Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fear for thought, part two.

I'm really enjoying the pub chatter over the "scariest version of a given monster" topic of our last post.

Discussing over a few pints our childhood (and in some cases, lingering) fears, detailing that which we viewed through our fingers, from behind sofas, in our bad dreams... this is excellent stuff.

I know you can follow the Recent Pub Talk sidebar languishing over there to your right, or even just head down to the comments section below the post, but I really want to highlight some great commentary and input on this fun topic.

Hallowe'en Spirit admitted that for her, it was "Vampires. Always vampires. Modern incarnations of Dracula in particular. Even Universal's Dracula scared me a little..."

Jules offered, "I also was terrified of both Nosferatu and the scary Frankenstein child with the weird heart thing (yeah, I kinda understand it now, but as a kid it was beyond comprehension). But, if we're talking about "Monster Movies"- then I have to say that the Peanut Twins from "Mothra" have given me more nightmares, shudders, and sleepless nights than any other. And they weren't even the bad guys."

Rest assured Jules, you'll never have to face them here at the ol' S&P.

Fester, always an intelligent, humored and valuable patron of this little place, waxed insightfully about his childhood relationships with our beloved monsters. I hope you don't mind my bringing it from the commentary to the forefront, Fes... what can I say? You put it so perfectly:

"I know what you mean about Frankenstein's creation being family, as it were. I always looked on him as my bigger and somewhat slow brother. Being the oldest brother in the real world, it was nice to have a bigger sibling in my fantasy life. The closest analog to my friend Frankie appeared when Fred Gwynne's Herman hit the TV screen.

"Of the classic Universal Monsters, most were my friends--I was a somewhat strange kid. And for some odd reason, I could see some of my real family in my cinematic kin. Dracula (Lugosi) bore a remarkable resemblance to my grandfather on my mom's side. My paternal grandfather could have been Lawrence Talbot, and my grandma resembled the bride of Frankenstein--in a nice way!- she had dark hair with gray streaks. My dad taught shop in school and he was always wearing a shop coat like Dr Frankenstein. The metal shop was in the basement of the school, and resembled a dungeon like no other classroom. And when he was welding, sometimes the mad labs illusion was complete.

"As far as the scary monsters are concerned, they were all post- Universal critters. I agree that the Frankenstein monsters became really creepy and weird in post World War II. The Frankenstein Conquers the World-era monsters were just too creepy, and few had any shred of humanity. However, for my money one of the creepiest man made monsters was Whit Bissell’s creation “Bob” in I was a Teenage Frankenstein. Man! The first time his face was revealed, I about lost it. Talk about acne from hell!

"Wolf men were a bit more sympathetic. Most of them could not control their urges. And even Michael Landon’s version was just a guy with raging hormones--albeit his raged more than those of most guys!
The totally creepy Eddie Quits was frightening before he started getting hairy. He was only augmenting his own sadistic self.

I’ve rambled on enough for one sitting. I’ll turn the time back to you!"

Hell, Fester, that's not rambling -- around here, that's just an avid Hallowe'en & Monster Lovin' Kid's two cents! Amen to all of it, and keep it coming!

Finally (for now), Max (a drunken, severed head) had this to say about the monsters that chilled and thrilled him when he was just un cabeza pequeña:

"The only classic monster to frighten me as a child was the Karloff and Strange versions of the Frankenstein Monster, as seen in photos of the mag FAMOUS MONSTERS. Both men had unusual features that were perfect for putting the monster makeup on, and I was haunted by them. Yet at the same time THE MUNSTERS and MILTON THE MONSTER were my favorite shows on tv! I was enthralled and fascinated with the Universal incarnation of Shelley's immortal creature, seeing it as both a suffering, friendly but unpredictably dangerous being. From those early years to today, this version is to me "The King of All Monsters..."

This is the stuff for which the Skull & Pumpkin was made, the stuff on which it thrives -- friends talking horror, Hallowe'en, and all the other monstery goodness we hold as requirements for a meaningful life...

Thank you Max, Fester, Jules, Hallowe'en Spirit, each and every Autumn Person who comes to talk, listen, and celebrate the darkness by bringing their own special kind of light.

I was asked the following by a certain four-and-a-half-year-old girl recently in my care:

"Hey Pa, d'you think everyone likes monsters?"

No, kiddo.

But the right people do.


  1. That is one brilliant 4 and half year old. Thanks for this post. It was great to read, really enjoyed it.


  2. I spent a lot of my childhood in that pose. I especially remember ducking down to the empty cup and wrapper level when the movie house ran a scary preview. For some reason, the previews for SHE and ATRAGON (both 1965, when I was 10) really stuck in my mind. It was probably the volume the theater had them set at. I remember nightmares about submarines with drill bit bows coming up through the floor releasing little weird men with ray guns. And I was probably well into puberty when the sight of a statuesque woman in a flowing gown ceased to frighten me. (For the record, I married a short brunette who never wears flowing gowns!)

    On TV, the horror movies and previews were a little easier to watch. Although my mother likes to tell the story about me at six, watching the afternoon kid show (Kimbo the Clown?) and the TV station ran a Godzilla ad. She was in the kitchen and heard Godzilla roar and me scream. She ran into the living room and found me wedged between the sofa and the wall. Yet somehow, I managed to grow up a sort of normal person. Not sure what the turning point was. It may have been watching Friday night Nightmare Theater (KCPX 4, Salt Lake City) with my dad and/or the Saturday Science Fiction Matinee, or hanging out at the neighborhood theater with a bunch of kids my own age watching second run B movies for free (courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce--bless them!). However it worked out, monsters are a part of my life. And I'm happy to find so many people with whom I have so much in common.
    And Thanks, Mike, for inviting us in for these visits!

    This round is on me!


    And don't forget some cocoa for Kiara


  3. Funny, she had some earlier this afternoon... next time I'll tell her it's from you!

    I'm going to have to find the Creature Features intro from KTTV 11 in L.A. in the '70s; so far it's eluded me, but much like your KCPX Friday night memories, 'my' KTTV horror matinees are such a big part of how I became me. Watching very often with my dad, and always with a few of my siblings, I learned a more twisted path to 'normal', haha!

  4. Hang onto your memories, folks, cause you can't capture again all of the magic from you were a tadpole and you watched monsters on the little and big screens.

    Just watched KING KONG ESCAPES for the first time since I saw it at the Razorback Drive-In with my mother, shortly before she passed on. It was fun, but it wasn't the wonderfully overstimulating, baffling, wizardry-laden buzz trip that it had been when I was 5 or 6. (Yeah, I know, KKE's a lousy example, but the point remains.)

    I grew up, mostly, but I miss that kinda full-throttle openness to the fantastic. Course, I'm smarter than I was then, and I've gained new levels of appreciation, but there is a part of one that can never go back to The October Country.

    Done rambling now. Talk amongst yourselves.