Friday, August 31

Would Zombies Eat Soylent Green?




I finally got a chance to watch the DEADLIEST WARRIOR episode VAMPIRES VS. ZOMBIES on Netflix this week. I’d heard about that episode but never actually tracked it down. Once it appeared in the Netflix cue I knew I had to watch it. After all, it’s a pretty neat premise and just more proof of how mainstream horror pop culture has become.

DEADLIEST WARRIOR is a pretty cool show. Most of you have probably seen it, but for those who haven’t it’s a series that airs on Spike TV in which two famous warriors from history, such as Napoleon and George Washington, are squared off against one another. A team of experts study the weapons, armor, fighting techniques, etc. of each combatant and attempt to simulate what would happen if the two actually battled. They test the weapons on a number of targets such as ballistic gel torsos, pig carcasses, etc. and measure the impact, damage, precision of the weapons, etc. They also test the armor of each combatant to see how it withstands the opponent’s weaponry. Experts on each combatant are consulted to take into account variables such as battle technique, specialized attacks, etc. Points are assigned for each of the tested categories and all the data is compiled and fed into a computer which then simulates the battle. They run the simulation 1,000 times to determine which warrior would win the fight. Finally they show the winner through a video simulation of the fight using live costumed actors to reenact the outcome.

Of course there is no way to really prove something like this definitively, but it is still a really interesting program. You get a chance to see each warrior’s weapons in action and just how effective they are. The sword of Vlad the Impaler had to be the single most impressive weapon of any, in my mind. That thing was amazing – it sliced through an entire pig carcass with one swing as if cutting through a slab of butter. It was insane.


Vampire vs. Zombies was the first fight between fictional foes. As usual experts were brought in for each combatant. For the zombies they brought in Max Brooks, author of WORLD WAR Z and the ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, and Matt Mogk, founder of the ZOMBIE RESEARCH SOCIETY. For the Vampires they brought in Steve Niles, author of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, and Scott Bowen, author of the VAMPIRE SURVIVAL GUIDE.



The first question to be decided was what type of monsters was squaring off, because as you know the rules for each vary from movie to movie. For the zombies they chose the slow moving viral-induced zombie, such as seen on THE WALKING DEAD. For the vampire they chose the 30 DAYS OF NIGHT style vampire, a more vicious pack hunting type creature. The weapons for this episode were simpler than usual, because they were very limited. Zombies had their teeth, grasp, and lack of pain. Vampires have teeth, claws, and speed. They also factored in the vampire’s hunting instincts and intelligence, and the zombie’s sheer numbers and viral infectiousness. They rigged some interesting devices to test the effectiveness of each creatures attack forms, assigning the approximate bite strength of a Rottweiler dog to the zombie, and the bite of a crocodile to the vampire.

But for these vampires the most impressive weapon is their claws, capable of crushing a human skull with one blow. These zombies follow the “destroy the brain, destroy the zombie” rule. So the ability to crush a skull and deliver a kill strike with a single swing is a huge advantage, especially combined with their super speed. You’d think it would be a clear cut contest in favor of the vampire – but they didn’t match them one on one. These zombies travel in hordes, and their sheer number s make up for their slow shambling and lack of mental facilities. I can’t remember exactly the ratio but it was something like 60 to one in favor of the zombies. They used 4 vampires, so it was around 240 to 4.

I won’t spoil the outcome, you’ll have to watch it for yourself to see which creature wins. It is available through Netflix streaming and I believe you can see it on the Deadliest Warrior webpage on the Spike TV site, too. http://www.spike.com/full-episodes/q7bq0v/deadliest-warrior-vampires-vs-zombies-season-3-ep-310

I do want to talk about one thing they addressed but really didn’t take into account too much, and that is the zombie’s viral nature. As these zombies originated from a virus they are highly contagious. This virus is similar to AIDS, meaning their bodily fluids – blood and saliva – are the means through which the virus is transmitted. The question this obviously raises is – what happens when a vampire becomes infected? Or can they even become infected at all?



If blood keeps these vampires alive then their bodies are functioning to some degree and processing nutrients from that blood. Therefore taking in tainted blood would naturally have an adverse effect of some sort. What would a zombified vampire look like? How would it act? Interesting questions.

But I would think the last thing a vampire would feed on is a zombie. Think of the most rotten, fetid food – disgusting, maggot-filled stinky meat or moldy, sour milk that’s months old. That’s what I envision a zombie smells like. Now imagine your senses are heightened to a super human heights – like a dog or a bear, where you’re able to smell food from a distance. Imagine how potent and disgusting a zombie would smell – their blood-soaked sour clothes and rotting flesh combining with the raw unprocessed meat in their bloated belly. Ever smelled a dead animal? You know how awful it is. The smell of death is a distinctive odor, unforgettable, and it permeates everything. Imagine that smell multiplied by the teens, or hundreds, or thousands.

Now would you want to make a meal of that? Of course not. And neither would a vampire. I believe, if I were writing a screenplay under this scenario, I would make a zombie toxic to vampires. They wouldn’t become zombie-vampires if they fed on one, but they would become sick and die. The rotten, infected blood and flesh are poisonous, of no use to a vampire nutritionally speaking. This would probably change the outcome of that Deadliest Warrior scenario a bit, as one of the major weapons of the vampire was its bite.



The next question is whether a zombie can eat a vampire, and what effect would that have? A zombie is akin to a shark in my mind, a mindless eating machine. They have little brain function and exist to only to feed. What keeps zombies from turning on one another and attacking and eating each other? I can only assume they need fresh food, that they somehow can sense if something is alive. I don’t believe they operate on sense of smell, as their sense of smell would be dulled by their own disgusting odor as described above. So using the shark analogy, perhaps it is movement that triggers the zombie hunting instinct. Maybe like in SHAUN OF THE DEAD a living human could imitate the dead and pass unnoticed, as long as you didn’t get too close.



