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.
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!
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.