Thursday, August 11, 2011

When I Was a Child, I Played With Devilish Things: Dr. Terror's Nostalgia Trip of Horrors

Not sure if it's the upcoming release of Fright Night, but everyone has their Fright Flicks cards blazing. I used to own the whole set and even had a stack of unopened cards. Where are they now? Sure mom tossed 'em or there in my dad's attic. If there in my dad's attic I'll never find them. So it's probably best to hit up eBay like all the good horror kids do and bid my heart out. It's not immediately necessary, but there's something utterly gratifying about finding the things we had as children.

For me, it wasn't just He-Man and G.I. Joe's (I mean there was a healthy dose of that as well); for me it was toys of a darker kind. I'm not talking about strictly horror based either. There's a pile of goodies in my mind. It's in the middle of the TV room. There are all my toys and in every memory, something is trying to kill something. So the Fright Flicks cards got me goin' just the way Garbage Pail Kids got me going a few years ago. Just like the Madballs got me goin' a couple of years ago... I think you know where this is heading.

Nostalgia blog 101: Toys and artifacts of my youth that inspired a young D.T. to love and be loyal to the gore. None of these pictures originates from a camera I own. There are only a few on this list that I have in my personal possession and none of them come from owning them since I was a youngster. Enjoy this list. I'll go into each object and how it relates to me or a memory I had about it or how it still influences me to this very day. Feel free to share your own memories of these toys in the comment section or on Doctor Terror's Facebook Page (of Horrors?).


You know these well by now. In the last few weeks everyone has them posted as their profile picture. Freddy In Space did a marvelous write up and tribute to them. There responsible for getting the juices flowing on this particular edition of the BoH. Best memory of them was the clever "one liner" esque captions. So bad, they were perfect. True horror host material.

From here on out we'll probably go in some kind of alphabetical order... ish... thing.


Book report time. Fourth grade. My book was the Amityville Horror immediately followed by seeing Margot Kidder's boobies in the film version. I stumbled upon this solely based on the word "horror" in the title. Great read. I have never looked at flies trapped in a house the same way again.


Little holograms on their chest. Earth, Wind, Fire, Water... real Pagan stuff right? All of us had these little gems. The picture here won't even do it justice but it's the only way to capture the volume of variations created by this obviously devoted toy maker. I remember spending hours in my garage battling my neighbor or my brother. I don't think we used the holograms on their chests as intended. No need need to when they'd have a hook for a hand or a blaster.


Ya'll know Bernie. Horror artist extraordinaire. I mowed at least four separate lawns to buy a collection of this fantastic cards when I was kid at a comic book show. I used to try and copy them with pencil and paper. I'd use them for art projects at school. I've dreamed of getting them tattooed on me. It's difficult to find images of these on the net or at least my favorite one(s). Just enjoy this group photo for now. Maybe I'll go back and do a feature on them. Maybe I'll do a whole Bernie Wrightson feature. When I think of horror artwork... it's him or Gogos first.


I know that VHS is the "in thing" now. I grew up with it. I'm in the club. I have a box of VHS sitting behind me as a write this article and none of it was distributed by a major movie company. My father taped films of TV when I was kid. Late movies. Commander USA. Haunted Hollywood. Creature Feature Week. PBS Presenations of Silent German Horror Films. USA Network's recap of every horror related event: The Making of Nightmare on Elm Street 4. Stephen King's World of Horrors. All with a priceless assortment of commercials. I've been working at ripping some of the extra special goodies to MP4. It's time consuming. The audio never syncs correctly and most of these tapes are starting to degenerate. Let's hear it again for Papa Terror. I can't thank you enough. I believe we owned at least one of each of the captioned VHS blanks. We never settled for a brand. Just what was cheap. It's served me well.


Now to be clear, I didn't own one of these but when I get some free cash and my office ready to go, it will need decorating. These will adorn it. I am positive. Rubber, hand puppet monsters. My buddy had these when I was kid and was kind enough to share with me. I think I should have asked for it for Christmas or something. My sisters' showers would never have been the same (if you think Funhouse was bad, wait'll they get a load of me).


