Weldon Reed mug.jpg

Of course, this is only my opinion, but I believe the horror shows some of us saw when we were kids, say, the 10- to 13-year-old days, were scarier than what passes for horror movies today. 

I know, I know — I’m talking about the early to mid-1950s, but those were the good old days of scary movies. Certainly, those particular years were highly impressionable ones for me, and that could be why I prefer the fright-filled movies of those days. 

All I see today is pretty much gore for gore’s sake. I am proud to say that I have never wasted my time watching a single film or episode of “The Living Dead,” “The Walking Dead,” “Eating the Dead,” “The Undead” or whatever those ridiculous titles are. 

The same goes for any modern-day Dracula movie — if Bela Lugosi isn’t in it, it’s not worth watching. 

Thanks to Wikipedia for filling in some holes for me. Here are some of my favorite scary movies of my youth.

Now I must confess that when I saw the original black-and-white version of “King Kong” when I was about 10 years old, it just about turned my liver white. 

Yes, I probably spent about half the movie cowering behind the seat in front of me at the old Palace Theater, timidly peering over with one eye. The film itself came out in 1933, but I could not have seen it then since I wasn’t born until 1941, so it was somewhere around 1950 or 1951 when I saw it. 

I can still see Kong when he pushed through the trees and grabbed Fay Wray from where the natives had tied her on that stone platform. 

That was my first drop down behind the seat in front of me, but it was not the last. When Kong fights off various pre-historic monsters, I spent some more crouching time as well. 

Then the male hero of the film rescues her while Kong is fighting, and the two escape back to the supposed safety of the village behind this massive wall. 

Unfortunately, it was not massive enough because Kong has followed them and smashes through the gate. Now arrives more hiding time for me — Kong chews on one native and smashes another flat with his foot.

The director of this proposed film on the island and the crew of the ship are able to subdue Kong with gas bombs and transport him back to New York to show him off as the Eighth Wonder of the World. 

Now let me tell you — as soon as the curtain went up in the theater where Kong was on display, I immediately knew, even at my young age, that those chains on his arms and legs and metal band around his waist were not strong enough. 

Sure enough, the flashbulbs from all the cameras disturb him, and he breaks loose. I hit the floor again, but the climax, of course, comes when somehow he has grabbed Fay Wray from out of her hotel window, climbs the Empire State Building with her, and begins fighting the attacking airplanes. 

Sorry — when he falls from the top of the building, I thought it served him right for scaring me like that. I have seen all of the re-makes of this film and just have not been impressed with them. Perhaps the nostalgia of that first film is so strong.

Another favorite horror movie of my youth is The Thing, which came out in 1951, so I was about ten when I saw it. Filmed in black and white, it involved some Air Force men and scientists who fly to the Artic to investigate some object that has crashed into the earth. 

There they discover that the object buried in the ice is saucer shaped, and they brilliantly decide to use some sort of heat bomb to melt the ice around the saucer. Unfortunately, the explosion destroys the object, but they discover a large, human-like figure in the ice nearby. They cut the block out and return to their headquarters to examine it.

Thus far, about one-fourth of the way through the movie, I have not had to duck down behind the seat in front of me at all. So far, so good but that is about to change. 

One man is assigned to sit and guard this thing , but he does not like the way it looks, so he cleverly decides to throw a blanket over it — oh, yes, an electric blanket, naturally. 

Of course, it is plugged in, and the ice starts melting. Now I know this cannot be good, so I get ready to duck down. 

Sure enough, this giant shadow starts approaching the soldier, and I hit the floor. Hearing him shooting and screaming was enough for me.

When the crew discovers the soldier’s body, they start searching for the monster. I assure you when they opened that greenhouse door and there stood the creature, I disappeared again behind the seat. 

Then it breaks into a room where they are barricaded, but they throw kerosene on it and use a flame thrower, but it escapes by bursting through the window. 

Yes, I might have ducked down some there too. However, much like with King Kong, in the final scene, when they electrocute the Thing and fry it down to ashes, I shed no tears. 

A little movie trivia, by the way — who played a semi-starring role as the monster? None other than James Arness before his Gunsmoke role came along. 

Shucks! This is only two of my favorite old horror movies. We’ll continue this later.

 

Weldon Reed is a Cleburne 

resident who recently 

returned to his hometown. 

He can be reached at 

weldon.reed@att.net.

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