The year is 1971, and it’s Saturday night at 8pm. You have your Mello Yellow drink in hand and a small bowl of potato chips as your favorite show is on air. We are talking Chiller Theatre, and your blood turns cold as the Six-Fingered Claymation Hand comes out of the ground and spells out Chiller from growing twisted weeds! This Horror Host Icon update is a tribute to that Claymation Hand as well as the legacy that Chiller Theatre has spread around not only the Horror Host Community but also the world of Horror in general! Now I am sure many of you are saying, “Hey wait a minute – that hand is not a fully fledged Horror Host,” but to me just like the voice on USA Saturday Nightmares that Claymation hand brought terror to the hearts of viewers and also acted as their guide and source of nightmares so indeed that Six-Fingered Claymation Hand is a Horror Host! So it’s with great honor that I bring to you readers Horror Host Icon: Six-Fingered Claymation Hand of Chiller Theatre.
Six-Fingered Hand took over Chiller Theatre in 1971 and creeped out viewers with its awkward movements and billowing voice that would announce CHILLER as it made letters emerge from the swampy land that it lives in. The letters spell out CHILLER, and the Hand would then grab the letters, slowly sink back into the swamp and say chilllllleeerrrrrr as it disappeared back into the bloody looking water. The Six-Fingered Hand is a mystery, and not much is known about its origin or where it comes from. But the one thing that is known about this hand is that it creeped out viewers and left them with chills before the horror movie even started. The Six-Fingered Hand would be the “Host” of Chiller Theatre from 1971-2011, and even when other hosts would be on the show, the hand would always follow before or after commercial breaks. The Six-Fingered Hand was a creature of few words; besides saying Chiller it would also say “Hoo…” and sound as if it was in pain. Another thing that makes Six-Fingered Hand so scary for viewers was the weird music that was played during its appearance that sounded straight out of one of the horror movies shown on the program. While simple, the Six-Fingered Hand is a true titan of fright and remains very popular with fans who grew up watching it emerge from the bloody swamp to usher them into their favorite late night fright program.
Now here are some fun and cool facts about Chiller Theatre from over the years. Chiller Theatre started in 1961. 1963 was when Zacherley was the host of the show, and he is the Godfather of Horror Hosting and was and still is one of the most beloved Hosts of all time. Chiller was first canceled in 1982 but was brought back for one night in 2008 as well as in 2009 where they had Elvira Mistress Of The Dark as the host, and she proved to be a major hit for her one time appearance. Also 2009 marked the first time WPIX would make merchandise for the show allowing fans to collect things based on their beloved Horror Host program. For Halloween like the years before, they let Chiller Theatre once more hit the airwaves in 2010 and 2011 allowing The Six-Fingered Hand and their evening newscasters to host the final airing of Chiller. Another very cool thing about Chiller is that it sparked many creative minds in the New York area to become filmmakers, comic book makers, musicians, writers and artists and even helped spawn the Chiller Theater Convention that was founded in 1990 and is still running to this day. Say what you will, but Chiller Theater is one of the biggest Horror Host shows in the nation and is one that still has a major following to this day even though at this point it has not been seen in seven years.
I first heard about Chiller Theatre in the pages of old horror movie magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and always seemed to know it was something special for the viewers of New York. I can even remember being at Horror Conventions here in Ohio and people wore shirts of Chiller Theatre showing that its influence runs deep in the world of Horror. We are now at the point of this update where I will take a look at the one episode of Chiller Theatre featuring The Six-Fingered Hand, and I want to think my brother Bryan for getting me this episode for this update! So if you’re ready to hit the swamps of Chiller lets travel back to one of NY’s top Horror Host shows!
CHILLER Theatre: Gorgo
Starring – Bill Travers & William Sylvester Unrated 1961
Host: The six-fingered hand shows up in second clips and does his thing.
Movie: A salvage vessle is nearly sunk off the Irish coast by an undersea earthquake. A few nights later, a walking sea monster tangles with the fishing boats and enters the town. The salvage vessel captures Gorgo and takes it to London for display. Gorgo’s mother, who is upset and significantly larger follows his trail to London leaving a wake of destruction in her path.
Note From Matt: Sadly most the bumpers and commercials are cut out from this episode, but this was the only episode I could find with only The Six Fingered Hand as the host.
WPIX, in my opinion, have really dropped the ball as they should make CHILLER Theatre at least a Halloween night tradition year after year and do a double feature of frightful horror features to entertain and scare the viewers of late night New York television. And you know that Six-Fingered Claymation Hand is ready for his return to TV! I know that this was a really quick Horror Host Icon update and that the Six-Fingered Hand might not have a back story or skits like most classic Horror Hosts, but I really do feel that it needed to have a Icon update. As you have read this update I hope that you yourself thought back to watching Chiller Theatre or even to your own hometown host. For our next update, we will be leaving the world of Horror Hosting and be kicking off our countdown to Halloween with a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic that will showcase the Horror Comedy I Sell The Dead. So until next time, watch a horror movie or two and support your local Horror Host! See you next update for an undead good time!