Before we begin - little message about the site. You know, I watch our hitcount like a hawk, and we've been dilly daddling in that 6-7000 range for awhile. Enough is enough, I want X-E to break 10000 daily. Why? Because I never expected it to happen. This site began as a hobby and side project, what me and Liq are doing today is the same shit we've done from day one...only I hope we've gotten a little better at it since then. :) How did we get where we're at now? Well, aside from cool sites that link us, there's you guys, the readers. Most of the people I talk to about the site were referred here by a friend, and that's great to hear. So that's what I'm asking of you today...if you like what we're doing, tell a friend! If every one of you gets another person that likes this shit to take a look at the site, we'll have higher ratings than a Juiceman infomercial. And fucking shit - my eternal quest is to outdo the Juiceman. And PS - keep up the e-mail! I know I'm really bad with responding quickly, but they all get read and I'll get back to you as soon as I have some spare time. I love hearing your thoughts and memories just as much as I love writing about mine!
In keeping with the spirit of X-E's Halloween Month, which, by the way, I can't wait to be over, because I absolutely loathe the color orange, I'd like to discuss the merchandising ties to a man who's certainly going to high up on Liquorhead's upcoming Top 100 Monsters list....Dracula. Throughout history, Dracula's taken many shapes and sizes. He's been a classic vampire, a dramatic tragic romantic, and even Leslie Nielsen. But the fact remains, no matter how you personally view the guy, he's one badass vampire.
When I hear the word 'horror' in any context, the first imagine that pops in my head is the classic Dracula...you know, the chubby one with the slicked-back hair? That one. You might picture Gary Oldman. Others might picture something else entirely. But Dracula's definitely a high ranking official on the monster list, and considering what season we're in - it's time to pay him some respect.
So, here's a homage to Dracula, X-E style. Like everything else that's remotely popular, Dracula's been feasted upon by the mass marketing machine big time. There's been more products with Dracula's name and likeness on 'em than you could imagine. Dracula figures, Dracula posters, Dracula movies, Dracula magnets, Dracula candy...hell, I even have some Dracula pogs.
With that, let's take a look at twenty obscure and weird items featuring my favorite vampire and yours...Dracula!
#20 -- Dracula Beer: Few can argue that the prospect of drinking a beer with Dracula on it is far more appealing than drinking a beer with some painting of a fat Irish dude wearing a vest on it. Dracula beer pulls double duty too....not only will fat goth chicks flock to you like flies to a fly whorehouse, it'll get you too drunk to care what they look like. Vlad really covers all the bases. The best part is, the stuff comes from Jersey. If there's any place in the world that might substitute human blood for alcohol, you can bet it's Jersey. So you're not just acting the dream, you're living it. Combining the ways of the redneck and the ways of the occult is a tricky thing, but luckily, we've got Dracula to pull it off perfectly.
#19 -- Monster Force Dracula: This Dracula isn't about mayhem. He's about fighting for what's right. Monster Force took a unique perspective on the monster genre - they made the monsters the heroes. Unfortunately, the deal was a little give and take, because in return for their newfound acts of heroism, all the monsters had to agree to have hands about four times too large for their bodies. This particular version of Dracula didn't need to bite you to win a fight...he just needed to slap you a few times. If you want a size comparison, look at your hand and imagine what it'd look like if it's size dwarfed your head. They didn't do this without reason though, since Dracula's ankh weapon is about 50% larger than his torso. Still, a very cool toyline to check out, and just another notch in Dracula's celebrity belt.
#18 -- Dracula And Spider-Man Comic: Peter Parker has got to be the most level-headed superhero I've ever seen. The guy spends his nights fighting old men who dress like vultures and goblins, watching his girlfriends plummet to their deaths, all while wearing an outfit that even a blind guy would find a way to laugh at. And after all that's finished - he still manages to sit down and have a normal conversation with Aunt May about her arthritis acting up. That's talent. But I'm not convinced that he could maintain such posture after dealing with the vampire from Hell. I don't know the specifics of this comic...for all I know, Spider-Man could've been fighting Dracula, or asking for his help to cancel out Dr. Octopus' plans of world-domination. But it really doesn't make a difference - there's no way to incorporate Dracula into your daily life without losing your mind. I don't care if you're just inviting the guy over to play Scrabble...this is Dracula we're talking about. I'm not sure I could deal with that. Then again, wasn't Spider-Man some alien clone during that time anyway? Alien clones can handle a lot more stress than regular humans. That's how Spidey handled all the hate mail over that plot development to begin with.