I’m going with that theory for my hypothetical screenplay, so therefore zombies would definitely go after a vampire. And since these zombies feed on all human tissue, not just brains as in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, they would rip them to shreds and consume them.



Do zombies digest food? Nope, I don’t think so. Their bodily functions have stopped and therefore they don’t process food. They don’t piss, don’t defecate, don’t breathe. There is still stomach acid, so some of the food would be processed, but it isn’t passed along the digestive tract. The remaining feces from their last living day would probably be pushed out, thus all zombies would shit themselves. They’re a truly disgusting creature. Shark-like, they would eat until their distended bellies burst and all the rotten meat spilled onto the ground, then they would continue to eat more.

But would they eat Soylent Green? That’s something that crossed my mind as I was driving earlier today. Now for you folks who may not have seen this classic dystopian futuristic film I worn you to stop reading now – I’m talking to you, Miss Bren! I never want to be accused of being the guy who throws out spoilers, even to a film that is almost 40 years old. So this is your spoiler alert!

Would they eat a synthetic food substance? Nope, not my zombies, even if it’s made of people parts. Remember they operate on movement. If it moves like food they treat it like food. Humans, dogs, cats, mice – anything that moves is food. Even sharks, a-la Fulci’s ZOMBIE. They wouldn’t even notice Soylent Green if you dumped a bucket of it over their head.

Thursday, August 30

Savage Naked Spitting on Graves


Stuart Feedback Andrews left a comment yesterday in regard to my post about comments the Gore-Met made on the Rue Morgue Podcast that kind of got me thinking. He suggested I have a listen to a show from the Rue Morgue vaults wherein they discussed the films SAVAGE VENGEANCE, NAKED VENGEANCE, and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.  “Have a listen to that SAVAGE VENGEANCE show for some of my thoughts about women highlighting their sexuality as they very much echo some of the comments you've made here.

Well I actually listened to that episode back when he first posted it, but really didn’t remember it very well so I downloaded and gave it another listen. His co-host for that evening was Andrea Subisatti, who is a terrific guest host. She’s a very interesting person -  a writer, sociologist… and roller girl! Check out her website here: http://www.ladyhellbat.com/ She wrote a book called WHEN THERE’S NO MORE ROOM IN HELL: THE SOCIOLOGY OF THE LIVING DEAD which discusses the social impact of zombie cinema. Feedback had her on the podcast to help shed insight into these films and also, I think, to get a female perspective on them, which is important considering the subject matter.

All three of these films deal with the subject of violent rape and revenge. As they talk about in the podcast, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was released in 1978, NAKED VENGEANCE in 1985, and SAVAGE VENGEANCE in 1993. NAKED VENGEANCE was a pseudo remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and SAVAGE VENGEANCE was a sort of unauthorized sequel to it. And, finally, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was remade in 2012.

Whew! That’s a lot of remakes and re-imaginings of a little film from 1978 made for just 650,000 (according to IMDB). You have to wonder if the filmmakers had any idea they were creating something that would be this long lasting.  There is a whole sub-genre of rape-revenge films, of which of course ISOYG is considered one of the major players.




The interesting thing about all of these movies, from a personal standpoint, is that I’ve never seen any of them. I was aware of ISOYG and have seen that box cover a million times at video stores but never picked it up. I wasn’t aware of the other films until I heard them discussed on the Rue Morgue podcast, and I haven’t seen the 2010 remake either. Why is that?

I just honestly have never had any interest in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.  It isn’t the type movie I usually gravitate toward. I also haven’t seen LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, another rape-revenge movie (the first?) and another film that was, interestingly, remade recently. These are tough films with equally tough subject matter, definitely not fun films. I’ve listened to several podcasts discussing ISOYG since the remake came out. There is social relevance within these films but I just don’t think I care to watch it.

Rape is a horrible crime, and if you’ve ever known anyone who has experienced it you know just how devastating it is. It isn’t funny, isn’t sexy, isn’t something to be taken lightly. I just don’t enjoy films that are that grim in nature, even if there is a revenge element to it. It sometimes makes me wonder if I’m even really a horror fan or not. I love a good monster movie – give me zombies, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, aliens – you name it, I’m there. But the worst monster of all, humans, might be my least favorite.

Films featuring violent sexual degradation just don’t interest me. The definition of degradation is, “the act of humiliating somebody, causing him or her a loss of status, reputation, or self-esteem.” This is why the recent wave of violent films is called torture porn. They’re going beyond just showing violent acts to featuring scenes of torture and degradation, violently humiliating victims and wallowing in their pain and misery. It’s almost as if they gain some sexual satisfaction from it, the more violent the act the bigger the orgasm.  They’re imitating snuff films, more or less, reveling in every gory detail and getting off on the victims pain. And that, to me, isn’t fun. And neither is an extended ten minute rape scene.

It’s interesting to hear Stuart and Andrea calmly discuss the realism, or lack of realism, of the rape scenes in these films. In a way, it’s almost surreal. I understand that this is a work of art that is being dissected, and that is just one part of that art, but it’s a significant element. Do films like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE wallow in the sexual depravity? To some extent I think they do. Again, having not watched them I’m sure people will cry foul. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for them, or that it is a topic that should be taboo. It just isn’t necessarily for me.

Elvira and Lianne Spiderbaby

Ran across this terrific photo of Elvira and Lianne Spiderbaby and thought I'd post it here, as it fits perfectly along with recent posts here.

Wednesday, August 29

Women in Horror Month – Sham or Sincere?

The post I made a couple days back led to some interesting discussion with the Gore-Met on the Rue Morgue Blog and got me thinking about Women in Horror Month a bit.

