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This was a truly remarkable award show. Rather than just another
plodding exercise in industry self-congratulation, The Horror Hall Of
Fame was genuinely entertaining. What made it unique among such
programs was that it took the novel approach of spotlighting a craft
Hollywood very seldom likes to honour: the horror movie.
The "H.H.O.F." didn't operate quite the way the Oscars do; it wasn't a live network broadcast that followed some Barbara Walters celebrity interview show, and all the recipients obviously knew they'd be getting an award, but that was good because there was none of the "(insert name) couldn't be here with us tonight" pseudo-acceptance crap. It was an excellently produced, loving tribute to horror films both current and classic.
Robert Englund, a perfect choice to MC, would introduce well written, nicely edited tributes to such films as "Night Of Living Dead", "Alien", and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and these pieces would include interviews with the directors, screen writers and members of the cast. Film critics like Leonard Maltin would offer their opinion why these films gained worldwide acclaim. For some of the classics honoured a member of the production might be there to actually take a bow on behalf of the film as did Jason Miller who made a rare appearance to accept a trophy in recognition of "The Exorcist". There were even affectionate tributes to the careers of actors like Bela Lugosi, and industry people such as Al Feldstein, originator of the horror comic book and a very deserving recipient he was, too. This guy really suffered at the hands of 1950's government persecutors who tried to pin responsibility for a rise in adolescent crime on the publication of his comics. The H.H.O.F. knew better however and gave him a lovely trophy shaped like a grim reaper. "Beautiful" he cooed as he was handed the award.
Like the Oscars, at the end the award for the best horror film of the year would be presented. During it's final airing "The Silence Of The Lambs" was announced as winner by none other than Vincent Price.
This show was more than just some novelty special cooked up by Fangoria fans; the list of "voting members" shown in the closing credits included the afore mentioned Vincent Price, Roger Corman, John Landis, and even this guy named Steven Spielberg. The "Horror Hall Of Fame" was only broadcast twice that I'm aware of which is a shame. This area of film-making really deserves a solid salute and a LOT more often than the "legitamite" Hollywood awards shows seem willing to give it. Truly a missed opportunity that this didn't become a yearly tradition.
The Horror Hall of Fame (1990)
**** (out of 4)
Robert Englund hosted this first of three Horror Hall of Fame television specials that were recorded at Universal Studios. While there are some flaws throughout the program, there's no question that it is highly entertaining and features some great tributes to the horror films that are now classics.
The films/people inducted to the Hall of Fame were THE EXORCIST, Boris Karloff, PSYCHO, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Forrest J. Ackerman, ALIEN, Vincent Price and THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE. What's best is that they're all given a nice tribute but we also get interviews or appearances from the people who were involved. George Romero, William Friedkin, Dan O'Bannon, Linda Blair, Janet Leigh, Pat Hitchcock, Ridley Scott and others are interviewed.
We also get appearances from Roger Corman, Tom Skerritt, Anthony Perkins, the Cryptkeeper, Chucky, Kane Hodder dressed as Jason, Catherine Hicks, Joe Dante, Rick Baker, John Landis, Sam Kinison and even a comic skit from Phyllis Diller. The tribute also gives an award to the Best Picture of 1990 as well as previews of upcoming movies and a nod to Asian horror movies.
If you're a fan of horror then you're going to love watching this tribute and especially since there are so many famous names here. A lot of them are no longer with us, which makes this even better. Englund does a very good job with the hosting duties and he ends the episode with a very funny little twist. The most touching moment is certainly when Price accepts his award.
It's really too bad that this series only lasted for three programs but it's certainly great to have it.
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