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Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 10 Monsters Episodes

I've been re-watching Monsters for a while now to bring a competent list together of the best episodes for you fine people. And you fatties too. Monsters came from the same production company that brought us Tales from the Darkside, but overall it wasn't as creative of a show. Here are a good number of standouts from the hard-to-find TV show. I'll put a number 11 too. Sorry for the shitty pictures. They're from TV copies.

11) Far Below
 A segment written by the great genre scribe Michael McDowell who wrote some of the best Darkside episodes.

10) Rain Dance
An archaeologist needs to please his bored and greedy wife and his chance comes when he finds a valuable statue of a Rain God. But that God punished his people for being too greedy. Uh-oh. When the scary statue comes to life, will they be able to save themselves? Wadda you think? It's a horror show. This one totally hinges upon whether the monster is scary or not and it is, but the problem is they end up showing it a little too much. Still a keeper though. Plus the wife is fun to watch.

9) The Cocoon
Spoiler Alert! It's a (literally) dark episode about a mysterious woman in a hospital bed at the center of a love triangle. A psychic gets unnerving visions when she touches the lady and begins to suspect she may be much older than her youthful face would have you believe. It has a very unusual twist that catches you off-guard more than once. The creepiness ramps up when a hideous old lady with a boney face walks around that is so freaky she doesn't even require acting, and I'm not just talking about Billy Drago. Drago plays the lead sleaze-ball in this frightening one. You may remember Drago for playing the creepy-looking American tourist in Imprint or the creepy-looking gay rapist in Mysterious Skin or the creepy-looking interview guest calling himself "Billy Drago" on a late-night show. The Cocoon could've used a little more time to develop, but it's definitely one of the best.

8) Murray's Monster

Here we have a funny one. Not the only one on the list, but they were few. Character actor Joe Flaherty plays a resentful psychiatrist that comes up with a scheme to get his wife murdered by one of his patients. Marvin Kaplan does a great job playing his obsequious patient Murray Van Pelt, who is hiding a Mr. Hyde beast inside himself. The doctor's wife is an "obnoxious, overbearing loudmouth" according to his great delivery of the line and it's really the acting at the end of the day that holds this one so well together.

7) The Hole

Some of the best horror takes place in confined and inescapable places. Some say all those who enter war never really make it out. All that is pertinent here. The tale is The Hole and the place is Vietnam. The story begins in an enemy hole that a group of soldiers go down into. They soon receive a warning about being trapped down there by the dead that line the walls of the tunnels they crawl through. Will they make it out alive? It's frightening imagining being them and going through an underground maze that doubles as an endless graveyard.

6) The Demons

This is the other comedic one on this list. And it also stars a great character actor. Richard Moll from Night Court carries this one pretty much by himself in what is the hilarious highlight of the series. It's the silly story of an insurance salesman who is summoned by a demon to do the demon's bidding. The demon meant to summon his own demon creature, but made a mistake. It turns out the demon is the demonic counterpart of the insurance salesman. I won't say any more, just know the humor is very Simpsons-esque. At least the great ending is, that'll have you wondering: that's how it ended?

5) Mannikins of Horror
Mannikin: A small model of the human body, as used for teaching purposes in art, anatomy, etc. It is different from a mannequin... I think. Little clay men are what this one deals with anyway. It's hard to simply explain what this episode is about, but know it is one of the few genuinely freaky ones. It delves into body horror and has a gruesome ending that stretched the limit of what they could show. Although I'm not exactly sure where the line was really drawn because there is at least one episode that featured nudity. Odd.

4) Glim-Glim
Okay, I'll admit it. I cried. Not making the bald man cry, but actually real tears. It's one of the few sob stories of the series. Two men and one of the men's daughters are staying indoors with an alien after a disease apocalypse. They have separated themselves from the alien's area of the building, for fear it'll kill or contaminate them. They want to keep an eye on it and so does the alien Glim-Glim. It may have released what killed everyone when it arrived. Now it's dealing with the pain of possibly killing most humans and it is trying to keeping the survivors confined within a large bubble so they aren't exposed to the lethal contagion. Glim-Glim only can speak in his native alien tongue, so what must they think of him? Only the little girl, after venturing off on her own, interacts with it and realizes Glim-Glim isn't evil and misses his own world. They devise a plan to show the adults that Glim-Glim is their friend.

3) The Waiting Game
Characters are once again confined to a limited area like in The Hole. However, this time they're being kept safe from the danger of the world outside. Two high-ranking soldiers in charge of missiles are ordered to launch a nuclear attack. They think they just might have destroyed the world too, because all they can spot from inside their silo is nuclear winter. They're forced to play the waiting game. Hope comes to pass when they make contact with two other soldiers via radio frequency. One of them is a chick too. They try to learn what they can and stay sane by talking with each other. Things become interesting when they notice something or someone moving out in the ruins, deep in the darkness. It plays out like a really good modern-day Twilight Zone episode. One of the more horror Twilight Zones.

2) The Match Game
I'll admit, I was high as all get-out when I re-watched this episode, but I'm pretty sure it was as good as I remembered. On your initial viewing you aren't expecting things to turn so dark, so quickly. I bet Tori Spelling was crushed they never called her back for another Monsters episode. Get it? If you don't, it's a spoiler so try not to get it. Get it? Anyway, the episode stars Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser fame. She looked her best in this era, although it's shocking how good she still looks. She plays a teenager that inadvertently helps summon a monster from a made-up legend, while having some innocent teenage fun with a book of matches. The dumb teens elaborate on his story so much that they find themselves having to end it before its protagonist mutilates them into strings of goo. It's a real 80s period piece and I love it.

1) The Bargain
Originally I chose The Match Game as my personal fave, but after viewing this one again, it is the clear choice. It's not a wholly original story, but it's just so fucking creepy. Sarah is the protagonist of this tale. Sarah doesn't get out much and she doesn't know how to communicate with a guy she is infatuated with. She blames his lack of interest on her looks because she has zero self-esteem. She runs a used book store and she comes across an ad offering to help her change the face she's stuck with. What follows has some very eerie sound effects and even more eerie visuals. On second thought, "eerie" is a massive understatement. The Bargain made me feel uncomfortable like no other episode and for that I reward it with my love and #1 spot.

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