The Stuff of Nightmares

Hey there, visitor number 0004 – bet you missed reading about my scintillating life yesterday. You see, I had that day off that I had promised myself on Friday.

Actually, I couldn’t think of anything yesterday that I felt compelled to write about. It was a pretty ordinary day really; the Family popped into Chichester, and left me to amuse myself in town while they went swimming.

I have to be really, really hot before I have even the faintest desire to get in a swimming pool, and even then, can think of nothing worse than going to the leisure centre with the masses for a public swim. Not that I have a problem with taking my clothes off in front of people (just refer to my earlier posts) but I just can’t bear the whole indoor water thing. Water, for me, is designed to be dipped into outdoors, when it is very, very hot – and just enough to cool off and nothing more.

Anyway, the pretty ordinary day ended with a Family screening of The Monolith Monsters, and what a film! All the elements I remembered were there; the small American town; the gigantic black columns towering over the terrified population, and even the dam, which played a vital role in saving the town from the alien rock which had spewed from the fallen meteorite. I had completely forgotten the impact on the human population – the falling monoliths turned people in their path to stone by gradually extracting the liquid from their bodies. It was quite selective as to who it acted upon though, as the hero of the film suffered no ill effects (as heroes do) despite being in close contact with the rock several times.

The Monolith Monsters

Children of Mine gave it 3½ stars out of 5.  Interestingly Son of Mine didn’t find it scary at all; Daughter of Mine found it only marginally scary (she was the one who let out the odd whimper last night as she was watching it).  Both thought it would have been better in colour, rather than black and white and this sparked some deep discussion as to the actual colour of the monoliths themselves – they settled on deep purple.

We all picked up on how sci-fi films of this era seemed to give no thought to what would happen after the film’s conclusion. In this case, the monoliths were stopped in their tracks by a simple water and salt solution; the afore-mentioned dam was blown up to release the water down the mountain and across a salt mine, creating a salt water barrier across the route to the town.  As Husband of Mine commented wryly, some poor sod would have to traipse over hill and down dale in search of every piece of shiny black meteor, and all before next rainfall. Maybe there was a sequel?  Revenge of the Mighty Monolith Monsters?  Perhaps I wasn’t so far off after all with the Revenge of the Killer Icicle Candles.

However,  Husband of Mine has earned a significant number of brownie points with this very personal gift.  Awww.

Having re-read this post I must now apologise for waffling on so.  This was never intended to be a review of a 53-year old sci-fi movie.

As I’ve already said, I didn’t really have any inspiration yesterday. And then it came to me in the middle of the night. Or rather, Son of Mine did, actually, having had a nightmare.  “About The Monolith Monsters?” I can hear you exclaim! “Why on earth were you letting him watch a scary movie, made before film classifications made parental decisions for you?”  And before you ask, it wasn’t about the Minotaur or the multiple-headed Hydra from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief either.

My point is that his nightmares don’t follow the pattern of the nightmares of my own childhood. He doesn’t wake screaming hysterically, demanding the light be left on, or one of us to sit with him until he falls asleep again. Instead he just wanders into our room, mutters matter-of-factly that he has had a scary dream and quite often is happy to just go back to bed on his own. He couldn’t even say what last night’s dream was about.

I had two recurring nightmares as a child. The first was about diggers – the big, yellow JCB kind. I think that is why I have a lot of empathy with Arthur Dent. These colossal diggers would chase me relentlessly along pavements, paths and roads, with nothing stopping them, not even hedges and walls – they were able to travel along them with ease.

The second, perhaps more sinister dream, involved my family who were living in an unusual round house. We would be busy doing something normal that a ’70s family would probably be doing, say, watching the Generation Game or painting our wall bright orange.  Suddenly, there would be a grinding noise, like a series of giant cogs starting up, and the whole house would slowly start to spin and sink into the ground with us all trapped inside.  Sometimes one or more of us would make it out into the garden or street, and stand there, transfixed, as our circular house disappeared into the soil.  Rather like The Monolith Monsters in reverse. Or that giant drill in Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

I’m not sure what today’s psychologists would make of this – probably write me off as a disturbed youngster and give me a fancy label.  My own theory, with the circular house at any rate, is that I read too many books in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. Re-reading this with Daughter of Mine recently, I think I was obviously negatively influenced by Moon Face’s circular house with its curious Slippery-Slip – a slide which allowed the characters in the story to descend to the bottom of the tree.  At the top of the tree, reached by a ladder through a hole in a cloud, were a series of enchanted lands, not all of them nice, which ‘move on’ from the top of the tree at an alarming rate, getting the poor children and their magical friends into all sorts of scrapes if they happened to be left behind.

I have no understanding of why I had nightmares about diggers, but do sometimes shudder when walking past one even now.

So are children today desensitised to fear, by the images that bombard them throughout their early childhood?  Or are some, like me, just predisposed to more vivid dreams?

Perhaps I just watched too much sci-fi in my formative years…

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