If I may be so punny: there's a lot to unpack here. I mean, if it were just you & I right now, we'd just talk about the cards. Except, this particular subject matter has a bit of depth and controversy, so the guy sitting next to you is gonna want more than nostalgic musings and old bubblegum cards. And so, for that guy, let's get a little highbrow.
To a child (and probably to adults as well), the further you get away from history, the more it begins to take on the vibe of fiction. You can read about something or watch a program about something, but there's a disconnect that's forged when facts are prepared and served at the same temperature as "entertainment," and it's up to you to determine how much emotional distance you're comfortable with between yourself and various hard truths.
That's one group of folks. Another crowd is more-than-happy to invest their hearts & minds in the tragedies and triumphs of the past - that's the whole draw for them. For someone who doesn't get it, they typically fall back on the old phrase that they invented: "morbid curiosity." But to the initiated (like you & me) we understand a healthy fascination with human nature and all of its... idiosyncrasies.
Then, to a 9-year-old (like I was), they just like pretty pictures. Which finally (thank fucking god!) brings us to **drum roll** True Crime, Series 2: Serial Killers & Mass Murderers, released in 1992 by Eclipse.
Series One - titled G-Men & Gangsters - is nearly just as cool: to me it was like a hyper-realistic Dick Tracy (which, obviously, is not far from the truth). Dealing exclusively with Organized Crime in the early 20th century, the first half of the set was the "cleaner" story (even when it got real dirty). But the second half - full of cult leaders, psychotic loners, and sexual deviants - is when it got scary and gross. Y'know, for kids!
Each "killer" card came with an extremely dense bio on the back, graphically detailing their crimes, their childhood, whether or not they were caught, etc. But to be totally honest, at the tender age of 9, that was all subtext. The whole reason for collecting them, loving them, and writing about them today is the staggering artwork by Jon Bright. Some of the cards depicted crime scenes or general abstractions, but they were largely striking, ghostly, oil portraits of each respective perpetrator, complete with the prescribed splatter of blood alongside the border. As a child, so as it is today, this whole aesthetic (and the subject matter in which it's rooted) is mashed potatoes & gravy for me. I wouldn't have been able to defend it at the time, but my "questionable" absorption of serial killers came from an (almost) entirely artistic appreciation standpoint. I mean, to be fair, the gruesome details behind each menacing mug was attractive in an exploitative way (and anything having to do with history - however small-scale - was gold to me). But in the end, the cards were just neat-looking.
There were 110 cards in this Second Series: a lotta famous faces, but even more obscure ones. And while I'd love to educate you all on some lesser-known atrocities, these 4 superstars easily received the coolest-looking artwork in the set -- so much so that, to this day, whenever I come across these notorious names, these are the images I think of.
That's right, it's Name That HORROR Movie!
No one particularly nailed the last set; it was a bit of a group effort with some disagreements. Those answers are posted in their comments... But who cares? We're all about the Spooky Pussy now! And to reiterate what is painfully obvious: all of the following stills are taken from scary movies, and so long as it rubs the lotion on its skin, we don't see any reason to not do a whole 'nother set before season's end.
So here is a fair & adequate test of your Monster Movie memory; no obscure trivia or discriminating tastes - just look and tell us what you see.
...The response please, Damien!
More of a comedy that runs a bit long. Come for the insane cinematography, stay for Billy Drago and Dedee Pfeiffer.
Bloody Moon (1981)
Jess Franco's journey into the mainstream Slasher genre - a predictable amount of boobs and a surprising amount of buzzsaw.
Evil Toons (1992)
Live-action sorority babes are terrorized by a demonic cartoon wolf. Not as perfect as it sounds, but the effort is charming.
Little Witches (1996)
A fan of The Craft but you wish it had an excessive amount of nudity? Boy, have we got a movie for you!
Needful Things (1993)
People typically seem to be satisfied with the campier King adaptations. But if you're ever in the mood for one of the very few better-made ones, here ya go.
Shock 'em Dead (1991)
A nerd sells his soul to Satan to become a Heavy Metal guitar god. You don't see that premise much anymore.
The Initiation (1984)
Kinda run-of-the-mill "guess who the killer is." But the entire third act takes place in an empty mall - and that's important Cinema.
Cheerleader Camp (1988)
A killer runs amok in a camp full of "teens." Yeah yeah, we know - but it's got cheerleaders. And Leif Garrett!
aka Bloody Pom Poms
It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)
Parts 1 & 2 move about as fast as molasses, whereas this one speeds right along with the help of sharp dialogue and questionable (but fascinating) FX.
Beyond the Door (1974)
The strength of The Exorcist is that it's grounded in realism. Take that off, and you're in for some weird-scary fun.
Cutting Class (1989)
You can approach this as a novelty for the young Brad Pitt performance, but you'll still leave pleasantly surprised with the semi-serious/semi-hilarious mystery that unfolds before you. And Jill Schoelen.
Castle Freak (1995)
Stuart Gordon, Barbara Crampton, and Jeffrey Combs take us to a castle that is secretly inhabited by a freak. For whatever you're thinking, it gets darker and grosser than that.
Director Juan Piquer Simón (Pod People) commands a race of mutant slugs for our viewing pleasure. For whatever you're thinking, it gets darker and grosser than that.
The Mangler (1995)
Most folks thought that a Hooper/King/Englund collab woulda resulted in a "different movie." Frankly, we got exactly what we wanted & needed.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
Zombie films are very rarely cohesive (or even coherent) enough to get involved in a "plot." Not the case with this one, which manages to be gross and engrossing.
aka The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue
The Brain (1988)
A SciFi/Action/Horror/Comedy with a big enough script to actually give weight to all these attributes. Save this one for Christmas, though.
There's Nothing Out There (1991)
Competent "self-aware" exercise that predates Scream by several years, and is magnificently more effective and less irritating.
The Outing (1987)
There are big chunks of this movie that are pretty dry and silly - which only end up punctuating the surprisingly nasty gore FX that feel as though they're in another movie.
aka The Lamp
This is easily the sleaziest and most barebones entry on this list; a 50s Drive-In Creature Feature updated for the 80s Home Video market, complete with nude aerobics, rubber monsters, and an alien hot tub filled with an indeterminate goo. You're welcome.
Party Line (1988)
More of a decent Police Procedural than Horror, it's an earlier exploration of the perils of "don't meet up with strangers." Still though, plenty of throat slashing, New Wave dancing, and incest. And Leif Garrett!
Well it's noon, Summerfest is over. And so now, ghouls and ghoulettes, it's into the next celebration - and it is a wet-ass one.
If you're reading this, congratulations: you've made it to the Season of The Witch. (And so you may all commence with your "Don't forget to wear your masks" jokes.) We can't be certain just yet (even though we are) that the rules and restrictions of a traditional Halloween Night won't be compromised, but that shouldn't affect your festivities for the next six weeks. (You weren't going trick-or-treating anyway, so stfu.) But we don't let nobody tell us when to be happy - and we're plenty happy 'bout being here today to present to you Bennett Media's SPOOKY PUSSY! (But in Italian, it sounds much nicer.) Until the big day, we're doing nothing but scary stuff, so between here and Facebook, be sure to keep checking in for your fix of madness, macabre, and other m-words. And if you feel like spreading some joy during these trying times, make sure your friends & relatives get in on Spooky Pussy while the gettin's spooky.
Here's a preview of what's to come. And oh yeah, don't forget to wear your masks.