Horror Hosts!

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Horror Hosts!

Postby lhb412 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:06 pm

In honor of Svengoolie's monthlong showcase of Godzilla movies (starting tomorrow with Godzilla, King of the Monsters!) I thought to make a thread dedicated to arguably American television's greatest invention: the horror host. Despite the common wisdom that they are a feature of yesteryear, I realize I've been watching horror hosts in some form my whole life.

Now, if I'm to understand correctly, horror hosting took off in the late '50s when Universal made a syndication package of their horror and thriller movies called 'Shock' available to local stations nationwide. Some brave souls from those local broadcasters (weathermen, radio announcers) donned monster makeup, assembled crude dungeon or mad scientist sets, and began hosting the movies, often supplying goofy humor to make the scary movies more palatable for the kids watching.

I grew up in the '90s, but I really didn't watch Joe Bob Briggs' MonsterVision all that much. I was terrified of horror movies, but if he was showing something like Godzilla or King Kong I was there. I'll never forget watching Joe Bob host Godzilla vs. Monster Zero while on a trip. I begged my parents to leave the TV on while everyone else slept, putting the volume down low enough to not disturb anyone. Of course, I was flummoxed when Joe Bob said "most Godzilla fans hate this one because it's got so little monster footage." Wha?

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Around age 11 I started liking horror movies, and was introduced to many of them via AMC's Monsterfest, which screened so many Universal/Hammer/AIP classics. They'd often have guests hosts for that particular year, and they even had a kind of permanent, weekly Monsterfest for old sci-fi movies called EFX, hosted by Stan Winston which often showed kaiju movies.

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By the early to late '00s these had all faded, but I still managed to occasional catch Macabre Theatre, a bottom-rung syndication thing that showed Deep Red a lot and aired on a small local channel owned by an eccentric former reporter in the next county. When the digital switchover happened and the former UHF lineup was joined by another half dozen channels of mostly reruns I caught Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In a few times, but the biggest advent of the digital switchover was MeTV acquiring Chicago's long-running (since the '70s!) horror host: Svengoolie! I dig his old-fashioned comedy shtick with intentional cory jokes (some out of date by an order of lifetimes), bad puns, and other assorted groaners that eventually elicit him to be pelted with rubber chickens. Sven (real name: Rich Koz) is also great with trivia, giving the movies some serious coverage and not just jokes.

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Of course, horror hosting is also a key influence behind my favorite TV show: Mystery Science Theater 3000, although I agree with Joel Hodgson's appraisal that they aren't actually hosting movies, but merely using movies as raw material to build a variety show on top of.
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby jellydonut25 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:37 am

For the most part, Joe Bob is "MY" horror host. I saw a lot of his stuff, and to this day I think my most vivid memory of him is when he hosted Howling VII: New Moon Rising, and he was absolutely FLUMMOXED by the movie.

You can watch a lot of his movies hosted on YouTube, sometimes just the host segments, sometimes the whole movie with it; it's like a whole THING now, where you can do that with a lot of horror hosts.

Other than Joe Bob, I think I was a tad young for Elvira and some of the other prominent ones, but I actually remember Paul & Annabelle hosting Dinner and a Movie, which wasn't restricted to horror, but had host wraparound segments.

And other than that (and obviously MST3K) I remember a local "Off Beat Cinema" which had the hosts all dressed like beatniks in black & white host segments doing like spoken word poetry about the movies and stuff. They showed a lot of cheesy B sci-fi and horror movies.


But yeah, Joe Bob is my boy. And because of this thread, I just now realized that he hosted a screening of Howling 3 (one of the most insane movies ever) and I am trying desperately to resist the urge to fall into the rabbit hole.
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby mr.negativity » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:11 am

jellydonut25 wrote:Other than Joe Bob, I think I was a tad young for Elvira and some of the other prominent ones, but I actually remember Paul & Annabelle hosting Dinner and a Movie, which wasn't restricted to horror, but had host wraparound segments.


