The Art of Darkness

Addams Family View-Master Slides

February 10th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Addams Family View-MasterHey, do you guys remember View-Master stereoscopes? If not, you can read the following in Peter Falk’s “When I was your age, television was called books” voice from The Princess Bride: They were a toy that looked like binoculars, into which you slid a paper disc containing color transparency film cels. When viewed through the lenses, the images appeared to be three-dimensional. They were originally intended to be an alternative to scenic postcards, and the first discs featured natural wonders like the Grand Canyon.

Eventually they expanded into other subject material, and in the 60s and 70s they were immensely popular as supplementary marketing media for cartoons, TV shows, and movies. The discs were usually accompanied by a booklet which explained the contents of each slide, so you’d view an image and then read its description in the booklet. (Yes, we were lame.)

Anyway.

Over in the Facebook Elders of Goth group, “Roman Gheesling” recently shared a link to a View-Master set featuring The Addams Family.

He noted:

“Portrait of Gomez” is the fourth episode of season 3 of The Addams Family. This rare View-Master packet recreating the episode was part of merchandising for the show. Sawyer’s, the makers of View-Master, always sent their own photographers to set when creating licensed View-Master packets of TV shows and always shot their slides on Kodachrome color film.

Thus, this images in this View-Master packet are the *only* color images in sequence depicting an actual Addams Family episode. In short, it’s the only color “episode” of the original TV series.

I found seeing the Addams Family in vibrant high-chroma Kodachrome color quite weird. Even the in-color Raul Julia/Anjelica Huston film had a muted color palette to stay in harmony with the original ink wash illustrations of Chas Addams.

He’s quite right; the colors are rather jarring. Here’s the first slide, along with its accompanying booklet description:

Moonbathing

A full moon shed its eerie light over the front yard of a gloomy Victorian mansion on the outskirts of town. Reveling in the silvery brightness, a strange-looking family moonbathed in the yard.

Morticia Addams, wearing dark moonglasses, sat under a tree, affectionately watching her children, Wednesday and Pugsley. With little buckets and pails, they were busily building up an oddly human-shaped pile of sand. Her husband Gomez, in a gaudy 1910-style bathing suit, peered at the moon through a telescope, while bald, beady-eyed Uncle Fester sprawled in a beach chair.

Morticia looked at the pile of sand. “Are you all right, Mama?” she asked it. “Getting enough air?”

“Fineā€”fine,” came a muffled voice. “I took a real deep breath before they covered me up.”

(Told you we were lame.)

The site–it makes me oddly happy that there’s a site devoted to nothing but View-Master reels–has some other color episodes of black-and-white TV, such as Dark Shadows and The Munsters. If nothing else, they’re a rich source of avatar thumbnails.

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