Saturday, June 6, 2009

Monster Movies on TV in the 1960s recalls monster movie TV shows in Kansas City.

My recollections sent to him follows:

Spooky Tom:I have seen your website about TV movie horror hosts in Kansas City. I watched the monster movie shows on KMBC television in the 1960s. Here's what I recall. In the early and mid 1960s KMBC had two monster movie shows on Saturdays. "Son of Chiller" was on at 6:00pm through 7:30pm. This was back in the days when network prime time programming started at 6:30pm Central time, NOT 7:00pm as it has been since 1971. So, any ABC network programs between 6:30 and 7:30 were not seen on KMBC on Saturdays because of "Son of Chiller". The host was Penny Dreadful. She really was good lookin'! Hot, actually. I thought she was some kind of spooky, sexy nun because of her clothes, kind of a long dark nun-habit like robe, with a big wide white collar that almost looked like wings, and a dark covering over her head that came to a point on her forehead. The show would start with spooky music as the camera panned down and then up a painting of a path leading to a tall spooky mansion. As it would pan up the tower on the mansion it would fade to another camera panning up a set design of the tower. At the top, there would stand Penny Dreadful in a dark window where she would announce that night's movie. She would also call out orders to an always-off-camera servant, suggesting he was some kind of gorilla or large beast. I think she called him Igor. She was just short of being bossy to him. One time, she was offering to mail photographs to fans, but cautioned that autographs were out of the question. I sent her a letter decorated as best I could with haunted illustrations and lettering that looked like dripping blood, complete with frayed edges as though an ancient manuscript. My artistic efforts were rewarded with an AUTOGRAPHED picture and thank-you note in a photo album, suitable for setting on my desk. Autographed and a note--exactly what she SAID on TV what she would NOT do, suggesting my letter stood out from the others! God, I was in love with her, even though I was about 11 years old! The movies she showed were both horror and science fiction of then-recent vintage, which meant 1950s B movies like "I Was a Teenage Werewolf", "The Giant Gila Monster", and (REAL favorite) "Earth Vs. Flying Saucers". It is very possible that Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was shown. I know Ed Wood's "Bride of the Beast" was shown because I remember it. The other show was "Chiller" featuring Gregory Grave, which was on at 10:30pm. This show, in contrast, was much more likely to show classic horror movies from the 1930s and 1940s. I recall being really terrified by Boris Karloff as the Mummy, especially when he slowly opened his eyes through his bandages! I was torn between watching "Chiller" or "Wrestling With Bob", the professional wrestling show on KFEQ, channel 2, from St. Joseph, MO, which was on at the same time. I usually watched wrestling, putting up with the poor (pre-cable TV era!) reception."Son of Chiller" did not last too many years. "Chiller" was moved to the 6:00pm time slot. Penny Dreadful was gone and Gregory Grave was on at a much earlier time. This is when the "Joe Pine Show" started being seen at 10:30pm which would have been 1967. I recall "Chiller" with Gregory Grave lasting until about 1970.Gregory was in an upright coffin at the start of each show. It had a sliding window, which he would open, look left and right, blow cigar smoke, then open the lid. He would walk over to his haunted talk show host desk, ancient, filthy, and littered with ghoulish gizmos. He would crack jokes as if he thought he was Johnny Carson. A skull wearing glasses was on his desk. He would often ask it questions. The camera would show a close-up of the skull which would answer back with an assortment of pre-recorded answers. The voice of the skull (can't remember the skull's name! Cranston, maybe?) sounded like Torry Southwick of "Torry and Ol' Gus" fame on KMBC's after school cartoon show. The projector for showing that night's movie was supposedly under Gregory's desk. He would ask the projectionist if the film was ready. A hairy arm (which was clearly operated manually by Gregory) would come out of a hole on the desk top waving "OK" indicating it was movie time.I hope this information is of interest. No, I no longer have the photo of Penny Dreadful, but it was the same picture you show on your website.