Monday, 7 September 2009

Horror Top Trumps

When I was a child one of the things that my friends and I used to play with were Top Trumps. These were themed packs of playing where each of the 32 normal cards in a set had ratings for various different attributes; in the case of the horror ones these were Physical Strength, Fear factor, Killing power and Horror rating, which scored between 45 and 100.

The rules were pretty straightforward, and went something like this: Each player got the same number of cards and drew the top card from their hand. One player then selected an attribute, probably the highest one of the four. Whichever player had the highest number won the cards, and then played their next card. This continued until there was only one player left.

The thing I really liked about the two sets of horror themed cards, Dracula and Devil Priest, was the garish artwork and inventive monsters, although even at that time I recognised that Dracula was more specifically a Christopher Lee Dracula. Over the years, however, I've come to realise that a lot of the monsters appear to have been inspired / taken from horror films and often just had their names changed:

The Dracula Set
Prince of Darkness – Onibaba
The Mad Magician – London After Midnight
Madman – Doomwatch
The Freak – The Reptile
Lord of Death – The Phantom of the Opera (Julian / Chaney)
Phantom of the Opera – The Abominable Dr Phibes?
Skeleton – The House on Haunted Hill?
The Hangman – The Phantom of the Opera (Julian / Chaney)
Two Headed Monster – The Thing with Two Heads

The Devil Priest Set
Colossus – The Colossus of New York?
Creature from Outer Space – This Island Earth
Fire Demon – Dr Who story The Daemons?
High Priestess of Zoltan – based on Lavinia in The Curse of the Crimson Altar?
The Jailer – Fritz in Frankenstein (Whale / Karloff)
The Living Gargoyle – based on the Martians in Quatermass and the Pit?
Zoltan – the monster in Lady Frankenstein?

Anyone recognise any others, like The Thing? Both sets are at if you need a refresher ;-)


Coop said...

I had these as a kid and fancied buying some on Ebay but was horrified by the price.

I really like your blog and hope that this interests you and your readers.

I am attempting to amass a large collection of portraits of Frankenstein's Monster in as many different styles and in as many different media as possible as an ongoing art project. The only stipulation is that the size is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches (standard artist trading card size) and that each card has name, date, location, title and anything else you care to add on the back.

I welcome cards from both amateur and professional artists.

I will be leaving blank cards with instructions and mailing address in galleries, colleges, art shops, on buses, handing them out in the street and wherever else I can think of.

If you think you can spare the time to produce a little something, please send a portrait to:

A Patchwork Of Flesh
45 Silversea Drive
Westcliff on Sea
United Kingdom

Each card I receive will be uploaded at to produce an on-line gallery, I then hope to put on an exhibition of these cards in a gallery.

Unmann-Wittering said...


King Kong is actually Konga, down to having Michael Gough in his hand.


Alien Creature looks a bit like Dave Prowse in Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell.

Dr. Syn is Chris Lee as Fu Manchu.

Venusian Death Cell creature looks like a Sea Devil from Dr. Who.

Still got my sets!

Anonymous said...

Sold my sets years ago :'(


Terror from the Deep is from The City Under the Sea (65).

Apart from Doctor Who, the Venusian Death Cell also reminded me of the 'monster' at the end of Tower of Evil (72).


Don Rick said...

I remember playing these with my older cousins who lived abroad in probably about 1990, when i was 7/8. They gave the 2 sets to me , and i spent ages mesmerised by the artwork, and in particular the grusome violence some of them contain. I remember the tattyness, and the smell of worn card.

I had one of those random nostalgic moments that i had to google, and to my surprise, there were actually results.