I traded away my very soul for this. Every toy I could find for this guy. He had a golf bag full of weapons. He wore a mask like all the rest of my heroes i.e. Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Michael Myers. He was a good guy. A childhood friend had just about every single TMNT toy you could imagine. They had the best villains and a giant rat named Splinter for a mentor. Great show. These toys rivaled He-Man for best constructed.


Welcome to my first experience with a horror themed video game. It won't be the last you see on this list. I got into the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) when it first arrived on the block. One sleepover later I was hooked. Next Christmas... Santa made it happen. I started off with The Legend of Zelda which had some of the best labyrinths and an almost unparalleled score. Skeletons. Mummies. Wait a year or two and suddenly, this little gem showed up at my house. Haunted mansions. Great music. Werewolves. Vampires. Mummies. Count fucking Dracula. I'll dedicate a blog to NES Castlevania games around Christmas time if I can contain myself this long. Best thing yet: You can download this and play it on the Wii! All of the NES editions. Get your thorn whip ready!


Now I know what you're thinking... THIS IS WHY YOU CHOSE THE PSEUDONYM DR. TERROR. No. Flat out no. Dr. Terror's House of Horrors by Amicus is, to me, a near perfect horror film. Kid friendly. Anthology. Touches on real fears and several Universal monsters. The acting is superb... one day, maybe some anniversey edition of the BoH or maybe when I get published in Fangoria (God help me!). Dr. Terror is a toy that a friend owned. I had the green underwater Centurion and the orange land one. Not sure why, but my parents never did get me any more of them. I adore the whole set and I urge you to look them up and the cartoons that helped to market them. Snap on weaponry. Dr. Terror and his cohort cyborg snapped apart in the middle and then could recombine to form different variation of of the enemy. I hope to find Dr. Teror someday and then make the Bride of Dr. Terror.

Side Note: If I am ever so lucky as to make horror pictures for a living, I will remake Dr. Terror's House of Horrors or Tourist Trap. You ask why I would ever consider a remake? The best reason I will give you is, because James Whale remade Frankenstein. Moving on.


Where to begin? I received this dummy for Christmas. He was sold at a garage sale. My mother said he was expensive and she was upset that I wouldn't play with him. I told her that I would play with it if the fucking dummy would stop talking when nobody was the fuck around! (paraphrasing of course). Charlie McCarthy spent the bulk of his existence in the Terror household in a dresser drawer with duct tape around his mouth and tied up. Let's start with having not seen The Dummy Twilight Zone episode or Magic and Dead Silence was probably being written in crayon by James Wan. I had a nightmare shortly after I received dear Charlie. He was chasing me down the stairs of my house with a butcher knife screaming in a high pitched voice. I fell down the stairs. I looked back and he was at the top. Read to pounce. Wake up. Scream. Now that's a boogieman. Shortly there after I was lying on bed (awake) and I swear he moved and tried to say something to me. Tied him up and didn't look back. A good friend of mine with the same type of doll had the very same issue and handled it the same way. When he left the house I was thrilled. I still remember the smell of his faux velvet hat. Burn in hell Charlie! Someday your snotty kid's gonna ask for one of these... you buy it, you're out the $60. You've been warned.


My mom brought this home one autumn alongside Michael Jackson's Thriller. You'd think my parents were trying to cram horror and Halloween down my throat, but I assure you that there were plenty of non horror moments as well. Still, Thanks Mom! This special effects album, which is quite controversial due to some questionable racial implications, has some screams and sounds that you've heard in more than one film to this day. When I make a movie I plan on trying to use at least one scream (not telling you which one). One side are just effects. The other are the effects inserted into scary stories, and their fucking incredible. I may have them memorized. Don't test me on that yet. Inside the album jacket were ideas for Halloween games for your very own spook party. This album inspired the song "Tricks for Treats" by the Vaudeville Vampires. Pick it up. You'll get it cheap and it will scary the shit out the little ones around Halloween.


I've told you about my dad. He let me watch Creepshow when it first appeared at Long Valley Video. I used to rent it over and over and over. He liked it too so much that he actually went out and purchased the comic book. Now my dad had every Stephen King book released at the time (before he went soft). He had original copies of quite a few of them in hardback. Growing up a Stephen King my house was a necessity. I remember "stealing" this comic daily and taking it out to the swing set to read through it. I broke the bind it. I lost a page. I crammed it in a drawer that would later house my skin mags. It's important. I even bought a new copy of it years later. Still love Billie's nipples in the Crate.


