Horror Host Icon: Grampa Munster

The USA Network ruled the Horror Host market on cable TV in the 80s and 90s with shows like Commander USA Groovie Movies, USA Up All Night and USA Saturday Nightmares, but cable networks TBS and TNT (both owned by Ted Turner) were not going to allow them to dominate that market unopposed when they started to air Super Scary Saturday on TBS and Monstervision on TNT, not to mention Dinner And A Movie that also aired on TBS. For this Horror Host Icon update, we are going to take a look at Grampa Munster, who hosted Super Scary Saturday and was the rival of Commander USA for a short while. Super Scary Saturday aired at noon on Saturday’s and was my source for seeing many of the Godzilla films for the first time as well as films like Willard, Ben and many of the Planet Of The Apes films that were made from the live action TV show.  This was another Horror Host show that I was glued to and always wanted to see what film he was showing by checking the local TV listings in the Sunday paper. So Beware and Be Scared as I am proud to bring to you an update I have been biting, I mean waiting, to do for years as I proudly present Horror Host Icon: Grampa!

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In 1987 Ted Turner and his TBS Superstation decided to try their hand at Horror Hosting on Saturday afternoons at 12:05 to capture the attention of all the monster kids of the 80’s who were watching cartoons and needed a fix of horror and comedy and so Super Scary Saturday was born. Hosted by Grampa from his lab and surrounded by the TBS movie vault, this vampire would select a film, and along with his pals Slim the Skeleton and Igor the Bat, they would host the day’s movies. Sometimes on his show he would have guests appear to weigh in on the day’s movie and to add a little more fun and silliness to the show. Grampa would always seem to be so hyped that the viewers were joining him for the day’s movie and would howl with laughter and spew cheesy puns and would end the episodes with his catchphrase “Be There Or Beware.”  For me that was something I always looked forward to hearing him say. One thing the show always did was imply that Grampa was Grandpa Munster, but they never said it outright.  On one episode, they even had his Grandson appear, played by Butch Patrick who played Eddie Munster on The Munsters! The opening credits and theme for Super Scary Saturday are still something I remember to this day as the song had a scary, then upbeat tempo over credits of movie monsters popping up and making us viewers play the What Movie Is That From game and also would spark the “Oh Look It’s…” excitement. Grampa was one of those Horror Hosts, like Commander USA, Dr. Creep and Joe Bob Briggs, that made me look forward to watching TV, and like them, he always made me feel like he was not just a host on TV but also a long time friend who enjoyed sharing cheesy movies with me. Super Scary Saturday was not only the first way I saw Godzilla films but also many of the Hammer Horror films and such cult classics as Williard and the 1972 made for TV film Gargoyles. But like all good things in life, TBS cancelled Super Scary Saturday in 1989 and ended Grampa entertaining me on Saturday mornings. I should also note that Super Scary Saturday was the only Horror Host show from my youth on broadcast cable TV that would many times show reruns as well as would re-use segments for different movies, but say what you will about it, this show was very important to me in my younger days and still holds a very special place in my heart. So with that I want to say thank you Grampa and all the cast and crew that made this show possible, and thank you Ted Turner for making original Horror Hosting programs for all us Monster Kids of the 80’s.

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One of my favorite episodes and one that stuck with me all these years is when Grampa hosted King Kong vs. Godzilla as not only do I love this terrible cheesy monster battle film but also because the skits for the episode were so fun that they are burned into my brain. This was also the episode that I can remember airing a few times and was also one that I recorded on an old Beta tape and watched it all the time. One of the major reasons I enjoyed this episode so much was also because it had guest NWA Pro Wrestlers Michael “P.S.” Hayes and Jim Cornette who acted as King Kong and Godzilla’s guest managers. The episode also treated the film like it was a build up to a big wrestling match and Grampa being all hyped up made me all hyped too! To this day it remains one of my favorite episodes and was a must have for me when I started to collect Horror Host shows. Below are some stills from that episode.

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Al Lewis was born Albert Meister on April 30, 1923 in New York, New York, and for years his true past was a mystery as he told many stories and many of them have no records of being fact.  Lewis has claimed to have been born in 1910 and even has said to have a Ph.D in child psychology from Columbia University which the University claims to have no record of.  Al found that his true calling was in acting and entertainment as he worked in many burlesque and vaudeville theaters as well did a few shows for Broadway like “Night Circus”, “One More River” and “Do Re Mi” in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He made the move to TV and took roles in shows like “Decoy”, “Route 66” and “Naked City”, but his first major role came in 1961 with “Car 54, Where Are You?” where he played Officer Leo Schnauser but his most beloved role came in 1964 when he played Grandpa Munster in the hit CBS show The Munsters. He would go on to have a guest role on “Lost In Space” in 1967 and then made the move to movies and throughout the 60’s and early 70’s starred in such films as “Pretty Boy Floyd” and “They Might Be Giants,” not to mention he would reprise the role of Grandpa Munster in two movies “Munster, Go Home!” from 1966 and “The Munsters Revenge,” the 1981 made for TV film. One cool yet uncredited role he played was in 1974 when he played a hotel lobby guard in the film “Death Wish” starring Charles Bronson. Throughout the 80’s, he did many TV and film projects that included “Super Scary Saturday” in 1987 and the 1988 film “Married To The Mob”. Al Lewis also starred in a few horror films like “Fright House” from 1989, the kid friendly 1992 film “My Grandpa Is A Vampire” and his final film the 2002 flick called “Night Terror”. Besides acting, Al Lewis has also worked as a game barker at Coney Island, was in a video game for the Atari 7800 called “Midnight Mutants”, opened up not only a restaurant called Grampa’s Bella Gente but also a comedy club he called Grandpa’s On New Drop Plaza, both in New York. He also did some stand up comedy and was a favorite guest of radio shock jock Howard Stern. Al also ran for governor of New York in 1998 as a Green Party candidate, but sadly did not win….he did however have his own radio show on WBAI that was a political themed show. Al was married twice and had three sons, but sadly later in life he fell on poor health and had to have his right leg from the knee down amputated as well as his toes on his left foot due to complications from heart issues, and on February 3, 2006, he passed away of natural causes. Al Lewis and his legacy of entertainment will live on through his body of work, and I will always remember the way he, with many of his roles, made my young life a very fun time!

