Category Archives: Horror Nostalgia

Vintage Halloween Horrors: The Creepiest Ben Cooper Masks Ever Put on the Market

It’s not an opinion- it’s science folks. The beloved Ben Cooper masks and costumes are a symbol of yesteryear’s Halloween. A time where making the neighborhood rounds in noisy plastic costumes while carrying your mom’s pillowcase for the candy haul, or if you were the cool kid, a McDonald’s McBoo Bucket, was the highlight of the year for many little horror-heads everywhere. Whether your Ben Cooper costume of choice was a Master of the Universe, or the doll of false dreams Barbie, I think we can all collectively agree that while we all thought we looked super cool, turns out we really were creeping the shit out our parental units with what my Dad refers to as, “Plastic Heart-Attacks.”

 
I suppose he has a bit of a point…

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Although completely unintentional I’m sure, there truly is no denying the subtle creep factor these costumes gave off looking back on them now with adult(ish) eyes. While of course, these collective images of plas-tastic nightmares are on top of my unsettling Ben Cooper masks list, I challenge anyone reading this to say that they could never picture a serial killer hiding underneath these simple, yet chilling stringed- facial huggers.

Happy the Clown

Ben Cooper Clown

Image via Etsy

 

Straight out of your worst nightmares, Happy the Clown surfaced from the company sometime in the ‘80s and in my humble opinion, is the damn creepiest of the many Cooper clown variants over the years. Possibly due to the fact it always reminded me of the heavier set of the trio of clowns from 1989’s Clownhouse. Just. NOPE.

Ghostbusters Egon

Egon Ben Cooper

Image via Etsy

This Egon mask take from The Real Ghostbusters Saturday morning splendor from the mid-‘80s is pretty much the scariest thing ever. My train of thought runs, the simpler the mask, the creepier it comes across. The mildly surprised expression from the Ghostbustin’ favorite makes for something quite eerie here. Give me the ghosts over this plastic nightmare any day.

Beatle Paul McCartney

paul BC

Image via Pinterest

 

This. Is just bizarre, and I can’t look away. Perhaps what is most perplexing, is how the hell this was deemed a normal mask in 1964. Vintage Halloween never seems to let me down as modern times doesn’t hold a candle to this kind of gem. As stated, my favorite part about this is that is not meant to come off as creepy. Beatlemania never looked so damn terrifying.

 

King Kong (1976)

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Image via Etsy

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Image via Ebay– Both equally as horrifying.

Because 1976 Kong wasn’t quite scary enough, the fine folks at the Ben Cooper Company just had to release this little number. OK, I know you’re probably thinking, this isn’t so bad? I’ll admit, this is a more personal thing for myself, as 76 Kong traumatized the crap out of me when I was a kid. Aside from the freaky mask, the smock is wonderfully designed with Kong in battle atop the World Trade Center. Which just reminds me of the gory as hell ending from the Dino De Laurentiis production. I got my big girl panties on. Bring on the jokes.

 

Hairy & Scary

hairy and scary

Image via Pinterest

The Hairy & Scary line of Cooper masks add a little extra edge and while all variants of the curly-headed mask are sufficiently frightening on their own, THIS gorilla mask races to the front of the line with the creep factor. Although if you’re asking me, the mask looks more like its channeling the Zuni doll from Trilogy of Terror. Which is why I felt like I would be doing a disservice to readers if I didn’t mention this sucker.

 

The Chattermouth Cooper Variant

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Image via Etsy

The highly recognizable Chattermouth Ben Cooper line that disables those muffled voices inside the plastic masks, and stepping up the game with a moveable jawline. Productive? Yes. Less horrifying? Not even a little bit.

 

Phantom of the Opera

phantom

Image via Pinterest

The 1964 Phantom Ben Cooper mask looks more like Leatherface than a Phantom, but maybe that’s why it’s so damn scary. The acidic burns on both sides of the face rather than just the one, gives this version of the Phantom in the Ben Cooper universe a slight edge, even if it’s not what we’re accustomed to seeing. I like that ballsy move. You have to respect that.

