I wrote before (see Monster Kid Chronicles, Part I, April 16th) about the aesthetic and psychological validity, the lasting value of– monster movies. And I do assert that the best of these rank with the best of anything else.
The SubGenius concept of “Bulldada” which I also touched on in the earlier piece recognizes this. Since these pictures were not about the “serious” intellectual fashions of their day, but rather about something more timeless– and, paradoxically, therefore of more lasting human interest, they have tended to enjoy success beyond their time.
With a certain recondite group especially– the “Monster Kids.”
These, among whom I count myself (age 61), encountered the Monster Craze of the late 50s and early 60s with wide eyes– and were transformed by the encounter. Besides me and Ivan Stang, other Monster Kids included future film directors Joe Dante (who wrote at least one article for the magazine) and Steven Spielberg.
Back then, late-night TV just might show some grainy horror movie from the 30s or 40s. This was a big deal to those of us who stayed up in the wee hours to watch Before I Hang with Boris Karloff (1940), or The Invisible Ray (1936), which Karloff made with Bela Lugosi. Or Jacques Tourneur’s wonderful Curse of the Demon (Night of the Demon in England). Or Robert Lansing in 4-D Man. Or the Japanese Half-Human. Or…
Or anything that had a monster.
Or even anything odd or outré, with a speculative bent. But usually there was a monster, and that’s what we stayed up to see, and discuss with our knowledgeable peers the next day. Delightful, secret lore!
It had started when packages of Universal Pictures’ horror films were released to TV stations, in those pre-video, pre-cable, pre-digital days. To see something then you had to wait for it to come on. I still remember the excitement we felt.
But, how is it that we were hipped to this particular action, as the Beatniks of the time might say?
One man, the coolest of the cool, really deserves most of the credit.
His name was Forrest J Ackerman. He was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
Part Three tomorrow
[Halloween Decoration and Pumpkins in Front of House from the Street, via Shutterstock.com]