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This week on SVENGOOLIE...

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RedRiver
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This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby RedRiver » March 11th, 2012, 3:24 pm

I hope I'm not repeating a thread, but I don't see anything on this cute Saturday night feature on ME TV. We all know Svengoolie. The format is familiar. But it's a good excuse to re-watch some cornball horror films, with some palatable humor on the side. This is not my first time, of course. I lived in Chicago for a long time. Let's just say Sven and I are getting re-acquainted!

I almost broke a date to watch THE INVISIBLE WOMAN a few weeks ago. My friend had other ideas! Last week I sat through Abbott and Costello. And I enjoyed THE MUMMY'S GHOST last night. Maybe it's the "so bad it's good" concept, but this less than creative creeper is at least as much fun as Karloff's entry. I'm thinking more so. Lon, Jr. wears the bandages in this one; doesn't speak a line that I recall. John Carradine does the talking. It has a goofy campus setting. That's always fun. Direct and to the point. (Oh, wait. There's not one!) Neither challenging nor dissapointing. I like this Killer B.

I probably won't watch the show every week. I don't know if this thread will take off. Certainly if anybody else has access, and nothing else to do on Saturday night, please jump in!

BERWYN!!!

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby MichiganJ » March 12th, 2012, 1:05 pm

RedRiver wrote:I hope I'm not repeating a thread, but I don't see anything on this cute Saturday night feature on ME TV. We all know Svengoolie. The format is familiar. But it's a good excuse to re-watch some cornball horror films, with some palatable humor on the side. This is not my first time, of course. I lived in Chicago for a long time. Let's just say Sven and I are getting re-acquainted!

I'm not familiar with Svengoolie, but I suspect he is similar to Philly's Dr. Shock. Don't remember a host for the NY saturday night horror show.
RedRiver wrote:And I enjoyed THE MUMMY'S GHOST last night. Maybe it's the "so bad it's good" concept, but this less than creative creeper is at least as much fun as Karloff's entry. I'm thinking more so. Lon, Jr. wears the bandages in this one; doesn't speak a line that I recall. John Carradine does the talking. It has a goofy campus setting. That's always fun. Direct and to the point. (Oh, wait. There's not one!) Neither challenging nor dissapointing. I like this Killer B.

I think the original Mummy is one of the best horror films. Like many of the other 'monsters' that Karloff played, his Imhotep is deserving of sympathy. Plus the film is quite a love story, tool. And, of course, as the "mummy" itself--wrapped in bandages, I mean--Karloff doesn't speak, either.

During Universal's second wave of horror films, instead of doing a direct sequel to The Mummy, they essentially rebooted the series and brought in a new mummy, Kharis, a mummy who stays a bandaged-wrapped mummy throughout the four films, three of which he was played by Lon Chaney. The four films actually work better as a whole rather then four individual films (and at only an hour each, it's not that hard to do). In none of the later mummy films, does the mummy speak. That includes Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, where, for reasons unknown to me, the mummy is named Klaris and not Kharis.
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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby moira finnie » March 12th, 2012, 3:31 pm

I'd never heard of Svengoolie before our cable system added Me tv to the mix. I've watched it a few times, especially when they ran Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and Son of Frankenstein (1939), which are both profoundly moving (thanks to good actors such as Lon Chaney Jr. and Basil Rathbone) and riotously preposterous and entertaining. In between endless advertisements for what my family calls "enough life insurance to kick-off in style" the "Sven" part of the program seems to slip in actual factoids about the production along with his bewhiskered old jokes. It's not bad, and if it gets kids interested in black and white movies, it's great.

I saw a few minutes of The Mummy's Ghost (1944) on Saturday and liked it--especially Universal Pictures idea of a small New England town, complete with crackpots and crones. Who knew that so many "tanna leaves" from an extinct Egyptian plant would turn up in the rural Northeast? How could The Mummy be so deadly and yet so infernally slow? Despite the fact that we really can't see Lon Chaney Jr.'s face in this version thanks to those bandages used to save time in the makeup chair, he still conveyed a mute helplessness and sorrow that was hard not to sympathize with a bit. How he did this, I'll never really know.

I also think that the original The Mummy is great fun, though it scared the willies out of me as a kid.
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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby MikeBSG » March 12th, 2012, 4:13 pm

I never especially liked horror hosts, but I am glad to know that they still exist. When they do "Patchy the Pirate" on SpongeBob, I tried to explain to my children how (in the old days of television) the weatherman would also be the horror movie host or the cartoon show host. What a bygone era!!

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby moira finnie » March 12th, 2012, 5:01 pm

MikeBSG wrote:I never especially liked horror hosts, but I am glad to know that they still exist. When they do "Patchy the Pirate" on SpongeBob, I tried to explain to my children how (in the old days of television) the weatherman would also be the horror movie host or the cartoon show host. What a bygone era!!

