A Year With Monsters, Blogs, and Lockdowns

I’ll have to start this with a bit of a prologue. 

I used to work at a movie theater. Specifically, I was a keyholder on the housekeeping crew- that was the better way of saying I was janitor. 

There were days when I truly did despise my job. It was thankless and began before dawn, but I didn’t have to deal with customers, I got free movie passes, and I could listen to my headphones while I worked. Depending on where I was working and what my mood was, I’d rotate between music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Searching for podcasts on serial killers then falling down the rabbit hole was how I found The Last Podcast On The Left, FriGay the 13th, Good Mourning, Nancy, and more. 

Yes, I did also take advantage of using the movie passes and getting my hands on some of those movie posters. I saw the showing of Saw for its 10th anniversary, I saw Furious 7 and IT Chapter 1 multiple times, Green Inferno, Annabelle: Creation, Ready Or Not, Hell Fest, and numerous Flashback Cinemas from Jaws to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Early in 2020, I was getting eager for the next Leigh Whannell movie- his modern take on The Invisible Man. I found the audiobook for H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man and listened to it at work leading up to the February 28th release date. Yes, I knew going into it that Whannell wasn’t doing a direct take on the Wells’ novel but it felt like a classic horror novel that was still in my blindspot. 

At the end of February 2020, after I had been working there for over six years, I learned that the movie theater company I worked for had filed for bankruptcy while I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that a local news station had posted an article about it. Great way to find out, right? We moved to skeleton crews and bare-minimum usage of supplies for the next couple weeks to make it work, figuring it would be only temporary. 

Figuring I would also still take advantage of my employee pass while we still had them, I saw The Invisible Man opening week. I sat down with my pop, bucket of popcorn, and bag of M&Ms waiting for the movie to state. Once the movie started, all of my snacks remained untouched. I was sucked in. I’ve never had the sound of a dog bowl rattling make me jump so much. And, of course, that restaurant scene. I was worried there would be a “blink and you’ll miss him” moment but that was just part of Whannell’s directing brilliance with this story. It was beautifully done, accentuated by the score by Benjamin Wallfisch, and it rocked me to the core.

Backtracking just a bit, by time this was all happening, THIS website had already gone up. I was finding myself wanting to do something within the horror community in the way of expositions and commentary or whatever. This originally started as a podcast, still called Another One For The Fire, with a friend and we did get a couple of the episodes on Romero’s zombie movies recorded. Schedules and life happened and it fell through, no hard feelings whatsoever and hi again, Becca! 

But I still had that research and an extensive list of topic ideas. I was stuck in that cycle of going to submit a pitch for a website and when they got to the part asking for links to previous published works, I didn’t really have any because no place had ever responded to a pitch. It was the cycle of applying for jobs and they wanted you to have previous experience but you won’t have experience unless someone will hire you. I wanted something to be more presentable than just having a Tumblr page so I wandered around some more and found WordPress, bought what was probably the cheapest domain and layouts I could, and made the rest up as I went. There was a lot of, “Oh, what does this button do?” while I was setting things up and, shit, there still is. 

Back to the end February of 2020- Michigan’s Governor Big Gretch had begun making preparations for covid potentially hitting the state. 

On March 3rd, I saw The Invisible Man. On March 10th, Michigan confirmed its first cases of covid. On March 16th, Michigan ordered all indoor dining, gyms, bars, coffee shops, and banned indoor gatherings of 50 or more people. I was working that morning when we saw the news come in that all restaurants were closing by that afternoon and knew that we’d be next. Closing movie theaters seemed logical to bunch in with that group. We closed not long after. 

I was nervous and uncertain, as I’m sure we all were. I took the next few days to sleep in and not have my alarm set at 3:30AM and maybe catch up on some movies I wanted to watch and writing I wanted to do. I got a call from my manager a few days later that our theater closing for covid wasn’t temporary and that our building was done for good. I went online that night to apply for unemployment. 

If only I knew then what I know now

If only we knew then what we know now.

It was usually a fun way to get to know people by talking about what was your first concert or what was the first movie that you saw in a theater. That quickly shifted at the start of the pandemic to asking who was the last band you saw before lockdown or what was the last movie you saw in a theater. Now, we have the dare-say hopeful questions of what band do you want to see once it’s safe and what movie do you want to go see in a theater once they’re open. 

To answer for the last band I saw before lockdown- Ice Nine Kills with Awake At Last, Light The Torch, and Fit For A King outside of Pittsburgh in November 2020. The last movie- The Invisible Man

I had been wanting to write more on Whannell’s The Invisible Man since I walked out of that theater and I even did here but I was wanting to write something that felt more personal.

So here we are.

2021 rolled around and the quarantine anniversary is coming up for us in the States. 

I have listened to that audiobook of Wells’ novel several times since. I now own multiple copies of James Whale’s The Invisible Man. I was stoked when I saw that the latest issue of Horrorhound was going to have a retrospective on the Universal classic. I read through the article by Jon Kitley and was able to spot a handful of Invisible Man figures that I now own being shown alongside posters throughout the years. 

The Invisible Man won’t be able to overtake Frankenstein as my favorite Universal Monster, and that’s a conversation for a different day, but the stories have taken shape as some of my favorites and the comforting familiarity that so many of us have found in various TV shows and movies throughout the lockdowns. 

I’m one to hold onto movie ticket stubs, as I’m sure a lot of you are. Once I’d sit down in the theater I’d put my part of the ticket stub inside of my bi-fold wallet. I would also have the bad habit of not cleaning out my wallet often enough so by the time I would, there would be four or five ticket stubs in there. Looking in there now, the stub for The Invisible Man is still in there. Surprisingly, the ink hasn’t really worn off of it, as so many other ticket stubs have. It’s also not going to leave my wallet anytime soon.

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