Looking for Lugosi.

Posted: October 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Once…

When Darkness fell across the land,

And the midnight hour was close at hand…

We would gather around a big bowl of microwave popcorn and bask in the hazy glow of a black and white TV. We only got three network stations, a PBS channel, and an occasional UHF station, but inevitably this time of year, one of those was showing a monster movie!
Sometimes it was a late night show that served as a celebration of campy cinema. In Tulsa, it was The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting with Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi (who was actually Gailard Sartain in a pointy wizard’s cap). These shows showcased low budget scary movies that had been made 30 years earlier. The makeup was mostly mediocre, the special effects were pretty lame, but the story drew us in. Once upon a time monsters were fun. These were movie monsters that scared you in ways that made you feel alive more than anxious.

We met some amazing monsters…
Dracula, He was immaculately dressed and he had an interesting speech impediment. He was my favorite.
Frankenstein’s monster and his lovely bride, a match made in a laboratory taught us about unrequited love.
The Wolf man, my brother’s favorite, he is a tragic figure desperately in need of a full body waxing.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon was a fish stick with an attitude.
The Invisible Man was the result of a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

These were decent, hard working monsters. There were no creepy clowns or possessed dolls. Nobody wore hockey masks or razor clawed gloves. Dracula never had to start a chainsaw. The Bride of Frankenstein never crawled out of a TV.

Our monsters were familiar and recognizable by their fangs, out of control body hair, or the bolts in their necks. It’s easier to deal with your monsters when you see them coming.

Our monsters knew their place, and it wasn’t a summer camp!! It was usually an insane Doctor’s laboratory or a faraway land like Transylvania. As long as the monsters stayed in the swamp, they couldn’t touch us.

Instead of serial killers, our childhood monsters were cereal characters. Count Chocula and Franken Berry were delicious. It’s easier to deal with your monsters when you eat them for breakfast.

Sometimes there was a pathos to our monsters. They seemed to be victims themselves. They were misunderstood. They weren’t psychopaths, they were just people thrust onto the wrong path.

Honestly…
I really do miss fright delivered in black and white.

So now, I occasionally grab a big bowl of microwave popcorn and I bask in the glow of 354 channels and I search for Bela Lugosi.
He is nowhere to be found.

When I think about our modern movie monsters, I want my mummy.

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