Horror Host mania continues with another archive interview, featuring Baron von Wolfstien!
From deep within his crypt, the Baron graces our corner of the web with his patronage.
Learned Robb:1: Tell the folks out there in cyber-space a little about your show.
BvW: Thank you, most Learned Robb, ’tis my pleasure to be here!
I must say, ’tis a cozy little Crypt you have here, nestled neatly among the gallows and graveyards of Cyber-Space!
To delve into a wee bit of ancient history; my TV show:
BARON Von WOLFSTIEN Presents SATURDAY NIGHT With THE MONSTERS, ran for 40 episodes back in AD 1978, on WTTV Channel 4 (Bloomington-Indianapolis), measurably inspiring the future career of one of my fans, who was to become known as the erstwhile A.GHASTLEE GHOUL, whose Interview already graces your charming Site.
The TV station taught me reams about TV politics, in that they broke their promise to me (the very first week of airing) that I’d not be placed in a time-slot opposite SNL in its Belushi, Ackroyd, Murray ‘Glory Days’.
‘Twas lamentable proof that The Station, despite their glowing inferences to the contrary, weren’t going to invest much in my show.
But, my show derived a lot of input from fans, in the form of letters, artwork, and, the like, as well as MICHAEL WHITE’S keen, and, steadying influence. Being on the commercial Telly, an exact figure of 58,000 steady viewers tuned in on a weekly basis, according to the Neilson Ratings.
My Best Friend (and, Technical Director par Excellante) MICHAEL B. WHITE, whose expertise provided the high quality that routinely gave our show a very Professional stature, shares all kudos for shouldering the large responsibility, which led to the show’s success.
TEN EPISODES of my olde work survives, due to my foresight of dubbing myself a copy whilst I made the originals for the weekly show… a big debt of thanks is, likewise, imputed to the frugal viewing of said tapes, as supplied by elder brother, MICHAEL WALLACE HERRON, over a period of two decades. I am most happy to relate that MICHAEL WHITE procured the first translation of the olde 3/4 inch tapes onto the 1/2 inch format for widespread public access, a scant 23 years after he’d first recorded them.
Aided by the sterling efforts of A.GHASTLEE GHOUL, and, E-GOR, said tapes shall be available for public consumption in the very near future, via VHS & DVD.
My new show, BARON Von WOLFSTEIN And FRIENDS, is still in its infancy, matrixed, mostly, as irreverently-alloyed segments into GHASTLEE’S Show.
Other segments are shot specific to kindred, talented, and, bizarrely-fixated souls such as:
SHADOWGOBLIN/DR.FRIGHT in Pekin, Illinois,
HALLOWEEN JACK’S HAUNTED THEATRE in new Jersey,
PROFESSOR ANTON GRIFFIN’S MIDNIGHT SHADOW SHOW in Austin, Texas,
DR. FEAR’S MYSTERIOUS LAB in Enid, Oklahoma, and, numerous other Host’s Show throughout the HORROR HOST UNDERGROUND.
Check out all the Vonderful ‘New Blood’ at:
Horror Host Underground.com
I expect to be producing a ‘solo’ weekly format once again, beginning in OCTOBER, AD 2003. I suppose that I am obliged to mention that BARON Von WOLFSTEIN is a ‘Transcendent’ WEREWOLF.
L.R:2: What prompted you to begin broadcasting as a TV horror host?
BvW: I’ve always possessed a sense of wonder, and, of purpose, about this Mystery in which we are immersed, and, identify as ‘LIFE’.
The Monsters represented a finite expression of the Supernatural, just as Dinosaurs had held my undivided attention in my youth, by representing the curiosity of power, fascination, and, extinction, in the temporal sphere.
There were lessons to be gleaned, learned, and, shared.
To contribute insight, knowledge, and, illuminated patterns of educated choice are the best use of the time we’re granted on this glorious pebble in space. To Bind by the Fascination, but, to Free by the Message- that is part and parcel to my Life’s Quest.
The notable points in the evolution of my HORROR HOSTING CAREER are listed below:
I have the right to hold the curiously auspicious title of:
Founding Father of HAUNTED HOUSES FOR CHARITY due to the success of the HAUNTED HOUSE that I created in Cincinnati, Ohio, waaay back in AD 1971, which, in turn, inspired the phenomenom that persists to this present day… and, whose arc of success seems fated to run the duration of the Course of Time itself!
For some unexplainable reason… Humans LIKE to be SCARED! Go Figure.
