This year’s Indianapolis HorrorHound Weekend was noteworthy for featuring multiple events centered around the art of horror hosting. Perhaps the most significant of these was the addition of horror hosts to an actual “Hall of Fame” sponsored by “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.“
HorrorHound events organizer, Jason Hignite, oversaw this ceremony and his devotion to horror hosts can not be overstated. Any horror host able to look outside their own personal interests can not deny that his making one of the country’s largest horror conventions a venue for them to not only feel welcome, but also an opportunity to share their work with a larger audience, has helped rejuvenate this nearly extinct art. It has also encouraged younger fans to appreciate the work of commercial hosts from a bygone era, as well as introduce those of us who did grow up with a host to become acquainted with some of the other personalities our fellow fans were watching across the country. Perhaps none of the host-related events at HorrorHound best illustrated this than the Hall of Fame Inductions.
Mr. Hignite also works with a sister website of HorrorHound called G.O.T.H.I.C. (Gathering of Television Horror Hosts – Internet – Cinema). Though no official plaque design has been created for the awards, G.O.T.H.I.C. will be holding a contest for this express purpose and we’ll definitely keep you posted on how to get involved with that. Once created, the awards will see their way to their proud owners while those who have passed away will have their awards housed at Ripley’s.
This year, thirteen horror hosts were to have the honor of being the FIRST Inductees to the Horror Host Hall of Fame. They are Vampira (Maila Nurmi), Zacherley/Roland (John Zacherle), Marvin (Terry Bennett), Sammy Terry (Bob Carter), The Cool Ghoul (Dick Von Hoene), Dr. Morgus the Magnificent (Sid Noel), M.T. Graves (Charlie Baxter), Count Gore deVol (Dick Dyszel), Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson), Sir Graves Ghastly (Lawson J. Deming), The Bowman Body (Bill Bowman), Svengoolie (Jerry G. Bishop), and the recently deceased Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart) in one of the evenings most emotional moments.
The first host inducted was, appropriately enough, the very first horror host. Ms Monster had the honor of inducting Vampira whom she described as “The first mythological creature of the Atomic Age.” Maila Nurmi’s Vampira began hosting in 1954 and, last year, was the subject of her own HorrorHound Tribute (covered in greater detail HERE). A few years later, hosts would be popping up across the country! This was due to the “Shock” movie package – a collection of over 50 classic monster movies given to 142 media markets across the country.
The addition of a horror host was something that could benefit the station on two major points; for one thing, nervous TV execs weren’t sure how these movies would play to a general audience (this was the 50′s/60′s after all). Not wanting to literally scare their viewers away, a comical host might help alleviate anxiety a bit by providing some cheesy laughs. Hosts could also serve to help fill up some time on movies that ran shorter than their program slots provided.
As a result, the late 50′s/early 60′s saw some memorable, classic horror hosts enter American popular culture. These men and women were professional broadcasters who, by exercising their versatility, afforded them a bit of job security along with a relatively cheap method for promoting these old films.
Cinema Insomnia’s Mr. Lobo (who had the privilege of inducting Count Gore de Vol) also pointed out that the “Shock” package of films weren’t alone in creating a legion of hosts. “The Creature Feature” package brought about some of the most legendary names (such as Bob Wilkins in California) as well as happy monster memories for young fans like myself across the country who saw these films both with, and without, a host.
Because these hosts were fairly isolated, it is unlikely that anyone (outside of a horror host buff) would be familiar with everyone inducted at this ceremony. Even many of the presenters themselves, inducting individuals clearly before their time, had only a vague understanding of whom they were honoring.
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES isn’t going to pretend to be any more savvy…and we’re certainly not going to pretend to be older. We would, however, like to offer a special post to each of the inductees and, when possible, gain the perspective of an actual fan of the host’s as well. Anyone reading who may have their own memories of the aforementioned classic hosts, please contact either Dave via our contact link.
Count Gore De Vol, like Vampira, was covered in more detail in an earlier piece which you can read HERE . The remaining inductees, however, will be given spotlights in the coming weeks. When possible we will share pictures, clips, and fan anecdotes. We’d like as many folks as possible to contribute so PLEASE send those memories and help us give these Horror Hosts the tributes they deserve!
* Basement Boy is not only a Horror Host but, as you can see, a talented Graphic Designer! If you are in need of a branding campaign, promotional posters, business cards, assorted graphics for your host shows (need a fake beer label or custom packaging for a fictional product?) please contact him at BasementBoyDC@gmail.com!
Who, Me? Part 1: A Little “Superstition” Leads To Elvira And Svengoolie, Inspiring A Late-Blooming Monster Kid! by Jamie Lee Cortese
The Daves would like to welcome our latest guest blogger, Jamie Lee Cortese. We met Jamie recently at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis and were immediately impressed with her, especially with her horror host knowledge! We think she has a huge future ahead of her and we are honored to have her writing on our site!
Let me start off by admitting that I have not been a real “Monster Kid” for very long. In fact, the first full-blown horror movie I ever saw all the way through was Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street when it was in theaters. However, as I began my “monster” journey, I quickly realized that from the very beginning, all signs pointed to my eventual transformation into one. For one thing, I’ve always been drawn to offbeat, “weird” things: I am a huge fan of Tim Burton (hence my seeing Sweeney Todd), and a consistent highlight of any October is my family’s annual visit to Fright Fest at Six Flags.
