American Scary : Release Year - 2006

Overall Rating : 6/10

Directed By : John E. Hudgens

John Zacherle (Zacherley)
Jerry G. Bishop (Svengoolie)
Maila Nurmi' Unger (Vampira)
Ernie Anderson (Ghoulardi)

Supplied By : Cinema Libre Studio

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : March 2, 2009


American Scary is a look at the nation's tradition of horror hosting, from Zacherley to A. Ghastlee Ghoul. Hosts of all kinds were once a staple of television, and especially local television productions. But as production demands and the availability of cheaper syndicated material changed the local TV business model, local hosts were also one of the first things to go, no matter how popular they were with the viewing public. With interviews and footage from major hosts from the 1950s to the present day, such as Zacherley, Vampira, Ghoulardi and others, along with memories from celebrities and fans who were influenced by these hosts, you'll follow this American folk art form from its glamorous beginnings, through repeated waves of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, to its scrappy resurgence and survival in the current age of cable access and the Internet. American Scary looks to remind people how much fun local TV could be - and maybe could be again.
Back when Television and Television programming began to become popular, regional TV stations when offered movies at a discount for airing on their stations. Usually B-Movie Horror schlock, at first the movies failed to gain interest and viewership - this is when the idea of having a host to present the not so great film's took shape, and soon these late night "Horror hosts began popping up all over the country. From Baron Daemon and Zacherley to Svengoolie and the infamous Vampira, these hosts offered us with a diverse range of personality, humor and overall entertainment that ultimately made a lasting impact on a worldwide audience and also spawned a new generation of hosts that keep the craft alive one way or another in our modern time.

In the Documentary AMERICAN SCARY, Director John E. Hudgens and Writer Sandy Clark trace the art of Horror hosting from it's humble beginnings as an idea, to it's rise as a nationwide phenomenon that saw various newscasters trading in their normal gig for one which required them to dress up in various costumes and host usually awful B-Films, all the while creating a persona that would keep viewers interested, and more importantly, have them them tuning in week after week. The Documentary features interviews from notable figures from each era, as well as some well known and not so known fans and a few of some of today's Horror host, who have made their admiration for their idols literal, by actually becoming hosts themselves.

I'll admit, that prior to seeing AMERICAN SCARY, I had very little knowledge on the subject, as I have never really watched one of these hosted Horror shows, and my knowledge only is limited to that of Elvira, whom most people know anyway, since her shows were syndicated and have been shown across the nation. So with that said, I hoped that this documentary would be a little learning experience for me regarding the subject - and in fact it was, and it was quite an enjoyable one. Judging from this Documentary, I guess i'd have to say that John Zacherle's 'Zacherley' character, is perhaps one of the more popular hosts, along with Maila Nurmi's 'Vampira(whom I was aware of beforehand) and Jerry G. Bishop's 'Svengoolie'. These three are focused on in length and are also the most interesting, in my opinion. Also interesting her is the piece on Ernie Anderson whom portrayed a character by the name of 'Ghoulardi' based out of Cleveland Ohio. After his hosting duties were ended, Anderson enjoyed a career doing voiceovers for ABC - he's also the father of Director PT Anderson(BOOGIE NIGHTS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD), whom happens to be one of my all-time favorite Directors, so it was cool to lean more about 'Ghoulardi' here.

I grew up and still live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas and to tell you the truth, i'm not even sure we've ever had such a host in this area, so I didn't get the opportunity to see shows like this(growing up, what we did have here was the Professional Wrestling territory called World Class Championship Wresting that was owned by Hall of Fame Wrestling family, the Von Erichs. So I usually found my childhood entertainment in that, among other things). Since I never had a resident Horror host of my own that I watched, this Documentary was a nice way to learn about the many hosts that entertained others for so many years - AMERICAN SCARY is both an entertaining and informative watch.
4/10 Not much focus is put on the soundtrack here(hey, it's a Documentary, you don't really need one), but it does have a few original songs that are decent.
Overall, I learned quite a bit from this Documentary, as a lot of people are interviewed, the list is long and plenty. I enjoyed mostly the interviews with the personalities of the past and could have gone without a lot of the footage of the modern-day hosts, as I found them to be far less interesting. All in all, AMERICAN SCARY is a nice look at an entertainment art form that took the heart of most of a nation and took over late night TV way before the idea shameless infomercials and the like.

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