BY BRIAN MAZE: In Fairfax, Virginia the PERFECT STORM of Horror Hosts converged to join together at The Monster Madhouse to host THE BEAST WITH 1,000 EYES!
It was great seeing my Horror Hosts friends this past weekend at MONSTERBASH! Count Gore de Vol, Son of Ghoul, Penny Dreadful, and Mr. Lobo are regulars there as well as Chilly Billy whom I met for the first time! Check out these pics…
When Cinema Insomnia launched its ambitious holiday telethon during the holiday season of 2010, we Daves wanted to contribute. I, however, was less interested in the various perks & gifts Mr. Lobo was offering in favor of something a bit more unique. I contacted Lobo and asked that if we sent (an amount we agreed to) would he be willing to add to the booty, something a little different. I was delighted when he agreed!
Horrorhound Weekend always has a special place in the hearts of we Daves. It was the 2010 convention in Indianapolis and its magnificent Vampira Tribute that inspired us to start this site and feature horror hosts as its cornerstone. By 2011, I would be joined by the “other” Dave, David Albaugh, for optimum coverage. We are both excited to be reuniting again for the upcoming Horrorhound Weekend in Columbus, Ohio and covering even more avenues of horror and, of course, its hosts!
By Richard Church~
Please grade on a curve, as I am writing this at 3AM (and I’ve been up since 6AM, yesterday), and these accounts may or may not be completely fabricated!
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!
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…
This year’s Indianapolis HorrorHound Weekend was noteworthy for featuring multiple events centered around the art of horror hosting. Perhaps the most significant of these was the addition of horror hosts to an actual “Hall of Fame” sponsored by “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.“
HorrorHound events organizer, Jason Hignite, oversaw this ceremony and his devotion to horror hosts can not be overstated. Any horror host able to look outside their own personal interests can not deny that his making one of the country’s largest horror conventions a venue for them to not only feel welcome, but also an opportunity to share their work with a larger audience, has helped rejuvenate this nearly extinct art. It has also encouraged younger fans to appreciate the work of commercial hosts from a bygone era, as well as introduce those of us who did grow up with a host to become acquainted with some of the other personalities our fellow fans were watching across the country. Perhaps none of the host-related events at HorrorHound best illustrated this than the Hall of Fame Inductions.
Mr. Hignite also works with a sister website of HorrorHound called G.O.T.H.I.C. (Gathering of Television Horror Hosts – Internet – Cinema). Though no official plaque design has been created for the awards, G.O.T.H.I.C. will be holding a contest for this express purpose and we’ll definitely keep you posted on how to get involved with that. Once created, the awards will see their way to their proud owners while those who have passed away will have their awards housed at Ripley’s.
This year, thirteen horror hosts were to have the honor of being the FIRST Inductees to the Horror Host Hall of Fame. They are Vampira (Maila Nurmi), Zacherley/Roland (John Zacherle), Marvin (Terry Bennett), Sammy Terry (Bob Carter), The Cool Ghoul (Dick Von Hoene), Dr. Morgus the Magnificent (Sid Noel), M.T. Graves (Charlie Baxter), Count Gore deVol (Dick Dyszel), Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson), Sir Graves Ghastly (Lawson J. Deming), The Bowman Body (Bill Bowman), Svengoolie (Jerry G. Bishop), and the recently deceased Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart) in one of the evenings most emotional moments.
The first host inducted was, appropriately enough, the very first horror host. Ms Monster had the honor of inducting Vampira whom she described as “The first mythological creature of the Atomic Age.” Maila Nurmi’s Vampira began hosting in 1954 and, last year, was the subject of her own HorrorHound Tribute (covered in greater detail HERE). A few years later, hosts would be popping up across the country! This was due to the “Shock” movie package – a collection of over 50 classic monster movies given to 142 media markets across the country.
The addition of a horror host was something that could benefit the station on two major points; for one thing, nervous TV execs weren’t sure how these movies would play to a general audience (this was the 50′s/60′s after all). Not wanting to literally scare their viewers away, a comical host might help alleviate anxiety a bit by providing some cheesy laughs. Hosts could also serve to help fill up some time on movies that ran shorter than their program slots provided.