 

Hobo with a Bowtie

hobo

Image via Etsy

Clearly, the Ben Cooper Hobo is modeled after the infamous melancholy hobo clown Emmett Kelly. If I’m wrong, there’s a hell of a resemblance going on there. Either way, you can’t argue the unnerving facial structure.
The smell of colorful plastic under your nostrils and vinyl smocks ensured that the “High Priest of Halloween” company dominated the scene of Samhain in not just the ‘70s and ‘80s, but for over 50 glorious years until the company’s fold in the early ‘90s. However, a recent exclusive with the son of the “Halston of Halloween” himself Ira J. Cooper over at Bloody Disgusting revealed that the company are in the early stages of a relaunch of the popular brand, giving us fans of what we deem, a true Halloween national treasure some hope for a return of some all-time favorites.

Is there a particular Cooper mask or costume that you feel should be included? Let’s discuss some creeptastic retro Halloween fuzzies below!

 

Valentine’s Day Poetic Justice with Peter Cushing

Happy Valentine’s Day, my lovelies!

We here at Nightmare Nostalgia truly hope you have a bloody good one today! But we know why you’re here. Wherever you find yourself right now: out to eat, on your way home (or tonight’s big date) or whether you’re a single heart with a party of one you have still found yourself here with us in our happy little private asylum of dark wonders.  So huddle up close and join the Nightmare cast on the most romantic day of the year! And oh boy, does your ol’ buddy Manic have a sticky good treat for you all tonight!

Firstly, holiday horror movies are all the rage during the festive times. We have so many to choose from, and although it sometimes feels as if both Halloween (obviously) and Christmas hog all the spotlight we do in fact have some dark little delicacies to pick from every February 14th! Oh I know many will naturally go to the timeless classic My Bloody Valentine – as rightly you should – but today I want to focus on a little lesser known Valentine’s Day atrocity brought to us by the one and the only, the late great Peter Cushing!

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image via giphy

He and Christopher Lee are my two favorite actors of all time! More than once this dastardly duo starred in some of the greatest horror classics of the ages. Anytime the two appeared in a monster classic you could bet it was going to be grander than life itself!

Today Peter Cushing is best known by modern audiences as the cold-blooded Grand Moff Tarkin of Star Wars, a man who gives orders to annihilate entire planets, snuffing out life, erasing cultures and extinguishing entire histories.

vulture
image via vulture

To me, he will always be revered as Baron Frankenstein, who was not above murder to obtain specimens to further his heinous crimes against Life. However, when he wasn’t building monster he was fighting them as the heroic Dr. Van Helsing, a man who was a superhero long before Marvel pooped out their products over-abundantly nearly every month – and his Van Helsing was more kick-ass than the Avengers combined. Dracula ran from him!

A long while ago there was a Tales From the Crypt movie that worked as an anthology horror film, much like Creepshow. This film featured several segments of the comeuppance of some very unpleasant fellows who get to revisit their ungodly crimes right before they are dropped into the flaming horrors of Hell.

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image via YouTube

One such segment is Poetic Justice. In it, we see our dear Peter Cushing who is a loving man who behaves like the local Santa of sorts. The noble widower finds discarded things among the rubble and makes toys out of their otherwise abandoned parts, giving new life and plenty of joy to the neighboring children. However, hateful eyes are turned against the dear old man and spitefully he is attacked and bullied until he no longer can take it.

The Spooky Isles
image via The Spooky Isles

It’s interesting because I first saw this movie back when I was a kid and had no earthly business watching such gruesome spectacles at such an early age – but I’d not trade it for the world! I couldn’t have been older than five, and this episode of the movie always stood out to me. So much so that I thought it was a nightmare I had dreamt up because anytime I inquired about it, no one knew what I was talking about. Then last year I picked up a VHS copy of Tales From the Crypt and to my surprise HERE IT WAS! Exactly as I remembered it.

So here you go, lovelies! From Manic with Love! Awwww.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember it NEVER pays to be heartless to others.

Hehehehe……

Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror [Blu-ray]

[Video] When Matthew McConaughey Made His Shirtless Debut on ‘Unsolved Mysteries’

Chances are if you’re over 30, you damn well know Unsolved Mysteries was the greatest and most terrifying thing you saw on prime-time TV. The weekly program about unexplained phenomena, strange murders, and sometimes featuring a beautifully grainy image of Bigfoot, did a fantastic job of making me think escaped murderers were lurking in my backyard late at night.

