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
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
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
-Born in 1921 in Petsamo, Finland.
-In the 1950's she appeared in Life and Newsweek
-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
-Her costume was inspired from a ghoulish woman charcter
in the Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoon strip.
That character later became known as Morticia.
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
-Born Septerber 17, 1949 in Manhattan, Kansas. Source:
IMDB.com since their seems to be a debate as to her actual
-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
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
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
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
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.
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!
Chamber of Horror Hosts
Horror Host Gallery
Features Host Bob Wilkins
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