Interview conducted by The Bone Jangler
The Bone Jangler: What made you decide to become a Horror Host?
Remo D: I grew up with the genre, and I have my father to thank for that. My earliest “movie” memory involves watching THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN with him on television–while I’m told that the “giant” spider scene drove many a child to hide behind the couch, I was simply fascinated. Watching the Saturday night “Creature Features” on WGN became a tradition (at least while Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart were in reruns).
Vacation time took us to San Francisco, where I got my first look at Bob Wilkins (not that I was ever allowed to stay up to watch his entire show)–I was very pleased to learn more about the movies I was watching in the process. Back in Chicagoland (I grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, which showed Chicago television, of course), I occasionally got to see fuzzy UHF airings of the original Svengoolie and The Ghoul–I still remember a sketch from the latter show involving Froggy and something he had swallowed. There it was–my first combination of a creature-feature (THE CRAWLING EYE, in fact) and a host who provided wacky comedy to go with it.
As I stayed up for late-night weekend horror movies over my grade-school years, I improvised host segments and the occasional sketch–my unnamed host played to an audience in my own head (if I fell asleep on the movie, the audience would even see me napping between segments, so I decreed).
But of course, it took Rich Koz to surface as the Son of Svengoolie to really spark me off–here was a guy who was DOING everything I was imagining and more. If I wasn’t the first fan to write to him, I was definitely the first fan whose name he read on the air (and the proof is on YouTube!)–so I continue to declare myself Sven’s “original fan.” I never missed an episode–I cheered when he won local Emmys–he was the complete and total validation of my imagination (and yes, I continued to “host” every NON-Sven horror movie I watched with vigor).
The process of actually becoming a host took much, much longer, of course–but Rich “Svengoolie” Koz remains my most potent inspiration and the main reason I chose to pursue the reality.
TBJ: Who is Remo D.?
Remo D: In the parlance of professional wrestling, he’s “me with the volume turned up.”
Had I been born Shane today, it’s unlikely that the name would ever have changed. But when you’re born Shane in 1965, you can expect to have “Come back, Shane” jokes directed at you throughout your lifetime (as in “Gee, that was funny when I first heard it the first hundred times twenty years ago”). A move from Valparaiso to study film in San Francisco in the 1980s gave me the opportunity to start with a clean slate, and while I never legally changed my name, I made use of the nickname “Remo” (which I’d picked up because I was frequently seen reading the Destroyer paperback series featuring the character of Remo Williams). The “D” simply stands for my last name–I signed up to entertain in a campus cantina in San Francisco and was introduced as “Remo D.” Plain and simple–I liked that. Eventually, I got to host my own cantina show: REMO D.’S MAYHEM. Yep–sketches, comedians, musical acts–AND a movie… technically, this was my first “horror hosting” gig (and yes, I already had the hook hand).
As seen at the MANOR OF MAYHEM, Remo is exactly what I am–an enthusiastic fan who simply loves to share–not just the movies, but the trivia and stories behind both the movies and the people who made them. And just like me, he’s got a pretty twisted sense of humor which is more than capable of getting him into trouble. The storylines and situations the MANOR crews get into are equally inspired by the movies we show and what’s been going on in our lives.
The key difference between Shane and Remo (besides the former’s obligation to tone it down in the workplace) is that Shane constantly reviews movies in print and calls them exactly as he sees them… Remo would prefer to let the weekly movie speak for itself without any critical commentary. “Here’s this week’s movie, and here’s the story behind it. This explains why I wanted to share it with you–and I hope you enjoy it.”
TBJ: “Manor Of Mayhem” first aired on what date?
Remo D: REMO D.’S MANOR OF MAYHEM debuted on Friday, January 4th, 2002 with a screening of ASSIGNMENT TERROR. The debut episode was a very simple affair, featuring only a movie and my stand-up trivia/patter. My first joke involved trying to track down all of the classic monsters featured in the movie, only to find that they were all selling Amway products. Who was behind it all? The Mummy of course… why do you think they call it a “pyramid scheme?” Next up was CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD, featuring the first on-camera appearances of our stalwart technical director Dave Deacon as Montag (later DR. Montag) and producer Gregg Galdo as a nervous messenger (he would debut as Kato, the Black Hornet in our second season).
TBJ: Who is your all-time favorite Horror Actor/Actress?
Remo D: With all profound respect to the late and living legends who have populated my entertainment life, no single performer associated with the genre has made more of an impact in my life than the great Paul Naschy.
He supplied the inspiration (not to mention the body of work) behind my very first published articles, and he’s been a MANOR fixture from the very beginning (see previous question). And this was BEFORE I had the privilege of personally befriending him and his family. When he passed away at the end of 2010, I simply had to break character and say goodbye to him on the air as plain old Shane…
As for my favorite genre actress? I must repeat my respects for the vast goldmine out there, but here I will tip my beret in particular to the iconic Barbara Steele, who lends an unforgettable presence to everything she touches (though I’ve never had the pleasure of knowing her personally).
TBJ: The Horror Host Underground came along at just the right time, I think. How influential do you think the HHU has been on the (Horror Hosting) genre(, and why)?
Remo D: Well, I can certainly tell you that the Horror Host Underground made a HUGE difference for me. I went nearly two years going it alone, convinced that aside from such established stars as Svengoolie and Elvira, I was the only one out there who was trying to keep the weekend “creature feature” a reality. It took an article from Crystal “Ghoulery” Guillory on the late, lamented Horror-Wood website to startle the hell out of me and let me know that I wasn’t even CLOSE to the only one… and I can’t imagine that my experience was unique.
Here it is. Since the dawn of the “infomercial,” the chances of succeeding with a horror-host program on paid broadcast television were reduced to nearly non-existent. That means that anyone who was actually DOING such a show was doing it for the sheer love of it. This meant that the Horror Host Underground was a like-minded community like no other. Not competitors or collaborators. All there to see to it that anybody who wanted their “creature feature” fix would GET it, no matter WHERE they lived.
The free trade of shows between hosts was a particular blessing–it’s great to be able to run samples of everybody else’s show between MANOR reruns as we work on a new season every year–and the fact that we can all see each other’s work gives plenty of opportunity for crossover projects the like of which would have been unthinkable in the ‘broadcast-only’ era–adding color and flavor to ALL of our shows. So–long answer short–the influence of the HHU has been strong and proud and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
TBJ: Of all of the Horror Hosts you’ve met in person, which are you personally closest to?
Remo D: The first HHU host to contact me once I introduced myself to the group was A. Ghastlee Ghoul–who has been a special friend to me and my entire family ever since. But of course, I’ve only MET the gentleman once–on the occasion of his Wasteland Wedding
At that same occasion, I forged true friendships with several more fellows I’d only met on-line previously… Halloween Jack, Professor Griffin and your good self among them. It was great to “Meet” the Cleavers, and I really hit it off with Hayden “I Zombi” Milligan, whom I still miss horrendously. But no host has made more of an impact outside of the convention zone than that patient storyteller known as Carpathian. Back in 2004, my MANOR buddies and I hosted a charity film festival in the name of Jonelle Snead–who was then doing her best to cope with her terminal cancer diagnosis… and it was Carpathian who made the trip to our neck of the woods (Monterey County, California) to lend his presence to the event–and his personal support to Jonelle. That was without a doubt the most moving host-related occasion I am likely to experience–and nothing will ever break that bond.
TBJ: Of all of the Horror Hosts that you have yet to meet, which ones are you looking forward to meeting the most?
Remo D: My family and I will return to Cinema Wasteland in October of 2012. There are so many more of you that I want to meet… Penny Dreadful springs immediately to mind. I hope to meet Dr. Dreck and Moaner, the Sinister Minister, Dr. Fear, Jebediah Buzzard, The Host (of Screaming Horror Theatre), Ormon Grimsby, Karloss Borloff and The Monster Madhouse Crew, Dr. Lady, the Dark Vault crew… I could go on like this and still leave somebody out, so I’d best stop. But I’ll bet they’ve been seen in my timeslot, regardless!
TBJ: Is there a movie that you still haven’t hosted after all this time that you’ve been wanting to host forever?
Remo D: No two ways about it: SON OF FRANKENSTEIN. Of course, it’s part of a set with the two excellent James Whale films that preceded it, and I wouldn’t suggest that it was somehow “better” than either of them… BUT only THIS film gives you Boris Karloff. AND Bela Lugosi. AND Basil Rathbone. AND Lionel Atwill. AND the sulfur pit. AND those wonderful sets. Ask me to name my favorite horror film and we’ll be here all day… but SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, to me, is the film that has it ALL.
TBJ: With the advent of the “online only” Horror Host, there seems to be a new Horror Host every 5 minutes. Do you think we’ll see the same longevity from these Hosts as we’ve seen with their television counterparts?
Remo D: Well, certainly not ALL of them. I offer no disrespect whatsoever when I point out that since it has become much easier to produce and present a show on-line (for example), there will be quite a few people who simply “wanted to try it” and who will be satisfied after playing their role for a handful of installments. But by the same token, non-broadcast shows such as these don’t have to depend on Nielsen ratings or paid sponsors to stay alive–which leaves the longevity issue up to the hosts themselves. Those who are driven to do it will continue to do it–so I can’t offer any predictions… we’ll simply have to see what happens!
TBJ: The best thing about being a Horror Host is what?
Remo D: Sharing the joy. There’s no better answer. Maybe nobody’s watching, but what a treat when someone tells you they are. What a treat when people want to be a part of it despite the utter lack of monetary compensation (I frequently promise my guest players double what I’m making and I always keep that promise). What a treat to know the history to which you belong AND to put your unique stamp on it. Just to DO what I’ve always wanted to do. What a treat.
…………………. The calendar year 2011 marks the tenth year on the air, the fifteenth season AND the 200th episode of REMO D.’S MANOR OF MAYHEM. I can’t let this occasion go by without once again acknowledging my compadres Gregg Galdo and Dave Deacon, who have literally been there from the beginning. Kudos as well to Collette Cotelo, aka ‘C.C. the Vaultmistress,’ who’s been with us for more than half of the journey. And a huge MANOR welcome to our newest friends Allyson “Puddles” Bojorques (Carlotta Nightshade), Jeannie Bryant Parker (Dr. Zorders) and Penelope Morgan (the new Remo D.) … wait–WHAT was that? You’ll see…
Horror fans have mixed emotions regarding the first sequel to the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. While the film would see the return of the ever popular Freddy Krueger – one of top three names in the slasher franchise, the film’s lead character would prove controversial. Mark Patton had unsuccessfully tried out for the role of “Glen” (given to Johnny Depp) in the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET but was hand picked to play the role of “Jessie” in FREDDY’S REVENGE.”I was thrilled to be chosen to Star in NOES2,” said Patton. “Lately it has come to light that I was cast over Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. Times change, I guess they are OK.”
