Well, that was a blast and then some. For those who don’t know what Virginia Creepers is, (and shame on you for not knowing) it happens to be an excellent documentary done not long ago that showcases the Horror Host traditions of The Old Dominion. The film goes back to the now, unfortunately, lost (as in there is little to no footage of them in existence anywhere) horror hosts of the 50’s such as Ghoulda, Ronald and Hazel Witch and runs up through the modern era of with the new ghouls on the block like Dr. Sarcofiguy and Karlos Borloff and the Monster Madhouse crew. Along the way we get to see such horror host institutions like Bowman Body who was even honored with an official resolution from the Virginia General Assembly recognizing and thanking him for his public service and, no joke here, had a sandwich named after him that exists to this day and Count Gore de Vol who has pioneered internet horror hosting. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as how many guys are covered in this film. But, far more importantly, the thing is just fun as hell.
See. to be good at horror hosting for longer than a cup of coffee it has to be something that you enjoy doing. It has to be something you love. Each and every guy and gal ghoul who has made a mark in the field is someone who enjoys it and that vibe comes through in the documentary. Every interview looking back on a career and every fan interview looking back on the host(s) they grew up with is filled with this vibe and it’s captured perfectly by the director. And when the film isn’t focusing on an interview it’s giving you clips from the shows where anything and sometimes everything could and did happen. In the simplest terms; the film is really, really fun.
If you grew up with any of the guys featured in the film then the film is a fantastic walk down memory lane. If any of the guys are new to you then the film is an amazingly informative and incredibly joyous introduction to them.
So, where does Charlottesville come in to play? Well, last weekend I received a nice little Halloween gift in the mail in the form of the limited reproduction of the DVD cover (see above) and the DVD that I had pre-ordered some time ago. Jenn and I watched it and we both enjoyed it. Then, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, we found out that they were having a theatrical screening in Charlottesville as a part of a film festival. Oh, and a nice carrot added to the thing were appearances by long time favorite of mine Count Gore de Vol as well as Dr. Sarcofiguy and Karlos Borloff who are both doing a lot to bring horror hosting to new audiences. I couldn’t resist that. And the drive up was made a much easier thing to do as a family thing since Jenn, her mom and I were already looking at taking Ian up to the apple orchards to pick apples and look at the fall beauty of the foothills that lead into the Blue Ridge Mountains.
So, easy fit into the day’s planning. And, man, was it worth it.
After a fantastic morning with my wife, my mother-in-law, my father and I watching Ian run around like a little maniac on a hillside and pick apples like there was no tomorrow we headed into town and made our way to the theater. Shortly after we got there the guys behind the film (Sean Kotz and Chris Valluzzo) showed up. Both guys were great and neither of them threatened me with physical violence for sullying their fine production with my short interview. Shortly after their arrival Gore, Borloff and Sarcofiguy arrived. Of course, I immediately mugged them for autographs.
After they recovered from the deranged fan incident we all went in to see the film. If anyone out there reading this has the chance to see this film in a theater and with an audience… Jump at the chance and do it in a heartbeat. The experience of the film, the fun factor at least, is just jacked up tenfold. It’s a real blast to watch this with a group of fellow horror host fans. And, honestly, you don’t need to be a horror host fan going in. Neither my mother-in-law nor my father were real big horror host fans, but the film really had them liking several of the hosts and the art form of horror hosting with a new appreciation of the craft and the performers.
And, on a personal level, the guys were all great. John Dimes (Dr, Sarcofiguy) is really a great guy to chat with, Dick Dyszel (Count Gore de Vol) was as gracious as ever when it came to fans (and nuts like me) and Jerry Moore (Karlos Borloff) was… Wow… That man has more energy and is more animated than just about anyone I know. He also seems to be a really, genuinely great guy.
Beyond just the general banter with a fan; Moore was as outgoing as he could be with everyone, handed out free cards and DVDs and did whatever he could to make everyone there know that he appreciated the fans and the support for Monster Madhouse. He also went out of his way to help my poor, suffering wife.
See, we had a plan at the start of the day. Yeah, planning something and expecting a two year old to go along with it… What fools we parents be. But, still, we had a plan. We figured that running through the orchards, up the mountain, down the mountain and around the trails would wear little Ian out. We thought that Ian, who normally goes down for a nap at around 2 PM, would be zonked and gone by the 2:30 start of the film. Nope. Didn’t happen.
It seems that seeing Gore (who, thanks to Halloween viewing of his Legacy DVD series this year Ian could identify by name and did so loudly several times) kinda hyped him up. That was then followed up by having Borloff play with him for a few minutes. By the time the movie started he was not going down. So Jenn, deciding that I was the big fan of the film and her mom and my dad had never seen it, took Ian outside the theater so as to not have him bother the other paying customers. And then she got a little help. It seems that Moore’s fine singing voice (yes, he does sing, plays rock & roll and has a CD of monster themed music) is aided by his love of a good smoke. So, whenever he went out for a smoke break during the film he made silly faces for Ian and played Ian’s version of hide and seek/peek-a-boo with him. By the end of the movie Ian had decided that Karlos Borloff was the greatest thing since Max and Ruby and Borloff may well be Ian’s new favorite person for the foreseeable future. He really, genuinely seems to be a good guy.
So, yeah, jump at the chance to see the film in a theater if you can. And buy the DVD. And, while you’re at it, swing by all the guys’ sites and support ’em. You’ll be helping to keep a uniquely American art form alive and, more importantly, you’ll end up enjoying yourself.