As with all holidays, our childhood Halloween memories are as tied up with corporate advertising as anything else. The advertisements we watched as kids end up blended together with stuff like making shoddy werewolf costumes and trying to offload half-melted caramels for tiny Snickers bars in post trick or treating trades to forge a nostalgia as influenced by the shit companies tried to sell us as the things we actually did when we were young.
Dinosaur Dracula, a devoted collector of the sort of cultural Halloween detritus mostly forgotten by time, has ensured you can relive these important, TV-addled memories in time for this year’s celebrations with a sprawling YouTube playlist of ‘80s and ‘90s Halloween commercials.
There’s a huge range included here: A guy holds forth on the merits of collectible Universal Monsters stamps in the middle of a horror movie screening; two kids freak each other out looking for monsters under the bed with their Polaroid camera; a weirdly terrifying ad for, um, UN peacekeepers ensures you never forget their value; and, maybe best of all, a talking skeleton gives out the number for a hotline that ruined many a parent’s telephone bill so their pre-internet kids could listen to spooky jokes.
Completing the throwback picture, a series of commercials show off things like a line of Goosebumps-branded TCBY ice cream cakes; water beds sold by a pumpkin with a dude’s face superimposed on it; a Rubick’s Cube spin-off toy that baffles a vampire; and a Frankenstein-riffing Teddy Ruxpin commercial that sees the cute stuffed bear sitting in what looks like an electric chair. Mixed in with these are promo spots for era-appropriate movies, too, ranging from stone-cold classics like Child’s Play 2 and Halloween 5 to other important masterpieces like Prom Night II and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.
Considering we live in a world where advertisements make up as much, if not more, of our memories than stuff like spending time with friends and family, the playlist can inspire some pretty powerful nostalgia. Thank you, Dinosaur Dracula, for gathering up our old trash and turning it into a seasonal photo album. And thank you corporations, for warping our brains so fully that we’d want to watch these sorts of things at all.
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