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Vintage Horror Movies and Creep Shows are Still the Best

by Brenda K Oswalt

Remember your childhood days when the horror movies were on the big screen?  Those frightening flicks were to die for.  Maybe that’s why Halloween is so popular.

Godzilla poster from the 1950s - retro movies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gojira_no_gyakushu_poster.jpgI remember, as a boomer kid, the thrills my girlfriend Carol and I got out of tossing our change through to the movie “cage lady”, as we called her, and then running through the big glass doors in to view the latest scary movie that had come to the theater in our town.  We never tired of seeing plastic mechanical monsters with minimal special effects devour a Japanese town or ghoulish ghosts float across the big screen.  We’d sit way up front so we could be sure not to miss a stitch on Frankenstein’s head or an unwrapped fold of the gauzy garment the mummy was dragging behind him.  Times were good and times were simple and times were downright screamingly fun-filled at the horror show.

Fright Shows Almost Weekly with Bonuses

Because the scary movies were so popular among kids and kids usually had some change from daddy or mommy to spend, the freaky shows usually came weekly during the Saturday afternoon “double-feature.” matinees.   Sometimes there were even sy-fi serials in between the cartoons, the “March of Time” news updates and the featured flicks. Once in a while, something special came across the silver screen and we couldn’t wait for the replays to make it around again, which they always did, in the form of the second feature of the double feature lineup.

Special Effects Creep Shows Anyone?

baby boomer vintage scary moviesOf course, today we crack up at the amateurish, state-of-the-art special effects of those days but to us kids it couldn’t have been any more real. Hey, I saw a movie called The Brain Eaters and wouldn’t sleep with my bedroom window open all summer, even though we had no air conditioning and our whole house "cool down" depended on everyone keeping their windows cracked open to a specific level for maximum breeze flow.  I was so scared one of those aliens was going to take that brain eater sponge thing out of a jar and let it crawl up the side of my house, through my open window and latch onto the back of my head where it pierced the flesh and took over my brain. I’d then become a mindless alien myself.

Kids Loved it Adults were Petrified

I noticed when I was a kid, when mom would take me to the spooky movies she’d have trouble sleeping that night.  I’d wake up and find her in the kitchen heating up a saucepan of cocoa or something.  She seemed to be really frightened and us kids just simply screamed for the sheer pleasure of group harmonics.  Some of the very favorite movies were old black and white ones and are long since gone like “The Monolith Monsters”.  This was a flick about a meteorite landing in the desert. A little boy picks it up, carts it home to his house.  He gets called in to dinner and tosses the rock into the outside cistern (retaining water-collecting barrel).  It flashes forward a couple of days and the local sheriff is at what’s left of the house, which is nothing and the whole family has turned into stone statues.  What a great movie for a kid. I have an old tape and have watched it with the grandkids.  Not much has changed.  I still love it and so do they.

Today’s Fright Cinema Not the Same

Been to a scary movie lately?  Hey, they substitute special effects for plot.  Nothing like the old “Blob” movie with Steve McQueen.  Remember that one from the 60’s?  The giant ball of Jello from out of space keeps getting bigger and bigger as it eats folks, stopping to burp every now and then.  We loved it because the teenagers were the smart ones in that little one-horse town.  There might be a moral there somewhere.

How about “The Thing” with James Arness?  Yes, I know they remade it but nope, the original black and white job still hits home as the best.  When all the snowsuited guys stood and stretched out their arms in a huge circle overtop that “thing” in the ice, our hearts did flip-flops.  The original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was in color but I still think it way trumps the new version as do all the other originals.

Remakes Aren’t Groovy

Don’t you think that remaking an original flick normally spoils it?  Like, how in the world can you not be thinking of the similar old scenes and how much better they were while you are eyeballing the new one?

Wonder when they will try to remake “The Birds”. How could they ever duplicate Tippi Hedren, forget the birds!So, the moral of this article is to celebrate the old spook movies.  Re-enjoy them.  Hyper focus on them again. How about “Soylent Green”!  Hey, does anyone out there in vintage horror movie land know what soylent green really was?

More Articles for Baby Boomerinas:

Drive-In Movie Theaters Lit up Boomer Nights

Toe-Stop Sally: 60s Queen of the Roller Rink

How to Wear a Peplum

13 Tips: How to Do Quick Casual Without Looking Like a Slob

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Brenda Oswalt is a French-trained cook, writer, businesswoman and inventor who holds several medical patents.

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8 Comments

  1. Tina

    Brenda,

    I love it that you couldn't sleep with your windows open after seeing that scary movie.

    I remember that I couldn't go into a shower (only bathtubs) after seeing Psycho. And, if I were forced to take a shower... which was not very often after seeing Psycho... I never shut the curtain all the way, I kept my back to the wall, and I rinsed the soap out of my hair in about one second flat. (And, I didn't see Psycho until I was about 17 because my mother wouldn't allow me to go to Psycho when it first came out. Probably a good thing.)

    I remember almost all of those movies you mentioned. And, I actually got physically sick and couldn't sleep after seeing some Japanese movie (when I was quite young). I think it was Rodan. Hey, I'm sure the movie was corny as all get out, but I wasn't used to seeing big flying monsters like the kids of today.

    You really gave me a good laugh... I'm thinking about your whole family roasting all summer after you saw The Brain Eaters. hahaha... why am I laughing? I never saw it. If I had, I wouldn't have gone to sleep for a year... I would have had to have a sibling on either side of me for protection.

    • Brenda Oswalt

      Yes, Tina... but most importantly - "do you know what soylent green really was? Not the movie but the soylent green that was in the movie... what was it?

    • Tina

      My writer pal Brenda Oswalt made this comment (I can't get the comments to work today)

      "Yes, Tina... but most importantly - "do you know what soylent green really was? Not the movie but the soylent green that was in the movie... what was it?"

      • Tina

        You know, Brenda, I can't really remember what soylent green was. I don't think they ever said what it was. Maybe it was just some word they made up that sounded good.

  2. Brenda Oswalt

    Gotcha... Tina - then you didn't see the movie... Soylent Green was "people"... they were eating people which is why they encouraged them - like Edward G. Robinson in the movie, to take the death drink and see all the beautiful video of what the earth used to look like before we fouled it up big time. Did you know that Edward G. Robinson was dying when he made the movie? I always wondered why that shot of him in the bed looking at the beautiful earth meadow and deer was so poignant...and he died only a few days after finishing the filming.

  3. Darla Dollman

    Soylent Green was a cult film when I was younger and the last line in the movie was repeated on the playground all the time; "It's PEOPLE! Soylent Green is PEOPLE!" That was an intense movie. The Blob, The Thing, and The Birds have all been remade and I believe they're working on yet another remake of The Birds. I, too, prefer the originals. I prefer implied violence and suspense. Graphic, gross, slasher films make me sick to my stomach and I generally change the channel. I think this is a great article, Brenda. You nailed it--classics are better because the classic horror directors understood that our imagination is far more powerful than anything they could act out on the screen. Walking into a room covered in blood or watching a mortician eat a sandwich while standing over a dead body--they're so overused in horror now these scenes are cliched. In my opinion, it's just plain laziness.

  4. Brenda Oswalt

    Darla... you said it ... the over use of special effects and blood overdoses are the norm today. That replaces plot and the magical build up of tension. I do want to see the moving Hitchcock coming out soon. Hitchcock loved black and white and the magnificent shadowing effect of it. What was the show with Ray Milland in it where he came up the mansion stairs carrying a glass of warm milk to his wife that they lit up from the inside? That was stunning. The milk just glowed on the dark and many shades of gray screen.