Monday, November 06, 2006

Television: For the little monsters.

Kids get all the cool stuff in our backwards mixed-up culture. Despite their relative uselessness in the workforce, their inability to hold a decent conversation, their complete lack of appreciation for me, and their alarming tendency to support the careers of pre-fabricated Disney-produced pop groups, the culture industry of North America continues to waste its most creative, interesting, and wonderful ideas on this completely ungrateful demographic.

Here's two pieces of irrefutable evidence of this disturbing trend.

First, for some historical context, I submit to you: The Hilarious House of Frightenstein This gem was brought to my attention by eagle-eyed Screaming regular cattleworks.

Produced by CHCH Channel 11 in Canada, this children's gag-comedy show ran for an amazing 25 years in Canada and the US. This was all the amazing in that the show was only in production for about a year. The production of HHF sounds like some dada-ist provocation. For nearly 12 months, random skits were shot of various characters doing different funny things. These segments were then spliced together to produce several seasons of the show. This is all the more amazing when you consider that many of the characters to appear on HHF were played by a single man: the excellent Billy Van. The incomparable Vincent Price was also a regular, playing the role he was born to play: himself.

Here's a clip of Price doing the intro the show:



Here's a clip of Van as the Count and his sidekick Igor:



For the full rundown on Frightenstein, you can check out this excellent tribute site.

Jump to today. Ghoul a-Go-Go is a cable access show that is part cheese horror host shtick and part variety show. Vlad, his hunchbacked co-host Creighton, and the Invisible Man (host of the Tiki-Lounge) entertain the kids and host out-there bands like Hasil Adkins and, in the clip below, the 5, 6, 7, 8's.



One of the things I like about Ghoul a-Go-Go is how incompetent a host Vlad is. He's not very fond of children, which, in my humble opinion, makes him the perfect host for a kid's show.

Check out the Ghoul a-Go-Go web site for the skinny on these cool ghouls.

A huzzah for Dave over at Digital Download for hipping me to this show.

2 comments:

cattleworks said...

Ha!
That Ghoul-a-Go-Go stuff is nuts!
I told the guys at Atomic Don's about this clip, with the 5,6,7,8's, and they're looking at me, like, what? what are you talking about?
Makes you wanna start some nutty, improbably genre-colliding kid show, don't it?

And although this isn't really horror-related or macabre, it is weird and concerns kids show hosts. Are you familiar with Xuxa (SHOO-sha), of Brazil?
Now defunct I believe, I happened to catch some of her kids shows on the Disney Family Channel during the 90s and I was, huh? WTf?
WTf-ingf?
If you google-image "xuxa" you'll see some pictures of her, and the first one is VERY revealing (actually, there's a few surprisingly explicit photos-- that strange international sensibility), which is just part of the weirdness.
The Simpsons' parodied her on one of their episodes.
Very stange. Vlad's clumsiness, physically and socially, with children made me think of her.
When you watched her show, she seemed to have no real affinity for kids, no real chemistry. In Vlad's case, I think it's part of the act. I don't think Xuxa was acting. Although her fondness for children may have been sincere.
But she looked great in her outfits, that European fashionable look that somehow looks 70s as well, you know?
But her show seemed hugely budgeted! Huge set! Like, it appeared to be a whole sound stage. Two or three actors in animal costumes, as energetic mascots! That was the most jaw-dropping thing about it. How did this happen? Like her husband was this old billionaire and he just wants to please his young, hot, well-meaning, clueless wife who wants to do a kids show.
Weird.
She had musical guests, like Michael Kamen (?!) doing duets with her and singing songs TO her. Way nuts.

Meanwhile, trying to stay on subject here:
In my travels, I stumbled on this website:
http://www.shillingshockers.com/

and while looking for THAT site, I found THIS site:
http://horrorhosts.com/

and if you go there, and then click on HHU Network, you'll see a funny take on Grant Wood's American Gothic.
Man, our world's wonderfully screwy, some times, some places...

But I'm serious about the inspiration to create something insanely wonderfully improbable on local TV.
Come on! I know you feel it, too!

Just causing trouble like I got a quota to make...

CRwM said...

I remember occasionally running across episodes of Xuxa. It is weirdly out of scale – part football match, part Gong Show, part prime-time variety show.

Even weirder, apparently she started her film career in a hardcore. I can't imagine American parents letting their kids on to the set of a show hosted by somebody who got their start in a skin flick.