I fondly remember being the ripe ole age of five, when my stunning Nan (Grandmother) introduced me to that horrifying theme song followed by Robert Stack and his haunting tales of true terror and persuasive speculation on mysterious legends. We had just sat down in the living area after becoming near comatose after a heavy meal of pasta and meatballs. My dear sweet Nana ruled her house with a wooden spoon, usually dripping with tomato sauce. Even if it was against our will, we were going to sit down, shut the hell up, and witness the glorious splendor of Sir Stack grace that obnoxiously humongous floor television set. Although some of the programming most certainly gave me the skeevies at a young age and resulted in a few sleepless nights, over time it became one of my go-to series’ as a kid and into young adulthood.

Thank you Robert Stack for the countless night terrors.

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So now that you know about thine fondness for the Stack and the eerie show, I really couldn’t be more excited that the show is now FINALLY able to stream on Amazon for Prime members. So it goes without saying, I haven’t had much of a social life since the Stack episodes hit streaming. Given the program’s absence from streaming sites as long as these services have been available, watching Unsolved Mysteries now is like watching it for the first time. Minus a few fuzzy memories here and there when certain memorable clips arise from episodes. The music will send shivers down your spine, and the stunning reenactments paired with an abundance of ’80s mullet will give all the warm fuzzy feelers.

While I must confess the acting wasn’t always that stellar, did you know that a certain Oscar-winning actor made his screen debut on the series? The righteous Matthew McConaughey stepped on-screen for the first time in 1992 on the creepy crime program.

Alright, alright, alriiiiiiight.

McConaughey appeared as a murder victim in season five, episode twelve of the series portraying 26-year-old Larry Dickens- who was brutally murdered in front of his mother’s home back in 1978. Courtesy of Funny or Die, (I mean, I suppose it’s all in how you look it for this to even be up there?), watch the full video at the link below! Enjoy!

//www.funnyordie.com/embed/c7d030000c

 

That Deleted Scene From “The Fly” That Made Audiences Vomit

Apart from being one of the most beautifully put-together horror movies of the 20th century, (and a remake at that!) Cronenberg’s The Fly might also be the one that induces the most nausea.

I mean, come on. Those of us with that serious gag reflex upon seeing others vomit have to pop a roll of TUMS before a viewing.

Image result for the fly gif vomit

Blowing chunks of sugary Hostess donuts aside, the official theatrical release wasn’t even the worst of it. For those unaware, there was a scene so vile, so grotesque and disturbing that during an initial screening in Toronto, it made audience members queasy and a tad upset to say the very least.

In the cut scene, Brundle (Sir Jeff of Goldblum) seeks to reverse his ever-transforming state by teleporting a baboon and a cat from the two telepods into a third while keeping their molecules separate. Instead, it fuses them into a very disturbing “mistake” that he ultimately clubs to death to put Monkey-Cat out of its misery.

According to Producer Stuart Cornfield, the theater guests were disgusted to the point of projectile vomit. The movie has some pretty nasty scenes that could definitely make someone gag a little (as stated), but I suppose this really was just a bit much for some. Apparently, the general public didn’t take to kindly to Brundle experimenting on helpless animals and then bludgeoning them to death.

And it was never seen again until a special two-disc DVD edition was released from 20th Century Fox came about.

My personal take:

The scene had it been kept in, would make some folks take away any pity they may had for Seth, turning him from a helpless victim to an animal-murdering dickbag. However, I can see what they were ultimately aiming for.  What I personally see through my own eyes, was an act of complete desperation. Brundle was halfway through his transformation and scrambling to find a cure as time was running short. You could see the defeat in his mangled face after the terribly gone wrong experiment on the roof, and ummm, ripping off an insect leg that had spawned from his stomach with his mouth. The whole scene is slightly painful to watch, but at least for me, not in a bad sense. There are a LOT of scenes from this film that will make you squirm. In my opinion, the scene with the dog in The Fly 2 was way worse than this.

But hey, you be the judge of that!

The Fly (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition)

When it Comes to Friday Final Girls, Sometimes You’ve Got to Let it Cooke for a While

Sometimes I’m a little slow.

Example. It was not an uncommon occurrence in my collegiate days to wander around the local Walmart  in a zombie-like state at two in the morning. I’d wrap things up at the library, head over to snag some food, and have a well-deserved gander at the DVDs. One night, I was about to head out when I happened by a stand of sunglasses with “FOSTER GRANT” written in giant letters along its cardboard sides. I just chuckled to myself and made for the registers without even stopping.

