In recent years I’ve come across many horror fans that can name the first horror film they watched. And at times they’ll even go as far as state that they were maybe four or five or whatever age at the time of the viewing. I can’t do that. I have no idea what the first horror film that I set eyes upon or what age. But I do assume that I was very young at the time though. I just know that I was always watching horror as far back as I can remember. Chances are that the first horror film I watched was on television. And since I was born in 1965 and Detroit’s locally produced horror host show, Sir Graves Ghastly Presents, first aired in 1967, I think it’s safe to say that I watched my first scary movie on his show. There starts my history with the famed “Horror Host”.
If memory serves, Lawson J. Deming, who portrayed the friendly neighborhood vampire, was “let go” in the early 1980s to make room for friends of the new program director. The comedy duo was from Cleveland, like Deming himself. I gave them a chance even though I was pissed off about losing Sir Graves. But this pair proved to be very unfunny and was quickly sent back to Cleveland.
I had only seen The Ghoul twice, so he never really had much of an effect on me. But during the early 1980s an import from Chicago came to town by the name of Son of Svengoolie. This guy was so funny I didn’t care about the films shown. I was only really interested in his comedy bits.
Well, of course, I hadn’t even believed that any horror host had been active for the past thirty years (aside from Elvira, maybe). But then the internet introduced me to a new breed with websites like The Monster Channel (http://www.100ymm.com/). This is the page that some of the new breed like Freakshow on Bordello of Horror (https://www.facebook.com/BordelloOfHorror) and Gunther Dedmund of The Basement Sublet of Horror (https://www.facebook.com/basementsubletofhorror) stream their respective shows. There’s also The Horror Host Graveyard (http://www.horrorhostgraveyard.com/) where I spotted my current favorite of the new breed, Uncle Gregory (http://uncle-gregory.webs.com/index.html), who I suggested to Paul Counelis for this book.
Well, now Rue Morgue magazine contributor, Paul Counelis (http://rue-morgue.com/tag/paul-counelis/) is ready with this new book giving a behind the scenes look at the current state of the horror host, both broadcast TV and/or the internet. 11:59 And Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21 Century goes straight to the source to get the poop on what’s going on behind all that fog and cobwebs. There are eighteen interviews that fill the book, as well as two forewords by Dean Vanderkolk, writer on Detroit’s Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive In (http://www.nightmaresinema.com/) and Brad Leo Lyon, writer/director of Monsters on Main Street (https://www.facebook.com/MonstersOnMainStreet).
The interviews start off with some history with former host and successor to Bob Wilkins, John Stanley. In fact, Stanley practically interviews himself with some nice long responses to queries from Mr. Counelis. He fills out in great detail the state of the horror host scene before and during his time on the air. Later in the book more history is provided with interviews with Doktor Goulfinger/Michael Monahan, a former host himself and now a horror host historian; and, also current host Gore De Vol, who has been at the game for the past forty years now. De Vol is actually a pioneer in the internet side of the horror hosting. But, we really can’t forget Son of Ghoul (http://www.sonofghoul.net/), who has been at it for twenty-seven years now. The history is a great foundation for what would come next.
The rest of the book tries to fill in the background and current status of horror hosting in the 21 century, hence the title. With interviews with such hosts as Penny Dreadful (http://www.shillingshockers.com/), Lord Blood-Rah (https://www.facebook.com/lordbloodrah), the Blood Jangler (http://www.thebonejangler.com/), and my favorite, Uncle Gregory–who is the only one who stays in character for the entire interview–the book is a fun and informative read for those interested in the subject matter, like myself. Seeing what makes these people tick gives good insight into the interworking mindset going on in the scene today.
And, of course, who doesn’t like a little controversy? Well, some is drummed up within the interview with the Bone Jangler as he makes his feelings known in regard to many of the new internet hosts popping up. No names are dropped, though. So, it’s not all fun and games in the land of horror hosting. But, it does make things a little more interesting.–Charles T. Cochran
For those interesting in picking up a copy of 11:59 And Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21st Century go to http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-counelis/1159-and-counting-horror-hosting-in-the-21st-century/paperback/product-21236376.html
Or for the Kindle Edition http://www.amazon.com/11-Counting-Horror-Hosting-Century-ebook/dp/B00FOECNQQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382400339&sr=8-1&keywords=11%3A59+And+Counting%3A+Horror+Hosting+in+the+21st+Century