As a result, the late 50′s/early 60′s saw some memorable, classic horror hosts enter American popular culture. These men and women were professional broadcasters who, by exercising their versatility, afforded them a bit of job security along with a relatively cheap method for promoting these old films.
Cinema Insomnia’s Mr. Lobo (who had the privilege of inducting Count Gore de Vol) also pointed out that the “Shock” package of films weren’t alone in creating a legion of hosts. “The Creature Feature” package brought about some of the most legendary names (such as Bob Wilkins in California) as well as happy monster memories for young fans like myself across the country who saw these films both with, and without, a host.
Because these hosts were fairly isolated, it is unlikely that anyone (outside of a horror host buff) would be familiar with everyone inducted at this ceremony. Even many of the presenters themselves, inducting individuals clearly before their time, had only a vague understanding of whom they were honoring.
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES isn’t going to pretend to be any more savvy…and we’re certainly not going to pretend to be older. We would, however, like to offer a special post to each of the inductees and, when possible, gain the perspective of an actual fan of the host’s as well. Anyone reading who may have their own memories of the aforementioned classic hosts, please contact either Dave via our contact link.
Count Gore De Vol, like Vampira, was covered in more detail in an earlier piece which you can read HERE . The remaining inductees, however, will be given spotlights in the coming weeks. When possible we will share pictures, clips, and fan anecdotes. We’d like as many folks as possible to contribute so PLEASE send those memories and help us give these Horror Hosts the tributes they deserve!
* Basement Boy is not only a Horror Host but, as you can see, a talented Graphic Designer! If you are in need of a branding campaign, promotional posters, business cards, assorted graphics for your host shows (need a fake beer label or custom packaging for a fictional product?) please contact him at BasementBoyDC@gmail.com!
Who, Me? Part 1: A Little “Superstition” Leads To Elvira And Svengoolie, Inspiring A Late-Blooming Monster Kid! by Jamie Lee Cortese
The Daves would like to welcome our latest guest blogger, Jamie Lee Cortese. We met Jamie recently at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis and were immediately impressed with her, especially with her horror host knowledge! We think she has a huge future ahead of her and we are honored to have her writing on our site!
Let me start off by admitting that I have not been a real “Monster Kid” for very long. In fact, the first full-blown horror movie I ever saw all the way through was Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street when it was in theaters. However, as I began my “monster” journey, I quickly realized that from the very beginning, all signs pointed to my eventual transformation into one. For one thing, I’ve always been drawn to offbeat, “weird” things: I am a huge fan of Tim Burton (hence my seeing Sweeney Todd), and a consistent highlight of any October is my family’s annual visit to Fright Fest at Six Flags.
If someone had told me even two years ago that I would soon be watching a new horror movie every week, hosted by “the guy who comes on after Stooge-A-Palooza” (Stooge-A-Palooza is a local show where Three Stooges shorts are presented uncut and uninterrupted by the host, Rich Koz), I would’ve stared at you and responded with the title of this article: “Who, me?”
And yet, not only have I done just that, but I have also been relentlessly researching since September for a school project I’ve chosen to do on horror hosts. Shockingly, in the mere year and a half since I began faithfully watching Svengoolie every week, I have met the man in person so many times that he now recognizes my name in e-mails I send to him, and even recognizes me and my family when we’re in line at appearances. Pictures of us have appeared on his show multiple times, and he always makes it a point to say at each and every appearance I see him at that he’s received my latest e-mail. Not only this, but I have followed a blog, and now find myself writing for that very blog! My reaction to all of these events, including my writing being published at all, is always a stunned, “Who, me?”
In hindsight, strangely enough, my being a fan of horror, and especially horror hosts, can actually all be traced back to Fright Fest. For as long as I can remember, the Six Flags park my family goes to has had a motion simulator ride. At Fright Fest, it was a tradition to show “Superstition”, hosted by none other than Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! In the introduction video shown before you enter the ride, Elvira greets you and tells you about her soon-to-open “scream park” (cue a bloodcurdling off-screen screech), which she calls “Elvira’s Tragic Kingdom”! Of course, it took me many years to finally understand all of her double entendres, but the humor I did pick up on had me splitting my sides with laughter! At the end of the introduction, she reveals that she is going to take you on a virtual tour of the park, and for a ride on her “personal favorite” of the thirteen attractions, “The House of Superstition”. A bolt of lightning sucks you and Elvira into the computer system, whereupon the theater doors open, and you are taken on a wild ride! Unfortunately, the entire attraction was shut down just a few years ago.
