Ron Adams goes back to the 1960s-1980s...growing up with monsters, music and days filled with fun. A pop culture ball of wax from days gone by.
Whistling in the Dark
Now that high school football has started in our area, there's that definitive coolness that happens as the sun goes down. It's autumn just around that amber, red, green and yellow corner. I'm remembering fall nights and horror movies on TV when I was a kid.
There's one movie that I watched at a friend's house when I was about ten. It was NIGHT MONSTER (1942) on CREATURE FEATURE out of New York....WNEW-TV Channel 5. It was a cool fall night, summer a recent memory. We watched the movie in his parent's living room with only the bluish light from the black and white TV flickering in the room. The movie ended and it was ten o'oclock. The announcer came on with the station ID that was specific for that hour: "It's ten o'clock....do YOU know where your children are?" A public service, but none-the-less, kinda creepy.
Well, the movie wasn't a typical Universal Frankenstein or Wolf Man movie. It was more complex. A psychic and materializing visions of horror from another dimension! And a materialized monster that was never clearly seen through much of the movie. But, one thing for sure: the peepers and crickets stopped chirping when this shadowy monster was around in the dark.
From my friend's house to my house was only about a half a mile. But it was a totally quiet night as I walked past hedges and trees. No peepers, no crickets. No one in sight. Cool, chilly and silent. You can bet the hair was up on the back of my neck. I whistled through my teeth, trying to distract myself. I walked steady and fast. I knew if I broke out in a run, I would panic and that "Night Monster" wouldn't be far behind. No, I wasn't scared. No, no, no.....I repeated in my head.
And to this day, I love that movie. It REALLY worked on me when I was around ten. Walking home, alone in the dark. It seems most people have flashes of their childhood when they were alone...in the dark. Maybe after seeing NIGHT MONSTER.
-Ron Adams, September 2019
Great monster kid memory, Ron.
I got similar repeated hair-raising creeps walking back the dark unlit hallway to Terry and my bedroom as a kid after watching some particular Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits episode. Yikes!
-Todd Spidle, PA
Ha! Dark hallways got me too, especially when I was about 5 or 6...one particular house had a long hallway and a full length mirror at the end of it. So someone was always moving toward me in the dark....me! I hope it was me.
Hello Ron and Monster Bashers,
I loved your story about watching the movie Night Monster and then the walk home one cool fall night. Though I live in Florida now, I grew up in the Rochester,NY area in a small town called Hilton which also had those cool autumn evenings.
I was mesmerized and my buddy fell asleep ! I couldn’t believe he was sleeping as I was viewing the most terrifying movie I had ever come across. I had never seen those kind of zombies before. They were relentless stalking those poor people in that house. When the movie ended, I got out of my chair and went over to my buddies chair. I kinda shook him awake to tell him I was leaving. My walk home was not very far, less than half a mile down the road. On one side of the street were homes. But across the street on the other side were acres of corn fields. Now at 1:00 in the morning in the pitch black of night, some of those recently harvested corn stalks looked like zombies! I knew that you’re not supposed to be scared at 13 years old from watching a movie...but I was panicking. I’m sure I looked just like John Belushi in the movie Animal House when he was outside on the Dean’s steps running and then freezing to look over each shoulder. I ran a little bit, then stopped and listened, then ran some more until I safely made it home.
The next day I told my friend all about the awesome movie he slept through. Although I left out the part about my mad dash home. What a mark that film left on me, and Night of the Living Dead can still pack a wallop today. It really is a “must own” film.
Thanks again Ron for sharing your story and for letting me share mine.
-Dave Heywood, FL
Great story, Ron! You recommended Night Monster for me at the Bash several years ago, and I really liked it. You’re right, it’s a different kind of monster movie, but still very effective.
I’m glad you survived your walk home! Remind me sometime to tell you about my walk through a cold, dark, snow-covered woods after watching ‘Salem’s Lot.
