Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reconstructing SCREAM-IN, Starring Cincinnati's Cool Ghoul

After reconstructing the listings for 12 TALL TALES, I've turned my attention to identifying all of the films that played on WXIX-TV's SCREAM-IN, which ran from January 1969 through October 1972 and featured Cincinnati's own horror host, the legendary Cool Ghoul, played by actor and announcer Dick Von Hoene (1940-2004). The Ghoul, who feigned a Lugosi-like voice and a "bla-bla-blaaa" laugh, emerged from an upright casket at the beginning of each show, conducted conversations with an off-camera "friend" (also Von Hoene, doing a more Karloffian voice), and would pantomime to Halloween-themed records at the midpoint of each picture. Willie Mitchell's cover of the rhythm & blues standard "Slippin' and Slidin'" was the show's theme song.

I was only 12 when SCREAM-IN premiered, and though it had been only two years since 12 TALL TALES had been cancelled over at WKRC-TV, it felt like eons since there had been any kind of horror movie package being shown on Cincinnati television. Of course, at 12, I was also hitting puberty and with puberty comes that heightened level of mania that made the Beatles possible. It was at that level I connected with SCREAM-IN and its syndicated movie packages from AIP-TV and Columbia. The Ghoul initially did the show live - I know, because a friend and I called the station as soon as his first broadcast ended and he kindly spoke to both of us (in character) for at least 10 minutes. We were his first fans, and we became his first fan club - not that we ever sought other members; there were just a few of us who would get together on Saturday nights to watch the show. Calling the station with post-mortem reports became a weekly ritual for a little while, and Dick (who started speaking to us in his real voice by the third call) seemed to enjoy hearing from us - so much that he actually gave me his home number when the show began videotaping his segments, a decision I'm sure that he later regretted. He invited me to the station one afternoon to meet him and watch him tape a show (I wish I could remember which film he showed that week), and some time later, another fan and I worked up some kind of make-shift award and presented it to him on the set. It was just a homely, framed piece of cardboard with a 12 year old's calligraphy on it, but he recognized our sincerity and had a station photographer come down to commemorate the moment - and then showed the photo on the air a week or two later. He was a very patient, very nice man, very knowledgeable about motion pictures (he introduced me to Stanley Kubrick, actually), and we kept in sporadic touch right up to the end. In the last years of his life, he was a regular customer at the bakery where my mother worked, and one day - as a gift from him - she presented me with that station photograph of me and my friend Jim, presenting the Ghoul with our award, which I had only seen once, briefly, on television about 30 years earlier and never, ever expected to see again.  

But besides the Ghoul himself, SCREAM-IN was like my most important education in horror movies in the years prior to my becoming a writer. It offered me my first serious, knowing exposure to Italian horror and, when WXIX came into possession of the Shock Theater package from Universal in the fall of 1970, it became my first (young) adult access to those films, as well.

WXIX-TV, Channel 19, was Cincinnati's fourth commercial television station and its first independent channel. It began broadcasting at 3:00pm on August 1, 1968. One of their most interesting early programs was a Sunday night film series called FOR ADULTS ONLY, a somewhat sensational title for a serious package of films including the likes of LORD OF THE FLIES, LA DOLCE VITA, ALPHAVILLE and numerous Ingmar Bergman titles. I hold Channel 19's early programming almost entirely to blame when I have to explain why my interest in horror and art films has always seemed to run neck and neck. Judging by the listings given in the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER archives, Channel 19 aired a handful of horror titles in the last month of 1968, at 9:00pm on Saturday night, but it did not become SCREAM-IN or hosted by the Cool Ghoul until January 11, 1969. Once the Ghoul stepped in as host, threeof those four early films were immediately reshown.

