You see, way back in the year 1973, I was four years old and already an avid fan of movies and TV programs that featured monsters. Don’t ask me how I got started watching them, because I can’t tell you and no one in my family can tell you. We all just accept it as one of those immutable laws of the universe: Shadow has ALWAYS liked monsters. As far back as memory allows me to wander, I have enjoyed monster movies. Godzilla is my earliest monster memory, and given the big guy’s stature, it is easy to see why. I mean, c’mon – he is the KING of monsters!
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. I was four years old in 1973. One night I sat down to watch George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead with my four older sisters and my mother. Needless to say, it was an intense experience for me. So intense, that mom had to send me to bed halfway through the film. Talk about torture! There I was, all alone in bed with a giant window hanging over me…and the curtains wide open. I started imagining the faces of dead people appearing in that window, the ghouls desperately trying to claw their way into my room in order to get me. To make a long story short, I was not able to go to sleep and began crying. Mom had no recourse but to let me back out to the family room where I was able to see the rest of the film.Simply put, the movie scared the living hell out of me. I was so traumatized by it that for years afterwards, whenever a commercial came on that was advertising an upcoming airing of the film, I would quickly turn the channel. In instances where I was not close enough to the TV set to turn the channel before being exposed to too much imagery from the film, I would run like hell out of the room. When that wasn’t an option I went with the old classic of sticking my fingers in my ears, closing my eyes and humming. It would be many years before I let myself watch the movie again, and by that time I found it no longer scared me. In fact, after that initial viewing, I found that very little truly scared me anymore. Why? Because Night of the Living Dead scared me so bad, I got it all out of my system at once. Others might theorize that having four older sisters was enough horror in my life and that explains why nothing much phased me afterwards, but that is a debate for another day.
So despite avoiding Night of the Living Dead, I still nurtured my passion for monsters. I was devoted to watching all the monster matinees shown by local channels, and it just so happened the bulk of films aired by these stations were monster films from the 1950’s. Because of this early exposure, I have a love for 50’s horror and scifi that continues to this day. Though I still love films from all other eras, because I grew up watching films the 50’s, they will always be my favorites. Odd, huh? That a child of the 70’s and 80’s would love 50’s monster flicks so much. Growing up with monsters also had another long term affect: nothing scares me anymore. Well, nothing on film. For years I was always on the lookout for a film that would frighten me, but nothing ever did. I ran like hell to films that were called "chilling to the bone" and "scary as hell," but never came out of the theater feeling anything more than just entertained (and sometimes not even that).
The next step
It is often said that there is a single, defining moment in each of our lives that changes us forever. A moment of clarity in which the world and our place in it is made evident to us for one brief shining instant. An epiphany that not only informs us of who we really are, both inside and out, but also opens up before us a new path to take or a new door to open. In many cases, that instant only imparts a new sense of purpose. A change in perspective and/or a shift in priorities rather than a grand, sweeping change across the entire spectrum of life.
In my case, it was definitely the latter that occurred to me. A moment, not which revealed to me my purpose in life, but rather, unveiled a passion which had only been hinted at before that fateful day. A craving so strong that it would eventually guide and influence a great deal of my life and ultimately factor in greatly in a life long dream. The only way my moment differed from the stereotype was that mine last nearly two hours.
The date was….well, I don’t remember the date. It was in June. Or maybe even July. The place was the Coronet theater on Geary street in San Francisco and the year was 1977. The event? The first time I saw Star Wars at the age of eight.
I imagine that a similar experience befell many people my age. Before Star Wars came along I had always enjoyed science fiction and horror films, having watched Star Trek in it’s now famous syndication run of the early 70s, as well as staying up late on Friday and Saturday nights to watch Creature Features – a local show that aired those older horror and scifi films from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that I loved so much. However, after seeing George Lucas’ classic, I was forever altered. To this day my family still isn’t sure whether it was for the good.
My craving, passion and love for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror exploded. Anything and everything remotely connected to the genre got my attention. I went from being a youth who was not overly interested in books to one consumed with the need to read more and more and more. Any TV show and any film that even hinted at featuring a spaceship or a monster became a “must see” with me (not that parents allowed me to see them all).
