My WhurdsDeRodan Channel

Monday, October 24, 2011

This is a re-post from OKC.NET

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

October 23, 2011
By Sean Murphy
“How often does a grown man get to pretend to be Bela Lugosi? 
Not often enough.” -Neil Gaiman. 
John Ferguson prepares to take the set as Count Gregor. 
Photo by: Gene Glasser

I can’t explain it. I am apprehensive to be an apologist for a counter-cultural movement born out of the fears and the zeitgeist of the black and white generation, but here I am some sixty years later a dyed-in-the-wool “monster kid”, member of the flock who find our shepherds in the horror hosts and a devotee of the B-movies they brought to us. I am among the thousands of fans with stacks of “Famous Monsters of Filmland” and “Fangoria” piled next to an open E.C. horror comic with its own host, the Cryptkeeper pointing his gnarled finger towards the two-headed baby on the next page.  It is a cult following that can’t be easily explained. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t then you likely never will.

"It was a time on television when horror hosts mingled
with kiddie-show clowns, afternoon heroes of sci-fi adventures, 
sock-hop DJs, and live wrestling announcers." Photo by: Gene Glasser

It comes from another era. It was a time on television when horror hosts mingled with kiddie-show clowns, afternoon heroes of sci-fi adventures, sock-hop DJs, and live wrestling announcers. Like rockabilly revivalists and modern pin-up and burlesque babes, there is a whole new generation taking on the mantle and trying not to let the chills and thrills die, but what we cannot do is recreate the world of a generation born in the shadow of the atom cloud. Sure we have our own terrors and nightmares (terrorism being only one) but it is with some touch of nostalgia now that we can look back on the early 1950’s and the great grandfathers of the modern horrorheads with sincere appreciation of being the first to bring to us through the eerie glow from the one-eyed monster known as television pulsating brains, battling giant monsters, and creeping horrors of all sorts.

The horror show has come a long way since 1953. Photo by Gene Glasser

I am talking here about the horror show hosts. It is generally accepted the first horror host came in the form of Vampira, who hosted  low-budget suspense films in 1953.  In October 1957 old Universal horror movies were syndicated to television in a collection known as “Shock!”, which encouraged local outlets to host these movies and from then on all across the nation new legions of creepy “Uncles”, “Earls” and, of course, “Counts” arose as weathermen and booth announcers rushed from their day jobs to another part of the studio so that they too might bring their alter egos to life. “Shock!” was followed by others like “Creature Features,” which added to the growing plethora of traditional monsters, the Hammer films, the Toho Studios, the Japanese giant monsters and other schlock B-movies well into the 1960’s and 1970’s.  These monster show hosts continued into the 1980’s and where they became a part of my own childhood. Although it comes from another era, it feeds into something larger that lurks in the dark shadows of our minds.

"I vant to drink your vlood!" Photo by: Lacey Dillard

In Oklahoma City, we have our own horror host, John Ferguson. He had been a small town kid from Indiana, the proverbial 90lb weakling by his own account. He worked as a naval typist to “giving the whole Hollywood thing a go for a few years” and eventually settling into Oklahoma as an announcer in radio and the early days of live television with NBC affiliate, WKY Channel 4. John Ferguson was able to secure a role on the weekday afternoon “3-D DANNY” show, which was hosted by local television legend Danny Williams (Williams had served as a mentor for Mary Hart of who co-hosted Entertainment Tonight). Ferguson got the role after experimenting with make-up. Originally inspired by Ming the Merciless, Ferguson created Duke of Mukedom who was the archrival for Danny D. Dynamo, the show’s star. In an era of live television and non-existent production budgets, John found himself playing multiple roles on the show as he mastered voices and villainous poses. John was asked by station management to experiment with his make-up kit again, much like he did to get on Danny’s show, and invent a character who would host late night horror movies for the “Shock!” package of films. John’s career as “Count Gregor” (an –e was added at the end somewhere along the line) began on a Saturday night, May 10th 1958 at 11:30 p.m., which on-air immediately after live-wrestling hosted by Danny Williams.

John Ferguson as "Count Gregore" still going strong. Photo by Gene Glasser
“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.

