Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: About those kiddie movies

Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: About those kiddie movies-attachment0

A little while back Xpress columnist Anne Fitten Glenn did a piece on children’s movies, specifically referring to movies shown on airline flights—movies considered to be kid-friendly. At the end of the article she asked readers to supply titles of such movies that they’d not mind sitting through on long flights. Being an inveterate smart-ass, I suggested Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids (2001), P.J. Hogan’s Peter Pan (2003) and Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986). The last was a joke, of course, but it wasn’t completely without point—at least once you take it out of the forced public venue of an in-flight movie.

No one is likely to argue that Jason Lives isn’t inappropriate kiddie fare. It most certainly is inappropriate—not in the least because it depicts a campful of young children imperiled by the machete-wielding Jason Voorhees. Granted, no actual harm befalls any of the rusticating tykes (that’s a line movies rarely cross). And a lot of this is handled as dark comedy (hiding under a bed, one camper asks his companion, “So what did you want to be when you grew up?”). Still, this is obviously not made for children, and, if nothing else, it’s easy to envision it instilling a deep-seated fear of going off to summer camp in the young and impressionable. That said, there’s still the question of whether or not there is such a thing as a one-size-fits-all kid-friendly movie. I’m inclined to say no.

The whole concept of a list of kid-appropriate movies reminds me of when Frank Zappa testified at the Parents Music Resource Center hearings (remember those?). Much of his point came down to the idea that what was inappropriate for one child was not necessarily inappropriate for another, and that as a parent he objected to someone else telling him what his children were mature enough to process. A lot of this is so subjective that the search for an etched-in-stone set of rules is ultimately a fool’s errand.

I’ve seen too many instances of parents who were outraged over a film that was marketed as kid-friendly because it was “too scary” for their children. Last year’s Christmas release of The Tale of Despereaux comes to mind, as does the 2006 mega-bomb The Wild. Whether the disastrous to mediocre box office of these movies can be blamed on their “scary” elements is an interesting question. There’s some historical precedent for that, too. The first Disney feature to underperform at the box office was Sleeping Beauty (1959) and its scare factor was considered to be the reason. Was it too scary? All I’ll say is that it terrified this then three-year-old child. I still find it creepy, though now I appreciate that, while deploring its more vapid aspects.

A lot of people consider the Harry Potter movies to be kid-friendly—despite the fact that they contain material that’s far more horrific (if less bloody) than just about any old 1960s Hammer horror picture. At the same time, you’ll find that there are those who object to the basic concept of the stories on religious grounds. I once saw a child nearly freak out because he was served a drink at a theater in a Harry Potter cup. His mother assured him that just because they bought this drink didn’t mean they were supporting “that” movie. I saw another parent loudly proclaim that he didn’t want his child subjected to fantasy of any kind—and then disappeared into The Santa Clause 2 (2002). This is not a game you are ever going to win, because not only does one size not fit all children, it doesn’t fit parents either.

I suspect that a lot of how one feels about what kids should and shouldn’t see may be generational. For those of us “of a certain age,” our formative moviegoing experiences were a little different. I was in my teens when the ratings system came into being. My formative years were spent in a world where there wasn’t so much pigeon-holing of movies—in part, yes, because there were things that simply weren’t allowed to be said or done in films of that era. Movies more or less came in two varieties—those kids were taken to see and those kids went to see because the whole family went. As you got a little older a third category cropped up in the form of movies you were dropped off to see on your own or with your “little friends.”

What surprises me in retrospect about those movies we were deliberately taken to see—movies it was supposed children would want to see—is how much I hated most of them. I know that things like Old Yeller (1957), Pollyanna (1960) and Big Red (1962) just absolutely stink with life-lessons. But I say it’s spinach and to hell with it. When you’re between the ages of three and eight, this sort of stuff is not only depressing, it’s traumatic. I had a better time cowering under my seat during Sleeping Beauty. At least that wasn’t depressing and I didn’t get the uncomfortable feeling that I was being taught some kind of lesson—and taught it in a manner that I found casually sadistic (though I didn’t understand that concept at the time, of course). Why was I being taken to see things that made me feel bad? Movies were supposed to be a treat and I felt like I was being punished.

Of course, it wasn’t all like this. In those days I was perfectly happy with the latest Jerry Lewis movie—or the not so latest one in many cases, since I didn’t know the difference between a new one and a re-issue. But this is actually a grey area. I know that insisting on being taken to see re-releases of Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958) and The Geisha Boy (1958) was an indulgence on the part of my parents (my father usually got saddled with these), but I have a hunch that we saw them originally as a family outing. That adults would willfully subject themselves to these is one of life’s mysteries.

The family outing experience, however, is probably more sociologically interesting. I’m not saying that it never happened, but I cannot recall a single instance from my earlier childhood where my parents went to a movie without me. If it happened, they must have bamboozled me into believing they were going somewhere else. The upshot of this is that I saw The Searchers (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957), Loving You (1957), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), Happy Anniversary (1959), Portrait in Black (1960), Love Come Back (1961), Boys’ Night Out (1962), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) and Goldfinger (1964) before or by the time I was 10 years old.

