Horror Host Icon: Iris and Retina

Not all of Dayton, Ohio’s Horror Host’s are Doctors, Ghouls, Creepers or Barons. Some of them are just very cool cats who enjoy life and all the joys movies, music and companionship bring us all. The hosts I am talking about are Iris & Retina of Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go, a show like no other in the Dayton area as they blend mondo and horror together for one entreating show. Iris & Retina in my opinion are often over looked when it comes to the impact they have made in Horror Hosting in Ohio as they have always meant something to their viewers and delivered a show that was like none other in the area before or even after it. So it’s with great pleasure that I bring to you Horror Host Icon: Iris & Retina, an update that has been long over due!

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go started in 2007 and took viewers of Public Access by storm as hosts Iris & Retina were unlike the hosts that preceded them and their show took a way different approach to Horror Hosting. Each episode was very different, as they would take us from locations like their home all the way to skits in cemeteries and everything in-between, and unlike most Horror Hosts of that time, they did not have a regular set and would show all types of films not just in the Horror Genre. The show would last around seven episodes as of this update and plans for more are being talked about as Iris & Retina have more films to share with viewers, and this blogger does know for a fact that one episode has been partly shot and at some point will be finished. Mondo Smash A’Go-Go aired on DATV, MVCC as well as The Monster Channel and got released on DVD by Iris & Retina and has built a following among Dayton viewers and beyond. To this day their episodes air of DATV as part of the Horror Host Underground that airs after Baron Von Porkchop on Friday Nights. Their episodes can be found on YouTube as well so do yourself a favor and give them a watch as they are highly entertaining and are truly different from the rest of the pack of Dayton Hosts.

Iris and Retina are two lovebirds that live in a world of psychedelic Americana and enjoy sharing their knowledge and love of movies with the viewers as well as their love for music and even snack recipes and really gets into hosting. Their tagline for viewers is “From Our Living Room To Yours,” and they mean it as many episodes do take place in the couple’s living room, but they also do travel outside it and each episode seems very surreal and almost hypnotic. Both Iris & Retina, besides being talented Horrors Hosts, are also talented musicians, and they will also play a little song for the viewers on some episodes! The thing that also sets these two apart from all the other Horror Hosts from Dayton, Ohio is that neither Iris nor Retina are the co-host and each share the same amount of the hosting duties! While Hosts like Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop have very important sidekicks and co-hosts, they are the solo star of their shows while on Mondo Smash A’Go-Go both are the main host! Plus another thing that sets them apart is that they are just normal people doing cool things and bringing you movies in a world of colors and imagination. Iris & Retina are great Horror Hosts who have made their mark in Dayton and beyond with their cool lucha laidback explosion style of hosting, and I for one would put theme in my Top 5 favorite Horror Hosts from Dayton, Ohio!

When not Hosting Horror Movies on Public Access, Iris & Retina who are played by Louie and El Bean Lerma put on their luchador masks and becomes El Muerto and Infinity, part of one of the area’s top psychedelic surf bands Team Void who rock the Dayton area and beyond! One cool thing about Team Void is that they have played at The Baron’s Ball hosted by Baron Von Porkchop and “A Ghastlee Night At Gilly’s,” both events that took place at the iconic Gilly’s Jazz in Dayton and teamed them up with fellow Ohio Horror Hosts. Team Void is a pretty popular band in the Dayton music scene, and if you ever find yourself in town when they are playing, do yourself a favor and check them out.

So for this Horror Host Icon update, I am lucky enough to have been granted a 6 question interview with the one and only Retina of Mondo Smash A’Go-Go! So sit back and see what this cool cat has to say about his life as a Horror Host in Dayton.

Me: Welcome, Retina to Rotten Ink.  My first question has to be what or who got you into hosting?

Retina: Loved horror movies in general growing up into my adulthood. My father was in the Air Force and was able to travel USA and abroad. My first horror show host was a gentleman, husband of my 2nd grade teacher, his host name was Sea Creep. To begin each show, he would climb out of the ocean onto the beach and chase his fellow co-host Marilyn. I thought that was so cool! When we came back to the United States, stationed at Dayton, Ohio Wright Patt. 1972 I became addicted to Dr. Creep! I was able to be on his final show, playing Bass for a local band called THE DATES -XXX. What a THRILL!!! I also tuned in to horror show hosts like The Cool Ghoul/Cincinnati Ghoulardi/Cleveland, Bob Shreve from Pat Prime Playhouse, and in a weird way, Uncle Al kids’ show host from Cincinnati. Dug Capt Wendy’s Go-Go Boots the most! From Indianapolis was Sammy Terry!!! All big influences on Retina’s career.

