Saturday, March 12, 2011

Remembering Our Favorite Horror Hosts

Karen: Based on the results of our recent poll, a lot of you out there are around our age. I'm sure that many of you, besides loving comics, also enjoy science fiction and/or monster movies. Back in the 70s, it was fairly common for most decent-sized cities to have a TV channel or two with a monster movie feature on the weekends -whether it was called Creature Features, Chiller Theater, Monsterama, whatever, such shows were often a staple of growing up at that time.

I grew up on the central California coast, and we got most of the Los Angeles channels, which means that I was luck
y enough to get several different monster shows from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. But the show I enjoyed the most was on KTLA on Saturdays and was hosted by a strange man named Seymour.

Seymour was
actually Larry Vincent, a rather cadaverous looking guy, who wore a black slouch hat and a cape. But Seymour really wasn't scary. He was actually pretty darn funny. He addressed his audience as "Fringies" and enjoyed making fun of the movies he showed. He'd stop the movie at times just to point out a really bad line of dialogue, or some terrible costume -Seymour was like MST3K years before that show first appeared. There was also a running gag about him trying to crash a party next door, which he never did get into. Seymour even had a fan club and I recall how excited I was to get my fan club kit, complete with autographed photo of our favorite crank.

But besides all the craziness, Seymour helped introduce me to a wide range of classic (an
d not-so-classic) Sci fi and horror films. I always looked forward to each Saturday to see what new, amazing movie he would be presenting. It was always a treat, even if the film stank, which it frequently did.

Doug: Here in Chicagoland, we had Svengoolie back in the early '70's, and then lately the Son of Svengoolie. This guy is a hoot -- lots of stupid jokes, a little slapstick, and local references to all things lame. And you have to love the B movies they show!
If I may, here is some publicity from the current station, WCIU!

WCIU, The U presents Jerry G. Bishop’s successor, Rich Koz as Svengoolie. From its humble beginnings in the 70’s as “The Son of Svengoolie” at Channel 32 in Chicago, the show has taken off into one of The U’s most popular programs. Go inside the casket of Chicago’s midnight maniac with video clips that are designed to bring out the trembling inner child in all of us.

Official Svengoolie "It came from Berwyn" T-Shirts are available! It depicts our hero Svengoolie being blasted by a giant radioactive chicken.
Click here for more information.

In addition to his weekly show and online webisodes, Svengoolie publishes a regular blog and makes special appearances in the community. He has a large local and national following, and welcomes
viewer feedback.

Karen: So who was your horror host when you were a kid? Tell us all about them!

16 comments:

david_b said...

Living in Milwaukee, we didn't have the access to Chicago TV (always too fuzzy..), but I remember 'Shock Theater' on Saturday nights back in the early 70s with all the cool and creepy b&w movies.

In '75 it was replaced by Space:1999 and never came back after the 1st year of 1999 was done running. The times had changed by then..

Stephen T. Harper said...

I'm new here but I love this blog. Thank you!

I live in Los Angeles, but my 70's childhood was spent in the burbs of Boston. There we had the "Creature Double Feature on Channel 56.

That show was more "friend to all children" than Gamera.

I think there was a wacky host for part of the series run, or maybe it was a new idea when they tried to bring the show back in recent years. But honestly I can't quite picture him either way.

But the show... the movies, "Wars of the Gargantuas," "Majin Monster of Terror," "Monster from a Prehistoric Planet..." and the awesome theme song, I definitely remember. Check out this guy's site to see how beloved it was.

http://www.creaturedoublefeature.org/

Edo Bosnar said...

Grew up in Oregon, about halfway between Portland (the biggest city) and Salem (the capital), and while I remember several local stations aired late-night B horror or SF movies on Fridays and Saturdays, and one station showed 'Monster Movies' (Godzilla, etc.) on Saturday afternoons, I don't recall any zany hosts. The closest thing was a morning cartoon show hosted by this guy called himself Ramblin' Rod, who wore a sweater covered almost entirely with buttons and pins.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I grew up for the most part in the Washington DC metro area and in the 80s local Channel 20 had a kids show host called "Captain 20".

On Saturday nights he transformed into the Draculaesque "Count Gore De Vol", host of Creature Feature. He'd appear in pancake white makeup with his hair slicked back a la Bela Lugosi and the full cape/evening suit ensemble. There'd be a few minutes of campy jokes as he walked around your stereotypical horror movie lair complete with coffin and mucho dry ice fog before the evening's feature began.

The movies were pretty awful. In fact, I'm sure a fair percentage of them went on to become MST3000 fodder. Count Gore De Vol often mocked the films himself. It was all great, goofy fun. I remember many a night staying up to see some 50s monster mash with the Count.