If someone had told me even two years ago that I would soon be watching a new horror movie every week, hosted by “the guy who comes on after Stooge-A-Palooza” (Stooge-A-Palooza is a local show where Three Stooges shorts are presented uncut and uninterrupted by the host, Rich Koz), I would’ve stared at you and responded with the title of this article: “Who, me?”
And yet, not only have I done just that, but I have also been relentlessly researching since September for a school project I’ve chosen to do on horror hosts. Shockingly, in the mere year and a half since I began faithfully watching Svengoolie every week, I have met the man in person so many times that he now recognizes my name in e-mails I send to him, and even recognizes me and my family when we’re in line at appearances. Pictures of us have appeared on his show multiple times, and he always makes it a point to say at each and every appearance I see him at that he’s received my latest e-mail. Not only this, but I have followed a blog, and now find myself writing for that very blog! My reaction to all of these events, including my writing being published at all, is always a stunned, “Who, me?”
In hindsight, strangely enough, my being a fan of horror, and especially horror hosts, can actually all be traced back to Fright Fest. For as long as I can remember, the Six Flags park my family goes to has had a motion simulator ride. At Fright Fest, it was a tradition to show “Superstition”, hosted by none other than Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! In the introduction video shown before you enter the ride, Elvira greets you and tells you about her soon-to-open “scream park” (cue a bloodcurdling off-screen screech), which she calls “Elvira’s Tragic Kingdom”! Of course, it took me many years to finally understand all of her double entendres, but the humor I did pick up on had me splitting my sides with laughter! At the end of the introduction, she reveals that she is going to take you on a virtual tour of the park, and for a ride on her “personal favorite” of the thirteen attractions, “The House of Superstition”. A bolt of lightning sucks you and Elvira into the computer system, whereupon the theater doors open, and you are taken on a wild ride! Unfortunately, the entire attraction was shut down just a few years ago.
“Superstition” was always my family’s first stop at Fright Fest, and we’d stop back frequently throughout the day, usually ending up being on one of the last rides of the night when the park closed.
A few years ago, my mother and brother went out to run some errands, and came home with an unexpected treat! Apparently, while they had been out, my brother had recognized Elvira on one of the DVD covers on the shelf and pointed it out. That movie was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. My family set a night aside to watch it for the first time and, in short, we LOVED it! Ecstatic at the realization that there was more to Elvira than a motion simulator ride, I decided to do some research and find out more. Here is what I found out that fateful night:
1. Elvira was a horror host. (A horror host? What the heck is that?)
2. Horror hosts… host horror movies.
3. This is not a new concept.
4. Most horror hosts are on local television stations. (Local television? What the heck is that?)
5. Local television… is television that is only broadcast in a certain area. Locally.
6. This is not a new concept, either. (Huh. That sounds pretty cool. Does Chicago have a local horror host?)
7. Uh… yeah. Svengoolie. (Oh yeah! He’s the guy who comes on after Stooge-A-Palooza, right?)
8. Uh… yeah, sure. Oh, and by the way…
9. Svengoolie is the host of Stooge-A-Palooza. (WHAT?! No way! … Really?)
So that’s how this all got started. Right after I started watching, I also found out that Svengoolie himself would be appearing to meet fans, sign autographs, and take pictures at… Fright Fest! We had ordered our official Svengoolie T-shirts, but they had not arrived yet by the time the appearance rolled around. So, the night before, using some pictures I found on the Internet and some drippy fonts (which proudly proclaimed, “I HAVE A FEELING WE’RE NOT IN BERWYN ANYMORE!!!”) I created my own T-shirt design, printed it out on iron-on paper, and (with the help of my mother) made T-shirts for my brother and myself to wear when we met Svengoolie the next day.
We made sure we got in line very early the next day (believe it or not, we actually ended up being around third in line). From our incredible vantage point, I was hoping to catch at least a quick glimpse of Svengoolie before we actually climbed the steps to approach his table. Just before he was supposed to arrive, as if they knew we were all trying to get a sneak peak at Mr. Goolie, some people came in to arrange the table, and propped a big, framed picture of Sven on the corner of it that was facing us, and at just the right angle so that we couldn’t possibly see him until we were literally right in front of him. Honestly, it was like something out of a movie.
When the moment finally came and I suddenly found myself face-to-face with the man himself, my mind instantly became a total blank. All I could say was, “Hi, Svengoolie!” and “We love your show!” My mom pointed out my shirt to him, and he turned around to look at it. Upon reading it, he even laughed! Words cannot describe the immense joy and excitement that was simply overflowing from me at that moment. I wondered in awe to myself, “He thought something I wrote was funny? Who, me?”
Exactly one week later, we were lucky enough to meet him once again at Party City. While we were waiting in line, my brother wondered aloud if Svengoolie remembered us. I reminded him that Svengoolie meets a lot of people at every appearance, especially at Six Flags, so he might not. During the wait, Party City employees began walking around the line selling rubber chickens to the fans! We ended up buying two: One for me and one for my brother. Svengoolie was even kind enough to sign them for us! Suddenly, the line began moving. We were on our way!