Here is the near-complete schedule of SCREAM-IN offerings, as best I have been able to reconstruct them.  
THE ANGRY RED PLANET.
1968
Dec 07 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET
Dec 14 - THE BEAST OF MOROCCO (THE HAND OF NIGHT)
Dec 21 - CRY OF THE BEWITCHED
Dec 28 - THE TERROR

At the beginning of 1969, the horror film slot was bumped slightly back to 9:30pm.




1969
Jan 04 - CRY OF THE BEWITCHED
Jan 11 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET (first SCREAM-IN broadcast)
Jan 18 - THE BEAST OF MOROCCO
Jan 25 - JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET
Feb 01 - THE TIME TRAVELERS
Feb 08 - NIGHT STAR, GODDESS OF ELECTRA (WAR OF THE ZOMBIES)
Feb 15 - IN THE YEAR 2889 (this listing was apparently in error, as it was repeated in the following week's listings; this week's broadcast was likely another Larry Buchanan film like ZONTAR THE THING FROM VENUS, also known to be in the AIP-TV package being shown through Aug 30)
Feb 22 - IN THE YEAR 2889
Mar 01 - MASTER OF THE WORLD
Mar 08 - PYRO
Mar 15 - MASTER OF THE WORLD
Mar 22 - GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER
Mar 29 - INVASION
Apr 05 - THE WIZARD OF MARS
Apr 12 - THE INVISIBLE CREATURE
Apr 19 - DESTINATION INNER SPACE
Apr 26 - IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA
May 03 - THE SON OF DR JEKYLL
May 10 - TERROR IN THE CRYPT

TERROR IN THE CRYPT.
Beginning May 17, SCREAM-IN finally settled into its standard 9:00pm time slot on Saturday nights.

May 17 - DIE MONSTER DIE
May 24 - DR ORLOFF'S MONSTER
May 31 - BILLY THE KID VS DRACULA
Jun 07 - THE FACE OF TERROR
Jun 14 - THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER
Jun 21 - BLACK SABBATH
Jun 28 - THE EYE CREATURES
Jul 05 - CIRCUS OF HORRORS
Jul 12 - ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE
Jul 19 - Pre-empted by the Miss Indiana Beauty Pageant (boo!)
Jul 26 - CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE
Aug 02 - THE TERROR
Aug 09 - FROZEN ALIVE (considered by the Ghoul to be the worst film he ever showed!)
Aug 16 - THE MAD MAGICIAN
Aug 23 - TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE
Aug 30 - CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Sep 06 - FRANKENSTEIN
Sep 13 - WEIRD WOMAN
Sep 20 - MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
Sep 27 - Unlisted
Oct 04 - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Oct 11 - THE FROZEN GHOST / Unlisted (double feature)
Oct 18 - Unlisted
Oct 25 - THE INVISIBLE RAY
Nov 01 - DRACULA
Nov 08 - THE WOLF MAN
Nov 15 - THE MUMMY
Nov 22 - THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
Nov 29 - THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET
Dec 06 - MAN-MADE MONSTER
Dec 13 - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dec 20 - THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Dec 27 - PILLOW OF DEATH

THE MUMMY'S GHOST.
1970
Jan 03 - THE MUMMY'S GHOST
Jan 10 - SON OF DRACULA
Jan 17 - Unlisted 
Jan 24 - DRACULA'S DAUGHTER
Jan 31 - DEAD MAN'S EYES
Feb 07 - Unlisted (shown at 5:30pm - 9:00 slot pre-empted by Basketball game)
Feb 14 - THE BLACK ROOM
Feb 21 - THE MAD GHOUL
Feb 28 - FRANKENSTEIN
Mar 07 - THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Mar 14 - THE TOWER OF LONDON
Mar 21 - Unlisted  (10:00 "as Movie" - possibly pre-empted by Basketball finals)
Mar 28 - Unlisted
Apr 04 - Unlisted
Apr 11 - ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
Apr 18 - Unlisted
Apr 25 - Unlisted
May 02 - WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY
May 09 - Unlisted
May 16 - Unlisted
May 23 - Unlisted
May 30 - Unlisted
Jun 06 - Unlisted
Jun 13 - Unlisted
Jun 20 - THE MUMMY'S TOMB
Jun 27 - BEFORE I HANG
Jul 04 - Unlisted
Jul 11 - Unlisted
Jul 18 - Unlisted
Jul 25 - BLACK SABBATH ("The Telephone" segment cut)
Aug 01 - THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN

