Back in my junior high and high school years, I admit to being a pretty serious collector of comic books. This was back in the early ’80s and well before The X-Men, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Batman, and The Avengers would all become modern day pop culture & box office phenomena (as I write this post, Iron Man 3 just pulled in $175M on it’s opening weekend here in the US). Unfortunately, back in my day a guy needed to downplay his love of super heroes lest he receive daily wedgies from the school bully while consistently repelling members of the opposite sex.
I discussed my comic book history back when I reviewed The Avengers movie last year (seen HERE). This year I decided to use the C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) occasion to not only cover the Return of Svengoolie (see last post) but also as an opportunity to reconnect with my comic book past.
It was just after 3pm last Saturday when my friend, Steve Gill, and I began plowing through a juggernaut of fans (and even fans dressed like Marvel’s Juggernaut) in an effort to get to “Table 12.” C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) is a popular annual/weekend event here in the city and this was clearly their “prime time.” It was little wonder that it took us over ten minutes to navigate a single aisle.
Of course it also didn’t help that I was stopping every few yards to take pictures of costumed fans either but I’ll cover that portion of the event in an upcoming post. Today I’m going to cut right to the chase and focus on my main objective for being there…the return of Svengoolie! And, while conventional wisdom states one should always save the best for last, I have no desire in prolonging what we fans have waited long enough for as it is.
I was attending a Brookfield Chapter AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) meeting at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo late last year when the subject of our annual Vital Grounds spaghetti dinner/fundraiser came up. As they’ve been doing this event for several years now, they’ve pretty much got it all down to a science (food, auction items, ticket info, etc).
There was one aspect of the occasion, however, that wasn’t quite so clear…namely the entertainment. For the past several years, Chicago-gone-national horror host, Svengoolie, had been their featured guest which guaranteed a strong turn-out & much-needed funds for the cause. However, with Sven’s health scare in November that was no longer a certainty. Everyone at the table turned and looked at me…
Unlike the last few years, 2013′s March Horrorhound Weekend featured only a sparse number of horror hosts which, in many ways, seemed like a “last stand.” After the Vampira Tribute in 2010, Jason Hignite continued the Horrorhound Weekend/Horror Host tradition with a Zacherley Tribute in 2011 along with “inducting” at least ten horror hosts into the Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Horror Host Hall of Fame. The tradition of choosing ten random hosts for induction would continue in 2012 and, despite the lower turn-out, took place again this year.
It was around 3pm on Friday, March 22nd when I arrived in Cincinnati for Horrorhound Weekend. Brian Maze from monkeygoatboy.com graciously asked me if I’d like to save expenses and room with him. This was in lieu of the person he was originally supposed to be going with cancelling due to an injury. Brian was staying at the Livinn Hotel which, while across the street from the event’s official hotel, was actually right next door to the Sharonville Convention Center and closer. Rather than seeking out my press pass, Brian saved me a LOT of anguish by also giving me his fallen compadre’s “vendor pass” which was even better. This act of kindness can not be understated as getting inside that convention center was like storming the gates of Mordor.
Hard to believe, but we’re now heading into the final week before the March Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati! It’s a bittersweet event for me as this is my fourth straight year attending this event and had always been done so with friends while, this time, I’m the lone Terror Dave. That should not imply that I won’t still have a blast nor be surrounded by friends and I’m looking forward to seeing many of them. Especially my pal, Brian Maze, who will be making regular appearances on this site and I think is one great guy!
Terror from Beyond the Daves would like to extend a very special “Get Well” card to our dear friend, Rich Koz/Svengoolie. Svengoolie is well loved and respected; not just by us Daves and horror fans, but by a WIDE range of broadcasting professionals, TV historians, and a few notable celebrities as well. This has been especially true now that he’s gone national and caught the attention of such genre legends as Mark Hamill and Robert Englund!
Alex and I quickly navigated through crowds of monsters and maniacs as we made our way from Svengoolie’s signing to the The Nightmare on Chicago Street’s main stage. I’d forgotten my map but one needed only a pair of working ears to determine which way to go. Echoing throughout the event was the featured band, “Hairbanger’s Ball” performing 1980′s rock hits. It wasn’t long until I was reunited with my friends amid a cover of Warrant’s “Cherry Pie.”
Here are some examples…
On Friday, October 19th, I was joined by my friend and Terror Dave Girl Friday (the 13th), Elizabeth Ocon, along with my son, Alex, to get our first glimpse at Brookfield Zoo’s 2012 “Creatures of the night!”
Horror Host, Svengoolie, was slated to arrive at 7pm but, by 6:30, there was already a long line winding around the zoo’s Discovery Center to see him. Svengoolie never disappoints when it comes to drawing large crowds at Brookfield Zoo! I remember at last year’s event (covered HERE) the line wrapped around the bison yard and eventually had to get cut off. In an effort to accomodate all of the eager fans, no pictures were permitted, just autographs. It didn’t seem to damper anyones mood and many found clever ways to snap pictures with him anyway while Sven added his own humorous touches.