What most viewers didn’t know was that Patton was much more than just a handsome face. Having an impressive resume,’ which included performances on Broadway as well as having worked with Oscar winning actress, Cher, and legendary director, Robert Altman – its no wonder casting agents for FREDDY’S REVENGE were determined not to make the same mistake twice. In a genre where the average male teen was portrayed as a sex-crazed bonehead Patton, while clearly over qualified, would bring to the screen a vulnerability and sensitivity rarely seen by a 1980′s slasher audience. But this would be a mixed blessing…
The original script called for a female lead character, not unlike the first installment. At this time, audiences were much more accustomed at seeing a “damsel in distress” versus that of a man. Of course there were plenty of male victims strewn about the slasher franchise but none that were toyed with as emotionally as Jessie, nor played with as much intensity.
Patton’s performance was above average but, in this instance, the believability factor wasn’t quite so welcome. Viewers rejected the concept and the resulting backlash would result in Patton walking away from acting all together. “The Orginal unhappiness regarding NOES2 came from The Fangoria Fans,” explains Patton. “The real hardcore horror folks. The reviews from the main stream press such as the New York Times & Variety were excellent and the box office was fantastic! Then the Homo Nightmare started…with attacks on both the movie and myself. I began to see the entrenched Homophobia in Hollywood, the insistance on staying in the closet. I became an Actor to be free of this but I was naive.”
So complete would be his self exile from the public eye, it would take 2 years for Hollywood to locate him for participation in the film’s DVD extras.”Truthfully I did not understand what I was walking away from,” Patton admits. “I am not even sure I consciously knew I was walking away. I had other things on my mind, my friends were dying in droves…everything in life seemed foolish in that light. I walked away not knowing that it would change and I would have the ability to help. I believe I was being protected I am not sure FAME would have been the best road for me at the time.”
Indeed, technology was not the only thing that had evolved during his screen absence. When Mark resurfaced on the horror scene, it was a whole new world with the public’s perception of male/female roles having changed considerably. It was now permissible for men to show emotion with the traditional stoicism no longer the norm even in the straight world. Mark Patton, for his part, is openly gay and lives happily with his partner in Mexico. Many horror fans who grew up homosexual look back on NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: FREDDY’S REVENGE with a somber understanding. Many of us homosexual viewers had also been uncomfortable with Patton’s performance, perhaps because it hit a little too close to home. Being bullied by a testosterone charged coach and teased by your fellow classmates was, for some of us, a nightmare not exclusive to Elm Street.
What really sets the character of Jessie apart, however, was his complete vulnerability while wrestling with “nightmares” that (when one gives the film a second glance) can certainly be construed as gay (only male nudity, images of his coach in black leather S&M, etc). For his part, Patton was not altogether pleased with the director’s handling of his character. “Had I directed NOES2, knowing it would be seen in this light, I would have gone in a much darker direction I think,” says Patton. “Maybe have “The Smiths” for Music, suicidal thoughts, longer hair, a little dirty from lack of care…much more distant from the parents..and a more sexual undertone towards Freddy…a completely different approach to Grady (at least in the subtext).”
In two weeks, I look forward to finally meeting Mark Patton at DAYS OF THE DEAD in Indianapolis. In the 26 years since Mark portrayed Jessie he has not only learned to embrace his character but who he is as well. An advertisement for DAYS OF THE DEAD shows Mark joined by NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’s most famous actress, Heather Langencamp, along with Linnea Quigley and P.J. Soles. The poster is urging conventioneers to attend a “Scream Queen” panel.
One Facebook fan commented, “Don’t you kinda find it insulting that you’re considered a scream queen?”
“Not at all,” said Mark. “I created this.”
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES wishes to thank actor, Mark Patton, for graciously agreeing to participate in this piece. Mark will be attending DAYS OF THE DEAD this weekend and looks forward to meeting all his NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET fans!
By Shaun “Genghis” Kangas
Last week Saturday , June 18th, I drove 2 hours and 45 minutes from Lake Mills, WI to Oak Lawn, IL .When I heard that Svengoolie and Pro-Wrestling legends Bret Hart and Mick Foley were all gonna be at the same Pro-wrestling event, I had to go! I want to publicly say who ever hooked up Pro-wrestling event with a Svengoolie appearance is a GENIUS!
I have been a wrestling fan for years, since I was five. Later on in life, after my days of playing in my band, I got involved with wrestling promotion. I did it for 2 1/2 years helping the NAWF and NWA Wisconsin wrestling promotions in Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford areas. I have been a Svengoolie fan for years, also since age five. Not a week goes by when I don’t watch his show, even if it is a replay, I don’t care, I love horror films….and Svengoolie!
It was an adventure for my girlfriend Idella and I, since I-90 was all under construction……it is summer after all, but once we got closer there was just limited construction! Using our trusty Garmin with the excellent British women’s voice guiding our way we found the Oak Lawn Pavillion quite easy.
The place is a huge sports complex where the community can go to work out, play basketball, and play indoor vollyball leagues, …but this weekend they are holding Dream Night X !! ( I should clear up that X means 10 here, ten years of PCW’s wrestling showcase in the Chicago area).
PCW has a loyal audience, and when I mean loyal, I mean 1000 to 1500 people packed in to the core! It is a rock concert atmosphere and the crowd is “live” tonight for sure. Idella and I were directed by a PCW polo shirted man to the entrance where he said, “If you want to get in line for Bret Hart you better get in line now, he is only signing for 2 hours.” I looked at this line, and seriously… 3/4 of this crowd is in line to meet WWE Legends Bret Hart and Mick Foley. The line is like seeing Santa Claus at the mall the day before Christmas! AS IT SHOULD BE! It is really rare to get a chance to meet these wrestlers.
So Idella and I make our way to find seats, which was easy since …3/4 of the crowd is in line to meet two WWE legends! PCW fans are all ages and it is a great turn out I must say. This is when we had our “Ya know you’re from Wisconsin “moment, I went up to the concession stand and ask where the beer stand was, the woman behind the counter looked at me funny and said, ” I’m sorry we can’t serve beer or any alcohol here. PCW is a family event.” This is the first Indy Wrestling show I have been to in my life that didn’t serve beer! I return to Idella and told her there was no beer stand, to have her respond in shock, ” What?!!! There is no beer stand! Every show we go to has beer! ….ohhh… oh-no.” So we spotted the table where Svengoolie would be signing, which stated he would start signing at 6pm, so we found seats close by.
Prior to the event I e-mailed ten short questions to Svengoolie( Rich Koz) to let some of his new National fans out there know now that he is a big wrestling fan! Here is that short interview:
SHAUN: What was your first wrestling event?
SVENGOOLIE: My first wrestling event would have been an AWA card at the old International Amphitheater in Chicago-with Mad Dog Vachon taking on the champ, Verne Gagne!
SHAUN: Who is your Favorite Wrestler?
SVENGOOLIE: Stone Cold Steve Austin-one of a kind.
SHAUN: What is your Favorite Wrestling Move or Finishing Move
SVENGOOLIE: The figure four leg lock.
SHAUN: What horror movies have wrestling in them?
SVENGOOLIE: I think mostly Santo movies- but “Ready to Rumble” qualifies as “horror”…
SHAUN: If you were a wrestler, what would your name be?
SVENGOOLIE: One of my (Ahem) creative friends used to call me “Stone Koz” – I think I should be the Human Sleeper Hold, since some of the movies I’ve shown have definitely put people to sleep…
SHAUN: What would your entrance music be coming down the ramp to meet your opponent?
SVENGOOLIE: The Sven Theme, possibly in a slightly different arrangement….
SHAUN: How Many WWE events have you been to over the years?
SVENGOOLIE: Wow- hard to count-been going to various events- house shows and Pay-Per-Views- since they were coming to town at the UIC Pavilion. It’s got to be numbered in the dozens.
SHAUN: What is your Favorite Match of All-Time?…I know, that is a hard one….
SVENGOOLIE: I like different matches for different reasons- Steamboat/ Macho Man, Undertaker/ Shaun Michaels, Rock/ Austin…sometimes it’s the athleticism, sometimes it’s the story….
SHAUN: Your friends with Jerry Lawler, is there any other wrestlers you are friends with?
SVENGOOLIE: Does ring announcer Justin Roberts count? Honky Tonk Man is a Sven friend, and several are acquaintances…hoping to add Mick Foley!!
SHAUN: Are you nervous ring announcing the main event tonight? You sing every episode of your show; will you be honoring us tonight by singing our National Anthem?
SVENGOOLIE: I’m just nervous about getting the names right, and doing a good job. I WILL NOT sing the national anthem….or even the Berwyn anthem.
SHAUN: I want to say thanks to Svengoolie for answering these questions! He had a super busy schedule this past week with the TV Museum of Broadcasting event, and well….the guy has a job and he is a hard worker. He took the time for this Super fan, and I think that is awesome. Now back to the event….
By 6pm they announced the event would be starting via a very LOUD P.A. system! To tell the truth, I could not make out anything they said all night. A young woman sang the national anthem and, right after she finished, the matches began. At this time I saw Svengoolie make it to his small signing table in a dark corner of the pavilion.
At 6:30, Idella and I got in line. What was funny was everyone is in a line to meet someone and there is wrestling going on, so everyone is in line watching the match, and then they realize the line has moved! This, unfortunately, made all the lines even longer.
By the time I got up to Svengoolie, only ten minutes had past. This line was moving! I paid $10 to get my picture taken with Sven and approached the table to give him a good hardy hand shake. At this time I personally thanked him for the interview and we had a nice discussion as he signed a free autograph for me. I did the classic wrestling pose for the picture, and Svengoolie did his classic pose. It was weird that we didn’t say anything and just looked at the camera and did these poses at the same time and then went back to talking. I thanked him and let the next fans go.
What I thought was the back of the line had grown to the same amount of fans when I got in line. 200-300 fans met with Svengoolie from 6pm-7:15pm, and then Sven ran to a door where Mick Foley was watching the action from backstage. That is when all the fans in this area noticed and began wildly taking pictures! Idella and I made our way to our seats and watched the wrestling matches while all of this was going on. We watched 5 matches in one hour and had four sodas between the both of us. I have to say that the PCW fans know who to cheer for and have their favorites, which is great, most indie promotions struggle to get a following.
A short intermission was announced to set up the cage for the cage matches. PCW promoted there would be a six-man cage match as the main event, and Svengoolie would be announcing that event, so we moved closer to the ring. This is where things changed. There was to only be one cage match, but Svengoolie would still be announcing the main event. They started the cage match after a 30 minute intermission. The cage match was now four tag teams battling each other, it was complete mayhem. Highlights included: wrestlers thrown into the cage, a no parking sign was used over a man’s head, a man’s face was rubbed into the fence, and a strange array of weapons were used! Great entertainment for the kids!
