I am a child of the 50's truly, despite being born in 1960. My brother, 9 years closer to the ferryman than I used to get home circa 2am after playing some gig at whatever local blues/rock dive at which his band was booked and wake me up. It was his influence that instilled my love of Hendrix, Creem, Traffic and Procol Harum.
But a deeper more meaningful obsession was budding. One that shaped my life in many respects...
He would wake me up, egg creams and pretzel rods at the ready and flip on the TV for a double feature of Chiller Theater and Creature Feature. One of my earliest memories is of a real drive-in classic The Neanderthal Man.Relax... It was cheesy as hell but I was like seven. IT ROCKED! I went on to such classics as Invasion of the Saucermen starring Frank Gorshen, the original Joker from the 60's TV camp version of Batman. And one of my favorites to this day; The Monster that Challenged the World. I mean, giant mollusks... FRIGGIN AWESOME!
There were some amazing films in amongst the sea of B's. Howard Hawk's The Thing is still close to a perfect movie. The dialogue is still impressive in its flow.Of course the original, The Blob from 1963 was a regular Creature Feature saturday afternoon thing... Pardon the pun. And if you look at the poster you can see the start of the career of a hollywood icon; Yep, Steve McQueen. Not that I cared when I was 9 or 10. It was the playdoe goop they called the Blob that got me excited.
But I think one of my fondest memories is of 1957's 20Million Miles to Earth. A Ray Harryhausen classic. If you're not sure who he is just ask. First I'll slap you flat across your face then I'll tell you like this; He is the great grandfather of sci fi and horror movie creature special effects. The God of claymation. You may likely know him from the ORIGINAL JAson and the Argonauts.
But it was his creature in 20 Million Miles to Earth that will always stand out in my mind. So real was the creature to this 7 year old and so expressive his features that I was rooting for the beast the whole movie. I had little 7 year old tears rolling down my cheeks when, in a hail of bullets and rockets the creature falls from the Coliseum to his death...
Harryhausen's body of work is impressive and it was the base fuel for many of my games as a child. I have been able to retain that childlike wonder and imagination and try to bring that to the gaming table as well. So when my wife asks why I spend so much time ... and money... playing those silly games I simply reply,
"It's all Ray Harryhausen's fault."
Next up we'll explore some of my favorite fantasy films, or maybe reminisce about Hammer Films... Feel free to post up some of your favorites as well...
From the other side of the table,