Friday night (live, two hours)
Cable Channel 6 (Jackson, Tennessee)
1974 ("for 12 weeks during the summer")
NOTES: (From E-Gor's Chamber of Horror Hosts)
Count Basil himself(!) sent his great memories of Memphis host
SIVAD (see entry), and the following account of that legendary
host's influence on his career:
Mike Curtis here, former theater manager and
now comic book publisher and writer.... For some reason, Sivad
played an important part in my life, both as the character and
as Watson Davis.
As a child, I was one of the MYSTERIOUS ISLAND winners. I also
recall the 30 foot KING KONG Davis built for KING KONG VS. GODZILLA,
and saw the large monster for DINOSAURUS (described here).
During the heyday of the show, I saw Sivad in his one and only
Jackson Tennessee appearance.... I still have my FANTASTIC FEATURES
FAN CLUB card and Sivad mask.
Years later I began working for Malco Theaters, as a "ballyhoo"
man. A movie would come to town, and I would devise a costume
and makeup to promote it. This was in Jackson Tennessee. By now
Watson had retired from Malco and Sivad as well.
In 1974, I hosted a horror show on a local cable show as COUNT
BASIL for 12 weeks during the summer.... SHOCK THEATER aired
live on Friday nights for two hours on Cable Channel 6 in Jackson,
Originally the setup was for two hosts. COUNT BASIL, with a traditional
cape, makeup, etc., and a co-host, CLOD TURNDIRT, played by Roger
Hughes. Clod was the super salesman, with no ghoulish makeup.
The format was set at the Basil and Turndirt Mortuary. We would
intro the movie and do individual comedy sketches. My orange
cat Booner also worked on the show.
Roger and I had worked together before, playing WINNIE THE POOH
and other characters for Sears, where he worked. Roger had to
leave after about 3 weeks, so Booner became the cohost, having
his own director chair beside mine. We had other characters also,
such as ZACK, basically the cameraman with a green mask, and
others such as GREAT UNCLE POLAR.
We would do sketches like spoofs of TO TELL THE TRUTH, TRANSYLVANIAN
CHEF, and others. Booner acted in a Lion Tamer sketch which went
over well and was repeated. This consisted of Booner on a counter
with Circus music playing. A small puppet on rods would come
over, the lion tamer, cracking the whip. His chest was stuffed
with catnip and Booner reached out, pulling him off the rods,
and throwing him to the floor (about 30 feet, it looked like).
Then he would jump down and rip him to shreds, while the announcer
described the scene (oh the humanity!)
to Vault of Horror Hosts
Occasionally we would read fan mail and have young fans on the
The Count only made one personal appearance, at a local fair.
it was only 12 weeks long because the station manager only had
12 horror/fantasy films. VERY little station. You could only
get it if you were on cable, and that was new there then.
Since it was done live, there were occasional mishaps. One night,
the station owner's son and his friend showed up, drunk and obnoxious.
They wanted to be on the show. The only people doing the show
were me, the technician and Booner. (In a budget cut, we had
lost the cameraman.)
I told the owner's son to put on the Zack mask and lay in the
casket. When it was time, I would open the lid, he would raise
up and we'd wing something.
His friend went up front to watch on the lobby TV. I always brought
several props since The 5 sketches were whatever I had thought
of that week at work. I took an aluminum pie pan, filled it with
shaving cream, and angled the camera to focus on the casket.
The techie gave the signal, and I raised the lid. Zack sat up,
I hit him full in the face with the pie, he fell back, I closed
the lid and yelled "BACK TO THE MOVIE!" Very short
We thought we'd be off the air the next week, but the owner sent
out a memo. NO UNAUTHORIZED VISITORS DURING THE SHOW.
I contacted Watson and Sir Cecil Creep regarding doing a show
together followed by a joint appearance at a Malco theater, but
nothing came of it.
Years after that, the main office of Malco in Memphis gave me
Watson's scrapbooks of theater promotions, now long lost in various
moves, unfortunately. I had began working for Elton Holland doing
the costume jobs all over the chain.
And briefly, I was in discussions with Fox when they came to
Memphis regarding reviving FANTASTIC FEATURES as the "Son
of Sivad." Discussions with Watson stalled, and this never
came to pass. I do a good imitation of the voice though.