-Brian NIchols, TX
Regarding NIGHT MONSTER and walking home at night, after seeing something like that...reminds me when I used to ride my bike to get to/from my grandmother's house about a mile away from where I lived when I was a kid. But...I had to go past a huge cemetery with tall, wrought iron gates around it, located smack in the middle distance between our houses. My imagination would just run wild at twilight or nighttime going by this place (some pictures attached). You'd ride much, much quicker passing by this cemetery at dusk or night time. You could easily image Dracula coming out of one of the numerous mausuoleums there; it was like being in a Hammer Film but for real (I showed Veronica Carlson a few pictures of this cemetery awhile back and she agreed with this). For whatever reason, there are numerous, large, gothic-type cemeteries around the central NY region I grew up in (they would make great Ext. filming areas for a gothic horror film.. Josh K. if you're reading this...). (Nick's photos above!)
During an area visit a few years ago, my family and I were walking at night, after a meal, past this same cemetery on the sidewalk outside it's gates, when we noticed, about 75-100 yards off in the distance..a lone, shadowy figure shambling it's way on the sidewalk & coming toward us (I'm not making this up..); to me, it was moving just like a zombie from Night of the Living Dead! My cousin actually got in front of his wife to protect her, concerned about what what was coming...as "it" got closer it truly was a zombie: it was a guy in his 30's totally blitzed, physically off-balance, attempting to carry a full case of beer; he'd obviously had a fair share of it already. A drunk zombie encounter outside a cemetery at night, amazing.
-Nick Posengal, FL
I was 15 , living at Fort Sheridan in Northern Illinois and had seen NIGHT a couple of times, but had been many years since. Was looking through the TV guide in early Spring to check off future viewings and saw a small ad for NIGHT on a Friday evening..."The Most terrifying Movie ever Made!" with a small reproduction of King Crimson's album IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING in the copy.
A slightly younger friend came over and we started watching it with the lights out. He had not seen it before and after Ben takes out the first few ghouls by the house, he became frightened and asked for the lights to be turned on. He was enjoying the film more in this fashion and all was good until we got a call from his parents wanting him to come home. Luckily, he wasn't that far and we made it back as the commercial break was ending to continue the film. But after a couple of minutes, I was told that I had to go home as they were visiting relatives the next day and were leaving early. Right as Ben and Tom rush on the porch for the truck...Oh the Agony!!!!!
Started back home at a good pace, knowing I wouldn't miss too much. But similar to Dave's story, while there were houses on one side of the street, the big Parade Field across the street seemed more scary. Perhaps because it was darker on that side or the big Oak trees with long bare branches seemed to be reaching for Me and I JUST KNEW that lurking behind those trees and shambling across the field was a whole bunch of ghouls...and coming after Me.
Whenever a discussion of classic mummy movies comes up....inevitably it's "Mummies just aren't fast enough to get you or to scare you!" That's the line, or something similar that usually ends a conversation. In one of my many, against the grain stands, I quietly offer my thoughts.
First, of course, you have to put the Universal mummy films in perspective with the time frame. There were no fast moving zombies or mummies in movies back in the 1930s-1940s. People weren't desensitized.
But beyond that, these things were the ancient dead, mixed and stirred with Egyptian mythos. Strange, odd magic that was centuries old. Creepy enough. Then there's this living dead mummy, moving and walking...ready to end your life with a slow, crushing grip. It's dead hand, mold flaking from it, tightening around your throat.
Yes, it was slow, but if you think about what this thing is, it could in real life, paralyze you with sheer terror. No matter if it's dark, cold, raining...it's coming for you a shambling step at a time. It doesn't sleep....but when you do, it's still coming for you. Slow and persistent doom.
I think of those things and somewhere in the back of my mind...yep, I'm scared. It is going to get me, sooner or later, no matter how slow it is.
This was solidified in stories told to me by my Uncle Wally. He was a kid in the 1940s. He knew I was a horror movie fan at a young age. He related his story that branded him as a kid back in New Castle, PA. He had seen the mummy movies, first run, in the theaters. Walking home alone from the theater, he felt that chill. The mummy, Kharis, was there in the bushes as they moved in the breeze. He still remembered those scary moments of his 1940s childhood when he told me in the 1970s.
Uncle Wally was a pilot and pilot trainer for Mohawk Airlines that would become USAir. He got to travel to the Middle East for his work and probably wondered if he might see a living mummy. Because it scared him, The Mummy was his favorite monster.
I like Kharis too....think about it, no matter how slow he is, he can scare you.
