Tag Archives: Retro horror

Celebrating 35 Years Of McDonald’s Halloween Buckets

Celebrating 35 Years Of McDonald's Halloween Buckets

Halloween in the eighties ruled. Being born in 1982, this allowed me to live most of my childhood throughout the glorious decade, following being an angsty pre-teen during the Grudge era, and ending my adolescent years as the Class of 2000. I feel pretty lucky to have experienced these monumental changing of the tides; but one thing that has changed too much and I fondly miss, is the way Halloween WAS growing up. Most people could attribute that to, “eh, it’s never the same as when you were a child”; which is of course, true. However, some Halloween traditions should never have gone away- and that one is the McDonald’s Halloween Buckets.

I’ll never forget the first commercial I saw for these national treasures. It was during a CBS airing for Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, which I uploaded in it’s entirety WITH that commercial in the most cringe way possible, but hey, I tried. Anyways, I along with all other kids my age became obsessed. With the arrival of October meant shopping for noisy plastic costumes with masks at our local Sav-On drugstore, Halloween community carnivals, Halloween parades at school, and of course McBoo and friends.

The orange bucket Happy Meals that originally were released in 1986, resembled that of a pumpkin and had a variety of three available; McPunk’n, a traditional jack-o-lantern face; McBoo, a ghost face; and McGoblin, the “scariest” of the three- which is the one I still have to this day!

The buckets themselves were nowhere near large enough to take on a night of heavy tricks or treats, but they sure were great storage pails and maintained a versatile function for the past 30 years. This little bastard went from holding my Polly Pockets and stickers in the 80s’, to pins, hair accessories, and makeup in my teenage 90s’, and circling back today in 2021, where I actually use it to hold my rather large collection of face masks. Not a terrifying Halloween mask by any means, but considering everything, they’re just as scary these days.

While most know to believe the Halloween buckets weren’t available until 1986, that’s not actually entirely accurate. McDonald’s ran a test promotion in the Boston and New York area with prototypes of several Halloween Happy Meal Buckets from October 11 thru October 31, 1985 . After a successful run, they were introduced nationally in 1986. They came back the following year after but for some reason were absent in 1988. Then in 1989, the buckets got a mild makeover with McBoo turning white and a new friend- the McWitch, complete with pointy hat on the lid!

In 1990, the buckets added some glow in the dark flair to the designs, while changing the faces entirely to a more cartoonish look- one that I personally think is less than the originals, but not a bad second-place prize if these are the ones you had. In 1991, the buckets were replaced by vinyl glow-in-the-dark trick or treat bags, which get a LOT OF SHIT by Halloween bucket lovers, but I actually used this fucker for trick-or-treating and it served me well. The handles seem pretty flimsy, but this bastard held up for a full bag filled with Tootsie Rolls and Mr. Bones. So I can’t hate on them.

To keep in with the now tradition of refreshing the successful Halloween product, 1992 saw another makeover to McPunk’n, McBoo, and McWitch with minor facial changes, but with the addition of a new cookie cutter lid!

And that my friends, was the last time we got a quality McDonalds Halloween Bucket. After taking yet, another hiatus in 1993, the pails came back, with a more “modern” makeover that just sort of plain sucked. McWitch looked like an angry cartoon drunk, and even though they still had the cool cookie cutters, it seemed less magical than their predecessors.

After this monumental modern fuck-up, the pails again disappeared until 1999, when they came back only as a duo, with no more spoopy faces. Instead we got Halloween scenes that wrapped around the bucket featuring Mcdonald Land characters. On the upside, the cookie cutters were still there.

In 2001, the quality diminished further and the cookie cutter lids were abolished entirely. We got the same cartoonish scenes around the pail, but we got bat handles instead on the lid now- which although sort of cool, were so damn uncomfortable, cutting into your palms like Shakaka the Great White Bat trying to escape Ace Ventura’s hands while running through the jungle.

In 2010, Mr. Potato Head was apparently spooky enough to get a themed Halloween pail. This is where the downfall of a soft society began folks.

The 2011 pails were somewhat of a return to nostalgia with a pumpkin or a monster face, along with the again, gnarly bat handles. But that was the last time we would see Halloween faced pails at all. Following years brought cartoon themed buckets such as Scooby-Doo, Monster High, and eventually Minions pails. Then, the year that ended it all in 2016, the pails made their final appearance with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown– in which I guess if they’re gonna go out, at least it’s with a Halloween classic and not a damn Potato Head toddler toy.

It’s been 35 years since the nostalgic Halloween buckets entered our childhood Halloween fantasies and while these little pieces of big corporate plastic may seem trivial, they serve as a staple of fond Halloween memories for the kids of past generations. It would seem fitting if indeed, McDonalds celebrated this milestone with a grand return of McBoo and friends, however, I haven’t heard of any plans to do so. McDonald’s was once, the king of fast food Halloween and no one did better promotions for the favorable holiday than the french fry giants. I’m not sure what’s happened in recent years that the company has turned the cold shoulder to our beloved holiday, but it’s almost as if it’s become a traumatic break-up with an abusive ex. They barely acknowledge the holiday even exists anymore. In any regard, I’ve championed for the comeback for as long as I can remember, and I’ll never stop fighting the good fight.

