Tag Archives: Ames Iowa

Road Trip Through Iowa 1960 on Highway 30 – Ames

Classic piece of film made by the Iowa DOT in 1960 on changes to be made to U.S. Highway 30 a.k.a. the Lincoln Highway. Great footage of Ames and other small towns as we tour Iowa with Ozzie and Harriet style music chiming along in the background.
BTW, this film is in the public domain so do anything you like with it. Enjoy.


The B List ~ My Favorite Sci-Fi Horror Films

Any kid who grew up in the sixties probably got their first taste of Science-Fiction and Horror from the Saturday night Fright Flicks which were endemic to local TV in that era. I lived in Ames, Iowa from 1963 to 1967 and our show was Grave’s End Manor which was hosted by a bald headed whack job named Malcolm and his hunchbacked, mute sidekick Claude. Eventually, they were joined by the Count of Dezmodat, a comic vampire and Claude’s girlfriend, Esmeralda. Luckily, this one clip of the boys in action yet remains.

These cats were fun to watch, but the best was the bizarre movies they introduced us to, so I’ve decided to make a list of these must see B classics. Among them are the Universal standards from the 1930s and 40s starring Karloff, Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr., but also a host of rarely seen later classics made on a shoestring budget that have defied the odds and lived on, in their monstrous afterlife, to become cult classics. Here are three of my favorites that have stood the test of time.

Beyond The Time Barrier 1960

Filmed in a shopping mall in Texas, this low budget film is surprisingly realistic and effective. On par with the original Night of the Living Dead for its inherent spookiness.

The Angry Red Planet 1959

It’s what you don’t see that you remember in this movie. You’ll always be wondering what was on the mysterious island the astronauts were trying to reach. Shot in ten days for $200,000.

Castle Of The Living Dead 1964

A diabolically over the top Christopher Lee performance, was there any other kind, mixed in with Donald Sutherland playing two roles as both a nose picking military fool and cross dressing as a mystic crone.  And oh yeah, a heroic dwarf. Far out. It doesn’t get much better than this.


Gravesend Manor – Ames Iowa’s Late Night Creature Feature Movie In The 1960s

The Mummy 1933 Starring Boris Karloff

Here’s something you’re never going to find mentioned anywhere, Ames Iowa’s Late Night Horror Movie Show from the mid 1960s, Gravesend Manor. The host was a bald headed wack job called Malcolm who had a mute named Claude for a sidekick. They were joined by a vampire named the Duke of Dezmodat at one point. Claude also had a girlfriend named Esmeralda. They worked for a mysterious fellow named The Master. Hmm, I wonder if it was L. Ron Hubbard… I’m pretty sure it aired on Saturday nights, though it could have been Fridays on Ames WOI Channel 5.

It was a fun show and it introduced my older brother and me to the classic horror films of the 1930s and 1940s. Grave’s End Manor was where I first saw Universal’s classic Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula and the Mummy starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. in all their permutations and sequels. I also remember a traumatizing European cheapie called Burn Witch Burn in which the witch has a mask with iron spikes on the inside driven into her face. That one gave me nightmares and wasn’t much fun at all.

Two episodes featuring the local casts’ in-between the movie shenanigans stick in my mind even after nearly fifty years. The first was the one where the Duke of Dezmodat came to rent a room at Grave’s End Manor. The Master had instructed Malcolm only to rent to someone ‘normal’, so they were appalled that a vampire had arrived on their doorstep. Another episode my eight year old self found especially amusing was when The Master and his friends had arrived for a feast, which of course Malcolm had botched so as the night ended they laid Malcolm on the table and were clamoring for ‘Malcolm meat’. The productions values were of course wonderfully cheesy. I came across this wonderful video clip of Gravesend Manor on YouTube.

~ Growing Up In Iowa In The 1960s ~