I forgot about Elvira!

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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby Jinzo Ningen » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:43 am

Growing up in the 70's, I was lucky enough to have a couple of local stations with hosts. Both out of Detroit.

Sir Graves Ghastly was my first & foremost "go-to" guy for decent (mostly Universal b&w monster) movies, ripe with the usual spooky host shtick package. The Ghoul was the other one, (still active today!), who ran Saturday nites on UHF station TV50; (God, do I miss those days!). Later on in the early 80's we had a late-runner, in the form of Count Scary. He did a handful of primetime horror specials, including an awesome 3D airing of Gorilla At Large, back when that fade was trying to make a comeback. Count Scary even had one special where he and The Ghoul had a "who's the best horror host?" battle/contest, while airing Night of The Living Dead. Lots of great, groan-inducing memories. :mrgreen:

Of course, for 80's late-comers there was also the Goodtimes Video VHS party tape "HORRIBLE HORRORS" that was hosted by 'Cool Ghoul' Zacherly. (This tape recently got a nice re-issue as an extended Special Edition on DVD.) Another cool hoster nugget. :D
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby lhb412 » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:52 pm

jellydonut25 wrote:You can watch a lot of his movies hosted on YouTube, sometimes just the host segments, sometimes the whole movie with it; it's like a whole THING now, where you can do that with a lot of horror hosts.


The other day I watched all his segments for The Warriors where he has the NYC subway map out and is tracing their journey throughout the movie. Maybe the greatest moment in TV history.

... also makes me mad that The Warriors has disappeared from Netflix and the only version on Blu-Ray is the Lucas-esque director's cut.
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby mr.negativity » Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:22 am

USA Up All Night!
Hosted by Gilbert Gottfried & Rhonda Shear.
Spoiler Below:
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby O.Supreme » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:38 pm

Living in California all my life, my father indoctrinated me with Creature Features (RIP Bob Wilkins) and later-John Stanley. Heck, my dad was ON the show twice in the mid-70's. Its funny I moved to Sacramento as a teen and didn't know until much later he actually started in Sacramento, before moving and doing split duties between Sacramento and San Francisco. Unfortunately as was common, most of those shows were taped over as they were reused extensively before film became less expensive (and now everything is digital of course)...Still I have obtained a few DVD's and clips of shows over the years, mostly thanks to the retired John Stanley who was able to obtain some of his stuff, also to August Ragone, who was very close with Bob Wilkins way back when. Also Bob was one of the few horror hosts who also doubled as a show for kids (Captain Cosmic) host. This is how I was introduced to Ultraman, Spectreman, and Space Giants...ahh good times.
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby mr.negativity » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:58 am

Image
L.A. Times October 25, 1987:
Elvira Vs. Vampira: Tale From The Crypt
Christine Ziaya wrote:With Halloween looming, horror hostess Elvira (a.k.a. Cassandra Peterson) is profitably haunting the airwaves in a Coors commercial, TV appearances, radio specials, et al. Although her syndicated TV show, "Movie Macabre," is no longer aired on KHJ Channel 9, where it originated, it's in about 72 other cities and destined for Australia. And there are a glut of other Elvira enterprises in the works.

Meanwhile, former local TV personality Vampira (a.k.a. Maila Nurmi, now 65) is living on Social Security in a small Hollywood apartment--and claiming that Peterson and KHJ ripped off the character she created on KABC Channel 7 back in the '50s.

"The character she (Peterson) is playing is 75-80% Vampira--some parts are missing, some things have been added," said Nurmi. "They've taken a large part of Vampira and added these lowly commodities and given it a wider common denominator, but in so doing this, destroyed the character. I resent their taking my product and doing that to it."

As Vampira, Nurmi appeared live with fish-net stockings, six-inch fingernails and a daringly (for the time) low-cut black gown. After screaming into the camera, she'd introduce herself and the horror film of the eve. After two years at KABC, L.A.'s first lady of macabre was hired by KHJ.