“Superstition” was always my family’s first stop at Fright Fest, and we’d stop back frequently throughout the day, usually ending up being on one of the last rides of the night when the park closed.
A few years ago, my mother and brother went out to run some errands, and came home with an unexpected treat! Apparently, while they had been out, my brother had recognized Elvira on one of the DVD covers on the shelf and pointed it out. That movie was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. My family set a night aside to watch it for the first time and, in short, we LOVED it! Ecstatic at the realization that there was more to Elvira than a motion simulator ride, I decided to do some research and find out more. Here is what I found out that fateful night:
1. Elvira was a horror host. (A horror host? What the heck is that?)
2. Horror hosts… host horror movies.
3. This is not a new concept.
4. Most horror hosts are on local television stations. (Local television? What the heck is that?)
5. Local television… is television that is only broadcast in a certain area. Locally.
6. This is not a new concept, either. (Huh. That sounds pretty cool. Does Chicago have a local horror host?)
7. Uh… yeah. Svengoolie. (Oh yeah! He’s the guy who comes on after Stooge-A-Palooza, right?)
8. Uh… yeah, sure. Oh, and by the way…
9. Svengoolie is the host of Stooge-A-Palooza. (WHAT?! No way! … Really?)
So that’s how this all got started. Right after I started watching, I also found out that Svengoolie himself would be appearing to meet fans, sign autographs, and take pictures at… Fright Fest! We had ordered our official Svengoolie T-shirts, but they had not arrived yet by the time the appearance rolled around. So, the night before, using some pictures I found on the Internet and some drippy fonts (which proudly proclaimed, “I HAVE A FEELING WE’RE NOT IN BERWYN ANYMORE!!!”) I created my own T-shirt design, printed it out on iron-on paper, and (with the help of my mother) made T-shirts for my brother and myself to wear when we met Svengoolie the next day.
We made sure we got in line very early the next day (believe it or not, we actually ended up being around third in line). From our incredible vantage point, I was hoping to catch at least a quick glimpse of Svengoolie before we actually climbed the steps to approach his table. Just before he was supposed to arrive, as if they knew we were all trying to get a sneak peak at Mr. Goolie, some people came in to arrange the table, and propped a big, framed picture of Sven on the corner of it that was facing us, and at just the right angle so that we couldn’t possibly see him until we were literally right in front of him. Honestly, it was like something out of a movie.
When the moment finally came and I suddenly found myself face-to-face with the man himself, my mind instantly became a total blank. All I could say was, “Hi, Svengoolie!” and “We love your show!” My mom pointed out my shirt to him, and he turned around to look at it. Upon reading it, he even laughed! Words cannot describe the immense joy and excitement that was simply overflowing from me at that moment. I wondered in awe to myself, “He thought something I wrote was funny? Who, me?”
Exactly one week later, we were lucky enough to meet him once again at Party City. While we were waiting in line, my brother wondered aloud if Svengoolie remembered us. I reminded him that Svengoolie meets a lot of people at every appearance, especially at Six Flags, so he might not. During the wait, Party City employees began walking around the line selling rubber chickens to the fans! We ended up buying two: One for me and one for my brother. Svengoolie was even kind enough to sign them for us! Suddenly, the line began moving. We were on our way!
When we got up there, my brother immediately asked, “Do you remember us?” I hurriedly tried to jump in and remind him again of the legions of fans Svengoolie meets all the time, but before I could, Sven responded:
“Yes, I do!”
My jaw dropped wide open.
Not knowing what else to say, I enthusiastically added, “We were the ones who made the shirts!”
“Yes, I remember you guys!”
He remembered us? He remembered me? Who, me?
The, uh, very second time I ever met the great Svengoolie! The rubber chicken seen here is the one he signed for me! And yes, for those of you who noticed (both of you), I am indeed wearing the same shirt as before… but, in my defense, so is Sven!
