Shock Show Update: Macabre Theatre (KHIZ-TV/DT, Barstow/LA)

Despite the fact that I own most of the movies that could possibly be shown on a syndicated public access matinee show, my deeply ingrained craving to see such movies weirdly encumbered by a zillion crappy, local commercials led me to KHIZ-TV last Saturday night to check out the last five minutes of The Mad Monster.

Sure enough, the title that I had seen in the cable listings was indeed the George Zucco PRC cheapie from 1942, though I was horrified at the thought of just how many minutes of ads they would have had to add to the two-hour time slot, since the film itself only runs a scant 77 minutes in its entirety. At the close of the film, a computer-generated moon appeared through a cloud of animated bats, with the words Macabre Theatre superimposed over the glowing celestial orb. A jaunty and eerie little tune, punctuated with sharp little synth jabs showed me, that at the very least, someone had put a modicum of effort into the time slot, and didn't just throw up any old movie and call it programming. Someone actually decided to make a horror show out of it.

Tuning in last night, or rather, DVRing the show -- at this time, Jen and I were actually saying a sad goodbye to Veronica Mars and having our interest (I refuse to invoke the word "faith," if only because I dread where the series is going ultimately) in Lost renewed until next season --  to its airing of The Crawling Eye, a film which I already owned on DVD and on an old MST3K tape (so actually watching the movie was unnecessary), I was pleased to discover that there was even more to see on the other end. 

Actually, it was only an introduction -- there was no cheesy host, I am sad to report -- and it consisted of an animated sequence, beginning with the bats, moon and music thing I have already described. Then, a large manse was seen atop a hill, with a long stairway heading up to its entrance. While the jaunty and eerie tune repeated itself endlessly to the action, a stocky, shambling figure dressed in a backwards baseball cap and a flannel shirt wandered up to the stairs. There was something gripped in his hand, and from first glance, it almost appeared as if it were a football. The figure bounded onto the stairs, and the camera swept past it, up through the doorway to the mansion and down a series of hallways. Eventually, the figure overtook the roving camera, and it becomes quite clear that not only was the figure more than a tad hirsute, but the item gripped in its hand/paw (?) was a decapitated human head! 

As the creature swiftly roamed the halls, a series of gates, bars, spikes, etc. were triggered open, in a style perhaps immediately reminiscent of Get Smart, but which really reminded me of the series of doors sprung open anytime "Movie Sign!" was yelled on MST3K. Several bodies littered the hallways as we traveled down them, and the figure reached a final room, where he bounded up to one of those portable doggie kennels, tossed his treasured human head into its inky depths, and then climbed into the kennel. As the music closed, the figure, whose face is never clearly seen, reached out to a dog dish, and then -- and I am a little unclear on this -- it picks up a pack of what looks like Lucky Strikes. The opening dissolves straight into the film, and I found myself a little down about this discovery, hoping the show would go the extra length to give me a horrible-pun-wielding host.

And yet, it appears that there is much more to this Macabre Theatre than I first thought. Zipping through the show on my DVR, I came to an ad where one can win a part in a movie about the Manson Family called The Devil Exists. The commercial is presided over by a large-bosomed Goth girl, against whom one could bring accusations of stealing Elvira's bit, if Elvira herself hadn't stolen it from Vampira in the first place. At this point, anytime anybody wants to doll up a movie show with a gratuitous slice of cleavage, it's alright with me. The big-titty host thing is up for grabs, as far as I'm concerned. The girl is, groaningly (but perfectly), called Ivonna Cadaver, and the commercial also serves as a chance for her to push her website as well. As I finished the ad, I thought "Well, gee, why didn't they just get her to host the show?" Then I went to the show's website (and Ivonna's, too), and found out that not only was she actually the host of Macabre Theatre, but that Butch Patrick -- whom you might recall as the famous Eddie Munster -- is the co-host. Or was the co-host. Where are they on the show now? A stroll back through the opening sequence finds a picture of Ms. Cadaver on the wall, but except for the commercial, neither she nor Mr. Patrick are present within the show as presented that evening.

People, it is now that we discover the importance of updating your website. All websites. Here I am, a late-coming but semi-interested viewer to Macabre Theatre, and I cannot find out decent information surrounding the show. You see, none of the websites surrounding Ms. Cadaver have any sort of copyright date or "page last updated" notation on them. There is a link to an OC Weekly story from 2003, and the calendar page only gives up all of the channels nationwide where the show can be found. Sure enough, KHIZ is on there, and one can find on the Cadaver site that it is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays, but as for any current news or schedules, there is naught to be found. However, a trip to the website for The Devil Exists finally revealed news with dates, and the information that I gleaned was that the "text your way to win a part in the film" contest being pushed on the television ads with Ms. Cadaver ended on March 9, 2007. Almost three months ago. If the contest was not a success, I can understand that -- but still running ads for a dead contest months past the conclusion, without an update on this situation on the website? Perhaps I am expecting too much from both the people involved and the show they produce. After all, they are involved in making a movie about Charles Manson -- which is an unneeded headache, thank you -- and in the manner of people wrongly worshipful of the asshole, they tag their trailer with "MANSON UP FOR PAROLE 2007". Perhaps it's meant to add another fearful element to the impending production, but it just sounds like they are wishing for the best for him. Luckily, he will likely die in prison.

And perhaps I am not missing anything through not seeing the full Cadaver/Patrick version of Macabre Theatre. Maybe coming late to the game is a good thing. The final caveat regarding Ms. Cadaver's coffin? A trailer for the show on her website (and be warned if you go to her "Videos" page, for every single Quicktime bit loads up and plays all at the same time. If your speakers are up even slightly, you will slam your knees into the bottom of your desk...) promises (in a series of short statement cards) "FINALLY -- HORROR -- AND INTELLGENT COMEDY -- COME TOGETHER". That's right: "INTELLGENT". I would think this is a joke, but elsewhere on her page she tells us (for the contest): "Text YOU Way to Win".

It's all a shame, because the show (with the hosts) looks like it might pose some good, dopey fun. The clips on the lovely Ivonna's website bear out that at the least it is along the lines of what Elvira offered. I will tune in over the next month to see what's going on, though I am sure that I will only be even more disappointed -- if the hosts never show up. But that's OK, it will leave me plenty of time to text my way to winning (belatedly) that featured role in the Manson flick. I'm going to win it, and then I am going to kick the guy playing Manson in the 'nads!

Here's one for Sharon Tate, ya maniacal, waste-of-prison-space fuckhole! (May She Ever Rest in Peace...)


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