World of the Weird Monster Show….Year One!

by on Mar.22, 2011, under Horror Show Hosts

Get it?  Like Batman: Year One?  Yeah, okay, it should be more like “season one.”

Anyway, about a week ago I wrote an entry about how WOWMS came about.  People seemed to really like it–and the behind the scenes peek at a horror host show–so I figured, hey why not more?  And this is great for me, too, as it kind of acts as a archive for a lot of our show’s history…a show we’ve put hours and hours and tons of cash into…so it makes sense to keep the history.

I was watching the DVR of the episode we aired last night, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, which was our 2005 Halloween special.  We’ve had some broadcast issues lately, so I wanted to make sure it played okay.  and while watching it…man, it was a delight.  But weird.  While very rough, I was frankly amazed at how much energy we had and how much we got done.  That was a two day shoot, but still…it’s like a low budget film maker could do a scene for one price…but it would cost Hollywood a ridiculously higher cost to do the same thing, and more time, etc.  We’re hardly Hollywood, but in terms of how we do things now….I don’t think we, as WOWMS, could do that exact same episode right now in the same amount of time, etc.  Funny how things change.  I mean, our show is better…but it was nice to see the old days.

And that’s what this is all about.  I figured I’d go thru it on a season by season basis.  So here we go, season one.

As I wrote before, I had decided to do a horror host show.  I shanghai’d a couple of friends into taking the producer class with me (Eric and Matt.)  basically, you have to take this class.  I think it was like 5-6 weeks.  At the end, your whole class makes one 30 min show and you get your producer’s license.  This allows you to use the facilities, store sets, use the editing bays, equipment, etc.  I went into this knowing the show I wanted to make–but I had no idea if they’d let me.  Technically, shows are either 30 min or 60 min long.  But since we’d be asking to be on late at night, and wouldn’t be bumping anyone out of a slot, I didn’t think it would be an issue–it wasn’t.  When I arrived for the first class, I went and found the teacher–the guy who ran the station–and it was Jeff.  Yep,”Zontar” Jeff.  I saw the “Happy Halloween” sign above his desk, the Freddy vs Jason action figure–in box–on his desk and knew we had it made!

So when it came time to do our first show, I chose the best public domain movie there is…and one of the best horror films of all time…Night of the Living Dead.  I spent a long time on the script and I think it was pretty good.  In fact, one of our most recent–and a fan favorite–sketches, the “Crooked Wood Depot” is a redo of a sketch from that very first episode…just done right!   At this point in the game, and for at least two seasons (I’ll go over important changes like this as we get to them) the process was I would write the script and then send it to Matt.  Who would send back comments and we’d work from that.  I was head writer and story editor and had final say, but there was a lot of back and forth.  Everything I wrote went thru this filter before we went to shoot.

 

A little excerpt from the rough draft of the script…click to make larger…and no bad handwriting comments! Note it still has Dementia listed as "Vampella"

 

So we went in to shoot this episode with our horrible, horrible set.   Somehow this cost like $1000.  I have no idea how. I think it was buying a ton of costumes, a bunch of prop stuff…who knows.  But it was there…we had a little talk show set on one side…with the first Coffin Couch (made of cardboard) and the other side of the set had a lab area.  Which we maybe used twice.

I mentioned in another post how, at this point, we did not know how to edit.  Cause we hadn’t shot anything.  Now, I knew I’d have to edit…at the very least inserting our bits into the film.  But since we didn’t know how yet, to make it easier we shot our bits Live to Tape.  Which means we did it all in one take.  All camera changes are done live in the control room via the switcher by the director (The director at this point…and thru most of the first, oh probably at least 15-20 episodes, was Matt.)

So we did everything in one take (well, multiple takes, but had to use the one where we’d make it thru.)  That included the “Crooked Wood Depot” commercial which had like 4 different sets all surrounding each other that we’d cut to back and forth, with people running under cameras to get to the proper shot in time, etc…it was nuts.

