This month, the Collector’s Crypt is doing the Monster Mash and digging out some of the coolest pieces of monster memorabilia! With a subgenre as diverse as “monster movies,” the possibilities are endless for both the cinematic creatures that terrorize hapless victims, and the creative pieces of merchandise that marketing teams release to promote their movies. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Recovering Artifacts from The Relic
1997’s The Relic features a mythical South American monster known as the Kothoga wreaking havoc in a museum after arriving in Chicago. Adapted from Relic, the 1995 bestseller by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, the film adaptation was directed by Peter Hyams and stars Penelope Ann Miller as a biologist and Tom Sizemore as the detective who team up to stop the creature from killing everything in sight.
The killer Kothoga was designed by special effects master Stan Winston, who famously also created the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park. The production had some trouble finding a museum that would allow them to film a movie featuring a monster wreaking havoc inside, but eventually was allowed to film at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Released on January 10, 1997, The Relic received mixed reviews but was generally noted as an entertaining enough monster flick.
A perfect item to promote the release of a movie about an ancient creature attack a history museum, a paperweight in the form of a Kothoga claw preserved in amber was created by The Relic‘s marketing team. Given away to film critics and other members of the press, these occasionally appear on eBay today, but are quite rare and some of the only pieces of merch for the movie out there.
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Cloverfield: Caught on Camera
Released in early 2008 after months of almost unbearable hype following a mysterious teaser trailer attached to 2007’s Transformers, the found footage monster movie Cloverfield followed a group of partygoers in New York City as they try to escape from an unknown gigantic creature that is wreaking havoc across the city after emerging from the ocean.
Not unlike The Blair Witch Project, released nine years earlier, a massive marketing campaign led up to the release of Cloverfield, teasing only that something big and scary was attacking the city without actually revealing the monster, nicknamed “Clover” by fans and production members. Fan theories ranged from an alien invader to Godzilla himself, and the hype grew to massive levels in the weeks leading up to the release.
Online marketing campaigns fueled the hype, with the main characters receiving MySpace pages (hey, it was 2008!), and studio-created websites offering only cryptic clues in the form of photographs that could be pieced together by fans. Some parts of the marketing had little, if anything, to do with the movie at all, like the Slusho! shirts handed out at Comic Con in 2007, which referred to a fictional drink that exists within the world of Cloverfield but otherwise has no direct relation to the plot.
As a more traditional promotional item, and in a brilliant tie-in to the movie’s found footage presentation, disposable cameras were created to advertise the movie, featuring a cardboard wrap around the camera printed with the iconic Statue of Liberty poster art. These were not available for general sale to the public, but Cloverfield collectors may luck out on eBay, where the cameras occasionally pop up for sale.
Monsters Merch & Masks
Another found footage movie featuring humans trying to survive in the midst of giant creatures, 2010’s Monsters became notable for it’s guerilla-style filmmaking and effects that were created by the director himself on his laptop computer. Taking place in a world where giant extraterrestrials have invaded Mexico, Monsters stars Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able as survivors trying to cross through the monster-filled “Infected Zone” to safety.
The release was promoted with some awesome swag in the form of a gas mask, printed with the movie’s logo and signed by director Gareth Edwards, who would go on to helm another giant monster movie with 2014’s Godzilla. These were given to media outlets as contest prizes for fans to win, along with Monsters t-shirts and copies of The Signal on DVD, another release from the same studio. These masks are quite rare, so keep an eye out, Monsters fans!
Taking Another Shot at The Wolfman
2010 also saw the release of a different kind of monster movie, with an update of the Universal Monsters classic The Wolfman. A star-studded affair featuring Benicio del Toro as the titular monster, as well as Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving, the remake follows an actor returning to his home village following the mysterious disappearance of his brother. Naturally, things start to get hairy the further he gets into his investigation!
The Wolfman suffered a somewhat troubled production, with the director changing shortly before filming, reshoots to change the appearance of the werewolf, and multiple release date changes, from November of 2008 to its final release date in February of 2010. Reviews and reactions from fans were mixed, although the film did receive an Academy Award for Best Makeup.
To advertise The Wolfman, a replica of a silver bullet was created as a promotional item and given away to select press outlets. Paying homage to common lore that silver bullets are deadly to werewolves, the replicas came engraved with the movie’s logo on the side and were produced in very limited numbers.