During the 80’s and early 90’s, Topps trading cards released cards relating to everything from Gremlins, to Garbage Pail Kids (Which could really do with a whole horrific entry of its own) to Michael Jackson. Basically, if it was big then Topps were there with some trading cards, a few stickers and some bubble gum.
Then, in 1988 for some reason someone thought it would be a good idea to release the ‘Fright Flicks’ set of trading cards, depicting scenes from films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, An American Werewolf In London and The Fly. Not only that but said scenes of horror were often accompanied by a ‘witty’ caption, perhaps to distract from the fact that kids are looking at scenes of utter horror. Witness:
…and the guffaws of children was heard all around the land.
In all fairness had I had these cards when I was younger I probably would’ve loved them. But then I wasn’t a normal child.
There’s 90 cards in all and 11 stickers. Once you’re done attaching the stickers to your Fridge or wall you can use the reverse sides of the cards they came on to create a puzzle. Well it says puzzle but it seems pretty straightforward to me. When it’s finished it looks a little something like this.
Now I don’t mean to brag but I think I completed this bad boy in record time. What can I say, I’m somewhat of a master when it comes to puzzles.
Each pack also came with a stick of bubble gum. When I bought these on Ebay, because I’m stupid, I had the option of purchasing with said gum, then considered the health risks of eating 24 year old bubble-gum. The temptation would’ve been too great for anyone.
A Nightmare On Elm Street seems most represented here, what with Freddy Krueger at the time being the poster-boy for wisecrackin’ horror dudes. You get a plethora of stills from the first three films (sadly there’s very little to be seen of part 2 though – and we know why that is) and some behind-the-scenes poses, such as when Freddy threatens the Dream Warriors from A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors (I don’t need to look it up – I just KNOW there must’ve been a band that called themselves The Dream Warriors, and they’re probably scandinavian).
Look at those kids, it’s hard to tell but some of them are laughing in that picture. Little do they know that most of them end up dead, particlarly that weedy looking kid in the front. He dreams he’s a wizard, then he dies. His final moments are spent wearing a silly looking hat and a robe. Dick.
Now I love An American Werewolf In London, but this picture is just creepy.
Was that the intended effect? Who knows, but it was possibly Larry’s only contribution to the ‘wacky captions’ the rest of the writers were doing. Larry likes to throw dark sometimes. Larry drank himself to death.
This would be more horrifying (The way it is in the film) if this kid didn’t look stoked that someone was pulling his veins out of his arms. Again, the wacky caption helps belay the horror of the situation.
If you think that that’s all they offered then you’d be wrong. Flip the cards over and you have ‘Did It Ever Happen?’, each one a spooky story that begs the question, well…Did It Ever Happen?
The answer is categorically no. In every case it’s a no. It might be fun to check some of them out online, but as each card states that the names are fictitious it means I can’t really check if ‘Old Willy’ really was found dead in a wax museum with all the statues bent over him.
I’m sure if I was 10 years old though I would’ve lapped these things up, safe in the knowledge that the world is an utterly terrifying place. It’s funny, literally as I was writing this I checked the wrapper which goes on to state:
“The characters, companies and events depicted in these cards are fictional.”
Well fuck you Topps.