My family and I didn’t get cable until Halloween of 1994, so I spent a lot of those early years catching horror movies the old fashioned way. This was before streaming, the internet, and cable, so often times my horror education came from whatever edited horror movies were playing on network TV, what ever horror movie my mom allowed us to see in theaters, and of course, my mom’s VHS horror collection.
“Horrible Horror” was purchased by her in the late eighties, as back then a lot of stores sold VHS movies. I fondly remember visiting my local cashier and looking at the gallery of boxes they had on display in their windows to alert customers that they were selling VHS movies. And as with every trip that involved stumbling upon a store selling VHS, my mom always zipped to the horror section or would scramble to find a horror movie she loved or hadn’t owned. “Horrible Horror” was one of the many gems she’d picked out for herself out of sheer curiosity. And it eventually earned its place in my household as a favorite of mine, and my brother’s.
One of the many classic devices of American television much of today’s youth will never get a chance to experience is the horror host. Though there are many talented performers keeping the tradition alive, we don’t have a glut of horror hosts as we once had. And it’s a shame because horror movies are ultimately an experience, and the horror host is the persona that keeps us watching and makes the viewing experience worthwhile in the end. “American Scary” is a brilliant and utterly fantastic tribute to the age of horror hosts, and really excels at informing audiences of a once American facet of television that no longer exists.
I was born around a time where television was beginning to change. Around the time where I was a kid, television was still all about local programming and whatever movies stations could dig up to fill the time slots, so my brother and I spent many days sitting down to watch horror movies that they just will not show anymore on local television. Many kids today have the internet at their fingers and can access whatever they want, but for people like me and people born much earlier, movies were an event, and one you stopped your day to focus on. Horror hosts died with the changing face of television and what with the censorship and corporate stranglehold of American television, all charm and enthusiasm has been lost in a sea of stale programming meant to sap dollars and not entertain.
Penny Dreadful is a hot hunk of woman, and in a world where Elvira, Zacharly, Joe Bob Briggs, Dr. Demento and many other folks helped to ease the pain of horrible movies, Penny Dreadful and her friends could be the carrier of the torch. In the genre of horror, the females mostly always rule. Men still love Elvira, Vampira, Debbie Rochon, and the rest of the legendary brood, and Penny Dreadful carries this legacy with a New England series that excels at showing truly awful films.
Penny Dreadful’s smexxiness otherwise cushions the blow of the garbage like “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” and it’s a suggested little horror series where you can find it on Public Access. “Shilling Shockers” is obviously a series that derives from the formula of “Horrible Horror” and “Mystery Science Theater,” in which our hostess, Penny Dreadful, has some fun with props, entertains us with some funny commentary, and introduces a bad film.