Where this came from I'm not quite sure. I can tell you that I watched my dad almost have his ass handed to him by my Uncle Billy after scaring him the best I've ever seen someone scared. I wore it one year for Halloween. What's amazing is that the inside condenses your spit to the point that it drips out. Not a good mask for the little ones (and I was a little devil, complete with pitchfork). I'm still amazed that I found this picture and that it's as popular as this.


Synopis: Perform your very own alien autopsy in the comfort of your own home. Comes with organs, anatomy chart and slime. Lots of slime. The best slime.

This toy represents one of the first conflicts I had with Christianity. I brought to a highly conservative Catholic home and played with it with my friend. Took it apart. put it back together (it was like a demented puzzle). My buddy's sister freaked out and made some mention that she couldn't believe what we were doing and that God would not be happy. Then she went and watched the Sound of Music. I was asked to put the toy away by my friend's mother. Can't take the heat? Get out of the fucking laboratory! This would not be my last bought with religious folk or their institutions, but it's the one that got me fighting mad. Toys don't kill people... unless of course you ask them to kill people. Tee hee hee.


I have dentures. True news. Back partial lower dentures. Why? Orange soda, Black Cherry soda and Ecto Cooler. With the possible release of Ghostbusters 3 I'm barely concerned about the movie. I want them to re-release this so I can hoard it and see if we can't get the rest of my teeth pulled. At least they give you gas when the rip 'em out and as soon as their finished... more green deliciousness. By the way, you can still get it but without the Slimer theme. Also, there's a petition out there:



The base for any successful, gross Halloween costume. My only reservation about this one is that it was always a bitch to remove and I still regret not using it more. Just ask Chainsaw and Dave from Summer School how to apply and you'll be on your way to degenerative-hood in no time.

I was Dracula year after year only changing up a couple of times to be a pirate and a hobo(no shotgun). This was pretty much my staple costume. Go in the basement. Find last year's make up and get to work.


My buddy Kevin had this board game. Explore the island, make it home safely, collect jewels get toasted alive by fireballs. I can't remember it actually being a fun game to play. I think I was mostly frustrated by not winning (still something I need to work on). Check out the video. Maybe it'll make more sense.


This is the second game on our list. Game play not so great. The story line, contrived and totally inaccurate. This game is typically reviewed poorly as is the Nightmare on Elm Street NES game (which I played only once and gave up). This one has some great graphics at least when Jason appears. As a non Friday the 13th horror related game its fun. The packaging is kick ass. I love the movies. Love the TV series. Love this game. I'm a sucker for marketing.


My love affair, nay, my obsession with Fangoria magazine started with these two issues from what I can remember. There may have been a few more during this same time period, but these stick out from a cover perspective. I still remember going into Walden Books and grabbing it off the news stand. I remember seeing some magazine with guts coming out of a TV (Videodrome) and another magazine with a green cover... hmmm... wonder what that was. This magazine got me reading horror. It let me know what to expect from my mom and pop video store. The pictures were gruesome and great for scaring friends. These two issues are the reason I write my Fangoria for Dummies blog. I feel its important to get in touch with these issues. There's horror history in there. Things never published elsewhere. Shout out to Chris Alexander who's doing a fine job with as the current editor. I hadn't been reading it for quite sometime but he's got me hooked again.

Fitting that the Fright Night remake will be out in a week's time and Fright Night 2 rears its head. Can't wait to rewatch it before seeing it next week. I am not a remake hater, fact.


Just about everyone who grew up during the 80's remembers these. It was a great time to be a kid. Sticker collecting was all the rage and baseball cards was for sport-o's. Garbage pail kids had either a puzzle piece, a lit of other cards, stories or awards on the back. Truly funny stuff. I use this image because it was the first of the puzzles I completed using the reverse of a number of the cards. I was watching Galaxy High and my dad was mowing the lawn and... finito. I still have a few. I wanted to cover my bass guitar with the stickers and than lacquer it. Still might do that. You should too. Try out the gum as well (if you have unopened packs). You'll be glad you did (not).


