From producer Richard P. Rubinstein who was behind Tales from
the Darkside comes another horror anthology series: Monsters.
Filled with fun stories and the occasional clever twist ending
Monsters is a fondly remembered show that aired for three seasons
starting in 1989. Now the good folks at eOne have collected all
72-episodes and released them in a very nice complete series
package. While the collection is lacking any extras, it's still a
must-buy for fans of TV horror.
This is a horror show, but there are times when it has its tongue
firmly planted in its check, as evidenced by the opening that
started the show off each week. Starting high up in the air above
the clouds, the camera zooms down to a house in a suburban
neighborhood. Moving in through the window a typical family is shown
(from the back) watching TV. It turns out they aren't so typical
when the mother enters with a cart of food. She's a horned Cyclops.
The daughter also has one eye in the center of her forehead, and the
father is a large, clawed, beast. On the television their watching,
the logo for Monsters appears and the daughter says "shhh, it's
starting" which launches viewers into a new installment. It's an
amusing gag, and sets the tone for the show: there are some purely
horror-driven shows, but some are played for laughs too.
Nearly every show features a monster that has to be defeated, from
familiar creatures like vampires and zombies, to more unique beings
like a queen bee who takes human form. While the shows are rarely
horrific, they are sometimes fairly spooky. A good example of this
is the very first episode, The Feverman. Set in Victorian times, a
man brings his dying daughter to The Feverman (David McCallum), a
healer who is reputed to be able to cure just about any disease. The
man's physician tags along, grousing the whole time that the whole
thing is a scam, but he soon changes his mind when he witnesses the
Feverman fighting the physical embodiment of the illness that he's
extracted from the girl. The whole episode feels slightly like
something H.P. Lovecraft would have penned, and the creators did a
great job creating the eerie atmosphere of the show. Everything from
the dingy basement where the Feverman does his work to the decrepit
shape of the man himself served to create a feeling of foreboding
The show also wisely stayed away from large spectacles. This isn't a
big budget Hollywood movie but they did spend a good chunk of their
budget on monster effects. The creatures of usually seen in quick
glimpses until the very end but they often look pretty impressive
for a syndicated TV show. Not spotlighting the monster also servers
to make the show a bit more atmospheric.
As I mentioned earlier, not all of the shows are aiming to send a
chill up your spine. Some are played for laughs, and they're very
effective and some of the best installments. One memorable
less-than-serious episode is My Zombie Lover, where a geeky young
girl named Dottie (Tempestt Bledsoe) returns home from college on
the one night every year where the dead raise and attack the living.
It's a pretty big deal in the town: her father is going to shoot
zombies with his buddies, her mother is going to serve refreshments
to the hunters, and her younger brother is going to protest for
zombie rights. Dottie stays at home studying but when a guy from her
high school, who just happens to be dead, confesses his love for
her, well... how can a girl resist a handsome (dead) guy?
Several of the shows conclude with twist endings, most of which can
be anticipated without too much problem. The lack of surprise
doesn't diminish the appeal of the shows however, they're still a
good deal of fun even if you can predict what is going to happen.
There are also some real gems included through the series that more
than make up for the occasional so-so episodes. If you enjoyed Tales
from the Darkside and Friday the 13th: The Series this
show will be right up your alley. It's sometimes spooky and
sometimes goofy but just about always fun.
All 72 episodes, the complete series, arrive on 9 DVDs in three
single-width cases. The cases are housed in a nice thin-board
slipcase. One nice touch that eOne added is that design of the art
on the discs themselves: they look like giant eyeballs.
The Dolby Digital audio is solid if unspectacular. Since the show
was created in the late 80's there wasn't a lot of thought put into
the sound at the time, but the discs sound clean and clear.
The remastered full frame image looks fine, but it's not
outstanding. The image is a little soft in places and there is some
grain, but overall it looks really nice. Certainly as good as it
looked when it first. Aliasing and other compression artifacts were
not a problem.
Alas, there are none.
Fans of horror anthology series should definitely check out this fun and
enjoyable show. Highly Recommended.