I have always been obsessed with retaining as many memories as possible throughout the years. I still remember things that happened when I was only a year old.
I keep diaries, journals, letters and e-mails to try to hold onto those things, not forget them, from a childhood desire to do one better than Laura Ingalls Wilder, and remember/write down everything that ever happened to me.
Maybe it’s a fear that if I lose these things, I lose myself. Maybe it’s just in case I ever get stricken with amnesia. Maybe it’s to help with story and memoir writing. Maybe it’s so that if there is no afterlife, I will still live on in that form, my experiences and dreams and imaginings not lost to time.
In any case, part of that is remembering old shows and movies. Some of them have been easy to identify and track down, such as The Red Hand Gang and Time Bandits, which I overheard my dad watching one night after I was supposed to be in bed, but it sounded dang interesting. Or the Thief in the Night series, which I saw in Sunday School the summer of 1991.
But many have been much harder to identify, since even others who watched them with me, can’t remember them.
Ever since I was five years old (when it aired), I’ve been haunted by memories of a show my brother watched, with a girl in a frilly dress being thrown to a spider-like creature in a wood full of mist, thrown by a man suited in such a way that I thought he was a vampire. I then went to take my bath, and in the suds I acted out the scene with my hands: one hand as the spider, the other as the girl.
There was also a witch running a hotel, a Frankenstein, and a vampire, along with others. But when I asked years later, my brother could not remember what it was, even though I could swear he had a poster of the vampire on his bedroom wall for years. (What did that poster say? Come stay at the Horror Hotel?)
In the 90s, I thought it was Dark Shadows, until I actually watched DS all the way through on Sci-Fi Channel in 1995-1997 and discovered that it was not it.
For years, I have searched, and finally, I have found it:
The Krofft Superstar Hour with the Bay City Rollers
The girl was named Barbie and wore an old-fashioned dress. The guy who threw the girl to the spider, was Dr. Deathray.
It was actually two shows, “Horror Hotel” and “Lost Island,” segments of The Krofft Superstar Hour.
It just figures that the insane world of Sid and Marty Krofft, who also made many of my other childhood favorites (which I do happen to remember, because I still have a Krofft show comic book), originated these two shows that have haunted me all these years.
Unfortunately, I keep searching the Net, but any videos which have been posted of Lost Island, keep getting pulled for copyright violations before I get to see them. And there are no episode guides such as I found for all the other Krofft shows some 10 years ago. So I still haven’t seen that spider creature again. ARGH!
The Internet has made tracking down these shows still puzzling, but much easier. In the olden days (ie, pre-Internet), you had to wait until the show/movie came back on TV to find out what it was.
Such as, the 1978 movie with the turtle which has haunted many Gen-Xers: The Bermuda Depths. My brother (same one) watched it twice, and its disturbing images of a satanic nymph (Jenny) with green eyes and a monstrous turtle stayed with me. But when I asked my dad what it was, he thought I dreamed it.
Then in 1991, I saw it again, while at college–and that it wasn’t near as good and scary as my memories. Jenny didn’t seem quite as evil, and what happened to the cave scene?
I remembered watching the 70s version of the Mickey Mouse Club, and some of the segments (such as one of the girls in a dream sequence that she was Alice In Wonderland), but I did not make the connection to a cartoon of a Betty Boop-like character being captured by Martians. For all these years, I thought it was a Betty Boop cartoon, but could find no trace of it.
I don’t remember how exactly I found it, but a year or so ago, I finally tracked it down on Youtube: “A Comic Look at Mars,” a cartoon segment of the MMC first aired when I was three and a half years old. It was so wonderful to see it again and feel that burst of recognition. Oh, yeah, I forgot about that scene, but I remember it now!
It’s no longer available on Youtube, unfortunately, but at least I’ve watched it twice and shown it to my son so he can remember it. But one part of the cartoon has a secretary turn into a character who dresses much like Boop, and fight the Martians who have captured her.
The scene with the Martians turning into bugs, gives an eerie chill of recognition as I wonder if that inspired a nightmare, my parents and me in the kitchen, trying to get on a platform to escape an infestation of bugs, but my dad falls off and the bugs kill him.
Then there was a version of Cinderella where she has short brown hair and they sing, but the fairy godmother is actually an eccentric kleptomaniac, which I saw as a small child. I finally found that one a few years ago: The Glass Slipper.
Then there was a movie shown on TV around the same time; about 35 minutes into it, the ship’s crew kills a plesiosaur, which they then eat. I thought the captain saved some of its cells in a bottle.
My mom also served us all some grape jelly on crackers as we watched the movie in the family room, and we ate as this part came on. I very easily connect food with gross things and then can’t eat it, which is one main reason why I don’t watch gross horror movies. I connected the jelly with the plesiosaur’s supposed cells, got grossed out, and couldn’t eat jelly for a long time afterwards.
Turns out I also saw the end of this movie as a teenager, with my brother, noting at the end that the two characters who survived exchanged vows before God since there were no ministers and they were the only modern humans around. I remembered this scene whenever I wrote stories about people on desert islands who wanted to marry, and a few years later, with my fiance/spiritual husband Phil.
But I must have missed the first 40 minutes, since I didn’t recognize the movie which put me off jelly for years.
Maybe a year ago, I finally saw it on TV and identified it: The Land That Time Forgot, 1975 version. And those cells did not belong to the plesiosaur, but to the water they were sailing in. If only I understood that when I was a little girl, maybe I wouldn’t have been put off my jelly and crackers.
There was a movie shown at my church when I was little, with a guy who gets killed, but in the last scene is in Heaven and says, “That was my first life.” Finally, in July of 1992, they showed the movie again and I remembered what it was: Ordinary Guy.
Pity the acting was so terrible, typical of Christian movies of the time–and this got awarded Best Film of the Year 1981 by the Academy of Christian Cinemagraphic Arts.
But unfortunately, some movies and shows still elude me after all these years: My parents watched them on TV when I was small, so probably 70s/very early 80s.
In one, a girl, her mother and sisters dressed in the style of the 1600s; the girl goes to them and says she has discovered they can all go to Heaven. But the mother says no, we’re going to Hell, and hands her a ticket to Hell. They go into the gateway, maybe a tunnel, and give the guard their tickets. In Hell things are not what they expected, as they get whipped.
What the heck was this trippy movie, and why can’t I find it? Was it some old Christian movie shown on channel 46, our local Christian station? Was it a Ron Ormond movie? (I’ve scanned the videos for his movies, but they don’t appear to be it, even though the guard dressed much like the Commies in If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?)
In another movie, a comedy, some turn-of-the-century scientists/inventors take a rocket back in time (very steampunk-y). They crash in the Neanderthal days, and one woman tries to eat one guy’s pocketwatch.
Another was a 1970s TV miniseries, with a married woman being stalked by a vampire who keeps biting her, but she doesn’t remember. She only knows that if she’s bitten three times, she’ll become one herself. I remember her seeing two bites in her car’s rearview mirror, and gasping.
You’ll note that it’s mostly the strange movies and shows which I want so badly to remember.
Please, Internet, don’t fail me. Maybe by 2022 I’ll have them all identified.
And if anybody knows what these movies are, please post in the comments!