The next month, footage from the Fright Fest appearance was shown on his show, and my brother and I began bouncing off the walls when we suddenly saw ourselves on the screen! Who, me?
As fate would have it, the very next year found us meeting him once more at Fright Fest, at the exact same location in the park as the year before. I got in line an hour and a half early, and, to put it bluntly, had an extreme case of nerves. But I had already met the man three times in the last year: Why was I so nervous? Because this time, I had an agenda: I had been assigned a school project for which I could research any topic I wanted, so long as it had something to do with my planned major or career. I hope to be both a screenwriter and a performer; unfortunately, there aren’t too many people currently who consistently work on both sides of the camera. Then, one night, while I was watching Svengoolie, it hit me (no, not a rubber chicken): Rich Koz always writes his own material! Upon further research, I found out that it was the same with many horror hosts. And, boom! I had my topic: Horror hosts. My parents had encouraged me to ask him for an interview. Now, I already knew that he was a really nice guy, but I also knew that he was a very busy man as well. As my heart bounced about heavily in my chest, I tightly clutched a small gift I had for him in my hand. Over the summer, while on vacation, I had seen an amusing little red magnet in a small store that said in yellow letters, “MY MOOD IS:” with a green Godzilla pictured next to them. I laughed and immediately bought two: One for myself, and one to give to Svengoolie at his next appearance. A wave of self-consciousness suddenly washed over me as I anxiously sat on a bench awaiting Sven’s arrival. Who was I kidding? He doesn’t have time for a school project! And, really? A tiny magnet with Godzilla on it? It’s not like I was six years old and this could be considered “cute”. But still I waited, holding onto my gift to Sven, and even checking every minute or so to make sure it was still there.
At last, a line began to form, and all of us Sven fans were enthusiastically socializing to pass the time while we shuffled our feet and checked the time every thirty seconds. Those of us in front watched happily as the line grew exponentially.
Suddenly, people behind us started cheering, and my mother announced to me, “Look! There he is!”
“What?!” I spun around, and sure enough, there he was: A smiling Svengoolie walking up behind us, greeting the fans as he made his way up to the table set up for him. He actually startled a few people in the unsuspecting crowd, including myself, since I did not expect for him to be about two feet behind me when I turned around.
Our family was second in line this time, and when I found myself face-to-face with Svengoolie himself for the fourth time in one year, my mind became a total blank. For the fourth time. Thankfully, I had enough of a grip on my senses to sheepishly present him with the little Godzilla magnet, preceding it by telling him that I had saw it while on vacation over the summer and immediately thought of him. He took it, looked at it, and laughed! He sincerely thanked me for the gift and proudly showed it off to the people around him, even going so far as to try to stick it on the frame that bore his picture on the table and, when that didn’t work, hunt around himself for something metal to put it on right then and there! Mr. Jim Roche, who accompanies him to every appearance armed with a camera, joked that he (Mr. Roche) had some metal in his head. Wow! Svengoolie himself was marveling over something I gave him? Who, me?
Svengoolie’s warm response to the gift lifted my spirits quite a bit, and helped me to remember the question I had for him. So, taking a deep breath, and summoning up all of my courage… I asked Mr. Roche. In my defense, Sven had a long line of fans waiting to meet him, and I didn’t want to bother him and hold up the line!
Mr. Roche listened intently, then replied, “Well, I’m not a horror host. You’d have to ask him.” So, still hoping to ride on the same bout of courage, I turned around to face Svengoolie.
My heart skipped about five beats.
Apparently, Sven had been listening the whole time! He answered me before I even began repeating my spiel!
For the rest of the day, that whole scene replayed over and over again in my mind. I began to doubt my memory; did I really gather up the guts to ask him? Did he really say yes? But, no matter how many times those memorable moments reran themselves throughout the day and even into the night, they were always, miraculously, the same.
Wasting no time, the very next day, I sent him an e-mail thanking him a million times over for his kindness the day before.
