Horror and science fiction have always been a part of the television canvas, and constant attempts have been made over the years to produce classic entertainment. Some have fallen by the wayside, while others became mainstream phenomena. With “TV Terrors,” we take a look back at the many genre efforts from the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, exploring some shows that became cult classics, and others that sank into obscurity.
This month we fondly remember Monsters HD and its original series, “Monsterama.”
- Aired from 2004 – 2006
- Aired on Monsters HD
Monsters HD was truly one of the last great gasps of niche cable television before it all fizzled out. Before “cutting the cord” became the norm, and channels were broadened and dumbed down, one of the last hold outs was Monsters HD: an all horror channel that touted itself as the “First, and Only Uncut and Commercial-free, all-Monster-Movie channel in High-Definition.” For the years it was active it held a pretty excellent library of horror films, and also introduced original programming.
One of the best of the bunch was “Monsterama.”
Premiering in 2004, “Monsterama” was a wonderful half hour series that touched upon various popular hallmarks of horror fandom. From movies, to television, to rare collecting, horror monsters, make up, magazines and comics; hell, it even spawned a Playboy Special!
“Monsterama” was hosted by the incomparable Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Elvira would enthusiastically introduce the subjects of the episodes, while also narrating every episode. Elvira remains pretty much the go-to when it comes to ushering in horror television of any kind, and here she was her usual witty persona, grabbing attention even when perched on a couch. Thankfully the content behind “Monsterama” was not at all hollow, as the content creators managed to squeeze in some interesting facts and wonderful glimpses into their subjects within the thirty minute window.
The producers often dug up rare and detailed shots of memorabilia and movie stills, always ensuring a rich experience with a steady pacing that added a sense of addictiveness. It also helped that there wasn’t really a set schedule to “Monsterama,” as Monsters HD mostly used the series (and other specials) to fill time slots between their movies; it felt more like a TV magazine than a series, when all was said and done. It was an often welcome treat, especially if you were in the mood for non-stop horror mayhem.
The series lasted nearly twenty episodes and the producers managed to cover a massive amount of ground involving horror fandom and pop culture, which was a big chunk of the appeal. Among some of the many topics covered, there were looks at rare and obscure Planet of the Apes collectibles, exploration into the world of Aliens movie collectibles, the beginning and end of Aurora Plastics Model Kits, the art of the immortal Basil Gogos, the history of KNB Effects, The History of Don Post Studios and Don Post Calendar Masks, and a spotlight on Uncle Forry and his massive horror collection.
Likely for paid promotional purposes, there were also spotlights on the creation of the amazing Sideshow Collectibles line, and a look at the origin of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Granted the latter pair of topics hold big relevance to genre fans, but compared to the slate of episodes that focused more on vintage and retro horror, they stood out from the pack.
One of my favorite episodes of the entire run was a look at the (then) rare and hard to find Creature from the Black Lagoon collectibles market which includes figures, squirt guns, and art with prices ranging in the thousands. There was also a “Tribute to Horror Hosts” co-hosted by Dr. Shocker and his sidekick Igor (Daniel Roebuck and Chuck Williams), where they focused on a few of the most famous of the classic horror hosts including Zacherle, and the one and only Vampira. Maila Nurmi even appeared to tell her story and revel in her love for horror. There was an episode about my all time favorite make up artist Rick Baker, who discussed his love for monsters, his groundbreaking work in animatronics, his unparalleled werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf in London, and his work creating amazing apes in film.
“Monsterama” managed to garner an acclaimed run with even Tim Lucas, editor of Video Watchdog, noting that “This show was clearly put together by people who know this stuff, and it is always a treat to watch.” It wasn’t just that “Monsterama” celebrated horror with immense substance, but it tapped into the collecting part of the fandom that would explode only a few years later.
Though it didn’t get a second season, the series did have a special that carried the same spirit with “Ghouls Gone Wild: Playboy’s Halloween Spooktacular” (or “Playboy Presents Hef’s Halloween Spooktacular”), a rare extended look at Halloween inside the Playboy Mansion as hosted and narrated by Elvira. The special is just okay, and fairly superficial, spending an enormous amount of time on Hef and his Bunnies preparing for Halloween festivities, and reacting to a lot of the large scale attractions added to the Playboy Mansion for the season.
As for Monsters HD, the whole network sadly folded in 2009.
Is It On DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming? Various episodes of “Monsterama” can be found on YouTube completely uncut, as it is still remembered and circulated by horror fans years later. Hopefully a streaming service like Shudder or Hulu can someday give the series a new home.