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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens

Creature Feature

When I was a kid in the mid 70's, every Saturday afternoon all the kids in my Missoula neighborhood used to gather in Wapikiya park and play baseball, football, basketball…sports. Although I loved sports, there was one thing I loved more, and those Saturday afternoons were reserved for that thing. At 1:00 every Saturday “Creature Feature” was on television. There was nothing I loved more. I followed the same ritual every single week before the movies came on. I’d pour a big glass of milk and then stir Nestlé Quik chocolate powder into it until it was basically a sludge. Then I’d make 4 pieces of toast and slather them in butter before applying copious amounts of sugar and cinnamon. I’d place my feast in front of the TV and go around the room shutting all of the curtains as tightly as possible to block out every ounce of light. Atmosphere was very important. I’d grab my heavy quilt from the bedroom, wrap it around me, and sit about 2 feet from the screen. We didn’t subscribe to TV Guide so I’d wait in front of that TV as the last of some boring program like golf ended, and pray for good monster movies. Usually the first feature was what I called “small monsters” like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, or my favorite, the Wolf Man. I’ve seen thousands of movies in my day, but I have never seen a more atmospheric moment than when Lon Chaney Jr. (as the Wolf Man) peers out from behind a crooked, evil tree in a foggy graveyard, his haunting werewolf eyes darting around in that hideous hairy face. As much as we have gained with color movies, and CGI, something was lost when the black and white movies died out. The second feature was almost always a color film and it was usually a “big monster” like King Kong, Godzilla, Mothra, or my favorite, Godzilla and King Kong fighting in Tokyo. They would crush everything under their feet as one or the other attempted to “save” the city. I’d sit there totally absorbed in those movies, occasionally refilling my milk, and racing to get more toast or use the bathroom during commercials. My mom and dad thought it was very odd that I loved those weird movies so much. I was the oldest, and they were inexperienced parents, they probably thought I needed a serious psychological evaluation. But those dim Saturday afternoons watching Chaney, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, and Bela Lugosi are still vivid to me. I wasn’t in Missoula Montana with looming homework or friend issues. I was in Transylvania or England and thunderstorms cracked and flashed through the black sky as I hunted Vampires like Van Helsing, or tried to save Tokyo from Godzilla. To this day I love those movies, and that little boy is alive and well inside this aging body, still excited for a long forgotten monster movie on a Saturday afternoon. ReplyForward

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