came the story of a new incarnation of Count Duckla; an incarnation more interested in carrot juice, fame and fortune rather than sucking the blood out of helpless victims. Followed by his assistant Igor, who attempted to get him to be a proper vampire, and a vampire hunter, who didn't believe that this newest version of Duckula was harmless, the Count travels the world in search of that seemingly unknown moment that would make him a star.

Fangface - Another attempt to capture the magic that was the concept for Scooby-Doo. There were no talking dogs in this Ruby-Spears animated production, which aired on ABC Saturday mornings during the late 1970s. Nor were there two talking dogs, or a robotic dog, or a dog that could turn invisible. Instead, it was a member of the teenage, crime-fighting crew who turned into a werewolf everytime he saw the moon, or a picture of the moon, or some drunken college students mooning passers-by on the freeway.

Teen Wolf - Not the movie starring Michael J. Fox, but the animated series that aired on CBS Saturday mornings in 1986. In the cartoon version of this movie Scott Howard's lycanthropy is kept secret from the townspeople of Wolverton, which is different than in the movie version. There, the townspeople knew of Scott's dual life. Then again, we the viewers know the Howard family secret. So, how this can be much of a secret to anyone is beyond my understanding.

The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy - The Grim Reaper can be fun. Just look at all of those episodes of Family Guy where Grimmy pals around with Peter Griffin. Unfortunately, the Grim Reaper in this Cartoon Network series wasn't really having much fun; yet, the viewers were having a great time. Just goes to show you that trying to win a contest against a 10-year-old boy not afraid of you is probably a bad idea.

Sesame Street's The Count - How could we forget out favorite Count. He's been with Sesame Street for 36...that's 36 years! Mwah-hahahahahahaha! (Cue lightning effects). And, all he wants to do is count everything around him. Sort of obsessive-compulsive, isn't it? Well, there was that one time where Elmo was just bugging the hell out of the Count during one of his 'moments' and...there was an open line of fur...and some fangs....and...

Casper, the Friendly Ghost - To be honest, if I was an apparition that was constantly being shunned by his ghost friends as well as those remaining in the corporeal world, I wouldn't be called 'The Friendly Ghost'. It would probably be something along the lines of Casper, the Cranky Ghost.

Finally, time for a word from your sponsor...

Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry - Thing is, these cartoon spokesmonsters were actually quite a bit scary. However, the kids didn't know it because they were so doped up on their high-sugar cereal that it gave them a constant buzz during the ads, followed by a dramatic crash that kept them asleep until American Bandstand.

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These are so amazing. I am a bit too young to know most of these but my interest is definitely peaked by the clips you posted. I especially liked the Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises. Thank you!

October 29 2008 at 7:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Except for the Monster Squad I LOVED everyone of these shows. Caspar being the least favorite. Teen Wolf Rawked my world. And I had all but forgotten about Fangface! Although I will say I never had my sugar crash until after American Bandstand.

October 29 2008 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
s thompson

To this list, add Milton the Monster (who sounded to my ears like a Gomer Pyle type) and Frankenstein Jr. who was actually more of a robot.

October 29 2008 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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