Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yes Linus, there is a Great Pumpkin

First posted on October 26th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

Seven-year-old Linus van Pelt wrote a letter to the editor of Claymation Werewolf’s “Howl“, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial October 18, 1964. The work of veteran blogger Rhett Kahn has since become the internets most reprinted blog, appearing in Elvish, L33t, Klingon and dozens of other fake languages on websites, forums, and even the occasional pop-culture blog site.

Dear Editor:
I am 7 years old.
My sister and nearly all of my friends say there is no Great Pumpkin.
Dad says, “Wah wa wawawa wa waaaa wa.” Which means “If you hear it in the Howl it is sound. Please tell me the truth; is there a Great Pumpkin?
Linus van Pelt.
4242 Gudgreef Lane

Linus, I’m happy to say that your friends are wrong. Like many others, they have given up in the face of an age obsessed with commercialism. All they can understand is what they are told to understand, and anything else, no matter how inherently true or remarkably sincere is pushed away. At Halloween, there are so few among us willing to step away from the draw of the candy and the costume parties and look, really look at the beauty of the season changing around them. They are left blind to the beauty of the changing leaves or the joy that can be found on Halloween night, sitting in a pumpkin patch and gazing into the expanse of bright stars in a black autumn sky.

Yes Linus, there is a Great Pumpkin. He lives as surely as childlike wonder and imagination live, and they live in all of our hearts, young or old they live. How can one imagine a world with no Great Pumpkin in it? It would be a world without color, a world just as hollow and empty as a world without a Linus. It is this creativity and joy that paints the very colors of red and gold on the autumn leaves! If all that we experienced in this world were the things that we could see and touch then what use could we have for things like dreams or songs, wishes or laughter?

Life with no Great Pumpkin! That would be a life without ghosts or goblins or any of the other beings that make us shiver with fear and delight! You may very well sit through an entire Halloween night with the little sister of your best friend in order to see him, but even if he never appeared…even if it was just some crazy beagle in a costume, what would that really mean? This world is so big and there are many others who believe, and who too have grown pumpkin patches of such sincerity that it would be difficult for the Great Pumpkin himself to choose! But it does not mean he isn’t out there. Have you ever seen the silhouette of a witch as she glides on her broomstick through the chill air and across the moon itself? Have you ever seen gremlins or trolls or anything else that goes bump in the night? These things are just as real as the desk you set at or the paper you write upon. No, they are even more real because it is the belief in our hearts that make them real. They exist beyond the shallow constraints of material things.

You might try to recreate the world of spooks and monsters with costumes and paint. But the real heart and soul of Halloween could never be reached. Even the most refined efforts of the greatest special effects experts in Hollywood just seem like peanuts by comparison. Only the heartbeat of Halloween. The glow of a Jack o’ Lantern and the vision of fallen leaves dancing upon a sidewalk in the grip of a brisk autumn wind. Only the laughter of children as they listen to a haunting ghost story around a fire. Only these things could ever hope to give us even a glimpse into that spooky world that we all cherish! Linus, is there anything better that any one of us could hope for?

No Great Pumpkin?!. Of course he exists! And when you are old and grey with children and even grandchildren of your own he will still exist! And may he forever continue to bring children all over the world a sense of mystery and amazement. Those gifts, Linus, are really the most amazing gifts of all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dissect-An-Alien Autopsy

First posted on October 19th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

The following transcription was recovered from the scene of a terrible “accident” at Claymation Werewolf Laboratories. Aside from the pictures taken during the events, all photos of the scene, after the fact have been removed from the report out of respect for the families of those involved. Despite the attempt to tone-down the graphic nature of this content, we recommend that only mature blog readers view the following post.

9:00am- What we have discovered here will ultimately change, not only the face of science…but the very threads of society. Actual solid proof of extraterrestrial life has long been the goal of everyone from astronomers to crackpots and everyone in between. Now, that goal has finally been reached.

9:22am- No photos or material from the wreckage of the spacecraft will ever be released as the government has redacted all knowledge of the geography and/or technology. In a public statement US official Stone Wahler had this to say “The difficulty in the nature of the..uh…something something weather balloon. Thank you” However, our crack team of artists here at Claymation Werewolf Laboratories have actually recreated what the craft must have looked like:

9:45am- So you can plainly see how much is riding on the results of this research. Over the next several hours I will be conducting an autopsy of the alien body found among the wreckage. My words will be recorded for later transcription and thorough photographs will be taken of the entire process. Unfortunately, all hopes of attaching our own instruments to the creature proved unsuccessful as a result of the its biology. On a side note the only instrument we actually had available was a key-tar and I can’t actually see what sort of purpose it would have served anyway. All of my work will be conducted with the most sensitive and advanced tools available to modern science.