Exactly one week after the Fright Fest appearance, we found ourselves meeting Sven again, this time in (say it with me) Berrrwyyyn! As we all waited in line inside the jeweler’s store, we saw people constantly walking in and out one of the doors behind the counter. “Aha,” we fans figured. “He must be waiting right behind that door!”
Well, somebody forgot to tell Sven. At the designated time when he was supposed to appear, he appeared, all right, but not from that door in front of us! We suddenly heard cheers from the fans lined up outside the store, and when I turned around, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I found Sven right behind me (Notice a pattern here?)! We all hurriedly scurried out of the way to let him through, and the signing began. When our turn came, his face grew suddenly serious, and he asked me:
“Now, you and me are the ones who are going to be doing that special project, right?”
Numb with shock, I nodded and said yes. Completely at a loss for words, I asked him if he had by any chance gotten my e-mail. He smiled and nodded:
“Yes, I did, and I sent you a reply!” (Note: This reply was mysteriously lost in cyberspace. Neither Will Robinson nor Rod Serling could find it. But, that’s not the point here. The point is…)
Coming up in Part 2: HorrorHound! Find out how I finally met The Daves after reading and following their blog for months, what the various hosts’ reactions were to my project, what I look like in a different shirt, and why a certain horror host even thought my name was fake!
Ever since Vampira cooed to her pet spider, “Rolo,” and the great Zacherly whispered “my dear” to an invisible paramour just outside the camera’s reach, sidekicks have been a common feature of horror hosted shows.
These companions are often as colorful and diverse as their host creators. Some are the skeletal variety such as Svengoolie’s Tombstone or Wolfman Mac’s conniving Boney Bob. Others are even more bizarre and imaginative such as Doktor Goulfinger’s Count Zygote (the world’s first horror host fan), Ms Monster’s..”ahem”.. melons “Tit & Tat,” or even a coy houseplant whom Mr. Lobo affectionately refers to as “Miss Mittens.”
For matters of horror host history, I always seek out my friend, Michael Monahan (Doktor Goulfinger), to supply the answers. I asked him if he had any idea who some of the first host sidekicks were and, expecting him to need some time to ponder the question, was surprised when he responded almost immediately. The following is a list of early host sidekicks the good Doktor shared “just off the top of his head.”
Aside from the aforementioned Vampira, he also listed Kansas City’s The Host – Rodney, Son of Ghoul in the 90′s – Fidge, Sammy Terry – George the Spider, Dr. Paul Bearer – a spider named Spinjamin Bock, Commander USA – Lefty, The Ghoul - Froggie, and Morgus the Magnificent – Chopsley.
Less common were the “living” sidekicks. This was a luxury few commercial hosts could afford with barely enough money in the station’s budget allotted for themselves let alone an assistant. This, of course, is not an issue with hosts working on public access as it is all the labor of love. Good friends, loved ones, and fellow horror fans show their support by acting as supporting cast members.
One should, however, take their time before adding names to their roster. This is a lesson Kenosha’s Dr. Destruction learned the hard way. Once, while hosting a dinner party that utilized multiple sidekicks, an on-air battle erupted between them (apparently jealous over their host’s attention). Destruction, none too pleased at having to interrupt his performance to put an end to the altercation, decided to leave all the footage intact for public viewing. I would like to add that I met his latest sidekick, Deadgar Winters, last weekend and he was one of the nicest, easy going guys you could ever meet. The on-air sidekick battle was clearly before his time.
Behind every great man lies a great woman and this is certainly the case with many other hosts such as Zomboo’s Miss Transyvania, The Bone Jangler’s beautiful Enchantress Nocturna, Dr. Dreck’s Moaner Lisa, Count Gregula’s Countess, and Undead Johnny’s Romania. Perhaps in these instances the word “partner” would be more appropriate than sidekick, though they still serve the same role of enhancing the performance of their host.
Great hostesses can also rely on their men to back them up as well. If not a great man, than certainly a great “wolfman!”As is the case of Penny Dreadful’s partner, both on and off screen, Garou!
I met Garou last March at the Indianapolis Horrorhound Convention and then again at “Rock & Shock” last month. This was the first time David met the wily lycanthrope and he was very impressed with the way he stayed so flawlessly in character.