Good Mummy editorial Ron and not a moment too soon as the month of October will shortly be upon us and that of course is the time of all monsters. I'm glad someone has finally explained this phenomenon to the general Monster public. If I didn't know better I would have guessed your writings had come from the pen of Peter Cushing himself as he desperately (but calmly and stoically) tried to explain the trappings of "monsterdom" to the non-believers.
A lot of us "boomers" were fortunate enough to have an older monster film fan in our presence and they would always pass on this vital information so we could prepare ourselves for the imminent dangers that might boil around in our brains when night time was approaching and we might need our night lights burning. Sometimes as good as a crucifix to a monster kid.
-All the best
I couldn't agree with you more about the Mummy!
The Mummy has always been my favorite monster...there is something terrifying about a 3000 year old walking corpse. And the main thing is that unlike vampires and werewolves, you really can't kill a Mummy. It's already dead. Kharis was no joke. He was shot, burned twice, buried in a swamp, and he STILL KEEPS COMING. You have to rest...you have to eat...you have to sleep. Kharis doesn't. He will NEVER STOP until he gets you.
Even if it takes decades, as with Stephen Banning. Imagine having to always look over your shoulder, day or night...never knowing if he's behind you, or perhaps just around the corner. If that's not scary I don't know what is!
I included a pic of just some of the many Mummy kits I've painted in my collection!
I enjoyed your perspective in the story “Are Mummies Fast Enough?” I totally agree. It doesn’t matter if the Mummy is slow because you can’t escape a curse! It’s inevitable, he will get you. The movies have a sense of dread, knowing that the Mummy will appear in your room and you will have no place to run. Kharis will find you and make you pay!
I love Mummy movies, I don’t know why they get such a bad “wrap.” The films have a creepy atmosphere and if you don’t think a slow moving Mummy can be scary, you are living in de-Nile. So, if you are asking if you can enjoy a Mummy movie, well of “corpse” you can... they are “tomb-mendous!”
I recommend everyone buy a Kharis movie, its satisfaction guaranteed or double your Mummy back. Just order your favorite snack from Pizza-Tut, watch a Mummy movie, relax and “unwind.” As the Mummy movie director (Karl Freund) said, “ok, that’s a wrap”.
Take care everyone and I’ll be lurking for you at Monster Bash.
Below are models that Dave Heywood sent in from his collection. Mummies everywhere - love it:
...and this from Steve Wyka in New Jersey:
Above: Steve's mummy collection!
Hi, Ron, so I did read your story on the Mummies speed or there lack of, which I enjoyed! I always thought The Mummy was underrated or overwrapped (LOL) when it came to the Universal and then later Hammer monsters! There was more of a fear factor involved because you never knew when the living mummy would strike day or night Kharis was hell-bent on killing his victim! A slow but effective killing machine, remember 3 sacred tana leaves made into liquid form keeps him alive! 9 tana leaves motivates him to find and destroy his prey! Any more than that he becomes this uncontrollable demon, killing anyone in his way, that fatal grip.
The Universal classics are some much fun dealing in the ancient dead of Egyptian legend! Sand, old temples, filled with secret passages, skeletons and of course a curse, there always has to be a curse! Going back to 1932 with Boris as Imhotep. Then years later the 4 sequels, The Mummy's Hand (1940) and that is Tom Tyler as The Mummy! Then The Mummy's Tomb (1942) with Dick Foran reprising his role as Steve Banning and Lon Chaney Jr. as our bandaged and deadly monster! The Mummy's Ghost (1944) our 3000-year old limping mummy (Chaney) seeking his reincarnated princess (Ramsay Ames), the most beautiful actress to portray Ananka! And finally The Mummy's Curse (1944) Lon's last time wearing all those molded and flaking bandages! As for Virginia Christine as our timeless Princess, when she crawls out of the swamp, it does not get any creepier!
And, let us not forget Hammer Studios 1959 color version of The Mummy! Fantastic film with Peter Cushing, (John Banning), Felix Aylmer, Yvonne Furneaux (drop dead gorgeous- LOL, a pun on words) as Isobel Manning and of course, Christopher Lee as Kharis, our living mummy is an imposing figure and very convincing as the love tortured monster! Hammer would revisit the tombs of Egypt, 3 more times before hanging up the bandages-Ahh! So all I can say is that The Mummy may be slow compared to other monsters on the silver screen, but the horror and mystical old magic will always be there! I Want My MUMMY!
