Mainstreaming of horror postscript

After my previous post about the mainstreaming of horror characters, where I mentioned that somehow Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula had been made into mascots for children’s breakfast cereals, I remembered that the third of the monster-mascot bunch, Boo Berry, had been presented as a Peter Lorre soundalike. Karloff, Lugosi and Lorre, who came to prominence as a child murderer in M. A reanimated corpse, a vampire and a child murderer — part of this complete breakfast!

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23 Responses to “Mainstreaming of horror postscript”
  1. samedietc says:

    I suppose the Trix Rabbit could be a kid-friendly version of Harvey, the pooka.

    • Todd says:

      Or Alice’s White Rabbit, leading children down the rabbit-hole to madness.

      • samedietc says:

        Cereal killers

        That’s better than mine, though I suppose one could argue some kinship between all three.

        (Although, part of making the rabbit kid-friendly is to restrict his madness to himself–he’s always the “silly rabbit,” the kids are the ones who know how things are/should be, i.e., “for kids.”)

        Also, is the White Rabbit related to Peter Pan, since both seem to be kidnappers? (I think you’ve talked before about the horrific nature of Peter Pan–though I don’t know if he has a cereal.)

        • Re: Cereal killers

          Peter Pan has a peanut butter…

          You raise a good point – the Trix rabbit dishonestly lures children with disguises and tries to steal something from them that belongs to them alone. People go to jail for stuff like that.

          We infer from his exploits that the Trix rabbit has no name – he is only ever referred to by WHAT he is, not WHO he is. Is his search for Trix a misguided attempt to steal for himself an identity? If it follows that Trix are for kids, and kids each have a name and individual identity, is it possible that the rabbit seeks the Trix for this very reason – to, through the consumption of Trix, make himself a kid and therefore a being with a name and identity?

  2. serizawa3000 says:

    Artist Jason Edmiston did up a painting mishmashing the Universal Monsters with the General Mills cereal monsters… Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster were obvious… but he also included the Wolf Man (Fruit Brute), The Mummy (Fruity Yummy Mummy) and, curiously, Boo Berry as The Invisible Man…

  3. voiceofisaac says:

    Although we do have an interesting reversal — the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, whose cereal life made Leprechauns sweet and friendly chumps, only to later be reinterpreted as a Movie Monster by Warwick Davis (and co-starring a young Jennifer Anniston).

  4. cheshyre says:

    Post also sold a short-lived werewolf themed cereal as part of this line: Fruit Brute.

    • Todd says:

      I just went and watched the Fruit Brute commercial. Yes, I’d forgotten about that one. The voice for the wolfman is depressingly general, compared to the specificity of the Karloff, Lugosi and Lorre impressions in the others.

      • stormwyvern says:

        There was also Yummy Mummy.

        • Todd says:

          I just looked him up. Wow, I’d never even heard of him. Now I’m surprised there wasn’t a zombie-themed cereal.

          • Banana Bread of the Undead ?

          • ndgmtlcd says:

            At that time (late 80s) when you talked about zombies to the general public most people would still have in mind voodoo zombies. Zombies were the undead or reborn who were controlled, one by one (and not in mobs) by a witch or a sorcerer.

            Romeros’s black and white film (with its uncontrollable zombie mobs) was a cult classic which was still very far from mainstream. So were the zombie-mob horror-gore-splatter films that sprung from it.

            It took just a small zombie-mob film renaissance of the 90s and the influence of the Web to neatly erase the voodoo zombie from the corners of the public mind. The voodoo zombies were never as important in popular imagination as the zombie-mob as now become. So, a zombie-themed cereal would not have much impact on the kiddies. Also, it was impossible to dress up as a voodo zombie for Halloween. They had no distict visual features like the other classic monsters.

            • Todd says:

              I agree that zombies didn’t really become mainstream until the 90s, but by the time Dawn of the Dead came out in 1979 people had already forgotten about the voodoo aspect of zombieism. I personally had never heard of it until Serpent and the Rose came out much later.

              • ndgmtlcd says:

                This must have something to do with the local cultural background. In Montreal (and in Paris also, I suspect) voodoo zombies were part of the general literary atmosphere, because of the influence of Haitian immigrants and other francophones from “Les Antilles”, and, of course, collections of old tales from ancient Louisiana.

          • Brain-shaped marshmallows. Yum.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I recently had a conversation with a friend about haunted houses. She and I had very different reactions to the prospect of owning a haunted house. She thought it would be awful because when she thinks of a ghost, she thinks of House on haunted Hill. My first impression was positive, because when I think about ghosts, I think of the colorful little fruit-gobblers from PacMan.

  6. sheherazahde says:

    cereal monsters

    The Post Honeycomb cereal “Craver” character could be seen as a werewolf or a Jekyll and Hyde character.

    I was going to add Cocoa Puffs’ Sonny the Cuckoo Bird who undergoes a similar transformation, but he is clearly the bird from a cuckoo clock.

  7. I remember the first two, but Boo Berry must’ve faded into obscurity before my time. Was he a ghost?

    (How do you make a scary Peter Lorre okay for kids? Give him a big red bow tie!)

    And it’s strange – I always thought Franken Berry was based on everyone’s favorite comedy-writer-turned-senator.*

    *dry joke

    • Todd says:

      Boo Berry was a ghost, complete with chains. Instead of heavy boxes weighing him down, his chains were attached to a box of delicious Boo Berry, which floated behind him like a balloon. No torments of the damned for Boo Berry, only delicious blue marshmallows!

  8. notthebuddha says:

    somehow Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula had been made into mascots for children’s breakfast cereals

    The Bugs Bunny cartoon spoofs of them were a big help in making them suitable, I imagine.

    • Todd says:

      Well, Karloff’s and Lugosi’s relentless self-parody helped as well. They turned themselves into cartoon characters long before anyone else thought of it. Same goes for Peter Lorre.

  9. drshoggoth says:

    You’ve never posted this before, have you? I read this post and got crazy deja vu.

  10. dougo says:

    I was going to ask why Boo Berry was dressed like Ed Norton, but Ed Norton never wore a bowtie. I guess he’s dressed like… Fozzie Bear?