We (The Sycamore-Deer Park Jaycees, along with sponsoring radio station, WSAI) took our act on TV, unleashing a plethora of our Monster-ous brood on the BOB BRAUN SHOW/Channel 5 WLW-T in Cincinnati, for several years running. That always provided great advertising for our HAUNTED HOUSES.
With a strong background in Theatre, Make-Up, and, Acting, it was a logical inevitability that my focus would breathe ‘Life’ into my passion for The Classic Monsters on a grander scale… and, parlay those HAUNTED HOUSE Experiences into something more recordable… bringing the message of the Monsters as a weekly ‘fix’ through the magic of Television.
I had an ‘Inner Knowing’ that such a task would fall to me, quite early on; it was crystalized, once I saw my first Monster Movie, and, discovered FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, and, all the other magazines of that era (the very early ’60’s).
BARON Von WOLFSTEIN ‘happened’ as a Character that I’d created to advertise my 1977 Bloomington HAUNTED HOUSE via newspapers and TV. vJust that summer, I’d done repertory theatre in Vincennes, Indiana, and, been cast in BORIS KARLOFF’S Role, (evil criminal mastermind and serial murderer, JONATHAN BREWSTER) in the stage-play, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE.
In homage to BORIS, I did my best to imitate his vocal timbre and cadences… loved it so much, in fact, that it became the undeniable choice for BARON Von WOLFSTEIN’S ‘Vocal Chops’.
Wanting as much exposure as possible to ensure the success of the Bloomington HAUNTED HOUSE, I finagled a guest spot on the Children’s TV Show, COWBOY BOB, on WTTV Channel 4 (The Indianapolis Station).
Cognizant of my audience’s tender years, I appeared as a “kinder, gentler, Vampire”(of the LUGOSI DRACULA Persuasion).
That appearance sparked the Station Management’s interest, and, they immediately offered me a slot as a HORROR HOST. However, it took them half a year to make good on their offer. BARON Von WOLFSTEIN started up in April of AD 1978, running weekly through the end of December in the same year.
The original BARON Von WOLFSTEIN Facial Prosthetic was courtesy of my dear Brother, KEVIN HANEY, who has won THE OSCAR and Multiple EMMYS in the Make-up Category. (I did minor ‘alteration’; the mask started out as an Indian…)
L.R.:3: Which other host/s did you see as a role model?
BvW: Although Cincinnati’s COOL GHOUL,(Dick von Hoene) surfaced in my teen-age years, just prior to College, and, although I admired his work, his particular TAKE on HORROR HOSTING, it wasn’t quite my cup o’ tea. That same discontent prevaded my viewing experience of SAMMY TERRY whilst majoring in Theatre at Indiana University in the late ’60’s.
I knew that my HORROR HOST was to inform, and, promote a REALITY, and, be, sincerely, Supernatural… Mind you, I’ve nothing against the Vaudeville style, and, charm, of these afore-mentioned HORROR HOSTS. In fact, I knew both of them…
and, on the set with GHASTLEE, DR.CREEP, and, JEFF McCLELLAN, AMERICAN, I can lapse, quite easily, into the Vaudevillian work ethic… why, you’d hardly surmise, watching our little band of Inspired Lunacy, that Vaudeville had ever gone the way of the DODO… not to be confused with the way of THE DOO-DOO! (There are ‘skid marks’ aplenty to substantiate that! Not to mention the ‘unique fragrance’ that discerning nostils would easily identify, if we were seen in SMELL-O-VISION!)
But, I digress; pardone moi!
My elder Brother, MICHAEL WALLACE HERRON, was a Cameraman for THE COOL GHOUL show.
DICK Von HOENE (THE COOL GHOUL) and I met in AD 1968, when we were slated to perform the play DRACULA together. He was to be the Blood-thirsty COUNT. I was to be RENFIELD, his assistant vampire-in-training.
“You want FLIES with that?!”
Due to professional commitments, Dick von Hoene had to bow out of the role as the Vampire King.
In AD 1973, I did HAUNTED HOUSES, simultaneously, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and, Bloomington, Indiana. We hired SAMMY TERRY to join our Bloomington venture for an evening. His task was to stand in the foyer, and, greet the visitors to our Haunted Attraction.
In my formative viewing experience with the olde UNIVERSAL CLASSICS, those movies were, by and large, un-Hosted.
So, my Life-choice as a TV MONSTER was neither tainted by any pre-conceived notion, nor, subject to a Template-pattern of which my choices for a HORROR HOST Character should follow; or, to which I might be expected to conform.
