Over the decades so many amazing Horror Hosts have graced TV and computer screens worldwide, and in Florida back in the late 50’s and early 60’s young and old would tune into WCKT-TV Channel 7 at 4pm to watch The Dungeon with Host M.T. Graves who was super popular and would deliver both chills and humor with his goofy hosting style. I would say that M.T. Graves in fact might be the state’s biggest host maybe only rivaled by Dr. Paul Bearer, and that’s saying something as over the years Florida has had a great amount of great Horror Hosts that have had their own style. So with this being the 10th year of the Horror Host Hall Of Fame and me doing a Horror Host Icon update a month, I think that this is the best time to bring to you my readers and friends Horror Host Icon: M.T. Graves, a host who has been long overdue for an update.
M.T. Graves was a strange looking man with bucked teeth, bushy eyebrows, a hook for one hand, big feet and a massive scar on his face! He is a prisoner who’s locked away in a dungeon cell with a coffin for a bed and was forced to watch horror and science fiction movies that The Warden has selected…M.T. calls them the Warden’s “Home Movies”. When the show was going on, M.T. would find ways to amuse himself like conduct a fake orchestra or even talk to fellow prisoners or guards all the while enjoying the night’s movie with the viewers. Sometimes The Warden would allow M.T. Graves to make public appearances as well and he had to be accompanied by guards and people would rush to get to meet M.T. who was a true icon of Florida TV and proved just how important local Horror Hosts can be to their community. M.T. started hosting his show The Dungeon on Saturdays starting in the 1950’s and by the late 1960’s he was set free from his prison and the show ended, and this was a truly heartbreaking day for viewers as they watched their favorite inmate walk out a free man ending his time with them and sharing the Warden’s movies. Some people think that once freed from his Dungeon Cell M.T. went on to be blasted into space along side his old cellmate and he changed his name to M.T. Space…while others say that they are from the same family tree but different Horror Hosts all together. Say what you will about M.T. Graves but this strange looking prisoner sure made being stuck in a dank cell fun for all who watched.
Charlie Baxter was the actor behind M.T. Graves was born on March 29, 1925 in Toledo, Ohio making him an Ohio boy! After school he joined and survived the United States Marine Corps as well as lent his voice as he became the announcer for the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team. Later he moved to Florida and started working for WCKT-Channel 7 and later WKID-Channel 51 and was a major TV personality as he and the characters he created for both Horror Hosting and Kid Show Host like M.T. Graves, Captain Kidd, Professor Klinker and M.T. Space all became household names and must see TV. Charlie was super kind to his fans and was on TV from the 1950’s-1970’s and after this he started to work on shows for schools from Broward Community College. After this he decided to retire and in the mid 80’s he moved away to Nashville, Tennessee where he spent his time watching movies, reading books and listening to music, but he also loved to still keep in touch with his former co-workers as well as fans. Sadly Charlie Baxter passed away on October 3, 2007 at the age of 82 and in one last kind act he wanted his body donated to Nashville school Vanderbilt University School Of Medicine. Charlie Baxter will never be forgotten as M.T. Graves will forever live on in the hearts and collections of Horror Host fans.
Like all great Horror Hosts M.T. Graves had his fair share of cohosts and sidekicks that helped add to the laughs. Off screen The Warden and The Guards would interact with M.T. and while they most of the time were nice to him they also seemed to get joy messing with him! The Warden also howled like a wolf and this would be M.T.’s cue to start the movie or go to a commercial break. Reginald was his cellmate a monster who lived in the walls and would chat with him and even deliver messages from The Warden. And lastly there was Count Down The Vampire who as well would pop in from time to time to spend some time with M.T. and the viewers and get into some sort of adventure. Each and every one of these characters added to the show and made for so many funny moments and kept M.T. Grave on his toes. Check out the pictures below to see Count Down in all his glory.