Dial M For Monsters! The “Little Monsters” VHS Retailer Promo!

Regarding gateway horror, Little Monsters ranks right up there with the best of them introducing a slice of horror to a young generation in some subtle, and some not so subtle ways. I mean, if you’re gonna tell me BOY didn’t scare the piss out of your apple juice as a kid, you just might be a sociopath.

In August of 1989, Little Monsters was unleashed in limited capacity to select theaters due to the film’s financial distributer Vestron filing for bankruptcy. I can only assume because of this, many kids like myself, caught their first viewing of Fred Savage and Howie Mandal fucking with Ronnie’s lunch via a stint of showings on the new Disney channel (totally me), or by a rental via their local video store. And oh man, did the studios really sell this movie to mom and pop video retailers across the US as we were up to our horns in promos for this national nostalgic treasure!

The biggest promotion to coincide with the film’s release on VHS, was obviously the “Dial M For Monsters” campaign; which had consumers flocking to their rotary phones and potential ass-whoopings’ in an attempt to win a grand vacation to Hawaii, among other prizes like a sweet Little Monsters glow-in-the-dark t-shirt and a pin-ball machine. The visual promo, seen below, is a two-minute long rap that was featured on the VHS to get pumped up about the contest, along with spreads in several Teen- targeted magazines like SuperTeen and Loudmouth to get the word out. Not sure who, or if anyone actually won these things, but damn it would be nice to know who owns that Black Knight pinball machine now!

At only $89.95 per cassette purchased for a VHS store, the retailer kit included with said contract was pretty sweet, and clever for bringing kids into the store looking to win this contest as the Little Monsters stand-dees and displays provided much needed clues for the game. Mom and Pop shops themselves had a shot at winning the sweepstakes with a picture puzzle delivered directly to them along with their purchase, and if they solved it, were eligible for the grand-prize themselves.

While it was, a radical promotional hype for the movie indeed, the best promos for this movie at the end of the day were all the prank ideas we got from the film as kids. That being said, I absolutely stuck peanut butter to our rotary phone, and saran wrapped the top of our toilet bowl just to see if it would actually work. That being said, my dad hated that movie and still does to this day because he ended up being the victim in both of those scenarios.

Anyway, enjoy this extended VHS retailer VHS promo, and at this time, you can get the Blu-Ray from Amazon for only $7.50 if you wanna relive the fantastical world of monsters under your bed and cat-food sandwiches!

“Demons” and “Demons 2” Getting a Limited 4k UHD and Blu Ray Release!

They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs… in 4K UHD and remastered Blu-ray!

Regarded by horror fans the world over as two of the greatest Italian horror films ever made, Lamberto Bava’s Demons films are not only major cinematic nightmare fuel, but also hugely entertaining splatterfests of the highest order. Synapse’s 2013 Blu-rays remain two of their most popular releases, and now they’re bringing these favorites to 4K UHD and remastered Blu-ray in brand-new spectacular 4K restorations! These horrific splatter classics produced by Dario Argento (Suspiria) have never looked or sounded better and are packed with hours of special features, making this the ultimate home video release of these horror favorites.

In Demons, a masked man offers tickets to a horror movie sneak preview at the mysterious Metropol cinema. When a patron is scratched by a prop displayed in the theatre lobby, she transforms into a flesh-ripping demon! One by one, the audience members mutate into horrible creatures hell-bent on destroying the world! Can anyone escape this gory orgy of terror? In 1986’s ambitious sequel Demons 2, the apocalyptic terror continues! A televised horror film spells doom for the residents of a luxury high-rise apartment, as demons are unleashed through the TV screen at a young girl’s birthday party. As more and more residents are infected and transformed into blood-thirsty demons, a young couple fights to survive as they try to escape Hell on Earth.

DEMONS 1 & 2 – LIMITED EDITION 4K (2160p) TWO-DISC UHD BLU-RAY
THIS 6000 PIECE LIMITED EDITION CONTAINS:

  • New 4K restorations of both Demons and Demons 2 from the original 35mm camera negatives!
  • 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentations of both films in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
  • Limited edition o-card/slipcover packaging featuring new artwork by Juan José Saldarriaga and Chris MacGibbon
  • Reproduction of the original movie ticket from Demons
  • A special Demons 2 birthday party invitation
  • Included fold-out poster of Demons artwork from Wes Benscoter
  • Reversible cover art
  • 4K UHD All-region playback

DISC 1 (4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY) DEMONS

●       Two versions of the film: the full-length original cut in English and Italian, and the shorter U.S. version featuring alternate dubbing and sound effects

●       Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English & Italian 5.1/2.0 audio mixes on the original cut derived from the archival audio masters

