VOLUME EIGHT: MONSTERS: Movies, Models and Memories

Has there ever been anything greater than movie monsters? Certainly not for me. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Wolfman, and the Creature; the big five, the classic monster lineup, Man, how I love ‘em! Maybe it’s a generational thing; being born in 1955 the big Universal Monster resurgence of the early 60’s became an integral part of my formulative years and surely had a significant impact on my opinion. My earliest memory of the monster bond that was to last my lifetime was on Halloween in 1960. I’m not sure if I had even seen a monster movie yet, but my Dad got me a Ben Cooper Frankenstein costume and I was hooked! Dad also made my Trick or Treat bag that year out of an old, brown paper grocery sack on which he drew a picture of the big, green guy and surrounded him with the requisite gravestones, bats, and skeletons. I was five years old and my love of monsters had been firmly established.

This, of course, was also the same time period that Universal Monsters were enjoying a second life. The original black and white movies were re-released for T.V., and being shown on Friday and Saturday night horror shows. My brothers and I spent many a night wide-eyed and wired watching these classics. But what really dialed us all into the craze was the release of the Aurora Monster Kits. Man, now you could have your monsters right there in your hands! And the boxes were so cool, we used to cut them up and use the pictures for trading cards, bicycle decorations, clubhouse pictures and anything else a kid could think of. I remember like it was yesterday when my Dad got us our first kits. My brother Clay got Frankenstein and I got the Wolfman. Outside of the time I got a Popeye doll for Christmas, (the greatest Christmas gift ever, but that’s another column!) I can’t remember any gift I’ve ever liked better. We built them right at the kitchen table, Dad helping us out with some of the detail work, giving us the basic idea of what building a model was all about, and then we were off and running. Back in those days kids of 6 and 8 years old could walk on up to the local hobby store, and we sure did. Kits were .95 cents, and we could always find enough bottles to turn in to the local Kroger Food Market to afford the latest release. We kept buying, and building, these kits until we got good enough to start keeping our work, all of which is here at this site here.

As I grew up, I never lost my fascination with the monster genre. I would always check out the new films being released. My brother Chris and I never missed a premiere for a while there. Man, we waded through some crap, but every once in a while a gem would emerge. Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, there were new classics being born and I was happy to be a witness. Even lately the Jeepers Creepers series introduced us to a new monster, and I feel just like I did when I saw Frankenstein for the first time. It’s just exciting. My wife doesn’t get it at all, she really doesn’t, but God bless here, she tolerates my love of it . She even got to the point where she let me take over the lower lever of our house to display all my collectibles, models, posters and other monster stuff. I guess after 29 years she finally figured it wasn’t just a phase......

This month Universal is releasing a DVD set, 6 discs, that contain 14 movies, all digitally restored and remastered, of three of the big five. Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman are featured in this initial set release that includes really cool collector’s busts of the characters. This is fantastic news for all monster fans. The first DVD release in the late nineties sold out fast and provided Ebay opportunists with another way to make me miserable! This release certainly ends the reign of terror of those bastards. The release of this set also leads into the theatrical release of the new Van Helsing movie, which is going to be the greatest movie ever!! I hope…..When’s the last time you got three of the classic monsters in one film?!? I tell ya’ when, in the film Monster Squad, from the eighties, that’s when! That film had ALL FIVE monsters in it. It has yet to be released on DVD, but I understand that it is in the works.

So get on out there and rediscover them good’ ol’ time monsters, and relive a bit of your youth, ‘cause everytime you do, a little bit stays with you and it’s a good feeling!

HEY YOU! Got an opinion? Shoot me an email and let me know what you think.