Our opening credits consisted of us spinning one of our skull lamps around and around and shooting it in close up.  It was horrible!

We also set a precedent for having a LOT of blood in the first episode.  When we made our set, we didn’t have a floor.  We put the set up on risers (cause we thought that’s what people did—which made the set wobbly…Jeff almost set Dementia on fire when we actually lit the candles on set and they started moving back and forth as people walked.)  Anyway, the station had a huge blue rug that they were going to throw out…so we said, hey, it’s dark blue, we’ll take it!  So for the entire first blood soaked season, we spilled gallons and gallons of karo syrup blood…and let it sit there.  We’d spill it–and roll the carpet up.  It was fall/winter that first season, you see.  So no bugs.  Later on, we had to toss it (the bugs didn’t get to the rug, but we found a few ants on the blood covered stantions and so decided it best to toss it come spring.  While we’ve had blood since…sometimes quite a bit….we’ve never had as much as those first bunch of episodes.

So yeah…Night of the Living Dead.  Undead Johnny was WAY smarter in those first bunch of episodes.  He was arrogant and kind of a prick, just like he is now…but was a little smarter and aware of what was going on.  I also died at the end.  It was a running bit…that I think lasted every episode of the first season (with the exception of maybe one) and into season two that I died at the end of every episode.

EPISODE 1.2 THE KILLER SHREWS

Okay…Attack of the Killer Shrews.  One of my FAVORITE movies growing up (and you know what?  I don’t care how many people make fun of it…I do think it’d a great movie, carpet stuck on dogs or not.)

 

She's still at Vampella at this point.

 

This episode we were still doing–or trying to do things mostly in one take.  But we did a couple of edits.  But still, most camera changes were done live on the switcher.  I think at the most we’d have 2 edits per segment…which is VERY low.  But I know we shot a Wrath of Khan type moment with Keith that was a special shot.

As for the cast…let me backtrack.  On camera in that first episode was myself, Brian, Dementia, Eric, Jeff, Greg and Keith.  Night of the Living Dead is one of the very few episodes that Tom is not in.  Of that core group (and Matt behind the scenes,) myself, Jeff and Tom still remain.

Shrews had Tom’s on screen debut.  Keith as Dr. Mureau, myself and Dementia and Brian as “Freak Baby” who reappeared throughout the seasons and was kind of a knock off of the mini-Brando in the Mureau film.

 

Agh! Look at that set!

 

1.3 HORROR HOTEL

This was our first “real” episode.  I now knew how to edit a bit.  Though I was doing so tape-to-tape and linearly.  Meaning that the show was edited in order.  And there were only 2 audio tracks (which later in the 2nd season, before I switched to the avid–we did some pretty complex stuff with just two tracks.)  But anyway, we were able to stop mid-scene, or shoot coverage, special shots, etc.  We were still in the “show within a show” format.   As you all know, in the WOWMS universe, The World of the Weird Monster Show is a TV show on Channel 666.  There’s two parts of the show (the real show–not the one on TV.)  Our segments are either what’s actually “live” on Channel 666–whether it be our show, or a fake commercial, etc.  OR the segments are behind the scenes stuff with our characters either at or away from the station, when not on the air.

For the first three episodes, everything is “on air” stuff.  Marissa and Roxanne joined us for this episode, in which I was burned alive at the stake at the end.  Hi-tech special effects!

 

Note that Dementia is no longer "Vampella" but "Severa." These outlines/ drafts where all done before we shot the first episode.

 

 

Roxanne as Lucretia, one of Dementia's witches.

