I know what you're thinking; what the hell do dinosaurs have to do with Halloween? Normally, I'd say not much. You don't see too many people running around in dinosaur costumes, you don't see Dracula fighting a Tyrannosaurus Rex (though that would make one hell of a good movie) and you don't normally see dinosaurs at pumpkin patches. Well except for the prehistoric pumpkin patch that Count Pop visited a few years back... go figure.
Well there's something involving dinosaurs that I think fits right in with the spirit of Halloween. I associate Halloween with horror. I associate Halloween with gore. Where am I going with all this? Topps once released a set of trading cards back in 1988 called "Dinosaurs Attack!" which depicted dinosaurs attacking people in all kinds of horrific, extremely gory scenarios. Frankly, I was amazed that Topps had the balls to release a set like this. After all, 9 times outta 10, kids would be the ones buying these things, not adults. Sure, they had Garbage Pail Kids and other similar series, but none of them seem to hold up to the same level of utter disregard for human life that the Dinosaurs Attack! cards so proudly put on display.
So the basic premise behind the cards is that they tell a story about dinosaurs being accidentally warped into modern times when a scientific experiment goes horribly wrong. The dinosaurs then wreak havoc upon the world, killing everybody in sight in some of the most bizarre and blood-splatteringly brutal ways you could imagine. The set has often been compared to the classic Mars Attacks trading cards from back in 1962, but I still say Dinosaurs Attack! has a far more unconventional and graphic storyline.
With that in mind, I'd like to take you on a little tour of some of my favorite cards from the set just so you can see how truly "out there" it was. Again, keep in mind that kids would be the ones collecting these things! Let's start off with this one:
Two Stegosauruses make their way into a police precinct and maul a bunch of the officers. From the back of the card, "One swipe of a giant spiked tail tore a patrolman's face to shreds, sending an eyeball flying and leaving his skull half-exposed. Howling like a crazed animal in torment, he wandered about for a few moments before one of the creatures trampled him to death. The walls of the station house were literally dripping with human organs and splattered blood, and what was once a proud symbol of power and security became a showroom of horror." And you were wondering why I thought this set was appropriate for the Halloween season? I rest my case.
Barney the dog gets squashed under the foot of a giant dinosaur while his youthful owner covers her eyes in terror. Killing a little girl's puppy? Nothing was taboo with these trading cards, and that's why I love 'em so much.
Aside from the bride and groom being impaled on the dino's horns, what I love about this card is that the back of it was made out to look like a wedding invitation and it's splattered with blood. 'Til death do we part.
Here's the back of one of the cards. Some herbivorous dinosaurs attacked this band at their rock concert, mistaking their glam rock hair for the vegetation they used to feed on back in prehistoric times. Another fantastic thing about this series is that it's one of the rare trading card sets where, quite often, the back of the cards were more entertaining than the front.
Another taboo they had no problem ignoring was depicting children being devoured by two Parasaurolophuses as their guts spilled out all over the place. If only all field trips were that exciting.
As if having your building set on fire by dinosaurs isn't bad enough, these unlucky Londoners jumped from their burning homes only to land directly on the spikes of a Polacanthus that was passing by. So not only were they on fire, they were impaled on top of it all. Good times!
Another card back, this time it tells the tale of some hunters who were startled by a giant Duckbill dinosaur which capsized their boat and caused one of the hunters to accidentally shoot one of his pals. Even the generally harmless dinosaurs find a way to kill humans in this card series. Brilliant.
So not only did they work alien beings known as "Saurians" into the story, but they also managed to create some kind of ultimate evil that wants the dinosaurs to conquer the world. I'm sure you can guess what that ultimate evil is, but if not, don't worry, we'll get to it in a bit...
About halfway through the story, mankind begins to fight back against the dinosaurs. One of the greatest examples of this is a little girl who picks up a bazooka from a soldier who was just killed and uses it to blast a hole through a big Ceratosaurus. The back of the card also states, "Splattered with the dinosaur's blood, Melissa smiled triumphantly, then gave her little brother an enthusiastic 'thumbs up'." Kids... gotta love 'em.
