Recommended Reading: Television Horror Movie Hosts by Elena M. Watson

The full title is actually: Television Horror Movie Hosts: 68 Vampires, Mad Scientists and Other Denizens of the Late-Night Airwaves Examined and Interviewed by Elena M. Watson, and it's probably the best book on the subject of the hosts who headed this subgenre of horror.

No particular chapter of the book gives a thorough history of any one host, but it isn't intended to; the book is an overview of who's-who over the history of horror hosting up to the date of its publication (1991; that it's still in print says a lot).  That said, each profile gives a good coverage of the air-dates of the host/show and provides many examples of the sketches and gags a given host performed during his/her show.  There are plenty books out that thoroughly explore the respective careers of various hosts, especially Zacherley (who deservedly appears on the front cover of this volume).  However, many of these minor figures would be largely forgotten had Watson not taken the time to put together these biographical sketches.

Each chapter/host is given anywhere from three to ten pages (counting pictures) of coverage, which is a lot more than has been said about a great many of them, even when they were on the air.  And like I said, there are photos of many hosts in character, which really helps given how visual a medium this genre is in particular.

The book is very light and easy reading.  Watson offers her opinion occasionally, but she isn't overly subjective (merely pointing out things that would be obvious to any observer such as when something is amateurish), and she doesn't go out of her way to analyze things so much as to simply report on what a regular viewer of a creature-feature might see over the course of a series.  (This is in contrast to The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You To Read (2010) by Jim Trombetta which reads perhaps a bit too deeply into its subject when, really, we're just talking about comic books.)

Overall, this probably remains the single most comprehensive work on the subject of horror hosts.  It was written toward the end of their era, practically speaking, so it is nearly complete save for a few recent entries (Dr. Gangrene comes to mind) or updates on what some prominent players and holdovers (e.g., Elvira and Svengoolie) have been up to since publication.  Author Elena M. Watson passed away shortly after completing this book, else I'm sure she would have provided us with a second edition.

Here are the chapter titles:
1) Television Terror Begins with Vampira
2) Shock! or Horror Is Universal
3) Invasion of the Ghost Hosts
4) Warning: Zacherley at Large!
5) Gorgon, a Gothic Nightmare
6) Into the Realm of Science with Morgus the Magnificent
7) To Ghoulardi, "All the world's a purple knif."
8) Chilly Bill' or, Night of the Living Horror Host
9) It's Dr. Cadaverino, Stupid!
10) Sir Graves Ghastley Presents
11) Life after Ghoulardi: Big Chuck and Little John
12) Dr. Paul Bearer: "Welcome, fright fans!"
13) Dr. Shock: The Mad Magician of Fright
14) The Bowman Body
15) Seymour: "Good evening, Fringies!"
16) The Phantom of the Opry: Sir Cecil Creape
17) Direct from Parma: The Ghoul
18) Professor Cerberus and the Museum of Horrors
19) Count Gore Devol: A Vampire Goes to Washington
20) Dr. Madblood's Movie
21) Son of Svengoolie or "The Return of Sven-TV"
22) John Stanley: Man, Not Monster
23) "Rock Shock": Toulouse-NoNeck
24) Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; or Viva Las Cleavage
25) Son of Invasion of the Ghost Hosts
26) Son of Invasion of the Ghost Hosts, Part II: The Return
27) Crematia Mortem, The Ghostess with the Mostess
28) Stella!
29) Holy Cats, It's Commander USA's Groovie Movies
30) Frank and Drac Were Back...
31) Grampa's Revenge
Selected Bibliography

I am hoping putting these additional keywords about the actual content of the book will help attract additional attention to what is really a worthwhile read.

Here's a copy on Amazon:

Note that it's usually a bit pricey for an oversized paperback, but you can occasionally find a cheaper copy on eBay or go with the ebook.


Copyright 2014 the Ale[x]orcist.