Sunday, July 27, 2008

Monster Movies With Grandpa

Whenever I see a man in a rubber monster suit strangling the life out of a beautiful woman, I will think of my grandfather and smile.

As a matter of course, sleepovers at my Grandparents' house would generally start with a trip to the toy store, and segue into delivery pizza and coca-cola; the evening capper being two or three monster movies with my Grandfather. This is my warmest memory of my early relationship with him.
Grandma would bring us our pizza slices, and mason jars filled with either coca cola or iced tea. Grandpa would go over to the movie cabinet and pick out ‘a good one’. He was usually spot on.

We watched so many monster and b-horror movies together that I can’t remember them all, but a few are archetypal in my mind. While most of the Slasher films kind of bleed together after awhile, Theater Of Blood left a pretty gruesome impression in my mind: The scene where Vincent Price is extracting the pound of flesh from the theater critic who gave him bad reviews was so graphic (and so over-the-top),that once I had seen it, it became impossible to shake.

More pleasant are the monsters. The Thing From Another World, both the original and the Kurt Russell Remake were very impressive to me as a young connoisseur, and provided plenty of spin-off material for the play-time scenarios I dreamt up for my brother and sister. Alien and Aliens:Sigourney Weaver running around in her underwear through the cold, white halls of the vacant spaceship was oddly intriguing to my eight year old mind. All of the Creature From the Black Lagoon movies were good, except the one that had him wearing clothes. We watched them all: Lon Chaney’s Wolf Man. Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Boris Karloff’s Mummy. We went from The Giant Ants from Them up to the strange, Lovecraftian grotesque of that under appreciated 80’s gem, Leviathan. I would sit there right next to my grandpa and switch between watching the movie and watching his reactions to the movie. Sometimes he’d smile a little bit when someone would make a morbid joke. He’d wince a little, when he knew someone was gonna get it.

Usually, if the movie involved some kind of military craft, he would point out inaccuracies in the way the ship was made-up. More familiar was the exclamation, Run You Idiot!

Just something that came to mind as I am adding the original The Thing From Another World to my netflix cue. I hope the boys are ready for it. I hope all of the flashy CGI monsters haven’t spoiled the creepiness of the stiff-legged, usually off-screen Plant Monster. After it’s all said and done, hopefully we’ll be running around some local playground, trying to figure out the best way to stop the creature and save the earth once and for all…until the next time.

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