TV Review: MONSTERS – S1E1: “The Feverman”

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Horror is a genre that transcends all mediums, but package it in the form of an anthology-television series and you’ve found the key to my heart. If you’re familiar with my posts on Icons, you’ll know I’m a sucker for this stuff, especially FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES! Despite the fact that they really aren’t too many bonafide classics (apart from the obvious usual suspects), it’s a format I enjoy if anything for the eclectic variety and ability to quickly invest in a segment without worrying about continuity. One of my morning rituals is to turn on THE TWILIGHT ZONE, AMAZING STORIES, or something of that ilk while I eat breakfast for those reasons. If I love it, I’ll continually revisit it (“Walking Distance” in particular), and if I’m not too keen on it, it’s ok because the next episode will be entirely independent of itself.

Earlier this year, I found myself in need of a new series to help coax me out bed, and I settled on MONSTERS. The series has never seen a complete release (volumes were released on VHS) before, but thanks to eOne Entertainment all three seasons are now on DVD, giving me quite a bit to watch while I chow down on some cereal. So, I find myself once again taking on another internet first by reviewing an episode a week exclusively here, and once again you can decide if I’m a total fool or not!

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It’d be a disservice not to mention MONSTERS excellent opening intro, which is a fun spin on a suburban family gathering around the TV to watch their favorite show. Only this family happens to be a trio of, well, monsters eating “candy critters” as a wonderfully crappy casio keyboard theme plays. This sets the standard for the show in a lot of ways, as it has no qualms with being very low budget because it more than makes up for it in charm. It doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest, and that sort of reckless abandon makes this for one hell of a good time for a show devoted to rubbery ghouls.

Without further adieu, I give you the rundown of S1E1 of MONSTERS entitled, “The Feverman“!

Taking place around the turn of the century, a man with a deathly ill daughter takes her to see Mr. Boyle, the infamous Feverman. His services come with a hefty price tag and willingness to put up with his penchant for boozing, but the rumors behind his moniker are quite true. By using a magic crystal (yeah…), Feverman is able to summon the sickness out of a person and have it manifest in physical form. This leads to a showdown with a gross, bulbous creature, which may be Feverman’s last…

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The Feverman” director Michael Gornick is a guy we all should be quite familiar with, whether you know it or not. If you’ve seen George A. Romero’s late 70s to early 80s output (read: his classics), then you’ve seen Gornick’s handiwork. He essentially served as Romero’s right-hand man, shooting MARTIN, DAWN/DAY OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW, and even directed CREEPSHOW 2! His television roots stem back to TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, an earlier horror-anthology series created by Romero and produced by frequent collaborator Richard P. Rubenstein, who’d return in the same capacity for MONSTERS.

Pilots in general usually just are not that great. It can take multiple episodes, or even a season for a series to hook viewers in once it finds its’ footing; the same can be said for MONSTERS. “The Feverman” isn’t exactly the kind of grand kickoff to a new show with horror veterans behind it, but it features a pretty icky monster by the legendary and now sadly late fx master, Dick Smith! Not many shows can say that, even if it just serves as a cool fact rather than a standout moment as its’ screentime is fairly brief.

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If you’re familiar with any anthology show to come out of the 80s, then I think you know the drill here. Hits and misses are abound and plentiful, but there is a lot to love in MONSTERS. Airing from 1988 to 1991, MONSTERS was on in a time where the boob tube was filled with a bevy of anthologies. Being a 90s kid I got a small taste of this with help from ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? and GOOSEBUMPS, but that was nothing compared to having the choice of TALES FROM THE CRYPT, RAY BRADBURY THEATER, and more all in the same week. I imagine that was a pretty great era for burgeoning horror geeks.

If you enjoyed my trip down ‘ole MONSTERS lane, tune in next week when we look at the second episode of Season 1, “Holly’s House“! It has a animatronic killer doll that grows jealous over her voice-over artist’s intimacy with a cast member on a children’s program, and dare I say gives Chucky a run for his money! Not really, but seeing an obsessive lifesize doll commit murder is always worth a look. Till then, fiends!

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