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03 April, 2010



Year of Release—Film: 2009

Year of Release—DVD: 2010

DVD Label: Broadcast At This Time Pictures

[Ed. Note: If you happen to be a horror-host with a current program, and would like to see it reviewed here, please contact me at unimonster64@gmail.com.]

One of the few MonsterKid touchstones that I missed was the experience of having a Horror-Host of my own. While we in Jacksonville did have a “Creatures Features” type Horror movie program, it was unhosted. Though I was familiar with the concept of the “Horror Host” by the time I entered my peak MonsterKid years, I was never fortunate enough to experience the phenomena in my youth. Technology has finally come to the rescue for those of us who were so deprived some thirty or forty years ago, with the advent of home video and the internet. Now, it is possible to enjoy Hosted programs from every corner of the country, and thousands of us ‘Baby-Boomers’ are busily making up for lost time.

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to sample many of these programs, from hosts both old and new. I’ve enjoyed Las Vegas’ Sinister Minister, Chicago’s Undead Johnny, and New England’s Penny Dreadful among many others. And along the way I’ve shared my opinions of various hosts and their programs with you the reader. One of the hosts that I’ve enjoyed immensely over the past several years is Count Gore De Vol, formerly of WDCA-20 in Washington, D.C., and now the host of Creature Features: the Weekly Web Program. Count Gore, aka Dick Dyszel, is the subject of a new documentary; EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN, due to be released 20 April (Ed. note: available on both Amazon.com and Count Gore’s own web-site).

EVERY OTHER DAY…, directed and produced by C. W. Prather, is a fascinating look, not just at Dyszel’s more than 35-year run as Count Gore, but at his career in local television in general, including stints as Bozo the Clown and Captain 20. It’s a fond look back at a time when there was such a thing as local TV, when stations made their own programming, much of it live. That’s a time long gone, and as with many areas of life, progress often leaves much to be desired.

We are also treated to a close look at the Count’s current home, Creature Features: the Weekly Web Program. On-line since 1998, Dyszel led the way in horror-hosting on the internet back when streaming feature length video was barely a dream. Since then, he’s become the dean of active hosts, inspiring and aiding many in their quest to take up the profession. Through participation in the Horror Host Underground, he is spreading his influence far from his northern Virginia home.

The film is well-constructed, using a good mix of vintage clips, stills, and interviews to create a thorough overview of Dyszel’s career to this point, and the future of horror-hosts in general. Many of these clips are of Dyszel’s performances as Bozo, including a great sequence where a child wins a contest they hadn’t thought anyone could win, thus had no prize to award. We also get to see Dyszel’s various guises as “Captain 20,” the host of WDCA’s afternoon children’s programming.

Part of Count Gore’s charm is the fact that he wasn’t targeted at kids, as were many of the earlier hosts. Gore was certainly loved by children during his WDCA heyday, but his humor had an edge that adults found refreshing and entertaining, and they were his true audience. With Hollywood starlets, Forry Ackerman, and the Penthouse magazine’s Pet of the Year among his frequent guests, Gore clearly knew his viewers, and how to appeal to them.

When the coffin lid closed for the final time on Dyszel’s WDCA career as Count Gore, most people would’ve been content to let sleeping vampires lie, but Dyszel had other thoughts. He began the Creature Features: the Weekly Web Program web-site in 1998, and now, instead of being content just reaching those who can get his television signal, he can reach everyone with a computer and internet access. It’s been quite a journey for Dick Dyszel, from a 19” black-and-white in Bethesda to streaming on an iPhone in Bucharest, and through this documentary, we get to follow along. And we realize by the end of the film that the best thing about that journey is that it’s not over yet.

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1 comment:

James Henry Dufresne said...

Got to see the film at the San Diego Comic Con last year, and it blew me away...as a fan of Horror Hosts in general (and my twin brother is the soon-to-be horror host of Portland, Uncle Eerie) the film would have been satisfying just for that reason, but it's actually a great and entertaining film for anybody. High;y recommended.