Is Women in Horror Month merely a sham promotional tool, a way for women in the horror field to prop themselves up and call attention to their endeavors? Some have claimed so. For the answer I think we have to look at why it was started in the first place…


Women in Horror Month is more than simply a month where people are encouraged to celebrate women in horror. WIHmonth is an official non-profit organization, a 5013c organization. It is a sister organization to the Vicera Organization, another 5013c not for profit organization. They’re the ones that hold the Viscera film festival, which features films created by female filmmakers. Their official website is: www.womeninhorrormonth.com - WIHmonth began as a blog post, a manifesto, as their website calls it, by Hannah Neurotica. It was a proposal to create a month-long celebration of women in the field of horror. There is a board of directors – Hannah Neurotica, Jovanca Vuckovic, Debbie Rochon, Heidi Honeycutt, Jen and Sylvia Soska, and Shannon Lark. All of these women work within the horror field in varying capacities as writers, producers, actresses, directors, and more.

Their mission, as stated on the website: Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through charity events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. In addition, WiHM seeks to expose as well as break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality within the film industry.

It is stated plainly in the mission statement that one purpose is to gain exposure and opportunities for women, specifically underrepresented ones. Of course the organizers gain exposure and promotion for themselves, too, by being involved in this, there really is no way not to. But I really don’t believe that is their main purpose. Their vision, again posted on their website, is: A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.



Is the horror field an equal playing field for men and women? I honestly don’t think so. The last part of their Mission Statement talks about informing the public in “how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality within the film industry.” Things are better in that regard than ever before, and the work of organizations such as Viscera and the people who champion their cause certainly have helped with that, but there is still a long way to go.

I think it’s unfair to say it is only for self-promotion that this celebration was started. Chris Alexander, editor of Fangoria Magazine, caught a lot of flak for casually dismissing it in an editorial where he said WIHM was merely politicized and could “eat it.” I think Chris’ main point was that he feels WIHM is unnecessary and that Fangoria does much to promote women in horror year round, so there is no need to do so simply for Women in Horror Month. THAT part of his argument I actually agree with. He can and should feel free to write about women (and men) and events year round without pressure because of this or any other event. If he had just left off the eat it part I think he’d have made his point much better.

Look, I kind of get where he’s coming from. I mentioned in a post on the Rue Morgue blog today that I have shied away from interviewing women during WIH month because it almost seems like I’m only interviewing them only because of that movement, which is insulting to say the least. In a way that almost achieves the opposite of their desired effect, I guess. But I am aware of what is going on that month, and support their movement, and in that way they are achieving their goal.

Perhaps the fact it was created BY women in the horror field makes it seem dishonest to some people, but you know what? If these women hadn’t created WIHM it never would have happened, and it does raise awareness of many worthwhile projects and creators. So they hold their own celebration of women for the month of February. What’s the problem? Maybe some people object because they, as men, feel excluded.

I think like everything else, truth be told, there are positive and negative aspects to it. I wrote a post a couple of years back about having a problem with someone campaigning for an all women vote on the Rondo Award ballot. While not a direct endorsement by WIHM I believe it was spearheaded by someone in the organization (sorry memory is faulty here). The purpose of the Rondo Awards is to celebrate the best work of the year in the field of horror, and someone voting an all female ballot is as wrong as someone voting for a strictly male one. I get the sentiment behind that but I feel it’s misguided in this instance. We’re not voting on favorite gender here, we’re rewarding the work of people regardless of it.


Speaking of the Rondo Awards I also have to say I disagree with WIHM being added as a category for Best Event in the Rondos. WIHM is a series of events all under one banner. Now in full disclosure I have to admit that category is one I’m usually nominated in, but that isn’t the reason I disagree with it. I have no problem with WIHM events being nominated, and in fact agree they should be, but each event should be nominated separately, not all lumped together. They’re different events that occur at different times and places, and should be nominated as such.

So Is Women in Horror Month a sham or sincere? I personally have no problem with it and think it serves a real purpose. Heidi Honeycutt asked that same question in a blog post shortly after the Fangoria editorial I mentioned earlier
She got a LOT of responses, both pro and con, from both men and women on both sides. Very interesting reading.





Tuesday, August 28

Top 13 Horror Hosts


In yesterday’s post I wound up discussing, as Andrea Subisetti called it (thanks for the repost Andrea), the relevance of the horror host. Horror hosts on television got their start in 1954 with Vampira in Los Angeles. There is some question if Vampira was the very first host,  but for my money she’s the one that counts, especially considering her show was broadcast in the LA area and therefore much more influential than any other contenders.

The horror host is a natural extension of the old radio host programs such as LIGHTS OUT And SUSPENSE, where a mysterious announcer would introduce the evening’s offering of chills and thrills. The radio hosts were influenced in turn by the comic book hosts of companies such as EC Comics with their books TALES FROM THE CRYPT, VAULT OF HORROR, and HAUNT OF FEAR, hosted by the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper, and the Old Witch respectively.



In 1957 Universal offered a package of 52 films to television stations. This was a big deal, as these movies had never been shown on television before. As a way to help promote these movies, Universal sent along suggestions for ways to increase viewership. Among these suggestions was the idea of adding a local host to introduce the movies. They suggested the hosts dress up in costumes and assume a character. These films were licensed to stations all across the country, and thus the local horror host was born. For more information about the Shock package of films see the fantastic Shock Theater blog here: http://shocktheater1.blogspot.com/

I say local horror host because that is where horror host works best, on the local level. In every city where a host introduced the SHOCK! package a community of devoted fans developed almost overnight. Kids latched onto their show and the hosts became local celebrities. The programs became the talk of the water fountain at school and their shows were a can’t-miss event. Ratings soared and in most cities these shows were the highest rated programs on the station.