You see, at that point I’d considered Midnight Run one of my favorite films of all-time for roughly twenty years, but apparently that was the time my brain needed to catch up to Robert De Niro’s “Agent Foster Grant” line.

Yes, Yaphet Kotto. You make yourself perfectly understood.

Which brings me to another cherished flick – Jason Lives.

Over the course of an exquisite (and recent) three-week stretch, I went from vomiting, to having a tooth pulled, and finally to influenza. You know how we all wish we had the time to just get into bed and never crawl out? How glorious we find that fantasy? Yeah, believe me when I say there are ways you don’t want to live that particular dream.

Anyway, I can be a little slow.

After numerous viewings of Friday the 13th’s sixth chapter while laid up, something finally dawned on me.

Those of you vaguely familiar with me know that I am, in fact, a Friday freak, and believe at a fundamental level that Amy Steel from Part 2 is one of the greatest final girls in horror history, and that I hold every other Crystal Lake heroine, to my thinking, to her unattainable standard.

But there was a hitch in my giddy-up. A flaw in my mindset that I was unaware existed. For thirty-freaking-years.

Jason-Lives-Friday-the-13th-Part-VI-19-1024x576I never truly considered Jennifer Cooke’s performance as Megan from Jason Lives as on par with Steel, or Adrienne King (Friday the 13th), or Lar Park Lincoln (The New Blood), simply because she never ended up squaring off with Mr. Voorhees, or his vengeful mother, one-on-one.

Sure, Jason (C.J. Graham) busted out of a cabin and wrapped the vice grips around her grape for a moment or two, but was quickly distracted by Tommy Jarvis’ (Thom Mathews) siren song.

Because of that one moment of abandonment, I disregarded everything that sat right in front of me, screening after screening, since 1986.

And it’s a laundry list of obvious.

After Megan’s father, Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) had Tommy locked up for suspicion of Jason’s murders, it was Megan who concocted the plan to trick her dad’s right-hand man so that Jarvis could be “unironed.” Then, she hopped in the car and refused to be left behind when Tommy told her that she couldn’t participate in such a dangerous endeavor. What’s more, when they arrived at the camp, Megan immediately ran to see if her friends and the kids were safe. Yes, she had a bit of meltdown calling for her father well within earshot of said little ones shortly thereafter, but when you lay eyes on a room painted with your friend’s blood, only to see another’s cranium bounce out of a patrol car like a forgotten soccer ball, you might have a moment, yourself.

But the resume didn’t cease to be impressive at that point. When Tommy floated to the surface after his underwater scuffle with Jason, Megan wasted zero time leaping into the lake to grab him (and got a far higher score on her dock dive than Kevin Bacon received from the Czech judge six years earlier). In fact, while Tommy may have fettered Voorhees to the lake floor, it was Megan who put the boat motor to good use to “finish the job” and free herself from the clutches of the Crystal Lake marauder.

And though it was painfully clear that she was not CPR certified, Megan gave Tommy just enough nudges to revive him on the beach.

So yeah, Megan may not have been a traditional final girl, but she was independent, confident and strong, determined to go after what she wanted, and while not fearless, certainly wasn’t hesitant to do what needed doing to save those she cared about. Cooke’s Ms. Garris is the Friday franchise’s John McLain – a hero who possessed the ability to think on her feet — whilst in the right place at the wrong time.

All the ingredients required to rival Ms. Steel. Just had to let them marinate for a while.

Alright, three decades.

(Slides shades on)

Like I said, I can be a little slow.

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Check Out the 1979 Audio Audience Reactions From Carpenter’s “Halloween”!

I truly envy those who were lucky enough to experience a time at the movies where emotions ran high and raw; especially during a horror film, like John Carpenter’s immortal classic, Halloween.

During the glorious ’70s, horror grabbed audiences by the balls by pushing the boundaries of gore, foul language, and nudity to the point of people vomiting, fainting, and or being so disgusted to the point of walking out. With the release of The Exorcist at the end of 1973, that movie managed to do all of these for paid movie-goers. I guess nobody was really prepared to see a 12-year-old profusely stab herself in the crotch with a crucifix. (For braver viewers, that seemed to be the deal-breaker). Perhaps with the exception of last year’s controversial mother!, we rarely see that sort of impact on audiences today.