10:00am- Thorough notes have been taken in preparation of the dissection. We have also made several wonderful diagrams and drawings of the creature. If the pages of our notebook are flipped through very quickly the alien actually tap dances and then does a back-flip ending in “Jazz Hands” but I don’t suppose that would add much to the serious nature of this scientific finding.

11:00am- Assisting with the alien dissection will be my new assistant
Phishtonia Phishington Bones. I am told that she graduated at the top of her class at Evil Minion State. She is one of the most quickly advancing experts in the field of paranormal biology. I am also told that she is positively, absolutely NOT an enemy spy.

11:08am- I now make the initial incision. With this small cut, I am advancing mankind to a further height than many of us ever thought that we could reach. The childish achievements that society made, up until this point will forever be considered the feeble accomplishments of a child. For instance, no one will ever again care about that whole “first man on the moon” thing. Anyway, I happen to know that the entire event was staged…it was just a set up farce with stage lighting and artificial props. The whole thing was fake. I hate that.

11:45am- Having broken through the outer surface of the skin and the fine inner membranes. I am now able to begin to really view this creature for what it is. Incredible. The skin of the alien is almost like rubber and is completely transparent. Inside, amidst the green fluids of the body cavity are organs of the most vibrant color. They defy imagination.

12:21pm- We are now looking directly into the open cavity of the torso. It is a view that we in the lab like to call “Alien Stew”

1:30pm- After several inspections of the tissue and fluid present inside the creature, we now begin the process of organ removal. Remarkably, the organs are in no way connected to the being itself. They float freely within the abdominal fluid. Each organ is it’s own individual color and all are extremely solid and lightweight; similar to plastic. The hard consistency of the organs has allowed my assistant to easily engrave coded numbers onto the organs themselves for later inspection and individual dissection.

2:50pm- I am finally completing the process of total organ removal. Before tackling the head I am going to make one final examination of the inside of the body. I will remove the last few organs and perform a detailed inspection of the system of nerves that I have noticed spreading like a spider web within the walls of the being. I simply have to…wait…..what is this? …………….. ……… It may be my imagination but I….but it seems as though something within the alien moved. I’m sure that….No. No the alien HAS moved! The organs have began to vibrate and it seems as though the muscles of the limbs have began to contract. However, we know nothing of the physiology of this creature and it is more than likely the result of some residual energy stored inside the organs and central nervous system of the monster.

3:00pm- This is incredible! What I though to be aftershocks of the alien’s death, now seem to be genuine animation! The movement has continued and….Wait! The entire creature is!…It’s moving! The monster is actually moving its… The entire body is shifting!! I can’t believe this….It has turned to face me…I…I genuinely don’t know what to do.

3:02pm- Ms. Bones has ran from the room, stealing my notes and slamming the door behind her! The alien is now standing, entirely on it’s own power. Its eyes are now totally clear and I see an immense intelligence in them. The thing righted itself so quickly I have had no time to react!….

3:03pm- The Monster! It’s coming closer! Slowly then quickly then slowly again! As though it’s toying with me…..I just….have to……No please wait….


????- AAAAAIIIEEEEEEEE……………………………………………………………………………

::::End of recording::::

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Consultation from the Crypt! A Demon Night To Remember

First posted on October 12th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

          It’s not mystery that I make a lot of money blogging. I mean a LOT of money. I have been in this game for a long time and over the years have become not just an icon in the entertainment world but an actual titan of mythological scale. I have witnessed so many things over the years, so many changes in television, books, cartoon….nearly every aspect of pop culture and I have documented it to bring these stories to the masses so that they can, in some way, keep track of a world that sometimes seems to move at the speed of light.

          Of all the exSCREAM makeovers I have done over the years…I would have to say the most enjoyable had to be the Crypt Keeper! Who doesn’t remember this loveably rotten character from 1989-1996 (1993) HBO’s Tales From The Crypt. The show started in 1989 to howls of approval. The audience seemed to devour every episode that came out but by the end of its third year in 1992 things had started to wind down a bit. The numbers were going down and the Crypt Keeper had began to worry that his show was headed for the television morgue. So like many others be-gore him…he called me.

