Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is an American animated television series developed by Klasky Csupo for Nickelodeon. The show focuses on three young monsters — Ickis, Oblina and Krumm — who attend a school for monsters under a city dump and learn to frighten humans. Many of the episodes revolve around them making it to the surface in order to perform "scares" as class assignments.
The series premiered Monday, October 31, 1994 at 11am on Nickelodeon. It ran at total of 52 episodes over 4 seasons and the last episode aired December 6, 1997.
The episodes follow the adventures of Ickis, Oblina and Krumm, three young monsters attending a monster school whose headmaster is The Gromble.
The show is set in New York City, demonstrated throughout the series by the presences of the Empire State Building and an Independent Subway System. The dump the monsters inhabit is implied to be Fresh Kills Landfill, but never explicitly named in the series. The monster community includes a working economic system using toe nails as currency.Ickis (voiced by Charlie Adler) – Ickis is a small red monster who, due to his large ears, is often confused with a rabbit. He is the son of Slickis, a famous scarer. He seems the most skittish of the monsters, but is also a capable leader. Ickis looms (grows in size) to scare, and comes from a long line of loomers. Ickis's constant goofing off and blatant disregard for rules are usually the certain things that get him into trouble in most episodes. In a couple of episodes, Ickis almost accidentally exposes the monster world to the humans.
Oblina (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) – Oblina comes from a wealthy monster family, and is considered by The Gromble to be his best student. She is shaped like a black and white, upside-down candy cane, resembling a banded sea krait. One of her favorite methods of scaring humans is reaching within herself and pulling out her internal organs, and she has considerable talent for shapeshifting into various terrifying forms. She also has a talent for inducing nightmares in humans, by sticking her finger in their ears and tickling their brains while they sleep. She also has big red lips and temporarily lost them to a coy young human girl who wanted to be a model. Oblina comes from a rich family with an overbearing mother named Sublima who she refers to as "mumsy dearest". When voicing Oblina, Christine Cavanaugh attempted to make the voice sound like a British version of the actress Agnes Moorehead.
Krumm (voiced by David Eccles) – Like the rest of his family, his eyeballs are not attached to his body, and are usually carried in his hands; if he requires the use of both hands, he can carry them in his mouth. His most valuable tool in scaring is his overwhelming armpit stench, as well as using his eyeballs. A running gag in the series is that Krumm sometimes loses his eyeballs and has to get them back. He once had a head so he could stop losing them. His dad is a mold farmer.
The Gromble (voiced by Gregg Berger) – The Gromble is a teal monster with two blue-green tufts of hair, a beard and a tail. He wears a belt around his waist and a red pump on each of his four feet. Along with Ickis, he is one of the few monsters who can hear the Pool of Elders — the source of monster existence that is made of the very substance of fears. The Gromble uses the Viewfinder which his students sit in so that he can view their scaring activities. There is even a backstory as to how the Gromble got his shoes. Although it is implied that the Gromble isn't afraid of anything one episode focuses on him trying to fix a scare he failed at as a kid.
The Snorch (voiced by David Eccles) – The disciplinarian of the Monster Academy who works for The Gromble and is often seen with Zimbo. Though the Snorch just makes vocal effects, he once wore a voicebox translator (with the voice of it being provided by Brock Peters) in one episode. There was also an episode about him having a long golden nose hair which Ickis and Krumm plucked out. His main form of torture is to sing, which he is quite bad at (hence the punishment).
Zimbo (voiced by Tim Curry) – Zimbo is a monster who resembles a bee with one mammal-like leg and a humanoid face with green hair. He is the Gromble's assistant in his class and is always seen on the head of The Snorch. Zimbo was quite jealous when the Snorch began hanging out with Oblina and tried to split them up. There was also an episode where he had to work on a scare assignment with Ickis. Despite the fact that he and the Snorch are friends, the Snorch has punished Zimbo a couple of times as well.
Simon the Monster Hunter (voiced by Jim Belushi) - The main and recurring antagonist of the series. Simon is a human who is determined to prove that monsters exist and wants to exterminate them. He wears a thick-collared jacket and glasses. Belushi ad-libbed much of Simon's dialogue. Simon once had to save Ickis from three other hunters when they turned on him. Even though he saved him Simon warned Ickis that he would go right back to trying to expose them. Before this, he tried to capture bigfoot and built a giant robot. Simon also bugged Krumm's stomach enabling him to listen in on their conversations and ambush them.
