Monsters TV Series

By Kraven The She-Wolf  

     On October 1 1988, a new first run syndicated show hit the airways
and although this little thirty minute anthology series didn't change the
world, like say The Twilight Zone or Tales From The Crypt, it still left its
mark on the horror landscape just the same..... well at least for this horror
fan! The show was simply called Monsters and it was just that, unlike
other half hour horror based series at the time like Tales From The Dark
Side and others.... Monsters had one advantage over the others.....it al-
ways had a monster featured in each episode. With a run of 72 episodes
from 1988 until 1991 and 3 seasons, the show mixed a lot of dark comedy
with full out horror drama each week.

     Although some episodes were lighthearted and funny, most delivered out right terror but done with a
more dramatic tone than just going for blood and gore. In fact, the very best episodes were those that had
their week’s monster in a very grown up dramatic situation such as the episodes Reaper, Sleeping
Dragon, Far Below and Outpost. These were also my favorite episodes for they were great on not only
their monsters but the drama that these shows displayed.

     Like many shows of its kind, Monsters was a very low budget series but it never really seemed that
way. Although most episodes took place in only one or two locations keeping the cost down, the series
made the most out of these locations with lots of tone and just good old storytelling. The episode Far
Below mainly took place in an office location within the New York City subway system where a man is sent
in to see why the workers in the tunnels are paid so high. Their boss tries to explain that the tunnels are
over run with hairy monsters and that the extra money the city pays them goes to keeping the creature
population down so that the trains can run through the tunnels without anyone being attacked by the
creatures. Outpost was brilliantly shot in only one location where a woman is sent in to inspect a lone
member of a mining outpost on an alien planet. They talk through a glass wall where Sebastian the worker
must stay due to his illness that has deformed him after working on the planet.  The use of just one location
worked so well as the two talk and she learns that this poor soul on the other side of the glass is in fact her
long lost husband. Not so much scary is this episode but amazingly written and so well shot that it’s one of
the best the series ever produced.

     Another great episode was Reaper where a man living in a nursing home is being hunted by none
other than The Grim Reaper. He comes to the aging man as a tall well-dressed gentleman and soft
spoken. He tries to tell him that his time has come and that he is there for him. When it is not believed to
be the angel of death, the man revels his true self as the black cloaked scythe wielding Reaper in all his
glory. Okay as a fan of The Grim Reaper, I loved this one and is among my most loved shows. Sleeping
Dragon told of a man sized dinosaur being awakened before attacking three people in one location
setting.  The action is fast and the creature for a low budget TV series of the 80’s looks pretty damn good
making this a must see episode. Another good one is called The Hole in which three soldiers during the
Vietnam War are ordered to check out an old bunker underground where they encounter zombies in the
long dark tunnels.

     Although the show was produced on a shoestring budget, it always had great writing and even better
make-up special effects. The shows make-up consultant was none other than Dick Smith who was the
man who turned a little 12 year old girl into the demon creature in the 1973 horror masterpiece The
Exorcist. A fair number of top horror writers also worked on the show and many of the stories were original
and or taken from short stories by writers of the genre. Three of the episodes alone were based on
Psycho author Robert Bloch who's story Reaper was shown in season 2. Like the Twilight Zone, many of
the endings of some episodes had a twisted ending while other did not. Some episodes played for
giggles and others were just straight up horror shows. Still no matter what, the series always had some
form of creature in the show. Be it a vampire, demon or alien creature, Monsters always delivered the
goods when it came to having monsters.   

     In February 2014, the series was released on DVD and the series can also be seen on You Tube with
some episodes that were shown on the Chiller Channel network. I had to slip off to watch a few episodes
myself when writing this article. If you have never seen this little horror gem than you have to check it out on
You Tube or find it on DVD, trust me you will enjoy this series.