Many cities across the nation (and many international locales) have their very own television horror hosts. But in Philly, we’ve always had the best. Back in the ’80s we had Stella The Maneater from Manayunk, and today we have Rob Dimension (Rob The Clerk), John Cannon (Chef John), and Pigamortis Wrex, the zombie pig — the hosts of Late Night At The Horror Hotel!
On Late Night At The Horror Hotel, Rob The Clerk, Chef John, and Pigamortis Wrex host some of the greatest examples of classic horror cinema. You get great horror films, hilarious comedy skits, creature cooking, and a zombie pig — I mean, what more could you ask for? Think of it as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark meets The Three Stooges. Minus the huge boobs and the stooges.
In reality, and all joking aside, what you have is a group of guys, with a great deal of love and respect for the horror genre, who host classic horror gems, incorporating their own brand of horror humor along the way. Rob, John, Pigamortis, and the crew are brilliant with both their choices of films to air, as well as with their comedy and hosting skills.
Once again, I consider myself to be very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to folks from the horror community. This time around, I got to talk with Rob Dimension, John Cannon, and Pigamortis Wrex, the hosts of Late Night At The Horror Hotel.
Thanks so much for taking time to answer a few questions, gentlemen. Let’s get right to it: Can you remember when your love for horror began?
Rob Dimension: When I was a little guy, honestly, my Dad was the one that introduced me to horror. His love for the genre really spilled over into my world, and I was a lucky kid. Late one night, I was about 10 years old, I had overheard my parents talking about John Carpenter’s Halloween film. My Mom wasn’t a horror fan but my Dad was trying to persuade her to watch; it was no easy task. I sat at the top of the stairs, watching and listening, and was scared to death of the Boogey Man after that night. While I was shocked, it was really a wake-up call for me… so Michael Myers was the beginning of all this madness.
John Cannon: My uncle and I used to stay up late watching horror film after horror film while ordering pizza and drinking Coke. I had seen a number of horror movies before, but none of them made me ever “fall in love” with horror until I saw the 1990 movie Demon Wind. I don’t know why this was the movie that kicked it off for me and I have told this to a number of people and nobody seems to remember having ever seen it, but maybe it’s because they vomit what appears to be Marshmallow Fluff, who knows. To this day my uncle and I are the outcasts at the family functions as we sit in the kitchen watching and talking about different horror films.
Pigamortis Wrex: This goes back to my first horror movie I ever saw. Back in the day before DVDs and even befor VCRs there were these things called drive-in movies. Well, my parents used to take us to drive-in movies and we’d be asleep before the first movie started. This night was no different, except for the fact that I woke up at the start of the second movie. (Yeah, they used to do double features, too.)
That second movie was Dawn of the Dead. And like any good li’l creep, I stayed quiet and peeked over the back seat and watched that movie… Needless to say, sleep and I didn’t get along for a month or so afterwards. My dad in his infinite wisdom (and his growing tired of me refusing to turn the lights out) decided that in order to overcome my fear of all things scary, he would show me more horror movies. Along with this he also showed me documentaries on how movies were made and books in the library on things like special FX makeup and a PBS special on Ray Harryhausen and how he created monsters and skeletons and such. So it was then that my fear became something I embraced and love to this day.
You guys are not only in the horror hosting biz, but you’re also respected members of the pro wrestling community. (Well, I’m not too sure that Pigmortis wrestles but he looks like he could serve as the modern day Abdullah The Butcher. Sorry, maybe “butcher” isn’t the best word to use around a pig. My bad.) Do you find ways to incorporate your love of horror into your wrestling gimmicks?
Rob Dimension: For me, my wrestling persona is the total opposite of my love for horror and even how I really am in my “real” world. Rob Dimension, the character on the TV show, is a silly, dimwitted, probably well-meaning victim of his own mistakes (probably more like me). While, in the crazy world of pro wrestling, I am a preppy, you know the guy who you hated in school. It’s funny that the preppy style is now making a comeback; should the fashion world be thanking me?
John Cannon: My whole entire wrestling gimmick and style is based off of my love of horror and the ’80s genre in particular. I paint my face like a skeleton, wear ’80s-style horror t-shirts, wrap my arms in white tape, and then proceed to pour blood all over myself. I put the blood on top of my head in a way that it looks like I have a head wound that is bleeding on the way to the ring. I have taken some time off of wrestling and when I return to the ring I will be doing a new gimmick of a zombie bleeding cowboy, sort of like the bad guy in the House films. I usually carry a bloody axe or a gimmicked chainsaw that shoot sparks to the ring as well, so definitely horror plays a role in my wrestling.
Pigamortis Wrex: Wait… are you calling me fat? I’ll have you know I am way too pretty to ever be mistaken for Abdullah the Butcher. You wanna see some butcherin’ done, you just throw another fat remark at me you sunofa… Anyway, some of my best friends are in the wrasslin’ biz as well as doin the horror host gig. They are very similar and I know that more than a few wrestling gimmicks have snuck their way onto the small screen, and the thing is, it’s something you love and you try to find a way to incorporate it in every facet of your life.