The films in the SHOCK! Series were a pretty cool list of movies, some horror, some mystery:

The Black Cat

Calling Dr. Death

The Cat Creeps

Chinatown Squad

Danger Woman

A Dangerous Game

Dead Man's Eyes

Destination Unknown

Dracula

Dracula's Daughter

Enemy Agent

Frankenstein

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

The Frozen Ghost

The Great Impersonation

Horror Island

House of Horrors

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man Returns

The Invisible Ray

The Last Warning

The Mad Doctor of Market Street

The Mad Ghoul

Man Made Monster

The Man Who Cried Wolf

The Mummy

The Mummy's Ghost

The Mummy's Hand

The Mummy's Tomb

Murders in the Rue Morgue

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

The Mystery of Marie Roget

Mystery of the White Room

Night Key

Nightmare

Night Monster

Pillow of Death

The Raven

Reported Missing!

Sealed Lips

The Secret of the Blue Room

Secret of the Chateau

She-Wolf of London

Son of Dracula

Son of Frankenstein

The Spider Woman Strikes Back

The Spy Ring

The Strange Case of Doctor Rx

Weird Woman

Werewolf of London

The Witness Vanishes

The Wolf Man

There were many, many pioneers of this tradition of horror hosting – the most comprehensive list of horror hosts past and present is the amazing website Ygor’s Chamber of TV Horror Hosts, run by George Chastain. If you ever wondered if your area had a horror host, check his site!

I thought I’d take this opportunity to make my own list of top horror hosts. Let me preface it by saying this is according to my own taste – I can only judge the hosts I’ve seen, naturally, and this is only my opinion. The categories I’m using to rank them are style, influence, and longevity. The magic number of hosts to rank seems to be 13, as it’s nice and spooky…



TOP 13 HORROR HOSTS



Runner up – Sir Cecil Creape, aka Russ McCown


I’d be remiss if I didn’t add my own host to the list, even if only in a runner-up position. Sir Cecil was my own horror host in Nashville TN. His show, CREATURE FEATURE, ran on the air from 1970-73, and he revived his show for a couple of years in the 1980s on TNN, The Nashville Network, although this time around the show was called THE PHANTOM OF THE OPRY. I actually didn’t get to watch CREATURE FEATURE– my parents wouldn’t let me stay up and see it. But I caught the promos for it and met him once at a Boy Scout event. I even got a patch at that event that reads “Sir Cecil’s Ghoul Patrol.” First thing I did when I began my show was to sew that patch onto my labcoat in tribute to Sir Cecil.








#13 – Chilly Billy Cardille – aka Bill Cardille

Host of Chiller Theater in Pittsburg, PA. The show ran on the air for 20 years in the Pittsburg area. Bill appeared in the George Romero classic film Night of the Living Dead as a TV news reporter. I’ve met Bill and he is a truly nice guy, and a true legend in the horror host field.




#12 – Joe Bob Briggs – aka John Bloom

Joe Bob was the host of JOE BOB’s DRIVE-IN THEATER on The Movie Channel for ten years and later MONSTERVISION on TNT for four years. Both were, of course, nationally syndicated programs. Joe Bob has one of the funnier schticks around, a redneck lowbrow lover of b-movies and drive-in theaters who employs a ratings system of three B’s (blood, breasts, and beasts) for his movies that is actually very smartly written. He has appeared in a number of movies and television shows and has written several books. He also went to Vanderbilt University, giving him a Nashville connection.




#11 – Dr. Paul Bearer – aka Dick Bennick

Dr. Paul Bearer was the host of SHOCK THEATRE, CREATURE FEATURE and FRIGHT THEATRE. He began hosting as Count Shockula in 1965 but changed his persona to Dr. Paul Bearer along the way. He hosted until 1995, originally in North Carolina but he later moved to Tampa, FL. Dr. Paul Bearer was famous for his use of puns and fake product placement. He spoke in an almost monotone voice that he called reverse falsetto.




















#10 – Sammy Terry – real name Bob Carter

Sammy Terry hosted Nightmare Theater in Indianapolis, IN for close to 20 years in the 60s and 70s then off and on afterwards. He was and still is a fixture in the Indianapolis area, drawing large crowds at signings and events. Mention Sammy Terry to anyone from that area and their eyes will light up immediately!!




#9 – Count Gore DeVol – aka Dick Dyszel,

The Count hosted CREATURE FEATURE in Washington D.C. from 1973-87. In 1998 he revived his show on the internet in a weekly web series (the year before I began my own show – I met Gore for the first time in 1999, and we became fast friends). Almost 35 years later he’s still going strong, and has been influential to a new generation of horror hosts who followed his lead into the digital age of horror hosting on the internet.



#8 – Big Chuck and Lil’ John – real names Chuck Schodowski and John Rinaldi.

The duo hosted the BIG CHUCK AND LIL’ JOHN SHOW in Cleveland, Ohio from 1979 to 2007, an incredible 28 years! BUT, the show dates back much longer than that - it originally began as THE HOOLIHAN AND BIG CHUCK SHOW in 1966 with Chuck Schodowski and Bob Hoolihan, a weatherman on the station, bringing the total number of years the program ran in Cleveland to an amazing 41 years straight!!



#7 – Svengoolie – aka Rich Coz

Svengoolie is the host of a self titled program in Chicago, IL. Svengoolie started his show in 1979 as Son of Svengooli , taking over the role of Svengoolie from former host Jerry G. Bishop (his show, SCREAMING YELLOW THEATER, ran from 1970-73). Jerry is one of my all-time favorites as well. He was quick witted and funny with a really natural sense of humor. The Son of Svengoolie show ran from 1979-86, then returned in 1994 on another channel (WCIU) where it continues to this day. Rich shortened his name to simply Svengoolie and the rest is history. Sven is easily my favorite current horror host. 25 years on the air and counting and he’s still going strong!



