When that opening credit sequence started accompanied by the incredible score by Bernard Herrmann, I was completely hooked! When the cyclops made his first appearance I was double hooked! I was officially a movie junkie at this point. I wanted to go back to the theater every weekend to see more monsters and more adventure. Alas that didn't quite happen but what did happen was my love affair with the silver screen and movie monsters. Ray Harryhausen's effects work for 7th Voyage were the makings of many a dreamscape for me. The Cyclops, the dragon, the two headed bird and that skeleton! That skeleton gave me nightmares actually and still remains my favorite part of the film.
It would be long until I was able to go to the theater again and see another monster film but this time at a different local theater. There was a very old theater in the downtown area of my sleepy little town called the Magic Lantern. It was originally called The Chadwick and sat at Main Street with it's bijou sign lit up for everyone to see. By the time the 70's had rolled around the theater had become more of grindhouse. It was notorious for screening the plethora of martial arts films and late night porn films. However they did screen some matinee material for the young ones and that would be when I got my first big screen experience with everyone's favorite Japanese radioactive mutant dinosaur Godzilla!
With the demise of the Magic Lantern, the Plaza became my main go to theater. It was nowhere near as glorious as the Magic Lantern but it certainly provided a great service to local movie goers. I saw plenty of great and not so great movies there. From Superman II to E.T. to Friday the 13th Part 6 to Eddie Murphy Raw and beyond! It was a fun little theater but it had a flaw. It was located in a flood zone! Every once and awhile if there was a really, really bad storm the very front of the theater would take on water. This created a permanent stickiness to the floor in the first three rows from the screen.
With the death of the two local theaters my screen time was now going to be had at the many surrounding sliver screens in my neck of the woods. Believe me there were plenty in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Most of the ones that I frequented were at indoor shopping malls or had their own buildings located near a large shopping area. There were several older theaters as well but sadly I never got to see anything at many of these older locations before they closed.
The Naro is more of an art house theater with it's clientele attending more for independent films and documentaries. They do show the occasional big picture but these are normally films that are nominated for Academy Awards. Over the past few years though they have expanded into more genre films.
I have had the pleasure of seeing screenings of Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954 - in 3D), The Time Machine (1960), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Horror of Dracula (1958), Halloween (1978), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and several others. The Naro is the classic theater up and down. It's not as luxurious as I remember the Magic Lantern being but it certainly is classic with it's red carpeting, seating and curtains. It also has a stage which used quite regularly even today.
So there's my little trip down memory lane ghoulies! Theater will always be a part of my life and these memories will last forever. I am just thankful to be able to have been a part of the lives of these classic theaters. Maybe one day this style will come back and instead of a 30 screen mega plex there will be more single screen classic theaters on every street corner on every Main street in every little sleepy town.