When we got up there, my brother immediately asked, “Do you remember us?” I hurriedly tried to jump in and remind him again of the legions of fans Svengoolie meets all the time, but before I could, Sven responded:
“Yes, I do!”
My jaw dropped wide open.
Not knowing what else to say, I enthusiastically added, “We were the ones who made the shirts!”
“Yes, I remember you guys!”
He remembered us? He remembered me? Who, me?
The, uh, very second time I ever met the great Svengoolie! The rubber chicken seen here is the one he signed for me! And yes, for those of you who noticed (both of you), I am indeed wearing the same shirt as before… but, in my defense, so is Sven!
The next month, footage from the Fright Fest appearance was shown on his show, and my brother and I began bouncing off the walls when we suddenly saw ourselves on the screen! Who, me?
As fate would have it, the very next year found us meeting him once more at Fright Fest, at the exact same location in the park as the year before. I got in line an hour and a half early, and, to put it bluntly, had an extreme case of nerves. But I had already met the man three times in the last year: Why was I so nervous? Because this time, I had an agenda: I had been assigned a school project for which I could research any topic I wanted, so long as it had something to do with my planned major or career. I hope to be both a screenwriter and a performer; unfortunately, there aren’t too many people currently who consistently work on both sides of the camera. Then, one night, while I was watching Svengoolie, it hit me (no, not a rubber chicken): Rich Koz always writes his own material! Upon further research, I found out that it was the same with many horror hosts. And, boom! I had my topic: Horror hosts. My parents had encouraged me to ask him for an interview. Now, I already knew that he was a really nice guy, but I also knew that he was a very busy man as well. As my heart bounced about heavily in my chest, I tightly clutched a small gift I had for him in my hand. Over the summer, while on vacation, I had seen an amusing little red magnet in a small store that said in yellow letters, “MY MOOD IS:” with a green Godzilla pictured next to them. I laughed and immediately bought two: One for myself, and one to give to Svengoolie at his next appearance. A wave of self-consciousness suddenly washed over me as I anxiously sat on a bench awaiting Sven’s arrival. Who was I kidding? He doesn’t have time for a school project! And, really? A tiny magnet with Godzilla on it? It’s not like I was six years old and this could be considered “cute”. But still I waited, holding onto my gift to Sven, and even checking every minute or so to make sure it was still there.
At last, a line began to form, and all of us Sven fans were enthusiastically socializing to pass the time while we shuffled our feet and checked the time every thirty seconds. Those of us in front watched happily as the line grew exponentially.
Suddenly, people behind us started cheering, and my mother announced to me, “Look! There he is!”
“What?!” I spun around, and sure enough, there he was: A smiling Svengoolie walking up behind us, greeting the fans as he made his way up to the table set up for him. He actually startled a few people in the unsuspecting crowd, including myself, since I did not expect for him to be about two feet behind me when I turned around.
Our family was second in line this time, and when I found myself face-to-face with Svengoolie himself for the fourth time in one year, my mind became a total blank. For the fourth time. Thankfully, I had enough of a grip on my senses to sheepishly present him with the little Godzilla magnet, preceding it by telling him that I had saw it while on vacation over the summer and immediately thought of him. He took it, looked at it, and laughed! He sincerely thanked me for the gift and proudly showed it off to the people around him, even going so far as to try to stick it on the frame that bore his picture on the table and, when that didn’t work, hunt around himself for something metal to put it on right then and there! Mr. Jim Roche, who accompanies him to every appearance armed with a camera, joked that he (Mr. Roche) had some metal in his head. Wow! Svengoolie himself was marveling over something I gave him? Who, me?
Svengoolie’s warm response to the gift lifted my spirits quite a bit, and helped me to remember the question I had for him. So, taking a deep breath, and summoning up all of my courage… I asked Mr. Roche. In my defense, Sven had a long line of fans waiting to meet him, and I didn’t want to bother him and hold up the line!
Mr. Roche listened intently, then replied, “Well, I’m not a horror host. You’d have to ask him.” So, still hoping to ride on the same bout of courage, I turned around to face Svengoolie.
My heart skipped about five beats.
Apparently, Sven had been listening the whole time! He answered me before I even began repeating my spiel!
For the rest of the day, that whole scene replayed over and over again in my mind. I began to doubt my memory; did I really gather up the guts to ask him? Did he really say yes? But, no matter how many times those memorable moments reran themselves throughout the day and even into the night, they were always, miraculously, the same.
Wasting no time, the very next day, I sent him an e-mail thanking him a million times over for his kindness the day before.
Exactly one week after the Fright Fest appearance, we found ourselves meeting Sven again, this time in (say it with me) Berrrwyyyn! As we all waited in line inside the jeweler’s store, we saw people constantly walking in and out one of the doors behind the counter. “Aha,” we fans figured. “He must be waiting right behind that door!”
Well, somebody forgot to tell Sven. At the designated time when he was supposed to appear, he appeared, all right, but not from that door in front of us! We suddenly heard cheers from the fans lined up outside the store, and when I turned around, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I found Sven right behind me (Notice a pattern here?)! We all hurriedly scurried out of the way to let him through, and the signing began. When our turn came, his face grew suddenly serious, and he asked me:
“Now, you and me are the ones who are going to be doing that special project, right?”