Mike, we had three to choose from at one time:
Zacherley in NYC on WPIX who greeted us from his coffin
The Creep on WNEW
and a guy from Syracuse I hardly remember called Dr. E. Nick Witty (who wasn't very droll) who ran Monster Movie Mansion on Channel 3.

None of them were particularly good, but since watching these programs was verboten, seeing any portion of these broadcasts seemed to be a taste of forbidden fruit. Some of the movies they showed were actually good too--though a lot of schlock also slipped into the mix.
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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby MikeBSG » March 12th, 2012, 9:09 pm

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I was too late for the legendary Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson, the father of the guy who directed "Boogie Nights.") (Indeed, just last year a friend and I got upset when someone younger than us claimed that he had grown up watching Ghoulardi.)

The choice when I grew up was SuperHost (very lame, a Saturday afternoon host), the Ghoul (a Saturday night host) and Big Chuck and Houlihan (later replaced by Little John) on Friday nights. Big Chuck et. al. did some clever commercial parodies, but both nighttime hosts devoted time to pizza-eating contests that could get pretty ugly. And they made a lot of fun of "certain ethnic" people who lived in the suburbs.

Actually, now that I think of it, none of these guys even tried to project a mock-scary persona. Following in Ghoulardi's footsteps, they projected a mock-Beatnik, vaguely counter-cultural atmosphere.

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby RedRiver » March 13th, 2012, 12:18 pm

Svengoolie is a Chicago landmark. I guess his connection to that TV channel has led to greater exposure. I'm so glad they're showing some decent movies, instead of junk that ONLY serves for ridicule. The mummy film is worth watching. Lord knows "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" and Son of Frankenstein" are better than most of what comes out today! I missed those.

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby moira finnie » March 13th, 2012, 4:04 pm

Has Svengoolie been around for a long time or is he a relatively recent phenom, Red? Here's the upcoming movies they scheduled for the show:

March 17
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942-Earl Kenton)
with Lon Chaney, Jr. as Frankie, Cedric Hardwicke, Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi as Ygor.
The plot:
When Ygor brings the monster to Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein for care, Ludwig gets the idea of replacing the monster's current criminal brain, with a normal brain.

March 23
The Mole People (1956-Virgil W. Vogel)
with John Agar, Hugh Beaumont, Alan Napier and Cynthia Patrick in this cult classic (well, sort of)
The plot:
A party of archaeologists discovers the remnants of a mutant 5000 year old Sumerian civilization living beneath a glacier atop a mountain in Mesopatamia.

March 31
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man(1943-Roy William Neill)
with Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi , Maria Ouspenskaya, and Dwight Frye (in his last monster movie, alas)
The plot:
Larry Talbot chips Frankenstein's monster out of a block of ice. When Talbot changes to the Wolf Man, the two creatures do battle.
With a script by Curt Siodmak and good direction by Neill, I'd probably watch this one again sometime. Besides, I keep trying to figure out what the glam songbird Ilona Massey said or did to Louis B. Mayer that led to her being cast upon her own in films like this one. Watch out for those suspicious villagers!
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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby intothenitrate » March 13th, 2012, 9:16 pm

MikeBSG wrote:I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I was too late for the legendary Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson, the father of the guy who directed "Boogie Nights.") (Indeed, just last year a friend and I got upset when someone younger than us claimed that he had grown up watching Ghoulardi.)

The choice when I grew up was SuperHost (very lame, a Saturday afternoon host), the Ghoul (a Saturday night host) and Big Chuck and Houlihan (later replaced by Little John) on Friday nights. Big Chuck et. al. did some clever commercial parodies, but both nighttime hosts devoted time to pizza-eating contests that could get pretty ugly. And they made a lot of fun of "certain ethnic" people who lived in the suburbs.

Actually, now that I think of it, none of these guys even tried to project a mock-scary persona. Following in Ghoulardi's footsteps, they projected a mock-Beatnik, vaguely counter-cultural atmosphere.


Those are my roots too, Mike! Our TV didn't pull in UHF too well, so I watched the Hoolihan and Big Chuck program on network TV. They rotated through large swaths of the Universal catalog and the Tojo (Godzilla, et. al) films.
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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby RedRiver » March 14th, 2012, 11:15 am

Holy Cow! That's a fine line up, Moira. Svengoolie, in one incarnation or another, has been on Chicago TV forever. At one point, he called himself "Son of Svengoolie." The explanation for that pre-dates even my time in the city. Was the original Sven a different person? I'm not sure.

Should anyone wonder about the BERWYN jokes, that's a western suburb. A fine place, I'm sure. But not quite hip enough for a horror host! I can't wait to see these Frankenstein movies again!

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby RedRiver » March 17th, 2012, 1:58 pm

Big Frank walks again in THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. Tonight at 9:00 CST on ME TV.

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby RedRiver » March 18th, 2012, 2:34 pm

I had fun watching "Ghost of Frank". The first half is much better than the conclusion. Once they get into "who gets what brain," it becomes forced and cliched. When Frank starts speaking in Igor's voice, it's downright silly! But earlier portions of the film are effective. There's an expressionistic look to the sets, making Lon, Jr look ten feet tall. The stuff with the little girl is unforgettable. I know this because I first saw it fifty years ago!