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this—except for the fact that none of these are in any way, shape or form children’s movies. While there was nothing in this particular crop that would garner anything harsher than a PG-13 rating today, thematically a lot of these are clearly adult material. There are movies here that deal with racism, war, illicit affairs (a common aspect), insanity, murder with a meat-axe, rampaging dinosaurs and a largely naked woman painted gold. Of course, a lot of this material didn’t really register with me. A lot of these remained in my mind merely for a striking image or two. In the case of Happy Anniversary (the only of the films I haven’t seen since then), the sole thing I clearly remember is that there’s a scene where David Niven kicks in a TV set. (Well, the movies didn’t like TV very much back then.)

The point for me is that these was nothing even slightly unusual about my experience for its time—at least based on what I know from my contemporaries. A few I’ve spoken to recall that James Bond movies were forbidden, but for the most part the idea of movies that might be inappropriate didn’t arise. I suppose it could be concluded that our parents were simply clueless or inattentive. I’m not sure. I may not get a lot of support on this, but I tend to think that it was more a case of us not being so carefully sheltered. And I don’t think we were necessarily worse off for that.

Now, the business of our solo outings was almost equally just hit and miss, which is to say that we tended to go see whatever was playing. (This was a simple thing where I spent most of my chldhood, because there was only one theater.) The Saturday matinee, however, was programmed with children in mind. The logic of the theater manager was that it was “the cheapest babysitting in town.” You dropped the kids off about 1:30, they lined up around the theater (the line often stretching to the next street), were inside by 2:00 and stayed there till 5:00 or 5:30. All this cost 25 cents (unless a Disney picture was involved and then it was 35 cents). The average age of the audience ran from eight to 12 years old.

Yes, it was a very different time. (I don’t know many parents who are likely to drop off children of those ages on a city street and come back to get them four-plus hours later today, and I wouldn’t suggest it.) But aside from that, there was the programming. Some of the fare was recycled from the 1950s—Martin and Lewis, Ma and Pa Kettle, etc.—but the new movies that were deemed acceptable for these matinees as often as not included a significant quantity of horror movies. And these were considered a treat to judge by the attendance and the reaction.

I suppose it’s possible that our parents would have been horrified themselves had they realized that we were watching such fare as Don Sharp’s Kiss of the Vampire (1963)—a film that opens with a shovel being thrust through the lid of a coffin (with a resulting gush of blood) and ends with bats being summoned from hell to rip the throats out of a cult of blood suckers. (That reads a lot more rooty-tooty than it plays.) They apparently didn’t and we, by and large, just thought it was way cool. I’m sure some adults did go to see movies like this—and they certainly played to teenagers—but in those days, it seemed to bother no one that much younger viewers were taking them in as part of “the cheapest babysitting in town.”

Even some movies that were clearly made with kids in mind were surprisingly strong meat—even if they look like pretty quaint meat today. Schlockmeister Bert I. Gordon put out a fantasy flick in 1962 called The Magic Sword. It’s a pretty silly affair with fairly low-grade effects work and, apart from Basil Rathbone and Estelle Winwood, the acting is at best rudimentary. None of this bothered us much at the time, because it also had guys falling into ponds that quickly reduced them to skeletons, blazing heat that seared the skin off one character, monstrosities various and sundry, and a dragon. Released to a kiddie audience today, it would probably cause much outrage. It passed pretty much without comment 47 years ago.

The question in my mind with all this is are we being overprotective today? It’s a wholly subjective issue, of course. My guess is that—unless it’s informed by some sort of philosophical or religious objection—it is largely driven by what parents themselves saw when they were growing up. But I sometimes wonder if we’re really being honest with ourselves when we remember what that was. Truthfully, what were the movies of your childhood? Were they all carefully chosen and appropriate viewing? Or was it a good bit less carefully calculated than that? And if it was, did it scar you for life? No, I’m not suggesting that it should be an anything-goes approach. Some movies simply are inappropriate for children, but exactly how do you decide?

 

SHARE
About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

60 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: About those kiddie movies

  1. What surprises me in retrospect about those movies we were deliberately taken to see—movies it was supposed children would want to see—is how much I hated most of them.

    I never really cared for things made for young kids, even as a young kid. I grew up on Tim Burton movies, Monty Python and The Who. The closest I came was comic books, and even then I gravitated towards the more mature stuff. I could never understand the appeal of entertainment made for children – it always came off as patronizing rubbish. I saw BATMAN RETURNS when I was five – I didn’t get the subtext or the innuendo, but I was entertained and thrilled. I cannot say the same thing about any Disney films I was exposed to – which I consider responsible for turning me off musicals until I discovered Cole Porter at about age twelve.

  2. Chip Kaufmann

    Growing up in Greenville SC in the 1950s, we had not one but 4 downtown theaters (there used to be 6) all within a few blocks of each other. The Fox was the Disney theater, the Center showed the American International teenage pictures, the Paris showed things like TWO ROSES AND A GOLDEN ROD (we didn’t go to the Paris) and then there was the Carolina (located where the Hyatt is today). They did Saturday matinees where you got in for 6 Coke caps. You got cartoons, occasionally a 3 STOOGES short and a lot of creature features like THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (the Brit version of GODZILLA complete with radioactive casualties) Great kid stuff. This was the last theater in town that had a ladies lounge, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and its 1930s interior intact. My mother had such fond memories of it from her youth that she probably would have dropped me off at GOLDEN ROD if it had played there.