After the cage match winners were announced, they took down the cage, which took about twenty minutes. At this point, it has been 3 plus hours in a place that doesn’t have ceiling fans, floor fans, or even a door open. It smelled GREAT! It must be noted that after awhile my date and I can smell the man sitting next to us in the hot humid pavilion. With a 1000 plus people, could someone turn on a fan! Open a door?… Anything?!?!?!
It was at this time that Mick Foley came out . Mick greeted the audience, and went into stories of wresting in the Chicago area. He then introduced Bret “The Hitman” Hart out to the ring, where both talked about being the General Managers of WWE RAW, and the years of coming to wrestle for the fans in the Chicago area. I never thought in a million years I would be ten feet away from Bret Hart and Mick Foley in the ring, but it happened that night! As I watched these two legends converse over old matches, who do I spot in the rafters watching? SVENGOOLIE! He is there above the ring glued to these two legends like everyone in that arena that night – the true wrestling fan that he is. The WWE legends left the ring and a quick tag team match for the PCW tag championships took place.
After that, Svengoolie was brought out to his signature music. He entered the ring, greeted everyone, thanked them for coming out and talked about just recently reaching 32 years of Svengoolie. He got a huge “pop”- a term used in the wrestling business for a quick reaction from the crowd, when he brought up the 32 years of being Sven. He then announced the rules for the main event, and introduced all six wrestlers. The match was a six man tornado elimination match, with the last two going into a last man standing match for the PCW Championship. Got that? If you are not a wrestling fan that sounded crazy didn’t it? Well, I was lost on the rules too, I mean completely lost. Right after all the wrestlers came out, Svengoolie exited the ring, sat ring side, and the match began to total craziness as six men started fighting.
Svengoolie raised the hand of the winner after one of the craziest matches I’d ever witnessed. Soon we were on our way out into the hot summer night (fresh air), and back on our road trip to Wisconsin. It truly was a dream night! I never thought I would get to see Svengoolie with some Wrestling Legends, but here is my cheesy line…..Dreams do come true!
Looking back while writing this, I totally believe this was one of the highlights of my summer!!! I really appreciate TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES for allowing me to cover this event for their site, the PCW for holding the event itself, but most of all Svengoolie for the interview and his kind words! I wouldn’t be surprised that in the near future you see Svengooile in one of those quick camera shots where celebrities are at WWE RAW sitting ringside.
For TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES, I’m Shaun “Genghis” Kangas….
How Crappy Action Dude Comics started, and how we got to this point, we have to go back to the year 1999. I was in a heavy metal band based out of Madison WI, and I started a graphic art business, “plan9 Productions.” We made everything from flyers to T-shirts for rock bands. I was making really funny flyers using action figures to promote them.
My band got mad with me because I was making more merchandise for other bands then for us. After many years of touring, I quit the band in 2003, and went into other entertainment fields with my connections I had made in the business. Over time I became burnt out on the crappy music scene and was doing graphic art on the side for money. Everything from TV commercials to band flyers, “plan9 Productions” cranked out a lot of stuff. This is when I started experimenting making a comic with action figures – in 2003. I really just wanted to become better at Photoshop, and using the little toys was a great way to learn.
Over the years I have had a very weird hobby of collecting action figures. I would go to swap meets, rummage sales, yard sales….you name it I would pick it up.
He-Man, STAR WARS, G.I. Joe, and any old figures from the 80′s that I had grown up with. After some years the collection got HUGE, I mean out of control- bad. I have lost count of how many I have. Some things I have sold for good money, but like any fan boy, you can’t part with some collectables.
In 2004, everything went into storage since I had a real messy break-up with my ex-fiancé at the time, and had to move out of the nice apartment I had. In 2005, I got back on my feet and started up “plan9 Productions” again – making short comics with action figures. My goal was a book deal at the time. This same year the writers from “Toy Fare Magazine” teamed up with Seth Green and created Robot Chicken for Adult Swim. This was a good thing (I thought at the time) as everyone liked action figures. Over time, however, we got tired of always being compared. Its something we will probably never shake.
We get comments we are just a Robot Chicken rip off whenever someone see Crappy Action Dude Comics. It sucks! Don’t get me wrong, I was a fan of the show, but after they came after me in 2008 when we started publishing on Face book, I lost all respect. Williams Street contacted me on Face Book, and I had to prove that we made our comics. They seriously thought we were taking still shots from the show and adding word balloons!!!! This is when I got a lawyer and copyrighted everything we made. After proving that we made them, I got a piss-poor apology from them.
So we have to back up a little here…..From 2007-2009 I started experimenting with making a short web comic book using action figures with the storyline of the run-down TV station. A SCTV with action figures, if you will. Nobody was going to publish this stuff, so I focused on publishing it myself directly on the web.
The future of comics is web comics; I see it with dwindling sales in the comic industry. Facebook was the new social media at the time, and you could post pictures on your “page”.
We started publishing all of the past comics and started making new ones. Then it grew from “plan9 Productions comics” to Crappy Action Dude Comics. We started publishing the Shiva of Death’s word scrambles weekly, and the stuff spread like wildfire!
Why do we call it Crappy Action Dude Comics? One day, one of my best friends and co-writer Lynn Forsman stopped over. I told him the idea I had for the web comic, and he responded, “Man…you’re not going to be animating this over YouTube are you? Cuz that would be some Crappy Action Dude…..”
Then a bright light went on in my head, that is what we call the comic! We make the action crappy, and play on the single facial expressions of the action figures! Genius! …so the name stuck. We had like 15 different names in a brainstorming session, but threw them all out.
Lynn would stop over and help write segments, and my buddy Rich Ritter, who is a master model builder, supplied the cars in the fake car ads and helped building sets. My new girlfriend at the time would edit the whole thing. So it was really by chance that we all came together and built this thing….not everyone in plan9 get along at times, but we seem to make it work. Now we are coming out with our 49 issue sometime this or next week.
I have lost count of how many pages we have done, we just keep making them. If a good joke comes to our heads we write it down, and it gets in the comic. I can’t tell you how much material we have thrown out……
NOTE: When TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES learned that Chicago Horror Host, Svengoolie, was making a public appearance revolving around professional Wrestling, there was only one choice on whom to call. Aside from the numerous talents mentioned on this post, Shaun has a background as a wrestling promoter while also being a fan of Horror Hosts. He was one of our earliest supporters when David and I began this site and his online comics have brightened many a dull day at work. He delighted us by agreeing to cover the event and writing about his experiences HERE. Be sure to check it out THIS Saturday evening right here! I also encourage everyone to check out Shaun’s Facebook page HERE. You’ll be glad you did!…Dave F.
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES welcomes guest writer, Alex Fuentes, for a teen review of an amazing new game!
I consider myself a serious video game player. One of my favorite games would be CALL OF DUTY: ZOMBIES where your job is to take on constant waves of zombie hordes while seeing how long you can survive on your own – or with your friends.
During the game, you will discover secrets behind the characters as well as how the zombies came to be. The company behind this game, “Treyarch,” came out with a content pack that would not only be suitable for the average gamer, but for horror fans as well. Expanding on their extremely popular CALL OF DUTY game, they recently released a spin-off titled CALL OF THE DEAD.
In CALL OF THE DEAD you can assume the roles of Danny Trejo, Robert England, Sarah Michele Geller, and Michael Rooker. Your job is to fight constant zombie attacks and tame the newly Zombified George Romero!
The game takes place at an abandoned lighthouse where George Romero is currently filming a new zombie film titled, CALL OF THE DEAD. As the movie is being filmed, a real zombie appears and drags off the famous director, leaving his bewildered actors to battle the zombies for real.
I recommend playing the game on the Xbox 360 where it is easy to invite your friends to join up in a pre-game lobby. To do this you must have purchased Xbox Live that allows you to connect to other gamers on the internet. You have to also buy CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS and 1600 Microsoft points that enable you to purchase the Escalation Map Pack that includes CALL OF THE DEAD. You can also play the game on Playstation 3, but the Xbox 360 receives the map pack earlier than they do.
My three other friends and I have finally got into a comfortable rhythm where we can sit and shoot the zombies before George Romero comes to attack. We stand on the snowy surface near the lighthouse with our backs facing an iceberg, so that we don’t get hit from behind. One-by-one the undead army is completely obliterated, leaving only one more alive before the next round.
My friend, whose character is Michael Rooker, shoots off the zombie’s legs – leaving it slow and crippled so that we don’t have to encounter it until we’re done with our preparation. My character is Danny Trejo who comments, “An empty gun is no fun for anyone.” After grabbing a new weapon I run back to rejoin the group.
Mid-round we accidently shoot George Romero causing him to go on a zombie rampage. We hop into the ocean with Romero hot on our trail. He jumps in too but, thankfully, the freezing water slows him down (while freezing Robert England). As I come to his rescue, I am soon surrounded by zombies and it’s GAME OVER for me! Michael Rooker and Sarah Michelle Geller soon follow suit – better luck next game!
I loved the CALL OF THE DEAD experience and had a few laughs when I heard some of the characters dialog that was true to their real-life roles. I recommend playing CALL OF THE DEAD as well as the rest of the Zombie maps to those who love horror films & video games while seeking a challenge! I can honestly say, this map is one of the toughest to play!
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES wishes to thank The Bone Jangler for sharing his candid interview with Son of Ghoul.
The Bone Jangler: You were about 7 years old when you first saw Ernie Anderson as Ghoulardi on Cleveland CBS affiliate WJW-TV. You caught the show pretty much right off the bat. What was your reaction to Ghoulardi?
Son of Ghoul: Mostly I was blown away at this crazy looking guy who was really funny and did wild things. That was interesting TV viewing for a 7 year old.
SOG: The kids who were allowed to stay up and watch TV saw him and talked about him at school for sure. Remember, there were only 3 television stations to choose from in those days, so most people in northeast Ohio who had the television on at that time of day, watched Ghoulardi.
TBJ: Prior to this, had you seen many Horror movies, or, was Ghoulardi’s show where you had most of your exposure to these films?
SOG: For me, discovering horror movies, monster models, books like “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” Ghoulardi ,and The Beatles all happened about the same time. Each went hand in hand.
TBJ: Chuck Schodowski was a technician on the Ghoulardi show, and brought in all of the cool music used on the show, as well as added the sound inserts into the movies, in addition to appearing in skits. Were you a big fan of the music on the Ghoulardi show?
SOG: The music used on the Ghoulardi show was alot of fun songs of the time or cool jazzy/blues tunes and some early 60′s rock that really completed the feel of the show. For some reason, these tunes just stuck in your head.
TBJ: Eventually, Ernie left Cleveland for Hollywood, and Big Chuck and Hoolihan carried on in his absence. What was your reaction to Ghoulardi leaving the airwaves, and, did you continue watching the show as regularly after Big Chuck and Hoolihan took over?
SOG: I was only 10 or 11 years old when Ghoulardi left and I didn’t really know at the time why he was gone. Sure, as I did, most everybody in N.E. Ohio continued to watch Big Chuck & Hoolihan. We only had 3 channels to choose from in the mid sixties, so the chances of not seeing the show was real slim.