Horror or wrestling? Which is your first love?
Rob Dimension: As much fun as wrestling has provided me, horror is my perfect fit. I have been lucky in both, but pro wrestling has taken a backseat to horror lately. I am not ready to walk away, but the time is coming soon.
John Cannon: They are both equal to me as I get to be creative with both of them in different forms. If I had to pick one it would be horror as I get less injured filming than I do in the ring — note I said “less.”
Pigamortis Wrex: Well, I have always loved wrestling. I went to my first wrestling match around the same time I was introduced to horror, so photo finish, wrestling came first, but horror has remained steady and is more integrated in my life nowadays.
What’s the story behind Late Night at the Horror Hotel? Can you tell me about how it came to exist and how you guys ended up as the hosts?
Rob Dimension: Late Night at the Horror Hotel was a combination of ideas between John Cannon and me. I had an idea to start a horror hosting show; he had an idea to start a show based around cooking, involving horror. It was a great fit, we had a few meetings about how to combine the two, and there you have it.
The actual story of the Horror Hotel was just a thought I had about how things would be if you were sent to Purgatory and were basically given a job. We are forced to work in dismal conditions, so of course there are going to be chaotic moments. You never know who will be the next guest.
John Cannon: Wow, I’ll try to remember the whole series of events, but Rob is so much better at this one than I am. I had started Creature Cooking which is my take on if Alton Brown and Elvira had a love child cooking food that went with films and bizarre twists to them. Rob has always been big into horror, more so than myself I will freely admit, and one day we started talking about some ideas. He knew all about horror hosting and other than a couple of them I had never understood what it was or entailed. He told about a ton of people and I looked them up and they had some good stuff and it looked like fun. Now keep in mind is wasn’t some out of the blue meeting, we had known one another through wrestling for at least eight years before this. So it started up and then Pigamortis came into the picture and I am glad he did because it gives both Rob and I another way to interact plus the guy who plays Pigamortis is just as equally a nice and great guy as Rob is. I trust and respect them both highly and consider it a privilege to work with them both.
Pigamortis Wrex: I lost one stinkin’ hand of cards… now i’m here on this show. I think Dimension cheated.
Who are some of your favorite horror genre actors and actresses, past and present?
Rob Dimension: Vincent Price, Donald Pleasance, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
John Cannon: Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Max Schreck, Ben Chapman, Michael Gross, and Doug Bradley.
Pigamortis Wrex: Kane Hodder, Lance Henrickson, Linnea Quigley, Dick Durrock, Robert Englund, Dick Warlock, Carel Struyken, Peter Jackson, Sid Haig.
Can you tell me some of your absolute favorite horror movies? Also, are there any that you find yourself watching again and again?
Rob Dimension: I am a huge fan of John Carpenter’s Halloween and George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead was one of the first films I bought myself on VHS. When you only have one film, at the time I watched it a bunch. I watch Killer Klowns from Outer Space a lot, it’s so fun. Plus, not horror but sci-fi related, I watch a lot of the older Japanese shows like Ultraman and Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot. Plus, I watch at least one or two Godzilla films per week.
John Cannon: I am a huge fan of Demon Wind, Hellraiser, Tremors, and Critters and while I can watch them repeatedly I find myself watching the 1940s-’50s style of films like Creature From the Black Lagoon (which is my all time favorite), It Came From Beneath The Sea, The Blob, and The Deadly Mantis over and over again. I tend to gravitate towards those films because they were the foundations of what we have today. It was a time when people were actually scared and it didn’t take much, the imagination was so much more alive back then.
Pigamortis Wrex: Okay, get comfortable. Dawn of the Dead (original and remake), Bad Taste, Dead Alive, NotLD (original and Savini remake) Maniac, all the Friday the13ths, Tremors (all), Blacula, Frankenhooker, Brain Damage, Humongous, Blackenstein, Godzilla vs. Destroyah, anything by William Castle. I am a horror/sci-fi junkie. I will watch pretty much anything in the rubber monster/slasher/gore/exploitation/supernatural genre. God bless Netflix’s “Watch Now” feature.
If you could have any guest of your choosing appear on Late Night at the Horror Hotel, be it someone who is still active or someone who has left this earth, who would you choose and why?
Rob Dimension: Vincent Price, I look at him as the voice of horror. To me, he is a true horror icon. The way he carried himself and his persona were fabulous. George A Romero would be my second pick, he created a genre that exploded. Without him, we would never have the late night discussions on whether we could survive a Zombie Apocalypse.
John Cannon: I would so pick Robert Englund, one because he is an icon and legend of horror, and two for a selfish reason — we wouldn’t have to do much work, his presence alone would be enough to fill the show.
Pigamortis Wrex: Vincent Price. Not only would he class up the joint, i would love to pick his brain about the things he’s done. Plus, he was a great chef and could do some Creature Cooking with Cannon and hopefully he would just kick Dimension’s ass.
