|Doctor Paul Bearer's Creature Feature Laid The Foundation For My Obsession With Science Fiction And Horror And Was A Huge Part Of My Saturday Television Time.|
Of course the world moved on. Saturday began to loose its importance. It's become just another day within the last 20 years. However sometimes things you loose get to come back. Doctor Who met with cancellation near the end of the 80's and came back stronger than ever in 2005. Championship Wrestling From Florida was acquired by Jim Crockett Promotions and along with NWA Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and the Universal Wrestling Federation as well as a few other JCP territories were merged to form WCW, however the promotion was revived time and again by various promoters and within the last couple of years now called FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) it acts as WWE's developmental promotion.
Creature Feature though, despite one attempt at a revival, is unfortunately gone forever. The host of the show, Dick Bennick, passed away in 1995, not long after I moved to Missouri. Despite the fact that Channel 44 promised that horror movies would always fill the 12:00 P.M. time slot it was a promise that never materialized, mainly due to the fact that the station had planned to re-run the series, but met with the objection of Bennick's family. Bennick initially developed the character of Dr. Paul Bearer in the late 60's while he was hosting another weekly horror movie feature program in North Carolina and long before the former Percival Pringle III, Bill Moody, became Paul Bearer in the WWF. Initially he played the skull face painted Count Shockula, but decided that he never liked the character, and according to several websites, through the magic of television, he found a way to appear as the ill fated Count and the good Doctor at the same time, Bearer driving a stake through Shockula's heart and taking over "his" show.
In 1971, the year before I was born, Channel 44's Creature Feature began its run. I was too young to remember the program as it began, initially running four features every Saturday in an 8 hour program block. I am sure I would have been in "hog heaven" if I could remember that time. However I do remember the show when it presented two of what Dr. Paul Bearer referred to as "horrible old movies", the Saturday double feature format continued on until I was nearly in middle school, and whether I was at home or at Grandma's from 12 to 4 I was glued to the screen.
To say that I was influenced by the movies that appeared on Creature Feature would be an understatement. And it wasn't just the movies that I looked forward to, but also to the host segments, because it just wasn't a Saturday without Dr. Paul Bearer's mock advertisements, wisecracks and eerie presence. Even if the movies had been on before, or if they were something that I was not really interested in seeing I wanted to know what Dr. Paul would say or do. Unlike Elvira or the crew of the Satellite of Love the good Doctor didn't really joke or comment directly on the films, but he did some off the wall stuff like, smoking his coffin nails, or eating Chicken McMaggots, or getting beat with his "Mummy's" purse, and occasional be asked, "Your money or your life," by a burglar, to which he happily gave his life (A copy of Life Magazine that is). He always presented the films from the un-living room of his Tenement Castle, and there was always a least a prop or two on the coffin table. Every now and then he was joined by a static and wisecracking spider known as Spenjamin Bock. And of course once in a great while he also retreated to the music room where he lip sank such Tom Leher classics as 'Posioning Pigeons In The Park'.
|Dr. Paul Bearer and Spenjamin Bock|
|A painting I believe called Vanity adorned a wall of Dr. Paul Bearer's Tenement Castle|
|My Skelaton Belaton icon bares an unintentional and superficial resemblance to the illusionary skull in the painting.|
Dr. Paul Bearer and Creature Feature were the first things that influenced Me to become a writer. Every week there were movies from the 30's to the 70's when I was a kid. I was treated to a share of Universal Classics and Corman Monsterpieces. I saw more than a few Hammer Horror films, and was introduced to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing well before they ever appeared in Star Wars films. Lugosi, Price, Karloff and the Carridnes were other genre actors I became aware of early on, and I was treated to programmers and drive-in delights from Europe and Asia as well as more home grown Sci-Fi and B Horror movies. I saw the original King Kong months before the 1976 remake hit the screens through Creature Feature. I was also given My introduction to tokusatsu on Saturday mornings, and quite often hoped more than anything that there would be a Godzilla or Gamera movie on. Even beyond the classic Japanese monsters I saw a couple of the Super-Giant films as well as the Dai-Majin series, and Attack Of The Mushroom People (Matango). One time, when I was in the sixth grade, I even got to see full frontal, naked, white girl boobies, when apparently a European film with a strip scene had not been edited closely enough. (Woo-Hoo!)
|The Super-Giant Series (A.K.A. Starman in the U.S.) were My first taste of a non-Kaiju toku.|
|Alien council from the Super-Giant films.|
|Original double feature poster for I Was A Teenage Werewolf and Invasion Of The Saucer Men. Such creature double features were the fodder for My imagination.|
Dr. Paul Bearer and his horrible old movies have been with Me pretty much from the beginning of My writing hobby. Corman's Poe films inspired many of My early poems, and Bleeders, which I consider My first short story, was definitely inspired by Corman's Attack Of The Giant Leeches. Before beginning work on Whispers Of Darkness I did a couple of dry writing runs, penning updated adaptations of Godzilla King Of The Monsters and Mothra to see if I could write something beyond 50 pages, both movies I developed a love for by seeing them over and over on Creature Feature.
As well as Doctor Who and pro-wrestling there are several references to Doctor Paul Bearer and Creature Feature in My stories, and there will continue to be as long as I write. King Kong Vs. Godzilla, a movie I was particular jacked to see when I found out that Creature Feature was going to have it on, was referenced in My first erotic short story, Older Is Bedder. Dr. Paul has been paid homage to as Colonel Creepy in Fungi and as Count Shockula, named after his former ego and nemisis, in Shadows Of The Night and Story Number Two of the Fungi Collection that I am currently working on. Dr. Paul and Creature Feature were even directly referenced in the original version of Whispers Of Darkness, although the reference will be changed to Count Shockula to fit into the Shadows Of The Night continuity I am building. Colonel Creepy will probably have a cameo in Story Three of the Fungi Collection, and Shockula may appear in another of the stories in the collection as well.
|Late 70's early 80's title card for Creature Feature.|