Editor’s note: The piece was submitted by Matthew Brassfield, a local filmmaker and the writer, director and producer of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of the Macabre.
I wrapped up my first article, Ohio Shock, at the beginning of the 80’s and presented hosts like the Ghoul, Dr. Creep, Mad Daddy, Fritz The Nite Owl and many more. Now it’s time to explore the next batch of hosts that kept the 80’s to present day scary for Ohioians.
In Ohio Shock we spoke about the Shock Package, a group of Universal Films that helped spawn the Horror Host genre into entertainment the whole family could watch. In 1958 a second package was released called “Son of Shock” that not only showcased horror from Universal Pictures but also Columbia Pictures, expanding the catalog of films stations and hosts could show. This new package brought new films to TVs across America and inspired new hosts with new shows. Most modern horror hosts show public domain horror, sci-fi and fantasy films and sometimes independent films made by upcoming directors.
Before we move on to the 1980s, I wanted to highlight a local host from the 70s that I just recently became aware of. Phil Chandler hosted “Friday Fright Festival” in the early 70’s in Dayton, Ohio and was Dr. Creep’s competition for a time. Phil, who was a vampire type character, would host cheesy movies late nights and was joined by side characters that included a Frankenstein monster and werewolf, both of whom had funny quirks. Phil was also a brilliant illusionist went on to become a ringmaster in the circus. His show’s side characters went on to make numerous appearances on Shock Theater with Dr. Creep. As of this point I am not aware of any surviving footage from his show.
The Cool Ghoul II
In 1972, The Cool Ghoul’s run came to an end, and fans would have to wait until 1984 for a second wacky version of the host to hit TV sets with “Thriller Theatre” that aired in Akron. While The Cool Ghoul II also did a show in Canton in 1970, it was his second run that made him popular and turned this second incarnation of the Cool Ghoul into a first rate host. His show ended in 1986, but in subsequent year he was brought back to host Halloween specials and appear at charity events like the Jerry Lewis Telethon. The Cool Ghoul II would also go on to become the Cyber Cool Ghoul when he began hosting an online show. While not as iconic as the original, the second Cool Ghoul was a character all to himself and had a wacky style that got him a solid following. Some of his episodes can be found on trade lists and online.
Son of Ghoul
The Son of Ghoul has been a mainstay on Cleveland television sets since 1986 when he took over the The Cool Ghoul II’s timeslot and began the “Son of Ghoul Show.” The Son of Ghoul was a stylistic mix of Ghoulardi and The Ghoul and was given the name “Son of” by The Ghoul himself when he won a look alike contest. Son of Ghoul would change up his image before hitting the airwaves by adding sunglasses, a top hat and cape to the fake goatee of his mentors. But things turned sour between Son of Ghoul and The Ghoul leaving the hosts at odds with each other and splitting what could have been a very powerful friendship. The Son of Ghoul would not let this get him down as he became yet another horror host icon from Cleveland, eventually becoming so popular that the station had him host a call in-game show. The Son of Ghoul’s hosting style is much like The Ghoul’s: adding sound effects and music to the films to spice them up. His co-hosts, The Fidge (who sadly passed away in 2003) and Jungle Bob, also ended up being just as popular as the Son of Ghoul himself. In 2012 Son of Ghoul is still going strong and is a respected member of the host community. You can find his shows on DVD at his official website.
Frank and Drac
Two classic monsters would hit Cleveland in 1987 when Frank and Drac unleashed “The Frank and Drac Show” proving that ghouls love film. Every week they would meet up to host a horror film, spouting facts about the movie and cracking wise on each other. Drac would talk in your typical Transylvania accent as Frank had an almost Curly from the Three Stooges sounding voice, making then a fun pair. The show was a hit and gained high ratings during its one year run. The final episode aired in 1988 due to the ghouls not seeing eye to eye with station higher ups. You can find clips of Frank and Drac on YouTube and episodes on trade lists.
A. Ghastlee Ghoul
When Dr. Creep went off the air in 1985, Dayton was left without a horror host. That void was filled in 1989 when A. Ghastlee Ghoul wisecracked his way into the spot with “The Ghastlee Movie Show” and became a beloved late night horror host. Ghastlee, who didn’t always host movies, had a show that more skit-based based and on occasion would show a film that he would wisecrack through or even add himself into. Ghastlee’s style would capture younger and older viewers who watched to see what The Ghastlee One would say next. His style also influenced other horror hosts such as Dr. Freak, who you’ll read about in a bit. Ghastlee would go on to host his show for many years and also co-create the Horrorhost Underground, a resource for hosts and fans around the world. At first Ghastlee wore a black duster, black clothes, gloves and white face paint with a unibrow. Later he would turn in the duster for a custom long red coat and signature hat. The Ghastlee Movie Show still airs and has new episodes from time to time as Ghastlee now also hosts on a YouTube show called “Weird Web Theater.” Ghastlee is also known for his 2004 convention, Scary Camp, and for playing music in and around Dayton. To see Ghastlee’s work you can buy his best of from him and see clips on YouTube.
