Frankenstein’s Monster. Dracula. Freddy Krueger. Leatherface. Godzilla. Henry Kissinger. These are some of the monsters whose names get evoked every year at Halloween, the monsters with the highest Q ratings and maybe their own personal publicists. But there are many more monsters out there, monsters who kill, terrorize and stalk their prey far outside of the limelight. For the next few weeks, we’re going to be paying tribute to these Forgotten Monsters of Filmland.
Some of these monsters are just a successful film away from making the mainstream. Some were more popular years ago and have fallen out of favor. Some are just sort of utterly bizarre. Some of these monsters will be familiar to the loyal readers of CHUD.com, while others will make just about everybody scratch their head. All of them deserve more love. That’s where we come in.
“Jeez. I know what I smell like. Did you really have to say it?”
AKA: Raisinette, Scrote, Frowning Turd.
Appearances: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)
Monster Type: Fireplace demon.
Its Place in the Film: If William Demarest had his way, Homunculus and the rest of his shriveled turd pebble of a race would still be locked away in a Victorian Mansion. Lucky for us, Kim Darby doesn’t give a shit what the Preston Sturges company member thought about home renovation, and has the forbidden fireplace in the forbidden room in a forbidden house knocked open. And out comes trouble! Once the little fellers are back out in the world, they exact revenge on the decorator by tripping him up as he traipses down a particularly scary staircase. They also leave a calling card for the deed – a teeny-tiny strand of rope – just to give Ms. Darby something to think about. And does she ever think about it! Pretty soon, she’s seeing these guys all over the house. And at inopportune times, too (like a posh dinner party)! And that’s when everyone decides she’s earned accommodations at Chez Gaga. The Homunculi, on the other hand, would like to play for just a little while longer.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Wizened. Not attractive. Somewhat shorter than Earl Boykins. Given to whispering. Don’t smell too good.
Why It Is Forgotten: Originally aired on ABC’s Wednesday Night Movie of the Week, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark did eventually turn up on home video in the 1980s, where it was treated as just another horror title – which, in terms of quality, I suppose it is. But for anyone who caught the film on the afternoon movie or the weekend Creature Feature, it was something special. And something to keep you up nights.
Why It Shouldn’t Be Forgotten: Show this to your kids, and they’ll never run down another flight of stairs again. Although, maybe you’re inviting that kind of recklessness.
“Bend over- I’m going to make goatse look like a virgin.”
AKA: King Tusk McGruff
Appearances: Equinox (1970)
Monster Type: Oversized Reptile-Gorilla.
Its Place in the Film: After 4 kids run into all sorts of weird forest-people and find a strange old book in the woods, they decide to read from it. Never once does it cross their mind that maybe if a book’s made out of human flesh it’s probably not the best read, and sure enough, it’s the Necronomicon, not a smart thing to read from. They take the book with them, unknowingly pissing off the devil. He wants his book back, so he cleverly disguises himself as a trusty Park Ranger, the fiend! He conjures up one gigantic beast after another to reclaim it, including Taurus right here, who runs those damn kids down but doesn’t count on their tenacity.
There are tons of monsters in this underrated b-movie, but this one’s the best. He doesn’t do much but beat the shit out of an old man, but you can’t fault him for that. Those tricky kids had rocks.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Turks. 30 feet tall. Fur and scales. Weak against sticks. Avid reader. Favorite book: Necronomicon. Pet Peeve: rock-throwing teenagers.
Why It Is Forgotten: The FX guy who created this stop-motion beast, David Allen, went on to do work on all sorts of classic horror movies, like Q: The Winged Serpent, The Howling, and Puppet Master. Director Dennis Muren went on to win 6 Oscars for effects on films like Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park. So it’s easy to see how this campy b-movie could be overlooked. Thankfully Criterion put out a great dvd of it last year so future generations can see the beauty of stop-motion animation.
Why It Shouldn’t Be Forgotten: Taurus smashed people into trees before Jason made it fashionable. Also, it can never be told enough times- never fuck with the Necronomicon. You might’ve heard that it’s a good read, that it’s got great twists and turns that you’d never see coming, but don’t believe that. Just remember how many people tried to push The Da Vinci Code on you. Just think about that for a minute.
- Alex Riviello