#17 -- Epoch Table-Top Dracula Game: Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the box this gem came in, but it featured one of the worst representations of Dracula of all time. The guy on the box looked like Luigi from Mario Bros. suffering from severe sleep deprivation. This one came out in 1978...I had it a few years back as a result of one of my many toy trades. These table-top games were great...absolute textbook definition of kitsch. Sure, compared to today's games, this was a shitfest, but at least you could play this game at the dinner table. It featured some pretty neat sounds, too. If you consider atrocious 'neat', of course. I ended up selling it for 40 bucks a short while after getting it because I needed cash for a vacation. I returned to find about 5 e-mails from the buyer threatening to sue because 'the box was more creased than I said'. Fucking collectors. He didn't deserve Dracula.
#16 -- Revenge of Dracula Game: Dracula's been immortalized in board games several times over, but some of 'em are pretty cheesy. The Revenge of Dracula featured a kinder, gentler Dracula, just perfect for kids who were sick of answering the lame questions in the children's edition of Trivial Pursuit. Ever notice how every time somebody tries to make Dracula look unthreatening, they totally ruin everything about him? In this game, Drac ends up looking like a really shocked Solid Gold dancer. Still, the game was a great way for kids who weren't allowed to have Quija boards to break into the occult without their parents noticing.
#15 -- Mail-in 7" Dracula Figure: Little known fact: Dracula was a Jedi knight. This is his spirit figure. Toys like this were absolute marketing genius - you just take an original mold, leave it unpainted, and sell it as a special version! I've always had a thing for figures like this, and a lot of others did, but there's really no way to explain the attraction to an action figure in toothpaste blue. Guess that's yet another mystery of the universe. Oh well, it's certainly Bela Lugosi's color. PS, mail-in figures were the toys you had to send special coupons and proofs-of-purchase in to receive. Or, more specifically, it's the toy company's clever way of getting you to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a figure before they decide to release it in the retail market. Dracula doesn't really concern himself with that end of the business, his main concern is figuring out why, in every version of his action figure ever made, his hands are positioned in such a way to suggest that he's completely out of cash. Nice figure, though.
#14 -- Ghostbusters Dracula Figure: Ray and Egon didn't only fight Marshmallow Men and the trials and tests of acting careers on the downward spiral, they also faced the king of the vampires. How they got away with calling this guy Dracula is beyond me. This version of Drac seems to have a more diverse diet than most - along with blood, he seems to enjoy cake and chocolate a whole lot. I don't quite get why his skin's sky blue, but this might've been one of those days when Dracula engaged in one of his famous hold-your-breath competitions with Slimer. The Ghostbusters line in it's later releases features a bunch of 'official' monsters, but none really captured the spirit of things as much as that purple guy who's eye shot out when you squeezed him. Drac's definitely not a big fan of this representation.
#13 -- Dracula Slot Machine: Let's face it, most slot machines are pretty boring. I was born into a family where gambling seems to be a hereditary problem, so I've been to the casinos a few times. Sure, some of the slots are cool, but after awhile, getting three cherries kinda loses it's effect. That's where Dracula comes in. Instead of hearing those lame bells when you hit, you get the cliched Dracula 'muhahahahah'. That alone would keep you at the machine for six hours. It would've been cooler if there was a little hole that spit fake blood at you when you lost, but even Drac has his limits. But the fact is, even one Dracula can be considered a jackpot. But three Draculas? That's some real excitement.