Then the station changed owners or something in 1987 and the Count got the pink slip. Something has always got to come along and ruin the fun.

Read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Count_Gore_de_Vol

C.A.S. said...

Here in Columbus, Ohio we had "Nite-Owl Theatre" which premiered on late Friday nights in the late 70s & early 80s. Hosted by "Fritz The Nite-Owl" Peerenboom, the show would feature classic sci/fi and horror movies. The best part about the show was the backdrops; Fritz would come into the local comic shop in the middle of the week and browse thru back issues of Eerie, Creepy, or other sci-fi/horror magazines at that time, to use for a background when hosting; you would see art from either Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, or even Neal Adams!

Fritz still hosts the show today, but in independent movie theatres.

The link: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/arts/stories/2009/12/01/1_FRITZ_50_YEARS.ART_ART_12-01-09_D1_H8FQ7SA.html?sid=101

Mr Blue Genes said...

In Oklahoma City, it was John Ferguson as Count Gregore from 1958 to 1988. So much classic sci-fi I would never have been exposed to without that guy!

Fred W. Hill said...

The host I remember most fondly from my adolescence was Bob Wilkins, of the Saturday night Creature Features on the independent Channel 2 out of Oakland, CA. My family only lived in the area -- specifically, on the Treasure Island Navy base just off of the Bay Bridge between Oakland & San Francisco, between October 1974 to July 1976. Wilkins was a pretty laid back host, who strongly resembled Roy Thomas, except for somewhat shorter hair, and usually wore a sports jacket and tie and smoked a big cigar. He also conducted interviews, including one with Stan Lee the first night I saw the program. Had a droll sense of humor, which made it all a lot of fun even when the movies were ridiculous. Mystery Science Theater as both a homage and a last hurrah for those sort of programs, as they seem to have mostly disappeared from the landscape of late night tv around the country.

Redartz said...

I grew up in Anderson, Indiana where on Friday nights during the 70's you always tuned in to "Nightmare Theater" featuring Sammy Terry. White faced with red cloaks, he rose from his coffin and introduced classic horror and science fiction films.

His sidekick spider "George" was usually close at hand. Loved those late nights; parents in bed, a friend over for the night, Cokes in hand and monstrous mayhem to be enjoyed!

Doug said...

Redartz -

Small world! My son is a freshman at AU!

I am loving these reports from around the country. Funny how we've all had a similar experience...

Doug

jefsview said...

Living in the Chicago south suburbs, there was Svengoolie, and Son of Svengoolie as you mentioned. Used to watch it every weekend on old Channel 32.

Lost some love for it after discovering the superior MST3K.

I can't believe that old Sven is still around and still on air. The schtick hasn't changed, and the movies are still bad.

Of course, there was always the syndicated shows, too, like Elvira and Commander USA. Son of Sven was homegrown and I still have some affection for the show.

Redartz said...

Doug:

It is fascinating hearing stories from everyone all over. Really feels like a friendly community here! And best of luck to your son!

Doug said...

Jefsview --

What is your LCS? I don't buy new anymore, but head up the road to Amazing Fantasy in Frankfort. Just dropped a few bones there yesterday in fact!

Doug

jefsview said...

Doug:

Not really in the market at this time. I stopped buying new books a few years ago; disenchanted with passes for storytelling these days.

Mostly buy back issues and trades, when I have the cash, which hasn't been lately, though.

I just moved back to the area last year, and the comic book scene seems to have dried up. Amazing Fantasy seems to be the closest shop to me, in fact. I haven't had a chance to get there since moving back.

Can't afford this weeks convention, either.

Thanks for the recommend, though. This one and Groove's are my 2 favorite blogs.

Karen said...

hey Fred, I moved to the Bay Area in '88, and Bob Wilkins was still highly revered even then, as well as his successor, John Stanley. They were both frequent guests at a live movie night called Thrillville, where the host, Will "the thrill" Viharo would show old classic B movies. Sadly Bob is gone now, but he is fondly remembered for his Creature Features.

Karen

Anonymous said...

Here in Atlanta in the late 1960's, the local ABC affiliate had a host called Count Von Terror on weekday afternoons. He did a pretty good impression of Lugosi's accent. His sidekick was named (of course) Igor. A few years later, the same station had a Saturday afternoon show hosted by a guy whose costume was very similar to Lon Chaney in "London After Midnight."

Anonymous said...

Atlanta's channel 5 had the Big Movie Shocker hosted by Bestoink Dooley on Friday nights in the early '70's. At about the same time, WTCG carried the Dead Earnest show, which, IIRC, began in North Carolina, so it may have been syndicated. WTCG became TBS and, in the '80's, had Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster hosting a Saturday show. And then there was Elvira in syndication.

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