    Of course by this time SHOCK THEATRE had shown up on TV along with late night Friday hosts like Dr Evil (Charlotte for those of you who don’t know) or Jack Six on INFERNO (WSPA TV 7 in Spartanburg). This was also the era of TWILIGHT ZONE, THRILLER and THE OUTER LIMITS which weren’t exactly kiddie fare but they were seen by more kids than any movie. My parents’ approach to such TV fare was to simply let it alone. Don’t give it more importance than it deserves. This is getting away from the subject at large but I remember more of those old TV shows than any Saturday matinee (although I will never forget the interior of the Carolina Theater).

    Finally, with what’s available on TV today not to mention the internet, I can’t see how any parent/caretaker can complain about what’s appropriate for children unless they are deeply religious or view the movie theaters as a last safe haven for their kids. Of course there was the recent example of the grandmother who took her 10 year old grandson to see BRUNO…

  3. Ken Hanke

    I could never understand the appeal of entertainment made for children – it always came off as patronizing rubbish.

    I think it’s hard not to because so much of it inescapably feels like it has little or nothing to do with children or children’s interests, but rather with a grown-up’s notion of what they think would be good for a child to like. That’s one of the things it seems to me that the Harry Potter movies (and presumably the books) get right.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Of course by this time SHOCK THEATRE had shown up on TV along with late night Friday hosts like Dr Evil (Charlotte for those of you who don’t know)

    Dr. Evil was the guy in the fez, right? The one who was a stage magician by the unlikely name of Philip Morris? I think I ran a picture of him in an earlier Screening Room. My horror hosts are divided between Charlotte area and Tampa area, since I only spent my summers in NC after 1960. (And then only for three or four years.)

    My parents’ approach to such TV fare was to simply let it alone. Don’t give it more importance than it deserves.

    I think that was probably my parents’ approach to both TV and movies. Now, they did have these Rusty Warren comedy albums that were only played after I went to bed (which did nothing to keep me from listening, of course). By the time I could really understand them, I just found them smarmy.

    I remember more of those old TV shows than any Saturday matinee (although I will never forget the interior of the Carolina Theater).

    I’m pretty clear on a lot of the Saturday matinee memories — or even the weekday matinees (for a while my friends and I would go to a 4 p.m. movie after school) — but in nearly every case I suspect this was kept fresh by seeing the films every so often on TV after that. This, I also suspect, is why my memory of most TV from that era is a lot fuzzier — simply because I saw very little of it again later.

    I can’t see how any parent/caretaker can complain about what’s appropriate for children unless they are deeply religious or view the movie theaters as a last safe haven for their kids

    The latter strikes me as the height of folly. Sure, it worked 40-odd years ago, but that was with stand-alone theaters that were much more personalized than a heavily corporate-run multiplex.

    Of course there was the recent example of the grandmother who took her 10 year old grandson to see BRUNO…

    I am constantly amazed by how little people know about what they’re getting into when they buy a ticket to a movie. It’s not like the information isn’t out there, but it only works if you take the time to use it.

  5. Ashemichael

    I will never forget the first time I was allowed to see a PG movie.

    I had just turned 13 and the two movies playing in town were “Earthquake” (in Sense-O-Round) and “The Hindenburg”.

    My mom and I were driving the 45 minutes to the theater and I couldn’t make up my mind which movie I wanted to see.

    Mom looked over at me from the driver’s seat and said, cigarette in mouth
    “‘The Hindenburg’ is gonna be a bunch of people burning up. In ‘Earthquake’, people are die in all kinds of different ways.”

    We went to Earthquake.

  6. Chip Kaufmann

    Dr. Evil was the guy in the fez, right? The one who was a stage magician by the unlikely name of Philip Morris?…

    …Indeed he was although I didn’t know about him being a magician (I wonder what brand of cigarettes he smoked?). The show was called HORROR THEATRE and he always stood behind a podium with a big book which he would open up and proclaim “Tonight our story is called…”. Reception of WBTV was very spotty in Greenville in those pre-Cable days but our rooftop antenna could pick it pretty well at night.

    At the age of 10 I once astonished and appalled my father (mostly the latter) by giving him a blow-by-blow description of a THRILLER episode with William Shatner called THE GRIM REAPER (about a portrait of Death which comes to life) right after seeing it. That ability to recall things and remember other bits of trivia earned me the nickname in high school of “the Encyclopedia of Useless Knowledge”, a sobriquet which is still appropriate today.

  7. Fran

    Just for the record, most of the movies I remember from that small town venue where I was dropped off for that Saturday afternoon time were things like “Tarzan”.

    The only movie I remember my mom not wanting me to see was “The Graduate”. It wasn’t that she said I couldn’t go, but that she was sure I wouldn’t want to go because, as she said, it was just about this seducing woman. Ah, memories.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I will never forget the first time I was allowed to see a PG movie.

    The issue never arose since I was 13 or 14 when the ratings came into being (at that time PG was M). My first encounter with ratings was unpleasant. I was dropped off at the same old theater as usual one afternoon to go see Barbarella — only to find I couldn’t get in because of this R thing. I walked home.

  9. Ken Hanke

    At the age of 10 I once astonished and appalled my father (mostly the latter) by giving him a blow-by-blow description of a THRILLER episode with William Shatner called THE GRIM REAPER (about a portrait of Death which comes to life) right after seeing it

    That’d be about the same age as when I impressed the neighbors by writing out the story of Night Monster. One of the few times that my parents expressed concern over what I was watching came a bit later when I regaled them with an apparently too enthusiastic recounting of “The Joker” episode of The Avengers — the one where she’s terrorized in an old dark (by 60s Brit TV standards) house by a madman.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Just for the record, most of the movies I remember from that small town venue where I was dropped off for that Saturday afternoon time were things like “Tarzan”.

