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!

Horror Host Icon: Vampira

The art of Horror Hosting is something that has been going on for many decades and has showcased so many talents over the years from 1960’s The Great Zucchini of Supernatural Theatre to 2015’s Arachna of Beware Theater and so many amazing hosts in between. And like every form of entertainment there is a queen of the bunch, and in the case of horror hosting, every host pays respect to the glamour ghoul Vampira who is the first horror host in history and paved the way for them all! Imagine being a youth in 1954 and staying up past your bedtime as the glow of the TV screen filled the night air and you watched as a sexy dark haired woman glided down a hallway through the fog.  As she got close to the screen, she let out a loud blood curtailing scream that sent shivers down your spine and what followed was her hosting a classic Universal Monster movie like Frankenstein or The Mummy.  At that moment you became a fully fledged Monster Kid! That must have been something to witness as history was made and the Queen of Horror Hosting took the world by storm with her macabre appearance and pun filled one-liners. So with this update it is truly an honor to write about her as I bring you Horror Host Icon: Vampira.

Vampira 1

Vampira is a vampire ghoul who had straight jet-black hair, wore a long skintight black dress, had peaked eyebrows, long fingernails and had a tiny waist to boot and had a sexy voice and a scream that could shatter glass. Some people think she is a vampire but most know her as a ghoul who enjoys smoking cigarettes from her long holder as well as drinking a bubbling steamy drink all the while relaxing on her couch and seductively and playfully in a gothic manner introduced a cheesy horror film and entertain her viewers all the while also drawing them into not just the movie but also her exotic beauty. The thing about Vampira is her background is a mystery, and this aspect of her makes her even more interesting and draws those who want to know more about her in like a moth to a flame. Maila Nurmi, the actress who played Vampira, in a interview said that Vampira was a woman who pretends to act evil but really walks with Jesus…very strange that the character so much embraced by the goth and punk world is a fake evil doer. So is she a ghoul or is she a vampire? In the end it doesn’t really matter as Vampira is so amazing and groundbreaking she lives on until this day for horror host fans and beyond.

Vampira 2Vampira 3Vampira 4

Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi was born in Petsamo, Finland on December 11th 1922, and when she was two, her family moved to Ashtabula, Ohio where she stayed until 1939 before they moved to Oregon where she finished school and would set her sites on living in Los Angeles. While in L.A. she started modeling for Bernard Of Hollywood, Man Ray and Alberto Vargas and her beauty and charm helped land her a role in the 1947 film If Winter Comes. By 1944 she was cast in Catherine Was Great on Broadway, but was fired after star Mae West felt as if she was being upstaged by Maila who was gaining lots of attention from the viewers. But after being fired, she did not have a hard time finding work as she was cast in the creepy midnight show called Spook Scandals where she honed her skills of screaming and being seductive in a horror themed setting and later became a showgirl for the Earl Carroll Theatre as a chorus line dancer. In 1949, she married silent actor Dean Riesner who went on to write such films as Dirty Harry and Play Misty For Me. By the 1950’s she went back to being a model as she became a pin-up for such magazines as Glamorous Models and Gala, plus she worked as a hat-check girl on the Sunset Strip. Her life would change when in 1953 she went dressed as Morticia Addams to Lester Horton’s Masquerade and caught the eye of Hunt Stromberg Jr. a producer for KABC-TV who loved her gothic look and wanted to hire her to host horror films on the station as they had just bought a package of Universal Monster films called the Shock package.  Maila and her husband Dean talked about the idea.  He came up with the name Vampira, and she agreed to become the worlds first Horror Host! What’s really cool about this was Maila was really trying to get the station to do a live action version of the comic strip The Addams family, but they didn’t want to pay for the license to do so and with that Vampira the horror hostess was born. During her time on the air as Vampira, she became friends with actor James Dean and the tabloids had a field day of reporting on the rebel and his dark mistress friend. During this time she was so popular that she was even nominated for Emmy Award that sadly she did not win. Maila would get married two more times as each marriage would fail.  Her second husband was John Brinkley who she married in 1958, and her third and final husband was Fabrizio Mioni who she married in 1961. After The Vampira Show went off the air, Maila would take roles in many lower budget films like The Magic Sword, Plan 9 From Outer Space, I Passed For White and Sex Kittens Go To College showing that she was still in demand even after the show’s run. In 1962, she made her living working installing linoleum floors and refinishing furniture and would go on to open her own boutique called Vampira’s Attic that sold antiques as well as Maila’s homemade jewelry and clothing. While she was loved by many, she did also have her haters such as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper who claimed that Maila really didn’t know James Dean as well as she claimed and that she was a scam artist claiming that she could speak to Dean after his death.  Whether Maila could do this or not is up to debate as is how well she knew Dean…but those close to her all claim she and Dean were friends. But even with the haters, almost everyone who meet her loved Maila and her alter ego Vampira. One other crazy aspect of her life was on June 20th 1955, a man broke into her house and kept her captive for four hours terrorizing her with the main goal to kill her! By luck she was able to escape and call the police for help, really scary stuff and glad she was able to escape this loony tune.