Throughout these years, my imagination soared with the magic of it all. I recall my determination to collect every Star Wars action figure manufactured by Kenner. I remember a friend and I sticking pillows in our shirts and pant legs before proceeding to beat the hell out of each other with plastic sprinkler pipes – or as we called them – our lightsabers. I even recollect the earliest attempts at writing fiction that earned me praise from teachers and odd looks from classmates. The imagined adventures my friend and I had after school were stuff of legend - at least in my memories they exist that way. From one day to the next we fought off legions of foes. From Imperial Stormtroopers, to Cylon Centurions, to Draconian Tigermen – we fought them all in both hand to hand combat and from the cockpit of our starfighters. It was a great time to be a kid.
A favorite question in SciFi circles is the one that asks, “what was the golden age of science fiction?” Many people will ponder this for a moment and say the 1930’s or the 1940’s or some other era…but it’s a trick question. The real answer is simply 12, or in relative terms, whatever age during which all scifi seems magical. Before time takes it’s toll on us and we start to view some, if not all of it, as silly. Some people retain their love for the genre but become much more discerning in what they like and don’t like.
Sometimes I feel that I am the only one who is still in their “Golden age of Science Fiction.” My passion, my craving and yes, my need for the genre in all it’s forms has never abated over the decades. And while I may have developed an adult sense of criticism at much of it, I still find myself drawn to 99 percent of what the field has to offer. From literature, to TV, to films, to games, toys, collectibles, and more – I embrace it all with the same gusto I did when I was eight years old.
I cannot imagine my life without such things in it. Such things define who I am just as much as my hair or eye color. Star Wars opened up even wider a doorway to a universe of excitement, adventure and thought provoking stories. A doorway that led to my own path in tandem with the SciFi genre. I wonder how many others like me are out there, and I feel sorry for the generation who had to grow up with Star Wars on TV, not ever experiencing the awe and exhilaration of seeing it at the dawn of the modern SciFi era, witnessing it’s impact not only on popular culture, but on individuals as well.
I tell myself that just as each generation must learn life’s lessons on their own, despite the counsel of their elders, so too must each generation find their own inspiration – their own magic…and in turn, experience their own epiphanies. For someone, that Golden Age of Science Fiction is just now blossoming and nurturing the fertile imagination within. I envy them the experience they will have. We can open that doorway only once in our lives, and even if the path that awaits on the other side lasts forever, that single moment of discovery will never come again.
I, for one, intend to walk that path until my last breathe has faded away onto the wind. Until that day, I await anyone who wishes to rise to the challenge with my pillows and plastic sprinkler pipe. I’ve gotten pretty damn good over the years…
Why the graveyard
I do tend to ramble, don’t I? Anyway, suffice it to say that my genre interests are centered around two main categories: Monsters and Spaceships, which are fueled by those two unforgettable moments in my life: the first time seeing Night of the Living Dead and the first time seeing Star Wars. Over the years, I found it increasingly difficult to find others who shared such a deep love for such things to the same extent I did. Sure, others liked the same stuff, but they didn’t seem to like it as much as me, which was disappointing.
Imagine my delight and surprise when I finally got online and discovered the wealth of material to be found. At last, places to go where I could talk about all that cool stuff with people who not only liked it as much as me, but knew just as much as I did if not more. It was heaven! Over the years I have come across untold sites that sparked my interest and along the way I have even helped in the creation and administration of a few. However, while these sites provided an outlet for many of my interests, one category was left out: older “B” horror and science fiction films. I finally was inspired by reading everyone else’s stuff and decided it was time to start my own “B” movie site.
And here we are. For those who know me to any extent, the “spooky” graveyard motif will not be a surprise one bit. Even I am beginning to suspect that I’m incapable of designing or decorating anything in a non-Halloween-ish style (you should see my house). So this place is where I will share my love of movies with all you suckers…er…people who drop by. I hope you enjoy visiting the place as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it.