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Bob Alexander: The 'Monster Rules'

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the monsters ruleY'know why I often refer to the Universal Studios monsters from the thirties and forties? Because those were the monsters I grew up with. In the fifties, the studio packed up its classic horror films and sold them to television. Every Saturday night I would be in front of our black and white Zenith from 10:30 pm until signoff watching channel 11s Nightmare. That's where I discovered Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, The Mummy, and The Wolf Man. Thats when I learned The Monster Rules. Everybody had to learn The Monster Rules because if you didn't there was no way in hell you could ever get to sleep after watching Nightmare.

The most important rule was Monsters Could Be Killed. It might take the whole movie to do it, but in the last few minutes of the final reel Dracula was staked, Frankenstein's monster was burned alive in a flaming windmill, the Egyptian goddess Isis reduced the mummy Imhotep to dust, and Larry Talbot, The Wolf Man, was beaten to death with a silver walking stick wielded by his own father. When all the monsters had been dispatched I could climb the darkened stairway up to my room without being too scared. Until I saw Dracula.

Even in my 8 year old head I understood Frankensteins monster, The Mummy, and The Wolf Man were in a sense innocent. The reanimated monster was stitched together from dead bodies, zapped into life by a lightning bolt, and tortured by a demented dwarf. Imhotep, an Egyptian high priest, committed sacrilege against the gods to revive the woman he loved only to be cursed to live forever within a preserved corpse. Larry Talbot thought he was rescuing a woman from a wolf attack when he was bitten by a werewolf thus doomed to become a monster by moonlight. These were monsters ruled by forces completely out of their control. But Dracula that guy was evil. He toyed with his victims before draining them of their blood. Like a cat tormenting a mouse Dracula played with his food.

The night I watched Dracula I don't know how long I sat at the foot of the stairs peering up into the darkness. Why tonight of all nights was the light at the top of the stairs burned out? That only happens in horror movies. Eventually my parents came home and What was I doing still up? Don't I know what time it is? Get to bed. Now!


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