On an autumn night the full moon casts jagged shadows in the ancient forest of knarred trees. The man and the woman vacationing in the old village by the forest edge decide to go exploring by moonlight. The old innkeeper, whose wife has wrapped her head in a scarf and hides crossing herself behind the kitchen door, tells them not to go. The forest is old and old things deserve and demand things, terrible things. But if they do go, says the old innkeeper whose children have hidden in their rooms, don’t take the southern path; the one that leads past the graveyard toward the abandoned castle. The man and the woman thank the old innkeeper then laugh about his superstitious ways. They take the southern path.
I love a good monster movie.
I love the blood suckers and the shape shifters and the reanimated corpses. The giant bugs and lizards and apes crushing tiny cities underfoot; the shrinking men and the growing women and the atomic anomalies that are an affront to nature itself. I love the evil scientist who dares play God and the damn fool hotshot whose reckless actions might just get us all killed.
I love them all.
So many Saturday afternoons and late nights were spent kneeling in front of a 17 inch Sony Trinitron with a faux wood plastic frame. I would sit mere inches away undaunted by the fact that it might ruin my eyes with a can Coke or Frank’s Grape Soda and a bowl of popcorn. It was Creature Double Feature or Dr. Shock’s Theater and I didn’t want to miss a minute.
The Universal classic monsters, the Hammer horrors, 50s b-movies and Japanese rubber-suited kaiju; I remember these films with great affection. When I was a kid I found these films unreal, bizarre and wonderful. They were macabre landscapes, grotesque and beautiful. They scared me and fascinated me. When I watched them my imagination was incensed. I wanted to tell stories like that. Still do.
Passing the graveyard the man and the woman approach the abandoned castle. As the woman stops to look at an old stone the man playfully hides behind a tree. When the woman asks aloud where he is the man jumps out with his hands clenched in claws. Rawrr, he says and the woman is startled and screams, she places a hand to her breast. That was scary, she says and the couple laugh and laugh. And the laughter fills the air and rustles the leaves on the trees. Unknown to the man and the woman their laughter awakes something in the forest, something old.
And so now I am revisiting those films with the eyes of an adult but the memories of a child. Monster Memories will analyze a different film at random twice monthly and see if my fond memories hold up to my jaded self today. After all what we remember as children as being great can sometimes (often) not hold up to adult scrutiny. Still, I’m looking forward to the journey and seeing those old films again.
I hope you will join me for this movie watching nostalgic trip through gypsy cures and enchanted woods and laboratories filled with experiments that are sure to go wrong.
And be careful when you go walking during the full moon.
Suddenly the moon disappears behind a cloud and the couple are plunged in darkness. The man makes muffled moaning noises and grunts and the woman says, stop it, it’s not funny anymore. As the cloud passes the woman finds the man gone and something is behind her. Something big and breathing heavy, wet breaths. When she turns to see what it is she screams again but her scream is cut short.
Back at the inn the innkeeper is latching the windows and bolting the doors.