Let me tell you about Monster High (1989). No, not the animated series featuring incarnations of the classic Universal Monsters. Let me tell you about the 1989 monster mash that features monsters that are so beyond belief, high school students played by 30 somethings that are so dense, and a finale in which it’s monsters take on the students in a basketball game to save the world.
Up until a few years ago, I thought that Monster High was a fever dream that I had when I was a kid. You know those movies that you remember vague plot details about, and you wonder for many years as to what the heck that movie was? The movies you post about on message boards and in Facebook groups asking if anyone else remembers it? I knew I’d probably caught it during a USA Up All Night. I tried posting wherever I could to see if anyone knew exactly what I was talking about. When I asked, “Anyone know of a film that has a man who turns a gargoyle statue into a living creature, and checks off his victims’s yearbook photos with a bloody pinky fingernail?”, no one knew. This is what Monster High was.
“Up until a few years ago, I thought that Monster High was a fever dream that I had when I was a kid. “
The revelation of the film was brought to light almost magically. I was browsing my local 2nd & Charles (a pop culture, resale chain) when a spine boasting the title, Monster High, in a neon green font caught my eye. I looked on the back cover, and there was that gargoyle that haunted my “what movie is this” psyche! I had finally found my mystery movie.
Monster High is a cosmic drama (as described by Margie Stein, the film’s narrator) that tells the story of Mr. Armageddon (David Marriott). Mr. Armageddon is late for his appointed apocalypse, and the monster in charge, Syridum Damianus Hectophantasmigon (Bob Cady), enlists two aliens to bring about Mr. Apocalypse. The aliens, Dume (Robert Lind) and Glume (Sean Haines), do just that by summoning Mr. Apocalypse from his tomb shaped like a basketball. Mr. Apocalypse goes around the high school creating monsters, snagging babes, and wreaking havoc until the end of the world … which should occur sometime soon.
The allure of Monster High is its nonstop insanity. It plays off as a spoof of horror movies that came before it. The spoof aspect is elevated with the many incarnations of monsters that Mr. Armageddon brings about to Montgomery Sterling High School. The first of these movie creatures comes in the form of Dume and Glume, the aliens sent to bring forth Mr. Apocalypse. Their appearance is ripped straight from the science fiction B movies of the 50s with their one-piece suits and smooth-skinned faces.
The monster mashiness of the film explodes from there. The gargoyle statue – erm, as the narrator puts it, “a now rubbery, horny monster” – is brought to life. A teen is sprayed with “condom spray” which results in a condom covering his head. He comes out of the condom enclosure as a zombie. There’s a mummy. A computer is brought to life and decapitates a computer nerd. Converse sneakers make a teen explode, and then a creature that resembles a worm / parasitic thing emerges from the smoking sneakers. The teen that the computer killed returns as an android with a computer for a head and wires for hands that shoot out electrical vibes to kill its victims. A pot plant grows to an unbelievable size, transforms into an unbelievably sized bud, and smokes its victim to death. There’s another zombie. Then there’s the multiple monsters that appear for a few seconds in the nightmares of the teen who is always falling asleep.
Maybe 25% of those monsters would make sense. The other 75% make absolutely no sense, and are merely – I assume – creations of director, Rudiger Poe. I attempted to delve beyond the superficial insanity of these creatures, and try to find a deeper meaning behind them all. As they say, all art is political. I came to the conclusion that that saying has no relevance when it comes to Monster High. Unless, of course, you want to go with the pot bud monster smoking its victim as a antidrug statement. Then again, it could be seen as a prodrug statement. The main consensus, though? No political statement because barely anything makes any damn sense.
If there is any message to take away from the movie, it is that the monsters are a metaphor for the intense and sometimes nonstop pressure that teenagers feel during high school. This comes through as very surface level as there isn’t much – if any – character development for the teenagers. Each of them do have a true to life stress hanging over them: popularity, sex, grades, sports. This observation really comes through in the one character who is continuously falling asleep. The stress of high school gets to him and … wait, lol, what am I doing? Monster High is definitely not about a message. It’s about monsters and crazy antics. It’s about nonsensical hijinks. It’s braindead fun.
Monster High’s braindead fun actually led me to be braindead a few times. I’ve had a few rewatches since I purchased the DVD for that measly $3 at 2nd & Charles. With each viewing, I’m sure I caught something that definitely did not happen. For sure, that monster didn’t slam dunk a basketball player. It did. There definitely weren’t that many nonsensical boob shots, were there? There were. The remaining teens absolutely did not thwart the basketball game for world domination between the monsters and the high school’s basketball team by reading a few paragraphs from a beginner’s guide to computers, created a computer program to reprogram the computer man to shoot for the high school’s team, and inserted the floppy disk in the computer man’s butt. They did.
Very fever dream! Very crazy! And heck, even after watching it a few times, I still feel like I’m seeing it for the first time. In this viewing’s case, I was sure the supersized pot bud rolled and smoked the teen that it captured. Totally confused that with the ultimate horror movie spoof, Scary Movie 2 (2001). And I gasp. Did Scary Movie 2 pull inspiration from Monster High? Would the Wayans Bros. ever admit to doing so? And I gasp, again. IMDb credits Monster High being spoofed in Scary Movie 2. That really doesn’t amount to anything, though.
“Monster High is definitely not about a message. It’s about monsters and crazy antics. It’s about nonsensical hijinks. It’s braindead fun.”
Even though it had its own theme song (Monster High by The Mature Adults), Sony holds the rights (at least they distributed the DVD back in 2005), and it had multiple playings on USA Up All Night, Monster High remains far off many horror fan’s radars. The DVD is out of print but resells on Amazon for pretty darn cheap if you catch it at the right time. I just checked Ebay, and there’s a few listings for the VHS! Excuse me whilst I check my PayPal.
If you’re able to, try and catch Monster High. Experience the fever dream. If you’re not able to, I will continuously be putting it out into the universe that a streaming service picks it up. If you have seen Monster High, let us know what you thought about Mr. Apocalypse and his seedy and maniacal ways on our Twitter, reddit, Instagram, and on The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook.