After a long and busy Saturday at Horrorhound Weekend, Brian and I relaxed and ordered dinner in our room. While it’s rarely a positive experience for any Chicagoan to order pizza outside of city limits, this was the perfect food choice when one planned on following it up with copious amounts of alcohol. Saturday nights at Horrorhound were notorious for their raucous all night gatherings…and this year I was determined to join their party! Afterwards, I headed outside for some air and met a guy in the lobby who pulled out a mason jar that looked as if it were half full of motor oil. “Want some moonshine?” he asked.
I smiled but hesitated. It had only been the week before on St. Patrick’s Day when I’d indulged in another home-made concoction with my fellow pod-caster, Jason, resulting in a drunken argument between us. I’m batting a 1,000 with friends these days, folks! Please check out the “Podcast” link at the top of this page to hear our first (and possibly final) eight episodes of Terror on Tequila!
I met Tom Savini for the first time twice during my first Horrorhound Weekend back in 2010. Although it would be my last pre-Terror Dave event, I walked in harboring lots of goals concerning the horror hosts and the celebrities that were attending. Of course the main plan was to have a great time and I was joined by my friend, Jason. I remember us being particularly excited about having the opportunity to meet some of the folks behind one of our favorite zombie films; Dawn of the Dead. Tom Savini, Ken Foree, and the godfather of zombies himself, George Romero, would all be there and we couldn’t wait.
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!
Friday night at the 2010 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend, my friend Jason and I covered quite a bit! We managed to meet a bunch of great celebrities (including Ton Savini) as well as a bulk of the horror hosts I’d listed as priorities (including Elvira!).
While Vampira & Zacherley are often thought of as the “mother and father” of all horror hosts, many prominent Midwestern hosts can credit their true lineage to Cleveland’s Ghoulardi. Never taking himself nor his film presentations seriously, radio announcer/disc jockey Ernie Anderson would create an irreverent template of wit and sarcasm many hosts still use today.
Celebrity encounters, while usually pleasant, are rarely as enjoyable when one meets the legendary Tom Atkins! The 2011 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend along with Mask-Fest was the perfect venue for featuring Atkins along with some alumni from one of his films. HALLOWEEN III. The film’s director, Tommy Lee Wallace, Atkins, along with his co-star, Stacey Nelkin were all on hand at this event – sitting side by side.
We’re pleased to announce that just a few hours ago, Horrorhound Magazine writer and events organizer, Jason Hignite, launched the official G.O.T.H.I.C. (Gathering of Television Horror Hosts Internet Cinema) website!
One of the more emotional and heartfelt moments of the Horror Host Hall of Fame ceremony that took place at Horrorhound Weekend convention in Indianapolis last March came with the induction of one of Indiana’s own. Captain Crypt and Fenriz Fatal were given the honor of inducting one of the country’s most prolific ghouls – Sammy Terry! The two hosts became visibly emotional while delivering their tribute and it was clear that, unlike many of the inductees whose awards were presented by hosts who didn’t have Clue #1 as to who they really were, these two clearly did. There is no doubt that the best folks to tributize any celebrity is the “fans” themselves and we Daves wished that could have been the case for all of them.
By: Jamie Lee Cortese
Later on that first day at the convention, my family had to practically tear me away from Horror Host Alley in order to bring me into the massive MaskFest room. Now, I have to admit, I did see some amazing masks there, and I really did enjoy exploring that room! I met two of the Killer Klowns from Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and also saw, but didn’t get a chance to speak to, the male and female leads from the film. The Klowns were both very kind, and were more than willing to take a picture with me when I bought their autographs! They also both confirmed something I had read on the Internet and had been wondering about for a while: Apparently, the Chiodo brothers have been attempting for a few years… to make a sequel to Killer Klowns From Outer Space! I’ll be on the lookout!
Another highlight of the MaskFest room was The Late Dr. Lady’s table. Recognizing his name from The Daves’ blog, I went over and had a very nice talk with him as I perused the surprisingly varied merchandise he was selling. My family ended up buying a couple of funny-yet-fully-functional weekly pill cases, each of which bore the warning, “DANGER: MAY CONTAIN EXPERIMENTAL MONSTER TRANSFORMATION PILLS.” We also bought a Horror Hotel CD.