Me: So out of your first classic episodes of Mondo Smash A’Go-Go, what is your favorite one?

Retina: My favorite MSAGG is -of course the final one we did. The beginning of Season 2, “Night Of The Living Dead” with you and the Baron Von Porkchop’s help… also we had a killer band, Akillis Green, their song, “Cannibal Love” really fit the theme. Personally, I love the 2nd episode, “Wild Guitar” – we had such a blast making it in our living room. It was the first time we danced and played music as a duo, Iris and me, and also played multiple characters. And then we did “Bloody Pit Of Horror” the first season finale, that was in Mondo Vision, our version of 3D processing. Iris and Retina also cracked up the audience with their studio being haunted by an entity, calling another show, WRAPS and TABS to investigate and exorcise the spirit making for a funny scene! Also of course Iris and Retina were playing all roles again.

Me: There is a rumor of a new episode that is in the works, can you share with my readers what film you’re hosting and what you and Iris get up to in the episode?

Retina: Hmmm crazy… we started to finish our 2nd season, we have much in the can with the movie, not to give anything away, it’s a classic Gamera movie. Iris and Retina will be hosting as marionette puppets traveling into space to reach Gamera for an interview but ran into Godzilla first so we interviewed him as well! Bonus! We have plans for other titles “Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster” one of my favorites, “Not Of This Earth” Roger Corman classic, as well as “Undertaker And His Pals”

Me: When this episode is released, are there plans for more Mondo Smash A’Go-Go’s to be unleashed on the viewers?

Retina: As I mentioned Q3 there are plans to finish our 2nd season. We ended 2nd season’s premiere, S2 “Ep1, “NOTLD.” Iris and Retina to share the movies and be seen to the public in different ways: marionettes sculpted by Luis Lerma. We have lined up musical guests. Also special guests, pop over to help us out throughout the season. We’ve had a nice break from our movie playback escapades pursuing our music career; TEAM VOID is at our tenth year! MSAGoGo will come out in our eleventh year, est 2008. Looking forward to bringing more MSAGoGo Movies from our living room to yours and our versions to you, Spoiler Alert… look for Mondo Vision to evolve.

Me: So if you guys could host any film what would you pick?

Retina: For me, I would like to do a Triple Feature, “I Was A Teenage Frankenstein,” “I Was A Teenage Werewolf,” actually make that a Quadruple Feature: “Blood For Dracula,” and finish it off with “How To Make A Monster!” They were all released in 1959 the year I was born. I have watched them all on television growing up. And then I will hand this question over to Iris, she loves “Dirty Dancing”…we would have a great time traveling out to the locations for a dancing cool life experience. Then travel to England for a fun run with “Witches” because she loves all the author Roald Dahl’s strange tales. And finally run through hosting and toasting “Hold That Ghost” rocking Abbott and Costello movies with “A and C Meet The Mummy” and loves all Billy Wilder, and all Trinity with Bud Spencer Movies!! Travel around the world for her favorites… We are also fans of the Beach movies, Peter Sellers movies, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, John Waters collection, William Castle mad fun, the Raimi’s Franchise,”Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety” and “SIN CITY”… the list goes on.

Me: And lastly do you have any advice for future Horror Hosts that might be reading this?

Retina: My advice is to watch as many movies as you can! Enjoy them, experience them, and learn from them, watch them again! True fans of horror movies make a great horror show host. Find your identity and how you want to express yourself to your audience, and be informative, as well as go all in to entertain your audience! You watching you, do what you like! Be original. Stick to sharing your excitement with telling the story to host a great show! You can be creative using what you already own on the DIY editing systems, cameras, find local locations. Remember production value is important and embrace happy accidents like trains passing thru the background of your shoot, or a reflection in your car windows to add a deeper story, etc. etc. etc.

I want thank Retina for taking a few moments of his time for this interview and really do hope the world gets more Mondo Smash episodes, and while Iris & Retina and their show Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go might not be as talked about as Shock Theater, it still has made its mark on public access viewers and much like Moraine Playhouse Theater their show is safe for viewers of all ages and has top notch hosts attached to them. I for one also think that they should some day be put into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame as they are truly great Horror Hosts!

So let’s now talk about the episodes I own on DVD, as lucky for me and you readers, I own all the episodes they have released so far and really want to thank both Iris and Retina for them as I bought and was gifted these episodes from them! I will not be giving these episodes a star rating and will be taking the film’s write ups from our pals at IMDB and I will write about the Host segments to give you a little taste on what Iris & Retina are up to in them. So sit back, relax and groove with Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go! Oh and I am going to do these episodes in order of release!

