Classic Monsters and Movies in Mars, PA. …….. Day 1
“What are some of the movies you’ll be seeing?”
That was one of the skill testing questions I was asked at the Peace Bridge border crossing as I made my way from Canada into the United States over the July 8th weekend. Can’t trip me up with a question like that. I threw a couple of titles at the guard as if they were Muhammad Ali jabs figuring he’d never heard of them and named a couple of actors, Lancaster and Karloff that probably left him scratching his head as he waved me thru. Who knows, perhaps I’ve inspired him to look up these legends of classic film.
On to the Monsterbash.
This family friendly festival of classic monsters is one that I have frequented over the past dozen years. This was at least my 6th trip to the fest but that number might actually be 7. I’m slipping. I’ve come alone, been there with my wife and family and once took my number one son Ethan years ago for a father son weekend getaway. It’s safe to say I’ll make the journey again.
While there is plenty of films and movie history to sit in on, I don’t catch everything as I find myself drawn to the dealer room to purchase plenty of movies, books and memorabilia. Here’s a recap of what films and entertainment I did see.
First up was The Ultimate Abbott and Costello Tribute Show. Bill Riley and Joe Ziegler take center stage as the famed comedians and really send the crowd back in time to a simpler form of comedy and a duo that is much loved by many. Who better to represent comedy at a festival celebrating Universal Monsters than the duo who starred in the greatest of all spooky comedies then Bud and Lou. It’s a great look back at vaudeville and of course they close the show with the greatest routine of all. Who’s On First. For a look at their site, click here.
Up next was sitting in and watching a Noir classic, Sorry, Wrong Number with Burt Lancaster and Barbara Stanwyck. An odd choice at a monster fest? Perhaps but on hand was Jimmy Hunt at the festival who way back in 1948 played a young boy in the film. His role here is rather small but fans of the sci-fi genre might know him better as the boy fighting aliens in 1953’s Invaders From Mars.
The Lancaster-Stanwyck film is of course one I have seen on a few occasions but it had been a while. It’s a bit over the top starting out (sorry Barbara) but once it gets going, it draws you in and holds up very well over the latter half.
Off to the dealer room……
A great example of pointing out how this is a family like atmosphere is the fact that some of the individuals who run this fest and a few vendors get together to jam on stage and play a few tunes for the crowd on a yearly basis. Beatles and other 60’s fare are belted out and a redo of The Monster Mash is a crowd favorite with some lyrical changes to spotlight the yearly festival.
A popular time slot yearly at the Monsterbash is the Mexican Monster Night held annually on the Friday and introduced by film historian Robert Cotter. This year was a laugher and one that can only be enjoyed if viewed with a frenzied crowd of “so bad it’s good” fans. Would you believe it was called Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood Meet the Monsters? It was a dubbed monstrosity that had the viewers in stitches throughout. Think of a Mexican variation of The Wizard of Oz, Universal Monsters and the evil Queen of most any Disney cartoon under one castle roof. Has to be seen to be believed!
Arriving near mid day I missed out on Island of Lost Souls, some serial chapters of The Phantom Creeps and a discussion of movie props. Specifically Forbidden Planet from prop collector Wes Shank.
More movies played into the wee hours of the morning but I need my beauty sleep. At least that’s what I keep telling myself so sadly I missed The Monster and the Girl with George Zucco and the 2 a.m. Lugosi feature, Night of Terror.
Day 2 and a Johnny Weissmuller laugher still to come.