Yeah, sure, I'll tell you what you want to know. The whole...gasp...ungodly thing: I was a TV horror host. Yeah, me. The ordinary guy without a monster suit. I was one of those who introduced monster flicks on Saturday night. Horror classics and non-classics sixty minutes before the arrival of the Witching Hour. Yeah, let the truth be heard throughout the dungeon, throughout the castle of madmen: I was a "Creature Features" man.
-- John Stanley, I Was a TV Horror Host: Memoirs of a Creature Features Man.
Creature Features was a popular syndicated horror show that began in the 1960s. Each local TV show usually had its own horror host, the person responsible for introducing the classic Universal Studios horror movie, Roger Corman B-movie, Japanese horror and sci-fi movie, British horror movie, and just about any horror movie not nailed down under a coffin-lid.
In New York City, one horror host was The Creep (Lou Steele) on Channel 5. Except for his sunglasses and sinister attitude, Steele played The Creep without a dungeon backdrop or creepy make-up. I fondly recall spending a lot of time with The Creep and I'm a better person for it.
I probably would be a much better person had I been lucky enough to watch John Stanley's Creature Features on KTVU in Oakland, California. Although he sported the usual horror host trappings of a tomb-like set and outrageous throne chair, Stanley appeared as a normal guy who knew way too much (insert jealousy here) about the movies he presented. He also had the most wonderful and interesting celebrity guests to chat with (insert more jealousy here).
He's written an informative and very enjoyable book about his experiences on Creature Features called I Was a TV Horror Host. After I started reading it, I knew I had to ask him to step into the closet for a little chat; and find out all his secrets, hehe.
Just how does a long-standing journalist like you land the respected role of TV Horror Host for six popular years on Creature Features?
While I deal with this on pages 54-55, let me add that I would never have become a TV personality had I not personally known Bob Wilkins for more than 10 years. Through his program we had become good friends. Bob had always considered me an important contact at the San Francisco Chronicle and I believe that once he knew he was leaving the show, he saw no reason why he shouldn’t suggest me for the job. In all honesty, it caught me totally by surprise. If I harbored it within me, it was a deeply disguised secret. And yet, once Bob had suggested it, I must have decided, "Why not."