When I was growing up I always wanted one of these. Now that I'm older, when I saw it in a toy store, not a collector's story mind you... a normal toy store, I jumped at it. Now my daughter loves to play with it. I get a kick out of seeing him at my desk and I never feed him after midnight.

We did have the lunchbox growing up. It's truly a thing of beauty and an artifact that will adorn my man-cave someday.


Remember when I mentioned the "green cover"? Well it's this issue of Gorezone. I didn't pick up any other ones after this. I'm not sure if it was a money thing or whether my local bookstore stopped carrying it. Recently I purchased the Bloody Best edition with the City of the Living Dead cover from Fango (the limited edition one). I can't wait to get in touch with this one again. When the coffers are full, say hell to daddy Gorezone with Jason Voorhees sans mask on the cover.


My love affair with 7-11 slurpees led me to watching Hondo in the 3-D and thus started my love affair with the blue and red, hipster glasses. Hondo sucked (at least I haven't watched it since then and the 3-D didn't look great on broadcast. The glasses were great. I wore 3-D glasses to my prom. There are pictures of every horror icon, blogger etc wearing a pair of the classic blue and red. Well in my mind, 3-D will always be two color and the rest is some cheap imitation no matter how good the quality or how the transfer was done. Can't wait to get me some collector's edition glasses. Friday the 13th part 3, Jaws 3-D, Freddy's Dead... the list goes on and on. Oh and bless John Wayne's heart.


The toy.... didn't really work correctly. We all had one. Put Orko in the chair (why would you put He-Man in... he'd just break out right?). Fill it with slime and then, it would go everywhere but on Orko. The slime would dry out and you'd have to buy new slime. I can safely say that I haven't seen slime this good in ages. I love the smell of it this day and when it dried, you could peel like sunburned skin.


My mom got this for mother's day or her birthday. Goodtimes put it out and it had a little G in the lower corner. I always thought that was the rating. The movie floored me from the first time I watched it and my mother loved that I would watch it on endless repeat. It was one of her absolute favorites. We still talk about it from time to time alongside The Abominable Dr. Phibes. She's a Vincent Price gal.


Until recently, if you asked me about this film I would tell you that it was never released. I couldn't find it. The title was way too similar to Terminator 2's title and it caused a bit of a headache until finally came through and showed me the $28 price tag for the VHS. What's the movie about? Don't really know. I still haven't seen it. This poster came straight from Long Valley Video where my sister's boyfriend worked at the time. He'd bring all the good ol' horror stuff to me and in return, I wouldn't annoy them while they made out... much. I hope to see it someday. I hope to put the poster up in my office/lair/den... whatever it will be.


...or, the moment at which Dr. Terror realizes comics could, potentially, have boobs lurking behind each page when Commissioner Gordon's daughter gets shot and then photographed naked. The story and artwork are incredible. I bought this just after the first Tim Burton Batman came out. I had the fever. Bought the movie graphic novel. This. The poster. Watched the sixites TV show. Collected the trading cards. I still love to read my Batman comics. The Joker has always been my favorite bad guy no matter who plays him. I love 'em all. If you've read this then you know why I'd call it horrific.


This is another one straight off the wall at Long Valley Video. I hadn't even seen the movie until recently but thoroughly loved it. I remember reading the Fango article about it and loving the stills. I don't think my parents were too keen on letting me rent it after reading the synopsis on the back thus the long wait. I also had The Kiss and Pulse posters on my wall. Maybe I'll remember more and let ya'll know. Like you care!


Without this gem of a Lego set I wouldn't have been able to perform half of my Lego horror movie adventures while sitting my living room. Friday the 13th and Jaws were my favorite. No, I'm not the guy who filmed 'em and put the Lego renditions of movies online, but in the mid 80's I was already up to no good. This particular set had some great weaponry and was a bit darker. There were better sets for horror fans and better castle sets altogether, but this one was mine and I did a damn fine job of further dementing myself with it. If I had the jungle set for my cannibal village with a machete for my Friday the 13th re-enactments maybe I could have made Lego Jason Lives!


I only had the eye ball Mad ball when I was a kid. Now I have five different ones... no eyeball. That's really the one I want. These things have such a great look with a great commercial, but boy do they fall apart a fast. Thank fuck I didn't have a dog or this thing wouldn't have made it a solid day.

