MONSTER FAN ORIGINS
Above: Doug Nelson and Ron Adams in 1969, Grove City Park in western Pennsylvania.
Becoming A Monster Movie Nut!
My love of monsters, comic books and The Beatles all seemed to crash together in one place when I was about five years old. It was a little barber shop, next to the Guthrie Theater in Grove City, PA in 1964.
It was a sunny Saturday morning that my dad dropped me off at the barber shop. The friendly barber reminded me of Floyd from The Andy Griffith Show, really. I was prepared to sit on the board that raised me up about 8 inches in the barber chair.
While I waited for my turn, I was looking through the comic book selection that was scattered through typical magazines and the last few days of newspapers...There I latched onto a Jerry Lewis comic that featured monsters. It was my first exposure to Jerry Lewis as I had never seen any of his movies at that point...and, one of my earliest introductions to the monsters.
I'm not sure if it was that Jerry Lewis comic or one of the others that were there, but the back cover advertised the Aurora Monster models. Wow, those monsters looked cool! Scary and cool.
On the shop radio came an energized song called "I Want To Hold Your Hand." The barber (talking to his current customer) as he snipped away took note. He said "that's that English band with the long hair." I kinda liked it. I would like it even more as the years passed and I hit junior high school.
So the threads for this stuff that I love really were coming together in 1964, in a barber shop, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. The barber shop is still there....I think the son, or grandson (!) of the barber I knew, runs it now. That theater next to the barber shop is where I saw all those crazy foreign fairy tale movies that were imported by K. Gordon Murray...but that's another twisted tale.
The next time I'm in Grove City, I'm stopping into that shop to talk and reminisce.
-Ron Adams, Ligonier, PA
Can you trace the origins for your love of monster movies?
You asked the question today on your website about if one remembered where the origin
Larry Boyington, OK
The first monster movie I ever saw was King Kong vs. Godzilla...now I'm not sure if I was either 4 or 5 years old at the time, because I don't know if my local movie theater (Sewickley, Pa) was a first or second run theater. Either way, whatever I was going to be when I grew up changed that day! So thats where it all began...
- Malcolm Gittins, Pgh., PA
I often play music with kids in school and often I'm asked when or how I
Even today, watching the film of the show the excitement is
I remember when we'd be
I remember Ghost of Frankenstein and other Universals
It wasn't until I was a teenager that
-Kevin Slick, CO
For me, it started with DARK SHADOWS. Was in Kindergarten and
A few months later, found my first
As far as music, enjoyed AM radio because it played
A couple of years
Definitely remember my older sister watching The Cool Ghoul on Channel 56 in Boston on Saturday nights-- I think he was on at 11, and although I was supposed to be in bed by that point, sometimes she'd let me watch it with her and her friends. I remember vaguely MARK OF THE VAMPIRE being one of the films shown, and I was really drawn to the creepy atmosphere of that one. Most of the time they showed Godzilla movies it seemed, which I never found frightening, but when it came to the BW monsters I was scared by all of them. This was around the mid 70s so before the advent of being able to watch these movies anytime you wanted.
From there, I found FAMOUS MONSTERS MAGAZINE and although sometimes I found it disturbing, I remember the issues that featured King Kong and Star Wars like I just read them.
Hello Everyone, my first encounter was one Saturday night in 1958, ( i was 5 years old) all that week they were advertising on tv that Frankenstein was coming on this Saturday night
For me it started as my brothers would wake me up Friday nights at 11:30 to watch Project Terror on San Antonio TV. My first memories are of Attack of the Mushroom People (After which I refused to eat the things for fear of being one), Dinosaurus, Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, among others. The magic of doing something seemingly forbidden (my parents were there too in agreement, but it was staying up late that was cool), the fear I felt, egged on by my brothers, and them cool monsters hooked me. My first FM was 94 and that sealed the deal.
Above: Chilly Billy Cardille on the set of Pittsburgh's CHILLER THEATER.
The earliest memory I have of watching monster movies is being up late with my dad watching Chiller Theater on Saturday night. I think it was 1968 because it was a few days after my birthday and that was the year my mother had taken me to the store and let me pick my present. This was unprecedented and went against all birthday gift protocol but then again it WAS the turbulent sixties. We went to a couple of 5&10s and I was able to buy the Aurora Anzio Beach Playset at Kresges. This was one of the greastest presents I have ever received and I still have it. In fact my own son has been having fun with it lately.
I remember playing with it and assembling some of the pieces on the coffee table in our living room as me and my dad watched Chilly Billy that night. Chilly still had the old set up which was just a backdrop of a laboratory, and I don't remember what the movie was but on a little shelf behind him were some of the Aurora monster models. This was right about the time I had devoted my life to getting all of them in a race to the death with my best friend Steve and I remember being fascinated that Chilly had them too. I just assumed he had special Horror Host connections and he got his models straight from the factory.
-M. Oleman, Pittsburgh, PA Abandoned Subway Tunnel
Above: Cosmo Theater in Harlem NY.