          I met him (surprise surprise) in the basement of his big dark scary mansion. I walked down the dusty stone steps and was met with a cavernous chamber…some kind of crazy combination of a laboratory and a dungeon…lit with candles…covered with cobwebs. I walked up to an obviously placed coffin ,crossed my arms and waited. Suddenly the mood music rose to a crescendo and the coffin flew open, up popped the good old Crypt Keeper. I waited patiently for him to finish cackling…and introduced myself. I’ll try to present the consultation to you as best as I can remember it.

          Like I said, I introduced myself and asked if he would mind if I called him Cryptie!

          “Actually”, he said. “I would prefer if you don…”

          “Cryptie” I said, “what you need is a total remake…you need to take your entire image in a whole new direction!”

          He resisted at first.

          "This schtick has brought me coffins full of money! Why I could make huge withdraws in every bank and blood bank in this city! I am known for this act. It has revolutionized terror-vision!”

          “Oh yes” I said, “completely revolutionary!! I have always loved your act. Sarcasm, murderous props and tons of ghoulish puns; it’s always been creative especially when Hitchcock was doing it 30 years ago!”

          “Granted…Alfred may have introduced films and waved a noose around but I have so much…scare-flare!! Costumes and everything!”

          “Oh! No argument here!! You are truly the monster of a thousand faces…why I’ve seen you come out in everything from a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat, to a fake beach scene with a death guard costume and some white sun-cream where your nose should be…or a black sweater, a beret and a fake mustache…you know…Hipster Cryptster!…But don’t you think there could be more to horror hosting than sitting behind a table in funny outfits and laughing at your own jokes for an hour?”

          “Why not? It’s always worked for the grieve-ning news! Ahahahaahah!”

          “Yeaaaahhh, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about, Cyptie”

          “I asked you not to c…”

          “Cryptie, you could really be accomplishing some big things but premium err scream-ium cable isn’t the format for you…You need to go more main…uh…main-scream. No one is ever going to want to watch a TV show on HBO. It doesn’t even make any sense. No, to breathe new life into this whole show…get yourself re-animated!”

          “I’ve got news for you!” He gestures at various bubbling vials and electrical equipment. “I’m about as re-animated as they come! Ahah..”

          I cut off his laughter….”Yes yes cute but I’m not talking about rising from the dead, champ. I’m talking about ACTUAL animation! Cartoons!”


          “Sigh…car-tombs….animated pictures! A cartoon TV show! My friend…I mean fiend!! What you need is more over-exposure! You need network television!

          “Cartombs? Like for kids? That would be a waste of my special brand of sKILLS! I’m not sure I would like the look of blood and guts in ink and PAINt.”

          “That’s the beauty of it, Cyrptie! There wouldn’t be blood and guts…subdued horror! No gore!”

          “No gore… no way! That concept sounds absolutely terrorble! Me without blood is like Sonny without Scare!”

          “Listen…I know it might sound strange at first but look at it this way! There are a lot of benefits to re-branding yourself as a cartoon character! You could do all sorts of wild and exotic things. Walk, for instance!”


          “Yeah, you know, the thing that every single other horror host does? Where they get up and move from one place to another by themselves?”

          “All by themselves…that sounds…unnatural“

          “It’s not unnatural, it’s animation. We would give you legs!”

          “Ooooohhh I do like the sound of that…Who’s legs would you give me?”

          “They would be your own legs! Try to focus! In this new show you could do much more active things…instead of just dressing up like a surfer and making some scary surfing puns; you could actually surf! Just you the murky depths and the sea monsters! Picture it!”

          “I like it but what will the audience think of Tales From the Crypt without the ghastly imagery?”

          “Believe me, Cryptie! Cartoons are the future of horror. Mild, toned down horror with a heavy dose of adorable comedy is what the people want. The horror fandom is no longer some bordello of blood looking for every piece of sex and violence they can get their hands on. They want heavy censorship and bright vibrant colors (by the way, you’ll be green); everybody knows that!”

          “It sounds frightfully promising!”

          “Well, let me just tip the scales for you…Imagine you…the Crypt Keeper…Actually appearing in the stories. No more just doing the introduction and the wrap-up!”