 

1.4 HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL

This was an important episode as it began to grow the universe of the show.  This was the first time we did a teaser–where we had a little bit before the opening credits.  It was also the first time we did “off the air” stuff with our characters.  And we also introduced Bela–Johnny’s first hunchback assistant, played by Keith.  The plot revolved around the fact that of all the body parts Johnny was put together with (as he’s not a zombie or vampire…but rather pieces of body parts put together and brought back from the dead by witchcraft….a witch creator I always dreamed would be played by either Elvira or Adrienne Barbeau.)  Johnny’s butt was actually from a woman–the wife of William Castle (not the William Castle.)  It seemed Castle had his wife killed for the insurance–but when his wife’s ass was brought back to life thru Johnny, the judge declared her not dead and he didn’t get the money.  at the end, Johnny used the Wipe-O-Rama device to “wipe” Castle away to the X-Dimension.  Castle was also our first “villain” to return in later episodes.  Although technically the professor from 1.1 came back as a zombie later.

for this episode, I had an alien burst from my chest at the end which killed me.  It was the first time we made a 2nd Undead Johnny shirt (I’m still wearing the first and only original from 6 years ago) and a fake chest for the alien (my hand in a silmy/bloody black sock) to burst thru.

This was also the first episode that featured Johnny alone as the host as Dementia was not in this episode.  Which–while I can’t remember exactly, was probably the reason I wrote the character of Bela.

 

Bela and Johnny

 

1.5 SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA

So we’re trucking right along and we’d done 4 episodes…and I think we were pretty happy.  The general consensus at the time was that each new episode (since we improved by leaps and bounds each shoot as we learned) was “the best” and the rest were crap!  At least I think that’s how I was.

So this was the first episode that I did not write.  Matt wrote this one.   Now, Matt is not a huge horror fan (actually, we had more than a few people on the show who were not big horror fans…or they enjoyed recent films, but didn’t really watch a lot of classics, etc.)  So I wanted to give him a movie he could do stuff with.  Since SATANIC is pretty much the only Hammer film we can show…and since it features Dracula and Van Helsing, I figured it would have a lot he could use.  He ended up not using Dracula or Van Helsing at all (Though we had a Van Helsing on the show in the 4th season) but rather picked up where 1.4 left off….since Dementia wasn’t in that one (or this one beyond a voice over phone call at the end) he went with the idea that Johnny was having a talent contest to pick a new co-host.  It was some good stuff and Tom looked EXACTLY like the hit man from the movie.  I made this by cutting a cheap $5 jewel Halloween sweatshirt into a vest and gluing cotton balls to it.

1.6 THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE

So, this was another one of those that we thought was way above the previous one (looking back, they’re all kind of crap–but special in their own little ways.)  This was another without Dementia–and it kind of blows my mind that so early in our initial run we did three shows in a row without Dementia.  She was only in the first three and then not back until the 7th!

So this one came about by my wanting to do something really bloody and disgusting (at this point in the show, I was adamant that everything–every joke, every reference, every fake commercial, etc–be somehow tied to the horror genre.  We’ve grown past that since, but at the time I considered it very important.)  So I decided we would do a surgery on the show.  The idea was Johnny needed organ transplants now and again so that’s what this would be.  Bela (in an nod to the classic comedy The Cannonball Run) was tasked to get a doctor and came back with the very inebriated Dr. Fever (Tom.)  It was also a total excuse for me to get Roxanne into a hot nurses outfit.

So I built (we spent WAY more effort into prepping for shows then, for better or worse) a fake table top that would have my body laying under a fake body–the fake body had a large tupperware container in the chest to hold all the fake guts and blood.  And what were our fake guts you may ask?  well, for the first (but not the last time!) we used panty hose stuffed with mashed potatoes and then covered in fake blood as intestines…and I threw in some pork chops as well for a nice effect.

We also did a bit where my body was taken away to be fixed and I was just a head.  I was on a table with two huge skulls who were basically Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show!

 

My guts!

 

1.7 SUSPIRIA

One of my favorite movies of all time.  We showed a crappy transfer that was PD supposedly.  This episode featured our first out of studio location shooting.  Since I held the film in such esteem…I didn’t want to make fun of it, or even to really be all that funny in our segments.  I felt that if I was watching Suspiria, the last thing I would want is to have it broken up with pieces of stupid comedy.  I’m not so sure I would agree now…actually I know I wouldn’t.  In the 3rd season we showed Argento’s Deep Red and I had NO problems being as silly as possible.