Sincerely, Steve Wyka (Wallington NJ)
Thanksgivings, King Kong, Family and Holiday Magic
Thanksgivings were magic for me back in the late sixties and early seventies. We lived in State College, PA at that time (my parents and sister still do, I moved to the Pittsburgh area in the 1980s). We had early cable in 1968. It was Centre Video. If we didn't have cable, we only got three channels...Altoona, Johnstown (fuzzy),and University Park - PBS. I don't count Channel 16 from Scranton, it came in only sometimes, fuzzy, with a lot of rabbit ear antenna struggling.
But, with this "new thing" -- cable...we got eight channels in 1968! Imagine that -- eight channels to choose from. And, believe it or not, there was more choices I liked to watch then, than with 200 channels today. It was all because of three New York City stations (technically one was Secaucus, New Jersey): WNEW 5, WOR 9, and WPIX 11. Wow....independents that played an almost non-stop rush of movies from the 1930s-1950s.
On Thanksgiving, Channel 9 started a tradition that would carry on for over a decade. KING KONG on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I think there were a few Thanksgivings that KONG played multiple, multiple times during the day. SON OF KONG and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG would be in the mix as well. And, in between things, I'd flip over to Channel 11 for the Thanksgiving showing of MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS! Laurel and Hardy meeting up with those manimals - The Bogeymen. Hideous man-beasts that lived in caverns below the earth.
Many stations around the country I've found did this, and Godzilla films were added to the mix too. After I first started talking about Kong and Thanksgiving on the web back in 1997, others with similar remembrances have surfaced. I'm not alone. We are an army of monster movie kids that embrace our wondrous childhoods.
So, it is with joy, I had Thanksgiving with KING KONG (1933), SON OF KONG (1933), MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), and MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS. The combination of Thanksgiving and those movies branding themselves in me. All this while the aroma of baking turkey came from the kitchen. The house, overly warm from the oven being on since the wee hours of the morning. And, that smell of sage meant stuffing (my favorite) was to be had by all.
During commercial breaks, I would slip out to the kitchen and snitch a green olive and a piece of celery. Iced sugar cookies had been baked by my mom and my sister.
The meal and family are together, and Carl Denham has captured the biggest gorilla ever. Stan and Ollie have beaten the Bogeymen and the evil Barnaby. Joe Young was climbing a tree and saving a little girl from a burning orphanage. It's all the 8th Wonder of the World.
It's KING KONG, it's Thanksgiving.
I'll be watching all of those films every Thanksgiving. And now, cooking the turkey and making the stuffing with my wife and daughter at Thanksgivings. My daughter knows all too well that Thanksgiving and KING KONG are inseparable.
Now in 2019, on this Thanksgiving, my dad and a few Bash staffers may join us too....they might even catch a glimpse of Skull Island and a giant ape at our house.
From my house to yours, the warmest MONSTER BASH wishes this Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for.
Let's watch this clip and remember:
Sadly, here in the Hoosier State, we didn't get KING KONG at Thanksgiving until 1975...and I think our local affiliate's decision to do that stemmed from all the buzz about the big-budget remake Paramount planned to have in theaters during the holidays the following year.
Up until then, the Thanksgiving fantasy film line-up had been MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS and THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. (This would have been during my grade school and junior high days.) Probably most here are old enough to recall when many television stations would sign off the air after a certain time of night. During the last half of the Seventies, when winter storms were a common occurance, one local CBS affiliate, Channel 8 out of Indianapolis I believe, stayed on the air all night one Sunday night during one such blizzard to provide residents with weather updates and advisories.
To help fill in the extra air time throughout the night, they ran KING KONG, SON OF KONG and Basil Rathbone's Sherlockian debut, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. Between that line-up, the excitement caused by the wild winter weather & the knowledge that there would be no school the next day, it really was some enchanted evening!
Hi Ron, so the Thanksgiving holiday is almost upon us and I think it is wonderful that there are so many of us
Trivia: When describing Kong to Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper said, "You'll have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood." She thought it was Cary Grant...King Kong's roar was a lion's roar and a tiger's roar combined and run backwards, but slowly. Of course, Mr. Joseph Young, aka Mighty Joe Young, a young woman raised a huge gorilla, and brings him to Hollywood, so what could possibly go wrong (LOL). Trivia point: This was the first feature film to which Ray Harryhausen contributed stop-motion animation effects.
