Mick emailed me not long ago asking if I remembered a movie we’d seen as kids, and what was the name of it, where the young girl was killed by a black panther at her mother’s door and Oh yes, I remembered it alright, having never forgotten it: I can still see those scenes.
I’d thought about that movie for years too, looked for it under various titles and later advanced search, but to no avail. And there it lay, hidden in us both all that time, though we never mentioned it again until nearly 60 years had passed. And then, through the grace of Tivo… I can still feel the little two of us trying to disappear in our big movie seats, clutching our milk duds and raisinettes as that blood trickled under the doorway… what an impression on tiny minds!
I think that movie is at the root of every movie scare of mine since then, and a few others not movie related. I later realized that it was even the root of a surreal scary story I wrote some years ago, called The Key, that began:
“You can’t bear to watch in black and white as the lovely young woman prepares to enter the darkness beneath the overhead walk to retrieve the key that fell from her bag and dropped through the cracks in the boards while she was waiting to enter the theater showing the horror movie based on events that took place in this very alleyway, which looks in the movie just as it looks now; in fact the young woman herself, in her very becoming reticence, looks alarmingly like the actress who was murdered so horribly in the movie,…” in which the tale turns upon its teller who is in fact the victim, much as Mick and I in those movie seats when I was 6 or 7, he 5 or 6.
The power of the old silver screen, and the figures upon it, so much bigger than we were, so much deeper than we daily go…