Life without The Cool Ghoul

13 Comments

Zacherley, The Cool Ghoul

Growing up in the New York City television market of the 1970s, the Horror Host phenomenon was all but over.   Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul had finished his hosting duties in the mid-1960s, eventually gravitating to the FM disc jockey field.  Over at Metromedia channel 5 (WNEW-TV), voice announcer Lou Steele (“It’s 10 p.m.! Do you know where your children are?”) was The Creep.  However, that run lasted until 1973.  So, for such a huge market as The Big Apple was, and is, no other Horror Host ever graced the airwaves in NYC again.

Certainly, Creature Features, Chiller Theatre, Fright Night, Thriller Theater, Spaced-Out Films, and the occasional 4:30 Movie theme week filled the bill for us Monster Movie fans.  Of course, every Thanksgiving, as well, WOR-TV channel 9 gave a holiday thrill with King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young for turkey day, followed on left-over day with a few Godzilla and Friends films.  What a treat that was, too!   But no host to guide us through the festivities.

Kevin Conway

One exception occurred in the summer of 1981.  WNET-TV channel 13, our local PBS station in NYC, featured Cinema 13 Horror.  This summer-long series of the Universal Pictures classic horror and monster films was hosted by actor Kevin Conway.  Conway, clad in a tuxedo and hosting from a leaky, dripping crypt-like cellar, not only introduced each film but, after the film itself, gave a “Film Notes” closing with trivia question (answer to be revealed at next week’s film), next week’s preview trailer, and a sincere “goodnight and pleasant dreams” sign-off.  Each film was shown twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday, around 11:00 p.m. or so.  Finally, as a surprise, an all-night marathon was presented for Halloween 1981.  Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and all their relatives were on hand for the best of the Universal horror films.  What a year it was – watch a clip here.  And then, that was it. The idea was never repeated, with or without a host.  It just faded away into the bleakness of the night.

I am sure that Kevin Conway would have gladly accepted the duties as the host of Cinema 13 Horror.  What amazes me is that New York City is the largest television market of all time.  Smaller cities like Cleveland, Chicago, and Los Angeles have Horror Host histories rich and long.  So what happened in New York?  Who knows how far Cinema 13 Horror could have gone?  It makes one wonder.  So, I made a contribution all my own.

In my own small way I have contributed to the history of the television horror movie host lineage…for I am…MOANEEZ, your host.  For six episodes I welcomed late-night Friday night viewers to FAHRENHEIT VHS (F-VHS), over Cablevision Public Access Television of Peekskill, Ossining, Yorktown, and the surrounding communities of the Northern Westchester County, New York region.  When circumstances negatively intervened, I was forced to relinquish my solemn duties as Host and Producer of F-VHS.  However, the urge is returning and I feel the earth atop my grave shifting, possibly to facilitate my return to the Public Access airwaves.

So, keep your eyes (either one or all three) on this blog…I may be back!

– Moaneez

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This post is this site’s submission to the Classic TV Horror Host Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association.  Please go to the host site to read the other great entries that honor Horror Hosts.

I’m thrilled that my friend, Chris “Moaneez” agreed to submit a write-up on this topic for presentation here.  Hopefully this is the first of many contributions.  I’ve never met anyone who is more passionate about classic film and television.  Especially of the B-Horror variety.

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13 thoughts on “Life without The Cool Ghoul

  1. I am really amazed, as you said, that such a huge market as New York did not have what I considered a necessary element for late-night TV in those days. As part of this blogathon myself, I was able to do a tribute to our Sammy Terry the Ghoul, of Indiana fame. I think it is really cool that you filled that void yourself, Moaneez, even for a short time. That must have been a lot of fun, and I bet you would be happy to dig yourself out in the dead of night and be reborn! I’m sure there would be a market for it now, when many people are into classic TV. Wonderful article, and it’s great to meet another creature of the night!

    • Hey, Becky! Thanks for stopping in. I too am thrilled Chris, aka “Moaneez” might come out from beyond the grave to do something he loves. Unfortunately, hurricane Sandy cast a shadow on his lair for the time being.

      BTW – although I’ve always been a classic horror film fan, I was never into the horror hosts. Only after I read Chris’ write-up did I realize why – it wasn’t offered in NYC for any definitive time while I was growing up.

      Aurora

    • Thank you so much, Becky. I am a huge believer in the local television idea. With cable, satelite, and even the internet closing us all in together, there is little variety anymore on television. Sure we have a thousand channels, unlimited reach, globally, to millions of people and information, and all the YouTube ( I am a confirmed YouTube-aholic!) videos anyone could ever hope for…but, what joy to have only 5 or 7 channels and that was plenty. Human beings could never tolerate scaling down television to its simpler, former version of a dozen, or less, channels, end-of-the-broadcast-day sign-offs, and the need for patience in waiting for a favorite Monster Movie to come on TV, as opposed to just popping in a tape or disk. Our Horror/Monster Movie Memories are something mighty special to share with the world…memories that represent the last traces of a generation that remembers the simpler times of TV’s local programming days.

      …Still Alive…Moaneez

  2. Very interesting to learn about Kevin Conway’s hosting duties. Too bad Cinema 13 didn’t continue as a longer-running series (love the name!). Zacherley did continue to have sporadic hosting duties after he left his regular gig. He hosted a 3-D showing of GORILLA AT LARGE on WOR in the early 1980s. He is still considered one of the most influential horror hosts.

    • I can confirm Zacherley’s still very popular. I saw him at a Chillerfest event a few years back and lines for his autograph rivaled Linda Blair’s. I think that’s mighty impressive.

      Aurora

    • It’s funny, Rick, that I never even knew that Gorilla At Large was on, and that Zacherley would host it! I do, though remember when WPIX-TV channel 11 in New York, showed Creature From the Black Lagoon in 3-D. I never picked-up the glasses, so I was forced to “watch” the movie in the 2-D blur of images. Do you, or does anyone, remember this event on New York television…happened around the early 80s?

  3. I have watched MOANEEZ’S late night Friday Horror Host show and it was great. I hope that MOANEEZ returns because he was/is a great horror host . JoeP

    • Dear Joe…Good of you to comment on Fahrenheit VHS. I have been off the air for 2 years, but the idea to return has been detoured due to personal complications. But, hearing from you at this blog, has renewed my spirit…as usual, don’t touch that dial.
      …Still
      Alive…Moaneez

  4. How exciting! Thanks for stopping in, Joe. Chris and I have known each other for longer than either of us care to admit and yet I’ve never seen him in action as Moaneez. I’m looking forward to when he has more time to participate a bit more here because he’s a wealth of information.

    Aurora

  5. It is great to hear from JoeP…he was the first viewer to e-mail a response to my show. I am honored to have Joe remember F-VHS…and, yes, it is 2 years too long…time for a return…let’s see what 2013 brings. Thank you, sincerely, for your generous comments, Joe.

    …Still Alive…Moaneez

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