maila nurmi 1Vampira 5maila nurmi 2

On April 30th 1954 at 11:00pm KABC-TV viewers got their first look at Vampira during a preview show they called Dig Me Later, Vampira in which they showcased their horror hostess and let the viewers get a peek at her stunning character. The next night May 1st 1954 The Vampira Show premiered at midnight, and the world was changed forever as the first horror host was born and Vampira screamed her way onto TV Screens all across the Los Angeles area. The show was very laid back and mostly had Vampira on her couch cutting cheesy twisted puns and enjoying cocktails and smoking, but while nothing too in your face, this was a new genre and captivated viewers who were not only drawn to watching the horror films but to just see her host them. Her theme song is very classic and eerie and sounds like it could be taken straight from a late night horror film that she could have easily shown on her show. Her set was nothing more than a couch with some tables that housed candles with the background being dimmed and black. Her late night ratings were high, and she became a superstar overnight.  For publicity, the station had Vampira ride around Hollywood, had her run for late night mayor, Life Magazine did a feature on her as well as booked her on many other sketch television shows, but none of this helped as in 1955 KABC-TV canceled the show.  Its rival station KHJ-TV picked up the show for a short time in 1956, but sadly it didn’t last. The reason Vampira was canceled from KABC-TV was that ABC wanted to own the rights to the character and Vampira was not having it so they did what any big company does, they pulled the plug on something that fans loved to watch all over the greed of money. The Vampira Show lasted for one season and had slightly over 50 episodes in its run.  While talks in 1981 were in place to bring her back to TV, this was not in the cards as she would be replaced and the show would be changed to another…but that subject will be a little later in our update. Sadly, no known episodes of The Vampira Show are around as it was aired live and the station did not backup any episodes.  The only known footage of her is taken from a promo reel she did for the station to try and get sponsors. While her show did not last long, her impact on horror hosting and horror culture is still felt to this day. I should also note that the sidekick for the show, was her pet spider she named Rolo.

Vampira 6

Edward D. Wood Jr. was a low budget filmmaker with a vision, and in 1956 with his small crew and the last shoot footage of horror legend Bela Lugosi, he decided to make a film that was called “Grave Robbers From Outer Space” that would later be changed to “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Ed Wood wanted to hire Vampira for a role as one of the ghouls, and she at first refused to take part in the production and was insulted that Wood would even have the nerve to suggest she be in his production. But over time and with The Vampira Show being off the air, she took the role of a female ghoul. She claims the lines she was given were so bad she asked if she could play the part mute! The look of Female Ghoul is that of Vampira, and she looks just like her horror host self, and by doing this she marked herself even more so of becoming an icon of horror. But Plan 9 was not her only film role as she also played a hag in the 1962 sword and sandal film “The Magic Sword”, oddly enough they had her covered up with so much makeup it’s hard to tell it was her! Other titles she starred in include “The Big Operator” in 1959, “Sex Kittens Go To College” in 1960 and the short 1996 film “Dry” to name a few. She also has been in a number of documentaries talking about her horror host career or working with Ed Wood and these titles include “The Haunted World Of Edward D. Wood Jr.” in 1995, “American Scary” and “Vampira: The Movie” in 2006. While she might not have been a box office bombshell, she still made her mark on cinema for sure.

Vampira Plan 9 1Plan 9 From Outer Space PosterVampira Plan 9 2

In 1994, Tim Burton made a bio-pic on Ed Wood and casted actress Lisa Marie as Vampira, and I must say she was a perfect fit as her beauty did justice to Maila’s stunning good looks. I have heard that Lisa to prepare for the role spent some time with Maila and did as much research on her as possible in order to play her the right way. The film is my favorite Tim Burton movie next to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and if you have not seen it make sure to check it out to see not only Lisa Marie’s portrayal of Vampira but to see a fun film that captures the dream of so many no budget directors who believe in their art.

