Horror Movie Hosts by David Collier (all photos copyright to their respective owners)

Horror movies for me were always a joy as a child. I’d curl up in front of the television with the lights out and watch the double feature getting ready to play. The movies were really never good, but that didn’t matter to me. But it wasn’t just the movies that made the evening so cool. It was the Horror Host.

The hosts of these fright fests made viewing unwatchable movies…well…watchable. I was a Teenage Werewolf, The Screaming Skull, The Amazing Colossal Beast and more.

For many a year these hosts filled our local airwaves to entertain us. Baron von Wolfstein of Dayton, Ohio, Dr. Paul Bearer of St. Petersberg, Florida and Ghoulardi of Cleveland, Ohio just to name a few. Each gave us ghoulish pleasure in the wee hours of the night (or sometimes on a lazy afternoon).

Even the television show The Munsters gave us their version of a horror host, The ghoulishly lovable Zombo who was unceremoniously unmasked by Eddie on Zombo’s live television show.

When I started researching for this story I really didn’t realize how many hosts there were all over the country. As a kid I figured everyone saw the same host I did. But when I realized how enormus the task was, I decided I was out of my league. I knew I couldn't do justice to even a fraction of them. I also knew that readers would ultimately wonder why I didn’t talk about their local guy or gal. So I had to really narrow it down. I had to focus on some of the names that left that mark to millions of people. My apologies to those I will ultimately skip.

Former model Maila Nurmi (aka Vampira) got her start hosting a late night horror show in the 1950's on channel 7 in Los Angeles. She would greet her guests weekely at 11pm to one of her "B" movie treats, oftern talking to her pet spider among other odd things dhe would do.

She recieved an Emmy nomination in 1954 for "Most Outstanding Female Personality."

Of course she also got herself involved with Edward D. Wood, the schlockiest (is that a new word?) of all horror schlock directors by appearing in the 1956 film Plan 9 from Outer Space.


-Born in 1921 in Petsamo, Finland.

-In the 1950's she appeared in Life and Newsweek magazines.

-Sued the creators of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in the 1980's for ripping off her persona.

-She has a 17 inch waist - WOW!

-Had a clothing shop in the 1960's called "Vampira's Attic"

-Her costume was inspired from a ghoulish woman charcter in the Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoon strip. That character later became known as Morticia.


Cassandra Peterson got the gig to play Elvira in 1981 on KHJ-TV (now K-CAL 9) in Los Angeles. Her show was syndicated nationally in the late 80's and she appeared in the horror spoof Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.

Her bad puns and her two "assets" made her very popular with the male demographic.

Because of her movies, endorsements and video tie-ins, Elvira is certainly the most popular and widely known of all horror hosts.


-Born Septerber 17, 1949 in Manhattan, Kansas. Source: IMDB.com since their seems to be a debate as to her actual age.

-Started out as a Vegas showgirl and in The Groundlings improv troope in L.A.

-Was the official Coors Light sponsor for many years until being recently dropped by the company.

-Strong supporter of animal rights.

-A die hard vegetarian

To learn more about Elvira go to her official web site.


John Bloom aka Joe Bob Briggs has done many things. He's written for publications such as Rolling Stone, Playboy and The Village Voice to name a few. As an actor he's appeared as a commentator on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. He was a commentator for a Fox TV news magazine as well as appearing in over 50 talk shows.

But what makes Joe Bob Briggs a household name was as the host of TNT's MonsterVision from 1996 - 2000.

Joe Bob would meander outside of his trailer out in the desert and give his summary of what tonights movie would bring. That would usually entail a list of stabbings, gun shots, death by...(use your imagination), and bodycount.


-Born January, 27 1953 in Dallas, Texas.

-Began his television career on The Movie Channel hosting Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater for seven years before hosting MonsterVision.

-Was nominated for 2 ACE awards for Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater.


John "Zacherley" Zacherle is considered to be the Godfather of horror hosts.

He first appeared as Rowland in Phiadelphia, Pennsylvania but later made the famous name change and moved to New York to do his monster bit.

Over the course of the 1950's, he had appeared as a host for many different shows, including children's shows.

Eventually he would go on to become a popular NYC radio DJ from the late 60's to the mid 70's.


-Born September 27, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

-As a child, Zacherly was not allowed to watch horror movies by his very strict parents.


Now comes the time that I must talk about my local hero.

The show was Creature Features and it was hosted by Bob Wilkins. The Oakland show ran from 1971-1984. I was just in awe of the guy. He sat in his haunted house (that I later learned was a set piece…damn) looking all prim and proper in his very 70’s looking suits and smoked biggest and cheapest cigars. The cigars seemed to be built in fog machines...must have been on a budget.

He would introduce some of the crummiest horror movies I’ve ever seen. Once in a while he’d give us a gem of a film like Night of the Living Dead or Godzilla (hey, Godzilla was cool when you’re 10). In fact, I saw Night of the Living Dead when I was around 8 years old. My parents didn’t seem to think it was such a bad thing. Ah, the good old days.

Bob would even have guests on the show to talk about horror. I remember him having someone who played a Jawa on the original Star Wars (that was a big deal to me back then) and he even had the Legendary Christopher Lee grace his show. Other notable guests included Forest J Ackerman, William Shatner, Ray Harryhausen and so many more.

But the one thing that has stuck with me for all these 30 or so years was just one thing…the creepy skull candle on the end table next to his chair. The candle wax dripping like blood down the face of that skull looked so cool to me. It was probably a huge inspiration on me when it came to Halloween decorating. I took a Gurley skull candle and did my best to replicate the look. I still have that skull to this day and will light it only on the rarest occasions.

After many years of doing the host thing on two stations (he also hosted a Sacramento show) Bob decided he had enough, and left the Oakland gig in 1978 to someone else. Bob would finish with Sacramento in 1982.

John Stanley would host Creature Features from January 1979 to September 1, 1984. He was a good enough guy. A casual dresser. He even sort of resembled Bob. A well accomplished author of several books, he had the makings to be a great host. But he was no Bob Wilkins. And on September 1, 1984 that was it…over…kaput. The days of Creature Features were history.

Mr. Wilkins...he's a Horror Host?

That creepy skull


Now we still have horror hosts. Unfortunately none are local to the San Francisco Bay Area. They're all over the country. But to me, for some reason, it's just not the same. It seems the hosts of the 50's, 60's and 70's were the best.

Here are some really great Horror Host links to get all the info you want on your favorite ghoulie!

E-gor's Chamber of Horror Hosts


TV Horror Host Gallery

Creature Features Host Bob Wilkins

Back to the Features Page