I always looked forward to this annual family event/holiday. Our family would often rent a hall at the local Knights of Columbus or Hillside Club in Wallington. My dad grew up there and with plenty of food and drinks and cousins everywhere, it was simply great. But most of the time I would sit in front of the television and watch this colossal ape ravage through Skull Island and then New York City in search of the beauty, Ann Darrow! Let us not forget later on, the dream match up King Kong vs. Godzilla, two monsters for the price of one, amazing! Trivia: The idea for this movie was spawned by Willis O'Brien, who had done the special effects for King Kong (1933).
Ron, thank you for helping me recapture those fond monster memories combined with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend of days past.
Sincerely, Steve Wyka (Wallington, NJ)
Monster Toys That that Survived
There aren't a lot of my monster toys that I got as a young kid that are still with me today. I think many of us briefly "forgot" our Monster Kid heritage when we hit high school. It seems the opposite sex, driving cars and rock and roll took over. This seemed to last, about four years or so. Then you married or settled in a job...and came to your senses! You realize...."Hey! I love that stuff." Then, slowly re-collect your dear monster stuff...from Mom and Dad's attic, basement...or, in many cases, have to go out and re-buy it....at high prices.
For me, one of the wonderful monster toys I received as a child survived. It's the Motorized Monster Maker set. I original saw it in the JC Penny's Christmas catalog for 1969. The starter kit was expensive....$10.77! But, I put it near the top of my Christmas wish list that year.
Christmas morning. A big, heavy box wrapped in colorful paper under the tree. I tore into it. Lo and behold....Santa came through. The Motorized Monster Maker set. It was like a upscale Creepy Crawlers. You cooked monsters in big molds and put them together on motorized "walking" wind-up motors. Monster Kid heaven.
Fast forward three decades and Dad was cleaning out the attic with my sister and found it. They delivered it to me one day....I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought it was a distant long gone memory. That little blue spark of childhood excitement snapped back on and I remembered that love my parents showed me with this special toy from 1969. Most of the pieces, oven and even some of the goop, were still in the box. And the "toxic" smell of fresh plastics still lived in that big cardboard box.
Fast forward another fifteen years and I talked about those big Christmas catalogs our families used to get. I essayed about it on a web column. Then, last year, at Christmas...a good friend of mine who had read that bit, gave me an old Christmas catalog. There it was. The 1969 JC Penny's Christmas catalog....and on page 444 was the advertisement for the Motorized Monster Maker. I scanned it and that's what you see above here.
Sometimes Christmas monster magic lingers and that reminds you about the love of your family.
Ah, the Motorized Monster Maker. I remember seeing the TV commercials for that, then stumbling across an endcap display of them at our local Ayr-Way store. (Later, Ayr-Way would have equally impressive displays for Aurora's Monster Scenes and Prehistoric Scenes model series.) Mom & Dad (and Santa) somehow overlooked the Monster Maker on my Christmas list that year, but another Christmas did find a Mattel Strange Change Machine under the tree, allowing me to turn little plastic cubes into raging prehistoric beasts (occasionally scorching a finger or two in the process).
As my grade school years came to an end, I was scanning the Christmas catalog for toy movie projectors, having discovered some of my favorite monsters were available in 8mm and being sold at the likes of Ayr-Way and K-Mart's camera departments. Once that projector turned up under the tree, Christmases-to-come often found little reels of film as stocking stuffers. Then, in high school (Christmas '76), the folks surprised me with my own movie camera. While my teens found toys and comics falling off my radar, building monster models gave way to models of spacecraft and sci-fi vessels for use in my own 8mm epics. Major Matt Mason and G.I. Joe managed to survive the toy purge to become the stars of several stop-motion animation tests.
Little did I realize at the time that, years later, instead of emulating Ray Harryhasen I would one day interview him...I could never have imagined that in even my wildest Christmas dreams!
-Bob Statzer, Richmond, IN
A Book Under the Tree
Back in the early 1970s there weren't many books about classic horror movies readily available at bookstores. Today, there's hundreds. But, back in 1973, there were only a few in stores. One I got at Christmas back then was A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF HORROR MOVIES by Denis Gifford.