●       Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English 2.0 U.S. theatrical mono audio newly remastered in 2021 by Synapse Films

●       New audio commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain, co-hosts of the Hell’s Belles podcast

●       Audio commentary with director Lamberto Bava, SPFX artist Sergio Stivaletti, composer Claudio Simonetti and actress Geretta Geretta

●       Produced by Dario Argento: a new visual essay by author and critic Michael Mackenzie exploring the legendary filmmaker’s career as a producer

●       Dario’s Demon Days: interview with writer/producer Dario Argento

●       Defining an Era in Music: interview with Claudio Simonetti

●       Splatter Spaghetti Style: interview with long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi

●       Carnage at the CinemaLamberto Bava and His Splatter Masterpiece

●       Dario and DemonsProducing Monster Mayhem●       Monstrous MemoriesLuigi Cozzi on Demons

●       Profondo Jones: The Critical Perspective

●       Splatter Stunt Rock: interview with Ottaviano Dell’Acqua

●       Stivaletti Q & A at the 2019 UK ‘Festival of Fantastic Films’

●       Original Italian and English international theatrical trailers●       U.S. theatrical trailer

●       Newly translated optional English SDH subtitles for the English version

●       Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian version

 DISC 2 (4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY) DEMONS 2

●       Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English 5.1 & Italian 5.1/2.0 audio mixes derived from the original archival audio masters

●       Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English 2.0 true stereo theatrical mix remastered in 2021 by Synapse Films●       New audio commentary by film critic Travis Crawford

●       Bava to Bava: interview with Luigi Cozzi on the history of Italian horror

●       Creating Creature Carnage: interview with Sergio Stivaletti

●       Demonic Influences: Federico Zampaglione Speaks

●       The ‘Demons’ Generation: Roy Bava discusses a legacy in lacerations

●       The New Blood of Italian Horror featuring Sergio Stivaletti

●       Screaming for a Sequel: The Delirious Legacy of DEMONS 2 with Lamberto Bava

●       A Soundtrack for Splatter: interview with composer Simon Boswell

●       Together and Apart: a new visual essay on the space and technology in DEMONS and DEMONS 2 by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

●       Original Italian and English theatrical trailers

●       Newly translated optional English SDH subtitles for the English version

Bonus Material included:

  • DEMONS: Two versions of the film: the full-length original cut in English and Italian, and the shorter U.S. version featuring alternate dubbing and sound effects
  • DEMONS: Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English & Italian 5.1/2.0 audio mixes on the original cut derived from the archival audio masters
  • DEMONS: Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English 2.0 U.S. theatrical mono audio newly remastered in 2021 by Synapse Films
  • DEMONS: New audio commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain, co-hosts of the Hell’s Belles podcast
  • DEMONS: Audio commentary with director Lamberto Bava, SPFX artist Sergio Stivaletti, composer Claudio Simonetti and actress Geretta Geretta
  • DEMONS: Produced by Dario Argento: a new visual essay by author and critic Michael Mackenzie exploring the legendary filmmaker’s career as a producer
  • DEMONS: Dario’s Demon Days
  • DEMONS: Defining an Era in Music
  • DEMONS: Dario and Demons: Producing Monster Mayhem
  • DEMONS: Splatter Stunt Rock
  • DEMONS: Original Italian & English International Trailers and U.S. Trailer
  • DEMONS: Newly translated optional English SDH subtitles for the English version
  • DEMONS: Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian version
  • DEMONS 2: Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English 5.1 & Italian 5.1/2.0 audio mixes derived from the original archival audio masters
  • DEMONS 2: Uncompressed DTS-HD MA English 2.0 true stereo theatrical mix remastered in 2021 by Synapse Films
  • DEMONS 2: New audio commentary by film critic Travis Crawford
  • DEMONS 2: Creating Creature Carnage: interview with Sergio Stivaletti
  • DEMONS 2: The ‘Demons’ Generation: Roy Bava discusses a legacy in lacerations
  • DEMONS 2: Screaming for a Sequel: The Delirious Legacy of DEMONS 2 with Lamberto Bava
  • DEMONS 2: A Soundtrack for Splatter: interview with composer Simon Boswell
  • DEMONS 2: Together and Apart: a new visual essay on the space and technology in DEMONS and DEMONS 2 by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
  • DEMONS 2: Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
  • DEMONS 2: Newly translated optional English SDH subtitles for the English version
  • DEMONS 2: Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian version
  • Limited Edition O-Card/Slipcover packaging featuring new artwork by Juan José Saldarriaga and Chris MacGibbon
  • Reproduction of the original movie ticket from Demons
  • A special Demons 2 birthday party invitation
  • Included fold-out poster of Demons artwork from Wes Benscoter
  • Reversible Cover Art

Lamberto Bava’s Italian Horror Classics make their North American UHD Debuts on October 19th from Synapse Films. Get your pre-order in by clicking this link!