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Monday, May 9, 2011

Monster Model Memories & My Love of Horror Films

May 9, 2011: I've been thinking a lot about my old Aurora models lately, in particular the monster collection. These were a brilliant catalogue I used to get at a long-time local store called Klein's on Westport, CT's Main Street, which had everything -- an extensive record department, cameras and film development, books galore, jigsaw puzzles, and, of course, models. (Ironically, years later, I even got my wife there!)

Some of my best memories -- damn, perhaps my very best -- are of sitting in our little kitchen on Saturday nights watching Creature Features on channel 5 (which ran some of the best horror movies ever) on our little black-and-white portable Sony TV. I remember the Wolfman was my first model, and when it was finally together, I broke out that glorious set of Testor paints we had, in those little tiny glass bottles, and perfected my very favorite movie monster with a most carefully complimented melange of colors.

I think I got Frankenstein next, then the Mummy. There were 12 in all, including Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback, Godzilla, King Kong, a Witch, and the Forgotten Prisoner (which featured a very unhappy skeleton chained up in a dungeon). There may have been an Invisible Man set, but that might have been made later. Anyway, I didn't know about it at that time, and would certainly have bought it if I did!

There are few times in my life I can recall with such vivid awareness as when I used to construct those models, always using the silver and green tube of Duco Cement. The newspapers would be spread over my demented mother's precious tan and white formica counter. (Fortunately by then she'd have retired to an early intoxicated slumber.) The smell of the sticky cement mixed with the fresh cardboard scent of the opened boxes, which were like priceless treasures. Each model also came with glow-in-the-dark pieces, which I never used, but still saved for some poor reason.

It's hard now for people to understand (beginning with my own children) why I've such a monumental affinity for horror movies, why I draw such luscious comfort from that vast collection of camp and classic flicks, such as the Universal pics of pre-World War II, and the Hammer Films, and 1950s Sci-Fi ... Among the titles that take me to that glorious place of peace and serenity -- "The Blob," "Killer Shrews," "Horror Express," "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman," "Halloween III," "The Invisible Man," "Salem's Lot," "Invaders From Mars" ... and on and on ... And each year the list expands by a few select titles -- tasteful fantasy films that offer the right combination of subtle camp and unrealism.

One must draw comfort from whence one can, my dears. It's a diabolically cold and confusing world out there ... sometimes, so take it where you can get it!

Just thought I'd expound on one of my favorite topics ... Sorry for such a boring Blah-ugh! ... But, oh, those wonderful, wonderful monster models ...


  1. i have a very soft spot for Frankenstein, because my stepbrother noticing my deep anxiety during visits to the Step Family House, allowed me to bunk in his room -- i was afraid of the dark, and he had a glow in the dark model Frankenstein that must have stood 8 or 10 inches high on a shelf. J. would turn out the lights and Frankenstein would glow softly green until i fell into a comfortable slumber . . . thank you Frankenstein.

  2. Klein's was marvellous; Klein's had truly everything you could ever need: books and music and beautiful things to write on and with. Who knew it even had spouses, but somehow it doesn't surprise me. If one were to find one's heart's desire in Westport, you could do worse than start by looking in Klein's. It's something wretched now, isn't it? Like a Banana Republic.