Having made our rounds around the MaskFest room, I begged to be allowed to return to Horror Host Alley. After receiving permission, I bolted back to the room, marveling once more at how the room just kept becoming more and more elaborate as the day went on and more and more horror hosts arrived.
As far as I could tell at the time, Ms. Monster had still not yet made her entrance. But even before she arrived, I still had one horror host left on my list to meet: Count Gregula. Though I had been actively looking around for him all day, I had seen absolutely no sign of him or the Countess.
Well, that was about to change. My mother was with me this time as I re-entered the room, and, looking to my left, I suddenly saw him, conversing with Professor M. Balmer! I wasted no time in rushing over there, as if I were afraid he would just as suddenly disappear!
Not wanting to interrupt their conversation, I lingered near them for a brief moment before Count Gregula saw me and said hello. I eagerly responded, “Hi! I’ve been looking for you all day!” (Note: I am not usually this upfront and frank about, well, anything. In hindsight, I guess it was because, well, I had been looking for him all day!)
To my complete surprise, he gave me the sort of reaction that I myself had been giving all day:
“For me?” Being on the receiving end of this kind of comment really threw me for a loop. Later on that day, he said that his first thought when I said that was, “Do I owe you money or something?” For some reason, he was really genuinely surprised that someone was actually looking for him at the convention!
Count Gregula and Professor M. Balmer! One of the most fascinating parts of the convention for me was witnessing horror hosts from across the country, all of whom were so different, actually interacting with each other. They really are like one big, happy family!
At any rate, Count Gregula apologized for not seeing my e-mail that I had sent him a few days before (As if he really had to!), and he was very kind (and patient) as I explained my project to him. He agreed very readily to be interviewed on camera by me that very night, so that I could get him on film while he was still in costume!
I met the Countess a short while after meeting Count Gregula, and she was just as kind and fun to talk to!
We conducted his interview right after the deeply moving Zacherley tribute had concluded Saturday night, and he was very informative and entertaining!
Both Count and Countess Gregula were great people to meet and talk to, and were certainly worth the search to actually find them!
Coming up in Part 8: Ms. Monster! I must apologize to her now, because, with the way I’ve written these articles so far, it may seem like it took her forever to make her grand entrance on Saturday, when in reality, it was only about a few hours after I arrived that morning. I was just being insane checking her table about, oh, every five minutes or so. At any rate, Ms. Monster and her Monster Melons (uh… the puppets, Tit and Tat) are up next, and they certainly didn’t leave me “blue”! (Ha ha! Get it? Ouch! Hey, who threw that rubber chicken?!)
I was happily surprised to run into Mr. Lobo and Dixie at the annual FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST in Kentucky! As mentioned in our recent Atomic Age Cinema piece, horror hosts were slated to appear at this event but Mr. Lobo wasn’t one of them. Needless to say, the sight of the spectacled host wearing his signature suit & green/black striped tie was a welcomed one at that! I found the mastermind of Cinema Insomnia chatting with Blake Powell, the guru behind Midnite Mausoleum, and wasted no time interrupting the two late night TV mavericks.
Despite my intrusion, Lobo was as warm and friendly as he had been when the other Dave and I first met him this past March. Ironically, I had another opportunity to chat with him just the previous week via “Dr Destruction’s Big Top Radio Show.” I joined the Kenosha host and his co-host, Charlotte, in the WLIP studio during its debut broadcast – an event that featured phone interviews with Lobo, Stella Desire, and A. Ghastlee Ghoul. Despite my best efforts, however, I was unable to get a word in edge-wise! One thing about Mr. Lobo, he does not fumble for words and busily recited “on-air” all the work that he and Dixie had been up to this past summer. I made a couple of awkward attempts to chime in (particularly regarding his newest “Elvira” issue of HORROR HOSTS magazine) but, as it turns out, Lobo didn’t even know I was in the station. Fate, however, was prepared to give me a second chance.
Mr. Lobo was embarking on a cross-country journey back to his native California when he and his fiance’/business partner, Dixie Dellamorte, decided to make a pit stop at FRIGHT NIGHT. We stood in an entryway that connected the main dealer room to a hallway that featured the hosts – Midnite Mausoleum, Horror Dungeon, and the host friendly Thomas Berdinsky from THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE and had a nice conversation.
Lobo reiterated what he’d stated on Destruction’s radio show; he had just wrapped up work in Virginia on a film spin-off of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, worked with film-maker, Sean Kotz, on a documentary featuring classic Virginia host – The Bowman Body (see story HERE), and spent some time hanging out with fellow host pal - the incomparable Karlos Borloff from MONSTER MADHOUSE!