She didn't last long and the character faded into obscurity. In 1980, she resurrected Vampira "from the cobwebs" to help raise money for organizations that aid stray animals. KHJ contacted her the next year, interested in doing a Vampira-type show and using the Vampira name. She told Outtakes that after three months of negotiations, the station offered a contract that would have forced her to give up all rights to the Vampira character. She declined; discussions ended.

At the time, Peterson was negotiating with KHJ to play the part of its new horror-hostess.

You'll see Peterson this Halloween hostessing "Friday Night Videos" (actually on NBC Saturday at 1:30 a.m.), haunting "Saturday Night Live" and spooking with a three-hour radio special on KMPC-FM from 9 to midnight. There are Elvira calendars, greeting cards, costumes, make-up, perfume, plastic model kit and porcelain collector's plates. She's landed a deal to be portrayed in a Marvel comic, her Coors contract is in its second year and she's co-producing a comedy feature, "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark," due to shoot in January.

Peterson is mystified by Nurmi's resentment: "I'd like her (Nurmi) to be friendly with me. I don't know why she has such hostility toward me."

Walter Baker, KHJ v.p.-program director, said, "We didn't rip this lady off. I guarantee it." He concedes that the station negotiated with Nurmi to use the name Vampira, and to have Nurmi make occasional appearances on the show. But: "When negotiations ceased at her doing, we changed the show--the whole concept."

Meanwhile, Nurmi's co-writing her bio--"Glamour Ghoul"--and, if she can sell it, says she may use the money for a lawsuit.
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby lhb412 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:46 am

^ At 30 years old is that the oldest article you've linked to? I wanna see some contemporary reviews of 1930s Universal Monster movies!
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby mr.negativity » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:59 pm

'Frankenstein': THR's 1931 Review
On Nov. 21, 1931, Universal unveiled Frankenstein in theaters, adapting a novel that was at the time an unproven commodity on the big screen. The Hollywood Reporter's original review, headlined "Frankenstein 100% Shocker - Old Horror Tale Full of Thrills," is below:
You'll never tell anything about this one from a preview. A preview can only determine the continuity, the photography, the sound — the acting and the direction. All of these Frankenstein has — in perfection. It is the story itself, its effect on a paying audience, the word-of-mouth that will go out that will determine whether or not Universal has the greatest shocker of all time — or a dud. It can be one or the other; there will be no in-between measures. Here is the story:

Frankenstein is a young medical student. He is interested in what makes for life, what brings the fruit upon the trees, why one son of a mother is an honest and upright man, another a criminal, maybe a murderer. His experiments carry him along until he is obsessed with the unholy desire to create life in his own image. But he fails to reckon with God.

From graves, the scaffold, from the university laboratory he steals bodies — parts of what were once human beings. From a lecture room he steals the brain of a criminal. Then, one night, as the elements rage in an electrical storm, he puts his theories — and the body he has assembled — to the supreme test. He believes the great ray which first gave life to a squirming mass of slime in a puddle of rain water at the time of earth's beginning lies in the lightning which pours from the heavens.

The thing that never lived, the horrible monstrosity of a man — the monster of his creation — does take on a robot form of life. He has given it everything — except pity, humanity, love.

From its first day it sets out upon a career of terror and murder. Try as they might to tame it, to civilize it, to teach it, the monster goes on killing. The young doctor gives way to the great strain and is taken home. Finally the monster escapes into the countryside and kills a little child, the only human that had ever been kind to it. This time it seems to realize what it has done. What pity the thing is capable of showing, it shows here. Then, on the wedding day of the young doctor, the monster gets into the bridal home, attacks the bride-to-be and again escapes. This time the entire village is set to trap and kill it. High up on the mountain they find "the thing," but not until it has captured and carried away the doctor whom it has snared from out of the posse. In its flight it seeks safety in an old mill. Here the mob comes and, failing to capture "the thing," they set fire to the building. In its rage the monster throws the body of its creator into the mob and, trapped in the flames, it burns to death.