Super Scary Saturday Al Lewis

While Grampa was the main host of Super Scary Saturday, he had four sidekicks that made several appearances during the show’s run on TBS.  They were Igor his vampire bat assistant and the roller of the day’s film, Fang a blue fuzzy sharp tooth little creature, Slim a walking skeleton who was along for the fun ride of whatever Grampa had them doing that day for the show and lastly Deadrah a female mannequin who was created to be Slim’s girlfriend. Each sidekick had their own personality and each added something special to the episodes they appeared in. The most popular among me and my friends when we were kids was Egor as that bat was not only the projectionist but also was always trying to help Grampa or even one up him. Slim, his goofy and silent skeleton sidekick, has become my favorite now as an adult as he is always doing some silly gag from hanging himself to playing baseball all for a laugh. Poor Fang is the third sidekick who is almost always forgotten as this tiny little blue fur ball with a roar that could shake the lab always seemed to be a background player but was always nice to see in episodes. Deadrah as well is just a background player but helps add to the wacky cast of sidekick characters. While none of these characters had voices and would make noises, they seemed like real life creatures and each made their mark on this fun Saturday Morning program. Below is a picture of Slim, Fang plus Deadra, and like Grampa, I want to thank them as well for making my childhood rock!

Super Scary Saturday SlimSuper Scary Saturday FangSuper Scary Saturday Deadrah

Besides hosting movies on Super Scary Saturday, Grampa also hosted films on VHS tapes for Amvest Video that would have him standing in front of a cheap green screen and shouting at Igor to start the movie among other back and fourths. This tape series was part of what was called “Grampa Presents.”  The back of the box would also give his rating of the film, that was of course done with bats! Grampa was doing this video series in 1988 the same time Super Scary Saturday was still airing on TBS, and growing up I would have loved to have owned this video series as he hosted such cheesy movies as The Snow Creature, Creature From The Haunted Sea, The Ape and many Bela Lugosi films like The Corpse Vanishes that our good friend and fellow blogger The Northeastern Video Hunter covered here on one of his updates.

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On March 22, 2014 at Horrorhound Weekend, as part of The Horror Host Hall Of Fame, Grampa Munster was inducteed in the 2014 class by none other than Baron Von Porkchop. This was a very surreal moment for me as I watched the host I helped create induct a host that not only entertained me in my youth but also was part of what inspired me to create a horror host show for the Dayton, Ohio market. As always, Baron Von Porkchop did great research on Grampa and was equally as honored as I was to induct such an iconic horror host and all around TV celebrity into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. Baron’s speech went over well, and the audience gave him a nice clap and cheer for his speech.  Sadly with Al Lewis passing away, he was not able to accept the plaque but I am sure he was looking down from heaven with a cigar in his mouth and given that classic Grampa laugh.

Horror Host Hall Of Fame Grampa 1Horror Host Hall Of Fame Grampa LogoHorror Host Hall Of Fame Grampa 2

So now we are at the point of this update where I will share write ups on the episodes I own of Super Scary Saturday from the Superstation.  This is one of the fun aspects of doing a Horror Host Icon update, getting to re-watch the episodes and remember back to when I first watched them on broadcast TV, or in some cases see them for the first time. I want to thank many people who over the years helped me get these episodes I am about to watch like Stumpy Disks, my brother Bryan, Kristy Langford and my friend Darren, all of whom helped made this important Icon update possible. So with that, pull up a seat in the screaming room and get a little taste of what Grampa and his show Super Scary Saturday offered us who watched him back in the late 80’s. As always, the episodes will be done in alphabetical order with the film’s plot being taken from IMDB and the show’s plot being written by me.  So stock up on your favorite plasma themed drink and let’s have some fun with Grampa.

