Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rocktober XV

What, it's October 15th already?!? That means we are halfway through our journey to Halloween! Soon the bulk bags of mini-candy, tubes of black lipstick, and polyester Smurf costumes will be on the discount rack at Walgreens. Ah, fall is a melancholy time... But wait!  If you look on the bright side (which I normally make it my policy never to do), we still have half of October left! So onward we go, deep into the dripping crevices of Halloween music history.

Today we continue horror host/hostess weekend with another selection from Zacherley. While the song posted on Monday (see episode "X") was a recent recording of Zacherley with Southern Culture on the Skids, today's song is Zacherley's original hit from 1958, "Dinner with Drac." This song is every bit as worthy of commercial airplay as "The Monster Mash," yet it never gets played. What gives?!? This song is just as good and maybe even funnier than "The Mash":         



Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much surviving footage of Zacherley doing his horror host thang (at least not on Youtube, anyway), but there is a terrific section on him in the horror host documentary American Scary that I am posting here so you can see him in action:

In addition to the nationally known hosts and hostesses such as Zacherley and Elvira, there are many, many more local hosts and hostesses who have been just as beloved as their more famous counterparts. One of these is Cleveland's Ghoulardi, otherwise known as Ernie Anderson (also known as the father of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson). Ghoulardi was a force to be reckoned with during mid-60s Cleveland TV. More popular than The Tonight Show, Ghoulardi's Shock Theater started in 1963 and became a regional sensation that continues to resonate with people who grew up with the show.

Ghoulardi became so popular, he was soon given a Saturday afternoon show called Masterpiece Theater and a weekday children's show called Laurel, Ghoulardi, and Hardy. Ghoulardi merchandise abounded, featuring everything from bumper stickers to a Ghoulardi milkshake at a local Cleveland restaurant. Unlike horror hosts before (and after) him, Ghoulardi's persona was not that of a ghoul, but of a whacked-out beatnik. He performed his Shock Theater segments inside a windowed white pod and came up with all sorts of nonsensical catch phrases, such as "All the world is a purple knif," and "Remember... Oxnard!". 

Ghoulardi continually pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for television broadcast at the time, and responded to station management's attempts to reign him in by blowing up plastic cars and figurines on air with firecrackers and small explosives. While doing so, he once almost lit the set on fire, which led to a new catchphrase: "Cool it with the boom booms." In 1966, Anderson left both Cleveland and the Ghoulardi character behind and moved to Los Angeles, where he started a successful voiceover career.

I know this isn't a song, but if you've never experienced Ghoulardi, you just have to:

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