Sunday, October 25, 2020

Night of the living Courageous Cat?

I'm always amazed at the things that frightened me as a child. Some of these things went beyond just scaring me, and became obsessions that would occupy my mind for months, sometimes for years. Kind of like the time I read the world was going to end in an older copy of the Weekly World News, and privately lived in fear of the moment the world was going to explode. I wasn't sure what bothered me more, the fact the planet was doomed or the fact that I seemed to be the only one concerned about it. Where were the news reports? Why weren't my parents planning for the inevitable? Of course, a few months went by, and the world didn't end and I found something else to fret about soon after. And that's what I'm here to tell you about today..


I was probably 7 or 8, and it was either a summer night or the weekend, not sure which. It was late, and I was laying on the couch watching a VHS of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse cartoons with my mom. If you've never heard of Courageous Cat, it's something of an animated knockoff of Batman, developed by Bob Kane of all people. He drives a Cat Car, has a Cat Boat and Cat Plane, and always has the right gadget for the job, no matter how crazy the scenario. Sound familiar?



They were normally shorter cartoons, played as filler during 1960's cartoon blocks, so they had to be fast paced. Too fast to spend too much time on character development or rational storytelling. It would be accurate to say the episodes were a bit forgettable. Really, the one thing that sticks out in my mind is how annoying Minute Mouse's voice was.

So, there I was, laying on the couch in the middle of the night, staring at the screen as the poorly drawn duo beat up a frog that sounded a lot like Edward G. Robinson. Eventually I started to get tired, and I dozed off to the sound of the bootleg Peter Gunn theme that heralded the beginning and ending of each episode. I'm not sure how long I lay there sleeping but it couldn't have been more than 20 or 30 minutes. My mom had fallen asleep as well, and started stirring around the same time I did. As I was laying there trying to clear my mind of cobwebs, I looked over at the TV and was profoundly confused and terrified by what I saw. 



We always had reception issues in our old house, which meant most stations we did get always had a bit of static present on the screen. So, here I was, 7 years old, watching on a snowy screen as a couple in a cemetery get attacked by people that were apparently trying to eat them.  It's not like I hadn't seen any horror movies by this point, but those all looked like movies. What I was seeing on the screen looked more reminiscent of a documentary than a monster flick.  My mom was just as confused by what she was seeing, too, which only added to my fear. If the adult in the room didn't know what was going on, then how was I supposed to figure it out? After I sat there for a few minutes screaming internally, my mom made the announcement that it was time to go to bed. Normally I might have put up a bit of a fight, since I didn't have school the next day, but that night I was more than willing to escape whatever the horror was showing on our living room TV. 

My mental situation didn't really improve even after I was hidden beneath my blankets. I lay there in bed,  failing to get any sleep as that scene kept replaying over and over in my head.  At some point I came to the conclusion that the scary movie I had seen must have been on the same VHS as the Courageous Cat cartoons. I just hadn't seen it before that night because it was at the very end of the tape. Yeah, that was what happened. I finally passed out, though my sleep was far from peaceful. The next morning, I resolved to figure out this mystery once and for all. After I got dressed and ate my cereal, I put the tape back in and hit fast forward. It was only 30 minutes worth of cartoons, so it didn't take me long to reach the end. As the tape automatically started rewinding, I figured I must have missed it somehow, so I hit FF again, and stopped it before I got all the way to the end. I watched the last few minutes of the last episode, and let the tape run all the way through to the end. Still nothing. Then, I assumed I had the wrong tape. I switched out the tapes, and repeated the same procedure I had with the previous one. Still nothing. At this point I was really getting freaked out.

I went to get my mom, and asked her about the previous night. She seemed just as confounded as I was, and had no idea how we woke up to a scary black and white flick on one of my cartoon tapes. For some reason, I decided to just give up my investigation, and just live with the mystery. Every few months I'd get the idea that I had somehow just missed seeing this movie on the tape, and would go through the same process again. And as you probably guessed, I never did find the movie on any of those VHS'. This actually went on for a couple years, with the results being the same every time. 

You've probably already figured it out but, the movie I woke to was Night of the Living Dead, and it was never on any of those tapes. Some of you might be too young to remember VCR's, but with some models, if you let the tape run to the very end, it would turn off and automatically rewind the tape. The noise of the tape stopping and rewinding is likely what woke me up to catch a zombie flick playing on the channel our television was set to. I was never quite sure if my mom went along with me thinking that movie was on the tape to play a joke on me, or because she was out of it at the moment and didn't really know what I was talking about. Or, maybe she actually thought that one of my Courageous Cat tapes actually had a hidden movie on it. 

Regardless, I sort of miss these small mysteries. They may have freaked me out for months at a time, but they made life interesting. And when you're an only child, you were always looking for something to make life more exciting, even if it terrified you. 

What were the small mysteries from your childhood that kept you up at night?



3 comments:

  1. πŸ˜‚This isn't really a "mystery" story but one about the time my sister and I prepared a whole week in advance to watch Children Of The Corn. We had it all planned out. The snacks were ready to go and the T.V. in the spare room was set to the channel the movie was going to be on. Finally, after a week of anticipation, it was time for some Children Of The Corn. We cut off the lights, corralled our snacks and blankets, turned on the T.V. only to be greeted by what has to be one of the creepiest horror movie theme ever! We both looked at each other, and ran out of the room with the opening credits still rolling πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
    Neither one of us was going back in that room to turn the T.V. off. And that was pretty much it for scary movie night.

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  2. Spyda-Man, thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!

    Big Tone, kinda reminds me of the time my cousin and I talked my mom into letting us stay up late to watch the Langoliers. Except instead of being frightened, we were sorely disappointed!

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