I was a horror fan since the age of three, when I saw Invaders from Mars in the basement TV room of my grandmother's home in New York. My parents didn't know I was watching, but I was enthralled by the film. And had nightmares for a few nights. Despite my parents best efforts to shield me from the cinematic offerings of thing all dark and scary, the obsession never died.
I'm not about to debate my parents decision to keep me from watching horror films as a young child. They did what they thought was best, and I love them for it. And, they allowed me to watch horror films (as well as Connery era Bond films) once they were edited for network television. This was decades before cable, but they would let me stay up long after my bedtime to watch what they wouldn't take me to the movies to see. They also let me read novelizations of the movies I was forbidden to see, such as The Omen, as they felt not seeing visual decapitations, but reading about them, was safer for my adolescent development.
Again, I'm not criticizing their choice to shelter me from such films. But, when we moved into the Pacific Northwest back in early 70s, they allowed me to purchase a small black and white TV with money I earned picking strawberries (yes, that was a thing) and I got to watch the horror films on KPTV. My family has an affinity for sports that I never understood, the same as they didn't understand my love for all things scary and fantastic.
Which leads me to the first time I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon. It wasn't on the family viewing schedule, as was Singing in the Rain (which I love), so I was in my room, watching on my small TV screen.
It was a great film, full of thrills and scares and a wonderful woman named Kay. But then, she decided to swim in the Black Lagoon and reveled her WONDERFUL white swimsuit.
Okay, it's a one piece and looks tame by today's standards. And I can not explain how it burned into my brain. But it did, even before the underwater ballet scene. I was in love with a cinematic icon, the same way I fell for Caroline Munro in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. It was a moment that not only cemented my love for films scary and fantastic, but also for the women who acted in them.
I still have my crushes for women in horror films, even to this day. But Ms. Adams was my first, and strongest. She was smart, sexy and pined for by a monster I felt myself to be. I was always the gangly kid who'd rather read and watch horror and sci fi that participate in any normal school activities like sports. And I would always identify with the Gillman, even now, as the outsider pining for the love of a beautiful woman, but without the social graces to make his amorous intentions known.
Okay, lesson one.
Not how to act on ANY date!
Yes, I know, the Gillman went about it the wrong way, but much like Kong, his heart was in the right place. And I always thought, had I been him, I could have made things work out better. An adolescent fantasy, to be sure, but one that kept hope alive through my teenage years. And I feel I'm better for it, by knowing how NOT to approach a woman. The Gillman and Kong got it wrong and I learned from their mistakes, saving me much embarrassment. I like to think I've had much stronger relationships with the women in my life, thanks to learning from the monster's mistakes.
Which is why I look forward to finally meeting Ms. Adams at The Living Dead Horror Convention, this November at The Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR. The first reason is to finally meet the woman I've had a cinematic crush on for years (yeah, my heart still drops as she drops her robe and revels her one piece, even after all these years), but also to thank her for cementing in my mind that brute strength and force won't win a woman's heart. It takes the heartfelt appreciation of her, as exemplified by Richard Carlson (as Dr. David Reed) to win her heart. It's a lesson well learned.
And let's not talk about Mark Williams. We all know how that ended up....
It's pretty obvious who gets to live.
No, I'm not bitter at all.