One of the many horrific things about the move away from syndicated movie package deals as a prime bit of entertainment featured on local stations and toward, well, everything that has come in its wake, is the loss of horror host. Vampira, Elviraa and Ghoulardi are just three of the biggest names that represent this peculiar little part of TV history, but they are very much a very small percentage. Many local markets had their own host of a late-night weekend show that presented horror films. This bit of TV history is the impetus behind the very concept of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” The real life horror hosts are also the inspiration behind some loving fictional homages that populate TV land.
One of the many memorable characters on “SCTV” that provide very strong evidence that the writers and actors in charge of the Canadian sketch show grew up glued to their televisions is Count Floyd. He was brilliantly brought to life by Joe Flaherty with a black Dracula-esque widow’s peak roughly half the size of Rhode Island. Count Floyd’s resemblance to Dracula is also reinforced by an extremely amateurish Transylvanian accent although his trademark howl at the moon brought the whole vampire premise into question. Count Floyd also seemed to be peculiarly ill-informed about the bad horror movies he showed on his local program.
The regular cast of characters on “The Munsters” were the type of characters that most real life horror hosts tended to look like. In order to make Zombo, the host of a TV program that Eddie Munster loved as much as Bart Simpson loves Krusty the Klown, stand out, the producers of “The Munsters” really had to push the limits of acceptability. Zombo may well be the scariest-looking horror host to ever exist in either the real or fictional world. But, of course, Zombo’s nightmare-inducing appearance was the whole point of the episode. Herman Munster becomes jealous of Zombo because his son looks up to him, but only until Eddie discovers what lies beneath the creepy face of Zombo the horror host.
Boobarella is the targeted satire of Vampira and Elvira on “The Simpsons.” The overly endowed woman with the distinctly gothic appearance parodies the very same appearance of the two most famous horror hostesses. Her accent is as thick of Count Floyd, but she seems far more committed to the bit. She is also willing to file an appeal to prevent a court injunction by Ray Romano from preventing her from continuing to show “Frankenstein and the Harlem Globetrotters Meet the Mummy and the Washington Generals.”
Even “The Odd Couple” got in on the act of horror hosts. In one episode Oscar Madison is running for a local office and his campaign manager Felix lands him a live spot during a popular horror movie program. The host is named Igor and he appears on screen during breaks movies from inside a coffin. It was little touches like spending time in a coffin that make the real life horror hosts so much fun to watch. And non-fictional counterparts of Igor are sorely missed in light of replacements during their time period by the likes of everyone from Morton Downey, Jr. to the Shamwow guy.