Terror from Beyond the Daves is pleased to share a recent interview with our friend, Ohio Horror Host – A. Ghastlee Ghoul…
DAVE: Did you grow up with a Horror Host and who/what were your macabre influences?
A. GHASTLEE: Grow up??? Perish the thought! Nah, seriously, I site three main influences or, as I call them, my ‘illegitimate step-daddies.’ First, of course, was our own local legend, Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart). I still vividly remember exactly where I was when his first episode aired. It was New Years Day evening 1972. The parents had gone to bed, no doubt nursing hang-overs from the night before, leaving me alone with the old B&W TV. There wasn’t much on late night back then. I was flipping through the three channels, when, there he was…the scary guy with fangs staring back at me! Yes, Dr Creep was SCARY in the beginning! I was hooked from his signature ‘Hoo-hah-haaahh!!!’ and watched religiously every week from then on, seeing him develop from that initially fearsome character to a funny, loveable party animal of sorts, ring-mastering a wild cast and making you feel a real part of the happening. Things would go wrong and he would groan, shake his head and laugh it off. It was all part of the charm. Later, he would also host the afternoon kiddy show “Clubhouse 22” in addition to his late night duties. Everyone loved The Creeper.
I first got to meet him when I went on his show to promote our haunted house in 1980-81, and when he would make personal appearances at the haunt. He even gave us an idea for a scene one year that we surprised him with when we built it the following year. Barry was the first guest I had on when I started my own show, and I sat there in awe the whole time, the little kid inside jumping up and down with glee! After that we became great friends, he appearing on my show and me on his New Shock Theatre. It was my great honor to induct him into The Horror Host Hall of Fame, sadly posthumously, in 2011. He was a wonderful person. I miss him every day.
My second exposure to hosts was The Cool Ghoul from Cincinnati, Dick Von Hoene. We could pull in the signal from Channel 19 if you adjusted the tin foil on the rabbit ears to the south and held your mouth just the right way. He was a manic hippy character in a fright wig and raggedy, brightly colored clothes. He had this signature ‘Blllllaaahhh!’ noise he made with his tongue…that unfortunately doesn’t translate well into print! A lot of my own manic manner of hosting came from The Cool Ghoul. In 2003 I was working on getting him as a guest for my Scary Camp Convention, where I’d hoped to bring all three of my ‘illegitimate step-daddies’ together under one roof (Ah, the little kid inside of me jumping for joy again!). He sadly passed away before I could do that, but I carry those great memories of his show around in Ghastlee. As a side note; there is another Cool Ghoul in northern Ohio (George Cavender) who is happily alive and carries on with that name.
Lastly, but far from leastly (leastly???), in the late 70’s we finally got cable, and I was introduced to my buddy, Timothy Francis Herron, a.k.a. Baron Von Wolfstein. His show ran on Indianapolis’ WTTV Channel 4, during the year that Sammy Terry wasn’t on. Tim’s show was SO different than any horror host I’d seen before. Wolftsein was, obviously, a werewolf character, but a very poised one who spoke eloquently in a Karloff-esque accent. The show was more cerebral than slapstick, the sketches wry and situational, while the production was downright psychadelic. Tim played several characters on the show besides the Baron, including Robin Graves and Carlisle the Invincible Wizard. For a time I had the choice of watching Saturday Night Live or Saturday Night with the Monsters, and I naturally had to choose the monsters. Tim moved to Dayton for a while in the early 2000’s, and in a fun twist of fate, was my roommate. During that time he made numerous appearances on my show as the Baron and a host of other characters, and we co-produced a short ‘dracumentary’ called JOE NOSFERATU: HOMELESS VAMPIRE that also featured a bunch of our horror host buddies from around the country in cameos.
DAVE: Tell us how you came to be A. Ghastlee Ghoul. What made you decide to become a host?
A GHASTLEE: Well I always wanted to be Captain Kangaroo as a kid, and used to hang around the basement pretending I was hosting my own kid’s show (yeah, I was that geeky kid!). Then I saw Dr. Creep and knew I wanted to be THAT guy! When his original Shock Theater show went off the air in 1985 I thought someone needed to fill that void. I began creating Ghastlee and the show concept then and even did some test footage on 8mm film, but never followed through with pitching the idea to a station. About that time I’d begun doing stand-up comedy. A bunch of comic friends and I created a group showcase program for cable access called The Underground Sideshow. The Ghastlee Movie Show was one sketch I did on there; basically a parody of a horror host, a guy who really didn’t want to be a host but was sort of drafted into the job. In one of those odd occurrences of life imitating art, eventually the other guys didn’t have time to work on the show anymore and I expanded the sketch to take over the entire time slot.
DAVE: How long have you been a Horror Host?
A GHASTLEE: In October 2012, it will be 23 years!
DAVE: How did you meet Suspira and what was it like getting married at Cinema Wasteland?
A GHASTLEE: Another incidence of Dr. Creep changing my life. He came on my show in 2001 saying ‘Ho, ho, ho! I brought you something!’ and introduced me to this beautiful, sardonic little vampire. Little did I know things would really click between us. Two years later Creeper was the Best Man at our Horror Host Wedding. It was one of the most special days of my life. Over 30 hosts were on hand along with family and many other friends. Carpathian and Kuzibah from the storytelling troupe, The Patient Creatures presided over a beautiful, funny and sometimes tear-jerking ceremony, while Grim (from the same group) drove us around in a Hearse Limo. Part of the wedding is featured on my DVD of AMERICAN SCARY. Mostly the weepy part! My mascara was running!
