In November 1957, shortly after we had moved on to the the hill on West Main Street in Richland, PA, I went to the local movie house, the Neptune Theater, to see The Curse of Frankenstein with Christopher Lee as the monster and Peter Cushing as Frankenstein.
As I recall, they tended to show monster movies mainly on Wednesday nights, saving Friday and Saturday evenings for more mainstream fare, so that probably means this wasn’t a school night for me. Using that logic, I’m guessing this was the night before Thanksgiving.
I went by myself, but I probably sat with some friends from school, including Shell (aka Gerald Zimmerman), who at nine years old was a year my senior.
Not too many things about that experience are still with me, just little details here and there, like a man being killed for his brain and the glass jar with that brain being smashed. And of course I remember Christopher Lee’s frightful face as the monster.
In fact, I was so frightened that there came a point where I couldn’t bear it any longer, and Shell felt the same way. So we left the theater before the movie ended. The last thing I remember seeing was a woman carrying a lantern as she headed to the room where the monster was, and so I thought, to her certain death.
Shell and I scampered out of there as fast as we could move and ran home. Fortunately, his home was just a few houses up the hill from mine, so we could run together. Strength in numbers, you know.
Once we crossed the railroad tracks, though, something must have spooked us even more; the shadows around the houses seemed incredibly menacing. So we ran where the light was best, meaning right in the middle of Main Street.
I did not sleep well that night.
Recently I watched the Blu-ray of the movie, and needless to say I didn’t find it very scary at all. It was interesting, though, to see how Frankenstein was portrayed, as a complete psychopath, willing to do absolutely anything, even commit murder, to achieve his ends.
And as to that scene where Shell and I left prematurely, that occurs about seven or eight minutes before the end.
If only we had held on just a little bit longer, we would have seen the monster killed, and I probably would have slept better that night.