Let’s rewind our minds back a few years and remember what being a kid was like on a gorgeous Saturday morning.
Unlike my peers, I personally was always up at a decent hour (around 7:30 a.m.). After crawling out of my Ninja Turtle sheets, I would make my way to the dimly lit kitchen and help myself to a bowl of cereal and whatever readily available juice box (preferably Hawaiian Punch or Ecto Cooler) my fridge held that morning. All placed accordingly on my TMNT (1990) movie tray in front of our mammoth of a television set. I was ready to seize the glorious Saturday with the start of some of the greatest goddamn must-see-TV. And one of many of those amazing Saturday morning animated gems was, of course, Beetlejuice: The Animated Series.
One year after Tim Burton congo-danced the ghost with the most across the big screen, the imaginative filmmaker developed a more kid-friendly version (sorry, no crotch grabbing anywhere here) based on the daily lives of the bio-exorcist and his earth pal, Lydia Deetz.
Mostly set in Beetle’s home The Netherworld, the series ran around some silly adventure or problem week after week involving the duo. From roaming skeletons in the closet ruining someone’s day with the hard truth or Beetlejuice’s entire skeletal system abandoning him in favor of a vacation, the show was a perfect Saturday morning mash-up of wackiness and just a hint of horror.
Lydia’s parents Charles and the eccentric Delia return in animated form as naive supporting characters that never seem to notice their daughter spends most of her free time in another dimension. Then again, in the film, she seemed to be mostly ignored from her self-absorbed parental units until the shit hit the fan- so the relationship stays a tad faithful in that aspect. The void felt by the absence of Barbara and Adam was filled with new characters. Beetle’s neighbors in the Netherworld furthered BJ’s awesome sense of sarcasm with most of them being both clumsy and easy to poke fun at. In which case, ole BJ took advantage of on a constant basis and was the source for a lot of the humor in the series. Jacques, Ginger, The Monster Across the Street, Poopsie, the Mayor, and on Earth, the snooty Claire Brewster, were often the victims of Beetlejuice’s embarrassing pranks. Even Lyds wasn’t immune to Beetle’s reign of practical jokes as the bio-exorcist’s only friend was even the butt-of-the-joke at times. However, unlike Claire and the Netherworld residents, BJ’s pranks on the teenage Deetz were never meant to cause damaging feelings or humility, but rather all in fun. Which asserts the relationship between Lydia and Beetlejuice in the series. Unlike in the film, the pair was as close as friends could get and the unlikely duo’s friendship remained a constant crucial part of the show throughout the series’ short three-season span.
What I wouldn’t give for a revival of this beautiful program. Hey if Spiderman and Teen Titans can be rebooted several times, why not give Beetlejuice a shot at the 21st century?
Everyone has a movie that no matter how many times they see it, they can watch it 100 more times and it still won’t get old. And not only that, but they can put on a one (wo)man show for you and quote every single line and annoy the fuck out of you while you’re trying to watch it. That movie, for me, is the 1987 classic Labyrinth. That movie, along with the codpiece controversy, will forever be a part of me.
For those of you who don’t know the movie, and who the hell doesn’t know the movie, it follows Sarah, a 16-ish-year-old girl that hates her life and her step-mother and her half-brother. She’s a teenager and everything sucks…obv. So, one night while babysitting Baby Waldo’s understudy, she tells the story of a Goblin King that fell in love with a girl way too young for him and granted her wish of taking the baby away. To her surprise it’s true and Toby, the baby, is stolen away by Jareth, the sexiest Goblin King in the land, played by the incomparable David Bowie.
I saw this movie when I was four and fell in love with David Bowie as much as any toddler could. Here I am in my thirties and that never changed. This movie for me like with many women my age began a lifelong crush on the famously androgynous and out of this worldly talented man known as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke.
I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was Sarah in that ballroom in the dress with the MASSIVE sleeves.
But with this movie lies a nagging question that haunts viewers to this very day…was David Bowie actually wearing a codpiece? Could we analyze the blatant sexuality references, the fact that a grown ass man was in love with a teenage girl or the fact that the creatures who took their heads off are the things of pure nightmares? Yeah, we could, but why would we when there are more pressing issues.
I present to you exhibit A.
Now, I don’t mind searching David Bowie’s junk on the internet, may he rest in peace, but I have something to say…that’s NOT a codpiece. THIS is a codpiece.