Here's another great "fighting back" card. Looks like those weird old ladies who own hundreds of cats pack a lot of heat. Another amusing thing from this particular card is that it says that the gunshot to the dinosaur "sparked a chain reaction which caused it to discharge electrical bolts and eventually self-destruct." SCIENCE!
What can I say, I just like this card because it features the dinosaurs, a lion, a gorilla and a guy squashed underneath it all while puking up blood. If they could've somehow worked a shark into the picture, it would've been perfect.
Dinosaurs attacking all the nerds at the Comic-Con? Priceless. I love how, even though people are being killed around him, the one nerd is running away with his comics still in hand because they're really THAT important to him.
A few Pachycephalosaurs tear apart and crush some people at a picnic in one of the gorier cards.
One of the more absurd (and inaccurate) cards from the set. Sorry pal, but if you can't fend off some Trilobites, you probably deserve to die. That's like being killed by Tribbles.
I love how, even though the world is under attack with people being killed left 'n right, the entertainment industry still sticks with its "the show must go on!" credo. The guy on the right there doesn't even say anything, he's just too shocked for words. Never thought hear about a bunch of wrestlers in a ring taking on a dinosaur. Nope, never thought I'd hear about that...
This beast materialized in the same space that Larry was standing in, and thus his atoms became fused with it. SCIENCE! Larry's best friend, Sam, was nice enough to put Larry out of his misery by shooting him in the chest because that's what friends are for.
Oh no! Now who's gonna report the news to us now? Kudos to these two for really getting into it. You can tell some of the people they photographed for the cards didn't really wanna do it, but not these two guys. They were ALL about being a part of the Dinosaur Attack! trading cards set.
And here he is. Satan. Or perhaps a Satanosaurus? Whatever it is, this is the being that has been overseeing the dinosaurs' destruction of the world. It's just grabbed Dr. Elias Thorne in hopes of stopping him from sending the dinosaurs back to where they came from. But the doctor tells his wife, Helen, in the lab to finish the job because he's already dead anyway as his flesh blisters and smokes in the hands of the Satanosaurus. And so, Dr. Elias Thorne makes the ultimate sacrifice to save mankind...
Goddamn, that's about as grim as you can get. And these were cards they were selling to kids! TO KIDS! Yeah, we really had it made in the 80's.
Well, I suppose that was really about as much of a happy note as they could end the story on.
Dinosaurs Attack! is truly one of the greatest non-sports trading card sets you could ever possibly own, and as a result of it being inexplicably uncelebrated by the general public, you can get a full set real cheap. I got one for 5 bux a while back and you just can't beat a deal like that, so yourself a favor and pick up a set.
And if you like the cards as much as I do, you'll probably want to grab the graphic novel which also includes four nice bonus cards that weren't included with the trading card set. It was supposed to be a 3-part series, but they only produced the one issue. A damned shame really because it does tell the whole story with a little more depth than the cards have the room to do and it features some additional scenes of carnage that you won't want to miss. Oh and if those bonus cards don't sell you on the comic, perhaps this image I just scanned in from it will:
Why, why, WHY wasn't this continued as a comic series!?
The comic book was produced by Eclipse Comics, a company whose intellectual property rights were bought by Todd McFarlane. While I doubt they have any plans to release the 2nd and 3rd installments of this comic book, it can't hurt to try giving them a nudge in the right direction. Contact McFarlane's Publishing Department at this address and let them know you want to see a re-release of the original Dinosaurs Attack! comic book from Eclipse Comics! Furthermore, tell them you want to see issues 2 and 3 released to complete the story.
Alrighty, that's all for Dinosaurs Attack!, but before I go, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Bob Heffner for generously donating the pictures of the Dinosaurs Attack! trading cards that he took the time to scan in. If you would like to see the rest of the cards in the set, be sure to check out his site. It's a great memorial to what I consider to be one of the most bizarre, gory, artistic and hilarious trading cards sets of all time.
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