Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Son of The Ghoul Goes West, part KTLA 5.

Hello again, S&Pers!

I surely hope you have all been enjoying the Irish Month. I know weather across the country has been nearly schizophrenic in its ups and downs, so we know Spring is so tantalizingly near. With that renewal just about here, I have been busy with some projects and starting back up at my current workplace for the 2011 season, and haven't had time to relax here at the ol' pub.

One of the things that has been occupying my time is compiling audio for Nevermore and his exciting trip to Burbank next month. I still have plenty of programming to do, and it scares me a little. But just a little -- I'm good with deadlines.

Another exciting part of Monsterpalooza this year is... television! Yes, come early morning of Friday April 8th, the first day of the convention, a number of us crazy monster makers will be involved in news segments broadcast from the convention! This is all because of a close friend of my family who happens to be a hilarious and brilliant reporter for the morning news team on the oldest TV station in Los Angeles.


KTLA is now on digital channel 31, but it still represents a few firsts -- the first station licensed for commercial broadcasting in L.A., acquiring its license in 1947, and the first commercially licensed TV station west of the Mississippi (and only the seventh in the country, at a time when there probably weren't more than 500 or so sets in L.A. alone).

But for me, it represents a more personal set of firsts.

You see, KTLA TV5 was the station that ran all of the classic Universal horror films for decades. Oh, they weren't the only station to show great horror and sci-fi in the Southland-- KHJ 9 and KTTV 11 had plenty of shock power in those days, and I have much love for those memories too -- but Channel 5 seemed to always be running the great films of Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney Jr., Price, Lorre, Atwill, and all my other heroes.

There was always a Monster Week, or Sci-Fi Week, or Godzilla Week, or Apes Week, and each weeknight was another film in the series... it seemed to never end!

They'd run the movies on weekends too, repeating them four or even six times over Saturday and Sunday. In the days long before VCRs, let alone computers, DVDs, Tivo and Netflix, we had entire films memorized by Sunday evening, and were performing them at school on Monday morning.

Oh! the incredible images, the nerve-rattling moments KTLA was first to show me...

Yes, the first time I ever experienced the shock of these Monster Kid Moments, these rites of passage for fantasy film fanatics, was solely the fault of KTLA. I was watching TV 5 the first time my mind was blown by these legendary scenes...
Oh the precious memories.

KTLA was also the station that carried The Twilight Zone. Golly, the first time we saw these images...

KTLA also ran the fantastic films of Ray Harryhausen, all the Planet of the Apes films, and more of the great Toho Giant Monster 'kaiju' films from Japan than I could count.

In the mind of my inner child it was every week, all year long, that you could find something monsteriffic on KTLA.

It was KTLA running a Monster Week that helped me bond with my uncles over all things Universal Monster at my grandmother's house so long ago. It was KTLA which first taught me to stay up late (Movies 'Til Dawn!) suffering from a full bladder because I was too scared to walk down the hallway. KTLA absolutely put so many terrifyingly fun images in my brain that I could probably sue them for damages, but I owe them so much more than anything I'd get that it hardly would be worth it.

Besides, they also gave us legendary personalities like the unstoppable reporter Stan Chambers...

... and the funny and fun Tom Hatten, who'd doodle great pictures for us while showing us Popeye cartoons and episodes of Our Gang, Laurel & Hardy, and hosting the Family Film Festival every weekend...

... and getting back to the horror, the nearly god-like persona of Seymour, horror host extraordinaire!

Created and portrayed by the wholly under-appreciated and unique actor Larry Vincent, the tuxedo'd Seymour began his L.A. horror hosting career on KHJ 9 in 1971, but moved to KTLA for some years, and this is when I best remember him and his Monster Rally.

More of the fascinating, creative and all-too-short life of Larry Vincent, including audio files of Seymour shows, can be read here. Seymour, your Fringies miss you!

And just in case you still don't quite grasp how important KTLA was to the rise of the Monster Kid movement:
... this was published in the very first issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in 1958. What's zat say in the corner? What're them call letters? Yeah, that's right.

'Nuff said.

Oh, KTLA 5, you rocked. Very, very hard.

And so I am looking forward to Monsterpalooza all the more. Being back in L.A., showing off my Hallowe'en work, seeing friends and family, and somehow connecting ever so tenuously to KTLA 5... I cannot wait.

O' ZOM-beeee!

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