TBJ: Someone who was a part of both the Ghoulardi show, and “The Hoolihan & Big Chuck Show,” and would eventually play a big part in your life, was a guy by the name of Ron Sweed. In 1971, with the blessing of Ernie Anderson himself, Ron became The Ghoul, and began hosting Horror/Sci-Fi movies on Kaiser Broadcasting station WKBF. Did you watch this show from the beginning? How soon did you discover this show, and what was your initial reaction to the show, and The Ghoul character? Did you think it was cool, or were you kind of miffed, that, here’s this guy trying to ape Ghoulardi?
SOG: By this time, Ohio had added a few UHF stations. I didn’t see Sweeds first show, but I remember a friend of mine told me that over the weekend he viewed a new Ghoulardi hosting some sort of ”battle of the bands” tv show. Now I’m not sure about this, but The Ghoul may have hosted this special tv show a week or so before his regular movie show started on ch 61, but you would have to ask him about that to get the facts right. I tuned in to check this guy out as soon as I knew about it, maybe by the second or third week of the show. The Ghoul was young, wild and dressed and acted like Ghoulardi, so to a 15 year old, I was hooked.
TBJ: Were you aware that Ron Sweed had been a production assistant (i.e. lackey) of Ernie’s during the Ghoulardi days, that he had actually been a part of the Ghoulardi lineage?
SOG: Yes, I think Sweed always let everyone know about that over the air.
TBJ: Did you ever write fan letters, or send in models for The Ghoul to blow up on his show?
SOG: I sent in for a autographed photo card but I never wrote any fan letters or sent anything in.
TBJ: Eventually, you and The Ghoul met (several times). What was the first time? Where was it? When was this? And, what was that like?
SOG: The first time I got to meet him was in 1973, three friends and myself drove to ch 61 went to the front desk and ask to see The Ghoul. A station employee brought us to a mail room where we got to meet Sweed out of costume. He was sorting through mail for that weeks show and then Sweed gave us a quick tour of his set in the studio. He was real nice to us. Another time, I drew a giant poster size “Santa Ghoul” image and drove it to the station and just left it at the front desk. He did use that poster on the air on his Christmas show in the 70′s and much to my surprise, when he returned to the air in the 80′s, he had kept my poster and it again showed up his Christmas show.
TBJ: Later, you wound up working as a technician at WOAC in Canton, Ohio. Had you taken any sort of classes, or had any formal training, to become a technician, or, was it just something that came naturally to you, having been in bands, etc.?
SOG: When my school band life came to an end I quickly joined the AV club at school. Since I was in grade school, I collected 8mm movies. Being in the AV club at School now allowed me to learn and run 16mm sound projectors and the early 1 inch B&W video tape recorders. When I got out of school I landed a full time job as a 16mm film inspector at Audio Brandon Films, a 16mm film rental company that serviced schools, colleges, churches ect. with features and shorts. This was way before any home video tape rental places was available to the public.
The library that I worked at had over 1.000 16mm sound features and a giant collection of classic short subjects and most of the Warner Bros. Cartoon collection. As home video tape became the new cost effective thing, the 16mm rental library closed its doors and went out of business. I loved that job and would have still been there to this day. I still collect 16mm sound movies as a hobbie. I had to become a quick learner to become any kind of technician to work in television.
TBJ: You worked as a technician on “Thriller Theater,” starring Horror Host The Cool Ghoul (aka George Cavender), eventually performing in skits on the show. How cool was that, and, how cool was The Cool Ghoul?
SOG: George was a real nice guy who has alot of talent. I really wasn’t a technician or even a regular crew member on his show. He invited me to just 1 taping and I kinda gangstered my way into helping out and being in some of his bits by being bold enough to keep showing up every week. After a few months of hanging around WOAC TV 67, I finally landed a full time position as a station board operator running programs and commercials live over the air. I then advanced to Film Director. The last days of being able to slide in the back door of a tv station and land a job without a college education. Unheard of now in real broadcasting.
TBJ: When George Cavender left WOAC, you auditioned as a replacement. Why did George leave? Was it all his decision, or did he have some “help” from the station? Hadn’t he been on the air for some time prior to that?
SOG: George decided to leave the station and re-locate to another city. It was his decision. George was first on WJAN TV 17 as “The Cool Ghoul” in 1971 and beat Sweed’s debut as The Ghoul by two weeks. Because of WJAN’s power limits, no one in Cleveland could pick up the signal. That run lasted a year or so. WJAN was then sold to PTL.
TBJ: The way that you originally became involved with The Cool Ghoul, and WOAC, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen anymore. So, anyway, The Cool Ghoul’s out, and they do a whole “In Search Of… ” kind of show, and, at the end, you show up as The Son Of Ghoul. How refined was your look at that point? No cape, right?
SOG: Because I was already hired as a board operator at WOAC, I helped out with the “In Search Of” show and I appeared without any SOG makeup in one bit. During that week while editing that show, it was decided that I would take over the following week which gave us enough time to shoot a quick ending with me as SOG for a few seconds only without glasses and no cape. At first I thought SOG would be without any glasses or hat at all, just like Ghoulardi looked when he first came on. But, I then quickly decided to add the top hat then the round Lennon glasses. My first show was shot without the cape. The cape was added by show #2.
TBJ: How was that first taping? You kind of got off to a bad start that day, didn’t you?
SOG: The station decided to let me pick and use my own crew which consisted of some of my old personal friends I hung with. I’m sure this was their way to save a lot of cash by not having to pay station employees to run cameras or work audio, although they did give me a hourly paid director which was a station employee. For the first two shows the station wanted my crew to be all station employees just to make sure everything went ok and they wanted me to shoot at 10 A.M. on Tuesdays. I talked the station into letting me at least use my good friend Vince Scarpitti on audio for those first two shows. My own crew took over by the third week and we moved the tape time to Thursdays at 7 P.M. The night before taping my first show, I was at home working on props and getting my SOG costume together. I was excited and could not sleep. It got to be about 5:30 A.M. and I decided to lay down and try to rest for a couple of hours.
The next thing I remember was my phone ringing. It was my friend Vince calling from the station. I said “hello”, Vince said in a panic voice, “Kev- It’s ten till ten” I jumped up, freaking out because I overslept. I got dressed and drove to the station without a shower, a shave or anything. I was one hour late for my first taping, not a good thing.
When I arrived at the station, the operations manager looked at me and said, “Keven, your not getting off to a very good start!”. The show was quickly taped and when it was over, the stations general manager walked in the studio. I was cleaning up my props, he picked up the intercom and called all station employees to come for a meeting in the studio. When they arrived he said, ”As you all know, Keven is our new horror host and right now we are going to preview the show”.
I had to sit there while everybody viewed the show. They all liked it and gave me a standing ovation. I was shocked, because I thought (and still do) that the show wasn’t very good.
TBJ: Your first movie you hosted was “The Gong Show Movie.” Not exactly your choice, right?
SOG: “The Gong Show Movie” just happened to be on the schedule for that week and was not my choice. I did not pick the movies for the WOAC show. The station bought movie packages consisting of all kinds of titles, some were horror films. Each movie had a number of runs so they stuck some in the afternoon, some in prime time and some for me.
TBJ: Most every Horror Host I’ve discussed the subject with seems to dislike their first few shows. How about you?
SOG: I thought my first shows weren’t very good, I was stiff and undeveloped.
TBJ: About how long would you say it took you to really begin to hone the SOG character?
SOG: It took a couple of years before I really started to hone into the SOG character I am now.
TBJ: So, at WOAC, you never got to pick which movies you hosted, and, instead, had to host movies that the station had bought the rights to air. What was the weirdest, most off-genre movie you hosted on there?
SOG: “The Gong Show Movie” because it was the only non-horror movie WOAC ever scheduled in my time slot. One week my show had to be cut to only 30 min. due to a sports program we knew that would run into my timeslot, so I ran a Three Stooges short, which I thought was way better than most of the movies they had to choose from.
TBJ: If someone were to have asked you, back in 1986, “How long do you think this gig will last?,” what would you have said?
SOG: My first contract with WOAC was for 13 weeks and I really didn’t think the show would last any longer than that.
SOG: Back in early 80′s Ron Sweed (The Ghoul) held a “Ghoul look-alike contest” for a few weeks at the Cleveland Agora which was a popular nightclub. The contest was judged each week by the audience. The grand prize was to get to appear in costume on his show. During those weeks of the contest he would introduce each contestant by name. When he came to me, he would introduce me as “Son Of Ghoul”. Ron knew who I was and had seen my “Ghoulardi-Ghoul” costume at least 4 times over the years starting way back in the 70′s. He was real friendly back then and invited me to come in costume to some of his appearances and once invited me to come and just hang out during an all night Ghoul radio program he had on the air at the time. I have 8mm silent and super 8mm sound footage of us together with me in my costume pre-look-alike contest.
TBJ: About how long into the WOAC run were you when you received communication from The Ghoul camp, what was it, and what was your reaction?
SOG: About one year and a half after my show began, I received a phone call one afternoon during my regular work at the station. It was a newspaper reporter from The Akron Beacon Journal asking me if I had any comment on the lawsuit filed today against me and WOAC by Ron Sweed. I was quite shocked to say the least. I ask the reporter to hold and ran to my station general managers office and turned the phone call over to him. We had no comment and then turned over any further contact to our lawyers. They told me to say nothing and they handled it from there on. About a week later, one afternoon, the station operations manager came back to my office and told me to stay there and not to go up to the front office for awhile because Ron Sweed and his lawyer was at the front desk demanding to see video tapes of my show. They were denied and told to leave the property which they did. The next time I saw Ron was almost a year later in the courtroom.
TBJ: So, with Ron “The Ghoul” Sweed taking legal action against you, were you at all worried about the outcome? I mean, being sued is stressful, regardless of one’s innocence.
SOG: Sure, it was a new experience for me.
TBJ: Who represented you in the case?
SOG: I had two attorneys, one represented me, the other represented the tv station.
TBJ: When the judge handed down the decision, what was Ron Sweed’s reaction in the courtroom?
SOG: Neither of us were present in the court room when the judge handed down the decision.
TBJ: The Ghoul wouldn’t return to NE Ohio TV airwaves for, like, a decade. Did you ever hear from him in that time?
SOG: No, he made no contact with me.
TBJ: You ended up having a nearly decade long run at WOAC. This lead to you being involved in parades, live shows, telethons, meeting Rock legends, and the usual stuff associated with being on a commercial broadcast station. How much of it was fun, and how much of it was work? What were some of the most memorable gigs/moments associated with being on WOAC?
SOG: In those days for me it was just the pure excitement of broadcasting. Being a part of the MDA Telethon for 9 years was great and my first experances of being on live tv. Because I worked at a broadcast tv station, It opened the door for me to meet and have some of my favorite rock legends like Paul McCartney and Stevie Ray Vaughan on the show just to name a few. It was great fun but at the same time, I was at work and had to keep it together and do what I had to do to get the job done on either a live shoot, live broadcast or a SOG appearance.