Numb with shock, I nodded and said yes. Completely at a loss for words, I asked him if he had by any chance gotten my e-mail. He smiled and nodded:
“Yes, I did, and I sent you a reply!” (Note: This reply was mysteriously lost in cyberspace. Neither Will Robinson nor Rod Serling could find it. But, that’s not the point here. The point is…)
Coming up in Part 2: HorrorHound! Find out how I finally met The Daves after reading and following their blog for months, what the various hosts’ reactions were to my project, what I look like in a different shirt, and why a certain horror host even thought my name was fake!
The horror world experienced some excitement this past weekend with the anticipated release of SCREAM 4. You wouldn’t think the fourth entry of any horror franchise would generate much buzz but, then again, the SCREAM films aren’t your typical brand of horror. Not content to simply render their own slasher tale, these movies take things a step further by revealing the “formula” of the sub-genre itself. In pointing out horror’s less original concepts, SCREAM managed to become completely original!
I remember going to see the first SCREAM at the theater its opening night. At the time of its release, I was officially in the latter portion of my twenties. Suffice it to say, I was anxious to see a revitalization of the slasher films I had enjoyed during my teenage years which, as it so happened, was also the most prolific period of these films; the 1980’s.
Iconic slashers such as “the usual suspects” above flourished during the 1980′s (Print created by Brian Maze – go to http://www.monkeygoatboy.com/ for these and other great original prints!)
It would soon become apparent, however, that I was not witnessing the “rebirth” of the 80’s slasher but rather the “death” of them. By the late 90’s, political correctness began to rear its ugly head, eliminating many of the exploitative practices that slasher film fans enjoyed.
At the same time, it was no longer acceptable to portray teen-agers as sex crazed, hormonally charged nit wits (another slasher staple). The success of SCREAM and TV shows such as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (which would also debut in the 90′s) illustrated that the public was more than ready to see teens portrayed as 3 Dimensional beings who, in many ways, were more astute than their denial-ridden parents.
With this new sense of self-awareness came the novelty of SCREAM. Via the film’s resident horror buff, Randy Meeks, the “rules” of the genre were lain bare and, in one fell swoop, the 80’s slasher (which had already been hanging on life support since the previous decade’s end) was given its official coup de grace. Ironically enough, this was done at the hands of SCREAM director, Wes Craven, who also directed A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (home to one of the 80′s most notable slashers – Freddy Krueger).
While SCREAM would close one chapter, it would briefly open another. As the Millennium turned, a new breed of slashers would enjoy a short run with films such as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, URBAN LEGENDS, two more SCREAM films, and a host of horror parodies sparked by SCREAM spoof – SCARY MOVIE. This new-aged slasher era, however, would prove far less prolific than the previous one. A politically correct slasher is an inferior one (entertainment-wise) and once the man behind the curtain was revealed, the “Wizard” had all but lost his allure.
Now, over ten years after SCREAM 3′s release, a 4th installment has finally hit the big screen. The film brings back many of the previous trilogy’s cast along with fresh faces and a new set of “horror rules” to accommodate the current “Me” Generation of viewers.
Ironically, while the film does a great job at being “hip,” it was the older cast members that, for me, stole the show. Neve Campbell’s “Sidney” returns to Woodsboro. Having embraced her role as the town “victim,” she arrives to tout a new book she’s written on surviving. She’s even forgiven Courtney Cox’s overly ambitious “Gale Weathers” who had given her so much grief during the original trilogy. The same contentment can not be said for Ms Weathers (now Mrs. Weathers-Riley) who is finding simple/small town life anything but satisfying thus causing stress on her marriage to David Arquette’s “Deputy turned Sheriff” Dewey.
As one would surmise, the “ghost faced” killer also returns, testing the coping skills of Sidney and her surviving relatives, the mettle of the overwhelmed police force, as well as providing Gale Weathers-Riley with a new sense of purpose (and possible escape from her mid-life crisis). The film is clever and, while you suspect virtually ever cast member as being the new killer at one point or another, the ending was a genuine surprise.
This is not to say I thought the film was perfect. The film’s early “false starts” started to get annoying and the killer seemed to be everywhere at once, while always managing to get away without notice. Interesting that a film that seeks to call out the “horror” industry should blatantly feature one of its worst attributes; the disappearing and reappearing killer.” The film also tended to get confusing at times and I imagine when it’s released on DVD/Blu-Ray I’ll, no doubt, catch something I missed.
Though far from a masterpiece, the film was entertaining and I thought Courtney Cox (whom I didn’t care for in the original trilogy) was fantastic in this one. While SCREAM dealt with the rules of horror, SCREAM 2 the rules of the horror sequel, and SCREAM 3 the horror “trilogy” – the newest entry focuses on the horror “remake.” This may have been an error in judgment. SCREAM 4 made a paltry 19 Million at the box office its opening weekend (previous SCREAM entries broke 30 Million). Perhaps some horror idiosyncrasies are just so obvious, that pointing them out becomes more redundant than original.
DAVE F: If you attended the 2011 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend, with the intention of finding the many horror hosts in attendance, you should have had no trouble in doing so. Occupying their own room this year, most were together in a single spot (with the exception of Sammy Terry & Joe Bob Briggs).
