The Monster Kids

David Colton, USA Today front  page editor and dedicated monster fan, wrote this sweet October Valentine to all good little monster boys and girls. It was originally posted on the America Online Classic Horror forum boards in fall of 1996. It is reprinted here by permission.

Reading remembrances of ghouls past evokes a feeling that all of us here are somehow refugees from different corners of the same theater.

How many of us in the last four years have written similar words -- with only the neighborhoods or names changed, but the evocative message of autumn and late summer nights still so much the same.

We share in purest essence a collective and sweet memory of something very special. Whether its Chiller Theater or a younger brother refusing to turn the channel to watch KING KONG, or a stationery store with only one remaining copy of Famous Monsters, or the sheer excitement of the MYSTERIANS ads on Channel 9 when Godzilla was still only a movie old, or the laugh of Zacherley interrupting Atwill's one-armed lecture, somehow we were all there, all at the same place at the same time, with the same ability to call it all up like THAT! As if yesterday really WAS the day before today, not tens and twenties of years ago gone.

Baseball fans at the same game or cheering for the same hero can all recall the same home run. The smells and the colors of the 60s run through many of us still. I imagine WWII has the same power to our parents, and MTV, the Muppets and early Nintendo will rustle the same collective tugs in our children as they grow old.

But the monster kids -- that's us, the monster kids, young and old -- seem somehow special. Take a walk back through all the boards and see what we've all said about why we're here and why we stay and why, decades now later, the sight of John Carradine still means something incredibly special, something that makes people wonder what we're talking about when, on AMC during a showing of STAGECOACH, we point and say, "That's John Carradine."

We understand somehow because we are all part of the same shared visual. We all hail from the same place, sitting cross-legged on the same sofa with the same Sylvania or Emerson or RCA black-and-white TV flickering with the Universal Globe or the RKO Radio tower or even the Twilight Zone signposts up ahead -- but somehow we're all from the same family all rushing home down the same cracked sidewalks kicking the same leaves on the same November afternoon to catch the same Shock Theater movie on the same night. And with Bela Lugosi too!

It's always chiller night for us -- for us the monster kids. The older the films get, the more distant the players and the more obscure the sources, somehow the younger we become. Edward van Sloan is old. Not us. Not the monster kids. Lon Chaney is gone. Not us. Not the monster kids.

Even decades gone by, we're still kicking leaves in a swirl, waiting for the commercial to end, the parents to go to sleep and the castle to loom through the fog. The same fog we've been trying to see through for all these years. Because the best horror movies are the hardest to see, after all. It's what keeps the monster kids squinting through the mist, somehow in this world of death and awkward and weird, sharing together what it was like to be...young. When we were the monster kids.


"Would you like to hear what happened after that? I feel like telling it. It's a perfect night for mystery and horror. The very air itself is filled with monsters..."


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