Day #81: The Cramps – “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”
I finally got around to watching American Scary, John E. Hudgen’s 2006 documentary about the lost world of late night TV horror hosts. (It’s available to watch on Netflix Instant and Hulu). Folks like Vampira, Bob Wilkins, Bill Cardile, and Big Chuck and Lil’ John who rolled out the campy acting and cheap props, and made god awful movies fun to watch. (Side note: Cleveland apparently reigned for the number of horror hosts it spawned). I wasn’t around when most of these folks were on the air — local television was almost entirely non-existent by the time I old enough to even know what TV was, but I did catch the last vestiges of it growing up. I’d stay up late on the weekends with my brother watching guys like Joe Bob Briggs, Elvira, and Gilbert Godfried on cable. And of course, Mystery Science Theater 3000 later paid homage to a lot of the old horror host greats.
It’s amazing what you could get away with in the early days of television. I’m sure the original late night horror hosts were considered the bottom feeders of the networks, since they had hardly any kind of budget, but that they even got air time (and got away with some racy stuff sometimes), that’s something. Because, as the story soon goes, the next generation of network moguls came in with nothing but an interest in the bottom line, and gradually turned everything into boring, homogenous shit.