We had passed this section on our way to the celebrity rooms and noted a few familiar faces. As we entered, we immediately saw Roxsy Tyler, Midnight Mausoleum, and Dr. Calamari. Dr Calamari (easy to recognize as the guy with the tentacles coming out of his face) is part of a troop of performers called DARK CARNIVAL.
DARK CARNIVAL performed a LIVE horror show in Bloomington, Indiana and were the masterminds behind the 2010 Vampira Tribute. This event (fully covered HERE) saw the largest gathering of horror hosts from across the country who descended upon Indianapolis to pay their respects to the “mother of all horror hosts,” Maila Nurmi, a.k.a. Vampira.
As we posed for pictures we heard a voice from the left say, “Well, it’s the Daves!” I turned and saw the great Son of Ghoul, himself, standing next to a display of his shows. As one of the classic hosts (celebrating 25 years on the air this June) I started getting tongue-tied and found myself blathering, “Son of Ghoul! You’re one of the most powerful hosts here!” He seemed to find that statement amusing and remarked, “Powerful?! Huh? You mean like a superhero or something?” We both laughed.
He walked around his booth and we posed for a picture. We bought a set of his hosted, vintage cartoons and talked a bit. He spoke of his heart attack last year (not long after the 2010 Horrorhound Weekend) and stated he was feeling much better. He looked like a million bucks and seemed a much peppier than our last meeting. He honored me by signing a picture from that occasion and I’ve been riding a “Son of Ghoul high” ever since.
David seemed to be in his own euphoric state, as this was an entirely new experience for him. Unable to attend last year’s convention, and somewhat isolated in his New England venue, he has not enjoyed the same access to many of the hosts that I’ve had.
DAVID A: For me the highlight of HorrorHound Weekend was certainly the hosts. I was not fortunate enough to have attended the previous year’s Vampira Tribute so I would be meeting all of these hosts for the first time in person. In fact, even though my co-blogger, Dave Fuentes, did in fact meet most of them the previous year, this time it was going to be a new experience for him as well because of this site. Since creating TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES last July, we had gotten to know many of the attending hosts really well, through e-mails and phone calls.
Going into this convention Dave and I knew that the hosts would be our priority, since so much of Terror From Beyond The Daves is devoted to them. Sure we wanted to meet some of the celebrities too, but in our eyes the hosts were the true celebs! One thing we have learned is that planning is key to a successful convention experience. If you go in unorganized, you may very well miss out on some of the best stuff! When we arrived our main priority for Friday evening was to get the movie celebrities out of the way…in other words, we wanted to meet them all before the Saturday crowds and long lines. Thankfully our planning paid off and we accomplished everything relatively early, allowing us to concentrate the rest of the evening, and much of the remainder of the weekend, on the people we really came to see.
Prior to this event, I had only really met Penny Dreadful, Garou and Manfred Von Bulow from Penny Dreadful’s Shilling Shockers (not that this is a bad thing, believe me). I was also fortunate that the night before HorrorHound, I was able to meet the one and only Svengoolie (see my post HERE). Now I was going to get to meet some of the other great characters that have helped make Terror From Beyond The Daves such a success.
When we first entered the Host Room, I was a bit overwhelmed, to say the very least! Hosts for as far as the eyes could see! I just sort of stood there dumbfounded, not knowing who we should approach first. One of the first people we actually saw and talked to was in fact not a host, but someone who is very important to the host community…artist Brian Maze. He has become a great friend and does all of our host artwork, as well as a lot of artwork for the hosts themselves. We talked to him a bit and then moved onto the hosts themselves.
One host I was really anxious to meet was Dr. Destruction. He and Dave had become great friends and I was a big fan of his show. When you first meet him he is somewhat intimidating, being a larger than life character, literally! Destruction is a very tall man who towers over everyone near him. When you first see him it’s easy to be nervous going up to him, not knowing what to expect. I knew he was a nice guy from what Dave had been telling me but upon meeting him, it was quickly obvious that Dr. Destruction is one of the genuinely nicest people I have ever met. We spent a lot of time with him over the weekend and he added so much to our overall experience and provided countless numbers of laughs!
Another priority to me was none other than Ms. Monster and her Monster Melons. As soon as she entered the room it is not difficult to see her…how many attractive women do you know have bright orange hair and blue skin? We introduced ourselves to the trio and were immediately welcomed with open arms.
They were so friendly, funny and appreciative of what we have done for the horror host community. In fact, they were about to do a live broadcast on The Monster Channel and included us, interviewing us about the site! It was amazing watching Ms. Monster, Tit and Tat perform. They have such a great chemistry and the stuff they do is just so damn funny. I know I am looking forward to seeing them all at future events!
Being interviewed on The Monster Channel.
Some of the other hosts we met the first night, that really impressed us were Butch R. Cleaver, Chuck DeClown, Roxsy Tyler, Blake Powell from MIDNITE MAUSOLEUM (we actually didn’t meet Marlena and Robyn until Saturday) and Fritz the Nite Owl. After talking to these people for months through e-mails and such, it was an honor and pleasure to finally be talking to them in person, and being treated as an equal, and not just a fan. This is really what helped make the whole HorrorHound experience one to remember. There was just so much respect in the room and everyone seemed to be having such a great time.
It was also during Friday evening that we met event organizer, “HorrorHound Magazine” writer and fellow horror host fan, Jason Hignite! We cannot thank him enough for his kindness and generosity. This is one of those rare events that I will remember forever!
