I Woke this morning with one thing on my mind, and one thing only...to track down those superbly scary Top Trumps that done the rounds in our school playground when I was little more than a boob-munching rug-rat.
I was recently interviewed by THE DEVILS EYES.COM. You can read the interview here if you like, or at least the first question, as the initial I was asked was, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'What got you into Horror?'. The answer came to me straight away, despite being something I haven't thought about for a number of years. More than a number of years, in fact. My answer surprised me, I have to admit. We all have formative moments in our lives when we inadvertently become shaped by outside influences, and oftentimes, we're not conscious of them. As I spoke about those Top Trump cards that so paralysed me as a child, I realised that I HAD to see them again. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, man. And it's not always for the best.
I remember downloading my first 'ZX Spectrum Emulator' on my home PC a few years back, and it was akin to having George Lucas let loose on my back passage. Total memory rape-age. I was crestfallen. How much of my childhood wonders were simply false memories or rose-tinted fancy? I came to believe that some things should be left well enough alone. Thanks to that goddamn emulator, and the evil empire that is Mr Lucas, I've learned that a cherished memory can easily become a sore ass.
I do love looking back though. I think we all do. As our spinning world hurtles further and further into violent, senseless stupidity, we all long for a time when things were, (seemingly), simpler, don't we?
Anyway, I'm rambling. Let me get to the point...
I couldn't stop thinking about the images on those cards. Many of them are burned into my memory for evermore. I wanted to know if the mental image I held of them was true, and if they still had the power to scare me. It may sound weird, but the realm of Horror seems to be the one place where nostalgia is a thing that can fully be trusted. I've never yet come across a Horror film I loved as a kid, and haven't loved it as an adult. Same with the fear factor in those movies. Its diluted, sure, but the childhood dread remains intact. when I watch HALLOWEEN these days, a part of me is still the little scared kid I once was. Still staring, with eyes wide, into the impenetrable darkness of my bedroom's corners and closets, waiting for Micheal to show himself and end my short life, silently and painfully.
That kid still lives inside me, and, I believe, lives in all Horror fans. We're essentially psychological sado-masochists, and we need this shit like we need air.
The point is, I wanted to know if these cards could still hold sway over me?
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet. All our childhood is a sweet-shop, and we can run around at leisure reclaiming lost loves and stealing shit with wild abandon. I found the cards, every last one of them, and they are exactly the way I remember them. Scratchy, vaguely crude, overly violent for the target audience, and still very unsettling, (for me, at the very least).
To most, the cards wont have any power to scare. They're simply roughly drawn monsters and ghouls after all, (I think this may be part of the reason I found them so fearful. My sanitised, clean-cut mind wasn't prepped for such nondescript Horrors), but I wanted to share them with you guys. Some of you may even remember them as fondly as I do. Like SCREAM, the short lived Horror Comic, which I looked back at here, these cards have been pretty much lost in the tracks of time. So I'd like to share them, for historic reasons, and for fun.
Theres some very interesting images here. Notably, the 'DRACULA', card is clearly based off of Christopher Lee's image, and 'THE THING' card could well be a manifestation of Carpenters shape-shifting monstrosity. I also like 'THE JAILER', which is clearly based on a scene from James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN, right down to the positioning of the victim. I'm assuming this particular jailer is Dwight Frye.
Many others appear to have been made up on the spot, and have little relation to the timeline of Horror Cinema, or literature. Some are just plain nuts, (is Godzilla wearing a Tuxedo?!) What bonds them all though, is the simple fact that they're freaking cool. A little bit of old-school Horror memorabilia that can be shared and enjoyed by all. I aim to head over to E-Bay and try to buy the damn things.
I can't give you the exact date of release of these little beauties, so let's just say it was a 'long-ass time ago'. Sometime in the early 80's, I think.
Anyway, have fun. Print them off and play with your equally strange friendo's, and if you have any memories of these bad-boys, please share with me. I'd love to hear your tales.
Childhood....I salute you!