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The origin of "Svengoolie" is in a show called "Screaming Yellow Theatre"
with Jerry Bishop as the Svengoolie character. When this show was cancelled,
his young writer Rich Koz took up the mantle and "Son of Svengoolie" began
airing on UHF channel WFLD-32 in Chicago. When WFLD became part of the FOX
network in 1986, Son of Svengoolie was deemed "not suitable" and promptly
Finally, in 1993, after 7 years with FOX (with "The Koz Zone" and in other capacities) Koz resurrected the Svengoolie character and found a new home for the series on WCIU (a small local Chicago cable channel). Now simply called "Svengoolie", the show airs to this day, showing a long list of old science fiction and horror movies (mostly low budget) with gags, cheesy effects and skits thrown in during the segue to and from commercial.
Very funny and original idea which was a major influence on things like Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Svengoolie is the the local monster movie host from Chicago. Svengoolie hosts horror movies,90% of them are bad.Think of the show as a Mystery Sci-Fi theater in the Chicagoland area. Svengoolie has the corny jokes and his commentaries make the bad movies fun.Occasionly he gets a good film(Nightmare on Elm Street) There are different types of shows,the good,the bad and the so bad that they are terrificly funny and are fun to watch.Svengoolie falls in the third category.Svengoolie relies on an arsenal of cornball jokes,fake horror goodies,and rubber chickens to make his audience laugh.If he was a regular guy he would be booed out off the stage but this is a different kind of entertainment and Svengoolie excels at it. If you are in the Chicagoland area he makes appearances.
I'm surprised there aren't more comments here, since probably every
horror fan in the suburbs of Chicago grew up aware of Svengoolie. Host
Richard Koz employs every trick in the horror host book (and invents a
few along the way) to assault the viewer's comic sensibilities between
commercial breaks. The humor is terrible and falls along the lines of
bad puns, corny song parodies, and rubber chickens catapulted by
mysterious off-screen forces. Like all horror hosts worth their salt,
Svengoolie seems more satisfied to elicit groans than laughs, but if
you're watching movies like Attack of the Puppet People or House of
Dracula, you probably don't have enough discretion or self-respect to
care anyway. By which I mean, it's all part of the campy charm.
I'm not much a fan of so-bad-they're-good movies, so I tend to watch Svengoolie in thirty-minute increments before losing patience and changing the channel, or leave it on as background ambiance while doing other things, but every so often I get caught up in a film and wind up watching the whole thing. You'd be surprised how good some bad movies actually are, and the movies chosen for the show tend to fall into the category of "misguided" rather than "incompetently made."
My only real complaint about Svengoolie's approach is his extensive use of sound effects (usually audio clips from shows like Animaniacs or The Simpsons) during the film. I find them distracting rather than funny, especially in cases where it takes a moment to determine that they aren't actually part of the film itself. Sometimes the sound effects are kept to a minimum (or not used at all) while in other episodes they splash across the audio landscape with irritating frequency.
But that's a minor complaint. Svengoolie is an interesting Chicagoland curio that keeps alive the schlocky spirit of TV hosts past. Fans of B-grade horror thrills will want to keep an eye on this one.
When Screaming Yellow Threatre was on the air in the early 70's, the identity of Svengoolie was a thinly veiled Secret. Many viewers knew that the part was played by WFLD's main announcer, Jerry G. Bishop. I enjoyed watching the segues into and out of the movies and the commercials. There were loads of cheesy props and rubber chickens and cries of Berwyn! (a Chicago suburb) Once a plywood coffin collapsed amidst the laughter of Svengoolie and stage hands alike and they cut right back to the movie. I ran into Mr. Bishop at a social gathering in the mid-70's, several years after Screaming Yellow Theatre was off the air. I expressed my admiration for his character Svengoolie. He responded, "He's dead, man! Let him Rest in Peace." Berwyn!
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