Lisa Marie as Vampira 1Lisa Marie as Vampira 2Lisa Marie as Vampira 3

Vampira was super important to the world of female horror hosting, and she has inspired many that would follow in her footsteps. I am sure if you asked the likes of Ms. Monster, Stella Desire, Marlena Midnite, Susie D. Rott and many other horror hostesses, they would say she inspired them in some way. But now we come to the point where we have to talk about the elephant in this update, and that’s the Vampira and Elvira situation! In 1981 KHJ-TV hired Vampira to come back to TV and recreate The Vampira Show.  Some say that she would have come back on air, while others claim they just wanted the name to use with a new actress. But what is known is talks stalled and Vampira quit after the station wanted to own the name, character and trademark! In 1982, a year later, Elvira Mistress of the Dark hosted a show called Movie Macabre, and the similarities between the two were astounding, and worse, the company that was slated to do the Vampira re-launch were the people behind Elvira! Vampira stated that there were 150 similarities between her and Elvira and a lawsuit was filed as Vampira took on Elvira in the courts.  People took sides and some fans didn’t seem to pay it any attention as both hostess, while similar, added entertainment late nights, plus Vampira sadly had not been on TV for decades at that point. Vampira even took to the late night TV show Arsenio Hall to talk about the case as well as deliver her trademark scream. Vampira was very angry at Elvira and took pot shots at her whenever she could, while Elvira was more hushed about it and claimed she wished the two could just get along as the plan was to have Vampira cameo on Movie Macabre. The case was later dismissed and the two made some tiny amends as Vampira stopped trashing Elvira and took her words toward the company who made the show. I for one would love to have seen Vampira return to TV, but also I can’t down play the impact and popularity of Elvira who almost all boys of the 80’s had a crush on. I really couldn’t imagine TV without Elvira, but I am also sad Vampira didn’t get one last ride to chill the blood of late night viewers while hosting cheesy horror films. Was Elvira inspired by Vampira? Absolutely. Did she rip her off? …not sure…but what I do know is that the world of horror hosting is better off with both Vampira and Elvira.

Vampira 7Vampira 8Vampira 9

Let’s move away from a dismissed lawsuit and onto some more pleasant things. One thing about Vampira is that many decades after her show ended and the mass amount of her footage were lost or taped over, this queen of gothic beauty has became an icon for many people who are into not only horror hosting but also punk rock, goth life and she had lots of great merchandise for her fans. Things like posters, t-shirts, models, soundtracks to films she’s in and even purses, jewelry and custom figures and dolls! Growing up, my brother Bryan had a poster of Vampira from Plan 9 From Outer Space in his room, and we both have had t-shirts with her image on it over the years. Working many horror conventions for Independent B Movie, Nightcrew Video, Andy Copp and Baron Von Porkchop over the years I have seen so many Vampira items like magnets, mirrors and costumes at vender tables and have seen many horror fans wearing her image. Still to this date 2016, if you are a Vampira fan, you can find something new to add to your collection. My favorite piece of merchandise I own of Vampira is a t-shirt that I will share it’s image below.

Vampira T-ShirtVampira The Movie CD SoundtrackVampira Model

One strange thing that I must point out is that Vampira, while appearing in comics based on Plan 9 From Outer Space, has never had a comic book one shot or series based around her and that’s very odd to me as she is so recognizable and is a icon of horror that it seems like a no brainer that she should have her own comic, I mean Elvira Mistress of The Dark as well as several other horror hosts have had comics made about them.  From Wolfman Mac to Sammy Terry, they have all made a leap from TV to comic pages! I would have loved to have read a comic based on Vampira when I was a teen and could even still imagine the twisted adventures she could have had along with her pet spider Rolo.  The comic series could have taken the Tales From The Crypt route and had her host horror stories or even better could have followed her life in Hollywood and had her mix it up with monsters and ghouls and gave a true look at this vampire of sexy fright. In 2014, I noticed a Vampira comic book cover that was on Google and I looked high and low for information on it.  Sadly, it turned out to be just an art print for the film “Vampira The Movie” and poof – my hope of covering a Vampira comic went up in smoke like the fog on her set. Do any of your readers out there know of a comic based on Vampira? I am sure if one was made it has to be a underground one, but here is hoping that some day soon Vampira will have her own comic book adventures. Below is some fan artwork that shows how cool she could look in a comic.

