One Christmas in the Mid-1960s
This flashback memory flickers in my brain…I was only five or six years old and I was in the basement furnace area helping my dad. We actually had a coal furnace at that time on College Avenue in Grove City, Pennsylvania. I had a toy gas station down there that I liked to play with as my dad worked. I remember talking about some new movie called SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS with Dad. I would end up seeing that at a Kiddie Matinee in the Guthrie Theatre. But this little essay isn’t about that experience…which seems like a Disney experience next to another holiday matinee I saw….
In those days it was not uncommon for parents to drop off their kids to a “Kiddie Matinee” and go shopping. My mom frequently dropped me off at the Guthrie Theatre on a Saturday mid-day. The theatre would be full of kids from five to twelve years old. I’m sure the theatre staff just “loved” those matinees of screaming, unruly kids running everywhere. There would be cartoons, maybe a Three Stooges short, then the feature film. It was 35 cents to get in.
I can remember seeing these features on weekend matinees (the fairy tales were Mexican or German imports, dubbed in English): RUMPELSTILTSKIN, SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED, JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME, TOM THUMB AND LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS), TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT and….something simply called SANTA CLAUS. Now we get to it.
It was one Christmas season and Mom dropped me off at the matinee. I can still remember the happy looking movie poster behind glass at the theater. It did look like a Disney movie. Cheerful, festive, full of Christmas spirit. That’s what I saw, that’s what I’m sure my mom saw. Neither of us noticing the little image of a Satan-like devil mixed in there.
I was probably five or six, sitting in the theater filled with kids. Our parents all gone off shopping for Christmas. The audience was loud and crazy, as kids are, then suddenly silent at spots in the film. This thing was dubbed in English (I didn’t really get it at the time), a product from Mexico and K. Gordon Murray. Murray was a film distributor, quick to find ways to make money from these inexpensive foreign features dubbed and shilled to American kid audiences.
This holiday film had these horrifying scenes that twisted how us kids saw the holiday forever: dancing demons in Hades, a devil pawn called “Pitch” who was charged to stop Santa Claus and his good-deed doing. There was a dream sequence where eight foot dolls with “dead” eyes haunted a young girl, Merlin the wizard somehow ended up at Santa’s workshop which was off in space floating somewhere in clouds. Santa’s workshop had bizarre equipment, including a giant eyeball on a metal hose that spied on children to see if they were naughty or nice. And, white robot reindeer. In one sequence parents leave a child alone on Christmas Eve as they run off to a nightclub….on and on.
This film was filled with nightmare sequences for any young kid. There were good intentions there, but presented in a pretty disturbing, crazy way! Seek it out. My mom never knew how creepy and twisted this movie was. I loved it.
Now it’s tradition in the Adams household. I play it on various screens around the house for our holiday dinner get-togethers with family and Monster Bash staffers. People are always stunned and dumbfounded by it. It still holds its “charm.”
Merry Christmas to you and your family from Ron Adams and Creepy Classics/Monster Bash.
BTW – We hope to “Facebook Live” the annual Monster Bash Company Christmas Party this Saturday evening (12/21/19). Our Facebook page is “Monster Bash Conference.” Make sure to include “Conference” in your search. It will be an eyeful of festive weirdness and fun.
On with the show, now let’s check out the new cool stuff and classic monster news…