The unlisted titles shown during the preceding period would have included such titles as THE MUMMY'S HAND, THE MUMMY'S CURSE, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, NIGHT MONSTER, CALLING DR DEATH, NIGHT KEY, THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET, THE CAT CREEPS, and SON OF FRANKENSTEIN from the Universal Shock Theatre package; BLACK SUNDAY, BURN WITCH BURN!, CIRCUS OF HORRORS (shown uncut only once), THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (likewise), THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW, STRANGLER OF THE TOWER, PLANETS AGAINST US, THE FLYING SAUCER from the AIP-TV package; THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE, THE CURSE OF DRACULA, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA and 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH from the Columbia package, among other titles known to have aired on SCREAM-IN. I also recall seeing Del Tenney's THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH and THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE on the show at some point.

By August 1970, the Cool Ghoul's popularity was such that WXIX expanded Von Hoene's duties to encompass Saturday night prime time from 7:00 - 11:00pm. This was done with the introduction of a 7:00 movie, initially called SHOCK IT TO ME but later changed to CREATURE FEATURE, which also happened to be the name of a Sunday afternoon broadcast that ran from 5:00-7:00pm. The Cool Ghoul did not host SHOCK IT TO ME/CREATURE FEATURE, but Von Hoene did "host" the program as an announcer, using the Karloffian voice he created for the Ghoul's off-screen companion, whom he always addressed as "my friend."

UNEARTHLY STRANGER.
Aug 08 - DEATH ROBOTS / THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE HIMALAYAS (evidently incorrect, as this SCREAM-IN listing was repeated the following week)
Aug 15 - UNEARTHLY STRANGER / THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE
HIMALAYAS
Aug 22 - RETURN OF THE FLY / BEHIND THE MASK
Aug 29 - JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET / SON OF DR JEKYLL
Sep 05 - THE APE WOMAN (cancelled at the last minute as Von Hoene considered the film too "sleazy" for young audiences, replaced with the non-horror WC Fields feature YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN!)/ THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943)
Sep 12 - BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER / MY SON THE VAMPIRE
Sep 19 - THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (shown uncut for the first and only time!) / HOUSE OF DRACULA
Sep 26 - KONGA / HORROR OF DRACULA
Oct 03 - THE EYE CREATURES (single feature)
Oct 10 - CREATURE WITH THE ATOMIC BRAIN / THE GIANT GILA MONSTER
Oct 17 - DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL / THE TERROR
Oct 24 - INVASION EARTH 2150 AD / PYRO
Oct 31 - GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER / HOUSE OF HORRORS
Nov 07 - THE DEMON PLANET (PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES) / JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER
Nov 14 - ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE / RETURN FROM THE PAST (DR TERROR'S GALLERY OF HORRORS)
Nov 21 - THE TIME TRAVELERS / HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM
REPTILICUS.
Nov 28 - PLANET OF BLOOD (incorrect, relisted the following week) / Unlisted
Dec 05 - PLANET OF BLOOD (QUEEN OF BLOOD) / Unlisted
Dec 12 - Unlisted
Dec 19 - Unlisted
Dec 26 - Unlisted

