On Saturday, December 7th, I pulled into Saint John’s Church in Lyons, Illinois to see Sventa Claus. The holiday version of MeTV’s horror host, Svengoolie, has become a tradition here in Chicago and one aspect of our local-gone-national celebrity we can still claim for ourselves. I was looking forward to seeing him while also supporting my friend, Lozen Brownbear. Lozen’s an animal-lover like myself and I’d attended her “Mystic Market” fundraiser up in Elmhurst last year. It’s a great way to pick up some unique, hand-crafted gifts for the holidays while sending much-needed funds to her furry friends at the Sacred Space Animal Sanctuary and Rescue.
October 2019 has been a banner month for horror hosts and comic books. We’ve all heard the news regarding Svengoolie joining the DC Universe and the Chicago-gone-national host taking the Big Apple by storm at the New York Comic-Con. Today, yet another horror host has found his way in print courtesy of Dark Horse Comics – Count Crowley! What’s that? You say you’ve never heard of Count Crowley? Well, that’s because he’s the brainchild and alter ego of actor David Dasmalchian. Yes, the co-star of the MARVEL Ant-Man films as well as DC’s upcoming Suicide Squad is not only a big fan of comic books but horror hosts as well. Aside from his current admiration for Svengoolie, he grew up with Kansas’ most beloved horror hostesses, Crematia Mortem! I first became aware of Crematia about ten years ago when I saw the documentary American Scary (now available on Amazon Prime) and have had the honor of seeing some of her old shows through trades. When David reached out to me last month, I was delighted to hear his memories of her as well as his agreeing to an interview. So sit back and enjoy David’s insights on “Count Crowley” and the living horror hosts who inspired him.
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.