Los Angeles television was terrific. KHJ Channel 9 had "Science Fiction Theater" with movies on Saturday afternoon featuring titles like "Missle to the Moon".
ABC Channel 7 had "The Six O'Clock Movie", Monday through Friday that showed films from all genres but you could count on one American-International movie per week. "The Day the World Ended", "the Invasion of the Saucer Men", "The Beast with a Million Eyes", "The Killer Shrews, "Giant Gila Monster". You know -- great stuff.
KNXT Channel 2 had "The Early Show" weekday afternoons and they would toss in sci-fi movies every once in a while and usually very good ones at that, such as "Kronos" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man".
KHJ's "The Million Dollar Movie" was on Monday through Saturday and they presented the same title every night. "Dante's Inferno" with Spencer Tracy, Menzies' "Invaders from Mars", Cooper's "King Kong" and "Son of Kong" along with other titles like "The High and the Mighty" and "No Highway in the Sky".
Late Saturday nights had "Jeepers Creepers", looking a little like Lon Chaney's "Phantom", hosting some horror movies mostly from an older library (Independent Station KCOP Channel 13). Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi titles and others. "The Feathered Serpent", "Black Cat" "The Cat People". Good stuff.
Jeepers was later replaced by "Seymor", a fellow with pointed facial features dressed in a slouch hat and black cape like pulp fiction's The Shadow. He was a hoot. During the panic scenes from Japanese monster mayhem films, he would be electronically included running with the masses usually wearing a false face. It was so unexpected it was a regular riot and brought some excitement to the otherwise dreary rubber stamp plotlines. He also aired "Robot Monster" and stuff like that.
I don't guess we had a TV when "Vampira" was in her hayday, but her very funny knock-off "Elvira" (again on KHJ) was splendid many years later.
Pennsylvania, were I now live, broadcasts mostly sports on Saturday afternoons.
There's also sport, sport and , of course, sport. I suppose golf must be of some interest to a lot of people, but maybe the great thing about all those monster programs was that they provided time to "turn off your mind and float downstream..."
Yes, I guess all that madness came to mean a lot to me, otherwise I wouldn't be looking up "CALTIKI: The Immortal Monster" on the IMDb. I'll look into buying a copy even as you suggest.
I appreciate you tipping your hat to my Dad.
Yeah, we had very similar programs in NYC -- LA & NYC had the same channels, mostly with the same network or independent affiliations (except as I recall the old Metromedia station in LA -- pre-Fox -- was channel 11, while it was 5 in NY). But in the 50s and 60s and into the 70s there was a broad similarity between both the stations and what they offered. Science Fiction Theater, Super Adventure Theater, Million Dollar Movie (running the same film 16 times in one week -- twice nightly M-F, three times daily Sat. & Sun.), etc., etc.
I was in LA for a bit in late '74 and vaguely recall seeing some weird guy dressed up to look like some sort of malevolent forest ranger, hosting a Sat. night monster movie. He had dark hair and a black mustache, wore I think a fir green coat and ranger-type hat, and had a deadpan delivery and made some pretty funny, sarcastic comments about the movie during commercial breaks. The film they were showing the night I saw it was "The Deadly Mantis", and I remember for some reason a remark he made during one break: commenting on the expedition sent to the North Pole in search of the mantis fossil, and the fact that a not terribly attractive lady reporter was tagging along, he said, "And speaking of fossils -- did you see that reporter they dragged along with them?" I often wondered whether the actress in question, Alix Talton, was watching then, or heard about it later, as she probably lived in the LA area at the time.
Do you have any idea who this guy was? It might have been on channel 11.
That sounds like a superb follow-up in a long line of macabre late night TV Monster Camp hosts! No, that's another first for me. I was in the service around that time and it seems like there are 18 minutes of blank tape in my pop education memory on account of it. Once I was back in the world I would read of or friends would make casual mention of a TV program that was aired while I was away and it was like I was hearing about a mythical land far, far away populated by wonderful creatures. There I'd be like "Tell me more, O wise one!"
The reality of atomic war in the late 50's and 60's was probably not as bad as the visions in our heads. I remember going into the back yard one clear Summer day and was met by the sight of an enormous black cloud with flames bristling out of it rising forty feet or more in the still atmosphere and for a moment I believed "this is it!".
