TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES is pleased to announce the re-release of the quintessential guide to Chicago horror hosts and horror programming – “Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie!” I remember buying this book at “Horrorbles” in Berrrr-wyn, Illinois during its first release. As a die-hard Rich Koz/Svengoolie fan, I was elated to see his visage on the cover of a book. It seems so odd now but, when I look back, I actually used to feel isolated in my fandom of him. Thanks to the Internet and the Svengoolie YAHOO forum I soon discovered that I was far from alone. And, thanks to THIS book, it filled in a lot of Svengoolie-gaps in information that I had been unaware of…
One of the most surprising moments at Svengoolie’s recent appearance at G-FEST was when a long-time Svengoolie fan named Tony Kapsis shared some vintage items from one of Jerry G. Bishop’s public appearances in the early 1970’s.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Chicago when I arrived at DePaul University to see a Q&A session with national horror host and broadcaster, Rich Koz/Svengoolie! While I’ve seen him at various appearances this would mark the first time I would catch him without his familiar make-up and, rather than greet fans, get to see him discuss his vast career.
Last Sunday, I grabbed the kids and headed over to the town made infamous by the Svengoolies – Berwyn, Illinois – to observe a rather unusual event. The Annual “Houby” parade has taken place for over forty years now and, along with the National horror host, has become a local Berwyn tradition! For those scratching their heads wondering what a “Houby” is, it is the Czechoslovakian word for “mushroom.” Yes, you are reading this correctly, the entire parade is dedicated to mushrooms! Mushrooms and truffles are to the Czechs’ what the tomato is to the Italians. It is a big part of their culture and it should also be noted that other “Houby” events take place throughout the year in other places throughout the United States.
This past weekend, fans of the original Jerry G. Bishop Svengoolie had reason to cheer! The work of this classic host who was recently entered into “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” Horror Host Hall of Fame and spotlighted on this site early last month (which you can see HERE) had a short run in Chicago and, with the exception of various clips offered via AMERICAN SCARY and YouTube, very little else surviving.
In 1970, the original Svengoolie hit the Chicago airwaves and the Windy city hasn’t been the same since! The vampire hippy, with his quick wit, rubber chickens, and hilarious commercial/song parodies made for a night of side-splitting entertainment in a region that had been starved of a horror host since Shock Theatre (Marvin’s) departure a decade before.