Interview with Bone Jangler
Thanks for stopping by The Haunted Cinema to talk about all of the crazy, creepy, and down-right weird stuff you do. I had Ghastly clean the place up, or at least clear away the debris. Before we get started let’s talk about your horror roots. What got you started in your love for this genre? What are some of your earliest Monster Kid memories?
Thank you for having me here! I’ve just always been into the Horror genre. I’m a spooky dude, and, I’ve lived in a few haunted houses. When the Aurora monster models came along, I had several of them. I’d get scary comic books like DC’s House of Secrets and magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland. I collected movie monster trading cards. I collected the Mego Mad Monsters action figures. I’d routinely watch “Creature Features” on WGN channel 9 out of Chicago. My whole week revolved around watching “Screaming Yellow Theater” with original Svengoolie Jerry G. Bishop. I was spooky to begin with. So, all of this stuff just really resonated with me.
If you ever lost the key to your crypt and were stuck without hope of escape, what 5 movies would you need to survive?
Oh. I’m omnipotent. So, I could always escape. Off the top of my head, the 5 Horror/Sci-Fi films I’d choose would be “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”, the original “Night of the Living Dead”, “Halloween”, “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, and “Orgy of the Dead”. I’m probably the only person would choose that last one.
Suppose that you could interview, on your show, any Star, Director, or author from the past, who would you choose? What would you like to ask them?
I’d have to say Bela Lugosi. He is my favorite Horror actor of all time. I’d ask him as many questions as he’d allow. One thing I’d ask him is how it felt to portray Dracula again in 1948. I thought that he was excellent in “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”. I’d also ask him about Vampira. She’s another person I’d like to interview. However, I know her niece quite well. She owns Vampira’s diaries. Talking to her is like talking to Vampira herself. Not to open a whole other can of worms, but, Vampira has, as it turns out, “spoken” to me. That’s why I chose Bela.
Did you have a Horror Host growing up? If so, how did he or she inspire the inner ghoul in you?
Well, I’m an ancient being. So, the whole “growing up” concept doesn’t really apply to me. I was exposed to most all of the classic Horror Hosts from around the States. The aforementioned Jerry G. Bishop, the original Svengoolie, was always my favorite. He didn’t really have any kind of direct influence on how I approached being a Horror Host. The reality of it is that, the Hosts that “inspired” me the most, it wasn’t in a “I want to be just like that” kind of way. It was more like, “I do not want to do it like that!” I didn’t want to be campy or hokey, which, for the most part, is what most Horror Hosts have always been. There’s some misconception amongst what I call civilians that makes many of them think that a Horror Host has to always be funny and that they can’t be funny without being really hokey. Those armchair quarterbacks that think like that, they are wrong on both counts.
Looking back to the 60’s and 70’s, what impact do you think Horror Hosts had on the culture?
You had a Horror boom that started in the late Fifties with the release of the Shock Theater package of Horror films in 1957. Suddenly, all of the old monster movies were on television. Many adults loved those films as kids and they’d get their kids to watch them on TV hosted by the likes of people like Zacherley, Ghoulardi, etc. The parents who didn’t really care one way or the other about those films, or didn’t like them, usually, their kids were drawn to it on their own. You had monster magazines, monster comic books, monster TV shows, monster cartoons, monster songs, monster toys. The Horror Hosts had a huge hand in driving all of that. Most metropolitan areas had their own Horror Host. Because there were so many of them, and the Horror genre was so popular to begin with, their impact was immense and immeasurable. When I first met Monkee Micky Dolenz, he told me, “You know, when we were in our heyday, every community across the country had a show like that. What you’re doing is a very honorable thing, man.”
The Bone Jangler has been an active Horror Host for nearly 18 years. In that time we have seen the Internet become the dominant source of information, and we have witnessed the rise of Social Media. How do you manage to keep the show fresh with such a quickly changing technological landscape?