I don't think I had even seen this book anywhere. My parents must have come across it in the local mall...and knew. They knew this was exactly the kind of thing I would love. And, I did. For years it was right there with my FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine collection. A big hardback that legitimized my love of these movies. Heck, it was a real book on monster movies! Plus, there were photos and information about films that were new to me.
Keep in mind, step back, and realize there was no Internet, no speciality bookstores in average towns. So this kind of book was a monumental discovery. And that cover, that cover with Glenn Strange's Frankenstein Monster face was just so cool (see the first issue of MONSTER BASH magazine's cover by Kerry Gammill...similar?).
That Christmas morning was...my sister and I running out to the tree after we got the "all clear" from the parents. Yelling back-and-forth from our bedrooms. Seeing the lit tree, the sparkling tinsel icicles hanging above that treasure of presents. I remember tearing the wrapping paper off of that book...thinking it was a book on cars, trains, or some kind of education encyclopedia hardback. But, as the Christmas wrapping peeled back to display that green cover of monsters. Wow! I think I spent the next few days glued to that book. We drove to both my grandparent's houses....and that book was with me.
Thanks again, Mom and Dad. You knew, you knew what this Monster Kid needed.
Thank you so much for refreshing this fine memory for me. The Denis Gifford book was the first book in my monster movie library. I believe I got one oversized book for Christmas every year after – books like “Horrors from Screen To Scream” by Ed Naha, the Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff Complete film books etc. they were much better than the little paperbacks I got from the Scholastic book fair at school. I still have them all although they are in my basement now.
My Aunt Mary introduced me to monster movies when I was very young. She worked for the State Department at US embassies all over the world and she would always send my brothers and I very interesting gifts from wherever she was – France, South Africa, England. One year she sent the book to me and inscribed it “from Aunt Mary, your partner in horror films!” As I recall, my mother was not too happy about some of the pictures, one of them was a full page picture of a woman with an ax in her head, and another a monster holding a decapitated head (Monster of Piedras Blancas)
Thanks for the memories!
Tom Baxter, Gibsonia, PA
Right you are, Ron; there weren't many books about horror movies back then. And what few there were, in those pre-Internet days, weren't easy to find. Unless it was something being sold out of the back of a monster magazine, you pretty much had to be in the right place and the right time to stumble across one.
I was lucky to live near a Paperback Booksmith in my junior high and high school years. (In spite of its name, they carried tons of hardbacks, as well as record albums under the banner Music Smith.) They stocked lots of cool stuff, such as the then-new IN SEARCH OF DRACULA and its follow-up, IN SEARCH OF FRANKENSTEIN, along with the hardcover first edition of THE WICKER MAN.
During my teens, a few elusive genre volumes made their way under our tree with my name on them, such as Alan G. Frank's MOVIE TREASURY OF HORROR MOVIES (packed with some incredible color photos -- something almost unheard of at that time -- from fairly recent fare, such as FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL and SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA). A couple of other cool books unwrapped were THE SEAL OF DRACULA (a look at vampire films) and THE SHERLOCK HOLMES SCRAPBOOK by Peter Haining. (Any book on Sherlock Holmes or the horror genre by Haining is well worth grabbing if you find one.)
Happy HOWLidays, one and all!
Bob Statzer, Richmond, IN
(A Pictorial History of Horror Movies) The Bible! I was about 11 and we were on vacation is Eastern PA, Valley Forge, etc. We went to a little mall in King of Prussia and I got this book for $5! Devoured it and it’s still sitting, prominently, in my bookshelf (I’m 56, now!).
Thanks for the reminder!
Chris Lantzy, Colorado Springs, CO
Ron...greetings. Love your Classic Monster News. Enjoy each and every one. Thank you.
Thought you might enjoy the attached. Taken during December, 1961. I am at the left (older sister and brother at right) and guess which present I opened first...a great memory.
This brings back such great memories for me. I got the same book (A Pictorial History of Horror Movies) for Christmas back in I believe 1977. I cherish this book to this day. See you next June for my 11th monster bash!!
Fellow Monster kid-
Richie Rice, from Altoona Pa.
Wow! I love the Denis Gifford book to this day. It's an invaluable Monster Kid staple!