“Dr. Shock’s X-Ray Chiller Theatre” was a Toledo show hosted by, you guessed it, Dr. Shock. The program started in 1989 and was cancelled in 1992 when the station, who was a Fox affiliate, decided to show late night infomercials instead. This did not stop the Dr. as he then went on to host independent films that were released on VHS and later DVD. Currently Dr. Show is off the air and his hosting direct to video films days are over, but his zany off the wall humor has touched many fans. You can find Dr. Shock hosting independent films on his website and watch clips online.
One part horror host and one part Andrew Dice Clay sums up Billy Black who brought “Hott Sinema” to Columbus in 1992. Billy Black, who really knew his films, would his time on air in a bar talking to his bartender friend and telling jokes as local strippers would dance in between segments. The show was a racy twist on hosting and was clearly more for adults than kids. Billy’s run was short and his impact not as powerful as the hosts before him, but to his fans he was one cool cat with one wild show. Clips of his show can be found online.
In 2000, the Centerville/Dayton area met Commandant Gore. Along with his sidekicks, he hosted a show called “Gorevision” and would show clips of things sure to make most viewers’ stomachs turn. Commandant’s show would be on and off for some years and would remain a rather underground show. While his gory visions have been off the air for some years now, those who spent time watching Commandant remember a bloody strange time. The Commandant’s are out there for the finding, but are not widely available.
The world’s youngest horror host, Dr. Freak (who was 14 when he started) brought his “Cult Theater” to Dayton airwaves for only three episodes during its first run in 2000. But he also made a number of appearances on other host programs such as New Shock Theater with Dr. Creep and The Ghastlee Movie Show hosted by A. Ghastlee Ghoul. Dr. Freak would also go on to star in his own movie called “Dr. Freak Vamp Killa,” directed by Henrique Couto and “Joe Nosferatu: Homeless Vampire,” directed by Bob Hinton keeping the young host active for the time. Dr. Freak would also make appearances at Cinema Wasteland and Horrorama Dayton. Dr. Freak’s style was a mix of old school hosting with a youthful twist, making for some interesting episodes. As of late, Dr. Freak has made a small return as he guest stars on Terrifying Tales of the Macabre (hosted by Baron Von Porkchop), and Cult Theater has returned for an episode on Dayton’s first Scare-A-Thon. So we just may be seeing more of him in the coming years. His episodes have been released on DVD and are hard to find nowadays, but are around for the fan who looks hard enough.
Butch R. Cleaver
Butch R. Cleaver is a 1959 man stuck in modern times after an accident left him and his wife stranded in 2003. Every week Cincinnati fans can watch “Meet Cleaver Theatre” to find out what this old horror buff thinks of films he missed in the 50 years he skipped. Butch spends his time hosting movies and working in his lab doing zany experiments, making him a fan favorite. Butch is a classic host with a modern show that’s great to enjoy in the late hours. Butch R. Cleaver, who must wear his 3-D Glasses at all times to see properly, has slowed down as of late and with fewer episodes and public appearances in 2011, leaving fans hoping that Butch and Meet Cleaver Theatre will be back soon in full force. Episodes can be found at his public appearances, on trade lists and online.
The Mortician is a hulking skeleton faced man who took pride in his work of cutting bodies and hosting films on “The Mortician’s House of Fear” that started in 2003 and aired in Brunswick. Every week viewers would watch as he went to work on the dead body and talked about the films as heavy metal music played in the background. The show’s segments were shot as if on scratchy old film, and this added a great spooky feel to the show. While his House of Fear has been off the air for many years now, the Mortician certainly made his mark in Ohio hosting history. His show can be found on DVD via his website and at some online rental stores.
Tarr & Fether
In 2004 Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether opened up the asylum doors to Liberty City viewers with their “Psycho Cinema,” and the madness of the two crazed loonies was unleashed. The pair would make up fake products, do skits and even look for local monster legends giving viewers laughs and adventure. The pair, who have been missing for some time, have hinted at a return giving fans something to look forward to. Tarr and Fether’s hosting style is very classic, and the two speak in almost proper English accents giving the show an old time feel. Both share the names of characters from an old Edger Allen Poe short story, making you wonder if these ghouls were the ones Poe wrote about. They also had a great opening sequence which resembled an original Sony Playstation video game. DVDs of their show can be bought at their official website and clips can be found on YouTube.
