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The Long Road to Fifty: 7

June 11th, 2014

I can’t say that I remember anything interesting about 2nd Grade, and I don’t have any photos from that year, so in today’s post I’m going to talk about my early fascination with monster movies.

The early ’70s were the time for Chicagoland kids to gorge themselves on fiendish films. Both WFLD-TV’s Screaming Yellow Theatre and WGN-TV’s Creature Features debuted in September 1970, putting the scare into Friday and Saturday nights.

Creature Features had the advantage of access to Universal Pictures’ horror classics: Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolf Man. And it had a skin-crawlingly creepy open featuring a montage of black-and-white ghouls set to the tune of Henry Mancini’s theme from Experiment in Terror.


While Screaming Yellow Theatre‘s library of films was inferior, it was enlivened by the hippie horror host known as Svengoolie.

svengoolie

For three brief years, Jerry G. Bishop’s alter ego performed skits and songs, and mercilessly mocked the hapless Chicago suburb of Berwyn. (“Berwyn?!?”) His legacy lives on to this day, with a namesake successor portrayed by Rich Koz.

Monsters weren’t confined to the tube, of course, and I cajoled my folks into taking me to the Ridge Road Drive-In in Griffith, Indiana to see Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster and the misleadingly titled Godzilla’s Revenge.

Heck, even my grade school got into the act. George Earle Elementary occasionally screened afterschool movies in the gym. I saw Frankenstein vs. the Space Monster there. And it’s thanks to them that I was introduced to one of my all-time favorites, The Monolith Monsters.

Halloween was one of my favorite days of the year. The neighbor across the street used to dress up as something new every year to hand out candy, and she served as an inspiration to me. I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be the cool adult on the block.

Boo, I'm a ghost.

Boo, I’m a ghost.

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