The film was directed by Erle C. Kenton. Mr. Kenton piloted a couple of the "House of..." horror films. A lot of stuff I've never heard of. But he was also the talent behind the chilling ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. This explains the impressive atmosphere injected into some pretty mediocre projects.

Next week on Svengoolie...I'm not sure!

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby Jezebel38 » March 18th, 2012, 2:59 pm

RedRiver wrote:Next week on Svengoolie...I'm not sure!


ME TV has a pretty good website - 3/24 is THE MOLE PEOPLE, and 3/31 is FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN.

I'm having fun tuning in some of these flix, although I rarely make it to the end of the movie... Svengoolie is growing on me.

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby RedRiver » March 18th, 2012, 3:39 pm

It is hard to sit through the whole program. An 80 minute movie in a two hour time frame? That's a lot of Berwyn jokes!

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Re: This week on SVENGOOLIE...

Postby moira finnie » March 19th, 2012, 10:54 am

RedRiver wrote:I had fun watching "Ghost of Frank". The first half is much better than the conclusion. Once they get into "who gets what brain," it becomes forced and cliched. When Frank starts speaking in Igor's voice, it's downright silly! But earlier portions of the film are effective. There's an expressionistic look to the sets, making Lon, Jr look ten feet tall. The stuff with the little girl is unforgettable. I know this because I first saw it fifty years ago!

The film was directed by Erle C. Kenton. Mr. Kenton piloted a couple of the "House of..." horror films. A lot of stuff I've never heard of. But he was also the talent behind the chilling ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. This explains the impressive atmosphere injected into some pretty mediocre projects.

Next week on Svengoolie...I'm not sure!


*SPOILERS*

Well said, Red. Since I had never seen this movie, I really enjoyed the build-up a lot and even spotted an uncredited Dwight Frye among the villagers who were so eager to blow up the castle. How sad that he didn't even get a nod in the credits!
Image

Those townies in the village of Frankenstein really needed to switch to decaf or get a softball team going to get that energy focused on something other than their monster problems, don't you think?

Thanks for the heads up about Erle C. Kenton. I didn't connect him with Island of Lost Souls, but that credit makes him pretty impressive.
Because of the dramatic difference between the first and second halves of the movie and its relative brevity, I wonder if they had a completed script when they began filming with breakout star Lon Chaney (Universal dropped the Jr. part in the credits, to the actor's chagrin) just after The Wolf Man burst on the scene with spectacular success. Those ominous, expressionistic standing sets used from previous horror classics really were impressive, as was the lighting of all the exteriors (thanks to Woody Bredell and Milton R. Krasner and crew) though poor Chaney's ability to give an expressive performance seemed to be hampered by heavier than usual makeup from Jack Pierce. His flat-top head looked awfully rubbery in closeups and those heavy eyelids made me think the poor monster had myasthenia gravis in addition to all his other troubles. Of course, since Lon was reportedly a bit of a tippler, he may have had a hangover, giving his orbital socket some extra pouches anyway, I suppose. From what I've read, Pierce and Chaney did not get along very well. Not entirely surprisingly, reportedly Chaney at one point had a terrible problem with a rash on his head and neck caused by the layers of makeup but Pierce's assistant refused to take it off the actor, fearing his boss' wrath. Lon Chaney, Jr. ripped it off, causing part of his forehead to come off with it! Was it me or didn't Boris Karloff's makeup seem more organic--or as organic as a guy who was made up of spare parts can be?
Image

I was ambivalent about Cedric Hardwicke's one-note grimly determined performance and was a bit disappointed, until he started to have conversations with the ghost of his father (played by Cedric as well), though Lionel Atwill almost made up for it since he really did bring a nice glint of arrogant creepiness to his part as the doctor frustrated by having his career overshadowed by a Frankenstein.

Bela Lugosi as Ygor was pretty entertaining and more coherent than usual, (I wonder if they dubbed him?) though I thought his eagerness "to be one" with his friend the Monster almost bordered on the prurient, though that is probably just me reading something bad into his friendship with his fellow outcast.

Why was Evelyn Ankers even in this movie? Just to give Ralph Bellamy's slightly pompous but rational law man a romantic partner? Playing Hardwicke's child, there seemed to be no bond between the two--though I have to admit I enjoyed seeing Anker's strangely funny duds around the mansion, (I think she had a bedazzler stashed away) but this one that looked like bear claws on her front and back was my favorite:
Image


Every time Janet Ann Gallow was on-screen there was no one else but her who mattered--even the monster couldn't compete with her gentle little mug and remarkably poised serenity. My only quibble was that even the Monster didn't really seem to believe that his impulse to take Cloestine's brain was really a wise choice, though the two had chemistry.
Image

Here's an interview with the one-time child actress, who is still around and active today:

http://gammillustrations.bizland.com/mo ... llow1.html
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