DAVE: Tell us about your background as a musician. Do you incorporate your music with your hosting?
A GHASTLEE: I started playing guitar when I was 14 and have been playing in bands since 1980. My love of horror always crept in. In the late 80’s I began using the Ghastlee name onstage, though most of the time minus the make-up. I was playing, singing and writing original music and lyrics in a band called “No One Cares.” The other guitarist in the band, Neal, kept trying to get me to wear the make-up onstage but I only did it a couple of times around Halloween and a “Dr. Creep for President” show.
After that I was in a band called “Global Tango” with my current drummer/sidekick Louu the XXXmas Devil. When that project went south, Louu and I teamed up with a bassist named Jas for a sort of metal-jazz instrumental trio called “Ratt Sass.” We played a show at the Neon Movies here in Dayton where we performed a “Live” soundtrack to the silent film HAXAN a.k.a. WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES. I wore the make-up and hosted the evening, and Jas and I would switch instruments in the middle of songs. It was a real blast, and we even got a standing ovation at the end. About 8 years ago we started our current band, “Splattertude,” with Suspiria and Mayhen Zann. That grew out of acoustic jams we would do at my A. Ghastlee Nite at the Movies show at Cinema Wasteland. When the band went electric I decided to play bass with a bunch of effects on it instead of guitar and that began to define our style and sound. Since we were/are the de facto house band at Wasteland we were already wearing make-up and costumes, so we kept doing it at other gigs and the horror crept into the music as well. The band is definitely an extension of The Ghastlee Movie Show since we are all on the TV show as well, though when people call us a horror band I say I prefer to call it “Prog-Punk” – two things that shouldn’t go together!
DAVE: What projects does A. Ghastlee have in the works?
A GHASTLEE: I’ve been working with my buddy, The Mod Ghoul, on the online program Weird Web Theater lately, among other things. Recently I started making creepy dolls I call “Ghastlee’s Ghouls.” I’ll be using them in another of my “Slayzoid Studios” shorts tentatively title BABY DOLL OVERKILL. and hosting that on the show. we also do an Internet radio show called “Splattertude Radio” (check that out by clicking HERE). Of course we are always at Cinema Wasteland twice a year too, playing music and hosting our drunken night of interactive games and sketches on Saturday nights.
DAVE: The BEST movie you’ve seen at the theater lately is _______.
A GHASTLEE: I loved THE AVENGERS! We still have drive-ins here and Suspiria and I went to see that on a double bill with HUNGER GAMES. Stirred up that little kid again!
DAVE: How did you end up writing “Underpants of the Dead” and do you have any plans for more writing projects?
A GHASTLEE: I was writing a weekly column for Count Gore DeVol’s Veekly Veb show, and my pal, C. W. Prather (produces of The Spooky Movie TV Show and The Spooky Movie Film Festival in the D.C. area) was writing a funny, serialized piece he called “The Blog of Alberstein.” One week we thought it would be fun to switch jobs and not tell anyone. He wrote my column and I threw in some really weird twists into his story for him to deal with later. It was fun, so we proposed to Count Gore that we write and serialize a comedy, zombie novel for his site. He gave it his official “Whatever!” and we were off and running. It was really tough keeping up with it sometimes because we had to have a new chapter each week. C.W. would write something and send it to me, and vice-versa, then we’d write curve balls in to keep one another, and the reader, guessing. People seemed to like it, so when that first draft was done online we decided to go back and rewrite (and rewrite…and rewrite) it and see if we could get it published. We were still rewriting, overwriting and editing when C.W. passed a copy along to a publisher at The Horrorfind Weekend convention in Baltimore. Lo and behold, it was in print! we have enough ideas for, and have started writing, several sequels in the saga of the town and characters of Olsome, Ohio. Hey, maybe in another few years we’ll have it done!
DAVE: What’s your favorite movie monster?
A GHASTLEE: I was always partial to THE WOLFMAN growing up, but my favorite is probably the house in THE HAUNTING.
DAVE: Outside of getting married of course, what was your favorite A. Ghastlee Ghoul moment?
A GHASTLEE: Oh wow! So many. I’d have to say my Scary Camp convention in 2003. So many friends and fans all together under one roof. I just stood back at points and thought, ‘Look what I did!’ The local papers covered it thoroughly, and Dr. Creep and I were doing “Live” remotes on the local news. On Saturday night we had a party suite and Sid Haig hung out with us until 4:30am (Hey, we had to be up at 7am, but would you tell Sid it was past his bedtime?). On Sunday Morning we held a ‘revival’ on the stage in the convention center mezzanine, handing out pudding pies and shots of bourbon in exchange for people’s ‘confessions’ of their worst hangover stories. A Southern Baptist church was holding services on the same floor and the staff made us quit! Ha-HAAA! It was almost as funny as the Catholic High School graduation parading through our area on the way back to the parking garage! Oh, the HORROR! Too many great memories to recount them all, but definitely a real high point in the life of this horror host!
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES would like to thank A. Ghastlee Ghoul for this entertaining interview and be sure to visit his site by clicking HERE!