Monster Hunting

Castlevania3-2

I’ve mentioned before that as a kid I played a game with my younger sisters wherein we pretended to hunt monsters in our basement. I was clicking around over at the awesome Dinosaur Dracula, and the retro kitsch inspired me to show you a couple of items from our  monster hunting arsenal–because if there’s one thing the Internet needs more of, it’s ’80s/’90s nostalgia.

Being the Castlevania fan that I was, I had to play the hero: my weapons of choice were a toy whip and a “crystal” decanter of “holy water.” I had a succession of cheap toy bullwhips which played the role of the Belmont’s improbable vampire-killer. The holy water vial, a recurring weapon throughout the Castlevania series, was a repurposed plastic decanter from a toy series called “Treasure Rocks.” This was one of many add-water-to-reveal-the-cheap-plastic-doodad-style toys of the ’80s and ’90s. One of my sisters had gotten it as a Christmas or birthday gift, and once the plastic jewels were revealed there wasn’t much use for the bottle anymore–except as a weapon of righteous fury against the basement undead. It was purple and dripped late-20th-century corporate sexism, but I’d fill it with water and lob it around the basement with righteous abandon. Here’s an original ad for the toy, which disturbs me because, among other things, it gives the date as 1993, which means I was significantly older at the time I was running around hunting monsters than I realized. Ah youth.

I bet the creators of that insipid ad never imagined their pretty princess sexist garbage would be used for melting the faces off of unsuspecting vampires. Just goes to show: I was an awesome kid.

Another weapon of monster destruction was this ridiculous beast, the “Eliminator TS-7.” The Eliminator was a hideous hunk of plastic that lit up and made generic machine gun and “pew pew” laser noises. Its gimmick was that various portions of the thing could be removed and reconfigured into slightly different versions of themselves. Basically it was a big gun with a removable sword thing which included a couple of different-length blades. Silly as it was, its lights and sounds made it a lot of fun in the darkened basement.

If that doesn’t scream early-’90s America, it’s only because there are no neon bike shorts, Pogs, Married… with Children cameos or Guns n’ Roses guitar solos. Regardless, machine guns and lazer swords were pretty good for anti-demon warfare.

I can’t be the only person who discovered the supernatural (and tried to shoot it with lasers) as a kid. Did anybody else play any games like this? On a related note, did you ever play any of the various “occult” children’s games that are still popular, like trying to summon Bloody Mary or using a Ouija board?

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9 thoughts on “Monster Hunting

      • It does get a lot of hate, but it’s actually my 2nd favorite Castlevania behind SOTN. Probably for nostalgia reasons, though. It just had those RPG elements that hit the right notes with me, but I really liked the soundtrack and open-world feel. The only other games I played at the time that had a similar open-world feel were Metroid and the The Legend of Zelda. Simon’s Quest may not have done it just as well, but it was still a really fun game set in the horror-themed world I knew and loved from the OG Castlevania.

  1. When I was five-ish, I used to hunt “boogeymen” with my neighbor. Boogeymen as we knew them were big ugly monsters, each with a specialized adaptation or ability of some kind, not unlike the bosses from Mega Man. At one point, my neighbor and I had recruited several more kids from the block to help us wage war on the last of them in a final battle we’d dubbed the “Battle of the Boogeymen”. We’d set this for a Sunday. I assumed I’d just walk up to my mom that morning and tell her I was fighting evil and she’d understand and let me stay home from church. Well, she didn’t. I was devastated. I tried to explain I was saving Earth and what-not to no avail. I felt powerless. I felt like the world was going to end. But then it didn’t. Yay.

    I want to say I was one or two years older when I started forcing my Grandma to watch me Kung-Fu kick cement golems and dino-baddies as mentioned in your last post.

    Also, completely off-topic, but you should check out the documentary The Nightmare (2015). I saw it on Netflix a few weeks ago. It’s basically half interviews with lifelong sufferers of sleep paralysis and their take on what’s happening to them and half recreations of their experiences, only the recreations are really dark and arresting and well-photographed. Netflix gives it a two out five, but don’t let that fool you.

    • Really? We had a lot in common! We never had a massive final confrontation, though–that would have required forethought, which was never a strength of mine. But that would have been brilliant.

      I’ve seen The Nightmare pop up on my Netflix recommendations, but I’ve kind of resisted it because of how awful Shadow People was. That film was purely fiction, but it was also about sleep paralysis, and it drew on folklorist David Hufford’s work (he’s a major name in the field) and just left a bad taste in my mouth. But now you’ve described Nightmare to me, it sounds like maybe I should give it a chance. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Shadow People looked awful and if I recall you gave it a bad review. The Nightmare is more of a documentary, yet there’s not even narration. It’s literally all interviews and recreations. I find myself intrigued by the topic of “shadow people”, partly because of a one-off experience I had maybe three or four years back that affected me quite a bit at the time. I’m open to the possibility that sleep paralysis is a paranormal phenomena, if only because so many people describe the same sort of beings. You may know this, but author John Keel proposed in the 1970s that demons, fairies, and aliens (extraterrestrials) are all the same basic beings, and that they’ve simply chosen to manifest themselves in different forms throughout human history — a little farfetched, I admit, but interesting to think about nonetheless. Maybe shadow people fit into his theory?

      • I don’t know Keel but maybe I need to. Hmm…!

        I’ve also experienced sleep paralysis once or twice. It’s a terrifying experience and it definitely stays with you.

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