Yet, it still works.
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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A few bits with the birds..

Spending a little time with Omar by the pool on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Kylie and Ella having some intimate moments

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Autograph Book, January 23, 1890

My previous post has put me in the mood to think about my family.. So I thought I'd share this with my blog.

On January 23, 1890 my Great Great Grandmother wrote to my Great Grandmother when she was around 17 years old....

In an inscription made in my Great Grandmothers "Autograph" (what they called a sort of friendship blog back then)

Complements of your Mother Ida, When far away in distant lands, these lines  you chance to see. Oh then , do not forget to think of the one that put them here for thee....
From your Mother, Lizzie Converse, Remembrance of your Mother.

I just love that I have this note... Love is a powerful thing...

My Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandmother in
their later years...Great Great lived to be 99 years old.

I've got lots of this stuff...  

Happy Thursday!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bridesmaids and Mrs. Hancock

Mrs. Hancock
I think every June a lot of my friends and co-workers are always getting invited to weddings and all the social engagement that these events bring, bridal  showers, bachelorette parties, etc.  I'm no real expert on these events but my good friend Mrs. Hancock is for sure.  Recently she's been on Sonoran Living and on Smart Family programs on ABC15. And I'm really impressed by her knowledge and her ease in explaining it to those of us (me for sure) that are just not that couth.  With that being said. I have to enjoy all that goes along  with the efforts being made by my friends to make things go smoothly at the events with  which they've become entangled.  

Xavier and I recently went to see the new film Bridesmaids and to be sure...I kept thinking of Mrs. Hancock all throughout the film. Anyone who is interested in pulling off an event this June or any other time of year when these nuptial esque events seem to be on the calendar should see this film. If for no other reason than to get a little stress relief. 

Just sayin...  It's one  of the funniest films I've seen  in quite a while


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mind your manners...

My good friend Zoe Hancock (Mrs. Hancock) was a special guest on today's Sonoran Living show on ABC15. She had some very important tips on "How dya doo's and don'ts". Check out Mrs.Hancock at Mrs. Hancock Online. 
I was so happy that  we could finally get Zoe on the Sonoran Living show. There's always something more to learn when it comes to good manners. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Really excited about the new Pooh!

Winnie The Pooh (2011)

The Associated Press has posted the first image (above) from Disney’s forthcoming old school 2D Winnie The Pooh feature, scheduled for release next summer. This is the flick most of The Princess and the Frog crew moved over to. Here are some choice excerpts from Derrik J. Lang’s AP story:
The new “Winnie the Pooh,” the first big-screen “Pooh” adventure from Disney animators in more than 30 years, will more closely resemble the classic short films from the 1960s and ’70s. “We wanted to create a movie for the big screen that had the charm and wit of those original shorts,” said Peter Del Vecho, the film’s producer. “What originally endeared all of us — adults and children — to these characters was that they were stuffed animals that came to life in the imagination of a child. We wanted to rekindle that imagination in a big way.”
“Winnie the Pooh,” loosely based on five stories from A.A. Milne’s books, finds Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Eeyore and Christopher Robin searching for a new tail for Eeyore in a watercolour-drenched Hundred Acre Wood. The gang will also hunt for a mysterious creature called a Backson, briefly mentioned in 1928’s “The House at Pooh Corner.”
While this version of “Pooh” won’t be generated by a computer or projected in 3-D, Del Vecho cautioned it wouldn’t simply be a redux of past “Pooh” projects. He said the film, spearheaded by Disney and Pixar animation chief John Lasseter, will feature five new original songs and a faster pace punctuated with humour that’s appropriate for modern audiences.
UPDATE: Just recieved this larger publicity image from the forthcoming film (below). See the trailer here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oct 12, 2010 ~ Farewell Lady Sutherland~

Probably the first real Diva I remember hearing as a child. Dame Joan Sutherland was "LA STUPENDA" And to me shear heaven to hear her perform. I can think of no other voice which always raised my mind to a level of euphoric, yet simple joy.
It so saddens me that she's gone but I'm so thankful to have lived in a time where she can be enjoyed over and over again thanks to her marvelous recordings. 

Dame Joan Sutherland