This was something I had witnessed at Horrorhound and I wasn’t alone. Brian Maze, the fantastic artist who created the horror host illustrations used in our current updates, also met Garou at Horrorhound. Apparently Mr. Maize made the mistake of handing Garou a “silver” marker to sign his autograph, prompting the werewolf to toss the Sharpie while reacting as if he’d just been burned.
Garou is played by Penny’s real life husband, Magoo Gelehrter. While putting together her show, Penny recognized Magoo’s comic potential and asked if he’d mind playing a non-speaking werewolf character. According to Penny, his response was a simple and direct, “Cool, Baby!” And the rest is “Shilling Shocker” history.
With the aid of a werewolf translator, Garou delighted me by taking some time out and answering a few questions….
DAVE: Tell us how you came to be “Garou?”
GAROU: I’m always pulling faces to make Danielle laugh, and when we decided on the witch, werewolf and monster hunter characters, the name Garou, as in Loup Garou, just came to me, and that was decidedly that.
DAVE: I know that prior to Penny Dreadful, Danielle had some experience with acting, had you as well?
GAROU: It has long been my ambition to be a silent film actor, but it’s very hard to find leading parts that don’t have spoken lines. Danielle and I were both in a film called THE ART OF ETIOLATION in 2002. I’ve also been in some plays. Danielle and I were in the play “The Hot_l Baltimore” together a few years ago.
DAVE: Did you grow up a fan of monster movies and, if so, what are your favorites?
GAROU: I used to watch Creature Feature when I was a kid, my favourite then was ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. My favorite classic horror film is of course, THE WOLFMAN but I also love so called “bad” horror films – like Ed Wood’s BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and Herschel Gordon Lewis’ GRUESOME TWOSOME and stuff like THE GIANT GILA MONSTER.
DAVE: What episode of SHILLING SHOCKERS are you the most proud of?
GAROU: This is the hardest question! I love the movie CARRY ON SCREAMING! (Season three). I also have a certain fondness for the Coffin Joe movie we showed in Episode 2 of Season Three, and our hijinks in that episode always make me laugh because we filmed some of it at my wonderful in-laws’ home with Danielle’s mother and her mom’s best friend Mary Lou and they nearly feed Garou until he explodes. They didn’t have prior acting experience but they sure were Method actors! They were really shoving the food in my yap, I was lucky I didn’t swallow my fangs! Seeing them dance with us around the coffee table and seeing little Twinkie the dog chasing us around makes me nearly cry with laughter. And the episode where we show SWEENEY TODD, Garou gets a haircut from Danielle’s since departed grandfather as the barber he was, so having family in the episodes always makes it extra special for me. Those are both pretty early episodes and we do get better technically in the later ones, so those might be more to be proud about. Our director Rebecca Paiva does the hard work of shooting the episodes and editing them, so she’d be the one to ask about what’s the episode to be proudest of. The episode where we showed THE SEVENTH SEAL was a very hard shoot. We shot on the beach in Rhode Island during the summertime and it was hot as blazes and we didn’t bring enough potable water. It is not the only episode where I found myself dangerously dehydrated, but I was really close to the edge when we were randomly saved by beach goers who let us join their picnic and revived us all with their generosity. They noticed we were running around and when we finished shooting they invited us over, and ended up doing a song for us which closes out the episode. They were real lifesavers!
DAVE: You were a lot of fun at “Horrorhound” and “Rock & Shock” – managing to always stay in character. Do you enjoy making public appearances?
GAROU: I love doing appearances! Being in character comes naturally once I am dressed as Garou. At most of the conventions we go to there are kids, and Garou tends to have a Pied Piper effect on them. They can relate to him because they know how it feels to be mis-understood, and to communicate non-verbally, plus he’s funny and not afraid to be silly. And I respect the right of children to enjoy their innocence, so staying in character is a must. I don’t want some little kid to see me break character when I’m Garou, and then start to wonder that if Garou isn’t real, then what about Santa and the Easter Bunny, and then poof- their childhood is over, just like that! I don’t wanna be that guy, the one who kills the joy of simple pleasures for them. Also being in character all day at a convention is a great way to get into character and come up with bits that we can use in the show. Doing a convention before we start a new shooting season really helps get me ready. And much as I love to talk, I really do enjoy communicating with people non-verbally. For me, that is the most addictive part of wanting to be an actor. Though being able to memorize large monologues would be great, and a well delivered line is a thing of great beauty, for me the soul of acting is not what you say, but what you convey when you’re not speaking. One reason I like to watch movies more than once is so I can enjoy watching the people in scenes when they are not the one speaking. That’s where the real acting is, if you can see them listening to the actor who is speaking, that’s where the magic happens.
