POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, July 26, 2012 Share
36-years ago, something happened that would change my life forever. It was a blazing hot Summer in Port Tampa in the old creepy house I grew up it. The house was built in 1897 and occasionally you could hear the rats running around in the attic, big rats, stomping through the night. The ceilings were 14-feet high and to a young child who has just turned four in May, it was exactly like walking inside a castle.
I slowly crept through the long hallway where my older sister was watching TV. A movie was getting ready to start and I just had to see but I had to ask permission first. No one wants to ruin the impressionable minds of the young. My sister said it was ok, normally we didn’t get along but she was cool for now.
I sat close to the TV. Random monsters appeared and then a strange old guy sporting a goatee, big bushy eyebrows, and eyes that seem to leap off the screen and stare through you started speaking. His name was Dr. Paul Bearer and this was Creature Feature on Saturday afternoon at 2pm. He said a few jokes and I laughed. Then my world flipped upside down and I was never the same.
An old scientist was mixing weird chemicals in test tubes as rats the size of a St Bernard quickly moved inside giant cages. Then I saw giant bunnies and I was perplexed. How could a rabbit get that big? I had a pet rabbit out in a cage in the backyard but he wasn’t like these. I watched as the scientist injected a rabbit with an experimental growth hormone. Suddenly, a strange looking creature burst into the lab and savagely destroys it. In the process a cage breaks and a giant tarantula escapes. I quickly asked my sister what that weird creature was and she replied, “A mutant.” I made a mental note to look up mutant in the encyclopedia. For now all my focus was on that tarantula that grew 50-feet tall, crushed buildings, and ate humans alive. I was hooked. I wanted to see this monster go on wreaking havoc. Throughout the movie, a young scientist, played by John Agar tried to find a way to kill the tarantula. Sadly, a young pilot, Clint Eastwood, flying a jet, dropped napalm on my beloved monster and I cried as I watched it burn. If only the creature could have lived and caused more damage. That was the fun part for me, seeing giant monsters on the rampage. I always hate seeing the monster die, even today.
However all was not gloomy, I quickly got over the tarantula’s death and begged my sister’s boyfriend for his collection of horror books. After agonizing negotiations he gave me his whole collection. I was only four but now the doorway to horror had been opened forever. I had beautiful hardcover books on horror movies, vampires, biographies on Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and a softcover annotated edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with amazing artwork by Satty. I used to stare at Satty’s illustrations of bats, vampires, and vampire women for hours. It was a great time to be alive and to be a kid with a big imagination. I treasure those fond memories forever. I would spend whole Saturday morning looking at monster pictures inside those books.
Looking back on Tarantula today, I still love it. It has mutations, a giant monstrous spider, annoying teenagers dying, and John Agar. To this day whenever I think about the heroic young scientist trying to save the world in a sci fi movie, I always remember Agar who, in my mind, became the quintessential scientist. Those old 50’s monsters movies were so much fun. I was exposed at the right age when I didn’t care how old the movie was or how beat up the film was, it was golden just to see it, even on TV.
I wasted no time and quickly got my parents to get me a subscription to Famous Monsters of Filmland and I watched every Creature Feature movie each week. The wonderful puns of Forrest J. Ackerman and gorgeous monster pictures in beautiful black and white were cool but what really caught my eye were those wonderful ads from Captain Company. You could buy your own Venus Fly Trap, or a 6 foot tall Frankenstein’s monster pinup, or 8mm and 16mm films like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. What I always dreamed of having was the coffin pedant that was supposed to contain “genuine soil from Dracula’s Castle…in Transylvania.” It was probably just dirt was someone yard but I wanted to believe it was real and I wanted to show it off by wearing it around my neck.
Since my early exposure to horror movies, I have collected tons of horror magazines, such as Fangoria that I also subscribed to, horror record albums, classic movie monster action figures, posters, stills, film reference books, the complete short stories of H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, all the Stephen King novels, Tom Savini’s makeup book, masks, Halloween decorations, and hundreds of horror movies on VHS, DVD, and now Blu-ray. There just doesn’t seem to be an end to it. At last count I had over 2000 horror novels, numerous anthologies, plus short story collections from a wide range of horror writers. For me, I feel like I’m just getting started with my obsessive collecting. You really have to have a burning love and passion for the genre to stick with it for this long. I’m certain that I will never give up my love of all things horror.
Keep reading Crazed Fanboy and join me on this wonderful and incredible journey into horror fandom.
"The Castle of Dr. Fetterstein" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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