Season' Greetings & a very Merry Christmas!
PAUL LUNDY, HIAWATHA, IA
I wanted to let you know I received the same book for Christmas from my Parents in the 70’s, and still have it today and hold it dear to my heart. One of the best Christmas’s ever. When I saw your email it brought back so many great memories. Unfortunately the cover didn’t last. What great memories paging through it in my youth. Still one of the best horror movies book out there in my mind.
Season Greetings Ron and fellow Monster Bashers,
Once again Ron, you have written something that I can totally relate to. Your story about the book called A Pictorial History of Horror Movies really hit home.
I was at a somewhat new thing called a “shopping mall” back in 1973 with my mother. We were in a bookstore called Waldenbooks outside of Rochester, NY. She was looking for gift ideas when I spotted that book. Wow!!! I of course grabbed it up and asked for it, but she explained that we were out shopping for others. This incredible book was priced at $4.98 which might as well have been a hundred dollars because I didn’t have that kind of money at 12 years old. So I reluctantly put it back down and sadly walked away.
A week later, on Christmas morning I opened up one of my gifts and there it was. That awesome Frankenstein Monster on the front cover. All these great photos inside of monsters I knew and some that I wasn’t familiar with. I would imagine what all these movies were like. I tried to draw several monsters from this great book. When school was back in session, I brought it with me to show off. I was the most popular kid on my bus, and all my buddies would look over my shoulder at all the cool pictures.
It will always be my favorite book. I still have the original my parents bought me and I’ve purchased a better copy for my collection as well. The image of Frankenstein on the cover is my all time favorite picture of the monster. Years ago I even had that face tattooed on my upper arm so I could enjoy the nostalgia of that book cover picture of Frankenstein. I guess it’s pretty crazy what we Monster kids treasure and fondly remember.
Take care all, and I’ll see you this June at Monster Bash !!!
Dave Heywood, New Port Richey, FL
Ron, sorry but I'm a bit late answering this newsletter about the Denis Gifford book. (Christmas coming you know.) For those out there who don't know it yet, this is one of the very best books on classic monsters one could ever hope to possess. It has everything a classic monster fan could need to become a learned member in this fine genre. I've had a lot of books and magazines on this subject over the years and enjoyed them all to varying degrees but this is my all time favorite.
My favorite chapter is the one about the Poverty Row B pictures. A funny thing about this book is Denis tells us how certain films or scenes from films were deleted because the censors found them too shocking for the British audiences. Now years later when certain films are being restored, source material often comes from British collectors. Oh the irony! Lol.
Anyway, it is funny that you mentioned this book because a few weeks ago I was thinking how this book source would make a great documentary for YouTube and beyond. Anyway Ron have a great Christmas and all the best in the New Year.
-Dave MacDonald, Canada
One Christmas in the Mid-1960s
This flashback memory flickers in my brain...I was only five or six years old and I was in the basement furnace area helping my dad. We actually had a coal furnace at that time on College Avenue in Grove City, Pennsylvania. I had a toy gas station down there that I liked to play with as my dad worked. I remember talking about some new movie called SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS with Dad. I would end up seeing that at a Kiddie Matinee in the Guthrie Theatre. But this little essay isn't about that experience...which seems like a Disney experience next to another holiday matinee I saw....
In those days it was not uncommon for parents to drop off their kids to a "Kiddie Matinee" and go shopping. My mom frequently dropped me off at the Guthrie Theatre on a Saturday mid-day. The theatre would be full of kids from five to twelve years old. I'm sure the theatre staff just "loved" those matinees of screaming, unruly kids running everywhere. There would be cartoons, maybe a Three Stooges short, then the feature film. It was 35 cents to get in.
I can remember seeing these features on weekend matinees (the fairy tales were Mexican or German imports, dubbed in English): RUMPELSTILTSKIN, SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED, JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME, TOM THUMB AND LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS), TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT and....something simply called SANTA CLAUS. Now we get to it.
It was one Christmas season and Mom dropped me off at the matinee. I can still remember the happy looking movie poster behind glass at the theater. It did look like a Disney movie. Cheerful, festive, full of Christmas spirit. That's what I saw, that's what I'm sure my mom saw. Neither of us noticing the little image of a Satan-like devil mixed in there.
