Thursday, April 24, 2008

Awesomeness in Cheap Packages

Here's a topic I hope people will contribute to on this blog. To me, there's something extra awesome about the cheap, temporary or unpretentious. Places or things that bring you endless joy, despite the fact that it was never intended to be much more than a quick diversion. For example, people "like" going to fancy restaurants, but they treasure their favorite "dive". I think most of us would rather drink coffee from one of those old white half-inch thick cafeteria cups than out of fine china, and eat foods named after people ("try the Big Ned burger!!!") than dine on haute cuisine.

Really, which gives you greater joy....a high tech gadget costing hundreds of dollars, or the toy you found inside your "Kinder egg"?

It's this kind of joy that always brings me back to those heroically cheesey "horror" movies of the past. Pictured is an example: "Monster on the Campus". I missed the age when you could go to a theater or Drive-in and actually watch these treasures in first-run, but I can still get a kick out of the seedy audacity of their claims. "Co-ed beauty captive of man-monster"! Why just the sheer density of hyphenated characters virtually guarantees a great time! Of course, the real movie was no-where near as lurid or exciting as the poster, but that was part of the fun too.

There's one movie experience I DO miss though. Back in the 50's, a movie producer and director named William Castle raised this brand of cheesey showmanship to it's zenith. His movies almost always included the promise of some kind of new "special screen sensation", guaranteed to shock and amaze the theater-goer. Among these was "Emerge-O" where the "monster" comes RIGHT OUT OF THE SCREEN AT YOU!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!!!

O.K., so it was really just an inflated skeleton on a wire. The point is, Castle made you curious enough to want to go see it!! I personally think his best gimmick was for a movie called "The Tingler", wherein Castle had selected seats in each movie theater wired to deliver a shock at a pivotal moment in the movie! (It was actually a scene where the hero , Vincent Price of course, God bless him!!!, runs into a movie theater on-screen and shouts "the Tingler is loose in this theater...scream....SCREAM FOR YOUR LIVES!!!" At that point the lights would go off in the REAL theater, and selected patrons got juiced (and goosed!)!! Wonderful!!

Oh sure, modern movies have better special effects. They have bigger budgets. But there's NOTHING, in my mind, that would have matched the entertainment factor of that movie theater. A "cheap package"? Definitely. Complete Awesomeness? Absolutely!!

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