    I know I saw Tarzan movies there, but I really have no memory of them. The oddest thing I remember was when they booked a dubbed print of Philippe de Broca’s New Wave spy spoof That Man from Rio, thereby introducing a couple hundred kids to New Wave cinema.

    The only movie I remember my mom not wanting me to see was “The Graduate”.

    I don’t remember the question of this movie arising, but I didn’t see it on its original release. I do recall a classmate — one I’d always considered something of a dullard — telling other kids that it was “funny as sh*t,” an assessment that did nothing to goose my interest.

  11. Jim Donato

    My parents never took me to a movie. That’s what TV was for. They claim they took me to the drive-in for Disney features when I was an infant but who’s to say if they weren’t just blowing smoke? The first film I remember seeing as a cognizant entity was a 1972 re-issue of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid at a Drive-in near Kissimmee, FL. It was double billed with “The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud!” So, at the age of 10-11 I saw a man’s naked rear end for the first time in the company of my dad and a few cousins that were visiting. I’ll let you judge if that was an appropriate choice. The film soon had me asleep in any case.

    The next movie I remember seeing was “Murder By Death” in 1975 when some neighbors next door were going and they invited me. This was the first indoor theatre I ever went to and I seem to remember the movie fondly in spite of its Neil Simon origins. I haven’t seen it since.

    The next film I saw was Jonathan Demme’s “Handle With Care” in 1977. I remember that different neighbors were going to this one and asked my mom if I could go with them. I remember not wanting to go as I’d much rather use the money to buy books. Besides, only yahoos were into the CB craze, . My mom admonished me to go to the movie instead because “you read too many books!” Within 4-5 years I wouldn’t miss a Jonathan Demme film, though he lost me after “Silence Of The Lambs.”

    By 1979 I had friends in high school with cars and that opened up movie attendance considerably. So parents, thanks for nothing.

  12. Ken Hanke

    So, at the age of 10-11 I saw a man’s naked rear end for the first time in the company of my dad and a few cousins that were visiting. I’ll let you judge if that was an appropriate choice.

    Well, when my best friend and I returned from Planet of the Apes and spoke in passing of Heston’s bare butt within hearing of his mother, she placed a moratorium on him (or his brother) attending M (PG) rated movies. I’m not exactly clear how this was more corrupting than gym class, but apparently it was.

    So parents, thanks for nothing.

    You’re obviously a little younger than I am and I suspect that enters into this. I’m reasonably sure that going to the movies with your parents was more common in the 1950s and early 60s.

  13. Great fodder, Ken.

    There are still scenes from a cheesy horror movie I saw in fifth grade imprinted on my mind: some lady putting face cream on that contained acid, and screaming as she watched her face melt in her bathroom mirror.

    It was a sleepover party, and I think the mom hadn’t vetted the movie and she had to apologize to our parents for the ensuing nightmares.

    My family went to the movies a lot, and until I rented DVDs of some of the movies I loved as a kid, I didn’t realize how much what’s considered “kid-appropriate” has changed (Bad News Bears and Grease come to mind).

  14. Chip Kaufmann

    Edgy Mama,
    I believe the movie you are referring to was called THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) where a hypnotist hypnotized people (mostly women of course) into mutilating themselves. A milder version of H.G. Lewis’ WIZARD OF GORE.

  15. luluthebeast

    I was a lucky kid as my Mother loved monster movies, so to me, those were kiddie movies! The first movie I ever saw was Godzilla, KOTM, when it first came out in the late fifties and it was at a drive-in while a thunderstorm raged outside the car!

    She took me to see most of the monster movies that came out and would drop me and some friends off at matinees to see the likes of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and other monsters, cowboys and jungle movies, and it only cost a quarter to get in!

    I don’t remember seeing any Disney movie at a theatre as a kid except for Hatari, and that was a matinee. But we always watched Disney on Sunday night.

    They would even take us to certain spy and mystery movies at night as long as there wasn’t any nudity. Shooting people was OK though!

  16. Andy Johansen

    Create fodder Ken. I agree. But I do wonder. If your granny had had her way as far as the nudity you were exposed to. Would you have turned out different?

    My mommy made sure I didn’t see naughty stuff. All the movies I saw were rated G. Lot’s of Disney and that kind of thing. I did sneak into one though that she didn’t find out about. The “4 D Man”. You had to wear special glasses to see the extra effects. If I remember, the man had an accident with nuclear radiation and was forever changed for the worse. Scary stuff way back then.
    But at least we didn’t see male rear ends. That may have made us gay. I did lear as much as I could trying to look down the cleavage of the ladies onscreen. I could see a male butt any time in the shower. So it was far from a thrill. Especially when I remember the odors coming from some of the stalls.

    Ah, childhood!

  17. I think it’s worth saying that I think children should be allowed to watch horror movies occasionally, as it’s the only time in their life they’ll actually be scared by the scary bits. I watch horror movies and find them thrilling, but I haven’t been scared by anything in a movie since I was about ten.

  18. hb

    Off Topic, but I’m pretty sure I saw Shannyn Sossamon in Greenlife today. Any idea if she’s a local or filming a movie here?

  19. Ken Hanke

    My family went to the movies a lot, and until I rented DVDs of some of the movies I loved as a kid, I didn’t realize how much what’s considered “kid-appropriate” has changed (Bad News Bears and Grease come to mind).

