Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series
Shout Factory // Unrated // $29.93 // October 8, 2013
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted December 20, 2013
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Aaahh!!! Real Monstersis one of the most unique animated programs that came out of the Nickelodeon network in the 1990's. Created by acclaimed animation studio Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, As Told by Ginger) the series is one of the most unusual creations from the studio and by creators Gabor Csupo and Peter Gaffney.

Csupo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Rugrats but here is a wildly different series from the creative powerhouse artist. The concept of the series is in itself rather simplistic. It revolves around a group of monsters who live in a city dump where they feed on garbage (presumably on other monsters too) while learning the trade of being a monster from the "Monstering" teacher and headmaster known as The Gromble (Gregg Berger).

The main characters of the series are three monsters named Ickis (Charles Adler), Oblina (Christine Cavanaugh), and Krumm (David Eccles) who are each rather ineffective more frequently than they are effective when it comes to scaring as monsters. They spend most adventures going around rather aimless or on quests to frighten humans but without really succeeding - mainly because they never even seem to understand the "craft" monsters are supposedly supposed to be in-tune with somehow. Basically, these "monsters" are rather disgusting looking monsters on the outside but playful little kids that sometimes get into unbelievably bizarre circumstances that result in them creating mischief.  They are often unsuccessful at the work they do as monsters and the show is mainly about focusing in on monsterings most unusual three characters.

Klasky-Csupo produced the show with a unique visual style that seems to blend creepy and bizzare animation with the fundamentals they used to produce more vibrant series such as Rugrats -- such as the squiggly animated, the rough textures, and the pastiche of color that somehow seems fundamentally different from most cartoons. The series is a success in the animation department for  being unique and quite distinctive )even within the framework of Klasky-Csupo). Fans of the studio and their animated offerings will find more to appreciate.

The stories and characters are simplistic by their nature -- as is the course in many cartoons. However, the basic premise leaves a series with a lot of interesting one-off stories that will certainly fascinate fans who appreciate the unusual strengths of this odd-man-out type of creation, where the central monsters are unlike the rest of the bunch, and the writing is so centralized to goofy plots and adventures. While Klasky-Csupo did not create a masterful production in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters,it is certainly an interesting cartoon from one of Nickelodeon's most successful time-period's as a network and it deserves some credit in becoming a success for four seasons and for its distinctiveness as an animated creation.

I appreciated this show (even though it was never a personal favorite of mine) while growing up. Undoubtedly, the animation was something I always found to be creative and unique. It's style is something that ultimately remains as one of the central strengths. Serious fans of different animation styles and unique cartoons will enjoy elements of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and certainly dieheard fans of the production studioKlasky-Csupo are strongly encouraged to consider visiting or revisiting the show on this newly-created Complete Series DVD set.

The DVD:


The 1.33:1 full-frame video presentation is decent but unremarkable.  The bit-rates and video presentation from Shout seems to suggest a DVD presentation that is attempting to get good mileage out of the source material utilized. However, the source material conditions are not really all that notable. It seems as though the source was the same as whatever was utilized throughout broadcast on television and not a higher quality source. The colors are drab and muted throughout -- and this is not a note on the quality of the art-style, which is dark in its stylization in the same way one might expect to find from a Tim Burton production. It's the presentation of whatever weak source was utilized to create the DVD's. It's unfortunate that something better is not presented. Yet I cannot say that I am surprised by the average PQ on Aaahh!!! Real Monsters'DVD release, as it is so often the case with animated series.  


The 2.0 Dolby Digital audio is a fairly generic and disappointing audio presentation. However, there's nothing all that surprising about this low-quality soundstage. It is an animated program that was made in the 90's and most TV series (animated or not) received relatively average or uninteresting sound designs. The presentation is also limited to a measly 192kbps which is a disappointing bit-rate that makes it sound barely acceptable in sound-quality, though vocals certainly are distinctive and easy to understand. This is a dull sound presentation that won't impress -- it merely manages to suffice.



Final Thoughts:

Aaahh!!! Real Monstersis one of the most iconic of the early 90's Nickelodeon animated series and fans of the program can now rejoice in having a complete series collection available. The series will probably be best enjoyed by those who used to have a certain fondness for it, but perhaps new viewers would find it interesting as well. This set certainly offers a good value considering its low price-tag in relation to the amount of included content, despite average picture/audio quality and a lack of any supplements. For nostalgic fans of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters this set is worth considering.


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