TBJ: WOAC is also where we saw the debut of many memorable characters, and skits, like Fatman and Rotten. Where did you meet Brett?
SOG: We were always trying to come up with new bits for the show. Some ideas worked better than others so bits like Fatman & Rotten had many episodes. Brett Koren who was just a fan, showed up at the station one day to watch us tape a show. He was such nice person and had alot of intrest in my show. I ended up letting him be a SOG crew member running cameras and being an on air bit player. His best appearances on the show was in bits as Fatman’s sidekick ”Rotten” or as ”Burnouts adult friend”.
TBJ: What were your favorite characters/bits from the WOAC days?
SOG: It’s hard to pick there were so many like “Mr Banjo”, ‘Fatman”, “Pyscho Motto”, “Zerro”, “Barfaby”, “Woodstiff The Woodsman”, “Fritz The Toybreaker”. all of these characters were takeoffs of Cleveland kid hosts or tv shows I watched in the 1960′s.
TBJ: Overall, what was the atmosphere at WOAC? Did everyone seem to appreciate your talents?
SOG: WOAC treated me great if they needed me for anything but at the same time they didn’t pat you on the back to much in fear of asking for an increase in my pay which didn’t happen too often. Although they did pay for an all experience week long vacation to Club Med in the Bahamas for me and my girlfriend.
TBJ: Eventually, WOAC decided to become a home shopping network. What ran through your mind, as you knew that “the end” (of WOAC) was approaching?
SOG: I thought it was the end of the road for the show. Then, I find out that this cat associated with my show named Cowboy Bob had called Akron station The CAT, and had offered them my show. I didn’t like that he’d tried to represent me, so, I called them up, they made me an offer, and that was that. My contract at WOAC stated that I had to have 5 weeks notice before they could let me go. I took advantage of that time, and actually did a lot of the work on my first show for The CAT while I was still at WOAC.
TBJ: So, moving over to The CAT, and staying on the air, without missing a week, turned out to be easy. Yet, everything changed, didn’t it? Everything became more difficult, right?
SOG: Yes, Everything changed, on the plus was the fact that I now had more freedom in what I said or did on the air plus the show was now on prime-time 2 nights a week. The minus side was that WAOH TV 29 did not have the room to house my set so I had to find elsewhere to shoot. Talon Media, a very small studio that was located in Massillon, Ohio is where I landed. That was a nightmare for me because now almost everything I was use to production wise, was not available at this new studio but that’s all I could afford so I learned to work around it. We did manage to pull off some cool stuff at Talon. But to save my ass, I had to switch production houses because the two guys that owened Talon, split up partnership and I had no choice but to go where the editing gear went. That was another nightmare in itself, but to make a long story short, I then moved some of the production back to Talon but by then I had bought all the editing gear and slowly started to take over and move the entire production to my own locations but this took a number of years to get together. Part of my set is now at the Seich Compound Studio the other part is at my home studio.
TBJ: Your crew changed up, right?
SOG: Well I downsized the crew a bit. Brett Koren and John Stone stayed on for some time at Talon and John stayed on throughout the studio changes. Dan Toomey and Joe Cole came aboard as crew members. Dan Toomey has provided me with special editing gear and tech support to help keep the production going.
TBJ: Of course, before too long, you met a lil’ guy by the name of Ron Huffman, aka Fidge. When, and where, did you first meet him, and how did he end up on the show?
SOG: Fidge knew one of the owners of Talon Media and asked if he could drop by for a SOG taping. I used him in the bit we were doing that night and he was such a nice guy and good sport, he started showing up week after week and then became a regular on the show.
TBJ: As time went on, a name from the past resurfaced on Cleveland’s FOX affiliate WNBX 55; The Ghoul. What did you make of his return to the airwaves?
SOG: I thought ahh..good, let everybody see both shows, then tell me what you think!
TBJ: That was a really interesting time, and, before long, it sort of seemed like there was a ping pong match going on between the 2 shows. The Ghoul, in particular, seemed to react, in a number of ways, to what you were doing. What can you tell us about this period in time?
SOG: I’ve been told by his own crew members that they viewed my show every week and that I caused many angered and stressed moments in that camp. If I did a bit about being at the doctor one week, the next week he would show a doctor bit of his own. They even tried to step up the sound effects in their movies to try and outdo what I was doing in mine. Plus all the on air rants about? ..well, I don’t think anybody could figure out what he was saying. All I know is that his show was un-funny, the production value was crap and it had no effect on me or my show at all. To prove a point, I’m still on the air!
TBJ: After a certain point, The Ghoul’s time-slot kept moving about, getting shuffled to less, and less, favorable time-slots. Also, there started to be a kind of exodus over there, with many of his crew, etc., leaving his ranks, and migrating to your show. How did all of that come about?
SOG: Well, for one example; Jungle Bob and myself was booked for an appearance at the same venue at the same time. We had no problems with each other and we became good friends. Jungle Bob appears on many Cleveland television shows so I ask him to appear on my show and then he just became a regular on the show. It wasn’t a planned thing, it just happened.
TBJ: “The Son Of Ghoul’s House Of Fun And Games” debuted in August of 2000, during the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” craze. The show was actually The station’s idea, wasn’t it? Could you tell our readers about the formation of the show, and the format?
SOG: The Station allready had a past history with the gameshow format. Some time ago they had a live program on called “The Bingo Movie” or something like that. At first there idea was to have a 5 night a week live game show with me as host. But soon they realized that one night a week worked better so we ended up with a 2 hour live gameshow every Wednesday night at 8 P.M. the show ran for 3 years. The format was, we would get 4 callers on the phones with there live audio over the air with me. Fidge was the score keeper. First I would BS with each contestant a bit and then ask each a series of trivia questions. Each correct answer would score points and the person with the highest score was the winner. Some of the prizes were dinners for two or a pair of tickets to an Indians or Browns game and sometimes only a roll of toilet paper was the prize. We made it a game of chance, the prizes were placed in black bags that were numbered 1 thru 10. We had a large number wheel we spun for each winner at the end of each game and what ever number it landed on the winner got that numbered black bag. Between games and while we gathered up 4 new players on the phones they ran SOG bits and commercials.
TBJ: I always felt like that show was the idiot’s version of Regis’ show. You’d ask a question like, “The Fab Four consisted of John, Paul, George, and who?” Somebody on the phone, a contestant, would be, like, “Uh… “ It was on the game show where Fidge really, truly, became a full fledged sidekick, and a “star” in his own right, don’t you agree?
SOG: Yes Fidge became a show favorite and loved by the viewers. After all it was a solid two hours of his face or mine plastered over the tv screen each week on the gameshow. Then followed by 2 more nights of my movie show. We had 6 hours of air time each week for years.
TBJ: The game show proved to be pretty popular, and led to your stage show at Six Flags in Aurora, Ohio. What are your memories of those gigs?
SOG:The Six Flags SOG Stage Shows was great fun, I was booked to do three 35 minute shows per day for 17 nights that October for the Halloween season. We played to standing room only almost every performance and the shows went over great with the crowds. It was a fantastic experience for for Fidge, my crew and myself, not to mention a hefty payday.
TBJ: It was at those shows, and, the Frightvision convention, where Fidge finally realized how popular he was, how much he was loved by your viewers. Did that warm your heart, seeing him have that epiphany?
SOG: Yes, I was pleased to see that Fidge did get the chance to see and feel the love of the fans and viewers. He was surprised that so many people loved him. It was a good thing for him to know because his home life had been such a horrible situation for years.
TBJ: By this time, everything’s going pretty damn good for The Son Of Ghoul, and, you’ve got your Abbott And Costello vibe going, with you as the straight man to Fidge’s clown character, and, then, something terrible happens. Now, obviously, by this point in time, Nocturna & I had known you quite well for about 3 years. So, I know what went down, but, could you tell our readers what happened?
SOG: I didn’t hang out with Fidge after work hours at all. I was at home on a Monday afternoon and got a phone call from one of Fidges friends and was told that he had passed away. I was shocked to say the least. Fidge hung out alot at a local bar, he was friends with the owner and helped out with bartending and clean up at times. It was a Sunday and the bar was closed to the public but the owner, Fidge and a couple of girls were in the bar partying. Because of his size, it didn’t take much to get Fidge drunk. I was told that the people he was with gave him 9 doubles of 151 Rum then as his buzz increased he was asking for water or soda but was given more liquor. Fidge went to the rear of the bar layed down and passed out. Then his so called friends decided as a joke to take magic markers and color and write things all over his body so when he woke up he would be all colored and marked up. One of the things they wrote on his chest was D.O.A. They all finished marking up passed out Fidge and returned to the private party in the front of the bar. Fidge never woke up. Nobody went to jail, nothing. The bar owner was a former cop. It was swept under the carpet like nothing ever happened. Sad, very sad. Cleveland TV news did do a couple stories that aired about Fidge’s passing. I was interviewed and provided footage for those news segments.
TBJ: Before long, you, again, cross paths with The Ghoul, this time on purpose, right?
SOG: Yes, we were both booked to appear at The Parma Animal Shelter. I think it was really arranged by each of our crews to happen. I think they wanted it to happen more than we did.
TBJ: I have a lot of footage from that meeting, and, I thought it was really cool to see you two, sitting at a picnic table, talking, etc. However, the thing that sticks out most in my mind is that scene where he sees you, and your crew, and he’s standing there, looking scared, and holding his arms out to his sides, like he’s saying to his guys, “Stand back! Let’s just take this slow, and easy. Be careful, men.”
SOG: I guess it was kinda like a tense moment where everybody was holding there breath to see what was going to happen. Nothing did, we talked for a bit and shook hands as our crews freaked out.
TBJ: As cool as that was, did you, for one second, think that some kind of lasting truce would take place? Did you think that there was a remote chance that you guys might do some kind of crossover on the air?
SOG: No, I knew nothing would become of this meeting and at this point as I said before, he has had no effect on my station, myself or my show. I would have refused any ideas of teaming up. I’m not that crazy.
TBJ: All of this time you’d been on the air at this point, you felt like you weren’t accepted by your fellow NE Ohio Horror Host peers (i. e. Big Chuck And Lil’ John). Every time the subject came up, even remotely, you’d say that you were “the interloper,” that, in their eyes, it was as if you didn’t truly belong. Eventually, though, that changed, didn’t it?
SOG: They were all told lies and stories about how much of a bad person and a troublemaker I was. It all started to change when Big Chuck & Lil’ John and myself was booked to host a Halloween Party in Akron. The party went over great and Chuck & John saw that I was no trouble at all to work with. Now it has done a 180, and I have been a regular now for years at the Ghoulardifest. I do appearances with most of my Cleveland TV piers at conventions or parades without any hassles or problems. We are now mostly friends and they all treat me great.