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Santo vs. Vamp Woman
Starring – El Santo & Lorena Velazquez      Not Rated      1962

Host: Our Hosts Iris & Retina welcome the viewers to their living room to enjoy a classic Mexican action horror movie that is a renamed El Santo film and give us some history of the night’s film as well as its Lucha star. Next break they teach the viewers how to make some very tasty nachos and guacamole for a movie snack! We next join Iris & Retina as they have Team Void play a song for the viewers with a Lucha twist. In the end Iris & Retina tell us about next week’s film and play us out with a song by Team Void.

Movie: The vampire women in Mexico have awakened from their sleep, commanded by their master, The Evil One, to find him a bride. They choose as their target the beautiful daughter of a local professor. To rescue his daughter, the professor calls El Santo (Samson in some US versions), a silver-masked wrestler for justice.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Wild Guitar
Starring – Arch Hall Jr. & Nancy Czar      Not Rated      1962

Host: Once more from their living room Iris & Retina welcome us to another episode of Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go, and Retina with his guitar in hand tells us about the night’s movie as Iris dances and as well shares facts about the flick and its stars. We next join Iris & Retina who on this break decide to teach the viewers how to do the dance the twist, before taking us back to the movie. We next join Iris & Retina as they go up against two other couples in a twist contest that include a female vampire and a werewolf! But in the end Iris & Retina win the contest and show that Horror Hosts are the best at everything! After the movie our hosts tell us about the movie that is coming up on the next episode and then play us out with a song inspired by Wild Guitar.

Movie: A young Arch Hall, Jr. is given a shot at the big time by the unscrupulous owner of a small record company played by Arch Hall, Sr. (aka William Watters).

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Carnival Of Souls
Starring – Candance Hilligoss & Herk Harvey      Rated PG      1962

Host: Iris and Retina welcome us to the show, and they share some facts about the film as well as its cast and crew. Iris and Retina are drinking cups of coffee during the break, and Iris explains how much she enjoys being a Horror Host! Iris becomes scared when she sees a zombish version of Retina in a mirror and doesn’t want to watch the movie alone! In the end Iris is dancing with the ghostly Retina, and the pair tell the viewers what next weeks film is! As the credits roll, both Iris and Retina are ghostly and dance and wish us all a good night.

Movie: Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: White Zombie
Starring – Bela Lugosi & Madge Bellamy       Not Rated        1932

Host: Iris & Retina have been invited to Haiti to attend a friend’s wedding and talk about the night’s film as well as its crew and cast including Bela Lugosi. We next join Iris & Retina who are at a small table having a cocktail when Iris falls into a trance over a rose Retina was going to give to the bride! During one break, they show the short film “Betty Boop Meets Dracula” for the intermission of the episode. Iris & Retina bring you a 3-D Three Stooges Short film after the film to help add to the episodes fun time! In the end our hosts Iris & Retina share what the next film will be.

Movie: Young couple Madeleine and Neil are coaxed by acquaintance Monsieur Beaumont to get married on his Haitian plantation. Beaumont’s motives are purely selfish as he makes every attempt to convince the beautiful young girl to run away with him. For help Beaumont turns to the devious Legendre, a man who runs his mill by mind controlling people he has turned into zombies. After Beaumont uses Legendre’s zombie potion on Madeleine, he is dissatisfied with her emotionless being and wants her to be changed back. Legendre has no intention of doing this and he drugs Beaumont as well to add to his zombie collection. Meanwhile, grieving ‘widower’ Neil is convinced by a local priest that Madeleine may still be alive and he seeks her out.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: A Bucket Of Blood
Starring – Dick Miller & Barboura Morris       Not Rated       1959

Host: Iris & Retina are at a coffee shop and are doing an open mic, and Iris is hyping up their show via spoken words, and once done they talk about the film as well as its cast and crew all the while cleaning the tables of the coffee shop…the film is also being shown in Mondo-Vision! Through out the episode the people around Iris & Retina act like beatniks as our hosts serve drinks to them as a snitch named The Fink keeps calling into his “boss”. The snitch figures out that Iris & Retina are frauds and their show is really just a drawing on a TV Screen that is static! In the end they coffee shop still celebrates Iris & Retina and they show a trailer from the next film to be shown!

Movie: Walter Paisley, nerdy busboy at a Bohemian café, is jealous of the talent (and popularity) of its various artistic regulars. But after accidentally killing his landlady’s cat and covering the body in plaster to hide the evidence, he is acclaimed as a brilliant sculptor – but his newfound friends want to see more of his work. Lacking any artistic talent whatsoever, Walter has to resort to similar methods to produce new work, and soon people start mysteriously disappearing.

