Once Upon a Time at the Movies

By Philby

I went to see one of the Conan films recently, taking a seat way down front, the better to enjoy the sight of a nearly naked Arnold as big as possible. I had to sit on the side across the aisle, because the center of the front row was occupied by a bunch of guys from the junior college, all engaged in a running commentary during the show. They were especially amused at the sight of Arnold's basket and buns, distorted into even larger bulges by the viewing angle.

At one point, there was a close-up on Conan's face- it filled the screen, really- Since the screen is nearly 30 feet high (this is one of the older theaters) he would be close to 200 feet on this scale- truly huge. I wished I could be sitting front row center.

Suddenly I was aware that the giant barbarian on the screen was looking down, as if he were focused on something close to his face. I watched as a sly grin spread across that wide mouth, and he smiled, showing the gap in his teeth.

I gasped- a hand reached out from the screen- a large hand, which descended on the boy in the exact center. He was lifted from his seat, not making a sound, probably in sheer fright- and popped into Conan's mouth!

The barbarian pursed his lips and studied for a minute, as if savoring this wriggling morsel- then gulped. He smiled, and his eyes flashed side to side, as if checking to see if he'd been observed. He looked down at the front row again. Once more the hand reached out- another boy disappeared into the barbarian's maw. Others followed as the giant began to empty the front row from the center out. The boys began to stir- as if they were only dimly aware that something was wrong- they looked at the empty seats in puzzlement. There was a low buzz over the music from the film. Again and again the screen giant plucked yet another from his seat, causing more confusion as the remainder watched their companions vanish- yet they never looked toward the screen. Twenty-five in all were swallowed. Then the giant looked over at me.

His mouth opened wide, and in the shadowy interior I could dimly see his teeth at the back of his mouth, and the broad red tongue leading back into the dimness. His hand started toward me.

I gasped- frozen with fear- the hand came closer, the fingers spread to grasp me-

Then vanished!

On the screen, the camera had moved back for a long shot- I could see Conan pull his hand back, and look at me in disappointment. His hand passed down his rippling abdomen, and patted the muscled surface- within which the doomed boys awaited the pleasure of his digestion. He turned, and the camera tracked him through the scene as walked through the dark streets of the town ...

No one else in the theater had seemed to notice this. I got up and left hastily- before the next close-up. Looking back as I pushed out the door, I saw Conan turn toward me with a cold imperious gaze, as if to say how dare you leave my presence? That was two days ago.

The film is still playing. I keep thinking of those lips closing on those youths- a club or something from the school, I guess. Have they been missed? I can't get the sight out of my mind- that vast, impassive face, suddenly grinning at the tender morsels before it- I find myself wanting to go back- to take the front row center seat- and wait for that scene ....

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