It's pretty much a given that whether or not a specific movie, horror or otherwise, gets merchandise made in its honor entirely lies in how popular that movie is with the masses. If a movie isn't all that popular, merchandise based around it probably isn't gonna sell, which is why a movie like Nightmare On Elm Street has thousands of different pieces of swag, while something like Popcorn relies entirely on diehard fans to whip up their own hand crafted merch. It's just the nature of the moneymaking beast.
That said, there have been a few rare times throughout the history of horror merchandise where fairly obscure movies have slipped through the cracks, and have somehow, for whatever reason, been given mainstream merchandise, put out by big time companies. A few of those instances come to mind for me, and I wanted to share those with you all tonight!
We begin with one of the strangest movie tie-in games ever created ...
THE ALLIGATOR GAME!
Now that's not just any alligator game, that is actually a game based on the 1980 Jaws ripoff Alligator, starring Robert Forster and directed by Cujo director Lewis Teague. I shit you not.
Put out by Ideal, the same company that five years prior released a Jaws game, the game was pretty much a rehashing of that game (how fitting!), only with an alligator in place of a shark. The basic idea was that you put things into or take things out of the alligator's mouth, such as ladders, boxes and briefcases, with whether you add stuff or take stuff away being determined by a spin of a game board, which was designed to look like a manhole cover. There was a lever underneath the tongue that activated the gator's jaw, with the game being ended for a player when the jaw snapped shut on his/her hand. Over the years there have been rumors that the game was pulled off the market for actually hurting kids, but who knows if that's actually true.
What I do know is that this game has become very rare, and you'd be hard pressed to find it even on sites like eBay. They do pop up every so often though, so keep your eyes peeled!
Don't know how this game came to be, but I'd imagine Ideal decided to put a gator spin on their Jaws game, in the hopes that the film would be as popular. Of course that didn't end up being the case, which is the likeliest reason why so few were actually produced.
DR. GIGGLES COMIC BOOKS!
Dark Horse has for decades been one of the leading companies putting out movie tie-in comic books, everything from Army Of Darkness to Let Me In. In 1992, they for whatever reason decided to release a two issue series to tie-in with the release of Dr. Giggles, that fairly obscure one-liner filled horror flick that features Larry Drake as a killer surgeon. Mhmm.
Now the interesting thing about these comics is that they were actually made prior to the movie being made, and were in fact based on an earlier draft of the script than the one used for the film. As a result, there are many differences between comic and film, including the execution of some kill scenes.
Being that a Dr. Giggles comic book is the kind of thing only Larry Drake's mother and myself would probably care to own, these things are absolutely all over eBay, selling for dirt cheap. Yea, I think I need them in my life. Right now.
THE CAR ACTION PLAYSET!
*Image courtesy of PlaidStallions.com*
This last one is a bit different from the others, due to the fact that it never actually made it past the prototype stage. Though never produced and sold on the mass market, this vintage ad from Kenner remains a reminder of the awesomeness we all almost had the chance to own; an action play-set based on the 1977 James Brolin flick The Car, about a demonic killer car!
Judging by the ad, it looks like the concept of the game was that the killer car was placed atop a ramp, and players alternately placed obstacles at the foot of the ramp, things like traffic cones and stop signs. The car was allegedly supposed to growl and rev up its engine, taunting players whenever they placed anything in its murderous path. I guess at random points the car would actually fly down the ramp and destroy everything in that path, with the player who last placed something in its crash course losing the game.
James Brolin action figure not included.
If you know of any other merchandise that's been made for relatively obscure horror flicks, please do leave a comment and let me know about it!