Horror host

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A horror host is a person who acts as the host or presenter of a program where horror films and low-budget B movies are shown on television or the Internet. Usually the host assumes a horror-themed persona, often a campy or humorous one. Generally there are breaks in the film where the host comments on various aspects of the movie. Many horror host shows also include skits involving the hosts themselves, sometimes with a sidekick or other supporting characters.

History[edit]

Early hosts[edit]

The first (proto) television horror host was Vampira (Maila Nurmi).[1] The Vampira Show featured mostly low budget suspense films, as few horror films had yet been released for television broadcast. It ran from 1954-1955 only in the Los Angeles market, but Nurmi's persona (based on cartoonist Charles Addams's "Morticia" character) would gain fame in magazines, TV, and film. In 1957, John Zacherle of Philadelphia's WCAU (and later in other markets) set the standard format for horror hosts with his "Roland" character for the station's Shock Theater. This was made possible due to RKO Pictures' new ownership licensing out the rights to its vast B-movie horror film library. Zacherle's set, style, film commentary, and special effects (such as interjecting his image into the film) were quickly emulated at local stations around the world, and as an homage today by hosts such as the nationally syndicated Svengoolie (Rich Koz).

Each station had its own host and style. Some hosts did regular commercials, while others presented fictional ads for bottled witches' blood.[2] Hosts were often plucked from the ranks of the station staff. In the days of live television, it was not uncommon for the weather man or booth announcer to finish a nightly news broadcast and race hastily to another part of the sound stage for a quick costume change to present the evening's monster tale.

While a few early hosts like and Vampira became the icons of this nationwide movement,[3] most hosts were locals. The impact of these friendly revenants on their young fans cannot be overestimated. The earliest hosts are often remembered with great affection today.[4]

Later hosts[edit]

The tradition was continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s and gained national attention in the early 1980s, after the death of L.A.'s Host, Sinister Seymour. Cassandra Peterson auditioned to become a replacement host and won the role. She became Elvira, Mistress of the Dark who is arguably the most widely recognized horror host in history. Today, two horror hosts who also started in the early 1980's dominate the genre: Rick Koz as "Svengoolie", who serves up a traditional but light-hearted weekly broadcast on MeTV; and John Bloom as "Joe Bob Briggs" on AMC Shudder's 'The Last Drive-In'. A journalist and B-movie film critic, Bloom's unique take on the Horror Host genre is to juxtapose deep-dive film analysis to a stereotyped redneck persona.

Notable hosts[edit]

1950s[edit]

1960s[edit]

1970s[edit]

1980s[edit]

1990s[edit]

2000s[edit]

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2010s[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Watson, Elena M. (2000). Television Horror Movie Hosts: 68 Vampires, Mad Scientists, and Other Denizens of the Late Night Airwaves Examined and Interviewed. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-0940-1.
  2. ^ "Night Harbingers of Horror". Life. 1958-05-26. p. 63. Retrieved 2023-05-13.
  3. ^ Colton, David (October 20, 2007). "Halloween horror hosts rise again on radio, TV, film". USA Today. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  4. ^ "The Horror of Them All!". Filmfax (13): 28–32. December 1988.
  5. ^ Schmaltz, Anita (August 22, 2001). "What's a Ghoul to do?". Metro Times. Detroit: Euclid Media Group. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  6. ^ Culham, Devin (April 3, 2019). "Late-night TV horror host Ron 'The Ghoul' Sweed dead at age 70". Metro Times. Detroit: Euclid Media Group. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Kiska, Tim (April 3, 2019). "Legendary '70s TV horror host the Ghoul, a.k.a. Ron Sweed, has died". Detroit Free Press. Detroit: Gannett Company. Retrieved April 5, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Counelis, Paul (2014). 11:59 and Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21st Century. ISBN 978-1312262577.

External links[edit]