 

Very simple outline

 

So it was supposed to be how Dementia and Johnny first met.  They’re on set, with the lights down (having our characters in “off the air” situations has now officially become the norm.  I would be hard placed to think of more than a handful of episodes where the entire show is “on air”) and the reminiscence about how they were both stalking this college coed (Marissa)–Dementia to suck her blood…Johnny, who knows?  So we shot at night in some very creepy places by where I was living at the time.  Used a lot of Dawn of the Dead music.  Tried to make it real creepy.  I think we were pretty successful for the amount of experience we had at the time.  Some of it would probably make me groan a little….a little film schoolish.  But seeing as how it was edited tape to tape, etc, I think it came out pretty well.  Although it is so anti-type from a normal show, we barely ever show it–and I never sell it at conventions as I’d hate for someone to get it, and only it, and think that’s what our show is.  Although we very rarely show any of our early episodes on TV….this one would rank as one of the most rare, I think.

 

Dementia in her pj's getting ready to watch Suspiria. For the record…of the 20,000 hair-do's she had…this was my fave.

 

1.8 DEMENTIA 13

The second episode that I didn’t write…again written by Matt.  This one was pretty cool and featured some great work by Eric and Tom…and some cool camera stuff.  Again, I gave Matt a great movie to work with.  One I thought he would enjoy watching.  We started off with a teaser of Fester finding Nicole murdered at the station (side note…Fester Scab appeared in Horror Hotel for the first time and became a huge hit…at least amongst ourselves.  I think this was his first time back–he would be used heavily in the 2nd season.  He’s not so used anymore.)  The plot showed multiple people in the station being murdered pov style.  But the POV was from a camcorder viewscreen so we didn’t know who it was.

Then we had a “guest” director,  Francis Ford Coppola–done amazingly by Greg as a Voice Over from the control room mic.  There was a lot of funny stuff with Coppola and Johnny.  At the end, it was Dementia killing everyone…to this day I really don’t know why.  But, I did order a sugar glass bottle online for like $20.  It came and Dementia was supposed to hit me on the head with it.  She wouldn’t..afraid she’d hurt me and I’d get mad, so it’s actually Tom hitting me over the head with the fake bottle.  As he hit me kind of on the forehead…it did hurt a little.

 

Tom in the men's room. Back then, with Jeff in charge, we had free run of the station as there weren't many people there. During those first two seasons we used every inch of that station.

 

1.9 VAMPIRE BAT

So we had written Bela off the show awhile before this (Brain that wouldn’t Die was Keith’s last appearance except for one brief bit in 1.10, guesting in 1.11 and in our 2005 Halloween special.)  But I liked that trio feel of Johnny, Dementia and another.  So in this episode I wrote in the character of Igor.  We had it where Johnny was “trying him out” so if we didn’t like the character, he wouldn’t have to stay (I don’t believe he was in the following episode for example.)  But it was Igor’s first appearance.  At the same time, it was Burgermeister Johan Gunderschloss’ first appearance as well.

Also probably most notable…I’m pretty darn sure…that this episode is the first mention of Viseria.  Every episode before this mentioned Channel 666 as being in the 5th circle of hell.  But here the phrase “the nearby village of Viseria” became a running joke.  I LOVE the old Universal movies…and in some of my favorites, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and House of Frankenstein, Viseria was the village where it all happened.  So I decided to make Channel 666 be right by it.  One of MANY references that became part of our show’s mythology.  Some have gone by the wayside…like Dr. West being our station’s Dr.  But characters like Zontar, El Santo, Michael Myers being Romy’s dad, Fritz having worked at Melonville and the whole SCTV tie-in in 2.13…and the fact that, retroactively–and though it’s never been made cannon…that Undead Johnny’s brain might be that of Johnny LaRue.

So…Igor, Viseria and Gunderschloss made their first appearances here…and it also featured our first “Scooby-Do” style chase thru the hallways. I liked this one a lot.

