living in the past (arnold’s lament)

When I was much younger I went to see a film named “Arnold” (“Blood On Satan’s Claw” also made quite an impression on me, though I am not sure if it was the film itself or that the cast spoke with British accents, which was not exactly a common thing to a kid growing up on the borough of Manhattan in the late 70’s).

It was one of that I, as a nine or ten-year-old, thought was the scariest movie that I had ever seen.  I recall few details, though certain scenes stuck with me.  One involved a woman giving her vows to a corpse (pictured on the movie poster above.  “Arnold” wasn’t “Weekend At Bernie’s” because there was no pretense that he was alive) and someone pressed a button on the side of the coffin, and he would do things like raise his arm.
Now keep in mind that there weren’t any sort of mechanical brace attached to his arm, a lever to push his wrist forward, or strings attached to his wrist so, technically speaking, it should have been impossible).

Then there’s rigor mortis, though to a 10-year old in the days before CGI such things don’t matter.

Now my memories get a bit dodgy, though I recall a scene with acid in some lady’s cold cream as well as a dream sequence filled with fog and various dead people reaching for someone.

I didn’t finish watching the film because I left the theater in tears.

I know that if I were to see “Arnold” today, I would probably find it quaint, and the horrors that caused a little boy to run from the theater in fright little more than will-o’-the-wisps.

That’s why I haven’t sought out “Arnold”, nor do I intend to ever see it again if I have anything to say about it because–I don’t know, perhaps I have become a bit jaded–but the things that send chills down the spine of a child don’t always affect an adult the same way.

Then there’s the creeping certainty that when I left that darkened theater on that hot summer day, a small part of my innocence was also left behind.

That’s OK though, because it isn’t lost.  I know where it is.

That memory, and many others like it that I am barely conscious of, helped to form who I am–for better or for worse.  I can’t give them up now, It’ll almost be like I was giving up a part of myself.

And, in a way, perhaps I would be.


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