    Things do indeed change. When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Rock-a-Bye Baby and no one seems to have been bothered by this. When I was old enough to understand it better, I was able to grasp that the whole thing hinged a drunken marriage (maybe) that a movie star can’t really remember, but that in some form must have taken place because she bears triplets, which she then gives to Jerry Lewis to take care of. This isn’t exactly aimed at kids.

  20. Ken Hanke

    I don’t remember seeing any Disney movie at a theatre as a kid except for Hatari, and that was a matinee.

    And that was also a Howard Hawks picture with John Wayne and not a Disney opus. I remember seeing it at least twice — probably more for the monkeys and Red Buttons than anything else.

    They would even take us to certain spy and mystery movies at night as long as there wasn’t any nudity. Shooting people was OK though!

    That last hasn’t changed. I’ve seen people be just fine with their kids seeing the most violent and bloody fare possible — “as long as there’s no nudity in it.” When I was a kid, nudity really wasn’t an issue. It simply wasn’t in mainstream movies. I don’t even really remember hearing anything about it until Blowup came out in 1966 and it certainly wasn’t commonplace till the ratings in 1968 by which time I was pretty much going to the movies on my own hook.

  21. Ken Hanke

    But I do wonder. If your granny had had her way as far as the nudity you were exposed to. Would you have turned out different

    Not sure how my grandmother got into this, but what’s your point? I really wasn’t exposed to any nudity of note that I can recall — apart from Heston’s bum — during the time my parents would have been dictating such rules. But regardless, how might I have turned out “different?” I have no problem with how I turned out.

    My mommy made sure I didn’t see naughty stuff. All the movies I saw were rated G. Lot’s of Disney and that kind of thing. I did sneak into one though that she didn’t find out about. The “4 D Man”.

    I’m a little baffled by this, since The 4D Man is cheesy sci-fi from 1959 — a full nine years before movies carried ratings of any kind.

    But at least we didn’t see male rear ends. That may have made us gay. I did lear as much as I could trying to look down the cleavage of the ladies onscreen. I could see a male butt any time in the shower.

    Following your line of logic, didn’t seeing those male butts in the shower make you gay?

  22. Ken Hanke

    I think it’s worth saying that I think children should be allowed to watch horror movies occasionally, as it’s the only time in their life they’ll actually be scared by the scary bits.

    That’s probably true. The last time I can remember being really scared in that sense was after watching The Mummy’s Tomb late on a Friday night (probably presented by Dr. Evil) by myself in my grandmother’s house in Concord. For some reason, I’d been told to make sure I opened the curtains before I went to bed. I was convinced that Kharis would be right outside the window the minute I did that. (Not sure why I thought the curtains were keeping him out.) Needless to say, he wasn’t. I was nine, I think.

    I watch horror movies and find them thrilling, but I haven’t been scared by anything in a movie since I was about ten.

    I think that’s always why I watched them. They were a different world and I liked that. I don’t think I was ever especially interested in being scared as such. That said, I do appreciate being nicely creeped out — and that sometimes still happens.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Off Topic, but I’m pretty sure I saw Shannyn Sossamon in Greenlife today. Any idea if she’s a local or filming a movie here?

    Not so far as I know. Anybody know?

  24. Dionysis

    Like many kids growing up in the late 50s and 60s, horror movies (and to some extent science fiction) were favorites. I got to see pretty much anything that was booked, regardless of whether it was targeted to kids or adults (I mean, how many kids were able to see ‘I Am Curious-Yellow’?).

    A few of those old films that left indelible impressions on me include ’20 Million Miles to Earth’ (Ray Harryhausen favorite), ‘Fiend Without a Face’, ‘First Man into Space’, ‘Black Sunday’ (the Bava film), the ‘Colossus of New York’ and many other similar films. To this day, I seek out these old, nostalgic films.

    Oh, and I clearly remember ‘The Magic Sword’ as a thrilling adventure film; I was too young to notice the cheesy-looking ‘dragon’. I recently re-watched it, and found it somewhat charming. Some other Bert I. Gordon films were memorable too, such as ‘Beginning of the End’, ‘The Amazing Colossal Man’ (that giant hypodermic needle was a hoot) and the sequel, ‘War of the Colossal Beast’.

    Those were fun times at the movies. To me, they were the ‘Golden Age’.

  25. Ken Hanke

    Oh, and I clearly remember ‘The Magic Sword’ as a thrilling adventure film; I was too young to notice the cheesy-looking ‘dragon’. I recently re-watched it, and found it somewhat charming.

    Actually, looking at it (at least in passing) to get a frame-grab for this piece, I thought the dragon looked pretty fair. The glowing effect on the sword when it does something “magical” is another matter, however.

  26. “Edgy Mama,
    I believe the movie you are referring to was called THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) where a hypnotist hypnotized people (mostly women of course) into mutilating themselves. A milder version of H.G. Lewis’ WIZARD OF GORE.”

    That doesn’t sound quite right. I would’ve been in 5th grade in 1975-76. I think the movie was about a guy faking his death and then killing off the relatives in his will when they started acting greedy. Ring any bells?

  27. Ken Hanke

    That doesn’t sound quite right. I would’ve been in 5th grade in 1975-76. I think the movie was about a guy faking his death and then killing off the relatives in his will when they started acting greedy.