See, when I came along, I didn’t just regurgitate the same old formula that had been in play since, say, 1962. Ask anyone who knows their stuff and they will tell you that I brought a whole different energy to the proceedings. In 2001, I was forward thinking in that I had the “audacity” to drag the genre of Horror Hosting kicking and screaming into the present. And, energy is the right word for it too. I brought several things to the genre. On one hand, I had about twelve more words in my vocabulary. While the language could get a bit salty here and there, it was done in a natural way. It wasn’t just to do it. Then, there was the obvious fact that Enchantress Nocturna and I were really and truly a couple. There was The Coven, my select group of handpicked sexy and strong willed female companions. When you watched the other shows that came before me, aside from people like Vampira, Tarantula Ghoul, Moona Lisa, Elvira, and Crematia Mortem, when there was a pretty girl on the show you knew that they were likely a crew member’s girlfriend and that they wouldn’t be around for long. You knew that the male Horror Host and those females weren’t doing anything but acting. We came out of the gate naughtier and more adult oriented, yet, we honored our forefathers and had the air of, say, the Hammer Horror films. Our presentation was, and remains, different, and, in comparison, authentic. After we came along, you basically had two camps of aspiring Horror Hosts. You had the ones who felt that my in your face, not afraid to tell it like it is, adult themed approach was “wrong”, that these shows should always be suitable for the entire family to watch in church on Easter Sunday, that Horror Hosting should remained locked into the year 1962. The other camp, whether they want to admit it or not, tried, and continue to try, to copy much of what we do. Longtime knowledgeable Horror Host fans, people who have actually seen more than just Elvira, my friend Rich Koz Svengoolie, Joe Bob Briggs, and Mystery Science Theater 3000, they can spot these Hosts and “Hosts” a mile away.
Many of the folks who grew up with Horror Hosts in the early days have fallen behind the changes in media. Who is your audience today? How do you reach new fans?
My two programs, “The Bone Jangler” and “The Bone Jangler’s Daytime Dungeon”, appear on 43 community television stations in 21 states. The shows are broadcast on the Internet every Saturday night on The Monster Channel. We have viewers in as many as 65 countries watching that way every week, making this truly international. The shows also air on The Eerie Late Night Horror Channel on Roku. I’ve always been big on Social Media. I was a presence in that way long before most of my peers. Also, I’m a good writer, I know how to communicate, I love interacting with our viewers, and, I’m genuine. I think that is clearly obvious to all but those of whom don’t wish to acknowledge it.
Related to my last question, do you see the current generation have any interest in Horror Hosts, and classic horror in general? How do you think we can reach this generation and get them to see the old films as the classics they are?
In many cases, you’ve got to teach them what a Horror Host is, put the cell phones and tablets away, sit down with them, eat popcorn or order a pizza, turn the lights down low, sit together in the dark and have that shared experience like you did with your parents and/or siblings. In some cases, you need to show them how black and white films have an air of mystery to them, the shadows and what have you, that your imagination can be a scary thing and that what is implied or suggested is often scarier than having everything spelled out to you on camera. They’ll take to certain Hosts, enjoy their presentations, etc. It’s like anything else. If you want to accomplish something, you have to apply yourself and be persistent and patient.
In talking about you, I didn’t ask about Enchantress Nocturna and The Coven. What can you tell us about the lovely, and spooky women behind the host?
Women are drawn to me, I’m truly blessed that way. And, I am attracted to beautiful, sexy women. So, it’s a win-win situation. Enchantress Nocturna and I launched this enterprise in Fall of 2001. We made an unannounced appearance at the Cinema Wasteland convention just south of Cleveland. Wouldn’t have mattered if we did announce it, as no one knew who we were just yet. When we hit the floor that Saturday morning, we created an instant buzz. It was a collective “Who is THAT?” We were like magnets, and everyone kept coming to see us. We stood near my friend The Son Of Ghoul’s table, so as to bring those people in front of his merchandise. Dayton, Ohio Horror Host Dr. Creep (R.I.P.) immediately came over to meet us, drawing even more interest our way. That appearance really put us on the map. It “made” us. Enchantress Nocturna was a vital part of our getting over with the fans, because she is beautiful, sexy, charming, and, like me, always about the presentation. And, again, before we came along, that whole element, the two of us actually being a real life couple, it simply did not exist in this genre prior to our entry into the world of Horror Hosting.
There have been several beautiful ladies in The Coven over these last 17 years. Many have come and gone, because they became mothers, or because they got a sweet job offer on the other side of the country. Unlike other shows that I could name that have tried to copy this formula, none of these women have ever left because I made them feel uncomfortable. They’ve always been with us because they wanted to. Of all of the many ladies in The Coven, no one has been as dedicated as HARMony. She’s beautiful, sexy, smart, does what I call her “homework”, and, she’s loyal. HARMony has been with us since Summer of 2004, almost from the very beginning.
Let’s talk about The Bone Jangler. What’s your backstory?
