Sunday, September 21, 2008

monster boys smash the records!

Crawling out from under my fest rock and blinking at the bright world outside. As try and focus on what has been going on in the rest of the blog-o-sphere, my eyes lock on these two great posts by John McElwee over at Greenbriar Picture Shows about the historical event of the double bill of Frankenstein and Dracula in 1938 and the first wave of monster mania. McElwee recounts the booking at Salt Lake City’s Victory Theatre which, "all but necessitated that state’s militia. The house was sold out by ten o’clock in the morning. Four thousand frenzied Mormons milled around outside, finally broke through the police lines, smashed the plate glass boxoffice, bent in the front doors, and tore off one of the door checks in their eagerness to get in and be frightened. Management was forced to rent an empty theatre across the street to seat the overflow. Reels of Dracula and Frankenstein were bicycled back and forth in twenty-minute intervals throughout the day."

He follows up with another post about the continued monster boom into the 50s and 60s with particular nostalgia for the Castle digests of the Universal creature features.

"Kids deep into the life combed backs of monster magazines (they were everywhere!) and dreamed of owning 8mm highlights of Dracula, released by Castle Films in 1963 (their Frankenstein reel was strangely absent until late in the day 1971). I joined with a cousin and another neighborhood boy to invest in Dracula plus Official Film’s A Lost World, the latter made up of scenes culled from the 1925 dinosaur classic. We put on basement shows for a dime’s admission and even made lobby cards from Lugosi photos (unforgivably) cut out of Famous Monsters. Castle abridgements were the only way you’d play host to Frankenstein or Dracula at your own discretion. Who born of home video convenience could imagine the novelty, if not sheer joy, of threading up favorites at will, let alone projecting same on bedroom walls at a time when possessing movies was a near unheard of concept."

Fabulous posts with lots of great ads and pages from film trade mags. Great job John!

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