MICHAEL H. PRICE: Shock! Theatre, 50 years later

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6 Responses

  1. Bo Hampton says:

    I remember "Gravedigger" from my childhood home of High Point, N.C. Their films included cheesy and wonderful oldSci-fi fare as well. And came on at like 3:a.m. Saturday nights.Cool article, Michael.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Argh! I'm back to not being permitted to post – so I'm going to try as "anonymous" – As usual, great informative reading, Michael. Thanks for including me in something so close my heart.bob tinnell

  3. Larry Shell says:

    My-T-Fine article, Mike. John Zacherle (or Zacherly depending on who you speak to) was my horror host of choice and you can find him twice a year at the Chiller Theatre convention in NJ greeting fans. I had the pleasure of speaking to him a few times in the 80s when I was promoting a series of monthly record conventions to try and get him as a guest but Zach is ever-so-modest and pooh-poohed the thought of his recording career meaning that much to anyone, the silly man! I hear he's 90 years old this year, god bless Zacherley and all the horror hosts of our youth. With rock & roll, MAD Magazine and horror movies, our generation was sure to become twisted, in a most delightful way!!!

    • Linda Gold says:

      I, too, grew up watching Zacherly runnning horror movies and when I was in High School, believe it or not, he had an afternoon dance show ala Amercian Bandstand which my best friend and I used to dance on.

      • Larry Shell says:

        Linda, believe it or not, there's going to be a Disk-O-Teen Reunion in NJ! The Disc-O-Teen Reunion Celebration featuring Zacherley, the Doughboys, former "Disc-O-Teen" dancers and surprise guests is scheduled to be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Hilton Newark Airport Hotel, 1170 Spring St., Elizabeth. $55 per person; $99 per couple. For registration information, log onto <a href="http://www.wnjutv47.com/Reunion.html” target=”_blank”>www.wnjutv47.com/Reunion.html

  4. Michael H. Price says:

    Delighted to see such responses. Another SHOCK!-related memoir appears below, from Portland, Ore., businessman Darrell Beck — received at my newspaper office in reply to a briefer version of the column in the Fort Worth [Tex.] Business Press. Mr. Beck provides a first-hand account of the shooting of a SHOCK! THEATRE (a.k.a. NIGHTMARE) segment during the 1960s at Fort Worth.In addition to Elena Watson's TELEVISION HORROR MOVIE HOSTS (McFarland Books), as mentioned in the column, there also is a swell book called SHOCK! THEATER: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, issued in 2001 by MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT magazine. That one reproduces the Screen Gems promotional kit and contains quite a few fond reflections from various SHOCK! enthusiasts who found the program influential upon their own careers.– MHP Dear Mr. Price –My Fort Worth friend Sam Lane sent me a copy of your piece, "Bill Camfield and FW's 'Shock! Theater' Legacy" (the Business Press, Oct. 1). Sam and I met when we both worked on the studio crew at KTVT-TV in the '60s, then home to Bill Camfield's personae Gorgon and Icky Twerp. Sam and I worked on many of Camfield's shows there, moved on, started our own management consulting businesses, and recently became business partners (www.aspenfamilybusiness.com). Your article brought back a lot of memories.One of them was of a Nightmare taping we had decided to do behind the KTVT studios, just off the West Freeway. Out back, there was a steep berm, between the studio parking lot and some apartments just behind. The movie we were showcasing had something to do with corpses and cemeteries, so we had set up a cemetery on the side of the berm, using cardboard tombstones created by the station's carpenter, John Perry. He had also made a cardboard casket for this evening's taping. We were to have Gorgon [Bill Camfield] come over the lip of the berm just at sunset (provided by a 2,000-watt Klieg light), drag the coffin part-way down the hill, stop amid the tombstones, showcase the movie, continue his walk while giving the trademark, echo-enhanced Gorgon laugh, while we faded to black. I should add that we had several pots of hot water hidden behind some of the tombstones. Blocks of dry ice thrown in at the last minute generated a respectable ground fog. We were a low-budget outfit and could not afford a fog machine.We had a window of about 30-45 minutes to do our taping, as the sun was setting but before dark. We had tried several takes …, and were down to our last attempt. Gorgon came over the hill, silhouetted nicely, dragging the coffin. He stopped part-way down the hill, said his set-up spiel for the movie, began a cackle that would build into the Gorgon laugh as the audio man turned up the echo pot. As the laugh built, he began to walk down the hill – and tripped. Then Gorgon, the coffin, a few tombstones and pots of water, all caught up in the wake, all came tumbling down the hill. The mike was still on, echo effect still in place as laughter turned to curses, groans and general noises of the fall. By the time we helped Camfield and cleaned up the mess it was too late to try taping again … We watched the out-take again and again … It was as funny watching it time 20 as it was the first. I think we taped a tamer version the next day or two, in the studio with a bruised and less adventurous Gorgon.- Darrell BeckPortland, Ore.