Monster Rally

I've been looking for this ever since the internet was invented; the opening to a local Creature Feature show in Chicago that I haven't seen since I was five or six years old. Didn't remember the name or the channel, but the other details were all quite fresh in my mind; the fog-shrouded streetlamp, the figure approaching, the mutated hand snuffing out the candle. It creeped me out as a kid, and in retrospect I think that may be largely due to the score (the theme to "One Step Beyond").

Turns out it's Monster Rally, which aired on WSNS channel 44 sometime in the mid 70's. Seeing it today for the first time since very early childhood is a little underwhelming. Just look at that hippie dork in his cape and greasepaint. Give me a break, man. That's no horror host. But doesn't nostalgia always promise more than it delivers? The things which made such a big impression when you were a kid don't hold up when revisited? It was like when I finally got back that Pulsar toy through ebay, then realized it was just another piece of cheap plastic junk.

Anyway, sorry to pontificate. Badly. Long as I'm here…

Creature Features, which ran on WGN channel 9 1970-1976, and which I also hold some old-but-vivid memories of:

And Monstrous Movie, which ran late 70's to early 80's on WFLD channel 32, so I remember it very well.

The voiceover mentions "I Was A Teenage Frankenstein" as the feature, which means that I saw this very broadcast in the late 70's. Good times. I was raised an athiest, but watching creature features late at night or on weekend mornings was like going to church. I mean this in the best possible way, because I was reverent, if not obsessed, with these films. The pop culture of the 70's passed me by: I never saw an episode of 'Happy Days', I wasn't allowed to listen to disco records, and I was disinterested in the trigger-happy violence of 'Star Wars' and its ilk. But if 'Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein' or 'House on Haunted Hill' was on, I couldn't move away from the television.

(related: an earlier post about Screaming Yellow Theater and Son of Svengoolie)


buddy hatchett said...

RE: Nostalgic promises... Yes and No. Quite often, I'm inspired by the self-archaeology I've done. At best it provides a direct mainline to what I STILL find awesome. It sometimes inspires and helps me focus on things I want to do now. The first 15 seconds of the Monster Rally clip, before the "hippy" starts talking are amazing. There is something of primal scariness about a cloaked figure shambling out of some amber mist coupled with that great music. It works for me. He TOTALLY blows it with his delivery after that but 15 seconds of coolness is all you need to excite the imagination forever. Likewise, the candle snuffing is great. Both of these little segments of the whole affect me because they're about what you DON'T see. Issuing a challenge to Slithis here: can you capture the feeling of the shambling figure and creature hand while excising the dorky guy? P.S. Pulsar was always a joke.

stexe said...

I've been trying to capture that mood with music for most of my adult life.

Maybe "nostalgia" wasn't the right word, but what I meant was that this dude's face and voice haunted me for years, and now that I'm seeing it again I'm realizing how laughable he is.

But sure, much of what I've revisited from childhood does hold up, and I'm convinced that television was better in the pre-cable days than it is now. Up until the mid-eighties, you could watch horror movies, the twilight zone, star trek and three stooges shorts any day of the week on those five or six available channels. Now we have 80 channels of basic cable, and we can't find anything that's remotely watchable.