CARRY ON, MONSTERS
By Doug Brown
Being a one-time English major, I enjoyed John’s foray into the linguistic realm with his discussion of tropes, trends, clichés, and icons. But I freely admit I am more interested in the trollops and trolls than the tropes in his recent “Monsters Carrying Girls” column. Immediately upon seeing the photo of Tor Johnson and his fainted companion, my mind flashed on an old FAMOUS MONSTERS feature, “Carry On, Monsters.” The article appeared in FM 33 and John’s post inspired me to re-read the story for the first time in decades.
FAMOUS MONSTERS 33 is an issue I have long considered among the best ever produced by the FJA/Warren Team. The fantastic Hunchback cover by Ron Cobb and the accompanying filmbook inside are great examples of FM in its prime. However, reading “Carry On, Monsters” after so many years is a somewhat unsettling experience.
In direct contrast to the Hunchback article in the same issue, “Carry On” is pure hokum. It is five pages of non-stop jokes and puns that only Forry could write. From the opening line, “To be scary, you gotta carry!” to the closing line “…we’re carried away by the subject,” there is barely a serious sentence to be found. As kids reading this piece in 1965, my friends and I laughed and groaned at Ackerman’s humor. Today I mostly groan.
Eye owe you—signed, Cyclops!
Dread Skeleton: we dood it!
Bat, The Magic Vampire!
Colossus of New York suffering from Broxitis!
The whole thing is a cornucopia of corn!
The photos, of course, help rescue this feature from consignment to the dustbin. Great shots from FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, EL CASTILLO DE LOS MONSTRUOS, and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON are included. Notice the wrinkles in the knees of the Stone Man costume from CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN. The picture of Kharis the Mummy is a classic.
Some of the photos definitely underscore the trope’s sexual tension, the underlying question of “what will happen next?” Check out Konga’s paw placement. His leering eyes look out at the viewer as if to say, “I’m getting to second base, baby!” And the young blonde object of his desire looks none too pleased at the prospect! Most of the women seem to swoon and faint as they are carried off, but sometimes they try to protest. Elaine Enwright seems to be telling the Faceless Man, “Not tonight, I have a headache.” Not that he is listening, since his ears are encrusted with stone and ash. Thematically (or trope-wise), FACELESS MAN follows THE MUMMY in that the monster is searching for the reincarnation of a lost love. Finding her, the monster can carry her off to the sea, the museum, or some other locale to reunite with her soul and/or her body. What will happen next, indeed!
Curiously, the essay ends with the note, “To be continued,” but I can find no evidence that “Carry on, Monsters, Part 2” was ever published. Forry clearly enjoyed the trope, as shown by the later “Girls and Ghouls Gallery.”
“Carry on, Monsters” epitomized the jokes and puns that were Forrest Ackerman’s trademark. While my initial reaction in reading it again was to cringe a bit, I warmed up to its silliness after a time. And I guess that is why I love FM 33: it reflects the full spectrum of Forry, from his most thoughtful and informative to his funniest and silliest. And that just may be the magic combination as to why FM and FJA live on today.
Monsters and girls make live worth living. Carry on, monsters!