American Scary T.V. horror hosts mostly past in low budget chaotic documentary LEAN-n-Mean

Feb 11, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good concept, Zacherle, Vamipira, Ernie Anderson

Cons:too loose, chaotic, too many annoying interviews

The Bottom Line: Too many interviews are more like out-takes and there's not enough archival footage from Vampira and Zacherle and Ghoulardi, but it's a good idea.


American Scary is a very low budget; look at Television's horror hosts.  It's made up of  brief interviews with legendary horror hosts like Vampira (the late, Maila Numi) and Zacherley (John Zacherle) ,  Ghoulardi (the late  Ernie Anderson)  as well as dozens of regional hosts and some newer horror hosts who  put together programs to be viewed as internet downloads.  

If you grew up watching pre-cable television, you probably remember programs like New York's Chiller Theater and later Shock Theater that were hosted by ghouls and vampires who were often more entertaining than the bad horror movies they were hosting.   Local stations around the country during the 1960s and into the 1980s had semi-famous horror hosts.   Some of the hosts were dressed up station announcers, some were local people who liked to create personalities and show off for the cameras.  Some show hosts were memorable, others were not.   

There are only a few classic archival clips and far too much time is taken up talking to present day horror hosts who pontificate, philosophize and/or try to crack jokes.   There are brief sound bites from Leonard Maltin, Tim Conway, writer Neil Gaiman, Tom Savini, Forest J. Ackerman and Bob Burns.   Surprisingly there is no mention of how SCTV gently satarized horror hosts with Joe Flaherty's Count Flloyd. 

I enjoyed about 30 minutes and with better editing and some additional archival clips you could have an excellent 70 minute documentary, but at 92 minutes, this 2006 documentary plays like a series of deleted scenes from a more polished documentary offering.
There's not much in the way of organization but with appearances by dozens of horror hosts from all over the country including  Ghoardi, Big Chuck Schodowski, Professor Anton Griffin, Sir Cecil Creepe, Sout gore De Vol, Chilly Billy Gardille, Svengoolie, Stella, Baron Daemon and many others, you'll probably find something wonderfully nostalgic .

After a too brief look at the early TV hosts were see some highlights of the 60s and 70s era with longer features on people like Bob Wilkins and Chicago's Svengoolie (Jerry G. Bishop).   There are very brief moments with Elvira and Joel Hodgson and Joe Bob Briggs, and longer interviews with new internet horror hosts. 
  
A lot of the footage looks like it was shot with decent quality home video equipment but the sound quality on the 2007 DVD is clear.  

DVD Extras
There's a feature length commentary by Directors John E. Hudgens and Sandy Clark that has some very interesting information and observations.  There are extended interviews; a few are organized into covering the Nashville horror host scene or the Texas horror scene.

BOTTOM LINE:
American Scary is too loose and sloppy to recommend but if you're nostalgic for a T.V. horror host you grew up with, you might like catching a glimpse of several of them back in their day and in mid-2000s interviews.


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