Well, it’s that time of year again when, for some mysterious reason, we feel the need to dress up in frightening costumes like monsters, ghosts and witches or Donald Trump…then go around trying to scare the crap out of people. We decorate our homes to look like cemeteries..we take down old glory and run up a skull and crossbones flag in its place. It’s all in the spirit of Halloween which was invented to coax out those hidden fears we all have.
After his character is killed in a car accident, he ends up..with thousands of other new dead people..in a place called Judgment City where everyone is put on trial to assess their life and determine whether or not they move on to the next level in the universe. “The purpose of this whole thing,” says has lawyer Mr. Diamond (played by the wonderful Rip Torn) “is to get smarter and learn to overcome our fears.”
Poor Albert Brooks..it turns out..had not learned that lesson in several go-arounds on earth and was about to be sent back for another try.
I really identified with Brooks’ character because (I hate to admit it) I’ve been a fraidy cat all of my life..and I’m pretty sure I know when and where it started.
I was six years old in 1952 and begged to see “The day the earth stood still” showing at The Volga Auditorium Theater. My big brother and I always sat in the front row or as close to the screen as possible but this movie was nothing like Hans Christian Andersen or anything from Disney and had me wishing to be as far away from the screen as I could get. There was just something about that robot coming out of a flying saucer that scared the beejeebers out of me and then when the alien spaceman, played by Michael Rennie, warned earthlings to shape up or face ultimate destruction, I closed my eyes, plugged my ears and slid down in the seat. There wasn’t a monster in it but the psychological effect it had on me was unnerving and I was so glad to see those two words “The End” finally appear and I could escape out the door and be back in my little town where I was safe.
Four years later, my friend, Dixon Hoberg, invited me along to see a movie called Rodan..playing at the theater in Brookings. It was a terribly made film from Japan about a flying monster. Terrible or not, I couldn’t get that creature out of my head resulting in several sleepless nights.
I vowed to never..ever..go to another horror film in my life. It’s a promise I’ve pretty much kept too.
These days my greatest fears are NOT coming from the movie theaters. (Although the price of a ticket and popcorn is pretty frightening.) No, they’re from watching the National news…especially news created by the current occupant who keeps poking the bear with the threat of nuclear war. Equally as frightening are those who nod in agreement at such insane bravado somehow believing such actions won’t bring on a chain reaction response by other nuclear nations leading to the end of everything. “ No one pushes the United States around” will be the last words uttered as every living thing on earth is consumed in fire and fallout.
There’s no waking up from that nightmare and when that horror show’s over it really will be “The End.”