TBJ: In the old days, as far as you knew, there was only Ghoulardi, Hoolihan, Big Chuck, Lil’ John, The Ghoul, and The Cool Ghoul, right? And, then, by the early 80s, Elvira. But, you didn’t really know of the existence of all of the guys, for the most part, right?
SOG: No, I had no idea there were other hosts on across the country ’til the mid 90′s when people started to send me video tapes.
TBJ: Of course, later on, through the years, you learned of the other guys, people like the original Svengoolie, etc. And, then, about the turn of the century, there was a resurgence of Horror Hosts, people like myself, for example. Many of us met doing convention appearances, and such, and developed a certain camaraderie. Most of us had to take our shows to cable access stations, but, we’re on TV. Now, in the last few years, there’s been an incredible boom (of Horror Hosts, or “Horror Hosts”), due to things like YouTube, and the Internet.
What’s your take on guys like, say, Count Gore De Vol, the late Dr. Creep, the original Svengoolie, Rich Koz’s (Son Of) Svengoolie, etc.?
SOG: Gore, Creep, Svengoolie & Zack are real Horror Hosts that I have a lot of respect for.
TBJ: Knowing that you don’t really get to see much of the rest of us, you’ve, nonetheless, had exposure to many Hosts’ work, and, even more exposure to this latest crop of Internet Hosts. Are there any that you particularly like, or can, at least, appreciate?
SOG: I haven’t seen a lot of hosts stuff. Although, I do have a few favorites, most I can’t watch for 2 minutes because they just plain suck. A lot of unfunny crap out there.
TBJ: Do you think that most of these newest Hosts will have staying power?
SOG: No, most of these internet or access hosts will fade away because there is no cash flow. Bottom line is that it takes a TV station, money and sponsors and talent to produce a real television program. It also takes a lot of real viewers not just a small group of friends that tune in on the net because they have nothing better to do. Do I sound a bit harsh? Sorry.
On June 13th, 1986 Keven Scarpino a.k.a. The Son of Ghoul hit the Ohio airwaves and the world of horror hosting hasn’t been the same since. Having been a fan of the legendary Ghoulardi and christened “The Son of Ghoul” by his successor ( The Ghoul) three years earlier – perhaps it was simply a case of destiny.
After working behind the scenes (and occasionally on camera) with The Cool Ghoul (George Cavender) he would later take over the reigns as host of “Thriller Theater” before it would simply become “The Son of Ghoul Show.”
I first met The Son of Ghoul at the 2010 Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis. I was introduced to him via The Bone Jangler, whom I had only met for the first time moments before. After Svengoolie, Son of Ghoul was the first commercial television host I had the privilege to meet and it was a surreal experience to say the least. I was extremely grateful to The Bone Jangler for breaking the ice in that situation.
I would see him again at the 2011 Horrorhound Weekend along with the other Dave – David Albaugh. This time he knew who we were from TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES and called out to us as we entered the host room. Of course this still didn’t prevent me from acting awkward as a blurted out “Son of Ghoul! You’re one of the most powerful hosts here!” as if I was seven years old and he was a professional wrestler. He laughed it off and we enjoyed a few laughs.
The next day, his inducting his idol, Ghoulardi, to The Horror Host Hall of Fame would prove one of the high points of the event.
Many people proudly count themselves as fans of The Son of Ghoul. TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES would like to thank SOG fan and close personal friend, The Bone Jangler, for sharing his amazing interview with Son of Ghoul (to be posted THIS Sunday right HERE) as well as some great pictures! We’d also like to thank Michael Monahan (Doktor Ghoufinger) for sharing some of his personal photos as well. An article on Son of Ghoul written by Mr. Monahan will be featured in the upcoming 20th Anniversary issue of SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE.
We’re sure that many more articles written from varying perspectives will see print and we Daves look forward to reading them all. A horror hosts’ career is a colorful one…. and one that spans 25 years will have, no doubt, touched many lives. And The Son of Ghoul shows no signs of stopping. This weekend at MONSTER BASH he’ll be putting on a LIVE Anniversary show along with past clips. It is sure to be a memorable event for those fortunate to be in attendance!
COUNT GORE DE VOL: What can you say about the Son of Ghoul that hasn’t already been said…..or is appropriate for even an adult audience? Not much, so I won’t even bother to attempt it. What I will say is that doing anything for a quarter century is tough and doing it as well as he has is truly something ot celebrate..
I know there are naked naysayers who might excuse his success because he really loves what he does. To that I say poppycock. Even if you really love hosting bad horror movies, keeping it up for 25 years is tough and I’m not talking about viagra either.
So a big “Congratulations” to Son of Ghoul for a momentous milestone!
PENNY DREADFUL (Shilling Shockers): Oh Son of Ghoul, that rapscallion! I love that guy. I first met the legendary Son of Ghoul at Monster Bash. One of the first things he did was approach me with a video camera. He made some mildly unsavory remark and pointed his camera at my cleavage. Normally, I’d turn a guy into a chinchilla for doing something like that, but not Son of Ghoul. See, that scamp has charm coming out the wazoo! His quick wit disarmed me and I busted up laughing on camera. SOG had managed to bring a smile to my melancholy visage. We have often chatted at subsequent cons and, without fail, he always makes me laugh. The man has amazing spontaneity and a gift for comic timing. I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Son of Ghoul and Doktor Goulfinger at HorrorHound 2010. What a blast! Son of Ghoul had me in stitches the entire weekend. One of my favortie things about that weekend was hearing him talk about his beloved Three Stooges. SOG is a huge fan and expert on the Stooges so it was great hearing him speak with such passion and knowledge about them. Truly, Son of Ghoul is a remarkable figure in the world of Horror Hosting. Here’s to another 25 years of his televised antics!
MR. LOBO (Cinema Insomnia): The caped and cranky Son Of Ghoul–is like a toxic mold–he grows on you and he just wont go away! One of our nations longest running costumed horror movie hosts, following in the grand Cleveland television tradition of bearded hipster ghoul types going back to Ghoulardi in the 1960’s. Wise cracks, obnoxious sound effects, and rock and roll season SOGs repartee and his rabid following earned him addition station duties on a popular live local game show! Mr. Lobo has had the privilege to work with Son of Ghoul at a live show in California called Horror Host Palooza–where he made a mockery out of horror host politics by reading a personal letter on stage–written by another ghoulish host who was urging SOG not to “associate” himself with “certain people” in the biz–causing the muckraker standing next to him to turn bright red and fluster in front of a confused crowd. Onstage he was brash and cutting but personally Mr. Lobo found him very low-key, kind, and complimentary. This is why, Group, we must ALL hail the creepy and kingly Son of Ghoul on his 25th Anniversary!
SON OF FROGGY (The Chiller Drive-in): I wouldn’t exist without Son Of Ghoul. I was born out of a desire to make a friend laugh. In 2006, Son of Ghoul was having his 20th anniversary celebration at Cinema Wasteland (my favorite Convention in Ohio). I thought it would make him laugh if I dressed like Son of Froggy. I owned the Froggy costume I used on The Ghoul show except for the Mask, but I had purchase one from Dave Ivey a few years earlier for Creepy Clyde’s Halloween party. I put a beard and mustache on it, put on a cape and Son of Froggy was born. I never intended to go any farther than that day and was happy it had made so many people laugh (especially Son of Ghoul). Five years later I’m still going strong. Happy Anniversary Daddy!!
SCARY STEVE: I met Keven at MonsterBash 2003, just a few months after Fidge had past away……….we talked awhile and he was so cool to my son (my son talked about him for weeks)….As I stood there I watched the show had playing, it was a best of……………….I had not laughed like that in years, man I had tears in my eyes…………………….So I was hooked!,…………………I even had a SOG tattooed on my right leg…DOH!
The first show I bought from him was”Plan-9 from outer space”, now I think I have almost all of them!…He’s the reason I have took this ride into the world of the Horror Host! I feel lucky to call him my friend!
Man,25 years on the air!!! Wow!! …..Congrats Keven!………you are KING!
JUNGLE BOB (Son of Ghoul Sidekick): The first time I saw Son of Ghoul was on television…..He was pouring a bottle of Turn Blue Ghoul Brew down the toilet & I thought to myself….”Now thats funny”!!!! If you ever tasted it, you would understand what I mean !…..After that I was scheaduled to appear live on stage at the Memphis Drive In and when I walked up on stage I was standing next to the man himself…The Son of Ghoul…..From the first time we met to today we have been great friends both on the air and off…And there has never been a dull moment(unless we were on an appearance that nobody showed up at)….He’s not always “fond” of some of the animals I bring on the show but he has a respect for them & for what I do & for that I wish him another 25 successful years, both on & off the air!!!!!! Love, Jung. .
Tune in THIS Sunday for The Bone Jangler’s incredible interview with Keven Scarpino: The Son of Ghoul! For those of us who will be unable to attend the LIVE anniversary show this Sunday, it’ll be the next best thing!
By: Jamie Lee
After I met Count Gore De Vol, next up was Mr. Lobo. It was time to put a face behind the name of the random person who had sent that e-mail to him.
He and Dixie Dellamorto had finished setting up their table right next to the Count’s, so I stopped over there to check out the merchandise and introduce myself. After I told them my name, I could see the instant recognition so clearly in their faces, which really threw me for a loop, as I was not expecting them to recognize by my name along and remember me so quickly.
Despite all of this, I was, for some weird reason, still desperate to show him right off the bat that he was not simply a random horror host whose name I had picked out of a hat. Just like all of the hosts I had contacted, I had a specific reason for choosing Mr. Lobo and Cinema Insomnia to include in my project, and I had indeed done my research on him and the show. Unable to think of anything else at the time, I told him and Ms. Dellamorto how much I enjoyed their videos “RE: Monster Mash” and “Re: Elvira’s Not a Witch”. Much to my relief, this got a laugh from both of them, and it started off a great conversation!
Both Mr. Lobo and Dixie Dellamorto were very kind, showing me their display copy of the first issue of the magazine Horror Hosts and Creature Features, pointing out the 13 Hosts comic they were selling, and telling me about some of the DVDs they had for sale as well. There was already a sizable crowd gathering around the table, and yet they still went way out of their way to talk to me while I lingered. Like Count Gore De Vol, Mr. Lobo was also very eager to be interviewed on-camera by me during HorrorHound!
Mr. Lobo somehow found his way out of his void to come to HorrorHound! During his own interview, he had me recite the Insomniac Oath, so I have video proof that I am now an official Cinsomniac! Ah yes, the two-finger point: That’s a great story, by the way!
During the course of our conversation, the subject of my name came up. In his initial reply to the e-mail I had sent out, Mr. Lobo had pointed out that my name bore a striking resemblance to that of “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis. Countless people have noticed this throughout my life, so I laughed when I first read his comment. However, when this topic came up in discussion, I found out that, apparently, upon reading my initial e-mail, both Mr. Lobo and Dixie Dellamorto thought that I was using a fake name! They had figured that I was either a horror host or a horror host hopeful who was sending the e-mail under an assumed “horror host name” of my own concoction!