In 2011 at Horror Hound Weekend for the first class inducted into The Horror Host Hall Of Fame the iconic M.T. Graves received the honor. He was inducted by Victor Von Scary and joined the likes of Dr. Creep, Vampira, Sammy Terry, Ghoulardi and Sir Graves Ghastly to name a few. It was great to hear the crowd erupt with cheers and claps as his name was said and it was clear that he truly was a very impactful Horror Host not only to his home state but also to the genre as a whole. It was truly a great moment to see, and I hope that M.T. Graves in that great Dungeon in the sky got a smile on his face knowing that he is remembered and still very much well loved.
I have been a big fan of Horror Hosts since I was a youngster and read about many of them in magazines and later on the internet and one I knew about was M.T. Graves as his image always stuck with me, and what’s funny way before I seen any skits of his I always imagined him to be a little more sinister and have a way different voice then what he had once seeing him in action. Plus his name always cracked me up; as it’s a nice play one words and sounds as if you are saying “Empty Graves” when you speak his name. But for years and years I searched for an episode of his and knew that one of the only ways I was ever going to see an episode was by finding a fan reproduction…and several times I did…and each time the DVD would not work. I would get the episode in a trade or buy it from a Grey Market site and every time I would try and play the disc the it would not work and this was the start of what I called The M.T. Graves curse, and I say it every time now I get a Horror Host DVD and it does not work! But finally thanks to Horror Host Dr. Pureblood I was able to get a M.T. Graves disc that worked and made this update possible. And after finally seeing M.T. Graves in action I can say I am a fan as his style and humor is fantastic! So do yourself a favor and check out clips of M.T. Graves on YouTube and enjoy his zany personality and the real strangely cozy nature of his Dungeon cell.
So like many Horror Hosts of this time almost every episode and inch of footage is gone as stations would tape over them, they would be recorded live or over the years they would just throw away the tapes! So the one episode I have here is a fan reproduction that took some of M.T.’s found footage to build a viewing experience. So as you readers know, I will not be rating this episode of a star scale like I do the comics and will be taking the hosted films write up from IMDB and will myself write about what the host does during the episode. So if you are ready, let’s head to The Dungeon and see what M.T. has in store for us.
The Dungeon: Revenge Of The Creature
Starring – John Agar & Ricou Browning Not Rated 1955
Host: M.T. Graves starts the episode in his dungeon cell with the gate opening and is playing with a yo-yo and is talking about how we are all in our own dungeons and sends us to the night’s warden home movie. We next join M.T. who is reading a book about hypnotism and wants to use his newly learned skill on the Warden in order to escape, instead he finds that he is the one being hypnotized by Warden who figured out his plan to escape. After snapping out of it we next see him portending to conduct an orchestra that plays the Lone Ranger them that causes and earthquake! M.T. Graves is banged up after the earthquake and a man on a horse rode through, and worse this horseback madman knocked out the air conditioning leaving them all burning up. The episode ends with the air conditioning being fixed and is quickly becomes super cold and even starts snowing and the cell gate lowers.
Movie: The Creature from the Black Lagoon has been captured by scientists and transported to an aquarium in south Florida. Once there he becomes attracted to the lovely female scientist and manages to escape and kidnap her, and heads to Jacksonville, with her real life love in pursuit.
Note From Matt: This episode is a fan reproduction as they used what little footage of M.T. Graves is out there for fans to see.
Classic Horror Hosts like M.T. Graves truly are something special as they are the pioneers of this genre we all love and lead the way for all the hosts that have followed all the way up to this very day. Horror Hosting is alive and well and with outlets like Facebook, YouTube, Public Access TV, Broadcast TV and Streaming Stations the world is filled with so many options of Hosts to choose from that fans are so lucky. Again I want to stress this Horror Host Icon update was long overdue and if not for defective discs this update about M.T. Graves would have happened way before 2021! Well for our next update we are leaving The Dungeon and the world of Horror Hosting and will be heading to the world of Horror Comics again that is based on a film as we take a look at Meathook Massacre III and the Creamy Rat Comic one-shot issue that was released in alongside it. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a meaty spooky good time.