Long story short, I came from Beyond, a place just outside of your mortal realm. I was an observer of all things for an eternity. The formation of your Earth, brought upon by what your scientists call “the Big Bang”, drew my attention. The Phanerzoic Eon eventually saw the emergence of the human species. Not surprisingly, I was attracted to the females of said species and decided to come here and check things out firsthand. I never left. I’ve had too much fun, and, I exist for pleasure.
I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about your 2 television shows? Where and how can they be seen?
Both “The Bone Jangler” and “The Bone Jangler’s Daytime Dungeon” air on 43 community television stations in 21 states. The easiest way to watch them, regardless of where one lives, is via the Internet on The Monster Channel. www.eerielatenight.com
The Monster Channel programming can also be seen on The Eerie Late Night Horror Channel on Roku. Instructions on how to add the channel to your Roku device can be found at the link below.
Both shows air every Saturday night, for the most part. “Daytime Dungeon”, the all ages cartoon show airs at 7pm Eastern/6 Central/4 Pacific. “The Bone Jangler”, the more more adult themed hosted movie show, airs at 8pm Eastern/7 Central/5 Pacific. There is a chat connected to online broadcast. Unless I am appearing somewhere, I am usually on hand and in the chat room where I interact with the North American viewers. On a “bad” night, we are seen in 42 countries simultaneously. Just recently, we had viewers in 71 countries around the world! And, again, these people are all watching at the same time. This isn’t an On Demand thing, or else I wouldn’t bother to do it. I want it to be a shared experience, like TV was when you were a kid. You want to watch such and such movie or show? Well, then, I guess you better get yourself home and in front of the screen when it’s on. As you can see, people all around the world, places like the UK, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, India, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Denmark, Poland, South Africa, China, Iceland, Russia, the Ukraine, Egypt, Afghanistan, Estonia, Kuwait, Slovakia, Japan, Luxembourg, Algeria, South Korea, Montenegro, the Philippines, have no problem doing just that. I find it annoying that people act, like, “So, I can’t figure it out. Where do I watch the shows and when are they on?” I make all of that very clear on my numerous Social Media pages. So, how is it so hard for Americans to find it and watch it when people all over the world are watching it effortlessly and, usually, without any instructions or directions. Most of these countries that tune in every week, they’re watching at really odd times, like, 3am their time, 5am. Melbourne, Australia tunes in in droves, like I’m from their area, a hometown hero. It’s 9am on a Sunday morning over there when “The Bone Jangler” comes on The Monster Channel.
Public Domain films can be a definite mixed bag, for every Night of the Living Dead, you have a ton of films like Jesse James meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. With that in mind, what was the worst move that you ever hosted? What made it so bad?
Honestly, while I know what you’re saying, and, I agree, it can be a mixed bag, for the most part I enjoy most all of those films. Can’t say I’m a big fan of “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”, though. In fact, I’ve yet to host it after all these many years. This brings up another topic. Many of my peers, they complain that there’s only so many movies available to us via the public domain. Most of the time, when I see them saying this, it’s someone who hasn’t been around anywhere near as long as I have. How is it that they are running out of movies to host when I have yet to host, for example, “Dementia 13” after over 17 years?
The way I’ve avoided running into a shortage of movies to host is by running a wide variety of films, and not just Horror and Sci-Fi. I’m talking about Cult Cinema in general. You know, Svengoolie Rich Koz is my friend. He appeared in our Christmas special last year. I can’t even tell you how many times I see fans of his complain about movies that he’s hosted. I mean, he did a Godzilla month earlier this year, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, and, there were literally hundreds of his fans bitching and moaning about it. It started on the second week. “What? AGAIN??? Why?” True story. You would think that Horror Host fans, Sven fans, they’d be diggin’ it. So, naturally, when he occasionally hosts a non-genre film, the reaction is even worse. I don’t run into that problem. My viewers, they expect me to show all kinds of different types of films, and, overwhelmingly, they enjoy that variety. We have very sophisticated and open minded viewers. Also, in comparison to most all other shows of this nature, we have a much larger percentage of female viewers.
Anyway, getting back to your question, I think the worst movies we have ever hosted were modern day independent films. I support indie filmmakers, but, seriously, most of it isn’t as good as most public domain films. One independent film that I would love to host one of these days is “Lunch Ladies”, written by Clarissa Jacobson and starring Donna Pieroni and Mary Manofsky. This short film has won countless awards at film festivals. The beautiful Miss Jacobson is so clever and funny. Legendary New Jersey Horror Host Halloween Jack and I interviewed her not long ago on The Eerie Late Night Radio Show and Clarissa was delightful. As for the radio show, we’ve interviewed so many big name people from the Horror genre, and, you can listen to that by clicking on the link below.
