Like most forms of entertainment, cartoons come in a wide variety of styles and genres. Regardless of what kind of cartoons you’ve enjoyed over the years, it’s practically a guarantee that a monster will pop up in every series at one point or another. At the very least, you’ll see somebody appearing under the guise of a monster. Whether they appear in the cartoons as scary monsters or lighthearted ones, it’s always a nice reprieve from run-of-the-mill human characters. Humans… we’re so boring.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite cartoon monsters in this latest series of articles. For this first installment, we begin with the one and only…
“Count Duckula” is easily one of my favorite classic cartoon monsters. He’s a vampire duck who happens to be vegetarian. How can you go wrong with that premise? Originally a foe of Danger Mouse, Duckula was eventually resurrected to star in his own cartoon series back in 1988. Now I’m sure you’re wondering how a vampire duck came to be. Well, Count Duckula is actually from a long lineage of vampire ducks, only the person who performed the resurrection ceremony on him used ketchup instead of blood. As a result, Duckula craves carrots and fame instead of victims and blood. Sure, he’s far from the most terrifying monster, but there’s no denying that Duckula was always entertaining and has earned his place in the pantheon of cartoon monsters. Also, he has a killer theme song, and if you don’t love the low voice-over during it that said, “Duckulaaaaaaaaaaa“, you must be dead inside.
My Pet Monster!
Believe it or not, our beloved blue monster plush doll from the eighties actually had a cartoon of its own. It was all about a boy named Max who lives with the monster doll, and whenever he removes its orange handcuffs, it becomes a real monster after spinning around like a Tasmanian devil and shouting “Monsterific!“. Luckily for him, it’s a super friendly monster… one that apparently loves eating garbage straight from the can. I’m not sure if “My Pet Monster” ever needed a backstory other than what was in our childhood imaginations, but I still had fun watching this cartoon back in the day. I attribute my enjoyment of it directly to the fact that the monster’s voice sounded a lot like the late, great Hervé Villechaize. So slap on some orange breakaway handcuffs and enjoy the show!
Of all the monsters we’re talking about today, I gotta say that Mumm-Ra from “Thundercats” looked the most terrifying. It probably has something to do with the fact that he can transform from his gaunt, decrepit Cryptkeeper-like form into a giant muscle-bound rage monster. And just how does he become this monster? He merely needs to recite the following incantation: “Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living!” Sure, it’s not as catchy as “By the power of Grayskull…“, but it certainly works perfectly for an undead sorcerer who wants to conquer the world and destroy all who oppose him. Did I mention he resides in a black pyramid too?
Spooky Space Kook!
Okay, let’s just go ahead and call it: Spooky Space Kook wins for the best monster name ever. Granted, with it being a monster from “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”, we already know it’s just a person in disguise. But hey, people can be monsters, and if something looks like a floating skull in the dome of a blue astro suit, it passes the monster qualification test for me. Plus, the guy went out of his way to make his Spooky Space Kook monster seem all the more real, what with leaving glowing footprints wherever it walked. Don’t even get me started on the insane cackle that it let out. Spooky Space Kook was genuinely scary back in the day. And hey, if your real name was commonplace as Henry Bascome, you’d probably want to get a new name like Spooky Space Kook too.
Hell, I’m considering it myself.
I’ve always been a huge fan of THE TOXIC AVENGER, as it was a staple of my childhood, seeing it appear frequently on the old USA Network. What’s amazing to me is how they took such a splatterific b-movie and managed to turn it into a children’s cartoon: “Toxic Crusaders”. And you know what? It worked. Toxie was just as lovable in his cartoon form as he was in his R-rated live-action form. His origin story is still the same too: a nerdy guy named Melvin gets exposed to toxic waste and becomes a crime-fighting monster superhero. The show featured a variety of other fun monsters, ranging from spoofs of Audrey II to a living oil slick monster named Polluto. In the cartoon, Toxie’s mop also had a mind of its own, and helped him battle pollution crimes against the environment. I guess Troma didn’t have the budget to make Toxie’s mop come to life in the original live-action film. Come to think of it… they probably still don’t.
Fun fact: Toxie was voiced by Rodger Bumpass, the same actor behind the voice of Squidward Tentacles from SpongeBob SquarePants.
The Worms of Death!
“The M.A.S.S. Device” mini-series from “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” was a lot of fun back in the day, as the story revolved around the Joes trying to stop Cobra from acquiring three catalytic elements to power their device. One of the rare elements they had to get was heavy water, but it was surrounded by a bunch of giant tubeworms. When the Joes and Cobra forces reached the pool of heavy water, their battle awoke the worms. The worms then began to grab all of the forces from both sides, so they had to form a temporary alliance to defeat the creatures. Watching these giant tubeworms coil themselves around all the helpless divers was genuinely frightening, and anyone who watched this episode will recall the utterly terrifying sound screeching sound that the worms let out. I’ll never forget those horrifying sounds. Some people keep an eye out for sharks when they go swimming. Me? I’m listening for giant tubeworms.
Yes, indeed, The Cryptkeeper had a spin-off of HBO’s “Tales From The Crypt” called “Tales From The Cryptkeeper”. The real difference here was that all the gore and nudity from the live-action series was removed, and the Cryptkeeper was now a cartoonishly green skeletal character with big yellow eyes. That aside, the classic theme song was still there, and John Kassir was still providing the killer voice of the Cryptkeeper to bookend each episode. So, boils and ghouls, if the HBO TV series didn’t quench your thirst for bad horror puns, you can always check out the cartoon for more. Think you can hack it? Wow… I already regret writing that.
Gossamer was a classic “Looney Tunes” monster who appeared to be made of nothing more than a big pile of orange hair, claws, and a set of eyeballs. Originally appearing in “Hair-Raising Hare” way back in 1946, Gossamer was the monster creation of a Peter Lorre-inspired mad scientist, who was set on feeding Bugs Bunny to him. Like many brutes in “Looney Tunes”, Gossamer was all bark with very little brain, so the character was easily manipulated by Bugs – even getting a manicure at one point. Still, I have to say my favorite thing about Gossamer, aside from his odd heart-shaped head, is that he wore sneakers. Sure, he’s a big, burly, orange monster, but he needed a good set of running shoes to help him keep up with his victims. To all the sneaker companies out there – if you want to make everyone happy, release a tribute sneaker called “Gossamers” pronto!
That about does it for this first installment of my favorite cartoon monsters. Are there some other cartoon monsters you’d like to see me discuss in a future article? Be sure drop a comment below, on the Dread Central Facebook page, or tweet me at @imockery or with your suggestions and I just might use them next time!