Friday, October 28, 2016

John Zacherle

TV and radio host best known for his "Roland/Zacherle(y)" horror-movie host persona; actor, voice actor, and recording artist -- via Dread Central. AKA The Cool Ghoul. Though Vampira (Maila Nurmi) preceded him by three years, the great Zacherle was the first to conceive and perform the office of sarcastic, campy, comedic host that interrupted, interacted with, and generally mocked the substandard content being provided, spawning dozens of imitators at the time and helping to create the concept of "camp" in mainstream media.

He worked the local TV scene from Philadelphia to New York for at least a decade in this -- vein? -- but did much more in various media. Without Zacherle, would there have been "The Addams Family" or "The Munsters"? Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (Cassandra Peterson) owes much to him, as does Joe Flaherty's Count Floyd and "Monster Chiller Horror Theater" from "SCTV," do "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and all its descendants and offshoots.

And he took much from the sarcastic, punning host of radio's "Inner Sanctum," as well as the sinister EC Comic horror-host narrators -- the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper, and the Old Witch -- of 1947-1954. Zacherle's absurd tangents, cynical attitude, and leaning on sound effects also point to the influence of Ernie Kovacs. His act was weird and sometimes dull and amateurish but kids liked him. It seemed like he was doing something anybody could do -- later, some of us did.