Because there were so many hosts there, it is impossible to cover them all in one blog so there will be followups to this, with our experiences with hosts such as Count Gore De Vol, Karlos Borloff, The Bone Jangler, Ivonna Cadaver, Evelle Lechat and many others! So stay tuned!!!
The last convention The Daves attended together was New England’s “Rock & Shock“ back in October. One of the highlights of that event was the opportunity to meet Adrienne Barbeau (see full details HERE) as she was a key player in one of my all-time favorite films, THE FOG.
The 2011 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend provided two more celebrity encounters from that iconic film; Tommy Lee Wallace & Tom Atkins. The Daves meeting the Toms was one of our top Horrorhound priorities! Aside from THE FOG, both men have been involved in many other iconic horror films from the 1980′s (our teenage years). This was also the golden age of slashers as well as a prolific period in the horror genre itself.
First up was the great Tommy Lee Wallace. Wallace served as John Carpenter’s production designer and co-editor for both the original HALLOWEEN as well as THE FOG. Wallace, himself, would later assume the director’s chair for HALLOWEEN III.
This film was being given a special Horrorhound salute – also being tied in with this year’s MASKFEST. As most horror fans are aware, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH broke rank from its slasher franchise by dropping Michael Myers in favor of a completely unique storyline featuring a sinister warlock and his diabolical plans to turn America’s trick-or-treaters into bug infested corpses. He would accomplish this with the assistance of his Silver Shamrock masks – producing one of the catchiest, fictional TV ads of all time.
As an 80′s slasher fan, I (and many others at the time) weren’t pleased with this breach of HALLOWEEN protocol. Looking back, however, I have gained a much better appreciation for it. The film is unique and, in many ways, a more fitting tribute to the “Halloween” holiday than any of the other entries. Regardless, it was a poster of HALLOWEEN & THE FOG that I opted to have Wallace sign.
Wallace was friendly and seemed to appreciate the praise I gave him regarding his work in THE FOG. Of course I really wanted to ask him about his ex-wife, Nancy Loomis, who played Laurie’s feisty friend, “Annie,” in Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. She was always one of my favorite characters and I wanted to find out if she ever made rounds in the convention circuit (like P.J. Soles).
I chose not too, figuring it might be stretching the boundaries of good taste, and the last thing I wanted was Wallace getting offended and folding my posters into paper airplanes. Although I didn’t mention it in my ”Celebrity Encounter” blog a few weeks back, I’m going to suggest that asking celebrities about their personal life is a no-no.
I have to go on record and say that my favorite celebrity at Horrorhound was Tom Atkins! He was an absolute hoot, and definitely worth meeting (in our case twice). I walked up to him and asked him a question that had been posed to him during THE FOG. It was a bit of a risk as actors aren’t always familiar with their past roles, let alone one filmed over 30 years ago.
We all laughed as I said, “Thank GOD your weird,” and had him sign both a poster of THE FOG as well as one of his own photos. He happily allowed us to pose with a replica of a “creep” from NIGHT OF THE CREEPS – another fun horror film from the 1980′s. The black, slug-like creature, famous for animating the dead, was sitting on his table and perfect for a photo op.
He got a kick out of our TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES shirts and, throughout the weekend, whenever we walked past his table he’d smile and yell – “Look! There’s a Dave!” Atkins had some amusing shirts of his own for sale and David picked one up for Richard, our young computer wiz kid!
Atkins gets a “10″ on the TFBTD celebrity Meeting Scale for having lots of enthusiasm, genuinely making the fans feel special, offering his own props for photos, and for selling hilarious shirts. I was so pleased with our Friday meeting, we ended up paying him another visit on Sunday – this time I had him sign a HALLOWEEN III still and pose with co-star, Stacey Nelkin.
MASKFEST paid tribute to another iconic 80′s film, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, and we’ll be covering that in greater detail soon, along with even more celebs. But first, a quick visit to the Horror Host Room…..
After being sufficiently ”hyped up” from our previous night’s meeting with Svengoolie (see David A’s recent Blog), we were eager to embark on our journey to Indianapolis to attend Horrorhound Weekend! Last year’s convention was life changing for me (see seven part blog series covering that event) and this time was sure to be even more amazing as I would be attending with my like-minded co-blogger, and best friend, David.
It was just four months after the last Indy Horrorhound that TERROR FROM BEYOND DAVES was created and we’ve always thought of ourselves as the bastard child of Scary Monsters Magazine and Horrorhound’s Vampira Tribute. This time around, most of the hosts in attendance would already know who we are from their participation in our weekly reports and, in many ways, it would be more like a macabre family reunion versus public event.
We arrived at the Marriott around 4pm and quickly brought in our luggage before heading downstairs to the main hall. Like most fan-based gatherings, it is the fans themselves that add an extra level of fun and excitement to the occasion. Many folks were dressed up as creepy characters (some as well known faces in horror while others chose original designs) providing lots of laughs as well as great photo ops.
The convention set up was a bit different than last year. For one thing, Horrorhound no longer had to share space with other groups, such as elderly war veterans or The Christian Women’s League (combos that went about as well together as peanut butter and pizza), as they did the previous year.
