Friday, May 10, 2013

The Monsterous Magic of The Keansburg Boardwalk.

By - Steve Mezo

I have loved The Keansburg Boardwalk my entire life
and I have literally visited it every season since I've been in existence

With my over active imagination along with plenty of material to work with, I made this the coolest place ever where monsters lived when the sun went down and the Boardwalk lights were off. 

And with movies like "Something Wicked This Way Comes" 

and "The Funhouse" 

I was reassured I wasn't alone in this thinking back then.  

Even a world away in Japan the makers of Silent Hill knew all about what I'm talking about here.
So now you're saying "How can you talk like that about a place where Kappy The Pig calls home and makes you happy?"

Well I never said it was a bad thing, I just love monsters and The Boardwalk just seemed like it would be a perfect place for them to live once the lights went out.

One of the things I was obsessed with was
 The Fortune Teller Machine
I don't know why she's always held such a fascination with me. She is always there patiently waiting amongst the games for someone to pay to have their fortune told. And for the price of one dollar (Or a quarter way back when) she will give you a card with your fortune on it. 

I know allot of people have seen the movie "BIG" and ZOLTAR granting Josh's wish
But for me the Fortune Teller wasn't about granting wishes or being evil or mean. She was a kind of guardian that kept the monsters in check and on the boardwalk. And would protect anyone from the monsters that may have visited after business hours. 

And when MEZCO TOYS came out with their Dark Carnival Series I had to buy the "Madam Mortuus Fortune Teller Machine".

Now this next one is funny because it took years for me to get proof from a movie that this Boardwalk Game really existed. The one one in the movie had tamer looking mannequins, but it was pretty much the same set up.

The mannequins were made up as monsters and had hats on, then they were on turntables that would make them look like they were going out one door in the back of the stand and into the next. Then you would get six baseballs covered in black electrical tape and you would throw the balls to knock the hats off the monsters heads. 
And if you did it you would win a prize. 
My Dad was really good at it and even though the prizes weren't huge it was still really cool getting them. 

And of course in my imagination the monsters would leave the turntables and stalk the Boardwalk for victims later that night. 

I would tell my friends about this game and they would look at me like I was making it up, and I would be like "If I were going to make up anything why would it be a fake stand game?"

Then years and years after the Movie Gods had smiled upon me and made it one of the games in the movie "Adventureland"! 
 Sure these mannequins weren't made into monsters, but everything else was just as I described it! 

The Carousel has it's place too

I would think of the horses, animals and creatures coming to life leaving their spots and running around the boardwalk, with the roaming monsters riding them in search of trespassers. Then as the sun came up they would race back to the Carousel and freeze in the positions they arrived in.

And the movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes", a couple "The Twilight Zone" episodes along with "Tales of The Unexpected" let me know that I was right in that thinking.  

The Boardwalk Games definitely had their share of monster magic

Like the Water Balloon Race Game
Don't let the smiling faces fool you, once the night was theirs and the moon was full they would climb out of the booth and be the ones to meet up with the Carousel horses, animals and creatures for their ride.

But now that this undrilled one lives happily with me, and he thinks what I imagined when I was five was pretty funny!
 That goes for the Fiberglass bench sitters and statues on 
Seaside's Boardwalk too. 

Even the Dart Game had it's own power

          and was the keeper of the Chalkware Talismans 
I don't know what it was about these otherworldly versions of familiar characters. It was almost like they were proof to me that realities of Daytime and Nighttime converged here when nobody was witness to it. 

And I became obsessed with winning this one to bring home to keep the Under The Bed Monster in check. 

My thinking was that since I thought the Boardwalk Monsters were cool, they would come to help if The Under The Bed and Hallway Monsters had shown up and this was their warning.

And now we're moving onto the Arcade, and there is plenty to talk about there. 

Like the Maneater Video Game that pretty much speaks for itself.

And you just see BIMBO making his way out of his Arcade Machine and doing a little recon for the bigger monster clowns.

And the Arcade Shooting Gallery had all kinds of creatures that would go bump in the night.

And we all know how much trouble a Boardwalk Arcade Robot caused Scooby Doo and the Gang in Funland

but they made nice afterwards

One of the robots in particular "The Piano Player"

Had become The Organ Player at The Spook House
Photo by 
"James Amabile" is a fellow Local and has his own tales of Growing up in Jersey with Pop Culture too 
The man even went to a Halloween party with his wife in full costume the night Sandy hit, and said if that were the way they were going out so be it.
 Anyone that Monster Hard Core definitely gets a shout out from Tattooed Steve's Storage Unit of Terror.   

Which brings me to our final stop "THE SPOOK HOUSE" 

Photos by Bill Luca and John LaCross

Now if I had to give a definite place to say where the monsters lived, The Spook House would be my response. I mean not only were they here, they got to do their scary thing all day and all night if the Boardwalk was open or not! 

I would get into the cart and tell myself "This time I'm going to show them that they don't scare me!" And every time they would do their job and scare the crap outta me...  


I want to dedicate this one to The Spook House which had taken heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy... 

I've been told that it's "Pretzel Track and Carts have been saved, but I guess with all of the restoration going on there it might be a while before it returns to the Midway. 

It has such a rich history and Bill Luca along with John LaCross have an interview with Al Recht and great behind the scene pictures of one of the oldest "Dark Rides" in New Jersey. Make sure to check it out at the Laff in The Dark website.   

  And ready yourselves for the return of
You can read all about my involvement with the Haunt with the link above the picture, and you have no idea how happy I am that it is back here on The Keansburg Boardwalk right next to The Bumper Cars that "The Bumper Car Psychos" made famous