I derived my direct inspiration from the MOVIES themselves, and, from the massive charisma and talents of the actors and artists, who rendered such finely believable slices of meaningfully masterful cinematic meditations. KARLOFF, LUGOSI, The CHANEYS… Actors were my inspiration, along with the Brilliant Creativity of UNIVERSAL’S Resident Shape-Shifter, JACK P. PIERCE.
L.R:4: What is your most abiding memory of your time as a host? (on or off camera)
BvW: Memorably favourite ‘Gems’ on Camera are too numerous to relate, however, where on and off camera reality merged into a unified, successful whole, the episode that stands out most consistantly in my mind is the ‘SATURDAY NIGHT DEAD’ Joke I created for our screening of KARLOFF’S THE MUMMY.
Utilizng a funerary urn, which my Mother, BARBARA had purchased for her Mum, (but, which, somehow, never made it to my Grandmother DIEFFENBACH’S final resting-place, and, therefore, ended up in my ’employ’) I sagely envisioned its being capable of exhibiting the ‘unique talents’ that KARLOFF’S MUMMY, ARDATH BEY/IM-HOTEP, conjured up, in the MYSTIC POOL within his lair in Cairo.
Of course, I gave MICHAEL WHITE Ample Time to bring the required Special Effect to pass… all of about 20 minutes… *sigh* yes, as proof that I was a MONSTER, filled with inhuman cruelty, I told MICHAEL WHITE, 20 minutes prior to taping, what I needed… ’twas one of the few times that I witnessed the normally implacable WHITE brow being furrowed by vexation.
He walked away, cogitating upon this perplexing task at hand, whilst I finished donning my costume. ‘Tis my pleasure to relate this, that, by the moment of commencing the Episode’s filming, MICHAEL had ingeniously resolved the very daunting task. The effect called for the Mystic Urn to appear filled with a dense, foggy mist. Then, questions, and, answers were to materialize out of that shrouded fog.
In this case, the exact lines were: A) Appearing via ancient script, in the foggy opening of the Mystic Urn:
“WHAT DO YOU CALL AN UNDRESSED, ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT MUMMY?”
B) Baron von Wolfstein repeated this aloud, as he pondered this mysterious riddle, and then, addressing CARLYLE, THE INVISIBLE WIZARD, his chief co-hort, he said:
“I don’t know… CARLYLE, what do you call an undressed, anti-establishment MUMMY?!”
C) The camera panned back to the opening of the Mystic Urn, as the answer roiled up, becoming visible on the cauldron’s surface:
“A REBEL WITHOUT A GAUZE!” D) At which point, the camera cross-faded back onto the BARON’S Visage, and, he spat out this line, directly to the Camera, barely able to conceal his contempt at playing ‘straight-man’ to a wise-cracking urn:
“Hmmm… CARLYLE, ‘twould appear that we’re watching SATURDAY NIGHT DEAD!”
L.R:5: What do you get from being a horror host?
BvW : Aside from the vast sums of money, you mean? Well, I suppose there’s the traditional element of a job-well-done.
Also, there was the time I got a rather nasty rash!
I suspect that it was due to dining upon some undercooked Wolfs-bane; a dish, which, in my later years, I’ve had to forego, due to its severe toxicity levels.
Both in retrospect, and, via present experience, I’d have to say that HORROR HOSTING provides me a lot of FUN! Plus, I get to toss in my Tuppence on issues regarded as Supernatural; whether They be the Good, the bad, or, the downright ugly!
L.R:6: What are your interests outside of horror?
BvW: Aside from women, you mean? Oh, the usual things, I suppose: Broccoli, Earthworms, Hang-nails, and, World Peace, topping the list. (But, not necessarily in that order…)
I sing. In choirs, bands, and, in the absence of those, KARAOKE!
I paint, sculpt, make masks, write, act, compose music, do pantomime, work-out, and, explore the Mystical EVERNOW side of LIFE.
I’m a poet, as well, published in America and Europe.
I love the field of Nutrition; I try to keep apace with all he rapid advances of supplements, olde and new, in order to keep my olde corporeal manifestation ticking briskly along.
I love to make order out of chaos; cleaning, dish-washing, laundry, etc.; I’ve been a janitor since I was a wee lad. It is as valuable as anything else I’ve ever done. As one Saint learned:
“Whether one builds the Cathedral, or, merely sweeps it out, it is all the same in GOD’S Eyes, for, all Human activity is as nothing, when compared to the DIVINE REALITY.”
L.R:7: If you were left on a desert Island, what 5 films would you take with you? Why?
BvW Will you toss a TV/ MOVIE PROJECTOR Into the Bargain?! Thanks everso… Hmmm, ONLY 5 Movies… Wow, that’s a Tough One… Pass me, the popcorn, won’t you… oh, that’s right, I’m all alone on this island.
