Friday, April 20, 2012

Interlude: It Took Me A While....

....but I've finally gotten around to adding Chilly Billy's Chiller Theater TV Log to the blogroll.  It is a crackerjack site, curated by George "E-Gor" Chastain, who also runs the delightful E-Gor's Chamber of Horror Hosts page, which I've mentioned in the past, and which you will already find in our list of recommended sites.

I've only seen YouTube clips of Bill Cardille's program, but it's pretty clear why this show is one of the most fondly-remembered creature features ever.  To put it simply, it's tremendous fun.  Cardille is a guy who seems to love what he's doing and we can't help but enjoy his company. And the movies, week in and week out, are a blast.  As much as I love Horror Incorporated, I'll admit it's a bit stodgy when compared to Cardille's show: Horror Incorporated  is heavy on Universal horror (exclusively the Shock! package at first, expanding later to include 50's sci-fi and horror offerings) and therefore without a great variation in style and tone. 

But part of Chiller Theater's charm was its zany mishmash of subgenres.  Take the Shock! package, throw in some Hammer titles (The Creeping Unknown, Island of the Burning Doomed), add some Corman cheapies (War of the Satellites, Not of This Earth), a dash of Ed Wood (Bride of the Monster), some indie favorites (I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Invisible Invaders), a couple of made-for-TV oddities (The Questor Tapes, Gargoyles), spice it up with some weird Japanese titles (The H-Man, X From Outer Space), shake it up and see what happens.  There's a gleeful, slightly anarchic sensibility at work here, and little wonder the show has such a following even today.

E-Gor is clearly a smarter guy than I am, because he didn't foolishly decide to write about every freakin' movie that came up on the schedule; nor was he dim-witted enough to do all the research himself.  He crowd-sourced the titles, calling on folks with collections of old TV Guides to suss out what was on for a particular week.  As a result, his site is complete, and he is no doubt sipping mojitos on the beach, watching a Caribbean sunset and congratulating himself on a job well done.  Meanwhile, the Horror Incorporated Project grinds on, year after year, and my only hope is that I complete my work before the icy hand of Death clamps down on my weary shoulder. 

But you know, E-Gor had a great idea.  If you're a fan of the old Horror Incorporated show, and if you have anything that would add context to the project - an old advertisement, an autographed photo, a videotaped promotional spot -- send it to me and I'll post it on the site.


kochillt said...

Cleveland's Ghoulardi started in a very cold January of 1963, when most viewers remained home on Friday nights, his zany, irreverent attitude toward the often terrible films he showed inspiring similar takeoffs such as The Ghoul and Son of Ghoul. Pittsburgh followed suit in September, with Bill Cardille only becoming on screen host a year later, both airing the least expensive package of recent horror/sci fi titles- AIP, Roger Corman, Bert I. Gordon. Sept 11 1965 would see the debut of Universal's SHOCK! package, as FRANKENSTEIN would follow first feature JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET (DRACULA premiered four months later, following PHANTOM FROM SPACE). 'Chilly Billy' would introduce the Saturday night double bills as himself, but would play many wacky characters over the years, whittled down to a single 1:00 AM movie by 1979. Webmaster John Buriak did for Chiller Theater what Uncle Mike has done for Horror Incorporated (but doesn't compose reviews for each movie), and actually searched through newspaper archives for each broadcast over its entire 20 year span. Now 84, Cardille remains as sharp as ever, always a gentleman, who prided himself on never making fun of his movies, especially the ones that really deserved it like THE GIANT CLAW or THE CREEPING TERROR.

Uncle Mike said...

Being respectful of the movies is an essential part of the host's job, or should be. Cardille always excelled at this, as does Rich Koz (whose Chicago-based "Svengoolie" show is now on the Me-TV cable network)-- though Koz' corny jokes can be a bit off-putting. I never cared for Elvira and hosts of her ilk, for whom the movies are just filler.

kochillt said...

Ernie Anderson (Ghoulardi) believed much of his popularity was due to the fact he didn't try to hide that his films were terrible, while 'Big Chuck' Schodowski, who replaced him as Friday night horror host at WJW-TV in Dec 1966 (only retiring by June 2007), never forgot that these movies appealed to children, remaining respectful of even the Godzilla titles that 'Lil John' Rinaldi casually dissed. Living in Youngstown gave me access to both Pittsburgh and Cleveland, also the Steelers and Browns! I was too young for Ghoulardi, but what little footage survives is undeniably funny, much of it documented in TURN BLUE: THE SHORT LIFE OF GHOULARDI.

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