I was probably five or six, sitting in the theater filled with kids. Our parents all gone off shopping for Christmas. The audience was loud and crazy, as kids are, then suddenly silent at spots in the film. This thing was dubbed in English (I didn't really get it at the time), a product from Mexico and K. Gordon Murray. Murray was a film distributor, quick to find ways to make money from these inexpensive foreign features dubbed and shilled to American kid audiences.
This holiday film had these horrifying scenes that twisted how us kids saw the holiday forever: dancing demons in Hades, a devil pawn called "Pitch" who was charged to stop Santa Claus and his good-deed doing. There was a dream sequence where eight foot dolls with "dead" eyes haunted a young girl, Merlin the wizard somehow ended up at Santa's workshop which was off in space floating somewhere in clouds. Santa's workshop had bizarre equipment, including a giant eyeball on a metal hose that spied on children to see if they were naughty or nice. And, white robot reindeer. In one sequence parents leave a child alone on Christmas Eve as they run off to a nightclub....on and on.
This film was filled with nightmare sequences for any young kid. There were good intentions there, but presented in a pretty disturbing, crazy way! Seek it out. My mom never knew how creepy and twisted this movie was. I loved it.
Now it's tradition in the Adams household. I play it on various screens around the house for our holiday dinner get-togethers with family and Monster Bash staffers. People are always stunned and dumbfounded by it. It still holds its "charm."
Merry Christmas to you and your family from Ron Adams and Creepy Classics/Monster Bash.
Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoy your "trips down memory lane" stories at Creepy Classics. In 1964, was ten years old and, like you, went to the local neighborhood theater in North Minneapolis. It was called the Paradise Theater then, now its called the Capri.
I remember going to the theater for the Saturday matinees and kids being rowdy and out-of-control. Like you said, the kids must have driven the theater management crazy. As for films, I remember many triple-features: Japanese horror/sci-fi films, Bowery Boys (the later ones), Hammer horror, etc.
Thanks for stirring up my childhood memories.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you and your family.
P. S. I never heard to twisted Santa Claus movie you refer to. But I did look it up on IMDb and Wikipedia. Thanks again.
A Few New Year's Flashbacks...
Some of my most memorable New Year's Eve's were with my parents and sister after spending the holidays at Disney World in the 1970s...sitting in a hotel room with the (then new) Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve...party hats, noise makers, potato chips and, of course, my comic books and monster magazines on hand.
I saw, from a distance, John Lennon at Disney World at one of those great holidays. Hammer, Amicus and Godzilla films were at our neighborhood theaters back in those winter days on the early and mid-1970s. The band Chicago was on TV singing the song "Harry Truman" on one New Year's Eve.
Above: Chicago on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve. I couldn't find a video of them doing the song "Harry Truman" that I remember. But this is them on the show in 1975.
Then there was a New Year's where my parents went out and my friend Kevin Slick was spending the night at my house. We had Casey Kasem's year end countdown on the radio...Top 100 songs of the year (somewhere in the 1970s). We burned a frozen pizza in the oven and at the stroke of midnight sent it sailing Frisbee style outside.
And now, suddenly it's 2020, all those New Year's flipped by...and I still like all the monster magazines, movies and music I did back in 1974. And, Kevin Slick and I are are still friends, making Monster Bash's happen.
-Ron Adams, Ligonier, PA, January 2020
Some fond memeories of Seventies-era New Year's Eves. The week between Christmas and New Year's of 1976 found my family and I visiting an aunt down in New Port Richie, Florida. There was a lot of buzz about the new KONG KING at the time, as the controversial remake had just opened the previous week. During that Florida trip, we spent a day at Disney World and I spent a lot of time filming the 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA ride with the new Super 8 home movie camera I'd been given for Christmas. (Glad I did, since the attraction has since been torn down.) Even better, the 11' special effects miniature of the Nautilus used for the underwater sequences in Disney's 1954 take on the Jules Verne classic was on display at the park at the time. (And, when no one was looking, I sliipped behind the velvet ropes for a better look.) That new year got off to a good start, as our return to school back in my Midwestern home town found us hit with a series of winter storms, resulting in a lot of snow days off from January to March...giving me a chance to edit together all that 8mm Florida footage!
Bob Statzer, Richmond, IN