    It’s vaguely reminiscent of several things, though I’m having trouble putting it with the acid-infused face cream. I’m assuming it was on TV and at least a couple years old, since 75-76 is pre-VCR.

  28. Speaking of 60s horror movies, in high school we’d have an annual Young Life retreat to the N. Georgia mountains. We’d always gather in the open air dining hall and watch “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” on a huge battered projection screen. That movie was creepy!

  29. Ken Hanke

    Nope, Ken, this was in the movie theater.

    That should narrow it down. Any ideas, Chip?

  30. Zigopolis

    Out of the movies of my childhood, I remember seeing Carrie and the original Halloween before I was 10. Those movies did not scare me that badly, but the one movie that warped my childhood was the cartoon Watership Down. I still harbor some fear of rabbits because of that movie.

    Luckily, the movie that cured me of my fear of rabbits was probably Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    So I would side with Zappa on this, I grew up in a household with much older siblings. Therefore, I was exposed to a lot of adult things before I should have, but it didn’t screw my childhood up other than making other kids envious that I was allowed to do things that a lot of children my age were not allowed to do.

  31. Ken Hanke

    the one movie that warped my childhood was the cartoon Watership Down. I still harbor some fear of rabbits because of that movie

    I managed never to bump into that, but this sounds like a case (not that unccommon) of a movie having the opposite effect of the desired one.

    Luckily, the movie that cured me of my fear of rabbits was probably Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    I can see where that would put bunnies into perspective.

    I was exposed to a lot of adult things before I should have, but it didn’t screw my childhood up other than making other kids envious that I was allowed to dothings that a lot of children my age were not allowed to do.

    I can see that as a perk. Oddly, this afternoon TCM happened to run Boys Night Out — one of the movies I remember seeing as part of a family outing, but don’t know well at this point. I remember it was clearly not aimed at kids, but I was a little surprised to find a fantasy scene in which a lust-crazed Tony Randall, brandishing a riding crop, chased a revealingly-clad Kim Novak around a bedroom.

  32. Chip Kaufmann

    Sorry, Edgy’s theatrical movie doesn’t ring any bells with me.

  33. Ken Hanke

    Sorry, Edgy’s theatrical movie doesn’t ring any bells with me.

    Aspects of it sound like House of Long Shadows. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be around for another 8 years, so we have to rule that out. My guess is that it’s some sort of giallo — not an area I know a lot about.

  34. Dread P. Roberts

    The first movie I ever saw was Godzilla, KOTM, when it first came out in the late fifties and it was at a drive-in while a thunderstorm raged outside the car!

    I really wish that had been my first theatre memory. That sounds like a really cool memory. Unfortunately, my first movie theatre memory (although, probably not my actual first time at the movies) was “The Little Mermaid“. It was one of those instances where my mom was getting together with some of her other mom friends who happened to have kids around the same age as me. I just remember the other kids getting up and dancing to “Under the Sea” when the credits rolled, and I just sat there with my arms crossed, thinking to myself “stupid kids”.

    I think it’s worth saying that I think children should be allowed to watch horror movies occasionally, as it’s the only time in their life they’ll actually be scared by the scary bits. I watch horror movies and find them thrilling, but I haven’t been scared by anything in a movie since I was about ten.

    My parents didn’t allow me to watch horror movies, but I was a very bad (or rebellious) child, and I would sneak viewings of things like this that I wasn’t supposed to watch, as much as possible. I remember when Stephen King’s “IT” first came out, I really wanted to see it, so me and a friend snuck in a viewing of his parents copy when I was spending the night at his house. At the time, that movie scared the sh*t out of me! When I was a freshmen in high school, I was an avid fan of horror movies (not slasher, though), and there was this one time when I was trying to look cool around some seniors, so for some stupid reason, I started talking about how scary “IT” is. They laughed at me, so I decided to re-watch…um…’it’, and see if it had the same impact. To my surprise, I found the proceeds to be very lame and stupid cheesy (aside from Tim Curry), and not at all scary. Needless to say, I was embarrassed.

  35. Ken Hanke

    I just remember the other kids getting up and dancing to “Under the Sea” when the credits rolled, and I just sat there with my arms crossed, thinking to myself “stupid kids”.

    I suspect we would have made excellent playmates had we been born around the same time.

  36. Dionysis

    “My guess is that it’s some sort of giallo—not an area I know a lot about.”

    I remember seeing that movie (The Hypnotic Eye) when I was a very little kid. It was actually the hypnotist’s assistant (a woman who had been disfigured who hated other beautiful women) that would give the hypnotised females commands to harm themselves after coming out of hypnosis (such as washing their face on the flame of a stove’s gas burner, or using acid as shampoo). I think it was a French production (the lead actor was named Jacques Bergerac, I think). Freaky movie, never released commercially.

  37. Dionysis

    I meant never released commercially on disc or tape. Obviously it played in movie theatres.

  38. Dread P. Roberts

    I suspect we would have made excellent playmates had we been born around the same time.

    That’s probably true. I won’t deny that I’m a little jealous of all this talk from the older generation about growing up on Universal monster movies and random creature features. I doubt that Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (ask Justin), even comes close in comparison to “Shock Theatre“.

  39. luluthebeast

    “I doubt that Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (ask Justin), even comes close in comparison to “Shock Theatre”.”

    Too true, there were a number of nights that I was watching Dr. Cadaverino and Shock Theatre with the wind making the tree branches scrape against the house and I would go around and make sure all doors and windows were locked!

