Monster Kid Memories: Hosting Our Own Monster Show
There are seminal events in the life of all Monster Kids. Seeing King Kong for the first time was one such event for me. Another was receiving Scholastic Books Movie Monsters in my school book order.
Like many monster kids of the 60s and 70s, I was enamored by the magic of movie monsters. And thanks largely to Famous Monsters of Filmland, I learned about the magicians behind-the-scenes that made the movie magic happen– the special effect and make-up artists. I enjoyed the actors who played the monsters, but I loved the artists who created them.
Fortunately for me, the mid-70s was a great time to be into monster makeup with kits and how-to books increasingly available. My first official guidebook on making monsters came to me through the Scholastic book club in the fall of 1975 when I was 9 years old.
Movie Monsters ; Alan Ormsby (Scholastic Books, 1975)
Pictured above is my original copy of Scholastic Books Movie Monsters; well-used and well-loved. I remember getting my book order at the end of the school day and, as soon as I got home from school, heading straight to my room to read this cover-to-cover. I loved the illustrations and the easy step-by-step guide to monster make-up.
With my parents’ blessing, I began to assemble a make-shift make-up kit using an old fishing tackle box and some of my mom’s old make-up. We lived in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and would often head to the nearby big city of Tulsa, where they had a store featuring costumes and professional make-up for the stage. I continued to build my make-up kit and to practice on my younger siblings and myself.
Included in this book was a section called “How to Put On Monster Shows” complete with script called “The Monster of Frankenstein!” and I quickly assembled a cast of neighborhood kids to stage our very own production in my garage that October.
As the Executive Producer, Director, Make-up Artist and Chief Monster Kid, I played Dr. Frankenstein and my classmates and neighbors played one or more characters in the play. We hung bed sheets in my garage and decorated with Halloween decorations. I was such a nerd that I had my own science lab complete with chemistry test tubes, beakers and microscope, so making the laboratory was a snap. I made a cassette recording of my Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House Disney record for our soundtrack and then we invited every neighborhood kid who wasn’t in the play to come and watch.
The only pictures I have of that eventful day:
That’s me in the white lab coat — as you can see the makeup was on the light side — more of a Werewolf of London style than the Wolf Man. Can’t say I remember why, exactly, because minimalism was hardly my style when I was 9. Perhaps we simply ran out of time. The Show Must Go On, as they say!
My younger brother was Mr. Skull, wearing a skull mask and almost in the picture to the left (these were polaroids, of course. It was 1975 after all)
I’ll share more pages from Scholastic Books Movie Monsters in future posts — hope you enjoyed this walk down Monster Kid Memory lane as much as I did.
I know I’m not the only Monster Kid that put this show on — please share your Monster Kid memories in the comments section below.