I had so much fun talking to him and Ms. Dellamorto at their table that, when I finally left a few minutes later, I realized: I hadn’t bought anything they were selling besides an autograph card and a button! Of course, later that day and the following day, I made sure I rectified that, buying a copy of the Horror Hosts and Creature Features magazine, the 13 Hosts comic, and a Monster From a Prehistoric Planet DVD! Both Mr. Lobo and Ms. Dellamorto were also very generous in the way of autographs, offering to sign everything I bought! The button, of course, was too small for this, but I digress…
After seeing a couple of other hosts, including Darkest Jack and Uncle Death, I checked back in by Ms. Monster’s table. Finding out that she still hadn’t arrived just yet, I turned around to seek out other horror hosts I hadn’t met yet. (Gee, in hindsight, Tit and Tat must’ve thought I was nuts!)
Well, that made two horror hosts I could check off of my list of people to meet, and I felt like I was on a roll! But, I still had three more to track down and talk to. The only question was: Who would be next?
Coming up in Part 5: Wolfman Mac! Yes, it was time to pull into the Chiller Drive-In (Well, to walk over to their booth, anyway…)! The werewolf himself was sorely missed at HorrorHound, but I still was lucky enough to be able to speak with him! Find out how… soon!
As you may or may not know, the World Of The Weird Monster Show, starring Undead Johnny, is starting its 7th season (almost 75 episodes). For fans of horror hosts, this is quite the accomplishment as many of these types of shows do not last this long!
What is interesting here, is that after 6 seasons, Undead Johnny and World Of The Weird Monster Show are making some drastic changes and is sounds like a great decision. We have watched so many hosts showing so many movies over the years. One of the problems though has been the movie selection. Since public domain titles are the norm now, we are seeing the same movies over and over again. For a show to mix it up is a pleasant change of pace.
According to Undead Johnny, “We’re changing our format pretty drastically by more or less, beyond special occasions, dropping showing feature films entirely. We got to the point where it seemed like, after 70 episodes, that we’d more or less shown all the movies we wanted to show. Sure, there are more out there, but
they’re really, really bad. Plus all the horror hosts are showing the same movies over and over.”
For me, I find myself fast forwarding on occasion through the movies to get to the host parts. Of course, it is these parts that make the shows worthwhile (especially after repeated viewings of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS or THE TERROR).
Undead Johnny continues, “It really hit me now that we’ve been on The Monster Channel weekly. I’ll sit in the chat room with everyone for the whole episode and man, some of these movies are just hard to get thru. We’re all limited to the same PD films more or less. And a few are great, some are bad enough to laugh at….but most are just bad. You see viewers drop out as these movies play…the same movies they watched five other hosts show the week before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s my love for these movies, like THE KILLER SHREWS for example, that is half the reason I do what I do….but does anyone really need to watch HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL four times a week? For the casual home viewer, it’s fine, they get to watch some great horror films once a year or so, but for the internet fans, and die-hard horror host fans…it seems like they’re just watching the shows for the host segments most of the time. And if that’s the case, then what is the movie for? Just an excuse to do our thing?”
“So we just wanted to try something new. Taking a cue from an old favorite, Night Flight, we decided to change it up. Instead of a film, our episodes will each have a certain theme. We will still keep our segments to the same 25-30 minutes a show….but substitute the other 90 min of movie with 30-40 min of cool, weird stuff. Cartoons, trailers, documentaries, mashups, video game stuff, music videos, old commercials, etc. Make it so the whole 60 minutes is fun to watch and you never know what’s next. When I watched Uncle Don’s Terror Theatre and Son of Svengoolie as a kid….I had never seen the movies they showed before. Some were great, some horrible, but they were new. I think I can guarantee that during the non-host parts of our first 3 hour-long episodes Friday night, that everyone will at the very least see 2-4 things they’ve never seen before. And I think that is cool.”
The Daves have seen examples of the new format and we really enjoyed it! It certainly makes for a fun viewing experience and like Undead Johnny said, you never know what is coming next! Make sure to check it out Friday night at 8 PM EST on The Monster Channel!
By: Jamie Lee
I entered “Horror Host Alley” on Saturday morning ready to meet some horror hosts, and overflowing with pure enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect. What I wasn’t prepared for was for my energy to be more than matched by the hosts themselves, starting from the moment I stepped into the room.
When I first walked in, I couldn’t help but gaze around in complete awe of my surroundings. Before I could take it all in, however, I heard someone suddenly greet me.
I turned around and found that it had come from Dr. Calamari. He and his colleagues from Atomic Age Cinema! were situated in the corner, right next to the entrance into the room. After having a delightful conversation with him for a few minutes (and getting some free candy for my brother in the process), I moved on to other tables, meeting Son of Ghoul, who gave me my first autograph from the convention, as well as Count Midnight. The melons were manning Ms. Monster’s table, but she herself had not arrived yet. Neither had many of the hosts, in fact. But I was content to wait: There was plenty to occupy me until they all made their respective entrances. I introduced myself to Tit and Tat anyway and told them that I had sent Ms. Monster an e-mail a few days back and that I had actually received a reply! Tit responded that the thought he remembered her mentioning it to them. They gave me an approximate time as to when Ms. Monster was expected to arrive, and I thanked them before eagerly exploring some more.
After leaving the room for a moment to regroup with my family, I re-entered and took another look around. I swear my entire face went slack. If my jaw were not connected to the rest of my skull, it probably would’ve fallen right through the floor. My completely involuntary gasp that accompanied this was thankfully lost amidst the delightful din from both horror hosts and fans. My shock and excitement carried me swiftly past the Son of Ghoul table I’d stopped at earlier, then instinctively stopped me dead in my tracks a few feet behind the new arrival. Although he was facing away from me, so I could only see his cape, his slicked-back jet-black hair, and just the tiniest portion of his profile, I knew exactly who he was.
At the moment, he was conversing with the woman who would be helping him at his table that day (whom I later found out is his wife), which they were just starting to set up. I didn’t want to bother him, but I also didn’t want to walk away only to return later and end up standing in a huge line, so I compromised and simply stayed where I was. In hindsight, I was probably too deep in shock at the time to move anyway.
Just a few seconds later, Count Gore De Vol turned around and saw me. Snapping out of my stunned state, but not knowing what else to do, I uttered an enthusiastic, “Hi!” He held out his hand and I took it, expecting a handshake. That would be typical for two people meeting for the very first time, right? Well, I’d forgotten one thing: I was at a horror convention, with a bunch of horror hosts, and doing a school project on horror hosts. In short, this weekend was going to be anything but typical.
At any rate, the aforementioned “typical handshake” did not ensue. Instead, in true Count Gore form, he kissed my hand! Now how in the world do you respond to that?! I sure as heck didn’t know, so after a split second of surprised silence, I told him that I had e-mailed him a few days back. Laughing, he replied, “I have not been at a computer in ten days!”
He followed up with, “What did your e-mail say?”
My e-mail? Who, me?
Here I was, conversing with the Count Gore De Vol, who had a table to set up, autographs to sign, and merchandise to sell, and he wanted to know what my e-mail said?
Of course, I was more than happy to oblige! He listened intently, and when my mother came over and I introduced her to him, he greeted her and said, “She was just telling me about her project!”
Fortunately, the Count was very friendly about the whole thing, and was gracious enough to allow me to interview him during the convention!
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the two buttons he had pinned to his cape. I complimented him on them, and he joked that people usually see the one that says, “I’m Out For Blood!”, which has larger font, and when they lean in to read the other one, “No Reasonable Offer Refused!”––– “That’s when I get ‘em!” (Luckily, I was able to read them both from a safe distance…)
Before leaving the table, I bought two T-shirts (one of which has an incredible glow-in-the-dark effect!), and a DVD of the documentary Every Other Day is Halloween, which Count Gore De Vol was nice enough to sign for me. He also gave me a poster that he kindly autographed.
For the rest of the day, whenever we passed by each other, Count Gore De Vol made it a point to say hello to me (one time even coming up behind me and literally grabbing me). One time, he exclaimed, “I keep looking for your camera! Where is your camera?” I was confused at first, and took out my still camera. “No, no,” he corrected me. “Your video camera!”
After initially meeting Count Gore De Vol, I looked over and suddenly saw a green tablecloth on a table that its occupants had just finished setting up, and there was no mistaking the man standing behind it!
Coming up in Part 4: Mr. Lobo! Sure, he had responded to my e-mail, but the big question on my mind was: Would he actually remember me? In a word: Yes! Also, find out why my name caused a bit of confusion for him and Dixie Dellamorto…
We’ve mentioned the documentary, AMERICAN SCARY, many times on this site and for good reason. It has not only served as a road-map to those interested in learning their horror host history, but also provided introductions to some of its most notable examples. If left to cover ALL of the greats, however, the movie would have probably had a running time of approximately 72 hours!
It is for this reason that the independent work done by individual fans – who spend their own time researching and spotlighting their favorite hosts from their specific regions, have proven invaluable! Some prime examples include documentaries such as EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN and VIRGINIA CREEPERS as well as books like FROM SHOCK THEATRE TO SVENGOOLIE.
One region of the United States whose hosts I, as a Midwesterner, knew very little about was Southern California. While doing a blind search for “horror hosts” on ebay, I stumbled upon a book titled CREATURES OF THE NIGHT THAT WE LOVED SO WELL: TV Horror Hosts of Southern California. For someone like myself, eager to learn more about horror hosts, it seemed too good to be true. Needless to say, I wasted no time taking advantage of the “Buy it Now” option. I was further delighted when the seller contacted me and revealed that he was also the book’s author, James Fetters. Mr. Fetters delighted me by not only offering to personalize his book, but by also agreeing to do an interview for this site.
Prior to reading CREATURES, I wondered if my lack of familiarity with the featured hosts (save for Vampira and Elvira) would detract from my overall enjoyment of it. I was happy to discover that this could not be further from the case! While the diverse collection of hosts were certainly different than any I’d previously known, the common theme of what they meant to their young monster fans was very much the same. I didn’t have to go any further than the book’s introduction for this to be made clear. Mr. Fetters grew up in the 1960′s, an avid fan of Jeepers Creepers Theatre.’ While reading his recollections of tape recording his favorite host via an audio recorder (this was before the advent of VCR’s, folks), I literally had to put the book down as I became overwhelmed with nostalgia. I, too, had indulged in this very same practice here in Chicago with my own childhood host, the Son of Svengoolie.
The rest of “CREATURES..” was no less profound. While reading about the various hosts I was taken aback with stories chock full of laughs, struggles, legal battles, some unexpected celebrity fans, and all the trappings of a great reality TV drama (hence the BRAVO-do inspired title of this post). But enough from this starstruck reader….. to really gain insight, one should really hear from the author himself.
