It isn’t always clear what separates a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie from one that’s just plain bad. Sometimes poor acting or mediocre effects make for a humorous viewing, other times genuine passion from the people involved shines through even though the movie may be less than stellar.
B-movies and guilty pleasures have long been a staple of the horror genre, with fans defending their campy favorites against stuffy critics and cynical viewers. And even the lowest of the low-budget features still need to get the word out about their movies, so this month for the Collector’s Crypt, we’re dusting off some promotional items from some of our favorite guilty pleasures and cult favorites!
Something Under The Rainbow with Leprechaun
Leprechaun, the first entry in the surprisingly long-running series chronicling the exploits of the titular creature, arrived in theaters in January of 1993. Famously starring a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston in her film debut (you’d be hard-pressed to find a copy of this movie on DVD that doesn’t feature a prominent image of Ms. Aniston on the cover), the movie follows a family staying in a rented vacation home that accidentally awakens the devious Leprechaun, played with malicious glee by Warwick Davis, and he won’t stop terrorizing them until he gets his missing pot of gold back.
No critical darling upon it’s release, Leprechaun nonetheless grossed 8 times its budget at the box office and sold well on home video, and resulted in a string of sequels and reboots, the most recent of which was released in 2018. It has also become a cable TV staple, with marathons of the entire series playing on and around St. Patrick’s Day every year. Perhaps part of that is due to it’s surprisingly large marketing campaign for a low-budget horror comedy. Partnerships ranged from franchisees of Dominos Pizza and Subway distributing coupons for free popcorn with purchase of a ticket for Leprechaun, to a Leprechaun ceremoniously ringing the opening bell of the American Stock Exchange.
Of course, the Collector’s Crypt is here for the collectibles, and Leprechaun did not disappoint in that regard, either. A prequel in the form of a promotional comic book was given out at screenings of the movie, detailing how the Leprechaun and his prized gold coins ended up in America to set up the events of the film. When it later was released on VHS, video stores received official Leprechaun action figures made of bendable rubber. A limited number of these were produced, and while collectors can often find them on eBay today, they generally command a hefty price.
Killer Tomatoes Take Over The Crypt
1978 saw the release of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a new kind of creature feature that no one had ever seen the likes of before. Exactly what it sounds like, the movie follows a team of specialists hired to stop hordes of killer, sentient tomatoes from taking over the USA. Spoofing creature features and 1950’s monster movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Them!, Killer Tomatoes became a cult hit despite mostly negative reviews from critics and spawned three sequels, as well as a 1990 animated television series that aired on Fox Kids.
Killer Tomatoes also resulted in a couple of official merchandise tie-ins and promotional items. First, a 1986 computer game also titled Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was released by Global Software. Players worked in a tomato puree factory, working to stop the mutating vegetables before they take over the factory and the world.
A platform game of the same name was released in 1991 for the NES, and in 1992 for the GameBoy, this time based on the new animated series rather than the original movie. Also created to tie in to the new cartoon was a line of Killer Tomatoes action figures. Each tomato came complete with a large, gaping mouth full of teeth and a smaller human character to devour. These were available on store shelves for a short time and have become desired collector’s items.
When the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes made it’s premiere on DVD in 2003, promotional tomato-shaped stress balls were given out at horror conventions and with review copies of the new release to garner hype and word-of-mouth. Printed with the movie’s title and date of release, these are considerably harder to find than the licensed action figures.
Trolls For Best-of-The-Worst Royalty Troll 2
In 1990, another seemingly unassuming low-budget horror sequel was released, and the world has never been the same. Troll 2 tells the story of the perfectly average Waits family, who has just moved into the town of Nilbog. Soon, they will be running for their lives from hideously deformed, vegetarian Goblins (note that they are not Trolls) that seek to transform them into plants and ready them for consumption.
The quintessential so-bad-it’s-good movie, Troll 2 has even had its legacy as such sealed with the release of a full length documentary in 2009 titled Best Worst Movie. Conceived and filmed with an extremely low budget under the title Goblins, it wasn’t until the marketing department got their hands on it that the movie became a sequel to 1986’s Troll when doubts about its success as a stand-alone movie arose.
It presumably had an extremely limited theatrical release in October of 1990, but not much information is available, including the box office gross. It appears to have really garnered attention when it was released to home video in 1992. To promote the release, some video stores received Troll 2 troll dolls, perfectly coinciding with the dolls’ brief spike in popularity around the same time. These extremely rare dolls resemble your average troll doll, not the Goblins featured in the movie, but are wearing t-shirts adorned with the Troll 2 logo, making for a perfect tie-in collectible.
That’s it for this edition of the Collector’s Crypt! What are your favorite guilty pleasures, and do you have any collectibles to go along with them? Let us know on Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook, and your item could end up in a future edition of the Collector’s Crypt!