Last Friday, for the first time in 30 years, commercial TV Horror Host, Mr. Mephisto, donned his signature make-up and stood before the cameras once more. The appearance took place in Kenosha on the set of Dr. Destruction’s Crimson Theatre at The Time Warner Studio. Mephisto, Dick Flanigan, arrived around noon and was greeted by a full set of cast members and guests as well as local new crews.
From 1969-1982, Dick Flanigan’s Mr. Mephisto would entertain Madison, Wisconsin horror fans as their host extraordinaire! Though not the first incarnation of the character, Flanigan would not only inherit the name but irrefutably make it his own. Late Friday nights, viewers could catch their favorite horror host courtesy of WMTV/Channel 15’s “Ferdie’s Inferno” and later “Lenny’s Inferno.”
Flanigan was working as an art director for the station before being given an opportunity to showcase his versatility via Mephisto – a chalk-faced ghoul sporting a dark wig, hat, and goatee. The grouchy Mephisto often sat at his desk while being irritated by various other character’s, most notably a voice from a box (performed by the late John Sevum who would also play other bit parts). Mr. Mephisto’s shenanigan’s made him a local favorite while, behind the scenes, his own persistence would help bring quality, classic horror films to Madison fans.
Mephisto’s influence can still be seen today courtesy of his devout fans, most notably Rich Peterson – Director of the Annual Madison Horror Film Festival. Peterson remembers discovering Mr. Mephisto back in 1975 and hasn’t been the same since. This is illustrated by him adopting his own alter ego, “Freakshow,” and as this character he was given the honor of inducting his idol into The Horror Host Hall of Fame at Horrorhound Weekend last March. Flanigan, himself, arrived in Ohio to accept the award and stated that he “was thrilled to be here.” He also stated that he was “really impressed” with the festivities” and “honored” with the whole experience.
It was at this event that Flanigan would come into contact with another horror host, Dr. Destruction. Destruction asked Flanigan if he’d be willing to make an appearance on his Sunday AM radio show, “Dr. Destruction’s Big Top Theater,” and was ecstatic when he accepted. Two weeks later, during the broadcast, he pressed his luck further by asking Flanigan if he’d be willing to host a movie with him on his own show while also putting back on the make-up. “At first he was reluctant to do so,” said Destruction, “but he finally agreed!”
When the big day arrived, Destruction paced his set while constantly checking his watch. A habitual texter, I wasn’t surprised to receive several texts from him saying, “He can arrive at any time!!!” When the moment arrived, Destruction greeted him like a dignitary and the two sat down for a one on one chat. “Just listening to him talk, you could feel that this was an amazing moment and that he was a remarkable man,” Destruction would later recount.
Though the event was, in many ways, like a political summit, these similarities would end when the two men put on their familiar make-up and took to the stage. If Mr. Mephisto was nervous about walking before the cameras again, he was greeted by other ghoulish faces to ease the transition.
The two men then sat down and together hosted QUEEN OF BLOOD. They also filmed a clip together which shows Mr. Mephisto still has his dour magic.
The full hosted episode will be available on line soon so keep an eye out for the next Horror Host Report!