  40. Ken Hanke

    I won’t deny that I’m a little jealous of all this talk from the older generation about growing up on Universal monster movies

    Well, you can watch ‘em now. And when we were kids The Old Dark House was supposedly a lost film — along with a couple worthy non-Universals The Ghoul and Mystery of the Wax Museum. Plus, back then MGM was still holding the 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde hostage.

  41. Ken Hanke

    Too true, there were a number of nights that I was watching Dr. Cadaverino and Shock Theatre with the wind making the tree branches scrape against the house and I would go around and make sure all doors and windows were locked!

    I was luckier since I apparently thought curtains would keep the Mummy out.

  42. Dread P. Roberts

    Well, you can watch ‘em now.

    As it just so happens, I was watching Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) this past week on The Legacy Collection DVD set. Complete with special features and all that jazzy DVD stuff for which I am very thankful. So, yeah, I do appreciate the luxury of availability that we have these days, and I try to take advantage of it, at least in part, when the time is alloted. My point is simply that I never got to view these gems from that precious childhood perspective, where things are so new and fresh. By the time I’d seen such things as Bride of Frankenstein, I had already seen the spoof Young Frankenstein, as well as numerous random clips that had worked their way into pop-culture through other various sources. So even though the movie still holds it’s own as far as quality is concerned, it’s still lost a little of that ‘wow factor’ magic.

    To be fair, I have experienced my share of totally freaked-out sleepless nights; so my complaint(s) are really rather trivial. And even though my imagination doesn’t wander quite so irrationally as it did in my yonder days of youth, splendidly creepy surprises still pop up every now and then. I had a friend in high-school who, for some reason, was trying to turn me onto the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. I never really got into it, but I did watch this one episode that seemed to truly transcend the mediocre horror of the series. The episode was called “Hush”, and in it the whole town wakes up voiceless, only to discovery that the reason they can’t talk is because of these fairy-tale demons called “The Gentlemen” (played by Doug Jones) that are going around stealing human hearts without anyone knowing when and/or where, because they can’t scream. That was one such occasion to use as an example in defense of more modern stuff.

  43. Chip Kaufmann

    …It was actually the hypnotist’s assistant (a woman who had been disfigured who hated other beautiful women) that would give the hypnotised females commands to harm themselves after coming out of hypnosis (such as washing their face on the flame of a stove’s gas burner, or using acid as shampoo)…

    Right you are Dionysis and that assistant was none other than 50s cult figure Allison Hayes (ATTACK OF THE 50 FT WOMAN, THE UNEARTHLY). The film was American made but Jacques Bergerac left movies to head up a cosmetics firm.

  44. Ken Hanke

    My point is simply that I never got to view these gems from that precious childhood perspective, where things are so new and fresh

    I know a few people I could wish had missed that, since there are some of my generation that get all bent out of shape if you suggest this movies have any deeper meaning than that they could perceive at age 10. Their views are trapped like flies in amber and what they really want is to be in their pajamas on the floor two feet away from some great whacking Zenith console.

  45. Ken Hanke

    The film was American made but Jacques Bergerac left movies to head up a cosmetics firm.

    Considering some of the events of the film that’s rather disconcerting.

  46. Dionysis

    “Right you are Dionysis and that assistant was none other than 50s cult figure Allison Hayes (ATTACK OF THE 50 FT WOMAN, THE UNEARTHLY). The film was American made but Jacques Bergerac left movies to head up a cosmetics firm.

    Thanks for that interesting bit of trivia, JJK3. Allison Hayes was one of my favorite 50s ‘B’ bad girls, along with Yvette Vickers (‘Attack of the Giant Leeches’).

  47. Ken Hanke

    Allison Hayes was one of my favorite 50s ‘B’ bad girls, along with Yvette Vickers (‘Attack of the Giant Leeches’).

    No love for Gloria Talbot or Beverly Garland?

    I briefly became a smoking buddy of Yvonne Monlaur (Brides of Dracula) at Monster Bash this year. My friend, Arlene, on the other hand, became something like her constant companion in nicotine addiction.

  48. Dionysis

    “No love for Gloria Talbot or Beverly Garland?

    I briefly became a smoking buddy of Yvonne Monlaur (Brides of Dracula) at Monster Bash this year. My friend, Arlene, on the other hand, became something like her constant companion in nicotine addiction.”

    Actually, I would add Gloria Talbot to the list, except that she wasn’t just a ‘bad girl’ type. In ‘I Married a Monster from Outer Space’, she was the innocent wife to Tom Tryon’s ‘alien’.

    I do agree Beverly Garland was mostly remembered for her bad girl roles too, so add her to the list. I just think those two were a little more ‘wholesome’ than the semi-sleazy (or maybe fully sleazy) roles essayed by Allison Hayes and (especially) Yvette Vickers.

    Now, I must admit that I am a little jealous of your rubbing shoulders with Yvonne Monlaur (she sure was cute in Brides…oui oui).

  49. Ken Hanke

    I just think those two were a little more ‘wholesome’ than the semi-sleazy (or maybe fully sleazy) roles essayed by Allison Hayes and (especially) Yvette Vickers

    I certainly understand your point, but Gloria Talbot at least was the daughter of Dr. Jekyll in Daughter of Dr. Jekyll. Granted, it turns out that she’s the victim of a put-up job — to say nothing of the whitewashing given to dad’s antics — but merely being the daughter of Dr. Jekyll is an accomplishment.