1971
Jan 02 - Unlisted / INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Jan 09 - Unlisted
Jan 16 - FRANKENSTEIN
Jan 23 - IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA / Unlisted
Jan 30 - Unlisted / THE RAVEN (1935)
Feb 06 - REPTILICUS / EARTH VS THE SPIDER
Feb 13 - Unlisted / MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
Feb 20 - Unlisted / THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
Feb 27 - Unlisted / THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Mar 06 - Unlisted / THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Mar 13 - THE WIZARD OF MARS / THE VIKING WOMEN AND THE SEA SERPENT
Mar 20 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET / TEENAGE CAVEMAN (shown at 10:00 after
basketball)
Mar 27 - GHIDRAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER / THE SCREAMING SKULL
Apr 03 - THE FLYING SAUCER / TERROR IN THE CRYPT
Apr 10 - WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY / HORROR OF DRACULA
Apr 17 - THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (cut) / THE FROZEN GHOST
Apr 24 - DIE MONSTER DIE / THE SON OF DR JEKYLL
May 01 - JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET / DRACULA
May 08 - DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE / THE WOLF MAN
May 15 - INVASION EARTH 2150 AD / THE INVISIBLE MAN
May 22 - THE INVISIBLE RAY / SON OF DRACULA
May 29 - THE MAD MAGICIAN / THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (shown at 10:00)
Jun 05 - TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE / BLACK SUNDAY

HORROR CASTLE.
One of the unlisted films from the preceding period would have been HORROR CASTLE (1963) with Christopher Lee, which received complaints from some viewers at the time of its first broadcast about a scene in which a rat cage was attached to a woman's face, resulting in half of her nose being eaten by the hungry rodent. Thereafter, Von Hoene became more sensitive to the needs of the younger members of his audience and he screened each film personally prior to broadcast and cut any scenes that he felt might be too sleazy or too violent for his following. (THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE, CIRCUS OF HORRORS and THE FLESH EATERS are a few films found guilty on both counts.) In the opening minutes of his June 5 broadcast of Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY, he announced that part of the beginning of the movie would be slightly cut, so as not to upset the "little ones," but that the scene would be shown uncut at the end of the broadcast, when the little ones would be asleep, so that those who could take it could see it.

RETURN FROM THE PAST.

Jun 12 - TOWER OF TERROR / CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Jun 19 - I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by Boxing
Jun 26 - HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER / I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN
Jul 03 - VOODOO WOMAN / THE HAND
Jul 10 - IT CONQUERED THE WORLD / THE HEADLESS GHOST
Jul 17 - THE SHE CREATURE / THE UNDEAD
Jul 24 - ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by Boxing
Jul 31 - STRANGLER OF THE TOWER / BURN WITCH BURN
Aug 07 - A BUCKET OF BLOOD / SCREAM-IN pre-empted
Aug 14 - PLANET OF BLOOD / DR ORLOFF'S MONSTER (likely cut)
Aug 21 - JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by
Boxing
Aug 28 - DEMENTIA 13 / RETURN FROM THE PAST
Sep 04 - EEGAH / THE WEREWOLF
Sep 11 - MY SON THE VAMPIRE (Allan Sherman prologue cut) / THE INVISIBLE BOY
Sep 18 - THE NEW INVISIBLE MAN / THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Sep 25 - DR WHO AND THE DALEKS / REPTILICUS
Oct 02 - PYRO / 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH
Oct 09 - MAN WITH A CLOAK / HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (cut)
Oct 16 - THE PHANTOM PLANET / HORROR OF DRACULA
Oct 23 - THE BEAST OF MOROCCO / DAY THE WORLD ENDED
Oct 30 - THE WIZARD OF MARS / IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Nov 06 - BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER / THE DEVIL DOLL (1964, cut)
Nov 13 - DEMENTIA 13 / THE TERROR
Nov 20 - VOYAGE TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE / BLACK SABBATH (the "Telephone" segment cut as "too adult")
Nov 27 - THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (cut) / DESTINATION INNER SPACE
Dec 04 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET / THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN
Dec 11 - THE KILLER SHREWS / CRY OF THE BEWITCHED
Dec 18 - KONGA / SCREAM-IN pre-empted by Basketball
Dec 25 - THE GIANT GILA MONSTER / THE 5000 FINGERS OF DR T

The next year began with a showing of BURN, WITCH, BURN! (UK: NIGHT OF THE EAGLE), a British film starring American actress Janet Blair, with whom Von Hoene was evidently very taken. Every time he presented the film - he had shown it at least once before this - he would touchingly alert his viewers to "pay close attention" to the leading lady in the movie "because she is very, very pretty."