Best horror movie of all time? (This can differ from the favorite movies question, as it may be a movie that, although it may not be one that you consider a favorite, you still see as being the greatest ever.)
Rob Dimension: I will stick with Carpenter’s Halloween, plain and simple. The story, the way the film built tension, the music — top notch stuff.
John Cannon: Creature From The Black Lagoon.
Pigamortis Wrex: Dawn of the Dead, it was creepy, gory, humorous, great soundtrack, had a “message,” it was innovative, still holds up to this day.
Worst horror movie of all time?
Rob Dimension: I have lived through the ’80s and have been an avid horror film watcher for years. I have seen my fair share of stinkers. They know who they are.
John Cannon: Frankenhooker — can you count that as a bad horror film though, let alone a film in the first place?
Pigamortis Wrex: First of all Cannon, Frankenhooker is FRIED GOLD! All your taste is in your mouth! Worst “horror” movie of all time? Exorcist 2. Oh yeah, and anything related to the Twilight saga.
How do you feel about horror films today, as compared to 20 or 30 years ago? Do you see the genre as progressing, as being stagnant or do you feel it’s falling behind?
Rob Dimension: I think the foreign market is still fresh and inventive. Films like Martyrs, [REC], and recently The Human Centipede have changed what is scary or considered horror. I wish that Hollywood would take some chances on some independent writers and directors; there is some crazy stuff out there in the underground layers of horror. Filmmaking has changed; what worked in the ’80s would not be accepted by the masses today. It’s a PG-13 market; the teenagers are the main demographic. That’s why the VHS horror fandom is booming. People miss the campy, gory (non-CGI), crazed killer splaterfests.
John Cannon: I am not a fan of the horror films of today; the big movie studios seem to be more into remakes and crap rather than looking at some of these independent companies out there and picking them up. Like I stated before, I like the pure time of years ago when imagination wasn’t tainted and it didn’t take a snuff style film to get people scared in a movie theatre.
Pigamortis Wrex: Well, 70% of the movies out now blow. That’s no surprise. However, I am a huge fan of indie horror. Indie horror has what the big studios gave up on — the heart. Indies still try to entertain! Big studios just care about monetary bottom line.
Now for a little “fluff” question just for kicks: If an extremely wealthy man came to you and told you he wanted to fund any film that you wanted to either star in, direct, produce, etc., giving you a chance to be a part of the production of your dreams, what would you chose?
Rob Dimension: This is a tough one. I would probably say write and direct. I know that write wasn’t on the list, but I would love to become involved with the behind the scenes of filmmaking. Sure, I love being a ham in front of the camera but the satisfaction of creating something that you believe in is the best feeling.
John Cannon: It would be the actor/director; I know I picked two, but it’s the honest truth.
Pigamortis Wrex: Ooh, man. I’d pull a Peter Jackson and direct/act. If Cannon can pick two, so can I.
One final question: what does the future hold for each of you, individually, as well as for Late Night at the Horror Hotel? Feel free to engage in some shameless self-promotion at this point, if you’d like.
Rob Dimension: For me, I have been lucky to stumble into some film roles, plus I host The Horror Society LIVE radio show now. I hope to become a better master of the craft, be well-rounded in all aspects. I love horror and I hope that I will continue to be accepted. For the TV show, I really and truly hope that someone out there decides that we are filling a niche that is missing, gives us a bigger stage, and let’s us loose. We have a fantastic crew, we can only get better.
John Cannon: The future for me is with my scuba training and to complete my Dive Master certification while going back to college for another degree in business/logistics, completing the three cookbooks I have started, and some wrestling on the side. As for the future of Late Night at the Horror Hotel, who knows? I will keep an open mind and say we will be syndicated and doing it full time as a job, but the future is a lot like a magic eight ball, you shake it… turn it over… and look at your answer: “Future unclear check back later.” All I can definitely say is that as long as it’s fun, it will go on for a very long time.
Pigamortis Wrex: Let me put on my swami hat and look at these tea leaves and gaze into my crystal ball… I don’t know, I mean I’d love to say some wealthy, yet generous TV exec will see the show and be like “Hey fellas, come be on my channel. Here is a buttload of cash so you guys can have a budget.” That way we could do this full time, because that would be a dream come true and we can all do this for many years to come and retire as cult icons. But the reality is, I didn’t get in this for the money and will continue to keep doin’ what I’m doin’ and unless I win at cards and get Dimension to rip up that IOU, I will be at the Horror Hotel for a long time. Stop by our website and show me some love and/or pity.
I would like to thank Rob Dimension, John Cannon, and Pigamortis Wrex for their time; I truly appreciate it.
As Pigamortis just mentioned, be sure to stop by the show’s website for a plethora of show news, movie reviews, horror news, magic, and “creature cooking.”
Late Night At The Horror Hotel can be seen every Thursday and Saturday nights at 12 midnight on Philly’s Public Access Television Phillycam, on Comcast channels 66/966, and Verizon channels 29/30.