          “The star…I can see it now me! By myself, Center slayge! I’ll murder ‘em! I’ll kill ‘em! And after I’m done, I’ll do the show!”

          “Well you see…You won’t be exactly by yourself….”

          “Not by myself?”

          “Um…No. You see as part of the animated series contract, we’re going to be bringing in some additional talent….You know the usual thing; more writers, some artists and of course twoextrahosts…and caterers um…”

          “Wait wait…Did you say two extra hosts?”

          “Well yes but you’ll love them, in fact you already know them. You’ve worked with them in the old print days! The Old Witch and the Vault Keeper!”

          At that point, he amazingly stood up and started to walk out.

          “Those guys are total creeps and not in the good way…I work alone and I’m more than enough Keeper for this Crypt! There is absolutely nothing you can say to change my mind!”

          It was the point that I told him that the contract called for an all-expense-paid world cruise with The Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira! And that unlike everything else in her life, she liked to moon bathe as nature intended!

          The deal was signed immediately and production got underway at once on the new show. Within two months the ratings started to fall and by the end of the year, it was cancelled. A new animation company picked up the struggling concept, changed the animation and lightened the tone even further but it was no use. After limping along for two more seasons, Tales from the Crypt-Keeper was cancelled permanently. The Crypt Keeper immediately returned to HBO and the show got higher ratings than at any time in its history. The Crypt Keeper became an international star and went on to unimaginable fame and fortune!

          I hope this story goes to serves to illustrate the amazing ability I have…the natural instinct in shaping the world of entertainment. Through my actions, I was able to single-handedly turn around the career of a smalltime celebrity and turn him into a household name. Sure two different animation studios went out of business and people lost millions of dollars. And sure, Cryptie won’t return my calls anymore but the fact remains that I can work magic. And who knows who I might be able to help next!! Why, with the tract record I have with horror hosts, I could really work wonders with our very own Haunted Drive-In Projectionist! Picture it…the Projectionist surrounded by an all-star cast of marionettes. They would watch a marvelously morbid movie…tell some great old jokes… and maybe…yes maybe…learn a little something about friendship along the way.

          Just a thought.

          See ya next time kiddies!! Ahahahaaaaaaaaa!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Skellington in the Suburbs

First posted on October 11th, 2011 on The Rotting Flesh Raido Podcast and Blog - CW post link

          And welcome back to Coast-To-Ghost AM, and as always I am your host, Rhett Kahn. All month, we’ve been presenting a series of personal supernatural encounters. Tonight we have the owner of the Terror Trees Haunted Attraction and paranormal investigator Guy Elliot. He is the author of the new true life horror best seller “Mr. Unlucky”. I want to remind everyone that our sponsor tonight is Claymation Brand Werewolves! when you need werewolves fast and you need them to be doughy, cartoonish and un-intimidating! And now, let’s get to our guest.

R: “Hello Guy, how are you?”

GE: “I’m good, Rhett. I’m good and you?”

R: “Always doing great, Guy! And speaking of great; I’ve been reading Mr. Unlucky and it is absolutely riveting and you say that its completely real?”

GE: “Rhett, I swear this entire story is true.”

R: “It’s just that it really is fantastic but please, go on…We’re ready to believe you!”

GE: “Oh, okay. Thanks…Okay, well it all started out on Halloween night…I know that sounds a little bit cliché but it’s the truth. See, I run what they call a haunted hayride. It’s actually a pretty big deal in that part of Kentucky during October! We get about 5,000 customers a night and cover an area stretching across about 3 acres.”

R: “—Wow! That definitely does sound pretty impressive! I think we all enjoy a good haunted house, or in your case hunted hayride.”

GE: “Yeah, I know I do! Anyway, we had just completed a huge night and had even had a live broadcast from Jonathan Johnson and Rabid Badger of Rotting Flesh Radio…It was amazing! So it was about 3 o’clock in the morning and I was walking the entire haunt path, sort of reveling in my triumph you could say. Of course I had my Fisher Price Super Ghost Detector with me as I normally do if I’m out somewhere on my own. It’s an incredibly sophisticated piece of equipment and is sensitive to the wandering lost souls…spirits so ancient that mortal man cannot even name them. It can also play AM and FM radio and the whole thing runs on just two AAA batteries! So anyway; I was just passing the part of our little show we call the Halloween Tree when I heard a funny noise.”