#12 -- Batman & Dracula: Batman's one jealous bitch, and there's no way he's gonna let Spider-Man outdo him. That's why he decided to go out and find Dracula too...the end result is what you see here. I don't know the story to this one either, I try not to read comics that don't in some way include or refer to Thanos, but you've got to imagine that Dracula was pretty unimpressed with this 'gothic' Batman. Batman probably sat there shilling how much he liked bats and the dark to Dracula. It's kind of like a 15 year old running up to Steve Tyler and claiming that he's got pretty big lips too. He might, but he ain't gonna beat the originator. By the time Dracula runs off his blood-drinking and people-slaying accomplishments, Batman will be back at Wayne Manor trying to impress Alfred instead. Batman's a bat poser. Anyone can dress like a bat...when Batman starts drinking Robin's blood, then we'll talk.
#11 -- Dracula Viewmaster Reel: Viewmasters remind me of just how little the technological advances of toys were when I was a kid. Nowadays I see kids running around with dogs made completely of metal, dolls that can wash your car, and books that talk to you. Us? We had a little red 'camera' that enlarged pictures. But it's still a cool toy, and remains in stores to this very day. And amongst all the assorted Disney reels, yes, even Dracula made an appearance. Is there any genre the guy hasn't touched? Pretty soon you'll see Dracula doing commercials for Toyota. What was actually on the reel was pretty boring...Dracula isn't allowed to get too graphic, so mainly you're just getting closeups of his spooky face and various pictures of (sigh) fully-clothed vixens running away from him.
#10 -- Dracula Luminators Kit: For those of you unfamiliar with Luminators - these things were fucking great. They had so many special features, it's incredible. First, you had the ungodly task of putting it together. Depending on your skill level, that could take a little while. But when you were done? Not only did you have one cool looking model, you had one cool looking model that would glow under a blacklight! But don't worry if you don't own one - it glows under regular light too! Jesus, the thing just glows no matter where the fuck you put it! You can try whatever the hell you want - you've got no shot at keeping this thing from glowing. Unless you painted it, which was another cool thing you could do with a Luminators kit. When I was a kid, my parents used to force me to visit my grandmother's house with them. For whatever reason, among all the gaudy decorations litering her house, she decided to display one of these kits that her son had made years back. And as much as the thing scared the living shit out of me...I always wanted it. As fate would have it, she'd later give it to my Dracula-enthusiast cousin without asking me first. To this day, I still put 'kick me' signs on her back and make fun of her stalagmite dentures whenever I get the chance as revenge. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Dracula is breaking up families...I'm just trying to express how cool he is. But by the time we're done with the top 20, you'll be hardpressed to disagree.
#9 -- McFarlane Monsters Dracula: Todd McFarlane created a mega-success when he started the line of Spawn action figures - the things looked so cool, people who otherwise had no interest in lame toys bought 'em. But I think he really struck gold with these monster sets. They took a new, creative vision for each famous monster and packed it all into little sets that came with a figure and playset. The Dracula edition featured a particular demonic version, along with a giant bat, small gothic playset, and best of all - a miniature coffin! The coffin itself was worth the price. Especially since I sold it alone on eBay as a 'gothic jewelry box' for fifteen bucks. Suckers. But the set is definitely a nice homage to Drac...you might still be able to pick this one up if you check the clearance aisles hard enough.
#8 -- Pepsi Promotes Dracula!: While Coca-Cola was busy hiding all the evidence that New Coke ever existed, Pepsi was off making some great promotional ties. Fuck all these movie stars and sports athletes...if you really want to hit home with the audience, you gotta bring in the man. This inflatable Dracula hung ominously over your heads in the Pepsi aisle of supermarkets a few years back. If a spokesperson like that doesn't discourage you from drinking Coke - you're more of a man than I.
#7 -- Dracula Book & Record Set: You know what sucks about being a kid? When people are trying to teach you to read, they give you the most boring shit to work with. Who's going to be inspired to learn how to read a book about a dog trying to find it's spots? Would you even watch a television show about that? Of course not. That's where our pal Dracula comes in. He realizes that his future meals need full brains, so he's decided to take on the mission himself by creating a book & record set that helps his soon-to-be-victims learn how to read! This set is pretty old - and it shows. In today's world, there's very few childrens' books that could get away with a plot involving characters who suck your blood and get killed by getting impaled. Luckily, Drac employed this plan back during a time back when parents just didn't care. And again - any opportunity to hear Drac's voice is a good one, and this set supplies the audio tape to do that!
