**This post is part of Me-TV’s Summer of Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Go to http://classic-tv-blog-assoc.blogspot.com) to view more posts in this blogathon. You can also go to http://metvnetwork.com to learn more about Me-TV and view its summer line-up of classic TV shows.**
We briefly break from our look at Marlene Dietrich to discuss horror films and their hosts. The idea of the hosted horror film has been around for decades through Vampira, Elvira, and the various Creature Features on local television. As a kid, my horror host was Joe Bob Briggs, and I actually teared up the day I heard he was cancelled. Thankfully, 2013 brought a new host into my life courtesy of MeTV: Svengoolie. Let’s discuss this horror host, the films he features, and why there needs to be series’ like this on every channel!
My first Svengoolie movie was The Invisible Woman, a campy 1940s take on The Invisible Man. I had little idea what the movie was, and really just thought it was a showing of an old movie on a local station. When they cut to commercial and I saw a man dressed in grease paint telling corny jokes, being pelted with rubber chickens, and discussing the film, I was hooked. I’m a sucker for the blend of horror trivia, a love for classic horror films, and the ability to temper the frights with knowledge and Svengoolie has all of that.
According to Wikipedia, Svengoolie has gone through several format changes and hosts since its inception in the 1970s; it wasn’t until 1979 that current host Rich Koz took on the role of the loveable horror host and he’s been there ever since. Yes, he’s not nearly as salacious or wry as other hosts like Elvira (who also does a horror movie feature on another channel, but her constant interruptions during the feature grate on my nerves), but he adds a lot of heart and a return to a simpler time. He makes you feel as if you are gathered around the television on a dark night during your childhood, and while you might be scared for the film he’ll pop up with a pun or a chicken joke to make you smile. There’s just something about sitting down for a horror film with a guy who knows his stuff, but who also enjoys the scares that’s familiar and fun.
The series has quite the list of features for a show that started out playing on one channel. On a given night you can see a film from the Hammer horror franchise, television movies of classic shows (this week’s feature is the movie spin-off of The Munsters, Munsters Go Home), or the Universal classic horror films. Gaining the Universal films was a coup for the show back in 2006 and in the time I’ve watched Svengoolie I was lucky enough to see two takes on The Invisible Man – as well as the original – and a Creature From the Black Lagoon sequel. If you really want to get into classic films, but only enjoy the horror genre, you definitely need to settle down and take in some Svengoolie.
Svengoolie airs on MeTV every Saturday night at 10pm Pacific
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.