Saturday, January 3, 2009

Welcome to Shock Theater- A Tour



By day-- by morning-- in North Texas there was a show called Slam Bang Theater when I was a kid. I remember it to be a block of programming specializing in various shorts-- Felix the Cat, the unique, cheaper 1960s variants of Popeye, and the Three Stooges. By this time the show had no host-- but just a few years before that, the show had a live host, Bill Camfield, who wore silly hats.

This same man, Bill Camfield (the picture here is from comic artist Kerry Gammill's site), had a night job-- and think of this, what a swell job this must have been-- when From 1957 to 1964, he was the host of the local weekly horror movie, Nightmare Theater. (This was itself a syndicated package also called Shock Theater-- basically, Screen Gems sent the movies around, and the local station was advised to provide a host.)

Why do I bring this up? Because I stumbled across a wonderful bit of business from Camfield, known in his host role as The Gorgon. This video captures the opening of the show, with Camfields six-minute, seemingly ad-libbed riffing on the ghoulish props in his laboratory. It doesn't get more delightfully 50s than this. Just wonderful stuff. Camfield is about 29 here. What a great job.

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