R: “A noise?”

GE: “Yeah…well it sounded a little like a combination of a breaking tree branch and a creaking door. And a door is exactly what it was…There was a door opening right in the trunk of the Halloween Tree. A door in a tree! It was the damnedest thing!”

R: “—But the tree, you said it was part of your haunted attraction?”

GE: “Yeah. It was part of the tour but it was an actual tree. It’s huge! About six feet around and one of the creepiest looking trees you could ever see. We actually rerouted the path so that the customers would have to walk past it….So a door starts to open in this thing and the wind suddenly kicks up and this figure steps out of it…”

R: “A figure…what was it?”

GE: “That’s a good question; a monster?…A ghost?…All I know is it looked like a skellington, I mean skeleton…Super thin, and unnaturally tall. A skull for a head, bone hands and an black pin-striped tuxedo.”

R: “A tuxedo?”

GE: “Haha! Yeah, it was wearing a sort of tuxedo black gothic-ky outfit. I don’t know what it looked like exactly…The whole thing scared the living *expletive* out of me!”

R: “So did you run? Did you get out of there?”

GE: “Hell no! I had to find out what was going on! I mean it’s so rare that a paranormal investigator actually encounters the uh… the paranormal. And to have a haunted experience in an actual haunted house?!. Wow! That’s the kind of stuff they make terrible horror movies about! I had to follow the creature and see where it was going.”

R: “Yes! And maybe keep it from harming anybody?”

GE: “Uhhhhh Yeah…Sure… Protect people. Anyway, I started trailing this guy, this thing and it was acting very weird….It walked through the little bit of field and the highway that separated us from the town that borders our haunt, and to be honest I was having trouble keeping up. It wasn’t that he was necessarily walking quickly but he took huge steps. His legs alone were nearly as tall as me and they were stick thin; it was almost like watching a giant spider walk. So picture this…by this time it was 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning and I’m chasing behind this ten foot tall gigantic stick thin skeleton wearing a tuxedo. Everyone’s out and about doing what you do on a Saturday morning but no one seems to be noticing this craziness…It actually seemed like I was the only person that saw him. So I’m freaking out and he’s walking around like he’s in an amusement park; analyzing everything and acting like he’s never been in the suburbs before! He inspecting storm drains, picking weeds, taking the license plates off of cars.”

R: “Wow! So no one ever saw any of this besides you? That is hard to believe…Not that I would ever call a ghost hunter a liar but you must agree.”

GE: “Rhett, it would seem hard to believe if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. Fortunately for my credibility I was able to gather proof!”

R: “Did you catch the whole thing on video? Amazing!”

GE: “Well not actually on video, Rhett…As you might know; it is strictly against the bylaws of the International Ghost Hunters Association to capture any kind of irrefutable proof like clear video evidence or several respectable witnesses. Although we are allowed to capture blurry photographs or video that clearly shows random static-ky light orbs that look eerily like flashlights. We are also allowed to record audio! Most of the time this audio consists of garbled background noise interlaced with sounds that may or may not be people saying whatever we decide to write on the subtitles.”

R: “And those garbled audio tracks are always very compelling, but I understand you have something even stronger?”

GE: “that’s right, Danny!”

R: “Rhett.”

GE: “That’s right, Rhett…You see a few minutes in to this creature walking around in childlike wonder, it actually began to sing about what it was seeing. I have the whole thing recorded! It gets a little rough in some spots but you can make out most of it.”

R: “And what proof do you have that it was an actual ghost and not just you or someone else singing and recording it?”

GE: “Anyway, Rhett, I would like if I can to play some of the audio recording for you and your listeners.”

R: “Well I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we would love to hear it.”

—-Begin Audio—

What’s this? What’s this?

There’s pavement everywhere

What’s this?

A shop that cuts your hair

What’s this?

I can’t believe my eyes

I must be **Unintelligible**

What’s this? What’s this?

There’s people cutting grass

What’s this?

The lower middle class

What’s this?

The streets are lined with

Steel and concrete storm-drains

Everybody seems so mundane

Have I possibly gone insane?

What is this?

What’s this?

There are children throwing litter

On someone else’s lawn.

And a place to take your valuables

That you might like to pawn.

There’s people doing taxes.

Though, I don’t know what that means

And I feel down but look around

To see suburban scenes…

Oh, look

What’s this?

