Toddler in a Monster Museum

June 16, 2012 — This afternoon I took my two-year-old to Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery in Salem, MA, the excellent movie monster museum run by James Lurgio (tell him I sent you, and he’ll let you in anyway). I’ve written about the place before, and probably should again because it’s changed a lot in the last three years. I know this because I like to get down there every so often to chat monster movies with him and see the new characters he regularly adds to his collection.

This time I was there because I gave my daughter a choice for today’s outing: beach or monsters. She chose monsters, but only if I could promise her a mummy and witch among the mash.

So being more of an experimenter than I am a parent, I took her to a dark labyrinthine corridor full of demons, monsters, and supernatural serial killers for daddy-daughter day.

Of course, once we were there, she wouldn’t let me put her down the entire time and kept repeating “just a statue.” However, other than that, she definitely had a blast asking character names, sorting them between good guy and bad guy based solely on their looks, trying to trick me by pretending the creatures were reaching out behind me, and then wanting to “do it again” once we passed Meg Mucklebones and hit the light of day.

Right now, she’s peacefully asleep up in her room, so I’m pretty sure I can add one more day to the sign in my living room that currently says, “40 Days Without Psychologically Scarring Esme.”

Anyway, the whole point of his post is to tell you what she told me during our visit. Most of why I thought it post-worthy will only make sense to other monster movie fans. So, sorry, everybody I should’ve warned earlier in the article. Also, I’ve somewhat transliterated her comments since she still talks in her own language:

  • She liked John Carradine because he looked like a nice vampire. 
  • Hannibal Lector should be “twirling Elvira around” like princesses in the ballroom scenes of Disney movies. 
  • Everything was just like Scooby Doo. 
  • Carrie needed a Band-Aid. 
  • She asked the Unnamable’s name. 
  • She wanted to know why Jack Nicholson wasn’t using the doorknob. 
  • Dr. Phibes looked like “a good guy.” Obviously, he wasn’t drinking through his neck at the time, nor did I introduce him to her by his first name, Abominable. 
  • She asked what the alien from They Live wanted. I told her to obey and consume, which I realized somewhat damningly is what I want from her, as well (do what I say and eat everything on your plate). 
  • Offended the gods by saying the scepter on the mummy sarcophagus looked like a candy cane. 
  • Thought putting a fly head on a human body was “silly.” 
  • Was a little too interested in the Lament Configuration for my comfort. 
  • Called every single zombie “Bub” after I introduced her to one. I’m assuming she’ll do that for the rest of her life. 

Obviously I have a lot of movies to show her. I’ll wait until she’s three.


  1. Ha. Thanks, Scott. Think that's probably TBD, though.

  2. Coming soon...toddler at a horror convention posing with Robert Englund. Makes for great Christmas cards says Uncle H.

  3. If you've got your child knowing Bub was at an early age, you're doing something right. My mother is a Pittsburgh native and I had to not only find out about Bub on my own, but explain Bub to her! (However, she did give me master's courses in Dark Shadows, Monty Python, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 all before the age of 10, so she can be forgiven this one error.)

    Additionally, I can't help but agree with your daughter...that scepter DOES look like a candy cane. No, I did not just Google Image Search that sarcophagus to see if it did, why would you ask that?

  4. She sounds like a lot of other horror critics I know. Maybe Esme should write for Fangoria! This was such a delightful post.

  5. Hello, loved this piece. I have a one year old and a three year old, so I completely understood the "toddler talk." Did you name Esme after the Twilight movies/books? She looks like your wife, very pretty! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Ha. No. After the J.D. Salinger story. We'd just moved to New Hampshire, so it seemed fitting.

  7. I think this is AWESOME!
    I will continue to read, amazing!