Saturday Morning Cartoons were weird. Normal ones, Looney Tunes, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and the like, existed. Properties for children, like G.I. Joe and, my personal favorite, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, were also common. And then there were the shows that had no business being a kids' cartoon.
Robocop was actually turned into a Saturday Morning Cartoon, as well as Rambo. These were hard-R adult movies that were thrust in a timeslot between Dragonball and Sonic the Hedgehog. My bestest buddy and Super Saiyan, Goku, just beat Piccolo after a ten-episode power-up, and now, before I watch my blue furry buddy, here's a cartoon about a killer for hire.
It wasn't just action movies that were turned into inappropriate children's cartoons. B-level horror movie creature features also had animated versions. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes exposed me to the concept of schlocky horror with strange creatures. It demystified the horror genre. Instead of something to be feared, horror could be goofy and fun. The show may have only lasted a few years, but I still have the theme song stuck in my head.
The Goosebumps book Egg Monsters From Mars reminds me of any number of goofy creature feature horror movies I've seen - and it's wonderful. There are no ghosts in this one - just a gooey egg and a kid scrambled up in laboratory secrets.
It starts with an egg hunt. Is it Easter? No. It's a little girl's birthday party. Our protagonist, Dana, has a younger sister, and "she always gets what she wants." This time, it's an egg hunt. However, much to the birthday girl's dismay, the egg hunt boils into an egg fight.
"Egg fight! Egg fight!" two boys started to chant.
I ducked as an egg went sailing over my head. It landed with a craaack on the driveway.
Eggs were flying everywhere now. I stood there and gasped in amazement.
I heard a shrill shriek. I spun around to see that two of the Hair Sisters had runny yellow egg oozing in their hair. They were shouting and tugging at their hair and trying to pull the yellow gunk off with both hands.
Splat! Another egg hit the garage.
Craaack! Eggs bounced over the driveway.
Dana's best friend, the next-door neighbor, Annie, prepares an egg to throw at Dana, who picks up his last egg. But there's something strange about this ultimate egg. It's veiny and impervious to damage, even when Dana falls on the egg.
While Dana's parents are wondering what happened and chastising their daughter for not stopping the egg fight, Dana puts his weird egg in a drawer in his room. In the middle of the night, Dana hears thumping from the drawer and discovers the shell is burning hot.
Finally, the egg starts to crack, and after some onomatopoeic theater, a gooey, runny mess of yellow and green veins with two black, lumpy eyes hatches. Dana doesn't know what to do and he goes over his options since his parents have been seemingly poached from the narrative. He decides to go to Annie's house since she has a dog and is good with animals. He scoops the creature into a box and rolls it next door.
After some breakfast shenanigans involving a dog, the egg creature falls out of its makeshift carton and is almost sent down the garbage disposal. Dana grabs the creature just in time, remarking to the creature, "I just saved your life."
He shows it to Annie, who suggests he goes to the friendly local lab to have them take a look at it. Dana scrambles away.
At the lab, Dr. Gray, an old scientist, greets Dana and agrees to look at what he brought - most because Dr. Gray is already egg-sperienced with the creature.
"The eggs fell all over town," Dr. Gray said, poking the egg creature. "Like a meteor shower. Only on this town."
"Excuse me?" I cried. "They fell from the sky?" I wanted desperately to understand. But so far, nothing made sense.
Dr. Gray turned to me and put a hand on my shoulder. "We believe the eggs fell all the way from Mars, Dana. There was a big storm on Mars. Two years ago. It set off something like a meteor shower. The storm sent these eggs hurtling through space."
Dr. Gray has something else to show him. He brings the boy to a window and shows him a mirror.
A two-way mirror! Dr. Gray turns on a light.
There are dozens of egg creatures in a refrigerated room. Dr. Gray says they're relatively harmless and they don't have mouths so they can't bite. They also lack appendages so they can't kick or grab or punch. Dana asks if he can come back and visit the creature. Dr. Gray says that Dana is not coming back because he's not leaving.
"I have to study you too," Dr. Gray continued. He tucked his hands into the pockets of his lab coat. "It's my job, Dana."
"Study me?" I squeaked. "Why?"
He motioned to my egg creature. "You touched it - didn't you? You handled it? You picked it up?"
I shrugged. "Well, yeah. I picked it up. So what?"
"Well, we don't know what kind of dangerous germs it gave you," he replied. "We don't know what kind of germs or bacteria or strange diseases these things carried with them from Mars."
I understand keeping him under quarantine and observation, but Dr. Gray locks him in this freezing room with no food, no bed, and a countless number of egg creatures. When Dana's father comes looking for his chick, Dr. Gray says that he hasn't seen the kid.
Dana's father asks if he could peek around the facility to make sure his son isn't there. Of course, Dana is trapped behind a two-way mirror. Dana pecks at the window, but to no avail. His father can't see or hear him. It seems that Dana is trapped there, and his father was so close to rescuing him.
That night, Dana has trouble sleeping. He's too cold and Dr. Gray didn't even give him a blanket. The eggs overtake him, but he's too enervated to fight back. But instead of attacking him, they give him warmth. It's kind of sweet.
Dr. Gray shakes him awake, enraged that Dana let the egg creatures touch him. What did you expect, Dr. Gray? You didn't separate them. You didn't give Dana food and a blanket. It's your fault you clucked up.
Luckily, the egg creatures and Dana have formed a bond. Even though the egg creatures lack appendages and mouths, they become a huge mass and attack Dr. Gray as Dana runs away.
He runs all the way home to his parents. They all return to the lab and find the egg creatures, and Dr. Gray, completely gone. Of course, his parents don't believe his story.
Finally, we are left with this final passage:
I crouched down on the grass - and I laid the biggest egg you ever saw!
I enjoyed Egg Monsters From Mars more than I should have. I like creature movies, but I love creature movies where humans are the real villains. Humans like to believe that the threat to their livelihood is external, whether that threat is an immigrant, a gay person, or a woman. The real threat comes from looking within ourselves and recognizing the ugliness inside. Some people can take that reflection and try to alter their thinking to make the world a better place. We should encourage this behavior.
All too often, however, people look within, see that stain on their soul, and create a social pecking order that puts them at the top. They congregate with others who share that ugliness. They search for conspiracy stories to fuel their ignorance.
The real monsters aren't the egg creatures. They're the ones who inflict pain on others under the guise of something noble - like science.
Also, a kid lays a giant egg! That's fucking crazy, dude. This is an eggcellent Goosebumps book.