#6 – Morgus the Magnificent – real name Sid Noel

Dr Morgus is the host of THE HOUSE OF SHOCK and DR. MORGUS PRESENTS! in New Orleans, Louisiana. He started his program in 1959 and it ran until 1989, then was resurrected in 2005 and reruns continue to this day. Dr. Morgus is a mad scientist who conducted mad experiments each week between breaks in the movie. It was my pleasure to induct him into the Rondo Award Hall of Fame last year.








#5 – Bob Wilkins/John Stanley

Okay, I know it isn’t fair to lump two hosts together but hey, it’s my countdown, so I make the rules here!! Bob Wilkins hosted CREATURE FEATURES in San Francisco from 1971 to 1978. John Stanley then took over host duties from Bob Wilkins and continued the program until 1984. Both hosts were non-costumed, appearing as themselves to introduce the movies wearing a suit and tie. Bob always had a trademark cigar in hand while hosting. Together the two kept their motto alive, “Watch Horror Movies, Keep America Strong.” Bob Wilkins was inducted into the Rondo Award Hall of Fame in 2008.



#4 – Ghoulardi – aka Ernie Anderson

Ghoulardi hosted Shock Theater in Cleveland Ohio from 1963-1966. While his run on the show wasn’t that long his impact was enormous. Ghoulardi was a hipster beatnik who appeared in trademark goatee and moustache. His show was the predecessor to Hoolihan and Big Chuck, who took over after he left. Music played an important part in THE GHOULARDI show, and they made especially good use of PAPA-OOM-MOW-MOW. He would blow up models and items sent in from viewers with fireworks, BOOM-BOOms he called them, live on the air. He had an irreverent air and defiant sensibility that kids immediately latched onto. Ghoulardi rocked the airwaves of Cleveland and is still remembered fondly to this day.





#3 – Vampira, aka Maila Nurmi

Vampira hosted THE VAMPIRA SHOW from 1954-1955. This will probably be the most controversial pick of this list, but despite her being recognized as the first horror host I ranked her #3 because her show was so short lived and so little of it exists (just a few minutes of footage that surfaced a few years back). She drew inspiration for her character from Morticia Addams of THE ADDAMS FAMILY cartoon. Skin-tight long black dress, impossibly thin waist and long jet black hair and nails were her trademark, and she would open every show with a blood curdling scream! She is perhaps best remembered nowadays for appearing in the Ed Wood film PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Vampira was inducted to the Rondo Award Hall of Fame the very first year, 2002.




#2 – Elvira – aka Cassandra Peterson

Elvira is perhaps the most widely recognized horror host alive today. Vampira might have done it first but Elvira certainly did it bigger! Anytime I need to explain my show to someone unfamiliar with horror hosting I mention Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Her show, MOVIE MACABRE, was nationally syndicated from 1981-1987. She became an inter-national celebrity, appeared in commercials for national products and was a Halloween icon throughout the eighties. A series of Movie Macabre episodes were released on home video in the late eighties and she revived her show in 2010.




#1 – Zacherley – aka John Zacherle

Zacherley, the cool ghoul, was the host of SHOCK THEATER, ZACHERLEY AT LARGE, CHILLER THEATER. Zacherley is the epitome of a TV horror host. If you looked up the term in an encyclopedia, if such a thing existed any longer (dating myself here), Zacherley’s picture should be the one next to the description. Zacherley began his hosting career in 1957 as Roland, host of SHOCK THEATER in Philadelphia. In 1958 he moved to New York City and changed his host name to Zacherley. He was wildly popular and his personal appearances drew thousands. He was the first to use “cut-ins”, inserting himself into the movie as if he was part of the action, a standard trick for horror hosts thereafter. Zacherley was inducted to the Rondo Award Hall of Fame the very first year, 2002.



Monday, August 27

Stupid Costumes and Bad Jokes


I just finished listening to the latest episode of the Rue-Morgue Podcast and was kind of left feeling insulted afterward. The Rue Morgue Podcast is, of course, the podcast that endured after long running Rue Morgue Radio was cancelled. It features Stuart Feedback Andrews interviewing celebrities and figures in the field of horror. In this latest episode he spoke with Rue Morgue film critic the Gore-Met, who has a regular column in the magazine specializing in gory horror movies. The interview was a lengthy one so it was actually broken into two sections, and it was in part two that Gore-met made a comment I took offense to.

In part two Stuart took the Gore-Met to task for a series of comments he made regarding Women in Horror Month on the Rue Morgue blog that many felt were insensitive and offensive. Feedback was a little easy on him, truth be told. The Gore-Met offered up a lame excuse that those comments were made in jest, and it was all a joke, but I ain’t buying it. There was more than a little bit of personal opinion mixed in there to even make those remarks in the first place. And even if it WAS a joke it’s extremely insensitive to make those jokes at other peoples’ expense to begin with. I guarantee the women who read those posts, especially Lianne Spiderbaby, didn’t take it as a joke.

Speaking of Lianne Spiderbaby, it was a remark about her that led to the part of the podcast I drew offense to. The Gore-Met made a catty remark about women in negligee and high heels reviewing movies (Spiderbaby) which led to him talking about Elvira. Here’s the conversation, below:



( NOTE - I changed out this pic of Lianne Spiderbaby from the one I posted yesterday because this is probably a better representation of her - she's a movie reviewer, the others host horror movies. Different schtick, you know?)


Feedback: I want to actually get into that whole issue about sexualized images of women in horror, because I think that’s an important discussion to have, but not necessarily with you. (laughs)

The Gore-Met: Truth be told, the whole Elvira… the Katarina’s Midnight Movie thing that DVD companies have going on I think is thoroughly fucking insulting, and I don’t wanna look at that, I just want to see the movie. I don’t want to have to ogle the wrestling diva for five minutes before the movie, what the fuck is she doing there? What’s the significance of it, get out of the way.

Feedback: You don’t like Elvira?

