Thursday, October 18, 2012

"I'll Be Lurking for You....."

Most of my favorite television memories are from when I was a kid growing up in Tampa Florida and watching Fright Theater and Creature Feature on WTOG, Channell 44, hosted by Dr. Paul Bearer (Dick Bennick, Sr.) every Saturday.

This quickie clip gives you an idea of the kind of humor and movies Dr. Paul Bearer would bring to the boys and ghouls every Saturday afternoon and late night. Every bad joke and pun was something only a kid would love. He would also have guests like Jack the Ripper and his Mummy. His hosting run in the Tenement Castle, located somewhere in St. Creaturesburg, began in 1971, I believe, and continued long after I'd grown up and moved away, until his death in 1995. A long, long haunt. I discovered him in 5th grade which would have been around 1974, and the first movie I remember seeing on his show was Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers. How's that for a useless memory? Actually, fond memories of trying to stay up on Saturday nights for Fright Theater's double feature, and hardly ever making it until the end, waking up sometime in the middle of the night to a sign-off screen, or a church show. Sometimes I would set my alarm for 11 PM, thinking if I got a couple hours sleep in first, I could make it through both movies. At some point Fright Theater went to a single feature before dropping entirely, but by then I'd discovered other things to do on Saturday night. Still, there was always Creature Feature to get your dose of Dr. Paul Bearer's excruciating puns and "horrible old movies."

Dr. Paul Bearer often made personal appearances around Tampa Bay, including the Gasparilla Day Parade in his Cadillac Hearse. I made it to one of his appearances at a stereo shop when I was in 6th grade and got a signed photograph that I've long since lost.

I miss old Dr. Paul Bearer and his horrible old movies, but am heartened to know that plenty others out there remember him fondly as well.

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