Saturday, August 22, 2015

Starting Halloween Early - Spook Shows! Plus Creepsville and Agents of Peril, of Course

I'm back again. Sorry for no Blog last week, but a death in the family kept me away. Colette's oldest cousin, Dave, left this mortal coil. Dave was a rogue, a trickster and a good guy. He will be missed, which was obvious when friends and family got up to tell the assembled group about his life.

Spook Shows -- Sheer Shivering Shreiking Horror!

This last week, the temperature dipped for a day, with the day's high being 70 degrees. A quick flit of cool air served to bring forth an urge for our spookiest holiday: Halloween. As luck would have it, I had dug out a large envelope file holding loads of clip art, including horror films and Spook Shows.

Basically, the Spook Shows were traveling oddities that went town to town, usually playing horror double features along with a live stage show. The live portion usually had a magician using an unusual name (For example, the Spook Show Purveyor in Creepsville was named Dr. Sardini.) Most of these also had monsters run off the stage and seem to kidnap audience members. In a number of shows, cheesy versions of familiar monsters would also appear, such as Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster.

Articles these days about the Spook Shows usually have them stopping in the mid 1960s, but I actually saw one when I was about 12 years old in the mid 70s at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL. The advertisement promised three horror films, but they only showed Tales of Terror, the Edgar Allan Poe anthology film by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone. The live stage show featured a magician host (whose name escapes me at this time) and the Frankenstein Monster. Other monsters (people in obvious rubber masks) ran around the grand old theatre theatre pretending to grab people. Girls screamed as they were brought to the stage. One guy, in a nifty illusion, had his head cut off.

Later, my step father told me something astonishing. He claimed had been in the show as the Frankenstein Monster. Just recently, he reminded me of this odd memory. I'll have to get more info on this show and will share what I get here.

If you've never seen it or don't own it, there is a DVD created and released years ago by Something Weird Video called Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, which has a short film that included running monsters, kidnapping creatures and screaming girls. The DVD also features quite a lot of advertising from print and film trailers created specifically for those great old Spook Shows. The late, great Mike Vraney, creator of the company did the work himself of putting this labor of love together as an all-ages production.

So, here's a number of old newspaper advertisements to give you a spooky feel of what one of these shows was really like. After those ads are this week's Creepsville and Agents of Peril.

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