Bradley - Another human friend of the monsters. He first appears in the second episode where he encounters Ickis. He then appears in an episode with Simon the monster hunter. He goes on TV with Simon and two other monster victims and everybody laughs at him. Later, Bradley frees Ickis and the rest of the monsters when Ickis gains his sympathy. Simon sees the cages empty and angrily demands an explanation. Bradley lies and says it was mind control (Luckily, Simon falls for it.). Bradley also appears in one episode of season 2. In this episode, Bradley is worried about being picked on while camping in the woods until he agrees to help Ickis with a scare. After this he becomes very popular with his peers.
Slickis (voiced by Billy Vera) – Ickis' father and one of The Gromble's favorite former students. It's because of this that Ickis has a rough relationship with Slickis in one episode.
Horvak (voiced by David Eccles) – Krumm's father. He lost one of his eyes at the Battle of Concord and wears a black glove over that respective hand, similar to wearing an eye-patch. He was considered to be one of The Gromble's worst students and now works as a mold farmer because he lost his stench as a kid.
Sal (voiced by Peter Bonerz) – A parasite who makes monsters hungry.
Mama Gromble (voiced by Andrea Martin) – The Gromble's mother.
Sublima (voiced by Charlie Adler) – Oblina's mother. Sublima comes from a rich family and strongly disapproves of Oblina scaring. She almost made her daughter quit school and come back home. Sublima even made fun of mold farmers (A hobby that Horvak now has.).
Skeetch (voiced by Marvin Kaplan) – Oblina's father. Unlike her mother, Skeetch loves the fact that Oblina wants to be a scarer and supports her all the way. Skeetch refers to Oblina as "Stripes". Eventually Skeetch gets rid of his and Sublima's toenail fortune.
Nicky (voiced by Steven Hartman) – one of the monster's human friends. He is a 10-year-old boy who befriended Ickis.
The Shroink (voiced by Michael Prince) – An elderly monster.
Dizzle (voiced by Cynthia Mann) – A female monster student who likes Ickis.
Dr. Buzz Kutt (voiced by Edward Winter) – A monster who is the residential doctor.
Borl (voiced by Michael Dorn) –
Kriggle (voiced by Dorian Harewood) –
Exposia Vertov (voiced by Lisa Raggio) –
Snav (voiced by Xander Berkeley) –
Zooeuh (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) –
Phuepal (voiced by Victor Wilson) –
Marty (voiced by Thomas F. Wilson) –
Deitrich Dunlap (voiced by Bronson Pinchot) –
Don - A human traumatized by the monsters. He was perfectly normal until Oblina frightened him. His catchphrase is, "I really like rice." He also appeared on a talk show with Simon and two other characters. This character was scrapped after season 1.
Murray The Monster- Murray is a human dressed as a monster who once had his own TV show. When Ickis, Oblina and Krumm saw him they thought he was a real monster betraying them. Tired of making them a laughing stock, Oblina caused him to have a nightmare. She, Krumm and Ickis theatened him but he woke up. That's when they scared him for real during a stage show. Murray then retired and started working at a toy store. He also appeared on a talk show in another episode with Simon the monster and two other characters and everyone laughed at him. This character was scrapped after season 1.
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was created by Gábor Csupó and Peter Gaffney, and was produced by Csupó's company Klasky Csupo, which also created the animated shows Rugrats and Duckman. Before the final title was chosen, which took over 5 years, the series had the working titles Monsters and Real Monsters. The show was conceived after Csupó and his wife and creative partner Arlene Klasky were approached by the network Nickelodeon to create a follow-up series to Rugrats. Csupó was inspired to write a show about monsters because his own young children loved them. He also said he knew Nickelodeon would not want a series about human characters because everybody else was pitching shows about animals. Csupó drew some sketches of possible monsters on a piece of paper and successfully pitched the idea to the network: "I wanted them silly and not too skillful – and the idea worked."
Nickelodeon programming director Herb Scannell said the character design in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was partially inspired by Yellow Submarine, a 1968 animated film inspired by The Beatles. The character Gromble, in particular, bears a close resemblance to the Blue Meanie characters from that film. Csupó said some elements of the show have a look similar to the film noir genre, and called the city dump where the monster characters reside reminiscent of the visual style from the films Blade Runner (1982) and Brazil (1985).
