There’s a great lost artifact in my family, a missing piece of history we speak of on holidays, speculating about where it went and how terrible we feel that it’s gone. It’s not an important document or something valuable and precious that would bring us money, but a reel of 8mm film. It’s Murder at the Madeos.
My aunt Dorothy and Uncle Peter were staying with us while my parents were away on vacation. They were… mildly eccentric — and since they had no children of their own, they were much more fun and interesting than our parents.
One day they decided we would make a movie. The plot? An escaped “maniac” was stalking us in our home. The maniac was played by Uncle Peter, a towering man with a big laugh and gentle manner — but when he pulled a stocking over his head and took up the big kitchen knife, he was transformed into a hulking, terrifying madman.
I remember watching this after the the film came back from the drugstore; it was the best thing we’d ever seen. I don’t remember the plot very well, except that it involved terrible acts of mayhem and lots of stage blood (ketchup). The finished product was an instant classic, so much so that more than forty years later we still talk about it. But somewhere along the line it went missing.
We were never able to find the film. The search intensified when we got ready to liquidate the contents of our house at a gigantic garage sale. There were so many things to sell — but no sign of Murder at the Madeos.
We still hunt for it in the odd box of stuff from the old house, hoping it might turn up. Just as memories fade, it’s hard to hold onto the mementos of childhood. Things slip away one at a time. I can’t say I miss anything in particular, except maybe Murder at the Madeos.