Horror Hosts have definitely made a comeback since their heydays of the 60’s and 70’s. Who are some of the current hosts that you admire?
Ah, this is where I get into so-called trouble. I admire many of them. Certainly, any Horror Host veteran, I respect them greatly. There’s a loose knit fraternity of sorts that consists of most currently active Horror Hosts known as The Horror Host Underground. Through that group, most all of us know each other, usually quite well. Of course, there are always those who don’t play well in the sandbox, usually because they’re too self-absorbed to participate in any meaningful way. Those people, many of them will read this, though most of them will never admit to it, and, they’ll take offense to what I just said. Others, they may think, “Well, why did he even mention that?” Why? Because, it’s a fact.
Not everyone who doesn’t intermingle is self-absorbed. Some feel they’re above many of us and/or they don’t want to acknowledge that there are other Horror Hosts. I know a few veteran Hosts who, if they were honest with themselves, they feel somehow threatened by the attention many of the newer Hosts receive, newer meaning anyone who hasn’t been around for at least 30 years. To hear those people talk, there are no good newer Horror Hosts, and that is simply not true.
So, let’s see, let me name some Horror Hosts, currently active ones, ones who have TV and/or Internet shows, that I admire or really like. Count Gore De Vol, he is someone who comes to mind right away. He started out on TV nearly 50 years ago, and, he became the first Internet Horror Host. He also foresaw the advent of streaming technology as vehicle for delivering entertainment content. He’s a smart guy. He’s someone I can have meaningful conversation with. I mentioned the current Svengoolie, Rich Koz. Living in the Chicagoland area, I’ve watched him on TV since he originally became the Son Of Svengoolie. He was a writer for the original Svengoolie Jerry G. Bishop. So, I’ve been a fan of his work since pretty much Day One. He is a very funny guy with years of experience that he has utilized to great effect. Of course, nowadays, his show airs on the Me-TV network in most every area of the United States. While Elvira is the most successful Horror Host of all time, Sven is right up there too. His countless fans owe a debt of gratitude to Neal Sabin, the main man at Weigel Broadcasting, for bringing Sven back after about a decade long absence from the airwaves and believing in Rich and his talents, for doing the unthinkable and acting as if America really does still want this kind of programming and not more infomercials and scripted “reality” programming. Columbus, Ohio’s Fritz The Nite Owl, now, he’s a cool cat. He has hosted just about every major movie, in and out of the genre, you can think of. He was a late night Jazz deejay and you hear that in his velvety smooth voice. My partner in all things Horror, Halloween Jack, while he is far too busy to make new shows with any sort of regularity, because he spends 37 hours a day programming The Monster Channel and our Roku channel, he is a damn fine Horror Host as well. Whenever people see his work, they all say, “We need to see more of your shows, HJ!”
As for the newer Hosts, there are many whose work I enjoy. Again, this is where I get into trouble, because I will inevitably and unintentionally leave people out. However, a few that come to mind right away are The Mummy and The Monkey, Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri. They have a show that is based out of my second home, NE Ohio, and, they are clearly influenced by the Cleveland school of Horror Hosting, people like Big Chuck and Lil’ John. They do lots of skits, they’ve got a really nice buzz going for them, and, they’re good people. I like to hang out with them whenever I get the chance. There’s a guy named Bobby Gammonster who does a show called “Monster Movie Night”. It may not be the slickest show out there, and I don’t know why a show like this needs to be overly slick, but, I’ll tell you something. Bobby’s got as much heart for this as any other Host, past or present. Another newer Horror Host whose work I really like is Vincent Grimmly. He kind of comes off as a Vincent Price type. He’s a really creative guy. All of the people I just named, another thing I admire about them is that they respect their forefathers.
Now, that he’s been national for so long, I see many Svengoolie fans in particular who routinely ask, “Are there any other Horror Hosts out there now?” The answer is yes, there are more than you can imagine. Some of the people who respond to that question say things, like, “Well, if there are, they’re nowhere near as good as Sven!” Not only is that rude and untrue, it’s highly ironic. People have a tendency to think that “their” Horror Host is always the best, that no one could possibly be as good, let alone better. One of the great things about Sven is that every day he has people tell him, “Ya know, I grew up watching fill-in-the-blank, but, now, my family and I watch you.” Due to his nationwide exposure, and talent, he has been accepted and embraced. There are others out here who, just because those folks don’t realize it doesn’t mean it isn’t a fact, have been warmly embraced and accepted by so many. Halloween Jack and I, our mission statement has always been to educate potential viewers about all the currently active Horror Hosts and shine a spotlight on the genre as a whole, to increase what I call civilians’ awareness of the participants in this genre so that they may find new Hosts whose work they will greatly enjoy. Some people, when they speak of other Horror Hosts, it’s, like, if they were a newspaper, their sports section would only list the scores of games from the Sixties through the Eighties. I think that’s the perfect analogy for this topic. Another would be, like, if Baskin-Robbins only had one flavor of ice cream.
