I wanted to re-post this article here as the Count has been a life long hero of mine and John a long time friend whom I've known ever since I was 14 years old. Way to go John!!!
Schlock and Roll: Keeping It Campy With The Count
“Shock!” morphed into “Thriller” in 1962 and aired at midnight. In 1964, John switched networks to KOCO channel 5 and his program became, “Nightmare Theatre”, which aired through 1972. In 1973, John returned to WKY and the Count was seen on “Sleepwalker’s Matinee” until 1979. The national package known as “Creature Features” followed. The Count moved again to “Count Gregore’s Horror Theater” on independent channel KOKH 25 and then to KAUT Channel 43 and “Saturday Horror Theater” which ran until 1988. Count Gregore’s thirty year run with local television leaves him well-remembered and he continues to be recognized by fans today.
Which brings us to present day.
Like rockabilly revivalists and modern pin-up and burlesque babes, there is a whole new generation that is not ready to let go of this classic part of American culture. The Count has made appearances on KAUT’s “2 Movie Guys” hosted by Lucas Ross and Ryan Beldgardt. He has also mentored a whole new generation of hosts such as Brian Young aka Dr. Fear of “The Mysterious Lab” and also Gordon Grimly of the groovy internet radio program, “The Grimly Show”.
John Ferguson has become my close friend, but it is without bias that I declare in the world of late night horror hosts our Count Gregore to be among the top of the heap. John jokes with me, “Count Gregore is the creation that wouldn’t die!” He gives a thoughtful pause before concluding, “Nor would we ever want him to…” Local channel, KSBI 52 will be airing a Halloween special and has already sold out every single advertising block. It is NOT an easily accomplished feat for a small channel built on a “live and local” philosophy to sell all it’s blocks of advertising from 11 p.m. to 1a.m. Rather it is able to achieve these sales with the help of an internet following that refuses to let the legend of Count Gregore die. It has been said that these sorts of horror hosts are irrelevant in the new century and are seen by most as a part of television history. Why is it that so many are clamoring to see the Count reborn yet again? Now on KSBI, John brings back the camp and hosts a public domain piece of schlock, “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die” (shot in 1959, but released in 1963) with bits produced on a budget that cost practically nothing. KSBI was willing to air but not produce what is being billed as “Count Gregore’s Nightmare Theatre”. John is recycling the same title sequence from his 1960’s “Nightmare” series. The program was produced by John Ferguson using a production studio volunteered by Boiling Point Media’s Hugh Hale and a cast and crew of friends (such as Ryan Beldgardt behind the camera and even myself operating the fog machine and helping to decorate the low-rent set with Halloween store finds and random junk). John writes (and mostly adlibs) the bits that borrow vaudeville style oneliners and wacky horror silliness.
The secret as to why it works might come from remarkable X factor, much like in the movie where the mad scientist refuses to let his love die and hunts the night for replacement bodies for her brain. Quite simply: the fans refuse to accept mortality of John’s creation. The Count is our love and we will not let him die or else that inner-child bundled with and blankets on the basement couch munching popcorn and jumping at shadows will die too. That is something that we will not let happen, born in the shadow of the atom cloud, creeping through the smoke of the sixties, discoing through the seventies and nearly fading into obscurity in the eighties and nineties…our Count is a part of our regional culture that must not be forgotten. So here we are in the last days of 2011, ready to bring our own trick-or-treating spawn before our big-screen plasmas with their fresh haul of Halloween candy to watch John Ferguson reanimate our horror host Count Gregore at least one more time.
If you are an undying fan of all things horror and a fan of Count Gregore, then let KSBI know that you want to see him return to being the ghoulish grandpa of Saturday night local television. Let them know that you will be watching this Saturday, October 29th at 11 p.m. on KSBI and any other time they bring Count Gregore back to our sets. This legend, like the vampires it draws inspiration from, is meant to be immortal. It will take more than stakes, silver bullets or an ever-changing media culture to kill the Count.