Both David and I are great admirers of Cinema Insomnia and I mentioned to Lobo some of my favorite CI moments. Moments such as the racially ambiguous jokes from his presentation of MONSTER FROM A PREHISTORIC PLANET, his disgust of Peter Graves participating in BIGFOOT: MYSTERIOUS MONSTER, and the awkward yet hilarious exchanges between himself and his idol, the late Bob Wilkins, during a past Halloween Special to name but a few.
I also made a point to tell him how much I enjoyed his music. Cinema Insomnia’s anthem – “I’m Watching TV” successfully captures the 1970′s “Banana Splits/Creature Feature” era I grew up in and receives year-round play in my household.
Another favorite Lobo song, “Halloween Candy,” is performed by the man himself and, despite being packed with lots of tricks, is a definite musical treat! This irreverent, seasonal favorite of mine has been featured on The Dr. Demento Halloween Show and highlights the signature, dry sense of humor that makes Lobo so “laugh out loud” funny. I was happy to have an opportunity to convey this to him personally – while encouraging him to create his own novelty CD. Lobo stated he is currently working on a seasonal music collection featuring scary sounds ala’ vintage Walt Disney.
Even more exciting is the highly anticipated next issue of the aforementioned HORROR HOSTS Magazine featuring The Mistress of the Dark! Glimpses of its cover show a skillfully crafted Elvira/mummy whose bandages in NO way detract from the physical attributes that helped make her famous. This cover, like last issue’s amazing Al Lewis portrait, was created by both Lobo and Dixie – a clear indication that this is one artistic couple who knows how to harmonize their skills. The actual painting will be given to Elvira (who participated in this issue) after the magazine’s printing. For those of us who can’t get enough of the “gal in black, who works on her back,” this will definitely be a must read!
HORROR HOSTS Magazine is prepared to go deeper than a mere expose’ by seeking the origins of Elvira’s famous look. While many will be quick to site Vampira as her direct influence (which of course she was) and Vampira’s to Morticia Addams – HORROR HOSTS Magazine will take us even further back! I was shocked to discover that our culture’s image of the archetype sinister female (svelte, macabre woman wearing a black dress) actually pre-dates The Adams Family and am eager to get my hands on the next issue to learn more!
This is the very essence as to why Mr. Lobo’s Cinema Insomnia works so well for me as an adult fan. Lobo manages to keep a respectful eye on classic horror hosts & their history, while forging ahead as a unique, modern one. This was illustrated last March at the Horror Host Hall of Fame Ceremony (conducted at Horrorhound) where Lobo gave an emotional explanation for why fans who grew up with a commercial host (such as myself) have such a deep/admiration for them as adults. “He was your guy.” said Lobo. (MORE QUOTES FROM INDUCTION). At the same time, he shows no obvious influences from previous hosts; portraying himself as both snarky and self-depreciating – a contradiction Lobo balances well. Whether the joke is on him, the viewer, the movie, or one of his guests it is almost always funny and has me quickly seeking out another episode. And, in that regard, the future is bright…
As mandated by his recent successful telethon, Mr. Lobo will soon be filming his next full season of Cinema Insomnia in which he promises to continue his quest in presenting films less common in the hosting realm. This is a challenge to most horror hosts operating today but Mr. Lobo has already established himself as one who has no trouble overcoming odds. This was never more evident than his recent triumphant fund-raising campaign which saw him reach his goal of $10,000 despite being conducted during an economic crises and amid the holidays! It was a risky gamble but, in the end, his devoted Cinsomniacs would not let him down and we can now all look forward to new episodes.
The next day we met up again in the dealer’s room and said our goodbyes. Just like I did when we parted at Horrorhound, I always give Dixie a big hug while singing a slow, acapella version of “Watching TV.” Sort of like having an end “theme song” like the old Carol Burnett Show or Donnie and Marie Osmond. It’s humorous and more than a bit odd I must admit.
What can I say? Being around Mr. Lobo and Dixie somehow makes me feel nostalgic….and that’s a feeling we horror host fans live for!
