Fright Night at 159 Findlay Avenue and floating killer brains?
Being the oldest in a big Catholic family had its perks. New clothes instead of the hand-me-downs my younger sisters received. It had its cons, too.
As the oldest, I had to help my mother with my younger siblings as they came along. It seems there was always a baby in a stroller that needed a walk. I fed toddlers and learned how to change diapers. And as I got older, I had to babysit. A lot.
I also was the first of the nine children to gain certain privileges.
WKBW Channel 7, in Buffalo, NY, had a Fright Night each week.
The late show at 11:30 pm. My dad frequently stayed up to watch it. Much later on, I realized this had probably been his “alone” time, with everyone else in the house asleep. He worked hard all week at Hooker Chemical on Grand Island to support his family.
I had begged my dad for quite a while to let me stay up and watch it, too. And finally one Friday night, sometime in the early 60’s, my dad said I was old enough to watch Fright Night with him.
Talk about excitement. I watched with smug satisfaction as all the other kids went to bed, some protesting that they wanted to watch the movie, too. But they weren’t old enough yet, of course.
The evening hours passed so slowly I almost fell asleep.
And then, at 11:29 pm, the familiar voice of Irv Weinstein announced “Stay tuned for our Friday Night feature.”
Oh, boy. My dad stretched out on the carpet, leaning against the hassock with a cold beer in hand. I perched on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a Pepsi.
Fiend Without a Face.
I will never forget the name of that film I saw that night. It’s been stuck in my memory for years.
Here’s the official synopsis:
A scientist on an air base in Canada experiments with the materialization of thought waves, but things get wildly out of control when his own dark thoughts take the form of floating killer brains.
Floating killer brains. Yikes. I didn’t know what I was in for. At first, the brains are invisible as they go around feeding on people and stealing their spinal cords at an Air Force base.
I thought it was scary enough when the floating killer brains were invisible. But after some kind of nuclear radar power surge, they become visible. And what’s more, now they have tendrils and a pair of eyes at the end of stalks.
They can leap tall buildings in a single bound!
No, wait, that was Superman. But they slither with great speed and attack a house where survivors have gathered to regroup. Fortunately, the hero discovers that the brains are easy to kill with a bullet. When shot, they bleed horribly, jerking and quivering.
Finally the hero destroys the radar plant, depriving the fiends of their power source. And so the brains end up as piles of slime.
Sounds cheesy, I know. But it scared me to death. I made my dad walk me upstairs to my bedroom. It took a long time to fall asleep. Those floating killer brains haunted my dreams.
The following Friday, my dad asked me, with a smile, if I was going to stay up and watch that night’s Fright Night.
But I’d learned my lesson. I wasn’t ready to watch Fright Night again for a long time. Years later, as an adult, I saw Fiend Without a Face. As an adult, it wasn’t scary at all.
But today, watching WKBW’s Fright Night feature, Fiend Without a Face and its floating killer brains, is one of my most enduring memories.
I’d love to know if any of my TOT peeps had a similar experience!