Growing up in the 50's, the black and white entertainment in darkened halls consisted of war, cowboys, religious, musicals, and horror movies. I preferred the last.
Every Sunday, a friend of mine and I would be shipped off to one of the downtown movie theaters. A few bucks bought all the junk food two boys could consume. We'd find two seats and snuggle in for an afternoon of pure fantasy.
The cavernous room would darken and the curtain across the stage would slowly part. The whirl of the projector filled the room with a transparent light. A fuzzy image would fill the screen and we were set.
Newsreels showing how we were beating back the commies in Korea, cartoons, previews of upcoming movies, then one or two or three movies in a row. One ticket and we could stay air conditioned, soft seats, plenty of popcorn, and mesmerized until it was dark outside.
The horror movies were my favorite. Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, and the master Boris Karloff. Frankenstein, Dracular, Wolfman, the Mummy... dark creatures of the night. Blood, darkness, bats, screams, and panicked close ups would intensify the horror.
But they really weren't terrifying. They were rather tame by today's standards of blood and gore.
These creatures and the books they were adapted from had struggles associated with every day life. Trying to fit in, communication, pain, fear of the unknown. The creatures, vampires, gooles, monsters were actually, to the young mind of the real fear of iron lungs and A-bombs, heroes.
Even though they would die mysteriously in the end of the movie and the huddled crowds in the east European villages would cheer, you always felt sorry for the guys. *Note: Sorry girls there were no female monsters yet.
But next week, there would be the return of "enter your favorite horror character here".
And another Sunday afternoon was complete.