Here in Nashville when I was growing up, our local Horror Host was Sir Cecil Crepe, the host of a show called Creature Feature. Every week from his dungeon below the studio of local NBC affiliate channel 4, the good Sir Cecil would serve up some of the great – and not-so-great – horror B-movies of the past, along with skits featuring other characters and bits of information about the film. In a lot of ways, we kids (and our parents) were tuning in to see Sir Cecil as much as, or perhaps even more, than the movie he was showing. Nonetheless, it’s to Sir Cecil and Creature Feature (along with The Big Show, but that’s a post for another time) that I owe a debt of gratitude for turning me on to so many of these just plain fun movies.
Nor was Nashville the only city with such programming, As a matter of fact, there probably wasn’t a major city anywhere in the US at a certain point in time that didn’t have their own horror host, and there were even a few who managed to go national.
So what happened to the local horror hosts? Why are they no longer a fixture on American television screens? Well, there are a number of factors, but basically it comes down to what it always comes down to: money. It’s cheaper for local stations to fill their time with never ending syndicated re-runs of bad comedy shows than to produce this type of programming.
Anyway, in 2006, the documentary American Scary was released as a tribute to these hosts and to tell the story of their rise and fall. I actually picked up a DVD copy of the doc when it first came out, and now, thanks to YouTube, I can share this excellent video with you.
So, whether you are old enough to remember your own local horror host, or this is a new concept to you, come back in time with me and let your inner monster kid out for a little while to enjoy American Scary:
By the way, if you have your own memories of horror hosts from your younger days, or any current favorites (yes, the tradition is still carried on, though not as predominately as it once was, and Nashville even still has our own Horror Host, Dr. Gangrene, who carries on Sir Cecil’s legacy to this day) I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
- American Scary: Conversations with the Kings, Queens and Jesters of Late-Night Horror TV e-book (xenillud.wordpress.com)
- Spooktacular…History of Horror Hosts (neatorama.com)
- WTOG TV-44 Creature Feature With Dr. Paul Bearer “The Vengeance Of She” Promo (1988) (neovideohunter.wordpress.com)
- An Interview With Son Of Ghoul (neovideohunter.wordpress.com)
- Morgus the Magnificent: The great New Orleans horror host (blog4dat.wordpress.com)