Special thanks to guest writer, Joan Yingst, and event photos courtesy of Jim Roche.
I’ve been a Svengoolie fan ever since he started as “The Son of…” back in 1979 when I was 12 years old. I never missed an episode if I could help it. Flash forward thirty three years later, and I am still watching him. Sure, there was a lull during that time when Sven was off the air, but I never forgot him during those lost years.
Whenever national Horror Host, Svengoolie, makes a public appearance, I try to not only attend the event but also linger whenever possible (remember, “linger” sounds better than “stalking”). Though his average guest turn out is so large that it affords me little time to actually interact with the host, there are definite benefits to just “hanging around.”
It’s after 1am and I’ve just returned from one VERY memorable evening. I attended Elgin, Illinois’ “Nightmare on Chicago Street” which I can say with 100% sincerity was the most satisfying Halloween season event I’ve attended to date! There will be MUCH more on that in future posts. Not only was the event loads of fun, it was downright historic for us Svengoolie fans. After 40 plus years, and a Rich Koz make-over, the original Svengoolie coffin is going into a much-deserved retirement. TONIGHT its successor was finally revealed…
G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) is the quintessential celebration of Godzilla and all his fellow Kaiju (Japanese Monsters). I’ve been a fan of Godzilla and Gamera ever since I was a kid. Growing up in the 1970′s, it was via shows like Creature Features or The Son of Svengoolie to bring those movies to me. People who did not grow up with a horror host usually have a hard time understanding why some of us adult fans get so weepy with adulation at the mere mention of our childhood ghoul. Well, when you’re a “monster kid,” surrounded by more “normal” kids who want to play baseball or watch The Dukes of Hazard, the person faithfully delivering your favorite films becomes more than just a TV star, he becomes your idol…one of Godzilla proportions. In my case it also helped that I found my host’s corny humor hilarious and his less than stellar singing voice pitch perfect.
Terror from Beyond the Daves is pleased to see our fellow Sven-fan, Jamie Lee Cortese, bring a little “Dr. Demento” to local radio with her very own show “Jammin with Jamie!” Jamie, a student at Northwestern University, is no stranger to the college airwaves and will be on every other weekend including this one!
Chicago Horror Hosting has been receiving a lot of attention this days with the recent re-release of “Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie” (covered last week HERE) as well as a new book focusing on the “Shock Theatre” years specifically, “Shock Theatre, Chicago Style!” This book was written by Don Glut, a film-maker, writer, as well as a super fan of Chicago’s Marvin. Glut had assisted us years ago when we featured our own tribute to this host which you can check out HERE!
One of the most rewarding aspects of stalking National Horror Host, Svengoolie, is that (despite his hectic summer & fall schedule of appearances) he somehow manages to do new things each year! And if there’s one thing we obsessive fans love, it’s diversity! Another hidden benefit of Sven-Surveillance is that it succeeds in bringing you to places you might never consider visiting otherwise. Such was the case with Sven’s recent visit to The Volo Auto Museum.
One of the most surprising moments at Svengoolie’s recent appearance at G-FEST (story HERE) was when a long-time Svengoolie fan named Tony Kapsis shared some vintage items from one of Jerry G. Bishop’s public appearances in the early 1970′s.
I hadn’t seen Horror Host, Svengoolie, descend upon Berwyn (a town he’s helped make famous) since he Grand Marshalled their “Houby Parade” last October (story HERE). I can’t recall the last time I’d seen him at their local treasure, “Horrorbles,” but I DO know that it was some time before I became a “Terror Dave.” It couldn’t happen too much for me, as the two seem made for each other. Not only because the Horror themed store is the official supplier of Sven’s rubber chickens but because they are both hallowed horror institutions of Chicagoland.
When I say that it was a dream come true for National Horror Host, Svengoolie, to be a guest at the quintessential Godzilla event, G-FEST, I am really not kidding! I rediscovered that Sven was back on TV in 2003 and went to my first G-FEST in 2004 – wondering for the last 8 years why the two had never joined forces. After all, this was the Horror Host who helped cultivate my love of these films back in his “Son of Svengoolie” days. He’s also family & fan friendly, and there are few other events that capture that spirit like G-FEST does.
Less than 48 hours after seeing Svengoolie at the “Joliet Slammers” game (story featured HERE), I found myself headed out to see him yet again. This time the location was Northwest of Chicago in the rural town of Lake in the Hills, Illinois and the occasion was their annual “Rockin’ Ribfest.” Although the terrible heat and humidity that had plagued his baseball game appearance had since dropped, they had still managed to drain me. Therefore, despite my reputation on Facebook as being a certifiable “Svengoolie Stalker” (a title I wear like a geek badge of honor), I have to confess that I was ready to forgo this outing in favor of a day of rest. Fortunately, my 14 year old son, Alex, had just returned from a month long trip to Colorado the day before and had no intention of missing a chance to see his favorite host along with a slab of BBQ ribs.