Pairings/Characters (this chapter): John-Boy Walton, Jason Walton, Mary Ellen Walton, Sarah Simmons, Robert Cavendish, Randall White, Zarabeth Hanover, Evelyn Bradford
Fandom: The Waltons
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Slice-Of-Life
Rating (this chapter): G
Spoilers: For Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931)
General Summary: Professor Sarah Simmons takes John-Boy, Mary Ellen, and Jason to see the classic horror films Dracula and Frankenstein in Charlottesville.
Chapter Summary: Time for the movies!
Date Of Completion: November 13, 2018
Date Of Posting: October 26, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Lorimar Productions does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1698
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
THE VAMPIRE AND THE MONSTER
Professor L. Richard Standish
American Literature Department
I have to admit; it was great opening music. It set the mood of Dracula right away: eerie and menacing with a touch of the exotic.
I sneaked a glance at Jason. He was utterly rapt, a phrase I loved to use when I could. He’d be paying attention to the musical cues, because Jason was a good student.
Mary Ellen? She chomped away on her JuJubes.
The film was very dark and spooky. It gave me the creeps, just like a good horror movie should. Jason was mesmerized (another good word) but Mary Ellen seemed pretty blasé. You’re never quite sure with her, though. She could be scared stiff behind that façade.
Façade’s a good word, isn’t it? I like picking up new words. Miss Hunter gave me a Word-A-Day calendar, and that was today’s word.
It sure had good creepy stuff. The movie, not the calendar. Rats and coffins and poor Renfield eating bugs. I don’t think I’ll mention that scene to Momma and Daddy.
The three female vampires were even creepier than Dracula. They didn’t speak, just glided along wearing their white wispy gowns.
Van Helsing was a good character. This guy was no quitter. He would get Dracula if it killed him.
When the movie ended, Van Helsing had triumphed. Dracula was dust, and Mina Harker was saved. It had been a close call, but even vampires don’t always win.
The lights came on after the credits ended. “Intermission time, fellas,” Sarah said cheerfully.
We all filed outside (after a side trip to the bathroom), getting some fresh air. Other patrons were doing the same thing. Zarabeth lit up a cigarette and looked bored.
“So what did you think?” Sarah asked.
“Kinda Gothic,” Robert said.
“Yeah, a little German expressionist,” Randall added.
“Kind of hokey,” Zarabeth said.
“What did you think, Waltons?” Sarah rummaged in her purse.
“The music fits perfectly,” Jason said. “Very haunting and melancholy.”
“Good points.” Sarah took out her change purse.
“It stuck closely to the novel,” I said.
“Again, good point.”
“Bela Lugosi has the stare down,” said Mary Ellen.
“I’ll agree with that,” Randall said.
“But is the performance too over-the-top?” asked Evelyn.
“Well, compare it to Nosferatu. Count Orlock was a creepy-looking creature. Count Dracula is suave and sophisticated. You have to emphasize the mesmerization.” Randall tipped his fedora over his eyes.
“But Nosferatu was an unauthorized adaptation of the novel. The Count wasn’t even named Dracula.”
“That’s because they couldn’t get the rights from Bram Stoker’s widow,” Robert interjected.
“I’m going in to get snacks for the second movie,” Sarah said to me. “You guys want anything?”
“No, we want to eat after the movie.” Jason and Mary Ellen nodded with my statement.
“Cokes all around them?”
“Yeah, that’d be great.”
Sarah disappeared inside the theater. Zarabeth and Randall immediately lit up cigarettes. Zarabeth offered us her box of Lucky Strikes. Jason and I declined, exchanging rolled eyes when Mary Ellen took one, accepting a light from Randall. She took a long drag and let the smoke out.
“So any other observations?” Zarabeth asked Mary Ellen.
My sister looked thoughtful, taking another drag. “Renfield sure got the short end of the stick.”
Zarabeth smirked and exchanged a look I didn’t like with Randall. “Yeah, he needed a little more seduction by the Count, didn’t he?”
I got a quivery feeling in my stomach. This was a subject never spoken of among good Baptists. I was afraid that Zarabeth was setting Mary Ellen up for ridicule. She wouldn’t have the first clue what Zarabeth was implying.
Mary Ellen shrugged. “I’d say he did plenty of seduction on Renfield. The guy was nuts about him.”
A glint of respect came into Zarabeth’s hazel eyes. “Okay, kid. You might have something there.”
I looked at Jason, wondering if he was confused. Talk about inversion wasn’t exactly common up on the Mountain. He looked back at me and shrugged helplessly, as if to say, You know Mary Ellen.
He surprised me as much as Mary Ellen. Since when did those two know anything about homosexuals? Smoking and homosexual talk. Lordy, if Momma and Daddy could see us now!
“Thanks.” Mary Ellen tapped her cigarette ashes into the gutter. “Dracula knew his business. He knew how to pick his victims, too. Mina was such a sniveling swooner.”
