As a child I liked scary movies. (I’m sure this comes as a surprise to you all.) Unfortunately, I seldom stayed up late enough to tune in the Pompano station which ran Creature Feature at 11:00pm on Saturday nights, so I made do with the Saturday afternoon antics of M.T. Graves on WKID, broadcasting from Pirate’s World in Dania. That cadaverous clown was enough of a goofy host that I found myself laughing against my best intentions; then again, the movies he would show were generally pretty awful, anyway.
One in particular — some version of The Island of Doctor Moreau, I think — came with the warning that before the particularly horrifying scene they would play the “horror horn” to warn sensitive viewers to close their delicate eyes until the “all clear” was given. This may have been the only Saturday film I ever watched in its entirety, playing with my Strange Change Machine figures on the family room floor until it got to the good part.
There was no good part. When the horn sounded, there was a 2-3 second scene of a scalpel cutting a plucked chicken thigh, and then the horn sounded again. I am fairly certain that this was the biggest disappointment of my movie-viewing career. Fortunately, old M.T. came on with a “What, that’s it?” look on his face, which dissipated my anger somewhat.
The horror host is a lost art these days. Fortunately a new documentary looks at the history of this strange and eerie art form. (Okay, okay, “art form” is probably a stretch, but can we agree on “a uniquely American phenomenon”?) I hope the producers of American Scary get the damned film finished soon.
It’s too bad that they never offered up “horror host” at Career Day. I think I would have been good at it.