Camarillo, California (September 30, 2022)—As a kid growing up in New York in the 1960s, Broadway veteran Nicholas Santa Maria remembers sitting on the floor with his siblings in front of a 12-inch black-and-white TV screen watching a wild-eyed Bela Lugosi sink his fangs into his latest victim’s neck.

“I’ve seen every movie a thousand times, and I could watch them again and again and again,” Santa Maria said. “I’d watch them between my fingers!”

Santa Maria was one of the “monster kids” on the block who never missed “Creature Features” or “Chiller Theater” on Saturday nights and clustered together at the candy store every third Thursday of the month to wait for the latest issue of “Famous Monsters of Filmland.”

Santa Maria will share his love and knowledge of the earliest horror films in “Murder, Mayhem and Monsters: The Golden Age of the Horror Film,” as one of 10 six-week classes being offered in the Fall II session of CSU Channel Islands’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

Enrollment opens on Oct. 10 for the session, with classes starting on October 24, meeting once a week for six weeks. OLLI offers a series of classes for students 50+, with some in person, some on Zoom and some a combination of both, or “hyflex.”

Instructors for the OLLI classes are experts from CSUCI and beyond, with the Fall II subject matter ranges from politics to history to art with dramatic readings from professional actors called “All New Short Stories Performed” to “Agatha Christie: Mysteries and Misconceptions.”  

For his class on the Golden Age of the Horror Movie, Santa Maria will cover the evolution of  horror movies beginning in 1898 through 1948, highlighting horror icons like Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera.

“The movies were very moody and shadowy, like Grimms’ Fairy Tales come to life,” Santa Maria said. “These movies were just as memorable and full of folklore as any fairy tale.”

On the other end of the spectrum are classes covering contemporary politics and economics, such as “Capitalism in China: Rise of a Global Giant,” and “A History of Russia,” taught by veteran historian and OLLI instructor Bill Garlington, PhD.

With Russia topping the news for the last year with its invasion of Ukraine, Garlington will provide historical context to Russia’s tendency toward authoritarianism, from the 9th Century Vikings to the present day dictator, Vladimir Putin.

“Historically, there has always been a tendency toward autocracy,” Garlington said. “If we go back to the communist regime, they promise safety and we’re seeing that again now. Russia has been invaded a number of times by the Mongols, the French, the Nazis. There is that notion of external fear and the idea that ‘we have to protect ourselves.’ Something bad is happening to Mother Russia and we need someone strong to protect us.”

Garlington will also detail the reasons why, given the right circumstances, an authoritarian government can happen anywhere.

“Fear is a dominant element for human beings,” Garlington said. “Nobody likes to feel unsafe. It is often said that the next stage after democracy is tyranny. Because democracy is slow and divisive and doesn’t get things done quickly. In time, the tendency is to feel that we need a strong man who will step up and provide protection and safety.”

Subjects reaching into ancient history include “Pyramids Great and Small,” in which ancient art history expert Patricia Butz, Ph.D., will examine six different pyramids from four different periods of ancient Egyptian history. Also, “Ancient Battles that Shape our Modern World” will be taught by J. Paul Getty Museum docent Scott Jones.

U.S. history will be included in this fall’s lineup, including a class on “The Abolitionists,” about those who fought against slavery in America, and “Immigrants’ Stories of Jazz, Blues, Pop and Rock,” about how the nation’s minorities helped shape 20th Century music.

And in the realm of the curiosity is “Scientific Exploration: Imagination and the Human Spirit,” by OLLI veteran Marc Olevin, whose specialty is the history of science.

“Throughout history, explorers are often depicted as swashbuckling adventurers in exotic settings or intrepid archeologists plundering steaming jungles,” Olevin said. “In reality, the most thrilling finds have been made by curious scientists toiling in quiet laboratories or isolated mountaintop telescopes, like detectives relentlessly following cryptic clues.”

Cost is $60 for each 6-week class or a “session enrollment” in which you can take unlimited classes per session for $150 for individuals or $200 for couples.

There is also an annual $15 OLLI membership fee. To view the online catalog, click on:

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