Thursday, October 28, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 28

I grew up without a horror host. What I did have was The Creature Double Feature on WLVI, channel 56 out of Boston. Every Saturday afternoon, following a voice over announcement of the movies to be shown over solarized footage from Son of Godzilla and other Godzilla movies accompanied by Tocatta by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

For three hours every week, I was glued to the television to get my guaranteed double dose of monster movies, and rarely missed it. From 1972 until somewhere around 1976, I drew the monsters from every single episode that aired. In one of my worst decisions, these drawings were all thrown away by be when I was in high school. The only one that survives is one I did of Reptilicus. I was hoping to share this drawing with this post, but can't locate it. I know I tucked it "somewhere safe"so it's still around.

The joke about the grandparents of my generation is that they'd talk about the hardships of their childhood as "having to walk to school every day through three feet of snow for five miles uphill in both directions." For my generation, the equivalent was the lack of DVD players, or even VCRs and cable television. Not only did we have to study TV Guide very carefully  for any movies we wanted to watch, but watching them involved serious negotiations with other family members, and sometimes setting the alarm clock for the middle of the night and hoping your parents didn't catch you watching tv at three o'clock in the morning. On top of that almost everything worth watching was on a UHF channel, and the further you were from the broadcast point, the worse your reception was. Boston was about 75 miles away, and Channel 56 was the most reliable of the UHF stations, meaning it was the least fuzzy, and where you could actually see the picture with relative clarity and the least interference from ghost images of other UHF stations overlapping the one you were watching. Many of my early movie memories involve ghosted images of baseball players superimposed over the movies I watched. Reception was also enhanced or hindered by how many leaves were on the trees around the house.

I'm glad for DVD technology and the ability to watch any movie whenever I want, if I have it on hand, and roll my eyes when I hear people complaining about a less than stellar print being issued on DVD. A bit of nostalgia actually occurs whenever I see a crappy print of a public domain movie on DVD. It's almost like seeing the movie on UHF again.

The Creature Double Feature had a tremendous impact on my career path, and it's influence on my life can not be measured. Without it, who knows if I'd have developed such a great love of monster movies, or monsters in general. It could have ended up being Westerns, or War Movies, or maybe nothing, and I'd have ended up being an accountant, or who knows what else. I owe the past folks at WLVI a debt of gratitude for broadcasting a double dose of monster movies regularly for so long.

You can learn about the history of the Creature Double Feature here

On the Creature Double Feature Website there's a list of all the movies that were shown, in order of their showing, and the number of times they were shown. There's a better more complete list of movies in their message boards which explains why I was so fond of The Amazing Colossal Man, Daimajin, and War of the Gargantuas since these particular movies were shown with great frequency.

If you grew up in New England and remember watching the Creature Double Feature you should attend the CDF Round Up happening tomorrow night in Attleboro, MA and Taunton, MA. Locations are listed in the poster below by Sean Hartter. I was planning to attend, but other commitments have forced me to cancel my attendance.

From the Creature Double Feature Round-Up Facebook Page:

This is a 2 tier event. Leg 1 begins at 5:00 P.M. in the mini auditorium at Attleboro High School. We'll show clips of CDF movies, and new stuff inspired by CDF. Meet the voice-over "voice" of WLVI TV's Creature Double Feature, Tom Evans; Matt Sanborn (author of "Call of the Cthulu: Arkham Now"); Comic book artist Christian White; Uncle Jesse from "Uncle Jess's Possum Hour"; and Ethan Gilsdorf (author of "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks") reading an essay tribute to CDF.

Leg 2 is at the Ugly Duckling, a wonderful restaraunt in Taunton Ma. This will be an after party event, fun, food, drinks and lots of memories: Begins roughly at 10:00 pm. 



Robert Pope said...

Great post, and I'm still grateful for Ashley Ghastley on Channel 5 in Charleston SC. A horror host is a terrible thing to waste (not as terrible as that ill-fitting gag, but you get the idea...)

Monster Dad said...

Great post! I grew up with Creature Double Feature too, and it was like you were writing about my own memories! Just subscribed and am looking forward to reading more of your stuff! Check out my blog if you get the chance: