Having been born in the mid 1950’s, I’m categorized as a ‘Baby Boomer’, which doesn’t bother me. We tend to categorize and compartmentalize everything, and this just happens to be where I fall. So be it. Call me whatever you want, just don’t call me late for dinner and all’s good.
But, back in the late 50’s, I chose another category for myself, one that I hold dear and proudly enjoy membership in, to this day.
I was, and always will be, a Monster Kid!
I knew nothing about the business changes and evolution that Universal Studios had gone through over the years… that would all come later on. What I did know is that I discovered a TV show called Shock Theater, hosted by John Zacherle (a.k.a. Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul), that introduced me to Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man and all the other classic monsters that originated at Universal.
Zacherley’s antics were hilarious, one of my favorites being when he’d cautiously approach a huge industrial laundry cart on wheels that was thrashing around wildly on the set. He’d lift the lid just high enough to toss in raw meat, which caused the basket to thrash all the more.
He said he was feeding his wife, which had me rolling on the floor in gales of laughter.
Zach graced the covers of a few issues of my favorite reading material, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
The combination of his humor and the incredible monsters I’d see in the movies he hosted were the coolest thing ever to my preschool eyes.
All these years later, they still are!
I’m enjoying a great trip down memory lane, courtesy of a new coffee table (or is that coffin table?) book I just received this morning.
This book is a significant history of Universal Studios and their place in horror history, the place where it all began. I find it funny that, as management changed over the years, they tried to walk away from horror movies, only to discover that their monster movies, like the monsters within, simply would never die! Generation after generation discovered the movies and held them in a rightful place of honor. Those monsters are, and will always be iconic, no matter what else comes down the road.
The book is comprehensive in documenting the studio’s history and is lavishly illustrated with great stills from all the films it covers. Studying history back in school was never this much fun!
I could go on for days about all this, but… life and an appointment for an oil change beckon me away from the keys for now. I know what I’ll be reading while they tend to my car!