Thursday, October 7, 2010

The First Horror Film Host?



It would be a mistake to think that SHOCK! programming introduced the horror film host to television. Maila Nurmi, as Vampira, set the template with THE VAMPIRA SHOW that premiered in Los Angeles on May 1, 1954 on KABC. Films like REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES and FOG ISLAND were exhibited, with Vampira talking to the TV audience and doing commentary on the films. The show began at the midnight slot (another influence for many SHOCK! programs), with adjustments to 11pm then 10:30pm. The character of Vampira became a celebrity in the LA area, and even beyond, with a LIFE magazine spread and an appearance on a THE RED SKELTON SHOW that also hosted Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney, Jr.

One can only speculate that Screen Gems, in creating the SHOCK! catalog and offering up the suggestion of a horror host for the films therein, had been aware of Vampira, and planned accordingly.

Horror hosting on television arrived even before THE VAMPIRA SHOW. For instance, LIGHTS OUT, based on the famous radio show, had a host--of original television programing. But Vampira may have been the first horror film host.

7 comments:

The Creeping Bride said...
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Mirek said...

Great info, Creeping Bride, and a big thanks to Don Glut.

I had been wondering if Vampira was the first horror film host. Now we know she was not.

It's also possible that, aside from the Swami, there were other local channel horror hosts who did something similar, working with what appears the same type of public domain films, like WHITE ZOMBIE. Perhaps (and this would need to be further researched) local channel horror hosts were around in early television history, though not as common and certainly not as well known as when the SHOCK! phenomenon kicked in.

rogue evolent said...

Great info on the Swami! I love the whole sub-genre of Local TV Horror Hosts! And thanks for the wonderful LIGHTS OUT episode clip. (good old Leslie Nielsen)
best,
r/e

The Creeping Bride said...

I've deleted my 8 October comment here on Don Glut's research on Swami Drana Badour because I see that Mirek has given the Swami a post of his with all the same info. Plus a picture!

The Creeping Bride said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Creeping Bride said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kochillt said...

These video feeds are still working. Just imagine viewing one of the Lugosi Monograms on Vampira's show while sitting next to the man himself, as Richard Sheffield indeed did.