For me, one of the biggest draws for this year’s Days of the Dead Chicago was the appearance of Cassandra Peterson a.k.a. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her a few times before (the first of which I discussed HERE) and later enjoyed her brief reboot of Elvira’s Movie Macabre on our local Chicago station WCIU; the same channel as Svengoolie before he’d go national via MeTV a few months later. That was an exciting time since they were the two hosts I’d grown up with. From age eight to fourteen, I idolized Rich Koz’s Son of Svengoolie (now simply “Svengoolie” with the blessing of his predecessor) before our local WFLD 32 station got swallowed up by the corporate FOX. It was also around that time when I discovered Elvira after renting some of her “Thriller Video” hosted films from my local mom & pop video store. I also remember making frequent road trips in my ’20s to all neighboring Illinois and Indiana Suncoast Video stores in an effort to collect all of her Midnight Madness VHS tapes. That’s one thing we collectors have lost in our modern Internet world; that good old fashioned thrill of the hunt!
During a recent Svengoolie appearance I covered at Pinball Life, I mentioned that one of the benefits of stalking the national commercial TV horror host was being introduced to new venues and activities I’d of never experienced otherwise. Attending the Roe Conn Halloween special on Thursday October 29th was a prime example! For those lucky enough to gain access, you’d be treated to a live taping of WGN’s Roe Conn Show at a beautiful suburban venue. But first one had to apply for a ticket.
About a month before the big day I logged on to the WGN Radio site to apply for a pass. Although they were free, they were granted on a random and limited basis making it the luck of the draw. After a few weeks of silence I assumed it wasn’t meant to be until just days before the event when I finally received word I’d been chosen. Along with acceptance came instructions on where and when it would take place and what to do once I got there.
So far as fall days go, you couldn’t ask for anything better than Friday October 16th in Illinois. The sun was shining with temps hovering in the ‘60s and it was one of those rare weekdays I was scheduled off. Best of all, it was on a day when national commercial TV horror host, Svengoolie, was making one of his Halloween season appearances! This one was about 90 minutes northwest from my place in the village of Huntley, Illinois. I was familiar with the rural town as my sister used to teach school there several years back and this had been our favorite time of year to visit her. It meant postcard perfect fall leaves and a visit to one of the numerous apple orchards and pumpkin patches found in that region. Today would be a lot different.
This year’s Flashback Weekend offered something different from previous years and specifically geared towards younger horror fans; a screening of the 1967 Rankin/Bass Mad Monster Party hosted by national commercial TV horror host, Svengoolie! Though not as popular as the animation team’s Christmas TV specials (Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Year without a Santa Claus, etc.) this full-length film featured the voice work of the legendary Karlos Borloff as well as Phyllis Diller!
There’s a whole room reserved for national commercial TV horror host, Svengoolie, to his fans at Flashback Weekend. I was informed by my friend, Don Johnston that he and his crew arrived and headed straight there from the main ballroom. Don manages the event’s hotel, the Crown Plaza in Rosemont, and is a great guy who often grants me event and parking passes in exchange for helping out where needed. In this instance it was to direct fans into the room he was in while seeing to it the line stayed moving. Lucky for these folks, waiting in line involved sitting in chairs that wrapped around the room’s perimeter. After fans got up to meet him, the rest would simply move down the corresponding number of chairs until it was their turn. It may sound goofy but, trust me, as someone who has stood in line for hours to meet a convention guest before, being able to sit in a comfortable seat for the duration was worth its weight in gold!
National TV horror host, Svengoolie, has never had any trouble attracting long lines at C2E2 (Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo) and this year would be no exception. The only notable difference was the time of his appearance; earlier than previous years and conflicting with the photo op time tickets I had for Stan Lee. Fortunately C2E2 is a well-oiled machine and despite missing his arrival I was still able to get to him rather quickly…though hardly alone.
On Saturday June 13th I headed up to Lombard, Illinois to attend a Hearse Show. Not only did the event promise a collection of automobiles specifically designed to deliver you to your final destination but also live music and a visit from national horror host Svengoolie. As someone who firmly believes that Halloween is much more a state of mind rather than just a date on the calendar, an occasion such as this was just too darn fun to pass up! Joining me for the ride was my friend, Susan, a gal who also enjoys the macabre. Continue reading