Monday, October 14, 2013

Universal Studios Monsters Scary Stories

Ever since Count von Count was introduced on Sesame Street, I've been interested in seeing how monsters are marketed to the younger set. One assumes that, by introducing friendly monsters to children at a young age, their innate fear of the unknown (monsters, the dark, etc.) will be lessened. The classic Universal monster movies were first marketed to adults, so it's fun to see how these same creatures have undergone a makeover over the years, and have now become part of children's stories. A prime example of this is Scary Stories, a four-book set featuring the film studio's most recognizable monsters.

The featured creatures are: The Bride of Frankenstein; The Wolf Man; Creature from the Black Lagoon; "Frankenstein;" The Phantom of the Opera; The Mummy; The Invisible Man; and Dracula. Produced in 2000 by Ds-Max--a vendor that supplied items intended for door-to-door sales--the books are stored in a cardboard carrying case with a red handle (ISBN 1-58805-685-6). There's no price printed on the packaging, however, I bought my set at The Salvation Army thrift store for a cool $3--money well spent, as far as I'm concerned!

A Sunny Day tells the story of a day at the beach; from surfing, to volleyball, and building sand castles. In Happy Birthday, the ghoulish gang plan a surprise party for Frankie. A day at the library is the basis for Story Time, where it appears as though Dracula turns the librarian into a vampire! (Okay, perhaps I'm just reading too much into this one...) The final book, Where Do You Live?, shows the monsters in their shared accommodations: The Phantom and Dracula are roomies in a house; The Bride and Frankenstein's monster live in a laboratory; and The Wolf Man and The Creature live outdoors. There's no indication as to where The Invisible Man and The Mummy live, but one assumes that they're hanging out somewhere together.

It appears as though these books were released around the same time that a wide-ranging line of products were sold under the "Universal Studios Monsters" banner--including key rings, "little big head" statuettes, small plush dolls, and larger-sized action figures. Talk about flooding the market with your most famous film properties!

(I'm a collector of books, especially unique ones that will stand out on my cluttered bookshelves. This four-book set is one such volume; occasionally, I'll be posting about the other curious books that line my shelves.)


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