1) ALL OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTER MOVIES; Yes, I am fully aware(wolf) that the entire package counts as MORE than ONE movie. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention! A fellow can dream, can’t he?! OK, then… LUGOSI’S DRACULA (or, RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE).
2) BORIS & CO. in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.
3) ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
4) THE SEVEN FACES OF DR.LAO
5) MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, the original
Of course, this list is subject to change…
I am correct in my assumption, am I not, that, your generous offer of an isolated, exotic, island vacation includes a round-trip ticket, and, that you’ll also pick up the tab on the electric bill, as well. ;^}
L.R:8: Talk us through a typical shoot for your show.
BvW Ahhh, the DIFFERENCE that a Quarter-Century makes. Back then, it was on the station’s dime. I had to fit into their schedule. I was able to pre-tape, which was good, because I did several different characters, two of them had fairly involved make-ups.
Early on the time restrictions were very tight because I had a camera crew. As I became saavy to the TV time-frame, I was able to dispense with them, and, totally rely on MIKE WHITE to accomplish the crew needs of camera and control-booth. Usually, all done in one take, or, at the very most, two.
Picking up with GHASTLEE and COMPANY: we simply turn on the camera, and, improvise… if we like it, we keep it. Other Hosts are amazed at how ‘natural’ and ‘effortless’ we make it all look.
We’re all seasoned PROS… with a bit too much curry powder.
If we don’t like the first effort, then, it’s on to TAKE TWO!
Actually, my ancient show was more conservative, and, solo… much of what we do nowadays was illegal to do, or, say, on TV back in ’78.
The entire medium has stretched its boundaries, with cable-access leading the way. So, it’s a brave new world, insofar as The BARON & FRIENDS are concerned… but, their consensus is that they all like it.
L.R:9: What is the all time worst movie you have ever broadcast in your career? Why?
BvW: ‘WORST’, as a definition, as a yardstick of measurement, can cover multiple directions.
There’s ‘WORST’ as in ‘BO-O-O-O-R-R-R-RING’;
Or, ‘WORST’, as in: “TURKEY!”
“SAVE ME! E-E-E-EEYUCH!!!”
And, as you might guess, the latter is much more FUN to Host than the former….
Into that more scintillating bracket would fall the unforgettable:
DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN Fortunately, it was around THANKSGIVING Holiday that Channel 4 foisted it upon me, and, I passed along the VAMPIRE TURKEY to the Audience. (Lovely PROP!)
It turned out to be a brilliantly ‘CAMPY’ Hosting opportunity!
Not only did I baste the TURKEY, with a “THIN SAUCE OF LOGIC NON-EXISTANCE”, (THIN, hell, it was as INVISIBLE as “The Emperor’s New Clothes”!) As the cameras rolled, I even garnished THE VAMPIRE TURKEY with REAL (Dried) RED HERRINGS!
Boy, did they ever stink up the place; when I opened the bag that contained these vile fishies unleashed a most repulsive odor; the smell that wafted out was so strongly offensive that I nearly blew lunch!
I finally had to drive a stake through this UNDEAD BIRD’S Heart (not that I’m sure that it had one, but, it worked!) Wickedly Funny, and, a totally artistic Put-down of one of the worst films to ever escape… er, uh, I mean to be released…
L.R:10: And finally, what message would you give to any wanna-be horror hosts?
BvW: You all owe me $1,000,000.00! I expect to be paid in full before you even think of touching the camera! HUMOUR-EH! As ROBIN WILLIAMS was wont to say as MORK.
Seriously, anyone who chooses this Profession should love the GENRE, be inventive, and, try to inform your audience, as well as make them laugh, cry, and, SCARIEST OF ALL: THINK! Oh, annnnd, JOIN THE HORROR HOST UNDERGROUND:
Well, LEARNED ROBB, you’ve asked some fine questions; I’ve expended a great deal of energy in my answering! I’ve really worked up quite an appetite!
I am correct, am I not, that I was assured that this Interview was to take place over an evening’s repast?
Since I’ve seen nary a whit of edible foodstuff in your tidy little cyber-crypt, I regret to inform you that most people would give an arm and a leg for the History with which I’ve provided you… so, that’s what I’ll exact from you…
L.R: Ermmmmm……my, those teeth look sharp, errr, yes, I really must be going now…..
.Dont forget to visit him on the web at: Horror Host Underground
Many Thanks to The Baron for this eccedingly good interview……. now, where did I put that Silver Bullet………