Zarabeth grimaced. “Tell me about it. There are so many damsels-in-distress in the movies.”
“Sickening, isn’t it?”
“Absolutely.” Zarabeth flicked her cigarette onto the sidewalk and crushed it underneath the heel of her boot. “Well, time for Frankenstein. Written by a woman, incidentally.”
Mary Ellen copied her with her cigarette disposal. “Really? I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah.” Zarabeth slung her arm around Mary Ellen’s shoulder. “We’ll see how Hollywood mucked it up.”
Mary Ellen smirked and went with the students inside. Robert hung back as Jason joined the tail end of the group.
“So, don’t worry about anything said by my cohorts-in-crime. Just because they go to Harvard and Vassar, they think they know everything. Snobs, every one of ‘em!” He grinned and clapped a hand on my shoulder.
We walked toward the theater. He could be shinin’ me on, but I decided to just enjoy the movie. And he did seem like a nice enough guy.
“Huh,” he said.
“Just wondering how it felt to be outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago last July. Steaming-hot coming out of cool refrigeration, and suddenly Federal agents popping up.”
“Must’ve been quite a sight to behold.” I looked up-and-down the street. “Don’t see any Feds.”
Bob guffawed. “Me, neither.”
We managed to get into our seats before the movie started. Sarah handed me my Coke.
She nodded and sipped her own drink. The lights began to lower and the curtains drew back to reveal the screen.
It was a creepy enough opening, with two guys grave-robbing. The scene was set with a dark night and furtive whispers. Turned out the two guys were Dr. Frankenstein and his helper, Fritz.
I was transfixed as the story unfolded. The pivotal scene with Fritz dropping one brain and picking a criminal’s brain in the college lab signaled trouble ahead. The Monster with a criminal’s brain? Watch out, world!
The scene that featured Dr. Frankenstein’s lab was great. The set was a top-notch design, and the electrical effects really sold it. Ol’ Doc Frankenstein was maniacal and jittery and really built up the suspense.
I sipped my Coke as the table holding the sewn-together body was lifted up to an opening in the ceiling while a thunderstorm raged. The electrical current went wild and it seemed to crackle in the theater. No one talked or left their seats. A few people coughed, but for a packed house it was pretty quiet.
The table was lowered. The body was covered with a sheet, but its hand was exposed. There was stitching at the wrist.
When the hand moved, I nearly jumped. There was uneasy rustling around the theater.
“It’s alive! It’s alive!” shouted Frankenstein. He ranted about God and said, “Now I know what it means to be God!”
I felt a strange little shiver. Oh, Momma and Grandma would have something to say about that line!
I tried not to think about any of that. One wrong misstep, and no more Professor Simmons allowed to come around anymore. I took another swig of Coke.
A few minutes later, we got our first sight of the Monster. We could hear shuffling in the shadows on the screen and anticipation ran high. I could hear nervous coughs and people shifting in their seats. Even if they’d already seen pictures of the Monster, it was still different to see him on-screen instead of a still picture. We all held our breath.
Gasps blew out from the audience. The Monster was pretty creepy. The sight of it hit me, right in the gut. The make-up was outstanding. The Monster’s cheeks were sunken and his head was flat and misshapen. A jagged scar went from the hairline nearly to his eye. Tiny bolts anchored his neck. He really was terrifying, a pale ghost with dull eyes.
Jason’s attention was riveted to the screen, and even Mary Ellen kept her eyes on the scene playing out. Fleetingly, I wondered if the jaded college students were as absorbed. Sarah was avidly watching the screen.
The story really hit me in the gut, too. This awful creature was drawn to simple things like sunlight, but it was unpredictable, killing Fritz, but the guy had been tormenting him. The Monster earned its name, but no one had taught him anything. He was new to the world and dragging a lot of baggage, as the saying went.
The scene between the Monster and the little girl was sweet until disaster struck. I felt chilled. There was dead silence in the theater as the Monster threw the little girl into the lake, thinking that she would float like the flowers she had thrown in. Her screams echoed in the suddenly-cold theater.
The villagers got out the torches and pitchforks and the hunt was on. The Monster went on a rampage against his creator. Someone in the audience got up and left, but everyone else stayed. The end of the Monster was pretty dramatic. Fiery, in fact.
The lights came up and people blinked, slowly getting out of their seats. It was hard to adjust to the real world. My group did the same and we shuffled through the lobby and out onto the sidewalk. The stars were bright.
“Well, ladies and gents, who’s up for ice cream?” asked Sarah.
“Sounds good to me,” Jason said cheerfully.
The college students tried to look aloof but Bob winked at me. I said, “I’ll second that.”
“Good. This way.”
It was colder now, a gust of wind swirling down the street. As I followed the professor and her group, I felt a chill that wasn’t because of the wind.
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