  50. Dionysis

    “Gloria Talbot at least was the daughter of Dr. Jekyll in Daughter of Dr. Jekyll.”

    I’ve never seen that movie. When I think of Gloria Talbot, I think of ‘I Married a Monster…” and when I think of Beverly Garland, I think of ‘The Alligator People’. Interestingly, they played similar roles in these two films, hapless but sympathetic wives of husbands who become non-human. While both of them were in other films, those are the ones I think of when these names come up.

    As an aside, I recently re-watched ‘Alligator People’ (for the first time since childhood). Lon Chaney Jr. was a hoot as the slimy Bayou-living alligator hunter (and attempted rapist).

  51. Ken Hanke

    I’ve never seen that movie.

    Oh, you should correct that. It’s high-powered cheese that spends a good deal of its length trying to determine that our heroine is indeed the daughter of Dr. Jekyll (the title should clue one in). And then there’s John Agar in what is apparently supposed to be a candy-striped jacket — only it looks like a pajama top. When I was very young, my friends and I liked to act out our version of the film. I can’t think why.

    When I think of Gloria Talbot, I think of ‘I Married a Monster…”

    Don’t forget The Cyclops.

    As an aside, I recently re-watched ‘Alligator People’ (for the first time since childhood).

    Saw it a couple years ago. Odd film. It was directed by Roy Del Ruth, who made the original The Maltese Falcon (1931).

  52. Dionysis

    “Don’t forget The Cyclops.”

    You’re right (of course). Another film with Lon Chaney, Jr. in it (and I believe he was drunk during the filming of it, as he sure acted sauced; I also read where Chaney’s mother would attend the shoot to take care of little Lon).

    The Cyclops is among the rarest of schlock-meister Bert I. Gordon’s output; I burned a DVD-R on that film from the only source I could find, a VHS tape released many years ago. It was one of those Elvira things, so I had to edit out her silly jokes which interrupted the film a couple of times. As far as I can tell, that title is unobtainable.

  53. Ken Hanke

    The Cyclops is among the rarest of schlock-meister Bert I. Gordon’s output

    I hadn’t really thought about it, but that’s probably right. Come to think of it, I’ve never even seen it on a dealer table at Monster Bash, which is particularly odd since Bert is often at the convention and his daughter, Susan, is almost always there.

  54. Vince Lugo

    I have an 8 year old neice and I choose what movies to watch with her based on one or both of two things: rating and intent. For example, I had no trouble showing her Spider-Man because the violence in it is very comicbooky and over the top. However, even though it’s got the same rating, I would hesitate before showing her Daredevil because that film is darker and the violence is more intense and realistic. Another example: Just today we watched the wonderfully bizarre Coraline and she enjoyed it, but when I saw the newest Harry Potter film, I felt that it may be too intense for her just yet (there was one scene that made the entire audience jump).

    I personally feel that “kid friendly” is an extremely subjective designation because each kid is different. When I was a kid I loved The Terminator (which I saw at a friend’s house) but hated The Wizard of Oz. My mom was pretty open about that stuff and I feel I came out the better for it. I recall that the only film she ever outright forbade me to see was The Exorcist. Anything else was pretty fair game, though. I think kids today are overly sheltered and I fear that many of them will grow up with serious neuroses. The scariest part is that one of them is eventually going to be president. Gods help us.

  55. Ken Hanke

    I recall that the only film she ever outright forbade me to see was The Exorcist.

    Of course, I was into the teenage realm by the time of rated movies, but I don’t recall ever being forbidden to see anything. There was no objection, for example, to me seeing Barbarella with its then R rating(now reclassified as PG-13). The problem rather was that I couldn’t find an adult who wanted to go see it.

    I think kids today are overly sheltered and I fear that many of them will grow up with serious neuroses

    I tend to agree with that if only because it leads to a false sense of the larger world.

    The scariest part is that one of them is eventually going to be president.

    Oh, thanks for that comforting thought!

  56. Lady L

    When I was 11 or 12 I was at a friend’s house and we watched A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I have never been so traumatized by a movie in my life. In fact, my husband recently wanted to watch it because he had never seen it and the first thing out of my mouth when he brought it up was “that movie is pure evil”. Its interesting that it left such a strong impression on me, but 20 odd years later I can still recall scences from that movie and they conjure up nothing but distaste. That’s a movie that I obviously wasn’t ready for.

  57. Ken Hanke

    When I was 11 or 12 I was at a friend’s house and we watched A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

    I’m pretty broadminded about what children should see, but I think I wouldn’t include this one. I didn’t see the film till I was 21, so I can only guess its impact at such an early age.

    Have you never been tempted to revisit it just to see if doing so mightn’t lessen its power on you?

  58. Lady L

    < >

    After my husband watched it he said that it really wasn’t as bad as I was making out and that I should watch it again….Maybe so, but I think I’ll give it a few more years to let it sink a little further down in my sub-conscience before I attempt it.

  59. Ken Hanke

    After my husband watched it he said that it really wasn’t as bad as I was making out and that I should watch it again….Maybe so, but I think I’ll give it a few more years to let it sink a little further down in my sub-conscience before I attempt it.

    Well, it probably was as bad as that — when you were 11 or 12. As an adult, you can process what you’re seeing and why it’s being shown. There are quite a few things in the film that I’m not real sure I would have even understood at that age. But I would wait till I was comfortable with the idea before watching it again.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.