This time around we had the entire building to ourselves which was a good thing since every bit of space would prove necessary. A hotel attendant later told me that Horrorhound is their largest event and one in which the entire staff dreads the most - later conceding that it also brings in the most money. After one look at the eager crowds of fans, it was easy to see why.
As a rule, Saturdays are always the busiest day for any weekend convention. David and I wanted to hang out with our horror host friends but also wanted to meet some of the celebrity guests featured as well. As the celebs were Horrorhound’s main draw, this was something that needed to be done Friday before the bulk of the conventioneers arrived.
Disappointed that we would not be meeting the Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento (who canceled a couple of months back due to filming commitments), we debated for weeks whether we wanted to see his replacement, Corey Feldman. My old friend, Jason Lucas, was our camera man and (like every good Jason) was a big fan of the FRIDAY THE 13th films. Feldman having played a part in one of its better entries; FRIDAY THE 13th PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER made him of interest to Jason.
This decision would ultimately be made for us. As we entered an elevator Friday evening t0 see Jason, Feldman walked out with his entourage. “Hey guys,” he said as he whisked past, dropping a cigarette on the floor as he went. I grabbed it and later gave it to Jason as a joke gift. My understanding is that it is now sitting in a glass curio cabinet on permanent display in his apartment.
We decided that this brief encounter was sufficient enough and we’d bypass the convention’s main headliner. FRIDAY THE 13th Part IV, GREMLINS, & THE LOST BOYS are all great movies (both featuring a young Feldman) but they were nothing in my world next to THE FOG and the original HALLOWEEN series.
Next chapter: The Daves meet The Toms – Tommy Lee Wallace & Tom Atkins!
It’s been awhile since I have had fun…I mean fun like a kid. As adults we become pre-occupied with things such as working, paying bills, raising a family, etc. Not that these are bad things but in the process, we forget how to have fun like we did when we were kids. I think that is why I like being a monster fan so much…you can do all of the important and responsible things in life and yet still be a kid! Who can forget the excitement as a child on Christmas Eve. Family get-togethers that then led to a sleepless night, in anticipation of Santa’s annual visit. This followed by the nervous excitement of walking down the stairs to see if the big guy brought us everything that we had asked for. These times were magical and that is the first thing to go in adults…the magic.
Thankfully for me, I was able to recapture that magic just recently. The plan was to visit my best friend Dave (yes, the other Dave in TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES) to go to HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis, IN on the weekend of March 25th thru the 27th, 2011. I was to fly in on Thursday morning, the 24th, and then visit the Brookfield Zoo where Dave is a docent, getting a personal tour. As the date grew closer though the stars aligned just right and the magic began as the horror host that brought me and Dave together as friends, Svengoolie, would be making an appearance that evening at the zoo!
Though I was always aware of horror hosts, Svengoolie was the first host I actually experienced. In the early 80′s his Son Of Svengoolie show was syndicated in Boston, MA on WLVI Channel 56. Our weekly monster movie show, The Creature Double Feature, was trying to do something different by adding a host. Though he was based in Chicago, part of his syndication deal was to record short bits about the area he was being shown in, personalizing the experience. I loved Sven’s antics and song parodies. In fact, I remember using a hand-held tape recorder and holding it up to the television’s speaker to record these songs (I wonder what ever happened to those tapes?).
It was soon after that I was out searching local hobby shops for a human skull model kit so that I could build my own Zallman T. Tombstone, one of Sven’s sidekicks. One shop finally had to special order one for me but I did get my own Zallman, even though I never seemed to be able to get the moustache right. It was also thanks to Sven that I got introduced to a little horror magazine called FANGORIA (you may of heard of it). They ran an article on the Son Of Svengoolie, so of course I had to run right out and get it and quickly became hooked on this magazine.
The fact that I would finally be meeting Svengoolie, after all these years, just added a whole new level of excitement to my trip to the windy city. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I have never been afraid of flying…in fact I enjoy it very much. I was a little nervous this time though because it was the first time I would be flying by myself. I am definitely one of those people who over thinks things initially, causing myself to get nervous, usually about nothing. Getting through security was a breeze though and it wasn’t long before I was in the air. Because I had to get up at 4 am, and because I knew I had a long weekend ahead of me, I just sat back and relaxed.
The flight arrived on time, which was amazing to me since when I left Rhode Island it was snowing very hard and the plane had to be de-iced before taking off. Even finding myself around Midway Airport was easy and it wasn’t long before I had my luggage and was waiting for Dave to pick me up curbside. Dave greeted me with a welcomed hug and then we were on our way…first stop his house to drop off my luggage.
Thanks to my early flight (I arrived in Chicago shortly after 8:30 AM) we had a full day ahead of us. The first stop of the “Svengoolie Tour” was Berwyn, made famous by Sven’s constant ribbing of the city. But first we needed to get something to eat. So many choices but in the end the choice was clear…White Castle. There were really two reasons for this…first off, Rhode Island doesn’t have them and second, White Castle was recently the site of a “Dinner With Svengoolie” contest (read all about it here).
Since Dave wasn’t sure if I would like White Castle we decided to sample them by going through the drive-thru. I did end up enjoying them so we went inside for some sliders, fries and soda. The next leg of the tour took us to one of the coolest stores I have ever been to (and who also provides the rubber chickens thrown so much at Sven on his show). The store? Horrorbles!