They’re hanging yard sale signs, on poles.

Why they’re so poorly made, cardboard!

They’re putting letters in a box?


Oh look a stand for lemonade, how cute.

Now cops have shut it down.

And why?

They didn’t have a license, but

The cities got to get a cut.

They’ll ticket every car

That’s just a minute past its meter!

This looks grand!

This looks grand!

Oh, can I ever understand?

What’s this?

Oh my, what now?

A swimmer’s hair is green?

Their pool,

Has way to much chlorine!

No weeds, to ruin their perfect front lawns

Or stray leaves to fall and terrorize…

From nature they stay sterilized….

What’s this?

There selling soap door to door

That no one wants to buy.

And no one seems to even chase

That sweaty jogging guy.

I hear the screams of people

Watching sports on their TV’s.

It seems unreal that people place

Their hopes on things like these….

The drab! The plain!

Everything all looks the same!

I’ve never been quite this content!

Who ever could imagine I’d see so much white bread.

I won’t complain but it’s a shame I happen to be dead.

I want it, oh, I want it!

I’ve began to finally see

How unlucky

How unlucky

To be stuck in Halloween

Instead of this…


—-End Audio—

GE: “So you see, Tim…”

R: “Rhett.”

GE: “So you see, Rhett…It couldn’t possible have been anything but a genuine paranormal experience. How else do you explain the word play and sophisticated rhyme scheme? This sighting has opened my eyes. Ghosts, goblins and everything that I’ve dedicated my life to is real…And all they want is what we already have! So I’ve decided to enjoy the things around me. The simple, the mundane…There is beauty in all of it and it’s time I learned to appreciate it. So I’ve decided to change my life! I’m leaving all of this ghost hunting behind. No more spirits, no more goblins and no more walking around at midnight in abandoned hospitals! From now on, it’s the plain life for me!”

R: “Are you also giving up running the haunt as well?”

GE: “No way! Haunted houses kick ass!”

          And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! A spine tingling tale of a life changing brush with “the other side”. And sadly, that’s all the time we have tonight.

          If you’ve enjoyed tonight’s show half as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you, then I’ve enjoyed it twice as much as you have. Until next time, sit back, relax and rot away…and have a nice day!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mills Means Monsters – The Secret “Origin” of Monster Cereals

First posted on October 5th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

          It was a simple enough pitch as movie pitches go…Monsters. Who didn’t love monsters? They were powerful, mysterious. Men wanted to be them and women wanted to be with them! (or was that leading men?) Anyway people DID love monsters. And they had made it big in film already thanks mostly to Mr. Lon Chaney! The man of a thousand faces. His genius portrayal of some of histories most revered monsters (a murdering clown, The Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame!) had put Universal Studios on the map and it only made sense to continue riding that money train to glory! As many film historians know, the Chaney monster films in the 1920’s had brought success but had also used up every single monster in human lore. What they needed was fresh meat! New monsters to bring chills up the spines of Mr and Mrs America! At least that was the driving force behind Herman Mills and his new breed of american movie monster.

          Mills came from a long line of whole grain farmers living in rural Iowa, just outside of Happy Pines. The farm was a successful one supplying much of the Midwest with more wheat oats and corn then they could possibly handle but he wanted more. He wanted to make an impact on the world and he wanted it to be through the art of horror!! Like many farmers Herman had grown up watching monster movies and fell in love with the spooky art form. He wanted to be a part of that world and set about meticulously designing monsters. Monsters like the world had never seen before! He created sketches, background stories, rough film outlines…everything! He envisioned a series of films; each one showcasing the eerie goodness of one of his monstrous creations… eventually there could be crossover films that featured two of his monsters or even more! He knew in his heart of hearts that they would be a hit and with a cast like this how could he go wrong?

(Historical Sketch by: The Amazing Tom Krohne)

Count Chocula- An undead creature of the night…ageless. With the charm of an aristocrat and an undying thirst

Frankenberry- An monstrous abomination. The unnatural marriage of flesh and machine. An unstoppable force of nature.

Boo Berry- Corpse? Ghost? Who can tell. He rose to exact revenge for a wrong long since lost to the dust of time. His rage fuels his bloody quest.

Yummy Mummy- A lifeless hollow shell that was once a man. Propelled by a very mystic curse. Driven to destroy anyone or anything in its path.