Shudder recently found a hit when they brought Joe Bob Briggs back for his B-Movie marathon, “The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs”. It was so successful that they’re bringing him back. Do you see other, large Cable channels getting back into the Horror Host game?
I hope so! I think we’ll see more of that happening, like the way Joe Bob and Mystery Science Theater 3000 are seen now. Remember, Elvira came back to commercial broadcast TV in 2010. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. and, what happened there? Ivonna Cadaver, she’s such a dear, she’s got her thing going on with Youtoo America. The problem is, unlike the aforementioned Neal Sabin, most TV honchos think America doesn’t really want this. The people I just named are proving them wrong. The reality is people do what this kind of programming. The reality is many of these honchos don’t see it as a big moneymaker. There’s a TV station out in San Francisco called KOFY-TV that airs shows like “Creature Features”, “Circus of Chaos”, and “The Mummy & The Monkey”. However, most of the commercial broadcast stations that air Horror Host shows, the Hosts don’t get paid. They do all this work making the shows and chasing down sponsors. So, streaming is probably where will see the majority of this happening. Hmmm… a streaming channel that airs lots of Horror Host programs… Oh, yeah. We already have that. It’s called The Monster Channel and The Eerie Late Night Horror Channel on Roku.
You were recently inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame, Class of 2017. Talk about the Horror Host Hall of Fame. How important is HHHOF to the genre. Where can people find information about it?
The Hall of Fame is important in 2 ways. 1) It gives recognition to the Hosts, past and present, for their work, and, 2) it serves as a an educational tool for those who actually do want to know about “other Horror Hosts”.
When and where are the induction ceremonies held?
The ceremonies are held at the HorrorHound Weekend convention in Cincinnati every March.
Do you keep up with modern horror films? If so, how do you see the state of the genre today? What are some of the more recent films that you have liked?
I do keep up with modern Horror films. I go to the movies quite often. I think there have been same amazingly good Horror films made in the last decade. Off the top of my head, I’d say that “The Woman in Black” is really good. “The Conjuring” is a great film. I cannot possibly say enough about “It Follows”, because I love that film and its soundtrack. The new “Halloween” film, it’s so good. I wanted to see it again as soon as it was over. Like many films I enjoy, like “The Shape of Water”, I will likely see it in the theaters several times.
What’s next for The Bone Jangler? Do you have any projects on the slab that you can share with us?
Well, I just did the 17th Anniversary show. That was big. I did a new Halloween special for both “The Bone Jangler” and the “Daytime Dungeon”. Those were viewed in 71 countries around the world, no small feat, a measure of what I said about there being “other Horror Hosts” who are widely known and appreciated. The Christmas shows, those are my favorite ones to make. All the other Horror Hosts are, like, “Oh, man! Time to do the Halloween show! Yay!” I’m always, like, “Aren’t all of our shows the Halloween show?” See, this is the thing, when you have 2 TV/Internet programs, the treadmill never stops. You’re always working on the next show. As for other things I’ve got cooking, I’m a musician. So, I have things I’m working on that will be recorded and put out there for people to enjoy. I’m writing the foreword to a book that every real Horror Host fan will absolutely have to buy. It’s going to blow everyone who reads it away. There have been books written about this person before, by so called experts. These experts don’t really know the whole story, by far. It’s laughable. I know far more about the subject than they do and I’m not the author. Can’t really say more about that project until it gets close to time to release it. Wish I could. Boy, do I wish I could! There’s some other things going on that I can’t share anything about at the moment because of legal reasons. Bone Jangler fans will love it. The self-absorbed will hate it.
What’s the best way for people to find you?
The best way for people to find me right now is probably on Facebook. Just search for The Bone Jangler on there and you will find me. I post things all the time, lots of Horror/Sci-Fi/Pop trivia and things of an historic nature genre-wise, and, I am very interactive with my people. Aside from that, you can find me on the aforementioned Monster Channel on the Internet and on The Eerie Late Night Horror Channel on Roku.