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Featured TV on DVD Review: Monsters: The Complete Series

April 20th, 2014

Monsters: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon

Monsters is a horror anthology show that ran for three seasons and was a sequel of sorts to Tales from the Darkside, which I previously reviewed. The final season of that show was weak, but can this series perform better throughout its three-year run?

The Show

Before I get into the review, I have to admit I didn't watch all of the episodes. The total running time is over 24 hours long and that's a lot to watch for a single review, especially since there are no multi-episode stories to pay attention to. I watched the first half of the first disc, then picked several other episodes at random to review. Of these 12 episode, I only liked one of them, The Feverman. In this episode, David McCallum plays a witch doctor who fights illness by manifesting them as a physical monster and then killing them. The rest were average (One Wolf's Family) to just plain bad (New York Honey and Satan in the Suburbs).

The hit to miss ratio was so weak that I decided to look up the show on IMDb and and watch some of the episodes that earned the best ratings on those two sites to see if it was just bad luck that I watch so many bad episodes. The first I tried was Pillow Talk, which is about a horror writer whose bed is a Lovecraftian monster, the last of the "old ones". He feeds it women in exchange for the dreams that inspire his horror stories. His latest victim is a fellow writer, played by Mary Woronov. I actually enjoyed this episode, even though the surprise twist was telegraphed too far in advance. (In fact, the little information I did give might give the plot away.) Glim-Glim involves an alien that crash-landed in a town and sealed it off before all of the people died of a mysterious plague, all but three that is. The episode bounces back between the point of view between the survivors and the alien. It's a good episode with strong mood and a fun guest role by Jenna von Oy. Match Game has a group of teams (including Ashley Laurence from Hellraiser and a pre-90210 Tori Spelling) breaking into a supposedly haunted house to tell ghost stories. Good mood and good acting (for the most part) help, but the ending is a letdown.

Highlight episodes from season two include A Bond of Silk, which tells the story of a newlywed couple who get to their honeymoon suite... in the basement. They soon find the honeymoon bed, which is a giant spiderweb. We see the giant spiderweb 5 minutes into the episode and it takes another 11 minutes before we see the spider. Terrible pacing. Soupy Sales plays a traveling salesman who has a car accident and must spend the night at a farmer's farm and the only place to sleep is in the same bed as the farmer's daughter, Lucy, but when he kisses her... This episode goes from humor to horror and back pretty rapidly, which is a bit of a shock, but it is still one of the better episodes. Museum Hearts is set in a museum that is undergoing renovations. A boyfriend takes his girlfriend there so they can make out in part of the museum with out visitors, only to be interrupted by his other girlfriend. When the museum closes, they are trapped, stuck together with one of the new exhibits, a bog woman.

Season three includes The Hole, in which a group of Vietnam vets explore a tunnel looking for enemy soldiers, only to find a stockpile of weapons and supplies, but no enemies. Not even wounded or dead. Why would the VC leave all of this behind? A Shave and a Haircut, Two Bites has guest appearances by Wil Wheaton and Matt LeBlanc, who play two teenagers who think the local barbershop is a hangout for vampires. The Waiting Game takes place in a post-nuclear-apocalypse in which the only humans are safe in a bunker while mutant vampires try to get in. Tony Shalhoub plays a cop in Leavings. In the episode, they capture a guy who is suspected of robbery, but he has no arms. He was caught robbing someone just the day before and he had arms.

Even hunting down good episodes, the hit to miss ratio is weak. This is partially due to low budgets, but there were still too many mediocre and bad episodes to sit through to get to the good ones. On the positive side, there are a number of guest appearances and spotting them could be a fun game. (They include, but are not limited to Adrienne Barbeau, Christopher Noth, Linda Blair, Richard Moll, Gina Gershon, Steve Buscemi, Lili Taylor, Steve Buscemi, Deborah Harry, Abe Vigoda, Pam Grier, Meat Loaf, and others.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD. There are not even subtitles.

The Verdict

There are a lot of shows in the same genre as Monsters was, including its predecessor, Tales from the Darkside, as well as Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Hitcher, Hitchcock Presents, and more. Unfortunately, Monsters isn't among the best of these shows, nor does The Complete Series have any extras to boost the value of the DVD Megaset.

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Filed under: Video Review, Gina Gershon, Lili Taylor, Adrienne Barbeau, Linda Blair, Steve Buscemi, Pam Grier, Deborah Harry, Matt LeBlanc, Meat Loaf, Richard Moll, Christopher Noth, Soupy Sales, Tony Shalhoub, Tori Spelling, Abe Vigoda, Wil Wheaton, Mary Woronov, David McCallum, Jenna von Oy, Ashley Laurence