Saturday, October 17, 2009

...and His Beautiful Daughter, Bubbles...

I miss Horror Hosts. Campy, cheesy and funny, they made it OK to laugh at bad movies. Growing up in the Philly 'burbs in the '70's, our Saturday Horror Host was Dr. Shock, who hosted three different shows. I most fondly remember him from late shows on Saturday (pre-SNL) and then Saturday afternoons. After the intro, Dr Shock's daughter "Bubbles" would come out and pound on a coffin with an inflatable mallet and Dr. Shock would rise to start the show, interspersing godawful horror movies with bad jokes, magic tricks, science experiments and occasional guests from the Philadelphia Zoo. Dr. Shock was a local magician named Joseph Zawislak and Bubbles was his real daughter, Doreen.

Zawislak, like John Zacherle before him (more about Zacherle's Roland and Zacherley personas in a minute), knew the movies they were showing were terrible and never let you forget it, either. He'd open each show with some whacked out greeting that tied in with each movie, somehow, even if only by the most tenuous of connections:

And they would air commercials like this:

My sister and I begged our father to take us to Brigantine Castle, and when he finally relented, after a two-hour drive, she refused to go in. But I digress.

Dr. Shock's Philly predecessor was one John Zacherle, who played Roland in Philly in the 50's , before moving taking his act to New York in the 60's as Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul:

After Dr. Shock left the air, Philly was without a Horror Host until the late 80's when actress Karen Scioli brought us Stella, "...that Daughter of Desire, the Maneater from Manyunk" and her show "Saturday Night Dead." Stella was sort of a cross between Elvira and Mae West:

And since we've mentioned her, let's move across the country to talk about Elvira, the only Horror Hostess I know of, who got her own movie:

I hope you caught the fabulous Edie McClurg in that trailer. Actress Cassandra Peterson was part of the L.A. improv group The Groundlings and has a role in one of the most gloriously silly movies of all time:

(She's the biker chick, in case you didn't see it).

Of course, Peterson was sued (unsuccessfully) for "Intellectual Property" copyright violations by the creator of Vampira, the late Maila Nurmi.

And while Nurmi's character never had her own movie, she did appear in one of the most infamous movies of all time:

I wish someone would bring back the Horror Host. The closest thing we've come of late was the brilliant "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and I miss that, too (no RiffTrax is NOT the same).

Still with me, Steve? Good.

So, what Horror Hosts did you grow up with? Is there still a Horror Host in your city? You know I love it when you talk dirty t... uh, I mean, when you leave comments.

More terrors, anon.

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