Joe Rates: Monsters season 1, part 2
March 09, 2019

No screenshots this time. I don't have the ability to do so with my TV, and searching for them has turned up some sour results.


Episode 1.7: The Legacy
Featured monster: Spirit of some kind

Noteworthy names: Based on "The Legacy" written by Robert Bloch (author of Psycho).

An actor discovers a makeup kit allegedly owned by a renown, Lon Chaney-like character actor. He finds the actor's spirit inhabits the kit, and it teaches him how to literally transform into his old roles.

Ending spoiler: The spirit ends up possessing his body as the credits roll.

Rating: 3/5
Robert Bloch is one of those names I have yet to get into. I'd love to read Psycho at some point. Anyway, this episode didn't do much for me. It wasn't bad, as it had cool makeup and plenty of love for Lon Chaney. However, it progresses and ends in familiar fashion.


Episode 1.8: Sleeping Dragon
Featured monster: Prehistoric humanoid reptile

Noteworthy names: Kin Shriner (General Hospital) stars, written by Michael Reaves.

A conspiracy theorist brings a large, ancient vessel to a lab for examination. Its occupant, a creature that looks like an anthropomorphic T. Rex, awakens and begins feasting on main entourage.

Ending spoiler: The monster kills the lab's professor and his assistant, then traps the remaining two characters in a room. It tries to munch the conspiracy theorist, but can't seem to finish him off. A harsh blizzard blows outside, and the professor's daughter has an epiphany. She lures the reptile to her, then smashes a window. Frozen winds first stifle the beast, then kill it. The two survivors get the power back on and reconnect the phones, and then they receive a call: at least two hundred more lizardmen have been spotted in Reno, all of them hungry.

Rating: 3.5/5
A by the books revisit of '70s/'80s monster-on-the-loose fare. This one also seems to borrow a little from The Thing and Alien. However, none of those factors change the fact that this is a rote story. One huge problem I have with this episode, though, is that it's supposed to conclude on a low note and leave you fearful of the future. However, cold weather stopped one of these creatures dead in its tracks. Am I really supposed to be afraid of an army of them in North America? Yeah, they're in Reno, but if snowfall can kill one of these things in seconds, then this shouldn't be an impossible situation to resolve. Endings like these are best saved for stories where the antagonist is nearly impossible to defeat, and only lost as a result of sheer determination, effort and/or a fluke.


Episode 1.9: Pool Sharks
Featured monster: Vampire

Noteworthy names: ...

A beautiful, mysterious woman (Natasha) who's awesome at pool challenges a man named Gabe to a game. The wager: the winner gets to do whatever they want, sexually, to the loser. However, both players are harboring secrets...

Ending spoiler: The woman is a vampire, and the guy is the brother of one of her recent victims. He eventually defeats her through trickery, and she tries to lower his defenses by seducing him. He reveals that he has a modified pool stick with a sharpened end hidden beneath the tip, which he rams into her heart, killing her. He turns on a nearby fan before buying himself a drink and leaving. The last shot is a pile of dust where the vampire used to be, slowly blowing away thanks to the fan.

Rating: 4/5
This episode oozed film noir. It had some light hard boiled elements, plus a great, jazzy soundtrack. The plot unraveled through conversation, while the action remained focused on the pool game. This one also reworked a lot of vampire movie tropes in clever ways. For instance, there's a part where Natasha shows off her body to distract Gabe from taking a shot He uses a nearby mirror to make the shot, since he can't see her in it, but he can see his ball. An all around good episode.


Episode 1.10: Pillow Talk
Featured monster: Ancient, carnivorous alien disguised as a bed

Noteworthy names: Mary Woronov co-stars.

A famous horror novelist, Miles Magnus, feeds women he woos to his bed, which happens to be an ancient alien. It keeps him around by maintaining a psychic link with him, preventing him from escaping. However, Miles eventually meets and falls for Viki, who shows an interest not only in his writing, but a secret manuscript he's been working on that basically talks about his experiences with the creature (which he refers to as "the master"). Miles struggles with wanting a relationship with Viki, but knowing he can't have one because of the master.

Ending spoiler: Viki invites Miles over to her place and picks his brain about the manuscript. She eventually slips into something more comfortable and asks him to get her a beer. As Miles reaches for one, he discovers that Viki's fridge is a monster similar to his bed, right before it devours him.

