The Following highlights were “transcrammed” from the 2019 Flashback Weekend panel celebrating 40 years of Rich Koz’s Svengoolie. The event began with a video presentation narrated by the original Svengoolie – the late Jerry G. Bishop. The panel was moderated by WGN Radio’s Nick Digilio and proved an entertaining 90 minutes – with a few surprises!
I can safely say this past Flashback Weekend horror convention was my best one yet. That’s in no short thanks to MeTV’s national horror host, Svengoolie, and his amazing crew for deputizing me as one of their own. Despite his having attended faithfully for over a decade, this year was exceptional in lieu of Rich Koz’s 40th Anniversary as Sven. Consequently, he’d have a busier schedule than usual with activities planned both Friday and Saturday. In exchange for my extra set of hands, the crew granted me a special guest pass, paid me to sell merchandise, and threw in a complimentary Svengoolie sweatshirt for good measure. The icing on the cake was getting to stay at the hotel overnight (in a room they provided) and keep an eye on their equipment so they wouldn’t have to lug it all back the next day. In other words, it was about as close to winning the lottery as I’ll likely ever get!
So let’s get started…
Do you remember what you were doing on the night of Saturday, June 16, 1979? I sure do. Here in Chicagoland there was a bit of fanfare regarding a new horror host hitting the airwaves via our favorite UHF station, WFLD Channel 32. For a young monster movie fan like myself, the idea of watching them on prime time was a gift in and of itself. Having them presented along with hilarious parody songs, skits, and sound effects took it to an even higher level. Even before the big night, I recall my parents discussing the new talent at the dinner table. “Oh, you’ll probably love this Son of Svengoolie,” my mom said, looking up from the Chicago Tribune’s entertainment section. “Your father used to watch his dad back when he was on TV.”
Special “Shout Out” to Internet Horror Host, Bobby Gammonster, on his 10th Season/200th Show! Gammonster began hosting movies from his very real “Monster Museum” back in 2011 and was inspired by visiting Monster Bash and meeting the great Penny Dreadful Dreadful and Count Gore de Vol. Joined by his feathered sidekick, Boris T. Buzzard, Bobby Gammonster presents schlocky horror and Grindhouse terrors from the past and right from his own home. Be sure to check him out on his YouTube Channel!
With the kids and I settled in our new place I haven’t been this excited about the holidays in years. We’ve got a new pre-lit Christmas tree that offers both color and white lights, a freezer full of homemade cookies awaiting decoration, and a honey baked ham for the big day. In fact, I’ve been feeling so festive these days I don’t even mind the local 24/7 holiday music station that usually drives up a wall.
Yet, despite all the trappings, it wasn’t until last weekend at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center that I really felt the holiday spirit. This was thanks to their annual “mystic” fundraiser/adoption featuring adorable puppies, spooky artisans, and my favorite celebrity; national horror host, Svengoolie, in his seasonal “Sventa Claus” attire! And if there’s one holiday tradition to uphold, it’s seeing Sventa.
In many ways, attending the latest Horrorhound Weekend/MASK-FEST in Indianapolis was like a visit to an alternative Universe. For one thing, the huge gathering of horror buffs was taking place at an all-new venue; one that promised better parking and a larger layout to accommodate vendors and fans. For another, I was attending with a friend from Rhode Island who’d never done a Horrorhound Weekend before. Jason Schoolcraft joined me last year in Indy for Days of the Dead and assists me every so often with his “Killer Reviews.” We had a great time at “Days” and Jason loved having an opportunity to meet independent filmmakers which he hoped to continue to do at Horrorhound. For me, it was all about the masks.
Every time I’d hit a stoplight en route to this year’s Houby parade in Cicero (sponsored by Berrrrr-wyn), I glanced up at the sky expecting a downpour. Fortunately, my iphone’s weather app was as wrong Sunday as it is just about every other day of the week and this didn’t happen. With the help of my friends, Don and Bunny, I found a parking spot about half a mile from the event before my daughter, Jade, and I sought them out on foot. This was the 50th year Berwyn celebrated its Czechoslovakian heritage by holding a festival dedicated to mushrooms…or at least that’s how it all began. In an interesting twist, the Slovak tradition has since been embraced by the community’s predominant Latino population, thus making Chicago’s parade (and, yes folks, there are others) rather unique even by Houby standards. Now I do love mushrooms, especially when sauteed and sitting next to a sirloin steak, but confess they weren’t the reason for my being here. Rather, I was celebrating a more personal tradition…stalking national horror host, Svengoolie during his busy Halloween season!