Besides big hair, neon colors and “Transformers,” monster trucks are apart of the popular culture of the 1980s. What helped make these 4X4s on steroids become the car-crunching phenomenon that it is are three videos, “Battle of the Monster Trucks,” “Return of the Monster Trucks” and “War of the Monster Trucks.” All three videos are included in the three-disc set “Monster Truck Classics” released by Marshall Publishing & Promotions.
These videos show the crazy, we’ll show anything attitude that the 1980s was known for. Jan Gabriel, producer and host of all three monster truck videos, helped create these videos. If it was not for him, monster trucks would probably not be as big as they are today.
All three videos cover events held by the United States Hot Rod Association (USHRA), which still holds monster truck events as, the biggest monster truck touring circuit in the world. Monster Jam is so big that a video game comes out every couple of years, including “Monster Jam: Path of Destruction,” the game I reviewed at the beginning of the year.
The first video, “Battle of the Monster Trucks,” covers more than just Bigfoot, USA-1 and the other monsters. It also talks about tractor pulls and funny car pulls among other vehicles. Gabriel and actor Claude Akins covered the events. Gabriel seems very enthusiatic and genuine while Akins seems to be reading off a teleprompter. He got better in the second video, however, providing an excellent description on what made 1980s monster trucking amazing. He says “it’s drag racing and demolition derby all in one.” Never heard it described better.
The second and third videos, “Return of the Monster Trucks” and “War of the Monster Trucks,” focus almost exclusively on monster trucks. In “Return,” a cool event happens where the trucks start off pulling a sled, then drive over a huge dirt mound, then cars and finally end by going mud bogging. This needs to come back as it shows the versatility of these behemoths. Besides showing car crunches, other monster truck events are shown such as monster truck boat racing. You read that correctly. Since these monsters have large tires full of air, they float. Besides seeing these big boys float, Bob Chandler, the father of monster trucks with Bigfoot, showed off Bigfoot #4, a truck with tires bigger than houses! Freestyle, one of the featured events in modern monster truck events that is similar to a freestyle motocross event, makes a rare early appearance in “War.”
The stellar 80s synth music, seeing a young, energetic Jack Arute and watching monster truck events in their infancy make these videos worth watching. For old videos that are nearly forgotten and over 20 years ago, the image quality is very good and better than many mainstream releases. If you love monster trucks or have small children who do, show them “Monster Truck Classics” as it will open eyes as to what monster trucks are capable of.
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