Rating: 3/5
I'm kind of torn on this one. It's a fairly unique story, although it smacks a bit of Death Bed: The Bed that Eats (Miles even says he found the master in an abandoned house, perhaps as a nod to Death Bed). However, John Diehl, who plays Miles, bugs me here. His acting is very strange, like he was trying too hard to portray Miles as blatantly psychologically unhinged. I fail to see how the way he acted throughout the episode would've enabled him to seduce anyone. He was just so damn awkward.


Episode 1.11: Rouse Him Not
Featured monster: A warlock's familiar

Noteworthy names: Laraine Newman (SNL) stars; based on a short story by Manly Wade Wellman (pulp horror and sci-fi author).

Pulp era hero John Thunston investigates a painter's house that used to belong to a notorious warlock. The man left his familiar sealed in a cellar, but it was unwittingly set free by the painter. It now occasionally arrives via watery portal that appears on her cellar floor to feed.

Ending spoiler: After the creature kills one of the painter's neighbors, Thunston decides to wait until midnight for it to arrive, hoping to kill it with a silver sword. He eventually challenges the thing, but it gets the upper hand on him. However, the painter distracts the monster with a flashlight, allowing Thunston to decapitate it.

Rating: 4/5
Call me crazy, but this is the kind of campy junk I want from this series. It's a pretty standard horror story--executed witch leaves behind some kind of curse. However, it was an undeniably fun episode with a cool looking monster.


Episode 1.12: Fool's Gold
Featured monster: Troll

Noteworthy names: Jeff Conaway costars, Debbie Lee Carrington as the troll.

A construction foreman and her crew discover a sealed cave in the basement of an office building. Inside lies buried treasure, guarded by a malicious troll with an burning hot grip.

Ending spoiler: The three main characters find a way to nab the treasure, but the troll causes a cave-in at the staircase leading back to the offices. It attacks Conaway after that, who's armed with an iron pickaxe. The creature pounces on the pickaxe, which puts a huge hole in its chest. Boiling hot blood shoots from the wound all over Conaway, killing him. The foreman attempts to dig her way out, but the troll awakens and grabs her foot. She eventually hits a loose rock, allowing sunlight to hit the troll directly. The creature turns to stone just before the credits roll.

Rating: 3.5/5
Not a bad episode, but it's full of characters making obviously bad decisions. It starts with a bit role character discovering the cave, sticking his head in and dying almost immediately. The characters deduce that the cave isn't safe, but find a coin in the dead man's hand. Conaway's character decides to go in and look for the rest of the treasure, taking a pickaxe with him for protection. He ends up with painful burns on his arms, but comes alive (until later). Despite this, he still insists upon getting the treasure rather than leaving well enough alone. I know the horror genre is full of bad decisions, but they need to be kept to a minimum because it's difficult to care about characters who are blatantly stupid.

All the same, this is still a mostly fun episode that accomplishes the show's goal: delivering entertaining monster-themed horror stories. There aren't many horror movies that use trolls, so at least they went with something kind of unique.

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Next post: Glim-Glim (I'm a big boy, I can do this), Parents from Space, The Mother Instinct, Their Divided Self, Taps, The Match Game.

Most recent blog posts from Joseph Shaffer...

Feedback
honestgamer honestgamer - March 11, 2019 (08:36 PM)
I'll be going through Monsters myself at some point. I bought the whole series on DVD when I found a set on eBay for a reasonable price, since it seems to have gone rare and I doubt was ever printed in large quantities in the first place. I got it for one episode, "Taps," which I remembered catching on television when I was a kid and visiting the Oregon Coast during an all-too-rare vacation with my family. I thought it was neat that I wound up living on the coast, so I wanted to have the episode I saw at the time on DVD and now I do. I've watched it, but not any of the other episodes so far. It's definitely a cheesy show but, at least in that one episode, that was part of the appeal. The cheese went over my head when I was a kid, but more recently it was hard to miss!
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - March 17, 2019 (04:39 PM)
The cheese part of it is the best. Episodes that are more like mini-drive-in films are the best, but some of the more thoughtful ones are great, too.

I'm approaching Taps in my rewatch, and I don't remember it very well. It might even be one that I didn't watch during its first run. I did miss a lot of episodes as a kid, usually because I had to have my homework done first and sometimes dragged my feet before I could catch the show.

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