#6 -- Crazy Dracula Game: Hey, even Dracula can let his hair down once in awhile. He's by no means a party animal, but he can kid around sometimes. Hence this game - I Want To Bite Your Finger. Now I know some purists out there will complain that Dracula almost never goes for the finger, but these people would be better off spending their time debating how his skin magically turns green depending on where you look. It's really starting to freak me out, there has to be a source where all of these variations on Drac's skin color began. I've seen people freak out over nationalistic representations of Jesus, but that pales in comparison to this. At least people recreate Jesus with other actual skin colors...there's no way to successfully explain why Dracula has green skin. Anyway, the game had a clock. A spooky clock. If you didn't beat the spooky clock, guess what would happen. Yep. Finger: bit.
#5 -- Dracula Wine: Ah, finally, some class! You know, that Dracula beer up above is fun, but some of us aren't so common and baste. We need a little culture. Can you think of a better way to be a socialite and a vampire fan all at the same time than this? And while it's not blood, it's something almost as sweet - red Merlot. A Transylvanian import! Drac's been known to mix this with blood as a sort of vampiric spritzer whenever he has guests over, but it's pretty good straight too. If you want a bottle, all you really need to do is create a label and slap it over any old bottle of red wine. That's what these geniuses did, and they made a fortune off it. If you'd like to cash in on Dracmania, just stick his face over a can of V8, call it 'V9', and let your customers try to guess the mystery ingredient. Muahahah. Ha. Yeah.
#4 -- Dracula Intellivision Game: In 1982, Dracula infiltrated your home video game systems with a surprise run in this Intellivision game. For all intents and purposes, Intellivision was pretty much the same as Atari, so it's no big shock that the graphics look straight out of such classics as Adventure and Pitfall. This wasn't no Castlevania - Dracula's murderous efforts were pretty much limited to walking around and looking vaguely humanoid. But...the sun did have a smile drawn on it, making this game Intellivision's most detailed. Why? Because Dracula deserved it. This game also holds the record for the most gratuitously sized sidewalk.
#3 -- Dracula Monster Ball: The name of this product was 'Monster Balls', so you can imagine how hard it is for me to avoid the obvious jokes. The package points out several suggestions for those of you who aren't sure what to do with a ball: Throw! Catch! Hit! Bounce! Are the possibilities endless? Hey, when Dracula's involved, anything is possible. Notice Dracula's expression on the ball - he's smirking over the sheer inappropriateness of the whole ordeal. Beer can? Fine. Action figure? Okay. But a ball? Hey, Dracula's a big deal, but even he realizes this may have been pushing it.
#2 -- Dracula Ice Bucket: Wow. Wow. And you thought you've seen everything? Dracula returns to bring us the most inconvenient ice bucket of all time! The myriad uses for a ice bucket that holds three quarts shaped like a coffin with a mean-looking vampire inside are unfathomable, but we can't be blind to the facts. This ice bucket is totally useless. Unless you're making a symbolic statement that Dracula's cool as ice, but even that isn't without fault, as you'll be infringing on a major copyright issue.
#1 -- THE DRACULA SOIL COFFIN PENDANT!!!!!!! This isn't the first time we've talked about this unbelievable item here on the site, but it is the first time we've got an actual picture of it's regality. Have you any idea what kind of powers you'd acquire if you wore a necklace around your neck that had real dirt from Dracula's castle?! This necklace isn't that old, and the COA states that it has a limited run of 5,000. Which is interesting, considering I've seen the thing being sold in magazines from 1967. So unless they're selling them at a rate of 15 per year... (which is entirely possible) ...your Dracula pendant isn't quite as exclusive as they'd have you believe. But let's not get petty - this is actual Dracula dirt! On a faux gold chain that has elastic powers! And it's all from Rumania! I've sold dirt for 25 dollars before - but never such a small amount. How was the company able to pull it off? Simple - they tied Dracula's name to it. He's that popular.
So as you can see, Dracula isn't just a vampire. He's a cultural icon. If you really put some effort into it, you could decorate an entire house with Dracula items. And what would that make you? One cool motherfucker. So today, in the spirit of this fucking Halloween month, we pay tribute to the greatest vampire of all!