It’s what’s on the outside that counts… Nabisco’s Monster Cookies

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Some grocery stores are displaying an epic tower of cookies, bookended by lifesize versions of Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, making for the most epic store display of 2013.  The character selection and artwork is a real throwback to the 1990s when the official Universal Monsters used to adorn such mammoth retail displays.  And while these Nabisco Monsters are not licensed, they might as well be, as they bear a stronger (cartoon) resemblance to the movie characters than anything Universal is currently sanctioning.  So, if you are fortunate enough to stumble upon one of these boo-utifil displays, please share a picture with us in the comments.

But now onto the product they house within their fortress of fright… Nabisco Cookies: Classic Mix — treat sized bags of your favorite commercial-brand cookie products.  And look at the great boxes!  The Dracula is fang-tastic, and the Witch is wickedly wonderful.  Too bad that they could not have squeezed in the Monster and the Bride from the store display, but you can’t get everything, I suppose.  The Dracula, however, makes up for the loss, probably being the best non-likeness retail rendition of the character in over a decade.   These cookie boxes are widely available at Walmart and Kroger stores, but not every place displays them in the beautiful Monster Fortress. Ah well, at least they have cookies.

Nabisco is also offering up another type of Halloween treat with another great package, this in the form of the Halloween Oreo.  Yes,  Halloween Oreos have been around for years (a testament to their bewitching lure), but it’s always good to fall back on an old favorite in these ever uncertain times.

Halloween Oreos

See you in two days with more Halloween fun!

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Universal Monsters Week | New Monster Model Kits

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The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

This week on The Big Scare, we will be highlighting where you can track down some cool Halloween merchandise featuring our favorite fiends of Filmland.

There have been a number of exciting Monster Models released in recent years.  And the trend continues this fall with a slew of monsters and their mates making the ”scream scene!”  The Moebius Models Bride of Frankenstein kit is now available to purchase. The 1:8 scale Creature from the Black Lagoon kit with victim, sculpted by Adam Dougherty, will be debuting in the next few weeks.  The deluxe Bela Lugosi Dracula model kit with victim (based on the original stage play) is also set to debut in September.  So grab some glue and paints and get ready to create your own monster scenes this Halloween!  

Underrated Classics | Dracula’s Daughter

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It seems as if, in the world of Universal Studios Classic Horror, there is one sequel which gets all of the attention – The Bride of Frankenstein.  Granted, it deserves all of the admiration it receives – and more!  But, there are other follow-up films in the Universal canon that are wonderfully-made which also are owed a great deal of respect.  Perhaps the most under-appreciated is Dracula’s Daughter.

A direct sequel to Dracula, the movie begins just moments after the original ends.  Two bumbling policemen stumble upon the body of Renfield in the basement of Carfax Abbey, where they also meet a very much alive Professor Van Helsing (credited as “Von Helsing”).  Admitting to driving a stake through the heart of the evil Count, Van Helsing is arrested for murder and seeks the aid of a trusted friend, Jeffrey Garth.  Garth, a psychiatrist and former student of Van Helsing, must help the professor prove that Van Helsing did not murder anyone, that Dracula was indeed already dead for 500 years – a seemingly impossible task.  But, when the body goes missing and London is once again rife with bloodless corpses, proving Van Helsing’s innocence becomes a tad bit easier.

The film stars Gloria Holden in the title role.  Playing Countess Marya Zaleska, Holden definitely holds a candle to Bela Lugosi’s performance in the previous film, channeling his eerie presence in nearly every scene.  It’s hard to imagine any actress but Holden being able to utter, in such genuinely distant fashion, the famous line, “I never drink… wine.”  Like Lugosi, Holden commands the screen.  Everything about her is eerie, foreign, intriguing, seductive, and just plain creepy.  Her motivations are also the most complex of any early Horror character.  A reluctant vampire who loathes the control Dracula still exerts over her, even from the grave, Countess Zaleska seeks psychiatric “release” from the curse of the vampire, yet still embraces her father’s evil ways.

The film is very much in keeping with the style of the original, using the same sets for Dracula’s Castle, carrying over Edward Van Sloan as Professor Van Helsing, referring frequently to characters and situations in the original, and even lifting lines (and a camera shot) from the 1931 classic.  Dracula’s Daughter really is a terrific sequel.  The intended parallels between this film and the original work wonderfully.  The only thing that drags the film down is its uneven pacing and its tendency to dwell too much on the comedic relationship between Dr. Garth and his secretary.

But, for every fault in the film, there are ten positive things which work to its advantage.  In addition to the great performances by Holden and Van Sloan, the film’s music is atmospheric, moody, and chilling.  The theme, used in the opening and during the climax, is one of the best, if not the best, in the Universal Horror repertoire, rivaling the main theme of The Wolf Man as the most sweepingly tragic, dark and elaborate piece of music in the early history of Horror.

While the sequel could have taken any number of directions, and it almost took a very weird one with James Whale helming the first efforts, this film is very enjoyable for what it is.  It could have starred Bela Lugosi.  It could have had Van Helsing be the main hero.  It didn’t.  And, as such, it should be judged on its own merits – and it has plenty.  Perhaps, one day, fans of the genre will come to realize this and bolster Dracula’s Daughter to its rightful place in the Universal library – not being nearly as good as The Bride of Frankenstein, but deserving a lot more credit than some of the later Dracula and Frankenstein sequels.  Overall, the film earns a solid  4 out of 5 stars.