And there you have the story. Is it entertainment? Only theatre-goers can give that answer. We venture the opinion that this production of Frankenstein will cause more talk, no matter how that talk points, than any picture that has been made in years.

By the same token the production brings to mind these questions. If any or all of them prove correct — Universal has something worth while for the experiment it has made with Frankenstein.

Will Frankenstein be another Dracula?

Has Universal, in the person of Boris Karloff, discovered a successor to Lon Chaney?

Is James Whale, who now has Journey's End and Waterloo Bridge to his credit, one of the great directors of picturedom?

Is there a place in theatre for pictures of the type of Frankenstein, the coming productions of Jekyll and Hyde by Paramount, and Freaks by MGM?

Colin Clive as the doctor and Boris Karloff as the monster give tremendous performances. No matter what you think of the picture, you can take nothing from these players for the performances they have turned in. They are magnificent.

James Whale has done a great job in his direction. This is not an easy thing to direct — just how far to go in playing upon an audience's credulity, it's sympathy, it's nerves. Whale seems to have gone far enough, but not too far. The chances are the director will win the good opinion of the critics for this job.

The adaptation to the screen of such a story was obviously a task of extreme difficulty, and it speaks volumes for the ability of Garrett Fort and Francis Edwards Faragoh that they were able to turn out such a finished piece of work as is this screen play.

John Boles, Mae Clark and Frederick Kerr give good performances in insignificant parts. The balance of the cast is adequate.

As a story Frankenstein dates back to 1831 — for one hundred years it has remained alive in the interest of those book readers who go in for ghost stories. Now we'll see if these same people go to motion picture theatres. — originally published on Nov. 3, 1931.
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby lhb412 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:23 pm

I stand before you a man humbled...
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby DannyBeane » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:04 pm

A friend of mine interviewed Joe Bob Briggs and wrote a fun article https://25yearslatersite.com/2018/06/13 ... ob-briggs/
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby The Shadow » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:26 pm

I remember Elvira, mostly from her other appearances; I was too young to watch her show when it was on. The only regular horror host I watched was Joe Bob Briggs on TNT's Monstervision, I was older and could stay up late Saturday nights; I was disappointed when Monstervision went hostless, it was never quite the same. I do remember Grandpa Munster on TBS Super Scary Saturdays, but I'm not sure how often I could watch -- by the time it was on my family was frequently on a weekly trip somewhere (to the mall, maybe see a movie, etc. I grew up on military bases so the trips were for things not necessarily available on base).
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby Gwangi » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:58 pm

I didn't have cable in the 90s. :( So I am afraid I have to go back to the 1970s, and for us in Southern California, it was the one and only Sinister Seymour (Larry Vincent). Seen locally here on both KHJ Channel 9, and then later on KTLA Channel 5. However, I don't recall if he ever played a Godzilla movie (or any kaiju films for that matter). When he was at KTLA, that was the home of the Universal horror and sci-fi features, so of course, those would be shown aplenty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvS9XAr0uZA

Sadly, he passed away from cancer in 1975, and come to think of it, his was the first celebrity death that affected me. It was truly shocking to hear that he died (I heard it from my uncle who gleefully told me, as he despised monster movies!).
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby lhb412 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:02 am

Gwangi wrote: It was truly shocking to hear that he died (I heard it from my uncle who gleefully told me, as he despised monster movies!).


Jeez!
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Re: Horror Hosts!

Postby Gwangi » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:56 pm

Trust me. He was just one of several relatives who loathed Godzilla movies and creature features in general. Luckily, my folks were very tolerant of my love for G-films and the other related features, eventhough my mom, to this date, refuses to see anything with fangs in it! :mrgreen:
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