90’S HORROR KID TV SPOTLIGHT: GRAVEDALE HIGH
(Author’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series where BJ Colangelo takes a trip down memory lane and talks about the kid friendly horror TV shows from the 1990s/early 2000s that helped shape her into the horror loving fangirl she is today.)
Before MONSTER HIGH dolls dominated the world of girl’s toys, there were a slew of high school horror themed cartoons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but none were as awesome as RICK MORANIS IN GRAVEDALE HIGH. Anytime a television show attempts to gain momentum by name dropping Rick Moranis, it can be safely assumed I’m already going to be addicted. Although the show only ran for one season, the Universal Monster inspired cartoon high school became a quick favorite for 90’s kids and is still a popular source for fan-fiction and roleplaying communities today.
GRAVEDALE HIGH revolved around the misadventures of human teacher Max Schneider (Rick Moranis) who has unwittingly taken a job at Gravedale High, a school for monsters. Max Schneider ends up in the perfect “fish-out-of-water” scenario as the only human in the school. He presides over a group of ghoulish teenagers that are latest-generation versions of classic movie monsters. Schneider quickly discovers that it isn’t the monstrous aspects of his students he has to worry about, but rather their new-age attitudes and late 80s-early 90s sensibilities. His kids are rebellious, mouthy, disruptive, and uncontrollable. If WELCOME BACK, KOTTER was a cartoon set in the Universal Monster universe, it would have looked exactly like GRAVEDALE HIGH.
While GRAVEDALE HIGH was in no way/shape/form a scary show, it was ridiculously clever. Dracula came in the form of the Fonz-like “Vinnie Stoker,” and his best friend Reggie Moonshroud was a ginger haired Werewolf resembling Richie Cunningham. The Creature from the Black Lagoon was “Gill Waterman,” a Lagoon version of Jeff Spicoli and Frankentyke was the annoying kid in class reminiscent of Bart Simpson. “Blanche” was a southern belle zombie who loved to shop (GET IT?! SHE’S A MALL ZOMBIE! LIKE IN DAWN OF THE DEAD?! BECAUSE REFERENCES?!) and Duzer was the vain and valley-girl type personification of Medusa. J.P. Ghastly the III was a rich gnome-type creature that was the embodiment of Peter Lorre, and Cleofatra was the obese mummy best friend of Duzer. Sid was the “invisible student” that often played tricks on the rest of the class, but the school was also home to a cyclops, the Blob, a “brundlefly,” the Elephant Boy, Iggy the hunchback, a Metaluna Mutant, Nardo the gargoyle, Natasha Neckinski the European vampire, a centaur, Suey the pig girl, and Rover the dog boy. In addition to the students, there were teachers inspired by The Tall Man in PHANTASM, A Spiderwoman, A Witch, The Bride of Frankenstein, a hot-headed Zombie gym-coach, and a millennium old Mummy. By combining monsters, creatures of mythology, and movie characters, the show delivered a horror show that both children and parents could enjoy.
However, it’s the voice-over talent that really separated this show from the rest of the pack. All of the voice-over talent had extensive resumes in horror/sci-fi/fantasy/cult film and television. Rick Moranis, Ricki Lake, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonathan Winters, Eileen Brennan, Sandra Gould, Barry Gordon, Frank Welker, Kimmy Robertson, Shari Belafonte, Roger Rose, and Tim Curry all lent their voices to this short-lived cartoon. It’s not easy to track GRAVEDALE HIGH down, but some lovely pirates have uploaded many of the episodes to YouTube. For the horror folks out there with little monsters of their own, GRAVEDALE HIGH is an excellent show for all to enjoy.