Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Random Godzilla Story*


If you're an old monster movie buff like me, you might remember the daikaiju movie, Yog — Monster From Space (a.k.a. Space Amoeba) periodically showing up at drive-in theaters in the early 70s, usually on a double feature with Destroy All Monsters or Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.

Sure enough, summer of 1973, Destroy All Monsters and Yog were coming to the local drive-in (the Castle, may it R.I.P., in Collinsville, VA), and while my parents didn't mind occasionally taking me and some friends to see monster movies, they inevitably ruled that the second feature came on too late for us to stay up. Well, I wanted to see Destroy All Monsters because it was a Godzilla movie; I knew nothing and cared nothing about Yog. Naturally, according to the published schedule, Yog was to be the first feature. So I called the drive-in, hoping to convince them to run Destroy All Monsters first. No way, they told me; the projector was set up to run Yog first, and that was that.

Well, young Mark is distressed. So for a couple of evenings, I called the drive-in relentlessly, disguising my voice, even getting my best friend Frank to call them, hoping to persuade them to run Destroy All Monsters first. Each call was answered with the inevitable "No way." Well, come the night my Dad takes us out there, we stop at the ticket booth, ask which show comes on first, and we're told "Yog, Monster From Space." (The lady pronounced it like "Yoga.") So Dad says, "Sorry boys," and figures we'll want to leave. But no; we put on the pressure and get him to drive us on in, just to see if maybe the ticket lady had made a mistake. Well, since we didn't pay, the manager comes to pay us a visit, and Dad tells him, "We just figured we'd stay for a few minutes to see which movie came on first." The manager bends down and gives Frank and me a very hard stare. "You must be those youngsters who've been calling nonstop for the last two days." We admit that we are. The manager sighs and says, "Well, we've decided to run Destroy All Monsters first."

You could hear us whoopin' and hollerin' over in the next county (which was actually just a stone's throw away). So it was a wonderful night for monsters. But had I known Yog was a fun little Toho film, I would have been just as happy to see it, since I'd already seen Destroy All Monsters once before (this goes to show you the value of research first). But, as luck would have it, Yog showed up at the downtown movie theater a few months later, all by its lonesome, so I went and checked it out.

It was a blast then, and by gummy it still is.

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