MONSTERS: Complete Series
Entertainment One // Unrated // February 25, 2014
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 29, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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 and dread.
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.