BURN WITCH BURN.
1972
Jan 01 - THEATER OF DEATH / BURN WITCH BURN
Jan 08 - BEDLAM / PSYCHOMANIA (cut)
Jan 15 - THE CURSE OF DRACULA / HORROR CASTLE (cut)
Jan 22 - THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS / THE DIABOLICAL DR Z (cut)
Jan 29 - THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD / CORRIDORS OF BLOOD
Feb 05 - INVASION EARTH 2150 AD / GHIDRAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER
Feb 12 - BATMAN / MARK OF THE VAMPIRE
Feb 19 - DESTINATION MOON / I BURY THE LIVING
Feb 26 - MIGHTY JOE YOUNG / MASTER OF THE WORLD
Mar 04 - THE HAUNTED STRANGLER / THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Mar 11 - WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY / THE TIME TRAVELERS
Mar 18 - THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN / INVASION EARTH 2150 AD
Mar 25 - I BURY THE LIVING / HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (cut)
Apr 01 - IN THE YEAR 2889 / THE EYE CREATURES
Apr 08 - FIRST MAN INTO SPACE / DESTINATION INNER SPACE
Apr 15 - THE NEW INVISIBLE MAN / THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (cut)
Apr 22 - THE UNDEAD / CAT PEOPLE
Apr 29 - JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME / PANIC IN YEAR ZERO
May 06 - CRACK IN THE WORLD / THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
May 13 - PSYCHOMANIA (cut) / THE FLY
May 20 - RIDER TO THE STARS / DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
May 27 - THE CREEPING UNKNOWN / DONOVAN'S BRAIN
Jun 03 - THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE / THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE
WORLD
Jun 10 - SHE DEMONS / FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER
Jun 17 - ZONTAR THE THING FROM VENUS / TERROR IN THE CRYPT
Jun 24 - SPACE MONSTER / THE TERROR
Jul 01 - REPTILICUS / THE WEREWOLF
Jul 08 - VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN / EARTH VS
FLYING SAUCERS
Jul 15 - THE MAD MAGICIAN / THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Jul 22 - DR ORLOFF'S MONSTER (cut) / DEMENTIA 13
Jul 29 - DAY THE WORLD ENDED / CIRCUS OF FEAR
Aug 05 - DAGORA THE SPACE MONSTER / CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Aug 12 - CIRCUS OF HORRORS (cut) / THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER
Aug 19 - THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN / THE BEAST OF MOROCCO
Aug 26 - GODZILLA VS THE THING / KONGA
Sep 02 - THE ANGRY RED PLANET / TERROR IN THE CRYPT

The September 2 broadcast marked the end of the road for CREATURE FEATURE, but SCREAM-IN would continue through Halloween, preceded by the Boris Karloff series THRILLER.
 
Sep 09 - TOWER OF TERROR
Sep 16 - THE TERROR
Sep 23 - HORROR CASTLE (cut)
Sep 30 - THE FLESH EATERS (cut)
Oct 07 - BLACK SABBATH
Oct 14 - CURSE OF THE FLY
Oct 21 - X THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES
Oct 28 - THE INVISIBLE MAN

Though WXIX's increasingly familiar package of horror and science-fiction films continued to run in the Saturday night time slot for quite some time to come, Dick Von Hoene left WXIX at the end of October 1972 and took a job as a news announcer at radio station WUBE-AM. The Cool Ghoul continued to make personal appearances in the greater Cincinnati area.

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