The Movies

When I was a kid, there were two movies which would come to haunt my nights. “The Blob” (original version, black and white), and “H-Man”, another movie which featured a plasticized being.

The only main difference between them was how they were created and their viscosity. The Blob was an alien being; H-Man a human creation. The blob was thick and dark (black to my way of thinking – and another benefit of watching black and white TV – the colors were whatever you made them). H-man was runny and thin – kind of oily looking, too, with a bit of a sheen. But he could ‘assemble’ himself after flowing under a door (or a keyed lock – or any thin type of opening) – and when he stood up, you could see through him – kind of a dark brown to my way of thinking and seeing at the time. With an oily looking film and bubble spots moving on him. And when he ‘eats’ you he leaves your clothing behind – in a perfectly outlined position, like he just sucked you out of them (and laying them there perfectly, just as the producer had decided, I am sure!).

I couldn’t have been much more than seven years old when I saw them – first “The Blob” (at six, I think); then “H-Man” a little bit later. After after that I was scared of the shadows in my bedroom.

They would lengthen and grow – stretching across the floor; starting from the corners; oozing from under the door. We weren’t allowed to have any night light in the room, and the only illumination came from the curtained window. Screaming or crying out at night was frowned on if not forbidden. You’d get into more trouble (for certain – and you could never be certain about these things – either the monsters coming and eating your, or the folks coming and beating you for crying out loud. Screaming was especially prohibited, unless you were getting beaten. Then it was okay to scream – and the louder the better, and the longer you held on before you began to scream, the more likely you were going to be getting beaten longer and harder . . . which I often was, being a stoic child and more. (The DID had something to do with that; ‘we’ were able to separate ‘off’ from being beaten somewhat; which means ‘we’ don’t remember that ‘thing’ very good.)

Anyway (seeing I’m getting off-topic here) . . .

Hollywood (and, apparently, an off-the wall Japanese horror movie which, if you click on the link up there, was based more on the Japanese mob and gangsters, along with a whole lot of drugs) – coupled with an overactive child’s imagination – led to post-bedtimes filled with teeth-clenched terror. Lips sealed against the screams that wanted to come, I would watch; the covers tightly clenched in both hands, drawn up to my lips and no more (because I wanted to see if it was coming for me and know when it was time to run) – I would watch the shadows grow and lengthen, oozing across the floor. The worst ones were the shadows within the shadows; the really dark ones which would seem to take on depth and solidity. Then I’d become really scared. And sometimes – just sometimes – I would pull the covers over my head and wait . . . but it never came.

 

Movies – Hollywood – this wasn’t the only one from those early times. I don’t remember every one we went to, but I remember a few.

There was one, just a scene that stuck with me. I’d seen it in Texas. I think it was about the time of the Kennedy assassination – something bad had happened, something on TV, and all the grownups had left the room. They were all upset and in the other rooms milling around and talking; they’d left the TV on and me alone and there was nothing else to do, so I sat there watching. I don’t think I was supposed to be doing this (I have the feeling I was being bad or somewhat disobedient), but there was nothing else to do.

Then in 2010 I was watching TV and they had the 1960’s version of H.G. Well’s “The Time Machine” on and I saw that scene; that picture. It was the same one I’d been looking for for all these years: that of a man killing an ape-like creature by smashing its head against a cave wall, and then blood (turned to black by the peculiar qualities of a black and white TV) suddenly spurting from the fur covered creature’s mouth and dribbling down its chin. It was like a caveman; only much furrier. I must have been about three, and was quite impressed, apparently, because I’d been keeping my eye open for this scene for such a long long time – wondering what movie contained this short spurt – what was playing while people

 

Bambi”, probably affected me more profoundly, emotionally speaking, than any others (aside from ‘The Blob” and “H-Man” – nothing could match the terror they’d bring) – so much so at the time that I wrote about Bambi and his father in first grade. Looking over those letters I can see it expresses the fears a small child would have for his father gone off to war. After all, my father often was. He was either going to one, or had just come from one, or was preparing for one. That is the Army way.

I also remember that movie so well because we went to an indoor theater – it seemed so fine and grand. I can still ‘see’ it in my mind – the marquee, bright lights, people milling around – me looking up at them, my parents holding my hand – and that particularly musty theater some theaters have. It might have been the Miller, down in August, or another one. I don’t know. All I know is that it seemed the height of civilization and culture to me at the time (I have a feeling I was dressed in my finest – or at least some appropriate attire – something I wouldn’t have worn while playing around in the ‘hood.)

The movie opened – and I was overjoyed and overawed – it was a huge cartoon to begin with, and had such cute characters which still stand out in my mind (‘Thumper’, the rabbit and the skunk who liked flowers being two of them). And naturally I was horrified and saddened when Bambi’s father died (which may – and must have been, apparently – one of my childhood fears – my father getting his ass killed in some kind of a war. You could read “Little Girl Lost” for more on that – but that would come later, like the foretelling of an event – or at least reinforcing the fear of it in my mind.

But the movie ended wonderfully and I didn’t care – I’d fallen in love with the characters in the movie, and the theater as well – the going there, the people rustling in the dark; the flavor of buttery popcorn that left your arms all greasy, as well as around your mouth – it was fun. But it was rare to go – rare indeed, and that was the first one – and the last one (indoor theater, I mean) that I remember ever going to for a long, long time. Up until we moved overseas and there was one I could walk to and I was making money on my own. But apparently Bambi affected me on some deep level, because I wrote about it soon.

Since then I’ve seen lots of movies – both crappy and fine. Some have affected me; most don’t. Bad science bothers me; but bad special effects rarely do if the story is good. I can put up with a piece of dog food dangling on a string being used as a ‘meteor’ if the story is good. But over the past quarter century I’ve noticed people are more attracted to flashing lights and moving color than they are a real plot that pulls at your heart strings; they are more interested in bullshit than substance – which is the norm.

Fortunately I don’t fall in the ‘norm’. Never have and (apparently) – never did.

Both a curse and a charm, if you ask me.

Neither of which ever did me any good.

You go figure it out if you can. I never have, and don’t know if I should.

 

 

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