Friday, February 6, 2009


This entertaining 2008 documentary by John E. Hudgens and Sandy Clark takes a long, affectionate look at the uniquely American phenomenon of the "late night TV horror host."

Back in the late Fifties-early Sixties, when Universal Studios first released their library of classic horror films to independent television stations in the notorious "Shock Theater" package, many of those stations recruited a staff member to host the films. Thus was born the "horror host." From the legendary Vampira and Zacherly to Chicago’s Svengoolie and Son of Ghoul, to the immortal Elvira, American Scary covers the careers of and interviews dozens of on-air personalities, and presents rare clips from their shows. I never experienced the fun of having a local horror host, but after watching this documentary, I can see why so many of them are so revered by creature feature fanatics.

Cinema Libre’s disc presents the 92 minute documentary in a fine 1.78:1 widescreen transfer. The disc includes a commentary track by the filmmakers, the original pitch reel, longer "bonus interviews" with some of the featured hosts, and several trailers for the film and other Cinema Libre titles.

AMERICAN SCARY is a wonderful, nostalgic look at a bizarre and beloved geek subculture and is highly recommended to anyone who grew up watching old monster movies on television back in the days before home video and DVD. It’s a great film.

BUY: American Scary