In the 1980s we literally had thirteen channels, NBC, CBS, and ABC, all of which turned into local channels when it wasn’t prime time, and by local, I mean the nearest station was an hour away. We also had PBS and TBS. I don’t even remember the other channels, except for channel three, or was it two, which ran local ads and occasionally a local telethon. Now, think of the following as a recipe, though the ingredients don’t seem to complement each other: These local stations showed movies late at night and on weekend afternoons. Most of the movies shown were horror movies. Maybe they needed extra filler for a two-hour slot. And sometimes an employee, local personality, or even an actress would take it upon him or herself to help fill that time. And that is the birth of the Horror Movie Host, one of the most distinctively American phenomena to come out of television history. All of this actually started in the 50s and boomed in the 80s. According to Elena M. Watson author of Television Movie Horror Hosts, its roots lay in horror and suspense radio plays and genre anthology TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone, but Watson doesn’t acknowledge the slew of horror comic book hosts like the original Crypt Keeper, Cain and Abel, or Uncle Creepy. The most important horror host has to be Vampira, portrayed by Maila Nurmi in the late 50s and one of the stars of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). The army of horror hosts also includes Zacherle, Ghoulardi, the Cool Ghoul, Svengoolie, Morgus the Magnificent, and Count Gore de Vol, who is still hosting movies online. The 80s boom included Joe Bob Briggs, Captain USA, Caroline Schlitt and Gilbert Gottfried and later Rhonda Shear on Up All Night, and culminated in perfection with Mystery Science Theater 3000. Of all the thousands of horror hosts, however, one stood out more than the others—I’m gesturing with my hands right now around my chest—Elvira, created by Cassandra Peterson, the most well-known horror host with the longest career, and nobody’s going to argue with her crowning as the Queen of Halloween. Like most horror hosts she started hosting movies on a local TV station in 1981, but that station was KHJ, a Los Angeles station, right in the heart of American entertainment culture, and her story of success goes beyond hosting movies. She is, in fact, the singular iconic personality of American Halloween, second to no one. A Halloween without Elvira somewhere is no Halloween. On a small TV studio set with just a couch—okay, an amazing couch—some candelabra and a few props, Elvira perfected her character: self-deprecation, sexual innuendo, double-entendres, plunging neckline, bee-hive hairdo. But it’s more than just the physical. In the early days most of the time it was a one-camera set-up with no cuts, and if there were cue cards for her long bits I am fooled. Her delivery was always sharp, snappy, and never lagged. The writing made you laugh with its wordplay. Sometimes Elvira would appear to be going off on a tangent, but it was an always an elaborate joke incorporating clips from the movie. And she introduced herself dozens of different ways and always funny: The “of” of the “something,” the “this” with the “that,” or the “this” with the “these.” Elvira’s alter ego, Cassandra Peterson, has also appeared in many movies, including Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (1980); Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986); her own two movies, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988) and Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001); and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, whose star and friend Paul Reubens learned his craft with her in the Groundlings. Cassandra Peterson, however, will always be the Hostess with the Mostess, the Queen of Halloween, the Mistress of the Dark, and for that we can never thank her enough. See larger image Elvira’s Movie Macabre – Mega Movie Marathon Product Description: ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK presents a movie marathon of gigantic proportions packed with twelve of the greatest B movies of all time! Including: FLESH-EATING ZOMBIES… Night of the Living Dead (1968), I Eat Your Skin (1964) WORLD-FAMOUS MONSTERS… The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), The Werewolf of Washington (1973) MURDEROUS MAYHEM… The Terror (1963), Eegah! (1962) SUPERNATURAL SUSPENSE… Scared to Death (1947), Tormented (1960) HORRIFIC EXPERIMENTS… The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962), The Manster (1959) FRANKENSTEIN RELATIVES… Lady Frankenstein (1971), Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966) AND MORE… all accompanied by Elvira’s signature, tongue-in-cheek commentary, of course! Bonus Features: Movie Macabre Behind-the-Scenes,Photo Shoot with Christopher Ameruso Mistress of the Dark Music Video by Ghoultown, Making the Ghoultown Video, Sneak Peek Previews New From: $23.70 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.