It was hot down in Kentucky for the recent FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST which saw the appearance of John Carpenter, Linda Blair, and Henry Winkler – along with a cache’ of independent films to be unveiled to an overheated (it was humid and like 100 degrees, I kid you not) horror audience. Among all these events and “A-list” horror celebrities was a small conclave of horror hosts who were invited by Horrorhound’s Jason Hignite to put on a LIVE show. While nowhere near the number of hosts seen at the Indy Horrorhound, FRIGHT NIGHT was visited by Midnite Mausoleum, Captain Crypt & Fenriz Fatal from Horror Dungeon, and The Count & Countess Gregula. Mr. Lobo & Dixie from Cinema Insomnia also made a stop through (to be covered in a future post) and I am pretty sure I saw Mel Praxis walking around too, but was on my way to the John Carpenter Q&A and never able to formerly meet him.
The plan was that there would be a showing of John Carpenter’s earliest film, DARK STAR and that each host would get up for 10-15 minutes and do a RIFF TRAX like performance, ripping on the lackluster film. The Gregulas carpooled down with me and both they and Dr Destruction (who had to cancel last minute) seemed uneasy regarding what to expect. Despite being familiar with performing, the prospect of getting up unscripted in front of an audience was a nerve wracking one at that. But there was one group of performers who had NO problem performing LIVE – with or without a script…
Atomic Age Cinema – featuring Dr Calamari, Basement Boy, Baron Mardi and Woody the Clown are no strangers to working a crowd and have been doing so for over six years. “It began in 2004 as a fundraiser for the Cinephile Film Arts Organization,” says Calamari. “It was dedicated to helping local filmmakers get their films made and shown. Cinephile eventually transformed into the Dark Carnival Film Festival and the profits from AAC!” I’d met them before at Horrorhound Weekend and always enjoyed talking with Doc Calamari who is not only a great guy but has one of the coolest & original looks. His tentacled face is matched only by his lone silvery eyeball that will have you quickly forgetting there’s a man underneath!
Despite the nature of this site, my original goals for attending FRIGHT NIGHT was less about covering hosts as it was about gathering info from THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW reunion. However, no respectable “Dave” would ever shy away from a horror hosted event and it should come as great comfort to my host friends that I skipped the “nude body painting show” in favor of attending this one. I knew it was slated to begin at 10:30 pm and tracked down a FRIGHT NIGHT attendant to assist me in finding its location. “Uh….I don’t know. Maybe look at the wall and see if there’s a sign?” Gee, thanks Einstein! Listen,when you’re done NOT helping anyone here, maybe you can check out the next room. I think I saw something shiny!
As I looked around for the Gregulas (passing a long line of conventioneers who suddenly had an interest in art) I ran into Jason Hignite. Let me state for the record that, when I die, I am hoping to come back as him. Not only does he get to work with horror hosts and write for Horrorhound Magazine, but he can always be seen at conventions with a cocktail in one arm and an attractive woman (in this case TWO) in the other. I mean no sarcasm when I say this; don’t bother reading a Martha Stewart magazine if you want to know the definition of “Living,” just hang around with Jason!
Hignite saw me and gave a warm greeting (despite neither offering me a sip of his drink nor one of his companions) and pointed in the direction of the show. I followed a winding hallway and, if there had been any question that I was headed to the right place, it was soon squelched at the sight of Woody the Clown pacing by the entrance. “We don’t have a f*cking movie!” he yelled. “No one has a copy of DARK STAR!” Well, at that point, I had no more reservations about missing the nude art show and knew that this was the place to be!
Before the main event we were treated to a screening of Dark Carnival’s DVD featuring The Vampira Tribute from 2010 – HOSTING HORROR: THE LEGACY OF VAMPIRA. Many people don’t realize that it was Dark Carnival who came up with the idea of a Vampira Tribute – eventually finding its way to Horrorhound. In this we should all be eternally grateful. The video features clips from that amazing afternoon as well as interviews from many of the participating hosts; Penny Dreadful, The Bone Jangler, and Karlos Borloff to name but a few. David and I each bought a copy of this video at the last Horrorhound and it has always been sad to me that the “other Dave” wasn’t there to see it LIVE with me. He, like myself, loves horror hosts and I know he’d have really enjoyed it. I appreciate Dark Carnival for creating this DVD – if only so he , and others unable to attend, could get a glimpse of it. Tonight’s venue was a small room but most seats were taken. As I settled in, I looked around and noticed Midnite Mausoleum’s Robyn Graves kicking back in more seasonal attire.
