Gruesomestein’s Monsters was a series concept developed through the early part of the last decade for Toronto-based Nelvana studios. Created, written, produced and directed — with voice acting thrown in — by Mark Ackland and Riccardo Durante, the project yielded six 5-minute Flash animation shorts that ran as part of the Fun Pack program on the Canadian kids network YTV. One episode, Russell’s Tussle, made the competition list at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2005.
The show, beautifully designed, drops its outrageous monster characters into whacked out situations. There’s a witch that runs afoul of “Fairy Tale Land” laws — some rule against cooking children — and a Jekyll-Hyde character messes with a bank robber on the lam. There’s an obvious love of classic movie monsters at work in a Teenage Werewolf episode set in the rock n’roll Fifties, and a Yeti story unfolds in “Cushing Falls National Park”, a reference to the early Hammer horror, Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas. A Frankenstein episode, The Worst Date, is done in vintage black and white.
The Worst Date features a mad scientist, a hunchbacked assistant, and a cute Bride character with sutured neck and trademark beehive. When her milquetoast beau comes to the castle to pick her up, he becomes an instant candidate for a one-way brain transplant, for the benefit of a hulking, drooling, comatose Monster with glassy eyes.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the Frankenstein episode: The Worst Date.
All six episodes of Gruesomestein’s Monsters are online. The show’s blog archives are loaded with fascinating info, design and production art. I wish they had made more of these.