 

making their debuts!

 

1.10 LAST MAN ON EARTH

Ahh….so this was one of our first really good episodes if I do say so myself.

So the jist was…there have been multiple movies made of the classic novel I AM LEGEND.  The two main ones being the film we were showing and the Omega Man.  So I decided to have Robert Morgan (Tom) from Last man on Earth fight the Omega Man (Greg) as there can only be one Last Man on Earth.

So we had a whole Fight Night type deal that ended with them fighting to the amok time Star Trek theme complete with replica (crappy) weapons.  This resulted in the BLOODIEST scene we’ve ever filmed where we doused both Tom and Greg in buckets of blood (actually…we’ll get to it eventually, but I think we used more in our Troma demo.)  It was a blast.  We also slit two throats, both Tom’s and mine.  It was often the case that Dementia ended up with the hot chick (Roxanne as Demonia in Demonia–Johnny’s assistant–debut.)  The way I looked at it, was we could have all these hot girls, dressed up sexy and in skimpy clothes, but ultimately it was okay as the women always ended up on top and in charge…and were ultimately in power and calling the shots.

 

The fight! Oh yeah, Brian did a pretty bad Burgess Meredith penguin impersonation as he died as well…we tried to reference his famous Twilight Zone episode as another Last Man on Earth.

 

 

We never made Demonia wear that wig ever again.

 

 

The Last Men on Earth.

 

1.11 I BURY THE LIVING

Okay…so I don’t think many would argue that this was one of our worst.  It wasn’t that bad, actually…just kind of boring and we had a horrible time making it.  Before this, we had never done an episode where we had to do SO many takes.  But Matt wrote this one about maps and scots and golf…it was a bit odd and weird. It did feature our best effect to date, Johnny getting his head (A winter melon filled with blood) taken off and smashed by a golf club.

 

Beyond this…the cast remembers it all for "That's one evil map."

 

1.12 WHITE ZOMBIE

Ah…we made it to the end of the season!  So I wanted to do something big for this.  Some seasons the last episode is just another episode, others I really try to make it something special.  For this one…I wanted something special!  We had referenced a lot of zombie material in our first episode Night of the Living Dead…but mostly Romero stuff.  So for this, I wanted to bring in Return of the Living Dead stuff, 28 Days Later, the Resident Evil series and more (Tom was an Umbrella scientist and the plot revolved around the T-Virus.)   So we brought back the Professor killed by zombies in the very first episode…this time played by Jeff as a zombie.  Tom’s doctor said he could cure zombies—or give them mental control over all other zombies and superhuman strength….or they would explode.  Guess which one?  Yep, the Prof gained control over all the zombies (of which by the end of the episode there were a ton as one got loose and killed most of the station’s staff) and so he brought them all into the studio and they killed everyone but Dementia.  I remember I was very keen about putting a glass sheet over the lens and pouring blood all over it during the zombie carnage at the end…I think I was the only one into it, but I dug it.  The carnage also feature Flashback Weekend founder Mike Kerz as a dead-on Bub from Day of the Dead!

 

Argh! One of our many "fake" Undead Johnny shirts bites the dust!

 

 

Hope…an actress who appeared in a couple of episodes, bites the dust

 

 

Ahhh…Jeff!

 

 

Tom about to get it.

 

Oh…and as I look at these I think one thing…why are the zombies green?  Well, Dementia made up our very first zombies in 1.1. And she made them green.  So we continued that.  Just that simple :)

WRAP UP

Ugh…okay I hope that didn’t bore too many people.  Honestly it was as much for me–to catalog some memories, etc–as for any readers.  But, I think it’s pretty interesting from a horror host stand point.

