by Bradley Mason Hamlin

1973, that golden year Bob Dylan was “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the Beach Boys gave us the soul of “Sail on Sailor,” and Iggy Pop told us to “Search & Destroy.” On TV we experienced the premiere of Schoolhouse Rock!, The Six-Million Dollar Man, and Kojak—and in the movie theatres American Graffiti, Enter the Dragon, and Live and Let Die entertained us with a quality rarely, if ever, matched.

A good year.

In the midst of this super fun climate of multi-genre fun—Saturday and Sunday morning TV thrived at its peak, cartoons primarily on Saturday … and monster movies on Sunday. A show called Creature Feature, (premiering 1971) was the main venue for us kids to catch up on the pre-70's monster, horror, and science fiction shows. American International Films, Universal Pictures, and Toho Productions thrived at the heart of this "monster movie" of the week program. You could get everything from vintage Dracula to King Kong vs. Godzilla or the wonderfully bizarre: Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People.

Damn good stuff.

Creature Feature's huge popularity led to a resurgence in the whole monster genre. Marvel Comics released several terrific monster-themed comic books and magazines, such as Tomb of Dracula, and Supernatural Thrillers, and the Topps Company released an amazing collection of monster trading cards called: Creature Feature.

The set contained photo images from American International Films and Universal Pictures with funny (well, sort of) captions. The back tagline on the cards said: You’ll Die Laughing, so the cards are often referred to as You’ll Die Laughing cards, but that’s incorrect.

The set was: Creature Feature. You’ll Die Laughing was actually an earlier tagline on a set of cards Topps released called: Funny Monsters from 1959, featuring monster art by Jack Davis with the same kind of silly captions that ended up on the later Creature Feature cards. In between those monster sets Topps also released the legendary Mars Attacks trading cards in 1962.

But in 1973 it was all about Creature Feature, and now that this little pop culture gem has fallen into relative obscurity, well, I thought I’d just shine a little monster light on the set and hope a few fellow would-be mad scientists out there remember these cards with as much admiration.

The first set contained 62 cards of which I’m happy to say I own. There is a second set out there that I’m less familiar with, but I figure it's never too late to track the missing monsters down. Topps also released a re-worked (color-bordered) set in the 1980s that looked awful. I don’t know what that was about, other than typical 80’s unoriginality.

However, in 1973, a little lightning struck and for an all too short period of time we could feel closer to the monster magic.

"Creature Feature: A Retro Review" by Bradley Mason Hamlin © 2007 Mystery Island Publications. All rights reserved.