On Saturdays in July, the Florida Museum of Natural History hosts a summer movie party with some of its favorite beasts and creatures invited to attend. The honored guests include a giant simian that scaled a New York City icon, a scaly fish-like creature that happened to lurk in Florida springs and a Bigfoot-like beast who lived in the American suburbs. And, oh yes, a certain skunk ape will make the scene as well.
But no autographs, please: The appearances of “King Kong,” the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and the title characters from “Harry and the Hendersons” and “Trail of the Skunk Ape” will be silver-screen only, though the museum is rolling out a figurative red carpet for its expected human guests as well.
Along with free screenings of the above movies on Saturdays in July, the museum’s new Movie Series includes introductions and panel discussions tied to the series’ theme: cryptozoology, which involves the search for animals whose existence has not been proven, says Tiffany Ireland, education assistant at the Florida Museum.
The films, which tie into the museum’s current featured exhibit, “Titanoboa: Monster Snake,” also are very entertaining to see, Ireland says. “They’re fun, summertime movies, honestly. But I think it’s something that people can bring their families to and have great conversations about them.”
Saturday’s opening film, the 1933 version of “King Kong,” is followed July 13 by “Harry and the Hendersons,” the 1987 movie about a bigfoot creature that ends up living with an American family. On July 20, the series features the 1954 film, “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” which included scenes filmed in Silver Springs and Wakulla Springs, and follows that July 27 with the mock documentary, “Trail of the Skunk Ape,” a 1987 film with scenes shot in Paynes Prairie.
“One of the things we wanted to do with this series was to have movies from different time periods,” Ireland says. “We want people to see how our culture and these kinds of topics have changed in the past 80 years.”
Each of the screenings starts at 7 p.m. with an introduction by Ireland, followed by the screening at 7:30 p.m. and a closing panel discussion. “They’re great great, fun movies,” Ireland says. “And with our panels, we’ll actually be able to have a unique way of not only watching the movies but discussing them.”