Ginger Nuts of Horror
A children's toy line based on a comic whose back mythology involves a Faustian pact with a demon from Hell, political corruption, questions on the morality of military service and the notion of moral violence, serial killers, a sub-plot involving a child abuser and murderer of children, a demonic clown that has more than a hint of John Wayne Gacey about him...
Given the existence of toy lines inspired by films such as Alien, Terminator, Robocop and even the “video nasty,” Mary Whitehouse-baiting Evil Dead, it was perhaps inevitable that Predator would inspire likewise.
In many respects, the sister franchise to the previously explored Alien range, there is a degree of overlap between the two, with “Xenomorph Hunter” Predators featuring largely, as well as various offshoots and permutations distinct to the range.
As was toy manufacturer Kenner's wont, the Predator toys are exquisitely detailed and imaginatively conceived; every effort made to infuse the line with a degree of variety; to build upon or extrapolate from cues in the original Predator design or throw-away references in the films.
“The evil that lies within!” So proclaims the tag line of this fairly obscure but fondly remembered toy line of the mid to late 1980s.
Like Transformers, MASK, Visionaries and numerous other lines of the era, Inhumanoids was a franchise that experienced a media blitzkrieg during the era of its release, the original toys inspiring everything from a (remarkably atmospheric) cartoon to a short lived comic series that served as a secondary, “back up” strip in the latter day issues of the UK Transformers comic.
How can any self-respecting child of the 1980s not have fallen in love with these gruesome, revolting little globs of ugliness?
In a culture dominated by a sudden ready access to all manner of media (from video tapes of films and TV shows to the then barely born video game market), it's little surprise that toys in general began to reflect tastes and aesthetics informed by horror, which was, at the time, insanely popular in almost all mediums and formats.
The Madballs are nothing particularly special in technical terms or even as playable items; barring some rather macabre and brilliantly gross sub-lines of the franchise, they have no gimmicks or moving parts; they do not shoot missiles or spray water or transform or metamorphose or any other of the hundred and one things toys of the era claimed to do.
The self-styled “Free-Range Bio-Exorcist,” “Ghost with the Most's” debut feature is hardly what you might call a child friendly affair. With its close focus on death, its surreal and morbid imagery and subject matter, its distinctly adult jokes and tone, Beetlejuice sits uncomfortably in that bracket of being a beloved childhood favourite that was never intended for children.
Being a child of the '80s, I was perfectly positioned to be one of the film's many, many, many child converts, hardly anyone I knew as a boy not having seen or owning the film on VHS; a fact which various interests knew and were keen to exploit.
As such, it wasn't like before Beetlejuice was adapted into comics, cartoons and, indeed, a short lived but highly inventive toy line.
You'd be surprised how many toy franchises aimed squarely at children's markets have an overt horror motif, especially during the 1980s-1990s, when toy manufacturers were far less concerned with being taken to court or garnering negative press from certain moral-minded quarters for their products.
With that in mind, it's my pleasure to explore some of the most imaginative and inspiring examples thereof in the run up to Christmas, starting with one of my personal childhood favourites:
2016 has been one the best years for genre fiction, so much so that this post nearly never happened as there was just too many great books over the past twelve months. But with a lot of thought, deliberation and the occasional toss of a coin, here is my personal top 20 reads of 2016. Some of ther books here may not have been published in 2016, if i read it over the past 12 months then it counts in my book.
Ginger Nuts of Horror has been given behind the scenes access to the new Mummy film coming to a screen near you next year. Today we bring you a behind the scenes look at the zero gravity stunt that made Tom Cruise feel more than a little bit sick.
In the first of a semi regular new feature Ginger Nuts of Horror takes a look at some of the authors who have sadly passed from the collective consciousness of the horror genre. These Forgotten Sons ( and Daughters) of the genre are writers who hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the contributors to the site.
To kick the series off I could think of no better example of a Forgotten Son than the Scottish horror author ( yes there are more than just Willie Meikle flying the genre flag up north) Joe Donnelly.
the mirror ultimately, despite being fairly chilling in its initial framing, just becomes a set up for getting “Exposition Fairy”
Here's the thing with Dean Koontz: he is often derided as the poor man's Stephen King, and that is true, to some degree; he is one of a million horror writers who made a name for themselves during the popular renaissance of the genre throughout the 1970s and 1980s, in which book store and library shelves groaned under a surfeit of Stephen Kings, Clive Barkers, Graham Mastertons, James Herberts, Shaun Hutsons and a hundred others. Though it seems absurd to even think it now, time was, horror was the dominant commercial force in mainstream publishing; something that we who remember regard as a golden age.