That’s ridiculous and I think we can all agree that’s not what Bowie is dealing with. The costume designers purposely made his pants REALLY tight because he was supposed to be alluring and desirable like a rock star but maybe something was there to smooth things out a bit; the penile equivalent of nipple covers, but that’s it. Let’s put the debate to rest right here. That’s all Bowie. If you love Labyrinth facts, check out this little slice from Buzzfeed.
And I debated writing this since we lost Bowie in 2016, but I can promise, there are fewer bigger fans than I. I have the utmost respect for the man, his movies, and his music. But as a young girl in the 80’s and 90’s, that bulge was just as much a part of my growing up as Saved By the Bell and Backstreet Boys.
And here, have a little dance while you’re here and sleep peacefully knowing we have settled the dick debate here and now…probably.
Do you like blood, guts, and a whole lot of gore? Does horror make you all hot and bothered in all the right ways? Have you ever wanted to pick up a 2×4 and splash some zombie faces all over the wall? Well lucky you, because your ole buddy Manic has a sticky treat for you.
Kick off your shoes and get cozy because I’m bringing you some splat-tastic fun.
You see, there’s a legend around here among gamers. A legend of a demon-haunted mansion sitting between the reality of our world and the dimension of infernal terror. A Hell-house in the mist just daring you to put on some big-boy(girl) pants and come play with the older kids as you explore the many caverns of mayhem and sadism. It’s the old West mansion, a shunned abode better known as the Splatterhouse.
Backstory to Splatterhouse
Here’s all you need to know as a player. A horde of drooling ghouls has stolen your gorgeous girlfriend right after spilling your guts all over the floor. As you lay in the hot sticky pool of your own fluids you watch the howling deformities take off with Jennifer with you-don’t-even-want-to-know what kind of plans in mind for her. The minions of Hell have just flipped you off, pissed in your iced tea, and they think you’re a big ole douche bag. Well damn, it all you’re not gonna put up with that! Lucky for you the Terror Mask (an ancient Mayan occult relic infused with a forgotten god) has taken a shine to you and saves your life. Not only that, but he’s given you unspeakable powers that would make the Incredible Hulk run home crying for his mommy. Now you get to go punch the heads off of the gruesome assholes who infest the West Mansion. 2×4’s, chainsaws, and plenty of boomsticks are left at your exposal as you make the game live up to its raunchy name SPLATTER-house. The legions of Hell await you, but you’re a badass mother fucker and can take whatever the house throws at you.
In case you can’t tell I love these games! This is old-school horror fun at its finest. Most of our favorite horror movies are – right to their cores – lots of fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously, at least this is true for many slasher movies: they were made with a fine balance of scares and laughs.
And one of the biggest influences on the Splatterhouse franchise is the Slasher genre.
The most obvious reference can be found in our lead character Rick. As a matter of fact, back when I was a kid and first saw the game being played I honestly thought this was a Friday the 13thgame, and honestly, it made the game way more exciting. A game letting the player take control of Jason?! Oh Hells yeah! But alas, I was wrong and would have to way some 20+ years on Gun Media to give me Friday the 13th: The Game. However, by its own merit Splatterhouse is a thrilling experience and needs to be played.
Back on topic, Rick is clearly based on the titanic slayer Jason Voorhees. The Terror Mask alone bears some insane similarities to the iconic hockey mask. I mean who can rightly deny that? And if you compare the original arcade’s design for Rick with Jason’s look from Parts III or VII, well it’s blatantly obvious someone was a Friday fan.
This is a series truly made by horror fans for horror fans. As you make your way through the Splatterhouse franchise merrily busting open oozing heads please be sure to keep a keen eye peeled for all those amazing scary movie references.
Along with Friday the 13th being obviously referenced, one particular boss fight just can’t help itself but smell like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This is Biggy Man, an abomination with two chainsaws for hands, and no wonder he’s so mean! How does he take a piss? So yeah, I’ll admit the chainsaws are the glaring TCM reference, but if you look closely you’ll see our pal Biggy Man is also wearing a sack over his head, and kinda reminds me of (once again) Friday the 13th Part II’s ‘tater sack’ Jason.
Some more classic horror references can be seen in other boss fights too. For example, in one battle you’ll find yourself in a room where every single piece of furniture hates your guts and wants to see you dead as you fend off bouncing chairs, a portrait of a giant eyeball, and knives that are way too happy to throw themselves at you. The entire sequence is very heavily inspired by Poltergeist.
