While not nearly as famous as George Romero’s Tales from the Darkside or HBO’s Tales from the Crypt, the 1980s horror anthology series, Monsters did manage to last three full seasons on network television. Monsters was in many ways a continuation of Tales from the Darkside, as its producer, a long-time Romero collaborator actually headed both shows. The Monsters show wasn’t an entirely forgotten relic of past decades and has made it onto both the SyFy and Chiller channels at various times since its original airing.
For those of us that loved the Monsters show, its opening music and lead-in line of “Shh, it’s starting…” is nearly iconic. Though the opening sequence to each episode resembled some type of campy Twilight Zone, Alf, and Dinosaurs mash-up, once the static filled the television screen, everyone knew some sort of strangeness was to follow. That’s not to say that all of the episodes were camp free. As a matter of fact, some modern viewers will have a hard time getting past the dated and often rudimentary special effects.
Despite the production obstacles, Monsters episodes were often penned by talented writers like James Michael Reaves, Paul Dini, and even Stephen King. Like the original Twilight Zone television series, Monsters featured a long list of stars throughout its three seasons. Actresses like Adrienne Barbeau, Linda Blair, Tempestt Bledsoe, Gina Gershon, Deborah Harry, Pam Grier, and Tori Spelling all made appearances, but it’s probably Lili Taylor’s solo effort in “Habitat” that is the most admirable. Joining them, Jeff Conaway, Billy Drago, Meat Loaf, Chris Noth, Tony Shalhoub, David Spade, and Boardwalk Empire star, Steve Buscemi also played roles.
For the first time, all 72 episodes of the Monsters television series are available on DVD. Distributor eOne has put together a solid release. Packaged in a cover that holds three DVD cases, the all of the 72 episodes fit on nine discs. The episodes are each listed on the inside of the cover sheets which are visible through the clear plastic cases. Though there are no extras to speak of, the series has been remastered and boast 2.0 Dolby Digital sound and subtitles. The video is clean, but the 1.33:1 image doesn’t really look all that great on a larger high definition monitor.
Horror fans should certainly give Monsters: The Complete Series some consideration. As a total package, the DVD box set does offer quite a bit of entertainment, running over 25 hours in length. The notorious excess of the nineteen eighties may not age as well as television from other eras, but there are some real gems to be found in the collection. If nothing else, a look at the celebrities from the era and early efforts from now established stars warrants a viewing. Compared to similar rerelease collections, the Monsters: The Complete Series box set is a faithful and well-executed offering.
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