I slept in this morning. Spent another late night doing nothing but watching monster movies. I recently got myself a DVD collection of Hammer Films monster movies from the sixties. I found it in the $5 bargain bin at Walmart, a place I regularly shop for movies.
When I was a boy, back in the 60’s, there always used to be a midnight monster movie feature called Gravesend Manor on Channel 5, WOI TV in Ames, Iowa. It started at 11:00 pm and ran til 1:00 am. I, of course, being a weird little monster-obsessed kid, would sneak downstairs in my PJ’s when everyone else was asleep and I would laugh at the antics of the goofy butler, possibly gay vampire duke, and the other guy who was supposedly made in the master’s laboratory. And when the movie started, I was often scared witless by the black-and-white monster B-movie like Scream of Fear!, or Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, or Eyes of the Gorgon. It was always the reason I could rarely get up in time for church and Sunday school the next morning without complaints and bleary-eyed stumbling through breakfast. I never knew if my parents figured it out or not, but they probably did and were just too tired to care.
It was my source for critical monster-knowledge that would aid me greatly when I grew up to be a fireman/cowboy hero. Because battling monsters was… you know, a hero prerequisite. And I intended to be the greatest one there ever was. Even better than Wyatt Earp or Sherlock Holmes or Jungle Jim.
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, and the immortal Christopher Lee were my tutors in the ways of combating the darkness. When I started watching a really creepy monster movie, I always had to stick it out to the end to see the monster defeated and the pretty girl saved. And they didn’t always end in ways that allowed me to sleep soundly after Gravesend Manor had signed off the airways for the night. Some movies were tragedies. Sometimes the hero didn’t win. Sometimes it was really more of a romance than a monster movie, and the monster was the one you were rooting for by the end. I remember how the original Mighty Joe Young made me cry. And sometimes you had to contemplate more than tragedy. You had to face the facts of death… sometimes grisly, painful, and filled with fear. You had to walk in the shoes of that luckless victim who never looked over his shoulder at the right moment, or walked down the wrong dark alley, or opened the wrong door. The future was filled with terrifying possibilities.
Now, at the end of a long life, when I am supposed to be more mature and sensible, I find myself watching midnight monster movies again. What’s wrong with me? Am in my second childhood already? Am I just a goofy old coot with limited decision-making capabilities? Of course I am. And I intend to enjoy every horrifying moment of it.