DAVE: How long does it take to make your “transformation” into Garou? Do you do your own make-up?
GAROU: When the moon is full and the wolfbane is in bloom, it takes no time at all! I had no experience using makeup until we did this show, and I learned everything the hard way! I tried all kinds of different fixatives to apply the Garou nose before I finally found something reliable. But now that I know what to use and how to use it, it only takes about half an hour or so to pull myself together. It also depends on the humidity. The fixatives I use take a bit longer when it is very humid before I can attach the nose and ears.
DAVE: Your comic timing is impeccable. Who would you site as your comedic influences?
GAROU: Thank you for the compliment! I’m sure my answer will surprise very few people: Harpo Marx is at the top of my comedy influence hit parade! But I am also a huge fan of George Burns, he is the all time best second banana ever. There isn’t a day in my life where I am not inspired by his words. I also love W.C. Fields and quote them both at least twice a day. But it’s not for a lack of love of the man that I never quote Harpo! He did it all without saying a word. I also love Mel Brooks, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. I wish I could do a better Stan Laurel! Along with Burns & Allen, Ace Goodman and his wife Jane Ace were a great comedy duo who are not remembered often enough these days. And I love Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.” That show had an amazing cast. Aside from Sid with his amazing physicality, he had Howie Morris whom I utterly revere, Imogen Coca, and Carl Reiner. Howie Morris is another huge influence. You might recall him as Professor Little Old Man in Mel Brooks HIGH ANXIETY. My mother took me to see my first Woody Allen film when I was seven and it had a huge influence on me. I hadn’t been too optimistic about my prospects until I saw that film- it let me know it was okay to be a nebbish and a runt, that you could still attract women not only in spite of that, but because of that! I have always loved his physical comedy for which he’s always been under-rated, yet he moves so well. He does some his best physical comedy in SHADOWS AND FOG and ZELIG. I know it’s not PC to like him these days, but funny is funny and he has always made me laugh and to feel less alone in this world. Aside from comedy, I think Lon Chaney Jr. is one of the all time great actors, his pop was no slouch either but I love the humanity Lon Junior conveys without having to say a word. Even in his last roles when his health was failing, he managed to impart incredible pathos. I put him right up there with actors like Cary Grant and George Sanders.
DAVE: I know that Danielle did not grow up with a horror host. Did you?
GAROU: I used to watch Creature Feature when I was a kid, they showed double features, lots of Godzilla movies mostly. They had a voice-over announcer telling us to stay tuned but not a character who appeared onscreen.
DAVE: What advice do you have for other horror host “sidekicks?”
GAROU: It’s okay to occasionally lick the scenery but try to avoid chewing it. You don’t want to drown out your co-hosts when they are speaking or pull focus from them with your antics. Try to find the balance between adding a little color without upstaging the focus.
DAVE: This one I can’t resist. I love the story of how Penny Dreadful, through a misguided spell, became a hostess. What is Garou’s back story and how did a werewolf end up the love interest of a 600 year old witch?
GAROU: I hate to leave you hanging but you’ll just have to stay tuned to Shilling Shockers to find out more about Garou’s past.
Well Dave, thanks for asking all these great questions, you gave me much to consider. I think this is where I should say goodnight but I’ve never been good at goodbyes, so I’ll leave it up to someone else. And to end, since I can’t quote Harpo, here is something one of his brothers once said. Groucho to be specific, though I love them all, even Gummo and Zeppo. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Chico as well. “Until then, so long, skol, arrivederci, prosit, salud, hasta la vista, a bientot and ciao. (Ciao, in case you don’t know, is an Italian salutation. It is also a breed of dog that will bite your ass off for no reason at all.)”