Horror Host “summer fashion” continued with the arrival of The Count and Countess Gregula – Gregula sporting a rather unique vampire look with a T-shirt, overcoat, and shorts. Here’s an interesting tidbit; not long after FRIGHT NIGHT, Gregula was cast for a role in a new NBC Fall series called “The Playboy Club.” I can’t help but think that the casting director may have seen one of these shots from the DARK STAR event before making their decision!
Soon the big moment arrived with a copy of the film arriving just in the nick of time. Showing their mettle as LIVE performers, it should be noted that the gang from Atomic Age Cinema were willing to perform to a DVD copy of ANY movie so long as it was readily available. As the lights went down, the show became less like RIFF TRAX and more like THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. The Atomic Age Cinema guys remained standing while everyone in the audience was encouraged to belt out comments and participate. In this I was at a distinct disadvantage having no alcohol in me, though this in no way stopped The Countess from stealing the show.
I’m here to tell you that she was absolutely hilarious utilizing her dry sense of humor like an artist delves in oil. Many folks believe that vampires have no blood but I can safely say that isn’t true as some of the “adults only” comments flying out of The Countess’ mouth left her counterpart turning a decisive shade of RED. Further adding to Gregula’s chagrin was my suggesting to him that perhaps his wife was the actual horror host and he should start thinking of himself as the sidekick. Gregula looked like I just “staked” him but, rest assured, I meant it only in good fun and they BOTH added a lot to this event.
In between bouts of laughter, and inappropriate comments, were special “games” organized by Atomic Age Cinema complete with prizes. The first of which was a drinking challenge in which Jason Hignite further secured his status as a party god and one we should all revere. As I write this I am making definite plans to start stalking him!
As for the movie it self, what can I say? If ever there was a film in need of the “horror host treatment,” this was it. I’d like to say that it was a rip-off of STAR WARS had it not been for the fact that this film was made a few years before. DARK STAR is definitely not something you’d want to watch again and again but, for these purposes, it was a welcomed attraction. A few members of the audience got so caught up, one eager participant ended up wearing a popcorn bucket on his head before winning a prize for his belly dancing.
The highlight of this event, however, was turning the lights on and seeing the film’s lead cast member, Brian Narelle, sitting amongst the audience! Sadly, the director of the film, John Carpenter was no where to be seen (no doubt sitting up in his hotel room issuing “Order 66″ and the extermination of the Jedi Knights). Narelle seemed to enjoy the show and was given a special Atomic Age Cinema T-shirt for being such a good sport!
As the event ended, everyone left with big smiles on their faces (probably equaling the hang-overs they’d have the next day) and it was clear that, despite recently losing their regular performing venue, Atomic Age Cinema is far from beaten. In the spirit of their new-found solidarity, they would not be confined to a booth at FRIGHT NIGHT and moved freely about the entire weekend. Everywhere they went they brought laughs and smiles at a convention that desperately needed it. This was further illustrated on the last day of the convention when, eager to take advantage of the familiar looking walkway that joined the two buildings of the hotel together, they decided to re-enact the cover of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”
I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully at the next March Horrorhound Weekend which, I am told, will take place in Columbus, Ohio this time instead of Indianapolis. We Daves will definitely be there and hope you will be as well!
Now…. if you’ll excuse me, I must hurry on my way! Jason Hignite just “tweeted” that he’s leaving his apartment.
I just returned from FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST in Kentucky and have mixed reviews regarding the event. Actually, there is another blogger out there who fairly (and from my perspective accurately) describes the ups of downs of this past weekend. Check out Shawn Patrick’s write up via Shawnster the Monster for a really great read.
Due to the busy convention season and number of events slated in and around my native Chicago, I had no intention of going down to Kentucky for this one. That was, however, until shortly after Horrorhound Weekend when the writer of one of my all-time favorite films, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW called it to my attention. J.D. Feigelson is without question one of the nicest and most personable celebrities I’ve ever encountered. He treats David and I like kings and he certainly never has too.
J.D. informed me that FRIGHT NIGHT would mark the first appearance of DNOTS lead characters, Larry Drake and Tonya Crowe. The prospect of a DNOTS reunion and an opportunity to get some direct quotes for a piece I am writing for SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE meant I needed to be there. So, despite this event being far from perfect, I must admit that I was able to meet all of my objectives – along with the honor of seeing J.D. again and cast members from the film. This, in itself, was a true honor! I was also able to meet John Carpenter and other great celebs and will post those encounters (as well as plenty more DNOTS news) soon.
FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST is really an event designed for Independent film makers – and not so much the fans. Throughout the weekend, special screenings are provided of various unreleased films, while the film-makers themselves are on hand seeking fan reaction. Its also a great way for bloggers such as David and I to promote their work (ONLY if we like it, trust me) while making positive connections in the horror realm.
Its sort of like a high school dance where you start out slow and unsteady hoping that, as things progress, you’ll start gaining better moves and attract the most popular girl in school. The organizers have no trouble drawing fans in by booking big celebrities, such as the aforementioned John Carpenter. This is not unlike those electric bug zappers you hang in your yard but, in this case, its your wallet that gets “zapped!” Regardless, autograph seekers should have left satisfied.
While there was no question the event brought in some amazing celebrities, it was not designed to encourage meaningful fan/celebrity interaction. The main celebrity room was too small and the celebrities were herded in such a way, you could easily overlook them. John Carpenter and Linda Blair are great names in horror but aren’t known for their warmth. That being said, FRIGHT NIGHT must have been right up their alley. My meeting with John Carpenter (which I did on three separate occasions throughout the weekend) was so quick I almost got motion sickness, and my poor friends in the horror host community had the thankless task of being stationed in the hallway to get to them.
Between the retro hotel (which for $69 a night I suppose can’t be criticized too harshly despite being in desperate need of upkeep) and the scorching heat/humidity, I heard a lot of fans and vendors grumbling throughout the weekend.I also saw lots of people I met at DAYS OF THE DEAD a few weeks back who unanimously agreed that this event wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. How much of that was from the heat and hotel logistics vs the event itself probably depends on who you talk to. I would suggest to the hotel that when its 100 degrees outside they might have reconsidered closing the pool. This was done to accommodate more vendors who were spread between two buildings and needed to set up shop near the pool. Not good.
This, however, should not suggest that there weren’t some great moments and connections made here – and we’ll be delving into those in the coming days. Am I happy that I went? Well…uh…yeah. But I wasn’t “glowing” with happiness on the ride home like I was with HORRORHOUND and DAYS OF THE DEAD.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think that (considering the state of our economy and how hard people work to raise the funds to attend these fan events) “glowing” is not too much to ask for. If you’re an insider (or trying like hell to become one) who is willing to promote some great people with money not being an issue, by all means go down to FRIGHT NIGHT. If , however, you’re a fan who doesn’t have the luxury of doing multiple events and are trying to decide which one to attend, then I’d advise avoiding this one in 2012. Your money isn’t just important to you, its important to them and, as horror consumers, we should support those who are interested in treating us to an amazing weekend – and not just potential profits.
…or at least not be so obvious about it!
Dave F: Ohio is one of the most prolific states when it comes to churning out horror hosts. Therefore, it was not surprising that several inductees to The Horror Host Hall of Fame would hail from there. One of these was Dick Von Hoene a.k.a. The Cool Ghoul!
Classic commercial horror hosts were also professional broadcasters and Von Hoene was no exception. In the early 1960′s, he worked on Cincinnati radio and was featured on a show called ”Bob Smith’s Monster Mash.” It was there that The Cool Ghoul character was born, though it would not be until the latter part of the decade (after he moved from radio to television) that the character would be given its official “look.”
Aside from professional broadcasting, Von Hoene also had a background in theater from The University of Cincinnati where he received an MA. This would prove a winning combo for Ohio horror fans in the 1970′s as The Cool Ghoul served up lots of campy fun while hosting the “Scream in” show on Saturday nights.
For outsiders (such as myself) there was some confusion regarding the name “Cool Ghoul” since Von Hoene was not the only one to carry this moniker. Fellow Ohioan horror host, George Cavendar (who played out of Cleveland), would also be named “The Cool Ghoul” though it is important to note that Von Hoene did grant Cavendar permission to do so. Both versions would be characterized by red hair and make-up, but that is where the similiarities would end as both gentlemen brought thier own unique brand of sctick to the hosting genre.
The great Zacherley was also called The Cool Ghoul – one of his many names (Roland, etc). Like Zacherley, The Cool Ghoul also ventured into the world of novelty records and released his own album, ”The Cool Ghoul’s Phantasmagorical Funny Fonograf Record,” on the Artists Records label. I was grateful when my friend, Michael Monahan (Doktor Goulfinger) sent me a copy last year. A lot of fun!
