How many of you readers and friends have a great memory of staying up late watching your local Horror Host on TV as the movie scared you and the host segments delighted you with humor or creepy flare? Here in Dayton, Ohio I grew up with the likes of Dr. Creep on Channel 22, A. Ghastlee Ghoul on DATV and The Creeper on MVCC, all local icons of Horror Hosting who have all been covered here on Horror Host Icon updates and all three are in the Official Horror Host Hall Of Fame! And for the people of Fort Worth, Texas during the 50’s-70’s the Host that was must watch TV was Gorgon The Gruesome and his show Nightmare. He was a true icon of local television and spread his horrors for generations of monster movie lovers. Texas has had a long history of great Hosts that include names like Professor Cerberus, Professor Anton Griffin, J.R. Ghul, Miss Jami Deadly, Peter Lorre Jr. and Dr. Zekow, to name a few, and while they are all fantastic, none are as iconic as Gorgon with the only Texas based host that is his equal being Joe Bob Briggs. So sit back, turn off all the lights as it’s with great honor that I bring to you Horror Host Icon: Gorgon The Gruesome!
Gorgon is a ghoul who lives in a massive creepy castle that is complete with cobwebs and spooky storms outside. And with no humor and no laughs (besides his own) Gorgon loved bringing viewers his shows over the decades, as he truly loved to scare the wits out of them and educate them not only about the film being shown but mostly in fright. Gorgon was a well-dressed ghoul who wore a white button up shirt as well as a long black cape. He had black circles around his eye and a mole under his left eye. Gorgon was well spoken and would make the viewers hang onto every word as he would speak of the spooky stuff that chilled their blood and sent shivers down their spines. Gorgon would also famously be holding his candelabra to light the darkness of his castle as well as add to the eerie mood of the show. Gorgon would make his first appearance 1957 hosting the Shock Package on his show “Nightmare” and became a true icon of late night viewing. While Gorgon is no longer on the airwaves of Texas, his memories still haunt all those in the Lone Star State who watched his Nightmares! He is also very powerful and has supernatural powers that can both amaze and as well as kill you stone dead!
Bill Camfield was the man behind Gorgon The Gruesome, and he was a beloved TV personality in the Fort Worth area and beyond. William Joseph Camfield was born on June 27, 1929 in Mineral Wells, Texas to parents Joseph and Nina Camfield and lived in the area where he was born until 1935 as he and his mother moved to Fort Worth after the passing of his father who was a coal miner. He graduated from High School in 1947 and got a job working as a writer for Leonard’s Department Store doing ads, and later worked on writing and starring on a show called “Hometown Harmony” that was produced by Leonard’s who would go on to promote Bill to the job of Radio-TV Director for the store and would go on to develop many shows over those years including “Man About Music”, “Meet The Candidate”, “Let’s Go Shopping” and “Billboard”. But it was in 1954 that his career really started when he took a job at KFJZ-TV Channel 11 as a jack of all trades as he not only created original programming he also wrote advertising copy as well as commercials and he would star in many of them. His first most loved role was the voice of Hoover The Hound, a dog puppet that was the costar of the show “Million Dollar Matinee” hosted by I believe Ann Harper. He then would become Gorgon The Gruesome for the show Nightmare in 1957 and would play the character off and on for many decades. And his most popular character and show he created was “Slam Bang Theater,” a kids show that started in 1959 that would aired Three Stooges shorts as well as cartoons and he played the lovable host Icky Twerp that would become a true icon for kids of the time as the show would run until 1972 and would even go on to influence such actors and comedians as Mike White, Gary Panter and Bill Paxton! Playing Icky would also lead him into starring as Wyatt Earp in the film “The Outlaws Is Coming” along side the Three Stooges in 1965. In 1972 Bill would leave the Fort Worth area for awhile and take a job in Denver Colorado for a short time only to return of Fort Worth and work for KDAF-TV Channel 33, and in 1985 he even brought back the iconic Icky Twerp on a show called “Icky Twerp’s Summer Reunion” that had him and his real son performing skits and hosting summer themed films. But sadly Bill Camfield passed away in 1991 after battling brain cancer, and while gone, his legacy of entertainment lives on forever with those who grew up watching him and for those who discover him thanks to things like YouTube and The Horror Host Hall Of Fame.
Nightmare started in September 1957 on Channel 11 in Fort Worth, Texas when they got the “Shock” Movie package from Screen Gems that featured many of Universals classic Horror and Thriller films from the 1930’s and 1940’s. And with this they hired Bill Camfield to play the shows host Gorgon The Gruesome, and the show would run until 1959 as a weekly Saturday late evening show that started at 8:00pm and would show a double feature of films. And starting in 1959 over the years Nightmare would return for Halloween specials that would have Gorgon hosting single and sometimes triple features of fright and became something that viewers of Fort Worth would look forward to every season. And every time the show aired it was must see TV and Monster Kids young and old were glued to the horrors of the small screen and wanted to see what Gorgon had in store for them in his castle. But like all good things, Gorgon and Nightmare would come to a full end in 1976 with the last of the Halloween Specials. And while Nightmares ongoing show only lasted about three years and the Halloween Specials were not an every year thing, the impact Nightmare made on viewers is long lasting and it as well as it’s host Gorgon are a true part of Texas TV History and will forever be a show that is chatted about by fans of the past and those who newly discover it.