I feel privileged to have been a part of that time in
My Dad left us in l978 and to this day, the fondest memories
Yes, I can recall the exact moment it all began. In fact it's the very earliest memory I have of anything. I think it's summer 1962, because it's the only time I remember the old house before we moved in 1963. So I was 2 or 3 at this time. I can see my dad out the back door washing a champagne colored Ford Galaxie. My mom is sitting on the sofa with me and we are watching Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman. Dad being home in the daytimes means it's probably Saturday or Sunday.
Growing up in southern Virginia, we got all the old broadcast stations from both Richmond and Norfolk. My belief is that Mom and I were probably watching Ronald the Ghoul's Shock Theater on WVEC Channel 13. I remember one of the Richmond channels used to run a lot of early Corman and similar vintage, so some of the first Horror films I saw were The Wasp Woman, Atom Age Monster and The Tingler. My Mom was the big Horror fan, my Dad liked crime and westerns. Mom took me to almost every Disney and Hammer film that played the old Pitts Theater, the only movie theater in my home town by 1963. We saw The Gorgon, Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Mummy's Shroud and even a reissue double feature of Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula, some non-Hammers like The Deadly Bees and The Vulture, along with reissues of Pinocchio, Snow White, Peter Pan and first run Disney like Lt Robin Crusoe, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, my favorite, and later Blackbeard's Ghost. I remember when we went to Virginia Beach on summer vacation in 1966, I saw the poster for Munster Go Home at the Franklin Va theater as we passed through and nothing at the beach held any of my interest until we saw that one at an Atlantic Street theater, sadly now gone after having been a spook house the last 10 or so years.
My first comic books were Casper, The Friendly Ghost. The first word I could identify was "Boo!" I got those when I was 2 going on 3 as well and read mostly Harvey and Disney until "Batman" premiered in 1966. My first superhero comics were Batman, Detective, World's Finest and some Superman titles. I later discovered Marvel and really like the Hulk, SubMariner, Captain America, Iron Man and my favorite Marvel was Spider-Man, after his cartoon show premiered. I also bought many Boris Karloff and Twilight Zone comics, and liked other Gold Keys like their movie and TV comics, especially, no surprise, The Munsters.
My first music memories were of the Beatle invasion. My dad used to buy me Beatle gum cards to amuse myself when I rode with him on errands. My first completed gum card set was The Addams Family and I was thrilled when I completed the puzzle on the set back. I loved to watch shows with pop bands like Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Mamas and the Papas, and Sonny and Cher. So, Mom and I watched Hullabaloo, Shindig and the whole family watched Ed Sullivan on Sundays. My first lp record was The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy and The Red Baron" album. I had a teenage girl who used to babysit and I apparently bugged her into giving me one of her Monkees '45s, which I added to those that came off the backs of cereal boxes.
I used to tell people I wanted to work in a drugstore as a kid, but we all know the reason was because that was where you got all the good comics and magazines in those days. The first Famous Monsters I ever saw were #s 35 and 36. Mom said I could have one magazine, and at 5 then, I actually bought a "Monsters Unlimited, # 5, as it was all pictures, all with goofy captions like the "You'll Die Laughing" cards. My first Famous Monsters was then # 45, I got when I was sick in the hospital, my only stay as a kid. My second FM was # 52, the issue with Barnabas Collins on the cover and the great article on Planet of the Apes. From here on it was an ongoing search through every magazine stand to get every new one as the came out. I could go on on how much Dark Shadows became a cornerstone in my life, but that's a lengthy digression.
The last big landmark in my youth was when "Shock Theater" with "The Bowman Body" came on WXEX Petersburg and ran all the Universal films I'd been reading about in FM. So I guess my horror experience was unusual as I had lot's of the Hammer films before I say almost any Universals. I am proud to say as an adult, Bill Bowman, the Shock Host, has become a good friend. Wow, if only we'd had shows like Monster Bash as a kid, my head would have probably exploded, lol.
Above: Michael Joyner (on right) and his friend Kelvin (on left).
I've enclosed a picture which is rather similar to Ron's own. The 1960's live forever.
-Michael Joyner (Below as Batman!)
At the risk of boring those who read this before, here goes my story.
We moved next door to a movie theater in 1950.Â I was two years old.Â For the remainder of the 50s decade and the first couple years of the 60s, I went to the theatre every Saturday and Sunday to watch double features and a boatload of cartoons.
I saw every monster/sci-fi film during that period, some in 3-D. I was also a fan of cowboy and Audie Murphy films. The next town North of us would show even more horror films such as the ones produced by William Castle with all the gimmicks. My older brother was an usher and helped install the vibrators for The Tingler. He told me where to sit so I would get the full experience.
I bought my first Famous Monsters #2 at the corner drugstore. They also sold Mad and Superman/Batman comics.Â I collected them till 1969 when I enlisted in the Navy. And yes, my mother tossed them out while I was gone in order to "make room." I still ask her to this day if she really didn't store them in the attic.
Got married and we raised three great kids (one comes with us to work at the Bash). When they were young, I told them about Shock Theater in the 50s and they asked if we could have our own shock theater on Saturday nights. So, my kids were raised on the classics.
Jerry A., Indiana
Above: Another great pic of dinosaurs from Paul Speidel from the 1960s in Calgary, Alberta.
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Master: Ron Adams