The show opened with a warning to viewers that they might want to consider changing the channel before the theme music played and The Cool Ghoul mad his entrance via an upright coffin. He was also known for his laugh, described by a fan on Egor’s Chamber of TV hosts as “Blih, blih, blih, BLEEAAAHHHH-AH-AH-AHHH!
“Scream in” would only last three years on the air but “The Cool Ghoul” remained a fixture of Cincinnati pop culture making numerous appearances and even being given a jersey from the Cincinnati Reds (Number Zero). Later, in the 1980′s, he would move his character down to North Carolina. Von Hoene died in 2004, and his official Horror Host Hall of Fame plaque will be featured at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.
Horror host, Butch Cleaver (Brian Easterling), from Ohio’s MEET CLEAVER THEATER was given the honor of inducting the late Dick Von Hoene a.k.a. The Cool Ghoul. Unlike many of the presenters featured at this event, Butch Cleaver had the distinction of not only growing up with memories of The Cool Ghoul but also the honor of meeting him. TERROR FROM BEYON THE DAVES was delighted when Mr. Easterling agreed to share his recollections with us…
Butch Cleaver (Brian Easterling): I grew up in the mid 70s & early 80s, a little bit after our local horror host, The Cool Ghoul was cancelled from regular air play, but our local UHF station at the time, WXIX would play repeats of his original horror host show. I would spend my Saturday afternoons drinking in every ounce of monster goodness I could and the Cool Ghoul was my TV pal watching with me. As an only child on a street full of aged people, a horror host takes on the unique role of being your viewing companion, and a welcome and humorous TV pal at that. I developed a deep love of Halloween at an early age and I always looked forward to the new “Cool Ghoul” Halloween special to finish out a bountiful night of trick or treating.
It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I had the opportunity to meet my TV pal live in the ghoulish flesh at a big Halloween party at an old church in Mt. Adams, a ritzy section of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cool Ghoul just happened to be the MC for the evening and it came as a complete surprise to me and my friends. Between sets he would venture down into the audience and enjoy an adult beverage with the crowd. I gathered up my nerve and approached him. He was remarkably warm and friendly, shaking my hand and listening to me as I told him stories of how much I enjoyed his work and what it meant to me as a youth. He seemed genuinely appreciative to meet fans and closed the encounter with a hug and a photo opportunity.
Flash forward to age 20 and I was completing my bachelors in film at a local university. I had an opportunity to meet and work with Dick Von Hoene who was hosting a local affairs talk show in Northern Kentucky. He was an absolute professional and I always admired how he could mingle with the myriad of people and professions. We had another opportunity to discuss his horror hosting work and his charity work throughout the tri-state area. My time spent with Mr. Von Hoene was always very inspiring and I would venture to say, it germinated the seed of horror-hosting that had been planted so many years ago.
It came as a heavy shock when we learned that Dick Von Hoene had passed away unexpectedly in 2004. The city, which I thought had largely forgotten his early work, came together and the now fox-affiliate WXIX put together a 30 minute tribute show on his life and work as the Cool Ghoul. It was nice to see him fondly remembered by the generations he touched with his kindness.
Just a year before his death we started our own horror host program, inspired by him and many other Ohio hosts. While we could never ever fill his shoes, we felt our show was a way to not only honor the tradition of TV Hosting but also honor our TV pal, The Cool Ghoul.
In March of 2011, I had the extreme honor of inducting Dick Von Hoene, Cincinnat’s Cool Ghoul, into the Ripley’s Believe It, Or Not Horror Host Hall of Fame. How could I have imagined that I would have trodden this path with that TV pal of mine so many years later? It was a pleasure to grow up watching him, a treasure to know him and an honor to carry on in the tradition of him.
Butch R. Cleaver
Meet Cleaver Theatre
Cincinnati/N. KY. Horror Host
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!
After being sufficiently ”hyped up” from our previous night’s meeting with Svengoolie (see David A’s recent Blog), we were eager to embark on our journey to Indianapolis to attend Horrorhound Weekend! Last year’s convention was life changing for me (see seven part blog series covering that event) and this time was sure to be even more amazing as I would be attending with my like-minded co-blogger, and best friend, David.
