If you were a young adolescent in the late 80s/early 90s, then you were probably like me and got caught dialing those taunting 1-900 numbers between your favorite programming specifically aimed at kids that would cost you your left nut if you dared to dial and rack up a $500 phone bill. I’ll never forget the day I, at the end of an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares (with all 44 episodes streaming now on TUBI btw), grew a pair of hairy balls just to hear some Springwood story that ended up costing me dearly. My Dad was plenty pissed when he got that phone bill and I ended up cleaning the pool and picking up leaves in my neighbor’s yard every day for a month. Would I do it again though?
It sure as hell gave you a sense of living dangerously, and no doubt a few strands of pectoral hair sprouted on your chest when you ate the forbidden fruit if you actually mustered up the courage to call the “$2.99 a minute and $0.99 for each additional minute” retro hotlines. It was also around this same time when the horror genre changed from adults-only fare to in-your-face mainstream and started to invade the children’s market as well with Saturday morning cartoons featuring the likes of The Cryptkeeper and Toxie from The Toxic Avenger, horror comic books starring Chucky, and let’s not forget the Freddy Krueger dolls and stunning plastic Freddy Halloween costumes!
So it was inevitable to see 1-900 horror hotlines popping up all over the place trying to lure kids in while going in bone dry raping your dad’s wallet; and holy hell, there was plenty to choose from. If you were smart, you snuck off to your friend’s house to call these numbers while protecting the sanctity of your flesh-colored butt-cheeks. As admitted here, I wasn’t that clever at the age of nine. However, I don’t regret the few minutes I had on our family rotary phone with Freddy Krueger listening to some ridiculous tales about Springwood.
So let’s take a retro rewind back to the time when dialing 900 numbers got our asses kicked and take a look at some of the coolest horror hotlines I personally remember. Obviously, all these numbers are either disconnected or you may just reach some hot and horny guy or gal on the other end if you so happen to dial them now. In which case, dial if you dare! No seriously, I dare you.
How many were aware that The Lakeshore Strangler turned into a plastic nightmare in red sneakers and had his very own hotline? I never personally called this one, and it wasn’t advertised on television, at least to my own knowledge. Instead, the ads for the horror hotline popped up in the Child’s Play 2 comic book series that was put out by Innovation Comics. Apparently, if you called the number, Chucky would tell you a story and play a game with you. The message also gave you an option for Chucky to call you back later with a special message and extra charges added to the parental unit’s phone bill! What a sneaky, yet stunning scam this was for young fans of the killer doll.
The Halloween 5 Horror Hotline
I’ve written about this little 900 treasure before, but it deserves another shout-out as it’s the only official horror hotline granted access to our ears. The shameless promotion for one of the weaker installments of the Halloween franchise also included a hotline that appeared at the end of television promos for the fifth film in the series. If you called said number, you could guide a potential victim of Michael’s to safety and feel like a damn horror hero. I absolutely remember seeing a ton of marketing for this particular Myers sequel and did drag my parents to the theater for a viewing. Being eight years old at the time, I loved the movie back then, but of course, as my taste matured some, I realized it doesn’t quite stand up to the rest of the series. The movie’s box office earnings barely covered the production costs of the film, but I’m sure some saps bought into the hotline and don’t regret a second of it.
Grandpa Munster’s Vampire Hotline
Who else became a junior vampire bestowed honorably by none other than Grandpa Munster? Yes, Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis of the classic “Munsters” sitcom had his very own fan line urging you to become a junior vampire of America. When you called, Lewis would tell some stories, and they would even send you an official “Junior Vampire” patch if you stayed on long enough. Some people think it’s sad how long Lewis played Vampire Gramps. But I think that’s nothing short of bullshit. I’m willing to bet he enjoyed every second of it. I mean, shit, if I could make money dressing up as a vampire for as long as he did, I’d be all kinds of okay with that.
The Creep hotline was just so much damn fun. The glorious images from Troll (if you so happened to have known that back then) set you up for becoming an international sensation, urging you to share your own horror stories to the hotline. Which in turn, were then shared for others to hear. At least that is what they advertised anyway. My dad actually let me call this number one time, and while I don’t remember what the hell I said or heard during that call (hell, I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast today), I do recall it being cool as fuck. Maybe it was just because I actually had my parents’ permission this time.
Of course, the most infamous horror hotline of them all is the one that coincided with the primetime “Freddy’s Nightmares” series that aired in the late 80s. After daring to dial, you would hear a pre-recorded message from Freddy and listen to some strange tale or another involving Springwood. Again, it was all totally worth ending up in the seventh layer of Hell with the parental units just to hear Robert Englund on the other end of the phone. To a kid that was obsessed with all things horror and at the height of Freddy Mania, this was goddamn everything.
Confession time! Were you brave enough to call any of these 900 numbers back in the day, or any not mentioned here? I know theres about 100 more but these are the ones I remember most. Leave me your stories below in the comments! Let’s rap without the $200 phone bill charge.