Freaky fun for everyone!


So is it obvious that He-man was "my thing"? I had Castle Greyskull, Skeletor's lair, the horde slime set. Variation upon varation of each toy character with new, marketable appendage or action feature. I think to this day my favorite was Lockjaw. He had the interchange arm weapons. Also was a big fan of the battle wound edition (the one's where you hit them in the chest plate and the a cylinder rotates when knocked showing battle damage). I guess when that damn movie with Lundgren was release... that was really the end of a generation. Watching that movie to this day infuriates me.

If I find a Skeletor costume... Halloween night will never be the same. Also the reason I like the Modulok is due to the interchangeable body parts. You could create monster after monster after monster. Creepy looking too. Kind of sounds liek Wurdalak from Bava's Black Sabbath.


Pink, rubber wrestlers with strange deformities or physical attributes. They came in a garbage can. They were a great versatile toy with some creepy incarnations and these letters on the back that we all assumed was a map or password or something. To this day I still don't know.


It was a great looking toy with some meat on it. The teeth actually hurt if you got smacked in the face with it and it came with orange, breakable handcuffs. My buddy kept this near and dear to his heart for ages. When his parents sold his childhood home recently I was tempted to ask if they were really getting rid of it, but I knew it was either staying in the family or going with a nephew etc. Doubles as a creepy reading pillow.


When Fright Rags release limited edition T-shirts with various King book covers I was tempted to get this one. I used to sit in the hallway at the top of the stairs looking at this cover. When I was old enough to be able to read King's level of writing this is the book I tackled followed by Christine and Pet Semetary. I still love the original story Lawnmower Man and If There Be Tigers. King is an early inspiration for me. He made me want to write. Every time I seem him interviewed, watch his movies or read his work I thank him silently.


There's a guy down the street from with the Ghostbuster logo on the side of his Jeep Cherokee. I eye this toy up from time to time and think of buying it and putting it on his windshield or, if his car is unlocked, in the front seat. I don't know if I could part with it. My friends and I "ghost hunted" our way through high school and in the summers after. Wonder where we got the idea to do that? Weird NJ... Ghostbusters... thanks for almost getting me arrested for trespassing at least five times.


Now I watched this before I was allowed to see the S&M scene in the original movie. I'll tell you that I've enjoyed the sequels for the most part. Part 3 is my favorite even more than the first one. Whenever I see Puppet Master toys I think about buying them but until there's adequate shelving I feel bad keeping Blade in a box. This comic book is probably the reason that I became so fond of exploitation films. Something in it was seedy. Nazies. Naked women. Killer puppets. Leaches. It was horror, and I already liked horror but this was "literature". In my horror genre development this picked up where The Killing Joke left off and then set the bar very high.


I realize that Rambo is a movie with some very adult, violent content, but when I was about seven years old we were playing with this knife replica. It's plastic, but the serrated blade actually hurt. We spent hours playing Rambo in my buddies basement. It was all prisoner of war shit and stuff we didn't really understand, but that knife was rad. I used to use mine around Halloween. I'd make a dummy out of my old flannel shirts and camo pants. I'd fill the it with newspaper, put a plastic Jack O' Lantern on top of its neck and put a knife in his hand. I won't say it was scary, but it was definitely fun to create and helped to cement Halloween as my holiday of choice. Even over Christmas. Well, that and Sugar Daddy's, but that's another story.


I don't know where this came from, but it was larger than life and was the ultimate bad guy. Nothing stood a chance against it. I had never seen Rodan and I can't honestly remember seeing it in the last ten years, but this toy was as good as any Star Wars monster. I believe it's beak opened and it might have been hollow. Good for pretending that Han Solo or Darth Vader had been eaten. After watching Creepshow again recently I knew I had to find it again. I hope to have it as part of my collection, but I bet your tired of hearing that.


You know I always assumed that the Supernaturals was based on a show but could never really recollect it. It turns out that these were just toys. They come across as cheap knock offs of the Visionaries toys. The number of hologram based toys in the 80's was astounding. I still love holograms. I even love Jem and the Holograms (and they show that on cable all the time now. Knock off or not this particular one ws my all time favorite. What a look. I only wish you could get up lose and personal with it to see just how freaky this would be for a kid.

