Sunday, December 4, 2011

American Scary

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

American Scary - 4 out of 5

One of my favorite memories as a kid was my father Saturday morning putting on the local TV channel and showing me some B-movie horror films being broadcast and hosted by a man named Svengoolie.  My dad was a movie nut and I think that's where I got it from but as much as he loved films, he loved bad movies even more (something he also instilled in me).  I'll never forget the first bad film he showed me on Svengoolie's broadcast:  The Creeping Terror.  Not only was the film utter crap, the thing that made it was Svengoolie's skits before and after commercial breaks and Svengoolie using a tool he called "Sven-surround" to add humor to the movie as it was being broadcast.  Sound effects and riffs were thrown in here and there and, in that moment, I became a fan of the local horror host and watched him almost religiously.  I could probably even argue that it was Svengoolie and his unique sense of humor that got me into (to the point of near obsession) with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the later incarnation of RiffTrax.  So, image my surprise when I'm browsing the documentaries on Netflix and find American Scary, a documentary that focuses on the local horror host.

Zacherley, one of the first and most influential horror hosts.

Neil Gaimen?!?  Yes, he was in this one!

The documentary focuses on the first horror host and the evolution of the man (or sometimes woman) who introduced the scary movies in the late hours of the night.  The doc talks to the host themselves, how they go into the gig and what they brought to the table and it even talks to many celebrities and experts who either know more than any mortal could possibly know about the horror host or were either fans themselves or have been inspired by them.  The doc even shows that, even with the evolution of television destroying the local television scene, horror hosts will not die.  Some have taken to the internet and, where applicable, take to the airwaves in the form of public access television.  Those are the bravest of them all because who watches public access?

Joel Hodgson, creator of MST3K was in this too?!?  It's almost too much!

Ghoulardi, Vampira, the original Svengoolie (the guy I grew up with was the Son of Svengoolie; Rich Koz), Stella and Hives the Butler and Zacherley are all here talking about their experiences and the fun they had as they broke ground making TV history as the horror host.  Current men and women (too many to name) are also interviewed as they talk about how each and every one of these individuals inspired them to keep the tradition alive (or would it be undead because they're horror hosts?).  Strangely absent however, is Elvira.  Although she is spoken about, she's not around for an interview and that's slightly disappointing.

There's two things that I like about Elvira.
Even Tim Conway was in this?  Who didn't they get?
As documentaries go, American Scary is an interesting and fun trip down memory lane (unless you've never experienced a horror host, than it's just a fun new experience).  However, the documentary is far from perfect.  Sure there is a lot of interviews and what the people are saying is very interesting but the production value of the doc is very low.  Often interviews are filmed on poor quality cameras and some of the audio can be downright unsettling to listen.  But when you get to hear great stories, it's easy to overlook these downfalls and just have fun with it.  Something that was a little harder to overlook...the constant interviews with a horror host out of Austin, Texas named Professor Anton Griffin.  He comes off horribly pretentious in his interviews but if you truly listen closely to what he's saying, he'll actually amuse you as he tries to have an accent that he just can't quite keep a hold of.

Here's the guy who can't keep an accent.

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