Nothing to fear here. More silly than scary, this documentary pays homage to the flamboyant local hosts who introduced horror and science-fiction movies to the masses and helped them gain cult status on the airwaves. Between vintage television clips and reflective interviews with horror hosts and aficionados, you’ll hear from the likes of Svengoolie (Ernie Anderson), Joan E. Cleaver (Jeanne Dietrick), Sir Cecil Creepe (Russ McCown) and many more.
American Scary celebrates all in the name of spook house horror hosts and lovely TV vixens who have given us years of entertainment by providing a guide into the best and worst that TV B-movies have to offer. As the intro credits roll past us, the number of wacky horror hosts over the years is quite a collection. Let me say, this DVD was long overdue and was a blast to watch!
So many faces, so many names, and so many aliases…where do you begin? Well for starters, the film serves as a tribute to these bunch of talented purveyors of the night. It also happens to feature them, and feature comments by a number of industry names who also recognize them for there contributions over the years. For me…. and it seems like several in the program, growing up with these kooky creepy folks was an essential part of watching horror films that were aired on TV. Often slated in late night spots, they provided that great need for humor and guide into the segments of the shows.
One of the things that is mentioned is the fact that much of these hosts were isolated to different sections of the country. So while I may have grown up with a few of them being familiar, others might have not been as accessible. Back in the day, before internet, VHS and DVD’s, these hosts were usually studio assigned to provide transitioning the horror films to give them a sense of individuality over “just” another film being played on the TV. As it is also mentioned, the hosts became the reason for viewers to tune in much more than the movies they showcased. Ranging from wacky, to sexy to downright creepy they all shared similarities but developed there own style as the years went by.
The DVD features and interviews alot of them but also focuses on a few greats of the genre. Names that appear on screen include: Dr. Goulfinger, Prof Anton Griffith, Moria the Banshee, Zacherley, Vampira, Sir Cecil Creep, Chilly Billy, Baron Von Wolfenstein, Svenghoulie, Son of the Ghoul, Big Chuck and Hoolihan, Elvira, Ghoulardi and several others.
While I don’t use the term too often in horror reviews, the film is best described as delightful. In the early days of several kiddie shows, the networks began to realize that late night horror films needed an edge. This edge came in the form of these entertainers who would dress up quite ridiculously and narrate the portions of the evening. One of the first came in the way of “Vampira”. With her cold, demented, hypnotic and sexy presentation she set the bar for female horror hosts. If you don’t remember her ….one look at her Guinness book of records waist will jar your memory. Strange and gothic, she kept the viewers tuning in to experience her shows every week. Other famous hosts include Zacherley, who’s sullen look of the dead would perform silly games and skits each week in between show breaks.
Talking to a clothes basket that contains his wife, and playing with a jello mold brain were a few of the highlights. In all, these special entertainers really made the shows they represented. In my days, tuning into “Svenghoulie” and “the Ghoul” were late night routines that were enhanced by there sense of humor and crazy antics. I was glad to see that Big Chuck, Hoolihan and Little John got some coverage as they were “my” late night entertainers, though I was surprised that “SuperHost” wasn’t mentioned. Serving over 20 years he provided the same level of entertainment for me on Sat afternoons…..Oh well …I’m sure there’s a reason for everything.
What makes this documentary extra special? For one, you get to see many of these hosts now as they are without the makeup and years later. Many have agreed to post comments and be interviewed for this DVD which may be a first to viewers who have existed in the “what ever happen to…” state of wonderment. The other bonus is just that there is alot of content on here. The film itself lasts 90 minutes with plenty of extras included.
Directed by John E. Hudgens and written by Sandy Clark, this is a must own to fans of the genre! not only for nostalgic reason but for it just being a great documentary as well. If you grew up on TV horror, then there’s something here for you.