It might be a monster, you know
“For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you are a wise man, Van Helsing.” — Cinema’s most famous vampire to his arch enemy in Todd Browning’s 1931 “Dracula.”
As those who have been faithful readers of this column over the years know, I just have a genuine affinity for good (which is, of course, to say bad) ol’ monster movies. I’m not talking about today’s seemingly never-ending stream of overly bloody, gory slasher films, but rather, what has always been to me the far more entertaining genre of their earlier, often Grade-B cinematic predecessors.
For me, if you are gonna have a monster movie, you have a monster — or at least reasonable facsimile.
There used to be a little group of us in Clarksdale who would get together pretty much every night during the week leading up to Halloween when the (then considerably fewer) TV networks show their “scary movies,” for a lot of laughs and there was a time when I expect I’d seen just about every bad monster movie anybody ever made.
And from all that viewing over all those years, I have gleaned some knowledge, nigh unto wisdom.
And among that, is this: Human characters in monster movies usually get done in, often gruesomely, for one consistently simple reason — they are incredibly stupid.
These folks just go blithely along, disregarding even the most obvious signs that things are a mite odd and never giving the first thought to the notion that maybe, just maybe, they have stumbled themselves into a monster movie.
Think about it.
Do they draw any inference from the fact that the guy who lives in the old castle is a “count” and only comes out a night? Nah.
Do they suspect anything might be the least bit odd when the mummy with the curse-inscribed sarcophagus they dug up vanishes from the museum? Nope.
Do they even notice all the funny noises in the house, or how much the portrait over the fireplace looks like old dead so-and-so? Why, no.
A slow child of four could tell all these jokers that they are about to get wasted, but all they want to do is put on their pajamas and talk about how things will be just fine in the morning. Yeah.
Consequently, it strikes me as necessary to have some basic, common sense rules for how to avoid becoming monster fodder, and therefore I have developed what follows, Mosby’s Rules for Monster Avoidance (somebody had to do it):
• Under no circumstances ever go to a castle in the middle of nowhere. Monster or no monster, that’s just not a good idea.
• Never get up to see what the dogs are barking at. It will be big and ugly and eat you.
• When the lights go out, do not start wandering around with a candle. All those shadows are not shadows.
• While it is generally not a good idea to leave home at all, never, ever, go near any “known” monster locations, such as, Transylvania, London, Egypt, South Pacific islands, the backwaters of the Amazon, the Arizona desert, the Arctic, the Antarctic or any spot that could even remotely be considered a jungle.
• Never become too friendly with a machine.
• Never “think you will get some air” and go outside on a night with a full moon. Note: If you do, the baying you will hear is not the neighbor’s dog.
• No matter how curious you might be about that strange noise, do not open the door or pull back the drapes to see what it is.
• No, it would not be “fun” to allow the old gypsy woman to read your palm because she will see a pentagram and you do have to walk home, through the woods, from the carnival.
• If your house or any house you happen to be in has an attic or a basement, under no circumstances ever enter either one. You won’t be coming back.
And the most important rule of all is self-preservation. If your spouse, best friend, child or sainted ol’ Aunt Sarah starts to act weird or seems oblivious to something happening you know to be weird, smack ‘em with a brick and take off. That may seem both callous and cowardly, but at least you will still be alive to thank yourself later.
Still not taking any of this seriously? Well, OK, but neither do all those dummies in the movies and look at what happens to them.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.