WELCOMES THE CLASS OF THE 1950S.
Entering the 2,000 plus acres Monster Retirement home after dark is like entering a different world, several different worlds, in fact. This reporter is riding in the only car on campus, a sleek 1930s limo driven by Frankenstein’s monster, for VIP tours, exclusively. Riding shotgun is Dracula. In the back seat, are me, Larry Talbot (the Wolfman), and a disembodied hand. (Try fist-bumping a disembodied hand!)
The entrance is a town square of Eastern European design. The village looks like a black and white film, as it was designed. As the car moves, further along, we go from the 1920s to the 1930s, with Bavarian buildings and houses in friendlier, muted tones.
“Everyone here has their own bungalow. We have one and two bedrooms,” Frankenstein’s monster grins. “They have Wi-Fi, big TVs, anything monsters request. The animal people of Dr. Moreau have an intense playground outside, to work off their animal instincts. Plus, we have great chew toys. Oh, wait. Get a load of this.”
We turn a corner and, there, is a scaled-down version of Notre Dame Cathedral, replete with gargoyles. “This marks the end of the 1930s naib,” the monster says.
“A lot of us,” says Dracula, “were brought up in Eastern Europe, so ve have strong religious ties.”
“Plus,” says Talbot, “the hunchbacks, we have two, were getting bored. So, we gave them a place to swing from the rafters and ring the bells hourly. As of tonight, we’ll have three hunchbacks. And the gargoyles feel right at home.”
“Did I just see one move?” this reporter asks.
GARGOYLES MAKE FOR GOOD SECURITIY.
Frankenstein’s monster laughs. “They’re part of our security team. They’re alive. You just have to watch out when you’re beneath them. They pee and crap a lot. After reading your story about ‘Werewolves on Wheels’ disbanding, we contacted some of their hairy members. They’ve reformed, expanded, and now, live here, patrolling the outside entrance. We’ve given them and their families housing in the ‘human’ section, where all the regular peeps live. Doctors, nurses, the superb cooking staff, the custodial crews, they all prefer to live on campus.”
The next neighborhood was solid 1940s with golf carts designed as mini-1940s cars. “By the 1940s,” Frankenstein’s monster states, “Monster movies were set in current times, so we were determined to create a 1940s world.”
“It vas the 1940s that helped create this kampuss,” Dracula adds, “right, Frankie?”
The monster laughs. “They call me ‘Frankie Bolts.’ Lou Costello, a Jersey boy, called me that. I’d never had a name before and I liked it. But ‘Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein’ really got this place started. I mean, look at me, I’m not really a slapstick character.”
“I loved that movie. My scenes with Lou allowed me to do some expressionistic dance.” Larry enthuses.
“It’s called ‘writhing.’”
“Bite me,” Larry replies.
“You’re much too fatty,” Dracula smirks.
Larry snarls and bears his teeth, en-route to a wolf-man transformation. The disembodied hand gallops over and pushes a red button on Larry’s wristband. He calms down immediately. “Sorry,” he mutters. “We all wear these to keep us from reverting to our monster selves. We have a great medical facility, filled with mad doctors. You gotta remember before these guys went bonkers they were amazing doctors.”
THE SHOW BEGINS!
“C’mon, guys,” Frankie injects. “Anyhow, the movie was a success and my manager got wind of the fact that the studio wanted to do more monster comedy films, but on smaller budgets. We were all let go. My manager made some calls and, soon, he had two-dozen titans of American industry willing to fund the home. It became a ‘guilty pleasure’ for the rich who grew up watching our films. We have over 100 backers, now. Our original patrons are all gone, alas, but they’ve been replaced by today’s billionaires.”
Would Frankie give names? “No, but, let’s just say that if we all wanted electric cars or wanted a quick trip to outer space, we could set it up.”
We cruise through the 1950s neighborhood, which is half-American, with diners, a rock club, and drive-ins, and half-British, to accommodate the new class’s U.K. denizens.
“It’s always hard to expand,” Frankie says. “When we started, it was just American monsters but, during the 1950s, the British really revived the genre. So, we included them.”
“Ve don’t allow any space monsters, though” Dracula adds. “And you can’t be more than ten feet tall.”
ADJUSTING TO CAMPUS
After the tour, we sit in a glorious nightclub, the kind not seen since the 1930s and 40s. Frankie excuses himself and walks past the stage, where a big band is doing a medley of jitterbug tunes.
This reporter gazes at the audience. There are cat people, dog people, mole men, ape-men, ape women, witches, warlocks, and werewolves. One fellow, with a large fly’s head, is bopping in his seat next to what looks like a tree. It’s a scene that looks like an acid trip and/or a surprise visit by in-laws you never knew existed.
“How are the new monsters taking to the campus?” this reporter asks.
Larry snorts. “Okay, I guess. It took a week before the Creature From The Black Lagoon learned that the koi pond wasn’t a buffet.”
FRANKIE BOLTS RULES!
The big band breaks into “The Monster Mash” and a spotlight is trained on a podium. Silence.
Frankie Bolts appears behind a podium that slides across a stage. He gets a standing “O”. He has a bottle of wine, a loaf of peasant’s bread, and a lit cigar. After a brief pause, he takes a drink of wine, tears a piece of bred, and takes a big puff of the cigar, intoning “Drink…good. Bread…good. Smoke…good.” He then leans forward. “I’m going to have you join me on this one. Are you ready?”
The crowd goes wild as Fritz, the hunchback, sprints forward with a lit torch. Frankie recoils, then, leans into the audience. “I wanna hear you out there. Fire? FIRE IS…”
“Baaaad!” the crowd chants. Frankie nods and produces a fire extinguisher, which hits both Fritz and the torch. He tells the crowd: “Welcome to The Classic Monster Retirement Community. And, to our new neighbors, the class of the 1950s? May your lives be filled with peace and love and loud, nasty music!”
Larry heaves a sigh. “I look at the Teenage Werewolf and wish my hair would spring out in a bouffant! Mine comes out lie pubic hair.”
“This is me…not respondink,” replies Dracula.
Half of the monsters run to the dance floor, bumping and grinding and, on occasion, Tesla sparks-emitting. Frankie returns to our table and sighs, a small smile on his face. The smile fades and he furrows his brow, quite a trick when you have two metal hinges holding the top of your head to your forehead.
He glances at me. “The Mole People have already begun to dig the foundations for the 1960s community. That’s going to be rough to figure out. There’s a lot of sci-fi. We have a lot of slasher films from Europe to deal with, too. The 1970s? American slasher films, as well.”
Larry Talbot guzzles a gin and tonic. “I remember when monster movies distracted people, in a good way.”
“Now,” Frankie sighs. “Most horror films have a human being as the monster.
Man is the monster!”
“You might as well stay away from movies and just read the newspapers,” Dracula says.
“There are always monster cartoons!” Larry says, hopefully.