“Oh boy, candy critters!” That’s my favorite line from the Monsters introduction, where a family of creeps gathers around a TV to gobble down their nightly entertainment. Monsters is an outlandish 80s horror show that ticks all the boxes. It’s disturbing, it’s unpredictable, and it’s hilarious. And best of all, it’s free on IMBD TV and Amazon Video.
Monsters is the creation of Richard P. Rubinstein, a producer whose resume includes classics like Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, Pet Sematary, and Dawn of the Dead. For some people, that’s enough of a reason to start watching. But the uninitiated (or uninterested) might need a bit of convincing. That’s where I come in—I’m the guy who tells you that Monsters is worth watching!
More Disturbing Than Darkside, But Still Family Friendly
My favorite thing about Monsters is that it pushes further into violence, terror, and seduction than Tales from the Darkside, but it never crosses the line. It always feels like a family-friendly show with funny looking ghouls and baddies. Still, the show’s overarching vibe isn’t that it’s cheesy, or violent, or family-friendly. Monsters radiates a weird, disturbing energy that’s unique and difficult to explain.
Maybe I’m creeped out by the poor video quality, the low-budget costumes, or the healthy mix of talented and terrible actors. Either way, I think that Monsters’ main ingredient is its sense of irony and dark humor. The best episodes of Monsters feel like SNL parodies of a scary TV show. They use insane, mundane, or genuinely dark situations as a springboard for horror or absurdism.
In “Parents from Space,” a pair of aliens temporarily swap bodies with a girl’s abusive foster parents. The aliens want to go home, but the girl goes out of her way to make them stay. It’s a weird episode that, without all the darkness and violence, could be a Disney movie. In another episode called “Satan in the Suburbs,” Satan asks a single mother to ghostwrite his biography. She tries to convert him. (The IMBD reviews for “Satan in the Suburbs” are exceptionally slanderous, but I liked it.)
On paper, these episodes don’t sound “disturbing” or “violent.” They don’t even sound too different from Tales from the Darkside, a show that’s stuffed with episodes about magic word processors and mummies who play strip poker. But you have to trust me on this, Monsters is dripping with a quality that’s indescribably odd and unsettling. And it’s even better when you’re with a good audience.
Try It with Your Friends!
As much as I love Monsters, I can’t deny that it’s a stupid show. It’s cheesy, the costumes look ridiculous, and the stories are bananas. But you know what? That makes it the perfect show for couples, families, or friends.
There’s a lot to laugh at in Monsters. In some episodes, like “My Zombie Lover,” the writing and acting are spot-on. Everything is hilarious and unexpected, which makes for a great contrast with the cheesy atmosphere. But in other episodes, the acting is grossly over the top or just laughably half-assed, which presents new opportunities to crack jokes and throw popcorn at the TV.
If you haven’t noticed from the photos, Monsters has some of the geekiest rubbery makeup of any 80s horror show. Monsters’ introduction is enough to send a group of good friends into a riot, and even the scariest or most touching episodes are fodder for audience chatter and in-jokes.
Was Monsters made to be laughed at? Yeah, of course it was. It’s a family-friendly show from a time when horror and humor were intertwined. And laughing at Monsters doesn’t take away any of its creepy qualities. If anything, the show is more disturbing and genuine because it’s cheap and funny. A low-budget alien story is fun to laugh at, but that low-budget alien story sure hits different when it makes you anxious and breaks your heart. (I’m talking about “Glim-Glim,” by the way. It’s a very good episode.)
It’s Free on IMBD TV and Amazon Video
Unlike its forbears, Monsters is a forgotten show that hasn’t been remastered and isn’t worth a proper re-release. It’s a cheap and cheesy relic with bad reviews and a non-existent fanbase. That’s awesome, because it means that you don’t have to pay to watch Monsters. You can just fire up IMBD TV (which is a thing, apparently), and watch Monsters for free. You can also watch Monsters on Prime Video if you don’t feel like making an IMBD account or downloading the IMBD TV app.
If you aren’t around family, roommates, or a significant other, then I suggest convincing your friends to watch Monsters with you through a streaming party software. That way, you can all enjoy it together and crack jokes on a webcam. I would suggest using Amazon’s new watch party tool, but it doesn’t work with Monsters for some reason, so you should try using Kast instead.