Dave F: What prompted you to take on the task of researching and writing CREATURES?
James Fetters: Back in 1998 I had found a bunch of reel to reel tapes I made as a kid back in 1962-63… some had news reports of JFK’s assassination, some had me doing stupid 12 year old things that I’ll never admit to, HA! And then Jeepers was found! I transcribed the reel tapes to cassette then uploaded into my computer to enhance the sound and edit into individual shows. I then created my first website… ‘Jeepers Creepers Theatre’ with the shows in Real Audio and my memories. Soon contact was made with Mitch Waldow, News Director for KCOP the station that aired Jeepers, and with his help contact was made with Jim Sullivan (Film Director for KCOP), Lietta Harvey (Ghoulita) and Bob Burns (horror and sci-fi Film Historian). Of course I wanted to know everything they knew about Jeepers Creepers Theatre… so, between emails, phone calls and trips to California what started out as a trip down memory lane for me quickly turned into interviews and a series of articles in Scary Monsters Magazine. From that point it was a natural to find the other horror hosts of SoCal… Grimsley, Famous Morris, Seymour… so I started searching for anything and everything I could find. And boy, was I surprised at what I found! Totally forgotten hosts like Dr. Diablo and Arach and his friend Nid. I was addicted… had to have more…
Dave F: I noticed in the Vampira chapter a woman named “Voluptua” being mentioned. Was this an example of a non-horror hostess? Did people actually believe she was hexed by Vampira?
James Fetters: Ah, Voluptua! With the success that Vampira was having, KABC decided to host another show. A weekly romance movie with the seductive Voluptua hosting… while lounging in sexy outfits and being quite suggestive… she raised a lot of eyebrows! Very risqué for 1954-55 television! Eventually, religious groups with letter campaigns to the shows sponsors and to KABC took its toll and Voluptua was cancelled. Vampira took advantage of the situation and with news releases about her dislike for Voluptua… Vampira ran with the idea of Voluptua being cancelled because of her hexing the show. No, I don’t think anyone ever believed the hex story… but it was great press for Vampira! Vampira was also under the gun from the same religious groups and their letter campaigns and survived them.
Dave F: How difficult is it researching classic horror hosts when very little footage exists from their time on air?
James Fetters: Very difficult! Vampira’s Attic has the only known footage of Vampira available to the public. A very short clip of Seymour has just turned up and I’ve put that clip up on youtube… a great outtake of Seymour and a failed prop! Also a short clip of Moona Lisa is there too. But there’s a lot of Elvira footage available… thanks to the invention of VHS. But almost all of the pre-VHS hosts are lost in time… save for a very few kinescopes that turn up now and again… Ghoulita’s audition tape and one episode of Jeepers’ Creepers Theatre… it is wonderful to see what’s available and as time goes on maybe more will be found. So to chronicle the hosts in ‘Creatures of the Night…’ I relied on my memories of watching them plus interviews with the hosts themselves along with script writers and fellow ‘Horror Hostorians’. That’s a catchy title developed by Michael Monahan!
Dave F: In the book, you state that you virtually stumbled upon the existence of Dr Diablo by accident. Do you believe there are a lot more hosts out there yet to be re-discovered?
Dr. Diablo 1957 KCOP 13
James Fetters: I’m sure that there are more hosts, nationwide, that are lurking in the shadows waiting to be remembered. I found Dr. Diablo while searching The Old Woman. They had a head to head competition going on in 1957! I traveled to the Los Angeles Central Library and perused their huge microfilm library of every SoCal TV Guide between 1954 and 1981. A huge endeavor! Then searching San Diego and Los Angeles newspaper archives… there is a lot of great info there! I think all of the SoCal hosts between 1954 and 1981 are pretty much found now… but who knows? A host with no promotion from the station… no ads or press releases… you’ll be the first to know, Dave, if I find more!
Dave F: (Laughs) Thanks, Jim. I guess in the mean time we’d best focus on the ones we KNOW existed. Such as “The Old Woman” who counted among her fans the great Vampira, herself. What do you think made her so appealing?
James Fetters: The Old Woman… very unique! A demented old soul that lived in an attic and saw herself as the ‘lady in distress’ in each of the films she showed. The most famous was the premiere of her show ‘Nightmare!’ portraying herself as Mae Clarke in FRANKENSTEIN’S first airing October 1957. This brought a lawsuit from Mae Clarke against KTLA and Ottola Nesmith (The Old Woman)! So many people believed it was Mae Clarke and the remarks The Old Woman made about being a down and out has-been… well, people actually started sending money to Mae Clarke to help her out! As embarrassing as this was for Mae Clarke and I do feel for her position in this, I have to rate this whole incident as ‘right up there with Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast. To get so many people to believe that what she was saying was true… she was quite a character! I’d love to see her hosting the films she actually appeared in! I’ll bet those were a hoot!
Dave F: I was most moved by the chapter on Sinister Seymour. Here was someone putting on hilarious shtick (love the joke about THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON & Mickey Mouse which readers will have to read for themselves) while he knew he was dying. He also appeared to have some famous fans (including Groucho Marx). Were you surprised by the impact some of these hosts had on their public during the course of this project?
James Fetters: Larry was much more than an actor showing up for a gig. As Seymour, he gave us an escape from our everyday realities… to be a part of his world each week and I do believe in doing that for us fans, he had the chance, as Seymour, to escape Larry’s realities… a chance to live forever as Seymour and he accomplished that very well. Surprised? No… look what Jeepers and Ghoulita did to me! So many fans were not only addicted to the hosts but also influenced. Don Glut loved Jeepers’ Keeper and now is a film maker and author. Mark Shepard, who sadly passed a few years ago, was Ghoulita’s Fan Club President at 12 years old and became a film maker, Douglas McEwan who loved Jeepers and Ghoulita grew up to become a script writer for Seymour… and then auditioned to be a horror host himself! And Sylvester Stallone… he loved Famous Morris! That’s how Famous (Don Sherman) got the part of ‘Andy the Bartender’ in all of the ‘Rocky’ films. Mitch Waldow who, as a kid watched Jeepers’ Creepers Theatre, became the News Director for the station that showed Jeepers years earlier. Seymour, like the other SoCal horror hosts, were more than actors showing up for a gig. They made their alter egos believable and lovable! And look at Dave and David! You know… ‘TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES’? Yeah, buddy! The horror hosts filled our imagination, captivated us and as for me… I’m an over 60 year old monsterkid because of them!
Dave F: (Holds hands up and laughs) Guilty as charged! This is, no doubt, why your book really resonated with me. I must confess, however, that of all the personalities featured in your book, I was most enamored with Ghoulita! What an amazing look for someone so glamorous to adopt! Especially in a genre when most horror hostesses choose to market their sex appeal. What was it like getting to meet her in 1998?
James Fetters: Ah, Ghoulita! Close your eyes and imagine… imagine you can read this with your eyes closed! HA! Meeting Ghoulita was a very magical experience! Lietta is a very kind and caring lady. When we met she knew I was star struck… when I spoke I tripped over my tongue… we were sitting at a long table with Lietta next to me. She held my hand under the table! Maybe that’s why I was tripping over my tongue!
We talked… she shared her memories of being Ghoulita and her life before and after Jeepers’ Creepers Theatre. A wonderful time that will never be forgotten. After a several hours it was time to part and allow Lietta, Jim and his wife Jeanette to return to their busy lives and my wife and I to head back up to Los Angeles. As we stood in the parking lot saying our good byes Lietta gave me a hug that lasted forever… a dream come true. Lietta Harvey, a tall knock-out, and Ghoulita hugging me at the same time! WOOHOO!! It don’t get any better than that! I watched as Ghoulita started out as a demure undead hostess and change into the grotesque Ghoulita that we all fell in love with… then to meet this beautiful lady in person… indescribable! I still have a tape of the message she left on my answering machine in 1998… “Hello, Jim! Guess who this is…”
Dave F: With the exception of Elvira, the host with the longest tenure in your region was Moona Lisa (1963-1976). What would you attribute her longevity too?
James Fetters: Moona Lisa was San Diego’s only ‘real’ horror host and that made her special to San Diegans! She was our answer to all the hosts from Los Angeles. As long as she aired on KOGO-10 there were no other hosts, in San Diego, challenging her reign. She was fun to watch and had her own unique hosting premise… Moona was the first, in Southern California, to take horror hosts out of their dungeon, attic, haunted studios and become more of a sci-fi host than horror… a host that was alien and lived on the moon!
Dave F: I love the concept for the character of “Famous Morris” being an agent for the monsters. Was this reflective of a time period when the classic monsters were becoming “old fashioned” in the public’s eyes?
James Fetters: The classics monsters were becoming ‘old hat’ so to say. All the Universal monsters were shown by everyone, over and over and Famous was showing the new foreign film packages that were new to the viewers… so, of course, the classic monsters needed an agent to get them work and coming by his agency gave Famous a lot of unique shows to do… the Invisible Man stopping by, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Mummy… Famous tied them all in to create a fun premise especially when also tying them into his private life… Hermy the Gorilla married to Famous’ sister and their troubles… it was a fun show that was very popular. Famous did show a classic now and again but not very often and boy Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy needed an agent back then as they do now!
Dave F: You are currently working on a follow-up project. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
James Fetters: Sure can and thanks for asking. First up is ‘More TV Horror Hosts’. There were so many photos and ads not included in ‘Creatures of the Night…’ that I thought a photo companion was called for. ‘More TV Horror Hosts’ has a at least a hundred more photos, ads and news articles not included in ‘Creatures…’ plus national hosts and ads have been included along with a couple current hosts keeping the genre alive and well! And the best part is that it’s laid out in a larger format so the newspaper articles are much easier to read along with all of the scripts. The photos and ads are much larger too! There are so many new treasures shared… like full Seymour newsletters, newly found Vampira and Grimsley photos and ads… and so much more. And there are more items popping up every day… even an interview done with one of the hosts that was never published and that is included after hiding in the shadows for over 33 years! Just too many new ads, photos and articles to list but if you liked ‘Creatures of the Night…’ You’ll love this photo companion book! And in the works is a special item that will be included… produced by Sherilyn McCleary… it’s too soon to describe in detail but makes this project a very special and a one of a kind SoCal horror host treasure!
There are a few more projects in the works… enough to keep me busy for the next few years! And, if I may, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank ‘Terror From Beyond The Daves’ for not only keeping us all updated with current horror hosts and convention activities but for showing that there is a brave, new world out there full of those remembering and honoring the hosts of yesteryear and praising the hosts of today and tomorrow… keep up the great work, Daves!
And the Daves would like to extend our deep appreciation to James Fetters for honoring this site with his insights as well as for all the amazing he work he’s done (and continues to do) archiving Horror Hosts from a bygone era. Anyone interested in purchasing their own copy are encouraged to visit…http://www.trc4u.com/