The Gore-Met: She seems like a nice person but that whole horror host shtick… I don’t like when guys do it either. I used to watch that when I was a kid, I don’t care about it anymore. You know just get out of the way. Again, it’s somebody trying to make money and promote themselves off the back of the work of others. You could say that about us, too… but I think we’re presenting something of value more than just putting on a stupid costume and making a few bad jokes.





Ok, a few things going on here. First and foremost is the slam toward Elvira, Katarina (I think he means Katarina’s Nightmare Theater)and Lianne Spiderbaby. The Gore-Met really seems to have an issue with attractive women in the horror field who dress provocatively. Perhaps it’s an insecurity thing, but more likely it’s simply a male chauvinistic one. More than once he mentioned going to a strip club on the podcast. Perhaps it is the fact these women aren’t presented in the correct context for Mr. Gore-Met - maybe he is simply more comfortable with them when presented as sexual objects, or maybe the mixture of sexuality and authority unnerves him.


Elvira and Katarinna are “fucking insulting” to him, and he doesn’t want to have to ogle the wrestling diva for five minutes before getting to the movie. Fine. Don’t buy a copy of the film with her on it. Not a big problem. But perhaps the deeper issue is, again, why does this make you so uncomfortable? And why when you watch it do you feel you’re ogling her?



Next he goes on to say he doesn’t like it when men host horror movies either. Fair enough, it isn’t everyone’s bag, I get that. He feels the hosts should get out of the way so the viewers can get on to the film. I get that too. I feel the same way about Mystery Science Theater, so I don’t watch versions of movies with their treatment. Copies of these movies are readily available un-hosted and in many cases, like the MST discs, you can choose to watch with or without the host segments. No problem there.

He mentions he used to watch horror hosts as a kid but he doesn’t care about that anymore. Fine. Don’t buy it. But a lot of other folks do care about it, including many kids. I think that was meant more as a derisive comment than anything else. Horror hosts are too juvenile for the Gore-Met’s refined tastes therefore it doesn’t have merit. Hey, I have news for you, Gore-Met, despite what you may think, just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it bad.

He finally reaches the part of this that I take most offense to when he says horror hosts are simply “somebody trying to make money and promote themselves off the back of the work of others.” He does go on to say, “You could say that about us, too… but I think we’re presenting something of value more than just putting on a stupid costume and making a few bad jokes.”

Seriously, Gore-Met? What an arrogant statement. But then arrogance seems to be a pretty common trait among most critics. As I said in a comment on the Rue Morgue blog, if you don’t like horror hosts that’s fine but don’t act like your own work is somehow better than what we do, especially when compared to someone like Elvira, a beautiful, talented, funny, strong woman who is internationally famous through years of hard work as a writer, producer, and actor. She wrote those Elvira films as well as many of the shows themselves. She earned her place in horror history and definitely offers much more than a few bad jokes.


I personally spend countless hours researching, writing, shooting and editing my segments to make them as entertaining and informative as possible. I have had many young folks come up and tell me they grew up watching my show and want to thank me for getting them into horror. I feel it is a service I provide, in a way, helping to keep the memories of these shows and the people who made them alive in the public consciousness. My philosophy was always to never assume the viewer already knew something. In other words, I would mention that Boris Karloff played the Frankenstein Monster, or Lon Chaney played the Wolfman, facts that we as older horror movie viewers already know, but you know what? There are kids watching that DON’T already know these things. And I, as a “stupid costume wearing, bad joke telling” horror host have a way to reach these kids and introduce them to these wonderful classics.

Horror hosting is a time-honored tradition that a handful of us are trying to keep alive. I don’t simply do this for fame or money, there are much better ways to achieve both. In fact, for years I didn’t even take any merchandise with me to conventions. I found the shows much more enjoyable and it was much easier to gather interviews if I wasn’t chained to a table. Sure, I was missing out on sales but who cares? It isn’t about that. This is an artistic endeavor, a way to express myself that is fun and centered around one of my main interests, horror movies. I guarantee I spend way more than I make at this, in money and time. I only recently started getting a table at shows again, mainly because people kept asking me for new DVDs.

How is this any less noble a profession than what you do, which was admittedly started only because you wanted free swag? You get paid to write your opinions. Terrific. But the problem comes into play when critics start taking themselves too seriously. Of course their opinions are more important than everyone else’s, and of course they’re always right, and of course you offer more than someone in a stupid costume telling bad jokes because you’re the Gore-Met, fer Christ sakes! Just listen to how ridiculous that is. The Gore-Met. Why that’s as ridiculous a name as Elvira, or Lianne Spiderbaby, or Dr. Gangrene. That is a name worthy of someone wearing a stupid costume and telling bad jokes!

Tell you what, Gorey, if you get tired of spouting your opinion on gore films maybe you should consider hosting movies. You never know, you might just be a natural at it. But you probably won’t get as much free swag.

Friday, August 24

The Merit of Remakes

Yesterday's post on movie remakes drew quite a few views here yesterday. I posted a link on FB and got a number of comments on the topic there, too, many of them, surprisingly, in defense of remakes. Which brought me to today's topic - is there merit to remakes of classic films?

Remakes are nothing new. They've been done for years. One of my favorite Vincent Price films - in fact, the movie I ranked #1 on my top ten Vincent Price films countdown - HOUSE OF WAX, is a remake. So why are some remakes okay and others not?




To help answer that question I'll reference author Harlan Ellison, who said, "We live in a society that values less and less the original." Indeed. Of course, Ellison has plenty of reason to feel that way, since had his own work flat out stolen by one of Hollywood’s biggest directors, James Cameron - yes THAT James Cameron - in the film TERMINATOR. Cameron shamelessly lifted the plot from Ellison’s work on the Outer Limits TV show. Ellison sued, Cameron lost - and Ellison was granted a monetary award and credit in the film.

