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Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

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03 April, 2011

Monsters in the Madhouse: the Wild, Wacky, and Wonderful antics of Karlos Borloff (and his Cast of Crazies)

I had intended this to be just a Horror-host Review of Monster Madhouse, the program hosted by Northern Virginia’s Heavy-Metal Monster-Hunter, Karlos Borloff, named the Unimonster’s Crypt Horror-Host of the Year for 2010.  That was before I was fortunate enough to meet Borloff (aka Jerry Moore) at last month’s HorrorHound Indianapolis Convention [Ed. Note: a full article on the Convention will be posted with the May 2011 update].  After spending some time talking with the host of Monster Madhouse, I realized that there was much more to Borloff than cheesy old movies and a funny costume.  Underneath the scaly armor and heavy metal make-up is a fellow fan, someone who loves these old monster movies as much as those who regularly tune in to his show.

Beginning in 2006, Monster Madhouse has been thrilling fans in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area with a combination of comedy, music, and monsters—especially the Daiei Studio’s Kaijû films featuring Gamera, the giant turtle.  Moore, who has a fondness for the “man in the rubber suit” movies, prefers the classic monsters to the parade of Slasher Films that began in the early ‘80s.

In the Horse Archer productions documentary VIRGINIA CREEPERS, released in 2009 and reviewed here [DVD Review: VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION, 6 March 2010], Moore discusses his feelings regarding his choice of movies versus the more graphic forms of Horror,
So it’s all about monsters … they’re not going to celebrate Jason Voorhees or somebody coming up like, ‘oh look, there’s a beautiful woman, I’m going to kill her.’  That’s sick, garbage.  I don’t want to see that stuff … It’s not good for kids either, man.  I don’t like seeing little kids with a SAW III shirt on.
The popularity of Moore’s program has continued to rise, due in large measure to his family-friendly selection of Monster movies.  From Godzilla, to Gamera, to Zombies and Dracula, traditional monsters and creatures rule the Madhouse.  This may, in part, be dictated by the availability of these films in Public Domain.  Most of it is due to the fact that these are the kinds of films that Moore enjoys, and wants to share with his fans.

Another facet of Monster Madhouse’s success is the variety show format.  The large cast, including Jebediah Buzzard, Lizardman, Sally the Zombie Cheerleader, Sasha Trasha, Pvt. Beauregard J. Pettigrew, and numerous others, helps fuel this high-energy show despite the frequently low quality of the movies available from which to choose.  The jokes may not always work, but when you have this many people having this much fun, some of it has to transfer to the audience.

Helping all the insanity along is a rockin’ musical beat, courtesy of Moore’s band, the Monsterminators.  From the show’s opening theme to its signature tune Die Monster Die, the bands heavy metal music provides just the right accompaniment for the program.

Behind it all, though, is Moore himself.  When meeting the creative force responsible for the Monster Madhouse face to face, one is struck by the sheer volume of energy that he exudes.  It’s interesting to watch him as he works a Convention floor—greeting fans as though they were old friends, interviewing fellow hosts and celebrities, or just popping up here and there to enliven the proceedings.  Perhaps the reason he connects so easily with his fans is that he is one himself; he came out of our ranks.  Less than six years ago Jerry Moore was, in fact, just one of us, a member of a Count Gore De Vol fanlist.  His career as Borloff began in 2005 with an invitation to make a guest appearance on Gore’s Creature Feature: the Weekly Web Program.  Playing a contractor doing a remodel on Gore’s dungeon, Moore ends up being entombed behind the wall he’s building, as the Count winds up with Moore’s lovely assistant.

Less than a year later, he was back on Creature Feature, this time with the debut appearance of the new Monster-Hunter / Horror-Host in town, Karlos Borloff.  In August of 2006, Monster Madhouse Live debuted on Public Access cable in Fairfax County, Virginia, as well as being simulcast on the internet.  Live broadcast of a Hosted Horror show was rare even as long ago as the 1960’s, and simulcasting it on the web opened the program up to viewers around the world.

Since that debut, Moore’s Madhouse has served as the Rick’s Café of the Horror-Host world, echoing Claude Rains’ line in CASABLANCA—“… everyone comes to Rick’s.”  The list of those who have found their way to the friendly confines of the Monster Madhouse is indeed impressive, from fellow Virginians Count Gore and Dr. Sarcofiguy, New England’s Penny Dreadful, Chicago’s The Bone Jangler, to Troma Films head Lloyd Kaufman.  People in the world of Horror Fandom began to take notice of Moore’s show, and the character that headlined it.  They obviously liked what they saw.

Hosted Horror shows are enjoying a renaissance of late, as more and more would-be Zacherleys and Vampiras are discovering that they no longer need to be tied to the capricious whims of corporate media in order to make their dreams come true.  If one has imagination, some talent, a willingness to work hard, and a germ of an original idea, they can see their dream reach fruition.  A few, like Jerry Moore and the assorted loonies who inhabit the Monster Madhouse, might find their audience and become a success.



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