Kind of sucks, doesn’t it? We’re so desensitized these days.

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Maybe not as extreme as Freidkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s literary masterpiece, but Halloween had one hell of an impact on audiences as well. One-half of my life givers, Robert Butrico of Queens, NY, remembers seeing John Carpenter’s groundbreaking slasher during its first initial run.

“I was there with a bunch of friends, we were really excited about this movie. We heard it was so scary! And you know what? It really was when we first saw it. We had never seen anything like it. There were a few girls who ran out of the theater screaming. That was actually pretty funny.”

And according to the presented audio below provided by YouTuber  Kyle J. Wood’s DarkCastle2012, my father said that’s pretty close to how he remembers his experience as well. And goddamn I am so envious of all this. It’s one thing to be annoyed by loud and obnoxious movie-goers at the theater, and quite another to experience a joined passion of emotions during a film. From the sounds of it below, this crowd is having a damn good time! I especially love the, “He gonna get up again!,” and the random guy in the back shouting, “One more time!

Per the YouTube description:

This is ACTUAL AUDIENCE AUDIO with matching video scenes added (a bit “out of sync” sorry) that I tape recorded inside a Hollywood Boulevard movie theater in 1979—one year after the film’s initial release.

 

For fuck’s sake, can we get a time machine already?!

 

That Time Stephen King Made A PSA For Public Libraries

Remember when we had those weird PSA announcements in between those now retired amazing Saturday morning cartoons back in the day? You know, the little segments starring Smokey the Bear, stranger danger, and the infamous “This is your brain on drugs” frying pan and cracked eggs gem. Also, I don’t think we could never forget about the time Pee-Wee Herman warned us about the dangers of crack.

It’s pretty entertaining when you stumble on these beauties and remember how the boob-tube was once upon a time.

 

Celebrities using their star power for bringing awareness to dangerous situations to our fragile little minds of yesteryear, wasn’t an uncommon thing by any means, as you can see above. As a matter of fact, master of horror himself Stephen King used his status as well, the king of literary fright, to make a PSA on the subject of public libraries and the importance of reading. Some of you may be asking yourselves, “Public libraries? What is this mythical place?” Well, let Sir King give you a quick run-down in this fantastic retro rewind from 1992!

 

 

Kind of makes you want to wipe off the dust off that old library card now doesn’t it?

Check Out This Rare, Documentary-Feel ‘Poltergeist’ Trailer!

Cross over children. All are welcome here at Nightmare Nostalgia, and oh man do I have a special treat for you guys! A beautifully vintage and rarely seen 1981 Poltergeist trailer, that in my opinion, looks ten times scarier than the movie itself!

The classic horror film from legends Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper, well according to more recent reports and the truth unearthed by the Shock Waves Podcast, mostly from Spielberg, of an all-American seemingly apple pie family’s lives violently disrupted by a malevolent presence known as a poltergeist in and around their home, both terrified and enthralled audiences around the world. Poltergeist, having just celebrated its 35th anniversary earlier this Summer, and personally speaking, one of my top five horror flicks of all time, was apparently scaring the shit out of audiences across the pond way before it’s initial June 4th, 1982 theatrical release. And looking at this just under three-minute gorgeous teaser for the film that had us all bolting our closets shut upon a first viewing, it isn’t far-fetched to see why.

 

Image result for poltergeist 1982 screaming

 

This seldom-seen 1981 teaser runs brilliantly like a pure real-life horror documentary, and if this is what you had first laid eyes on before anything else about this film in the early ’80s, you could have been convinced that this was a true story. I mean, the trailer does say at the very end, “Poltergeist, the first real ghost story.” Along with very little film footage from the actual movie, but rather stunning screenshots and breaks of paranormal experts explaining exactly just what the hell a poltergeist really is; it kind of could scare the shit out of anyone who is easily frightened by such things.

I’m a little bummed and feel sort of robbed that the US didn’t promote this trailer in place of the others we received for this movie. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I personally, have never seen this gem until recently. Every little thing about this teaser is done so well and is forcing me to have a Poltergeist marathon in my living-room as we speak. You might feel the same way too after watching it. Check it out!