The creature feature Deadly Spawn finds itself immortalized in the game’s franchise as well.
Some of my favorite Easter eggs can be found in 2010’s Splatterhouse remake. For instance, and admittedly the saddest cameo in the whole franchise is found from the Evil Dead. On the gore-encrusted tiles of a filthy room, you’ll find the discarded and very lifeless body of everyone’s favorite wise-ass, Ash. This is when you get to use the boomstick for the first time in the game, a sad but fitting farewell to a very groovy hero. Hail to the King, baby.
Another level is entirely based on the beautifully haunting cult-classic Wicker Man. I admit this is one of my all-time favorite movies so I was geeking out during this section. It’s a race against time as you fight through hordes of demons to get closer, ever so slowly closer, to the menacing wicker-built figure standing silent and cruel atop the distant hill. And thank God there are no bees anywhere in sight!
One of the biggest Holy Shit moments was (fittingly enough) in the boiler room. Now who could be connected to a boiler room, hmmm I wonder? Now if you rush through here you might sadly miss it. But if you have a keen eye and have been taking in all the sights so far you just might be lucky enough to see a familiar hat lying near the furnace. You’ll also find a red-striped sweater hanging above that hat. And just in case you’re thinking it’s all a coincidence you’ll also find that wonderful glove of his, the claws dark with past kills. That’s right, my lovelies. Without any doubt, Freddy Krueger is part of this series.
The most glaring reference found in each game of the series is the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft’s influence permeates the franchise and grows stronger as the series expanded. The main antagonist is Dr. West, as in Re-animator’s Dr. West. Some stages in the 2010 remake depict a world entirely given over to ruin by (what we can only assume is) the awakening of Cthulhu who has brought madness and destruction to the planet. At one point you’ll find a gargantuan size tank housing a massive abomination that bears a striking resemblance to how Lovecraft detailed his beloved Cthulhu. The West Mansion is similar to the Shunned House. Rick must encounter altered dimensions, battle madness, and fight humans who have been malformed by forbidden contact with ancient evil powers from beyond the stars. Along with all that the 2010 game revolves around the stars and their alignment, which will unleash old evils that have been waiting in a cosmic prison. That is pure Lovecraft.
At one point Dr. West even shouts, “IA IA! Cthulhu Ftagn!” during one of his rituals.
As if all that wasn’t enough to get you revved up to play these games, can you tell me what other game out there gives you the opportunity to chainsaw some creepy babies during a boss fight?
I honestly don’t know why Splatterhouse gets lost beneath the fandom waves of other horror titles such as Resident Evil or Dead Space. When the game’s remake was released in 2010 critics went out of their ways to hate it. But what’s even worse, most people listened to the critics and avoided the game as if it were diseased. The 2010 remake is far from perfect, but it’s certainly not a bad game. Not in the least! It’s a very good game. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the same way you’d enjoy any great 80’s scary movie. Do you think critics were kind to movies likeNight of the Demons, Madman, or Cannibal Holocaust? Of course not. Those movies weren’t made for snobs though. They were made to be enjoyed by fans of the genre, and the same is true for Splatterhouse.
Are enemies reused in some stages? Yes. Are the mechanics same-ol’-same-ol’ from one level to the next? Sometimes. Nevertheless, these issues don’t make the game bad or ruin the experience. Each level does offer a new array of demons and mutants to fight. The boss fights are each unique, and the levels themselves are just a lot of fun to play through. I take my time and explore while I play. The game is easy to learn and still challenging, but not enough to make you rage quit…that much.
I instantly fell in love with it. It’s a masterful throwback to so many horror classics. The gore is over the top and kept me laughing. One kill-move, in particular, has Rick punch his way up a demon’s ass, go elbow deep, only to then pull out its rectum. OUCH! Buah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! The bastard had it comin’ though.
The best way to really experience the games is to get yourself a copy of the Xbox 360 or PS3 Splatterhouse. The remake includes all three original games – including an uncensored version of the initial arcade game. Even if you hate the 2010 game you’ll still have the original trilogy to enjoy.
Already the games have proven to be a horror fanatic’s dream come true as it offers one of the most comprehensive and detailed horror-fan experience out there.
This has been Manic Exorcism. Thanks again for joining me on this retro journey. Happy gaming everyone!