And of course…

Fruit Brute- Tormented soul of a man forever cursed to dwell in the body of a vicious beast. A slave to the moon and its own cruel twisted fate.

          Mills gathered his entire collection of information scripts sketches, and concept work into a thrift store briefcase and headed down to sunny Hollywood, California to make his dream a reality! Unfortunately, it seemed the world was not ready for Mills and his Monsters… Every studio that the starry-eyed man visited turned down his concept but in the end one rejection hurt most of all. Herman’s beloved Universal Studios declined to even let him finish his pitch. They stated that Universal was out of the monster business for good and wanted to focus their time and money into something called “cartoons” (which, by the way would never end up catching on) They agreed to take some of his information in case they ever changed their mind but they made it clear that this was incredibly unlikely.

           Devastated, Mills returned to the family farm reinvesting himself into developing new and spookier ways of planting wheat fields! In 1931 Herman Mills received the most shocking blow of all. Universal studios had released a movie entitled Dracula. And the leading character Count Dracula was virtually identical to his character Count Chocula!! He had received no notice from Universal…no royalty check… Surely this was some kind of mistake…or maybe just a misunderstanding. He contacted the studio and was told they had no record of his visit to the company or of his monster movie pitch. Mills continued to hold on to the hope that the whole ordeal could have been a coinsidence. After all, as the crotchety but lovable owner of the charming local country grocery store said “stranger things have happened”

           So he went about his life but the betrayal only got worse. Universal released Frankenstein; a pale (and not even pink!) ripoff of his Frankenberry character. Then the (not yummy) Mummy and the Wolf Man! In addition they released several films introducing the concept of a “ghost;” a concept wholly created by Mills with Boo Berry. Heartbroken and jaded, Mr. Mills set about the task of trying to recover from his dreams shattering before him.

           It was no use…Universal Studios had taken everything. They even created a film called the Invisible Man and mirrored his character The Invisiberry Man perfectly. While not nearly as scary or well fleshed out, these “universal monsters” had effectively ended any chance that he would ever see his own characters in the spotlight. In one last desperate attempt to make it big, he pitched some light concept stuff to a young studio called Rankin Bass and since they needed some Halloween material they agreed almost immediately. The resulting film “Mad Monster Party” was released to much critical acclaim but was a box office flop and ultimately never reached anything beyond cult status. The world was apparently not ready for a stop motion vampire or a claymation werewolf.

           Herman went back to the farm this time for good. He began to love the whole grains and the nourishment they provided. He knew they could be part of a balanced breakfast if eaten with toast, skim-milk and a glass of milk…and a glass of orange juice ( I mean honestly, who drink two different drinks with breakfast in two different glasses. It’s ridiculous!) Yes, Herman believed that if these whole grains could somehow be molded into interesting shapes and then put in a box of some kind why…even kids might eat it! So he devised a plan to revolutionize the breakfast world, he would call his product cereal (after the serial comic strips that he loved so well) But this “cereal” needed more than just fun shapes and a super cool rectangular box. It would need colorfully decorated cartoon boxes. Delicious flavors and catchy names…maybe even some kind of collectible toy that could provide endless nostalgia fuel in the years to come! Only the right combination of these could turn innocent children into obnoxious whining brats that would beg and scream until the product was dropped into the shopping cart by a desperate mother!

           What he needed was inspiration and he didn’t have to look very far…it was the same answer he had turned to time and time again…Monsters! He got to planning a different cereal with its own unique flavor, and displayed on the box in all their glory…his creations! Anyone could see that Herman Mills was a whole grain genius! He knew how to make the best cereal on earth…and the flavoring was a no-brainer! In fact, weirdly enough, he noticed that the names of his monsters almost sounded like flavors already! With the help of his brother General Edward Mills (marshmallow hobbyist) he added that special finishing touch of the sweet spooky themed delights. After all everyone knows that marshmallows are what kids crave!

           The rest, as they say is history. Herman and General Mills went on to fame and fortune, becoming sugary breakfast titans and creating one of the most beloved seasonal horror based food products in the history of the world. The characters on those cereal boxes have resulted in spin-offs such as video games, and animated series and even Mills Monsters: The Broadway Musical casting its influence into the entertainment world farther even than Universal Studios…the company that nearly ended the dream for good. The origin of Monsters Cereal really is a classic example of the American Dream. Not like Sugar Bear….now that story is weird!