Dale Kay is the host of “Dale Kay’s Spookshow,” a Cleveland show that started in 2007 and is an old school horror host show that’s safe for the young and the young at heart. Dale, who was inspired by The Ghoul, hosts films and fills the time with skits parodying popular genre films and products. Dale and his Spookshow are still going strong and can also be seen on The Monster Channel (www.100ymm.com), a website that showcases all things horror including many horror host programs. Dale Kay’s shows can be inquired about via his Facebook page.
Iris & Retina
Two cool cats rocked their way into Dayton host history when Iris and Retina began “Mondo Smash A’ Go Go” in 2008. The pair hosts from their living room and shares a deep knowledge of the films they are watching alongside you. During break segments Iris & Retina will teach you to cook, host a dance contest or visit a local coffee shop making you feel the overall smooth vibe of the show. Their laid back nature is very much in the vein of Fritz The Nite Owl. As of late 2011, Iris & Retina have made a new episode that premiered before Dayton’s first Scare-A-Thon, and are slated to be on a future episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. At times, you can catch them at surf rockers Team Void’s concerts. Episodes can be bought at Game Swap in Kettering and can been seen via YouTube.
Baron Von Porkchop
In late 2010, Baron Von Porkchop was dug up from his grave and began hosting “Terrifying Tales of the Macabre” in Dayton. The Baron is an undead ghoul from the 1800’s who used to own slaughter houses that all went belly up. Now alongside his wife and a team of sidekicks, the Baron brings viewers classic horror films along with independent features. While the films on the show are not always, the Baron’s segments are kid friendly and are geared for fans of horror hosts from the 60’s-80’s, and his goofy nature has gained him a growing fan base. The Baron, who just wrapped his second season, has also hosted his own concert event called The Baron’s Ball at Gilly’s Jazz Club and has made appearances at Horrorhound Weekend, Cinema Wasteland, WYSO’s Kaleidoscope and Horrorama Dayton. The Baron also loves to bring host friends onto his show and has featured cameos from hosts such as A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Dr. Freak, Sammy Terry (Indiana), Count Gregula (Chicago) and more. The Barons shows can be bought at Game Swap in Kettering and online.
Imagine if Elvira Mistress of the Dark and Dr. Creep spawned an offspring that was a phantom and you would have Dr. Dark of “After Dark Theater” that began airing in Greenville in 2011. Despite being a phantom, Dr. Dark is a gentle undead soul who brings viewers classic public domain films alongside his own brand of comedy. While fairly new to hosting, Dr. Dark seems to be gaining a fan base based in and around his viewing area. Dr. Dark has also made some public appearances that include Horrorhound Weekend and the A. Ghastlee Night at Gillys concert. Dr. Dark also does many charity events and even does a kid friendly version of Robot Chicken for his public access station. His show can be seen on TV with future DVDs planned.
Susie D. Rott
Susie D. Rott is a undead bride who hosts “Susie D. Rott’s Warehouse of Terror” in Hamilton. Her journey to bring the viewers the best (or is that worst) in public domain and independent films started in 2011 and is still going strong as of early 2012. Susie is joined in her warehouse by her director and a lot of sidekicks. Susie is a sweet undead woman who enjoys sharing her films and her warehouses with viewers. While a new face in the world of hosting, Susie could quickly earn a place in Ohio hosting history. Susie’s shows can be seen on the Monster Channel and clips are online.
And there you have some of the ghouls and bad movie historians that have and are haunting Ohio airwaves. Ohio has always been a mecca for horror hosts and has some of the world’s best fans who stand by and support their favorite late night hosts. But we aren’t the only ones. There are many states with amazing hosts: Indiana has Sammy Terry of Nightmare Theater, Iowa has Marlena Midnite of Midnite Mausoleum, Pennsylvania has Roxsy Tyler of Carnival of Horrors and so on in every state.
If you want to learn more about horror hosting, check out websites like
Also check out documentaries like American Scary directed by John E. Hudgens, Virginia Creepers by Sean Kotz & Christopher Valluzzo and Every Other Day’s Halloween by C.W. Prather. The book Television Horror Movie Hosts by Elena M. Watson is worth a read.
This closes our exploration of Ohio horror hosting for now. But as new hosts pop up or old ones come to my attention, I will be more then happy to bring you another installment of this article, The Bride of Ohio Shock. So until next time, stay scary and keep on watching.
Special thanks to: Juliet Fromholt, Art Bausman, Bob Hinton, the late Barry Hobart, Stephen Alexander II, Richard Martin, Norman & Sue Brassfield, Jason Hignite and Bryan Brassfield for their help with this article.