(This isn't the only instance Cameron's been accused of intellectual theft - the film AVATAR is reportedly a blatant rip-off of Poul Anderson's story CALL ME JOE. I haven't read it for myself, but plan to soon, and will report my thoughts here. Considering Cameron’s track record in this department, I don’t find that hard to believe at all).

Regarding the topic of remakes Ellison also said if a film got it right the first time why bother remaking it? You're not going to improve on perfection, so what's the point? (I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t have the book where he mentioned this with me as I write this - I believe it was an article in HARLAN ELLISON’S WATCHING) I agree with him 100% - unless the movie fell short because of budgetary restraints or technological limitations, there is no point.

Remakes are often problematic for filmmakers, too. Just ask Rob Zombie, who remade John Carpenter’s Halloween. I once heard him say in an interview that it was a lose-lose situation. Fans of the film would hate it if he deviated too far from the original, yet scream bloody murder if he simply copied it note for note, too.

Look, if you’re dead set on doing a remake then at least approach it from a new direction and add something new to the story. Revisit the source material and write your own interpretation of the author’s work. It all starts with the writer – why not go there first instead of looking at someone else’s interpretation to base your film upon? A photocopy of a work of art will always be inferior to the original.

Pick movies that leave room for improvement, revisit the source material, take the time to write a good script, and hire a fantastic cast. THAT is the recipe to a successful remake… such as THE FLY, a film that was referenced several times on Facebook as a remake that worked. In fact someone even went so far as to say it was the best remake ever.



The original FLY film was made in 1958 and was based on a short story by George Langelaan (first published in Playboy magazine). You think Director David Cronenberg read the original story before forming his own ideas for his version? Of course he did! That’s what a true artist does, not merely steal others ideas or mindlessly ape their work – Gus Van Sant’s abominable Psycho remake from 1998 comes to mind, a “shot for shot remake.” Top on my list of worst movies ever. Ever.

In closing, let me repeat something from yesterday’s post. Re-releases are the way to go, not remakes. I really hope everyone supports the Universal re-releases coming up in theaters over the next few months – The Birds in September, Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein in October, To Kill A Mockingbird in November. Perhaps if these showings sell out all across the country studios will get the picture, and do this more often. Also, if you have a local theater that shows older films (and Indy films), go support them, see them in the theater the way they were meant to be seen. Vote with your dollar. It’s the only thing studios listen to.

Thursday, August 23

Remake-itis

I have seen many people lamenting the slew of Hollywood remakes on Facebook over the past couple of days. While this is nothing new, it has increased in frequency in my friends’ circles lately. This most recent onslaught of protests was brought about by the announced remake of VIDEODROME, the 1983 David Cronenberg film starring James Woods.


Listen, you know whose fault it is that this remake is happening? Yours. Yeah, you, the person pissing and moaning about this remake. You are the very one bringing this about. Know why? Because you’ll be first in line to see this latest plagiaristic piece of crap, guaranteed. Oh, you’ll probably justify it by bashing it to hell afterwards, but then it’s too late – the moviemakers have won. They have your money. It’s all about money. The studio doesn’t give a shit about anything but money – forget the integrity of a film, its iconic status or even, ultimately, the quality of a film. Money is the bottom line. It’s a business, and when the studio gets your money in their pocket they win. Plain and simple. And thus the cycle continues.


I know I’ve been guilty of this myself. I was the one screaming the loudest about the remake of PLANET OF THE APES, first when Tim Burton lobotomized it in 2001 and then again with the CGI spectacle of last year. And guess what? I spent my hard earned cash on both of these movies. I’m feeding the machine. I’m part of the problem. I’m enabling the studios to continue this trend right along with you and every other mother fucker who continues to hand over money to these hacks. We’re REWARDING them for cranking out inferior copies of other people’s work without a regard for anything but the bottom line.


Rather than continuing to feed this cycle we should be penalizing them by refusing to plunk down an ever increasing ticket amount. Until people take a stand at the box office this won’t stop. Instead of spending money on VIDEODROME, or CARRIE, or EVIL DEAD, or ROBOCOP, or PET SEMATARY, or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, or CHILD’S PLAY, or THE NEVER ENDING STORY, or TIME BANDITS, or THE BIRDS or CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, for fuck’s sake – just a few of the upcoming remakes, the list goes on and on –just say no. Refuse to go. Stop being part of the problem, stop feeding the machine. Until you do this you’re no better than the person who refuses to vote yet complains about his politician. In fact you lose your right to complain. Shut the fuck up unless you’re willing to do something about it. If you pay to see remakes in the box office then don’t turn around and bitch about how awful it is that Hollywood keeps churning them out. They are a business out to make money. Would you go to McDonald’s and complain that people are eating Big Macs while you’re sitting there eating a fucking Big Mac? It’s insane.

Instead of spending money of whatever craptastic remake is coming out save your money and do something constructive. Go see original films, or go see rereleases of older movies. Did you hear about the TCM rerelease of classic films this fall? To celebrate 100 years of Universal films they’re showing THE BIRDS, FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in select theaters nationwide.

The Birds – Wednesday, September 19th
Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein (Double Feature) – Wednesday, October 24th
To Kill A Mockingbird – Thursday, November 15th”


Go here to find a theater near you:

Go see these movies in theaters. Please. I’ve been saying for years that Hollywood should rerelease classic films rather than remake them. This could very well become a trend. Know how that happens? By these films successfully MAKING MONEY. It works both ways. You have the power to inform the studios what you want to see. And if you’re not going to go see these films, and you continue to spend money on needless remakes, then do us all a favor and shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, August 21

Scary Monsters #84

Here's the cover for the upcoming Scary Monsters Magazine #84, a HUGE 160 page mag hitting news stands soon! Features two White Zombie articles by yours ghouly...!

Thursday, August 16

Midnight Son packs a bite!