The Visionaries were slightly less freaky. They felt more fantasy/sci-fi based but were easily mingled with the Supernaturals.


I once tried to buy an authentic Tales from the Crypt comic in terrible condition. I was ready to pay $40 for one. Sticker price, in note good condition (one would call it "very bad") was $400. I'm still trying to fathom that but the post-code world was a scary place for comics and Tales from the Crypt suffered its share. The reprints were how I fed my obsession and this was my first reprint. A friend of mine from up north has this cover image tattooed on his arm in awe inspiring color. The quality of the reprints was poor at best and no where near the production quality of the original pulps. E.C. Comics gave us everything from Mad and Cracked Magazines to Tales from the Crypt, the Vault of Horror... They were made into movies, TV shows... more TV shows... more movies. Creepshow is an homage to them. Anthology horror movies want to to be them. The Amicus film of the same name still gives me goosebumps and is full of its own influential imagery. Anybody remember the Monster Party editions of Cracked? Those were really something. Some of the most amazing covers.


We all know the video and the dance made by John Landis. Romero zombies dancing to the king of pop. Who wouldn't love that. The music video may have been something but sitting at home before we had cable television and listening to the song Thriller on my parents Hifi set was something of a creep out. We used to jump on the couch dancing to Billy Jean and Beat It. By the time Vincent Price started talking it was too late. You just had to ride it out and wait for the laughter. You couldn't be alone after hearing that creepy voice that made Mr. Price ever so famous. You know I think I'm over the song Thriller. I'll still try to get people to do the zombie dance at weddings (it's pretty much the only horror related thing you can get normal people to at weddings). The only reason to listen to the song anymore is Vincent's tale of impending doom followed by that eerie laugh.


I actively search for older versions of this mask. It's the mask that the neighborhood kids would put on to have a villain their midst. While most masks are pretty large on kids' heads this one was twice the cavern of any normal Halloween mask. We didn't know that it was Tor Johnson mask when we were kids. I'm not even sure the parent who bought it knew who Tor Johnson was, but when you watch Ed Wood and read what happened to Johnson later in life they mention this line of masks. I will never forget it as long as I live. There was a deep scar going down the forehead (not like Harry Potter's silly). If you find one form the early 80's shoot me an email and find a price. I can't offer much but the memories I have of it are priceless.


We went to my mother's college roomate's comic store on Long Island to pick this up when I was a kid. My parents would let me watch the show and even stay up a bit later than usual. I think I remember seeing commercials for Dallas and Moonlighting. It may have played after Ripley's Believe it or Not. I cannot fully remember. What I do remember was that I bought an a very cool Incredible Hulk comic that day and this. Came with a blaster, belt and a removable face. When the vistior was in lizard-esque form, it's tongue could be discharged via a lever in the back. My favorite thing to do was to turn the mask inside out and put it on the Visitor. The costume and inside out mask looked like the spacemen from Critters. I had plenty of stuffed animals to kill. I still love to catch the original mini series. I am not a fan of the remake. It's too close to home. If you have one lying around try turning its mask inside out... looks like the prechange bounty hunters from Critters right? You know I'm right.


I believe we bought this one in a magic store in Walt Disney World. My dad has always been a werewolf guy. He loves the Howling. He's the reason I love the Howling. This mask has some similarities to Eddie Quist only not quite as Bottin. It made a great Halloween costume and I bet he still has it in his house. Think I'm going to see if he's ready to pass it on down.

I only hope someday my kids love horror at least a little bit if not as much as I do. I hope I can pass this all down to them as my parents were able to give me at quite a few horror related things as a child. One parting word before I leave you (writing this was emotionally taxing and cumbersome)... in my experience, kids aren't the scared ones... it's the parents that are scared of horror. Keep horror young.


  1. AWESOME. I had Rodan! Probably still in my parents' basement. I was too old for the Mad Scientist playset, but I've fondly remembered the "TOO GROSS" commercials for years. And yes, thanks to Mr. King...

  2. I don't think my Rodan had wings. I don't even think I knew it was Rodan, but he played well with my Star Wars toys.