The characters guest-starred in the 1999 Rugrats episode #106 "Ghost Story". Before that, David Eccles, the voice of Krumm, provided the monster voice coming from under Chuckie's bed.
From 1997, select episodes of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters were released on VHS by Paramount Home Video. The complete first and second seasons were released for PlayStation Network for view on the (PlayStation 3) and PSP (PlayStation Portable) systems.
On March 22, 2011, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the home video rights to the series from Nickelodeon. They have subsequently released the first three seasons on DVD. The fourth and final season was released on June 10, 2014 as a Shout! Select title.
On October 8, 2013, Shout! Factory released Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series on DVD.
In the United Kingdom, 4 volumes are available as exclusive releases in Poundland stores. Volume 1 contains the first 9 episodes (5 half-hours) from Season 1. Volume 2 contains the first 8 episodes (4 half-hours) from Season 2, while the remaining 2 volumes make up the first 16 episodes from Season 3.
Josef Adalian of The Washington Times praised the show's animation and sense of humor, although it was not as "hip and witty" as The Ren & Stimpy Show or The Simpsons. Although he felt the show would appeal to children over nine as well as adults, he said it may not appeal to those who "react negatively to semi-scary sights and gags about body odor, physical punishment or abusive older siblings". USA Today, writer Matt Roush called it "garish and blissfully silly" and praised the show's "outrageous characters have just enough Ren & Stimpy grodiness, but tempered with exceptional sweetness". Ginny Holbert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it a "cute and clever" series with "wit and inventive creatures", and compared the animation to the work of artist Peter Max. Gannett News Service writer Mike Hughes called it a "terrific cartoon series", and said the show's "wildly perverse humor" had a "distinctly European style" that reflected Gábor Csupó's Hungarian background.
The Plain Dealer writer Tom Feran called the show "good fun" and favorably compared the series' premise to that of the animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Boston Herald writer Frances Katz wrote, "If there was ever a great title for a cartoon, it has to be Nickelodeon's Aaahh!!! Real Monsters'." Not all reviews were positive. The November 1994 issue of Parenting magazine listed Aaahh!!! Real Monsters as #1 in its top ten list of the worst new shows of the television season, describing it as "Graphic and scatological; it's just plain gross." Some media outlets pointed out similarities between Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and The Brothers Grunt, an MTV animated television series about a group of grotesque humanoid characters. Gábor Csupó rejected these comparisons and claims his show was more story- and character-driven with a different visual style.
The pilot episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters won first prize for film animation producer for television at both the Houston Film Festival and Ottawa Film Festival. The series was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation in 1995 alongside Rugrats, Animaniacs, Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? and 2 Stupid Dogs. The award ultimately went to Rugrats.
Mattel produced a series of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters action figures in 1995. They each stand approximately 4 inches (10 cm) tall and include an action feature. Other products based on the cartoon include Fleer trading cards, books, plush toys, pens, hats, backpacks, notepads, cups, gum, and videos. At one point, General Mills also included small promotional flip books of Ickis, Krumm, Oblina, and the Gromble in its Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast cereal.
A video game based on the TV series was released for the Super NES and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis by Majesco in 1995. Ickis also appeared in Nicktoons Racing for the PlayStation, PC, and Game Boy Advance yet was missing from the Game Boy Color version.
The characters were also created in full 3D for Microsoft's Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker.
Oblina and Krumm make a cameo appearance in the video game Nicktoons MLB.
After the shows success, Klasky-Csupo, thought of producing a film for the series. Set in production around 1998, however, it was cancelled for being too dark, and Klasky-Csupo finished the production of The Rugrats Movie. The movie is extremely rare and hard to find, since the plot wasn't revealed then rumours were circulating, mainly concerning its existence. The movie was known to exist in 2009, but still hardly any info given away. According to animator Fredrick Zowski, "the film was cancelled because Viacom bought Paramount. The film wasn't dark, nor were we planning on making it in the first place". There are articles on TV sites listing the movie as "un-aired" and tv.com as "Aired Sunday 9:30 PM Unknown on Nickelodeon". Fans have even claim to seen parts of the film. Another unidentified employee said that it aired late 2005.