Vampira Art 1Vampira And Me Fake Comic CoverVampira Art 2

On January 10th 2008 Maila “Vampira” Nurmi passed away in her Hollywood home from natural causes at the age of 85.  This was a true sad day for horror hosts and fans around the world as the original queen of scream was no longer with us. The world on that day lost someone special: an actress, an artist, an shop owner, a painter, a horror hostess, a kind spirit, a person and so much more.  She was laid to rest in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in the Griffith Lawn section. I can remember getting the news from my brother Bryan and friend Andy Copp about her passing, and all of us were really bummed out.  I know many of the horror hosts were saddened to hear of her passing as she was a inspiration to so many. In closing I must say while I never knew her personally I want to say thank you, Vampira, for being the first horror hostess and bringing so many wonderful chills to your fans, and may your spirit rest knowing that you were loved by many. Rest in peace, Vampira…

Vampira 10Vampira's GraveVampira 11

On March 26-28th 2010 at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana, the world’s largest gathering of horror hosts took place all to pay respects to Vampira as they held a tribute in her honor. Many great hosts came to the event to pay respects to the Glamour Ghoul, The Queen, the First Ever Horror host Vampira.  Names like Joe Bob Briggs, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Count Gore De Vol and many more came up and talked about the legacy she has paved for horror hosts of the past and present. A truly special event that ranks up there with her being inducted into the first class in the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. Sadly I missed the event as I was stuck at work.  This tribute also gave many something to worry about as Dr. Creep fell ill while at the event and was not able to participate in the tribute due to the fact he was in the hospital. But I wish Vampaira was with us and could have seen all these hosts coming together to pay respects to all she has done for this art.

Vampira HorrorHound Tribute

For most of the horror hosts of the 50’s and 60’s, episodes were broadcast lived or the tapes used were wiped and reused for other shows to save money, and this of course is the same thing that happened to The Vampira Show. But unlike many others, a reel was found of Vampira doing a few of her bits on her set and this was cut together with the film The 13th Guest and added was old commercials directed by Ed Wood Jr and out came an official reproduction of her show! So I am proud to say that I have a copy of this show and would like to share it with you all. Here is hoping that some day in the future that more footage of Vampira will come to light as well as other classic horror hosts so fans can watch again or for the first time. So with no more wait, here is a look at Vampaira “hosting” 13th Guest.

The Vampira Show - 13th Guest DVD

The Vampira Show:  The 13th Guest
Starring – Dick Purcell & Helen Parrish     Not Rated   1943

Host: Vampira glides down her foggy hallway and lets out a shriek and opens the show by drinking a vampire cocktail and delivering a few puns and smocking a cigarette. And by the end she wishes us all unpleasant dreams!

Movie: The Morgan family’s patriarch is soon to die. He hosts a dinner party for the family to tell them all he’s setting aside his last will to be opened by his nearly 8-year-old granddaughter thirteen years in the future when she turns twenty-one. Thirteen years later, she returns to the abandoned family house to open the will, per his instructions. Murder follows shortly thereafter. Police Lt. Burke and Private Investigator Johnny Smith are soon on hand to investigate when guests of the old dinner party thirteen years earlier seem to be bumped off according to the past seating arrangement.

Vampira and The Misfits

This was such a fun update to research and re-live Vampira’s influences on my own life.  It’s a shame that she has passed away and that her 1981 comeback never happened as it would have been nice to have footage and episodes of the character for young horror host fans to watch, collect and be inspired by. Could you imagine if she was still with us when Horrorhound Weekend did the tribute to her? Just imagine her coming to the event and being honored and worshiped by her huge fan base as well as all the horror hosts who were influenced by her would have gotten a chance to chat with her. For our next update, I am handing Rotten Ink back over to Juliet and she is going to cover something that is near and dear to her heart and that’s Star Trek: The Next Generation and DC Comics first run based on that epic TV show! So until then make sure to have unpleasant dreams and support your local horror host! See you next update for a true fun space adventure with Juliet and Captain Picard.

Star Trek The Next Generation Logo