This show was, and is, very important to me.  At this time, in 2004-2005, I was a miserable person.  I mean, I wasn’t miserable to people, but I hated my job and the way my life was headed, etc.  I worked all the time and just wasn’t very happy.  I didn’t have anyone to share my life with, I was alone…you name it.  beyond some good friends (and let it be said…I barely knew Tom at the time and Jeff I met at the station the first day.  Now both are two of my best friends.)  So having this show, and the creative freedom to do whatever I wanted…plus the outlet for that expression…was just amazing.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still very unhappy, haha, but it made it much better.

And we made this show just for ourselves.   There’s been a lot of discussion and discord among some hosts about that whole “I do it for me” vs “doing it to be seen.”  Now, granted, we all want to be seen.  No one wants to put in all this work and all this time (we average about a 8 hour shoot day per episode and about 12-15 hours editing…that’s about 23 hours for each 20 minutes of material you see) to not have anyone watch it.  Of course we all want viewers and fans….just like how we were fans of the hosts we grew up watching.  But many of us also do it for the joy of doing it…the art of the show.

Cause we made this show in a vacuum.  I have NO idea if anyone watched us at all.  I can’t think of the first time we knew someone was watching.  Maybe it was during that first season…but if it was, it was only a few people that let us know.  I’ve always had a theory–now, we know we have fans.  We get fans that come up at conventions, we get facebook comments, get offers to make appearances, do autographs, been on trading cards, do projects, etc.  But that didn’t really come till later.  But one thing we still get very little of is mail.  We never have.  Emails, etc, not much at all.

Now, some cast members think it’s because we don’t slap our website all over the show.  Early on we did…but I stopped it in editing.  I wanted our show to be…well, like a show…and they don’t have websites all over it.  I frankly just don’t like it on people’s shows.  I always though that if someone really liked our show and wanted to find it they could either, a) wait till the end credits or b) google us.  Maybe I’m wrong on that…I might very well be.  No, I thought/think the main reason is that we don’t “really” talk to the audience directly.  Almost all horror host shows talk directly to the camera (often just one camera as well) the entire time.  Speaking to you in your living room.  My fave Elvira does this…it’s like she’s talking just to me!  There’s a direct link between host and audience there.  When I was a kid, I wrote in to Uncle Don all the time…and he’d read my letters on air and it was awesome!  But he spoke  just to me and other “kiddies” at home (who should’ve been in bed.)

On our show, when “on air” we talk to the camera, but even though we’re saying “hey, kids” etc, we’re not really talking to the real audience, but rather the fictional audience watching Channel 666.  It’s a very thin line…and it may not even seem that way, but since in our performances and the writing every single thing is a fiction (they’re not Comcast cameras, they’re Channel 666 cameras) I think there’s a disconnect there.  When you watch Larry Sanders, you know he’s not talking to you…even when it’s the “Larry Sanders” portion of the show that’s on…same with SCTV (we’re nowhere near as good as these, though SCTV was a HUGE influence on me and the show.)  So I have always thought that that was a main reason for it.

But anyway, I digress….I guess what I was getting at, was that even though we now know we have a bunch of fans, etc…at the time of this first season as far as we knew…no one was watching.  It was all for us.  And I think that helped grow the show into what it became.  There were HUGE changes and developments over this first season.  From a technical stand point of learning editing and techniques and us becoming familiar with what we could do with the station’s equipment.  To storytelling advances like introducing recurring characters…starting to develop other aspects of our fake home, Channel 666 and to moving from “on the air” to “off the air” as the major setting for the shows.

Don’t get me wrong…most of this season was crap :)   But from that crap…grew seasons slightly less crappy.

More to come!


Site Representation Request

If you have a relevant website and wish to be represented on Ghoularama.com, please send a link to your site with a brief description and be sure to include a note granting permission to include your content. Send requests to netherworldnetwork[at]comcast[dot]net with the subject line "content feed permission" and we will be happy to consider adding your site to our family of associated websites.

Information Content Disclaimer

The views and opinions stated in any and all of the articles represented on this site are solely those of the contributing author or authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Ghoularama.com, The Netherworld Network, its parent company or any affiliated companies, or any individual, groups, or companies mentioned in articles on this site.