It was just four months after the last Indy Horrorhound that TERROR FROM BEYOND DAVES was created and we’ve always thought of ourselves as the bastard child of Scary Monsters Magazine and Horrorhound’s Vampira Tribute. This time around, most of the hosts in attendance would already know who we are from their participation in our weekly reports and, in many ways, it would be more like a macabre family reunion versus public event.
We arrived at the Marriott around 4pm and quickly brought in our luggage before heading downstairs to the main hall. Like most fan-based gatherings, it is the fans themselves that add an extra level of fun and excitement to the occasion. Many folks were dressed up as creepy characters (some as well known faces in horror while others chose original designs) providing lots of laughs as well as great photo ops.
The convention set up was a bit different than last year. For one thing, Horrorhound no longer had to share space with other groups, such as elderly war veterans or The Christian Women’s League (combos that went about as well together as peanut butter and pizza), as they did the previous year.
This time around we had the entire building to ourselves which was a good thing since every bit of space would prove necessary. A hotel attendant later told me that Horrorhound is their largest event and one in which the entire staff dreads the most - later conceding that it also brings in the most money. After one look at the eager crowds of fans, it was easy to see why.
As a rule, Saturdays are always the busiest day for any weekend convention. David and I wanted to hang out with our horror host friends but also wanted to meet some of the celebrity guests featured as well. As the celebs were Horrorhound’s main draw, this was something that needed to be done Friday before the bulk of the conventioneers arrived.
Disappointed that we would not be meeting the Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento (who canceled a couple of months back due to filming commitments), we debated for weeks whether we wanted to see his replacement, Corey Feldman. My old friend, Jason Lucas, was our camera man and (like every good Jason) was a big fan of the FRIDAY THE 13th films. Feldman having played a part in one of its better entries; FRIDAY THE 13th PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER made him of interest to Jason.
This decision would ultimately be made for us. As we entered an elevator Friday evening t0 see Jason, Feldman walked out with his entourage. “Hey guys,” he said as he whisked past, dropping a cigarette on the floor as he went. I grabbed it and later gave it to Jason as a joke gift. My understanding is that it is now sitting in a glass curio cabinet on permanent display in his apartment.
We decided that this brief encounter was sufficient enough and we’d bypass the convention’s main headliner. FRIDAY THE 13th Part IV, GREMLINS, & THE LOST BOYS are all great movies (both featuring a young Feldman) but they were nothing in my world next to THE FOG and the original HALLOWEEN series.
Next chapter: The Daves meet The Toms – Tommy Lee Wallace & Tom Atkins!
There are many films which I would deem long overdue in terms of getting an official DVD release. Of that list of rare gems, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW was always listed near the top. This made-for-TV thriller premiered in October of 1981. I was eleven years old at the time, and an avid fan of horror. Unfortunately in that pre-VCR/cable and “too young to see R Rated films” world, there was little to satisfy my appetite. I remember seeing the television previews and being determined not to miss it. A full hour before the movie started (courtesy of CBS) I had carefully laid blankets on the floor of my bedroom while positioning my 13 inch Black & White television for optimum viewing. My efforts were not in vain as I was totally blown away by this film! (more…)
Saturday promised to be the busiest day of the Horrorhound convention. Wanting to get an early start, I immediately went down to the main hall after breakfast. Due to the large number of hosts attending the Vampira Tribute, I had no illusions about meeting them all. In an effort to stay focused, I created a short list of the ones I really wanted to meet.
The main hall of the convention was immense. Locating the horror hosts required careful navigation through crowds of people to reach the opposite side. Once there, you’d find an entire section dedicated to them, along with a schedule roster listing their availability. As many of them were also filming excerpts for their own shows or even entire web casts, catching them all would require frequent visits.
Slinking down a dark corridor, illuminated only by the glow of soft candles and dry ice, Maila Nurmi makes her grand entrance. In the unlikely event that her seductive gaze failed in seizing your immediate attention, there is no doubt that her skin tight black dress, accenting the quintessential “wasp” waist, certainly would.
Last March, I attended my first (but definitely not last) Horrorhound Convention. As mentioned in my previous post, Horrorhound Magazine definitely ranks as one of my favorites. Like FANGORIA, they sponsor their own conventions too - attracting some very impressive guests! For the past few years, Horrorhound has done two conventions annually; one in Indianapolis (March) and another in Cincinnati (November).