Four of my childhood favorite monsters on Blu-Ray
Ok, I’m about to date myself pretty hard here. So hard I’ll probably have a bruise tomorrow.
Once upon a time there were only five channels on TV; NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and the Spanish Broadcast channel. In this land of “get up and turn the knob to change channels” lived a young boy named John Wayne Hawkes. After chiseling his homework into stones he would wake up on Saturday mornings for one of the greatest joys in his young life. Action Theater! At noon each Saturday his tiny mind would be transported to lands far and wide. One week Dracula would grace his screen as Bela Lugosi bit chicks and turned into a rubber bat on a string you could see. Other days he’d watch Godzilla stomp on tiny models that were supposed to be cities or some dude (two of them actually Ricou Browningwhen the creature was in the water and Ben Chapmanon land) as The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Man it was magic. A huge part of what made me the warped individual that I am today.
Several of those classic films are available on Blu-Ray. Regardless of how those spoiled by CGI may feel about old school special effects these films really are not to be missed. They’re classics for a reason. They set the ground work, back when there was no CGI and makeup and sets had to be done by hand, for all that we know and love in horror today.
Based, of course, on the novel by Bram Stoker and starring the great Bela Lugosi this is still one of my all-time favorites. This is the film that launched the horror genre into action and led to the other great monster flicks of Classic Hollywood. Coming after 1922’s Nosferatu this film gave the vampire its first spin as a seductive, sexual creature able to seduce victims. The Blu-Ray contains both the original film with no musical score and the remixed version with score by Philip Glass. I’d suggest watching both as the lack of a musical score gives the film a different atmosphere from that of watching it with the score. This film also holds a special place in my heart for being the first to catch my attention by being based on a book. A book!! You mean there’s something I can read? And so began my love of books alongside that of films.
Frankenstein, or as my older brother called it, “That’s the name of the scientist, stupid, not the monster” is another great film from the era of Classic Monsters. Watching Boris Karloff bring such depth of emotion to this creature is a treat for all lovers of true acting. No musical score to queue your emotions. No CGI or fancy digital effects. Just actors on the screen showing skinny nerds like myself that we weren’t the only ones who were misunderstood, taken for granted and shunned for looking different.
The Wolf Man (1941)
Sorry, Mr. Del Toro, but no one has ever brought the depth of emotion and authenticity to the Wolf Man the way Lon Chaney Jr. did. His Everyman performance and the ability to truly pull the despair of his character to his face make this a classic that, to me, has not been surpassed by any other werewolf film.
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
I can’t remember how old I was, but this film holds a very special place in my heart. Way back before it was FOX 26 KMPH Channel 26, in association with SaveMart Supermarkets presented this film in 3D. Along with your grocery purchase you could get pairs of 3D glasses for a special one night showing of the film in 3D. Not that 3D like they have today where stuff actually looks real, but the old school blue and red 3D that brought this creature into the living room and mind of a young Mr. Hawkes. Between this film and JAWS I’m still nervous in open water to this day.
My love of classic films goes way beyond these four, but these are some of the earliest to have touched my imagination and helped me to become the writer I am today. As we get to know each other, both through Hub Pages and (I hope) my own novels and short stories, I believe that you’ll see the influence of not only these but other classic films.
If you’ve never seen them, I’d suggest you do so as soon as possible. If you have, watch them again! Should you fall into the camp of “screw old movies, man! They suck!” I would really suggest that you watch these. Everything that you know and love from your own childhood began with these films. Without them there would be no true horror genre.
What are some of your favorite Classic Films and what influence have they had on your own work?