It turned out to be a lesser disaster, a house on the next block engulfed in flames. Still, I remember the feeling it brought upon me. After that the menace of "Caltiki" or "The Magnetic Monster" was to me like having a pet rattle snake to show that I, for one, was not afraid to look upon the face of fright and keep it in my own home. I do not think it was to show off to anyone as much as it was to bolster my own small measure of internal fortitude. The Grown-ups would tell the tales of Nuclear anihilation and show us the headlines daily to bear them out. They conjured images inside our little wrinkled brains of people in tattered clothing loping about, more dead than alive, small parts falling off...
So, I'd wonder if the other Atomic Kids at my school had the same fears and what it was that made them afraid. Those fears would be made manifest by the scenes they'd choose to relate -- the good part --from the last weekend's
Sci-Fi movie offering. Oh, and we were all so cool about it lest we tip our hand. "Yeah, that guy burned up when he walked out of the shadows trying to escape the clutches of the Rock Men! Eee-yow!" or "...and he's trapped in the web and the spider is getting closer and closer and he's yelling in this weird little voice 'Help me! Help me, please!"
You and I must be in the same age range so in addition to Monster mayhem on TV you also went through the horror of "duck and cover". It seems as if we may be back to that again. It is a strange world we live in.
"There be monsters here!"
Yep, everything old may indeed be new again. I actually don't recall going through much duck and cover in the late 50s-early 60s but do remember being led into fallout shelters at school as practice "in case"...especially during the Missile Crisis. Little did they realize they'd just be incinerating us all by doing that -- worse than escaping a burning house filled with expanding Caltiki (to make a pass at keeping to the spirit of the site!).
But, much better to deal with "The Fly" or "Missile to the Moon". "My Lido!" -- I always thought the guy was looking for a Pepperidge Farm cookie.
But I think my crowd just loved this stuff, not to put a brave face on anything to do with the perils of the real world (i.e., annihilation), but simply because it was just so cool!
18 minutes of blank tape in your pop education memory -- now that dates us both!
It WAS cool. Knowing these movies was like having a secret language.
CALTIKI was pretty much a movie we could only talk about, hard to re-enact on the school yard. "Missile to the Moon"'s Rock Men was a lasting favorite (teams would split up to play the Astronauts and the others the Rock Men. The Rock Men would lumber around, but they were allowed to run, and the astronauts could only run in the shadows of the buildings. If an astronaut was caught, the Rock Men would throw him into the sunlight and he was out --BURNED TO A CRISP! The hapless victim was required to yell and write in pain.
Another favorite game was similar, Cameron Menzies' "Invaders from Mars". One team was made up of Mutants and the other, the Soldiers. If caught by a gang of Mutants the soldier would have an "X" drawn on the back of his neck with a ball point pen and then he had to be a slave spy.
You had to be there. It was a lot of fun and I suppose the nostalgia comes not just from watching these movies, but the schoolyard games that came from them that would go on for weeks. Or until the next monster epic caught our attention.
We ARE the movies!
You said it!
We used to play the same sort of games around the neighborhood -- including MISSILE TO THE MOON, also THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (someone got to play the monster), lots of others. Even, I vaguely recall, CALTIKI -- capture and dissolve someone. Neat!
Many of my friends and I used to be terrified of walking along the beach every time INVADERS FROM MARS ran -- just waiting for that sand pit to open up.
I guess every generation makes the same observation, but still...the kids today really do not know what they missed! A little less sophistication went a long way back then, didn't it, my friend?!
You're only right. Those old movies may have been made on the cheap and are considered laughable nowadays, but I like to think that it was the imagination of youth, the sense of wonder, that made up for the cheap special effects or inane dialogue (in some movies, not all, that's for sure) filling in the gaps, covering a multitude of sins. I think that youngsters today still have that same magic in them, but it is not taken out of the box and exercised.
One of my favorite movies (a Million Dollar Movie presentation) was the very dreary "The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues". Oh, yes -- DREARY -- but as a child I thought it was absolutely the BEST! My older brothers couldn't understand my desire to watch it every night. I have a DVD of it now and -- you know it could have been a good movie! It was a spy movie, monster movie, nuclear danger movie, and a love story all rolled up into one.