If you are a fan of horror/sci-fi/monsters then Horrorbles is the store for you! This place is packed solid, front to back, ceiling to floor and even in the basement with every kind of toy, model kit, mask, t-shirt, figure and magazine you can imagine (and that is just in the first 10 feet of the store). Being a fan of this type of collectible, it took every ounce of energy to leave with just a t-shirt! The owner, John Aranza, has amassed quite the assortment in this store creating a collector’s dream! I am probably lucky that we don’t have a store like this in Rhode Island!
John is an unassuming man with a smile on his face for this labor of love. There are so many treasures in this store that it is almost overwhelming, not knowing where to look first. To take it a step further, in the basement is a miniature movie theater, complete with popcorn machine, that you can rent out to watch your favorite horror films, past or present. I know this is one store I plan on visiting again each time I go back to Chicago!
The next stop of the tour was the Brookfield Zoo. Sure this may not seem like a place to include on a Svengoolie tour but Sven has had an ongoing relationship with the Brookfield Zoo, especially when it comes to fundraisers. Personally I wanted to see the zoo itself since I am also a docent at the Roger Williams Park & Zoo in Rhode Island but what better way to end the day then with meeting Sven? After a thoroughly enjoyable day checking out all that the zoo had to offer thanks to my personal tour guide, Dave Fuentes, it was time for the AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Vital Ground, an organization that seeks to obtain land for the protection of grizzlies and other animals isolated due to human encroachment.
The food was surprisingly good, which doesn’t always happen at events like this (but then again, how can you mess up spaghetti?). As 5 PM drew closer the excitement within grew. Because of appearances Sven has made in the past Dave knew exactly where he would be to meet his fans. We stood outside the door patiently for the big moment. A gentleman who was obviously in charge of this part of the event was kind enough to keep us posted as Sven was running a little late. This was fine though because finally meeting Sven was so worth the wait.
Then the moment was upon us. The gentleman in charge said that Sven was there and that a bunch of people had snuck in to meet him and that he was taking us in to the front of the line because we had waited so patiently where we were supposed to. Thanks to talking with Svengoolie on Facebook, and because of us covering him many times on the TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES site, Rich and his friend Jim Roche immediately knew who we were (plus Dave had already had the honor of meeting them previously). The smile of Sven’s face when we entered the room was warm and genuine and it certainly made my weekend. Sven was fully aware of my history and love of the show and was so genuinely appreciative of me coming all the way from Rhode Island and finally getting to meet him. Sven is the epitome of a horror host…a class act all the way who genuinely loves his fans and isn’t afraid to show it.
Dave and I presented Rich and Jim with official TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES t-shirts and a copy of this year’s SCARY MONSTERS MONSTER MEMORIES issue, that included my monster memories of originally watching Sven. We talked with both of them for a while, laughing the whole time. We also took pictures, not only of just me with Sven and of just Dave with Sven, but also of both Daves with Sven. Dave had brought with him a Svengoolie doll created by artist Terry Cruikshank that he wanted Sven to autograph, which added some comedy to the meeting since Sven commented on how creepy the doll looked, especially with the eyes.
I would’ve loved to have been able to spend more time with Rich and Jim but the line of people to meet Sven was getting longer. I do know though that I will see them again and it is something I am very much looking forward to. With Svengoolie going national I am hoping that it is only a matter of time before ME-TV is in the Rhode Island area and I can watch Svengoolie again, like I did 30 years ago. Of course this time I won’t have to rely on a roof antenna drawing in a weak and snowy UHF station!
The Daves were honored to see us mentioned this morning in Svengoolie’s blog.
Excerpt from Svengoolie Blog 4-3-2011: Speaking of those fans around the nation-many years ago, my show was on the air in Boston- and those broadcasts were the basis for a nice article in a current special issue from our friends at “Scary Monsters” magazine. In the all-new “Monster Memories 2011 Yearbook”-David Albaugh writes about his memories of TV horror hosts- and tells about how,growing up in Rhode Island, he could pick up the “Creature Double Feature” on that station out of Boston- where he watched some guy named “Son of Svengoolie”! He writes about how he thought that I was actually broadcasting out of Boston, due to special segments I would tape that mentioned specific things about Boston and the station (we had to do that, at the time, for every city we were seen in- good thing we won’t have to customize the show for every place we’ll now be showing!) Dave writes about how my show got him hooked on horror host programs-and how he still watches us thanks to friends who send him recordings! hang in there, Dave- here’s hoping we’ll be showing up on a station near you once again ( it’s only fair that it happens every 20-something years or so!)-and thanks for the memories! (By the way, Dave and another Dave- Dave Fuentes-write about horror and horror hosts in their blog ”Terror from Beyond the Daves”- http://terrordaves.wordpress.com/ -check it out!)
Funny thing- in that same “Monster Memories” magazine- about three articles before Dave’s horror host story- there’s an article about the “Creature Double Feature” that ran on WLVI in Boston- which was actually the same station Dave watched that I ran on- as part of that double feature-but that article has no mention of me! Like one of my friends used to say- “stick your finger in a glass of water, then remove it- that’s how much of an impression you’ve made!”
You can read the whole blog by going HERE!
Also, come back on Tuesday, April 5th, for a followup as David A. discusses meeting his idol for the first time!