Thursday, October 31, 2013

Triptych: General Monstrosity

"Slenderman" by Nick Tree

"Adopt a Pet Monster" (t-shirt) by Crystal Fontan

"The Bunnisher" (t-shirt) by Mike Handy

Only people of a very specific age will remember My Pet Monster. As with so many properties of the 80s, it started out as merchandise and eventually had a franchise built up around it: in this case, a blue plush doll with breakaway manacles, one of the few plush toys marketed towards boys, which came out in 1986, and the animated series that followed a year later. I was eight when it was introduced, so I was in the prime age demographic for the marketing of the franchise - given the blitz of marketing towards children that my generation endured, though, My Pet Monster was on the periphery. I was aware of it but for the most part I didn't really care much about it.

The animated series only ran for a year, and wasn't all that memorable. I never had the toy, although I knew kids at school who did (one kid in particular was obsessed with My Pet Monster... He carried his Monster doll with him everywhere, and everyone thought he was crazy.) For all intents and purposes, My Pet Monster had very little impact on my life, and would be totally forgotten except for one incident:

Back in the 80s, renting movies from the video store was a weekly routine in our household. On Fridays, we would order pizza and my parents would leave us to watch a couple of movies they'd rented for us in the basement rec room while they went out to dinner or just generally enjoyed a child-free evening. On this particular occasion, my dad (who should have known better, but then again, had a history of doing things like this), asked the clerk at the video store for a kid-friendly recommendation. The clerk suggested the live-action My Pet Monster movie, which had just been released and would have been, for all intents and purposes, a fine choice for a bunch of boys aged five to eight to watch unaccompanied. However, when my dad went to retrieve the movie from the shelf, he instead grabbed Monster in the Closet, a Troma comedy-horror film which, despite being rated PG, contained nudity, a dead dog nailed to the inside of a closet door, and multiple murders. As an adult, I can appreciate it for what it is: a very low-budget, cheesy, self-aware horror movie, designed to poke fun at B-movie horror cliches (which it accomplishes relatively well). As an eight-year-old, however, I was UTTERLY TRAUMATIZED.

Somehow, maybe because I was expecting My Pet Monster and didn't quite understand that my father had rented the wrong movie, my child brain mixed up this movie with all things My Pet Monster. I told the kids at school that there was a legendary, live-action My Pet Monster movie that involved a dead dog nailed to a door, boobs, and actual people being killed. It turned into this epic urban legend on the playground, joining the "Cabbage Patch death certificate" rumor and "Mikey from the Life cereal commercial ate Pop Rocks and Coke at the same time and his stomach exploded!" It was just one of those things that kids accept wholeheartedly and pass along, and because my descriptions were so vivid, I guess there was a veracity to the whole thing that was convincing.

Anyway, I later saw the actual My Pet Monster movie. It was pretty bad, although it did feature a statue of the Monster coming to life, so that was pretty cool. I still wouldn't recommend it.

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