"Phantom" featured some good veteran actors and even an ambitious monster suit. I like it still, playing it for white noise when I need to take a nap and other times will watch it and try to figure out how it could have been a better movie.
So it still fires my imagination, just in a different way.
And I also wonder why it was such a big deal to me back then. I think I saw the monster -- THE PHANTOM -- being a lot more horrific than it acutally was.
As a child I would use a wet wash cloth to recreate scenes from CALTIKI using green army men.
It was a lot of fun. Thanks for writing, Hobnob. I went back to some otherwise unused and fond memories. I appreciate the volley.
And speaking of the sand opening up ala' "Invaders from Mars", the chorus singing in the background always gave me the creeps! It was fantastic!
Right on all counts, escalera! I've enjoyed the "volley" as well...hope we pop up on similar discussions again! (BTW, I guess you know that PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES just came out last month on a dual-title DVD with THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES -- the Midnight Movies franchise often puts out two-flick DVDs pairing films with either similar themes or similar titles, pretty cleverly.)
And one more note -- since CALTIKI was an Allied Artists relase, it just might turn up one day on a high-quality DVD release from Warner Home Video, which controls most of the AA library. Keep watching the skies! (And for SUNRISE AT CAMPOBELLO -- hey, the sunrise is in the skies, too, right?)
If ever I were to watch "Beast with a Million Eyes" again it would be to once more see the creature work of Paul and Jackie Blaisdel, the Pierre and Marie Curie of movie monsters. While Paul was a little short on imagination (his monsters always had long fangs and/or bug eyes) he had a lot of grit. His "Beast" was a victim of little time and little money. I sure appreciate their efforts though.
Well, certainly this must be a strange thread to anyone else. It sort of goes all over the place, from FDR, courtesy of CALTIKI: the Immortal Monster, to "The Beast With a Million Eyes". Whatever anyone else may think of it, it's been fun for me. Thanks, Hobnob.
See you in "The Thing from Another World!"
Guys, if I may intrude, your conversation thread has been a great delight - given the stupefying rudeness and tenuous grasp of spelling on so many threads, clearly written by teens and fanboys (the standard seems to be "yre n idiot", "ure a total moron") it was a joy to read the memories of two people who are my contemporaries - although I was born and grew up in the UK, where we had little access as kids to the great scifi pics of the 50s - they were frequently rated X, that is, 16 and over (to appeal to the burgeoning older teen market with all that disposable income!) Also there genuinely was a hestitation in those days to expose pre-teens to images of violent death, however fantastic the context; I think it may have been a collective national squeamishness after the horrors of WW2 and the appalling experience of the Blitz. Now see, I'm rambling too ! Anyways, for me it was the latest imported issue of Forry Ackerman's Famous Monsters magazine that was my key to the joys of b-movie scifi. Finally, all these years later I live in Los Angeles and have managed to meet with Forry a couple of times. My gratitude is boundless. And now I'm grateful to you two for such an interesting and stimulating exchange. Maybe you two shoud meet for a drink and a reminisce sometime! Best wishes.
iainhammer -- Thanks for chiming in -- hardly an intrusion. From my end it was a delight (how often does one get to use that word?), it was like finding someone from your own country who speaks the same language.
It makes me sad to read some of the posting for two reasons -- the spelling and grammar -- and a third reason, the bile. We're only talking about movies. Why do people tear at each other over these things and their opinions?
It is a treat for me to find civil posting such as the ones I've seen for "Brief Encounter" and a few others.
Well, apparently we have all lived in Los Angeles, my home town (I now live in Pennsylvania), so it would be swell to hoist a few as a threesome.
Thanks, again, for your input.
wow. but a lot of cities back 10 yrs ago or more showed monster
movies all the time and had special shows like creature features.
wish i had a vcr back then and could of recorded them.would have
a terrific libarey now.loved all those 50's and 60's monster movies.
could always cut out commercials later.man they were on all the time.
Yeah, if we'd only had VCRs in the 60s we'd not only have the movies but the great openings of all the movie shows, which would really be the stuff worth preserving. And with the commercials -- which are as historic as the movies, and unlike them, unlikely ever to be seen again!
Glad you also liked that double bill.