Back in 2010 I wrote a post about a new vampire movie called Midnight Son. I was impressed with the trailer and thought it looked promising. I finally got a chance to see it and am pleased to announce I wasn't disappointed at all.


Written and directed by Scott Leberecht, the story is a non-traditional vampire tale that channels Romero's MARTIN. It is about a young man named Jacob (Zak Kilberg) who works as a security guard on the night shift. We learn the reason for this is he suffers from a rare skin condition; he is highly allergic to the sun, so much so that his skin actually burns if he comes in contact with sunlight. Because of this his life is a solitary one, as he must stay inside during the daytime and works only at night. He lives alone in a small basement apartment with the windows covered. One evening he meets a girl named Mary (Maya Parish) who works at a local bar. They begin a relationship and things actually seem to look up except for one thing - Jacob's condition is worsening. In addition to sensitivity to sunlight Jacob also seems to have a ravenous hunger that just can't be sated... at least not by food...


MIDNIGHT SON is the best vampire movie I've seen in years. Artsy, creative, beautifully shot - the cinematography is really impressive. It is moody and engaging. You can now find it on DVD, VOD, and Digital Download.  (It's available on all the big digital stores, such as iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, CinemaNow, Playstation Store, Xbox Marketplace, and YouTube.) Check it out - you won't be disappointed.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Check out the website here: http://www.midnightsonmovie.com/

Tuesday, August 14

Latest Metal Morgue episodes on 6ft+



Thought I'd take a minute to tell you ghouls about the latest couple of interviews I've dug up for the 6ft+ podcast. In the latest episode, #36, I interviewed Derek Koch, the brains behind the 1951 Down Place podcast and the Mail Order Zombie Podcast. We talk zombies, Hammer films and more!

Episode #36 - The Spy Who Scared Me


In episode #35 I interview Stuart Feedback Andrews. We discuss the demise of Rue Morgue Radio, the rise of the Rue Morgue Podcast, Cinephobia Radio, Women in Horror Month and much more.

Episode #35 - Local Music Showcase II

Check them out, and be sure to subscribe through itunes to get your fill of spooky music and more bi-weekly from 6ft Plus .com

Monday, August 13

Stop the Insanity!



Some days I just feel like saying fuck it. This whole Facebook thing drives me insane. I am on there constantly, checking in, posting insignificant drivel, reading other people’s posts. Why? I started it as a tool for the show, a way to promote my creative ventures. It became a way to connect with friends, easier than a phone call. It is addictive. At times it is fun. Smart phones and high speed internet keep us connected constantly. We’re such a technologically driven society. But there is something disingenuous about the whole process, you know?


The whole FB experience seems so voyeuristic, and simultaneously needy. Peeking in on others lives and sharing our own, waiting for “likes” to see who approves of our actions, clicking “like” so other people know we approve of theirs. Is this life? Am I living life just so other people can approve? Do I share them only for the satisfaction of a “thumbs-up”?

The idea of Facebook “friends” bothers me. Maybe it’s just the use of that word, friends. Kind of makes one question what a friend is. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. In fact I’ve sort of been forced to reevaluate a lot of things in my life. Strange how that happens sometimes.

In many instances Facebook brings out the worst in people. I’ve disappointed myself by falling into the trap of arguing publicly about politics, religion or other incendiary topics there. I had a good friend give me a much needed kick in the ass about this recently. There is nothing to be gained here. People shouting loudly through the cybersphere just to make themselves heard. Sad.

But why stay on Facebook, if it bothers me? That’s a good question.

Much as I may gripe about things I dislike about FB, there are many people I admire, respect, and consider true friends who have accounts on there, and it is a great way to keep in touch with them. Easy, convenient - It is also a fantastic promotional tool, a way to instantly share my creative endeavors and projects and to connect with like minded artists and professionals. Just this weekend, for instance, I was contacted by a filmmaker who made a neat horror web series, and I’ll be showing it on my TV program. It is a great tool. But that is the thing to remember, I suppose. It is a tool, and as such can be used or abused.

I think this post is simply a cathartic exercise. I don’t mean this as an attention ploy, I’m just honestly examining my own thoughts and feelings on the topic. If I ever decide to drop my FB account I won’t make some public declaration, I’ll just do it. But I don’t think I’m going anywhere just yet. Maybe I need a break from it, a self imposed FB exile of sorts, or a separation to get a little space. I don’t know. More likely I think I just need to change my approach to it. Maybe find a way to still utilize yet obsess less on it.

It’s one more thing to reevaluate in my life, that’s for sure.

Horror Hootenanny #9 - Forbidden Dimension

I'm very excited to announce that FORBIDDEN DIMENSION will be headlining the 9th annual Horror Hootenanny! HH9 takes place Saturday October 13th, 2012 at THE END in Nashville, TN - Forbidden Dimension have been spooking it up since the early 80's, and the Canadian trio brings their brand of horror rock to Music City for the first time ever. In fact, this is the farthest south the band has ever played. So you won't want to miss this event, as it may be the only chance you have to catch this legendary band.

Monday, August 6

Derek Koch - Granny and the Hole



Coming up this Friday on the 6ft Plus podcast I interview Derek Koch, the man behind the1951 Down Place and Mail Order Zombie podcasts. In addition to podcasting Derek is also a writer, and his latest story is offered on Kindle for a mere $1.29. It is called Granny and the Hole, and is about a man named Hugh Hall whose mother-in-law has recently passed away. His wife is naturally upset about this, but Hugh thinks he has a way to solve this situation. Unfortunately, that involves packing Granny's corpse in the trunk of his car and driving to a small town in Nebraska where the dead are returning to life....

This is a great little zombie story, well written, fast paced with a unique idea for how the zombie apocalypse began. Definitely worth reading, and it's less than the cost of a cup of coffee!
What are you waiting for? Check it out at:


Dr. Gangrene approved!!

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