Note From Matt: This is the first episode that Iris & Retina brought in background actors to fill roles of people at the coffee shop. Plus is the first film shown in Mondovision that required special glasses to watch.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Bloody Pit Of Horror
Starring – Mickey Hargitay & Rita Klein       Unrated       1965

Host: Iris & Retina are in their living room once more and give us viewers a little history on the night’s film as well as its crew and cast. They also call friends of theirs from a ghost hunting show called “Wraps & Tabs” and try and get them to come over. The night’s film is also shown in Mondovision! Once back they welcome Wraps & Tabs to their home, and these guys are going to try and help them find a weird shadow and voice that seems to be coming from a spirit! Iris & Retina give the ghost hunters and viewers a tour of their house and show some of the spots they think are haunted. The next segments have Wraps and Tabs investigating the house as odd things happen around them. They soon make contact with the spirit that was really just the show’s executive producer who was yelling at them to get the episode done and turned in so that it could air! In the end Iris & Retina show back up and end the show with a trailer for their next film “Manster” that was never made.

Movie: Writer Rick and his publisher Daniel Parks finally find the ideal location in Italy to shoot some photographs for Rick’s Horror photo-novel when they come across an ideal spot. The seemingly deserted castle looks perfect from the outside, so Rick and Daniel, accompanied by his secretary Edith, their photographer Dermott, and his five young models decide to break in. They soon find the castle is actually occupied by former actor, Travis Anderson, who initially is annoyed with these visitors until he recognizes Edith, his ex-fiancée amongst them. He decides to give them permission to use his castle, but warns them that the dungeons are off limits. Will they heed his warning?

Note From Matt: This is the second film in the series to have a film shown in Mondovision that required the special glasses.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Night Of The Living Dead
Starring – Duane Jones & Judith O’Dea       Not Rated        1968

Host: As always Iris & Retina welcome us to the show and introduce the night’s film and talk about it as well as the cast and crew as well as tell us about guests Team Void and Akillis Green! While in the cemetery, Iris & Retina are attacked by a pair of zombies who chase them into a near by house. Later in the cemetery a News Reporter and his Camera Man are reporting on the zombie outbreak as Team Void show up and are interviewed by him as this Lucha Rock Band are master zombie killers. They also update the viewers to locations in the area that are safe. As Team Void gun down zombies, we go back to the classic movie. Once back to the house Iris & Retina run into band Akillis Green, and they perform the song Cannibal Love, but the zombies get in and bite band member Dave who they lock in the basement as the rest go out and protect the house from the zombie horde, but in the end all of the band dies in a zombie attack. In the end Team Void is still killing zombies in the cemetery as the News reports on the safety! Iris & Retina also return and thank the special guests and so ends the final episode of Mondo Smash A’Go-Go…for now!

Movie: Barbra and Johnny visit their father’s grave in a remote cemetery when they are suddenly set upon by zombies. Barbra manages to get away and takes refuge in what seems to be an abandoned farm house. She is soon joined by Ben who stopped at the house in need of gas. Beset by the walking dead all around them Ben does his best to secure the doors and windows. The news reports are grim however with creatures returning to life everywhere. Barbra and Ben are surprised when they realize there are 5 people hiding out in the basement: Harry, Helen and Karen Cooper; and a young couple, Tom and Judy. Dissensions sets in almost immediately with Harry Cooper wanting to be in charge. As their situation deteriorates, their chances of surviving the night lessen minute by minute.

Note From Matt: In this episode Baron Von Porkchop plays the News Reporter as well as one of the zombies, Count Van Lambchop plays one of the zombies and I play the News Camera Man!

Iris & Retina take their place in the history books of Horror Hosts from Dayton, Ohio, and they truly are the most unique Hosts as they have a style that is unlike all the others. I for one am a fan and very much looking forward to new episodes, as Dayton needs more active Horror Hosts! I also want to thank Retina for the interview as well as alerting me to Sea Creep, a Host that I now must find footage and learn all about, and who knows maybe one day if I can uncover footage he may get a Horror Host Icon update! Also if you want to check out Mondo Smash A’Go Go, episodes can be found on their official YouTube page, so make sure to check them out if you enjoy Hosting and good classic Public Domain films. For our next update we will be leaving the world of Horror Hosting behind and will be taking a look at the world of Horror Fan Films, those amazing films made by fans that keep characters alive and bring new scares to viewers. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a new update that I hope will become yearly!

1 thought on “Horror Host Icon: Iris and Retina

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