Gorgon The Gruesome is a classic Horror Host that I first learned about thanks to the Internet and sites like E-Gor’s Chamber Of TV Horror Hosts and his look always caught my attention not to even mention when reading memories from his past viewers hyped me up as he was a none jokey host and had a spooky edge to him, and this made me want to see footage of his show! And sometime later, thanks to YouTube and Compilation DVDs, I was able to see some of his work, and I must say he is really good at what he did and delivered some good chilling creepy moments as he brought the fears of the night film into your living room. It’s crazy to me that Gorgon The Gruesome is not talked about as often as he should be when the topic of the true icons of Horror Hosting is brought up as I feel he is that good and should be considered a true icon of the genre. It’s a shame that not more footage has been uncovered of Gorgon and his show Nightmare as the world needs to see it and remember just how amazing his style was. And man his laugh is great and reminds me of classic horror from the 60’s!
Horror Hound Weekend on March 23, 2013 in Cincinnati at 10am that Horror Host Hall Of Fame began to induct the 2013 class that included the one and only Gorgon The Gruesome! The turnout for the Hall Of Fame seemed to be very happy to see him take his place among the icons that came before him in the Hall Of Fame. In his class he was joined by the likes of Sivad, Commander USA, Shock Armstrong, Chuck Acri, Svengoolie and I, Zombi to name a few. And as you can see, he is joined by some amazing hosts and it was fantastic to be there to not only watch Commander USA and Sivad get inducted but also Gorgon.
So as you can see, Gorgon The Gruesome really is a truly iconic Horror Host who had a great style of hosting the spooky films of the night. I think what made him so amazing is that he did not go for the cheap laughs nor did he relay on repeated gimmicks. So let’s get ready to talk about the two fan reproduction episodes I have in my collection. I would like to thank a Horror Host Tape Trader for having these episodes and trading them to me. I also would like to remind you that I will not be giving these episodes a star rating and I will be writing about the host segments and the film’s plot is taken from our friends at IMDB. So if you are ready lets see what this Nightmares has in store for us!
Nightmare: Pit and the Pendulum
Starring – Vincent Price & Barbara Steele Not Rated 1961
Host: Gorgon comes walking down stone stairs and sends away his hunchback helper as he claims he can pick up the fear of the viewers! He then takes us on a tour of where they damned once stood and then takes us inside a cell and a woman is chained to a table with a blade hanging above her, he tells us this use to be so normal back in time for those who have done bad as this is justice. We join Gorgon again as he talks about the night’s film and the pendulum blade starts to swing as the woman tries to escape her chains and save her life. When we join Gorgon next he is speaking to us about the fear that is building in us as the blade is getting closer to the woman he takes us to a commercial break. Once we join Gorgon again as he watches the blade get closer to the young woman, and he is loving her fear and sends us back to the movie. Gorgon and his hunchback friend are watching as the blade is so close now and Gorgon talks very poetic about her upcoming death before sending us to the movie with a sinister laugh. The last segment has Gorgon talking about the blade and we hear a scream and then see it covered with blood as he laughs and the episode ends.
Movie: Francis Barnard goes to Spain, when he hears his sister Elizabeth has died. Her husband Nicholas Medina, the son of the most brutal torturer of the Spanish Inquisition, tells him she has died of a blood disease, but Francis finds this hard to believe. After some investigating he finds out that it was extreme fear that was fatal to his sister and that she may have been buried alive! Strange things then start to happen in the Medina castle.
Note From Matt: This is one of the better Fan Reproductions I have ever seen as the print of the movie fits the age of the footage and the cuts in and out look really good! So in other words great work to who ever did this episode, as well I should note Gorgon’s segments are in color!
Nightmare: Spooks Run Wild
Starring – East Side Kids & Bela Lugosi Not Rated 1941
Host: We join Gorgon in his as he enters his dungeon lab and a man with a knife sneaks up on him and stabs him in the back and as his body hits the floor another Gorgon appears and as well gets stabbed and then another appears and with the clap of his hands the man disappears and dies in pain as Gorgon talks about his powers and says tonight they will show a more funny look at horror and sends us to the film. We then get a few Nightmare logo we will be back before we finally see Gorgan again who this time gives us a tour of monsters trophy room as they are his what’s dear to him! He shows us Mad Ghoul, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula’s Daughter and Wolfman’s Coffin, Rou Morgue torture items, The Mummy and the park bench that where Werewolf of London killed a man on…he is filled with joy as he sends us back to the movie. The final time we see Gorgon he wishes us well and says he will be ending Nightmare for awhile and gives a few secrets away that his monsters are not real, that is until Frankenstein’s Monster goes on a rampage on set and Gorgon ends his first TV run with a evil laugh!
Movie: The boys are sent to a mountain camp. Stranded in a small rural town, they hear about a “monster killer” roaming the countryside. At night, they sneak out. Peewee is shot by a grave-digger, and they are forced to seek aid at an old mansion. The owner of the mansion insists that the boys spend the night. After seeing PeeWee walk around the house in a trance, the boys decide that the man turned him into a zombie. They gang up on him and tie him up. The nurse at the boy’s camp sets out to find the missing boys with Von Grosch, who has come to rid the town of the killer- or has he?
Note From Matt: this is a pretty good fan reproduction and showcases classic black and white footage and is cut together pretty well.
Gorgon The Gruesome is Texas’s most ionic and important Horror Host of all time in my opinion and is truly one of the all time greats in the art of hosting. Not many Horror Hosts play it frightful and that’s really what sets Gorgon apart from others. One day I hope more footage of Gorgon is found as I would love to see more of his work and style! Well let’s leave Nightmare behind and with our next update let’s go back to the world of Marvel Horror and take a look at The Living Mummy! 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 update for our first in our countdown to Halloween updates that shows Marvel used to know how to do Horror!