A while back, I noticed that the podcast for Rock and Roll Dance Party (my favorite radio show) quit updating. I emailed Michael, the disc jockey. He returned my missive with the short version of why you can download the show, but it isn’t available as a podcast anymore. Michael signed his email “stay sick and turn blue.” The expression seemed familiar, so I googled and was regaled with the story of Ghoulardi. Dave Thomas made a strong case that this Cleveland TV show was the reason for the creative surge of bands like Devo and the Cramps. This weird bit of cultural ephemera simmered at the back of my brain for these past few months until it surfaced again today with memories of other horror shows. Goulardi’s final show with Joe Bob Briggs in 1991 was way past my formative years.
“I call them the way I see them,” Seymour proclaims and, indeed, he does. Before, after, and often during bad scenes, Seymour pops in with his special brand of caustic film criticism. No line of bad dialogue escapes his meat-cleaver sarcasm. And, if a slipshod movie director has allowed a casual view of the boom microphone or erred in some other technical way, leave it to Seymour to offer up an instant replay and isolate the faux pas for all of Southern California to see. When the film is of the caliber of, say, Attack of the Mushroom People (Seymour’s own unfavorite), the feature is likely to serve as one continuous straight line.
It all begins with a sting of eerie music as the camera pans over a slimy, moss-covered green wall. An unseen announcer delivers the voice-over spiel in disjointed falsetto and climaxes with: “…and here he is, the Master of the Macabre, the Epitome of Evil, the most sinister man to crawl the face of the earth…Seymour!”
The wall swings open to release a burst of swamp mist/dry ice vapor from the nether regions, and in strides Seymour, elegantly attired in wide-brimmed fedora, ruffled shirt and undertaker’s tuxedo. He proclaims, “Tonight’s feature is Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, a 1965 bomb that Donald Sutherland would like to forget…but we’re not going to let him!”
My best friend in Junior High School was nicknamed Seymour. He hated it; but he also exacerbated it by wearing the wide-rimmed hat and cape. That’s the way it goes I suppose. We generally half-create what we don’t want to perceive. I suppose I always made friends with the creepy ones in school.
I barely remember “Moony Lisa,” the woman who replaced him on Channel 9. She didn’t last long before Elvira took over as the dispenser of sarcasm over crappy movies. I don’t know why I started remembering this today. Memory is a weird thing. Maybe it was my first exposure to “higher criticism,” and I’ve been in a particularly critical mood just now.