Super Scary Saturday Dr Phibes dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Abominable Dr. Phibes
Starring – Vincent Price & Joseph Cotten    Rated PG-13    1971

Host: Grampa is in the Screaming Room and is very happy to bring you the day’s film because it stars Vincent Price as a crazed doctor.  He and Igor exchange some quick ideas for a dream day that includes fresh blood and pretty bat ladies. In between commercials, Grampa delivers cheesy jokes and puns that are sure to make you chuckle. In the end Grampa is very happy, and he and Igor break down the film’s deaths then invite us to join him next week.

Movie: Doctors are being murdered in a bizarre manner: bats, bees, killer frog masks, etc., which represent the nine Biblical plagues. The crimes are orchestrated by a demented organ player with the help of his mute assistant. The detective is stumped until he finds that all of the doctors being killed assisted a Dr. Vesalius on an unsuccessful operation involving the wife of Dr. Phibes, but he couldn’t be the culprit, could he? He was killed in a car crash upon learning of his wife’s death.

Super Scary Saturday Back To The Planet Of The Apes DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Back To The Planet Of The Apes
Starring – Roddy McDowall & Bobby Porter    Not Rated    1981

Host: This episode is a poor man’s hack job as the slob who taped it did his best to cut out all of Grampa’s opening and ending segments! I got a brief look at Grampa with a bag before it’s clipped. The episode has Grampa using a time machine and has him packing for his time jump as well as making all preparations for his trip to the past. And while sitting in his time machine, he turns it on and in a flash of the eye he is gone! Grampa makes it back to with a smile on his face and a laugh on his lips…and the recording stops.

Movie: Three twentieth century astronauts travel through a time warp and crash on Earth in 3085 A.D.. One of the astronauts is killed in the impact, and the two survivors, Alan Virdon and Pete Burke, find that they have returned to an Earth where their loved ones are long dead, where technological civilization has fallen, and where humanity is subjugated by intelligent, talking simians who live in jungle cities and preside over pastoral hinterlands. The two astronauts are captured by horse-riding gorillas (the ape army) and taken before an orangutan tribunal. They are deemed a threat to ape security and sentenced to death. The two condemned men are visited in their cell by a curious chimpanzee named Galen, who is fascinated by their accounts of an advanced human civilization centuries past. After Galen accidentally kills a gorilla and is charged with murder, Virdon, Burke, and Galen all escape the ape city and are fugitives hunted by a determined gorilla named Urko. Virdon manages to salvage.

Note From Matt: I almost left this episode off my update due to the terrible record job, but decided to add it because while it might not be a full episode and have only snippets of the opening and closing segments, it’s still apart of Super Scary Saturday’s legacy.

Super Scary Saturday Ben DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Ben
Starring – Lee Montgomery & Meredith Baxter    Rated PG    1972

Host: Grampa has a rat in the lab, and along with Igor and Slim, he is trying to rid the area of these pests.  Grampa builds the ultimate rat trap that would have had a weight drop and crush the rats, but instead he finds himself with a massive headache as he is the victim of the weight as it backfires and bonks him on the head. Grampa’s next plan is to use the Red Pages and calls The Piped Piper Rat Catcher service to come to the lab and get rid of his rat issue…..but sadly the episode is not complete and cuts off at the end of the film.

Movie: A lonely boy befriends Ben, the leader of a violent pack of killer rats.

Super Scary Saturday Boy Who Cried Werewolf

Super Scary Saturday: Boy Who Cried Werewolf
Starring – Kerwin Mathews & Elaine Devry    Rated PG    1973

Host: Grampa is having a Blood Beach Party along with Slim, Deadrah and Igor and is enjoying the moon. He also sees his friends Mummy-O and The Invisible Man as they chill out on the beach. They use coffin lids as surfboards, and Grampa goes surfing alongside Slim and each try to out do each other to become king of the beach, and this causes Grampa to wipe out. They also relax and listen to the newest beach band called The Rolling Bones, and everyone on the beach lends a hand by playing a instrument or even just dancing as does the zombie babes who have joined the party. Grampa and his beach gang play one last song as the sun is about to come up, and they rock n roll their way to closing the show.

Movie: Richie Bridgestone (whose parents are divorced) goes to spend the weekend with his father at his secluded mountain cabin. During a moonlight hike, they are attacked in the darkness by a creature that he recognizes as a werewolf. During the struggle, the werewolf falls into a ravine and is impaled by a wooden fence, but not before biting his father. Upon investigation, they find their attacker to be human and the sheriff concludes their attacker was an insane drifter. He spends the rest of the film trying to convince his mother, and his therapist that his father is now a werewolf.

Super Scary Saturday Day Of The Animals DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Day Of The Animals
Starring – Christopher George & Leslie Nielsen    Rated PG    1977

Host: Grampa is using his spell book to create a ghoulfriend for Slim who is having a hard time finding a date. Grampa uses all types of odd objects, from a hourglass to a dog’s bone and stirs them into a kettle pot and takes the liquid and pours it inside a crate onto a body.  While they wait for the ghoulfriend to wake up, Grampa selects the day’s movie Day Of The Animals. While we wait for the ghoulfriend to be awaken, Grampa, as always, entertains with puns and cheesy jokes, even holding a contest to have dinner with him and win his supply of noodles he created. In the end, Slim’s new ghoulfriend comes to life and the world gets their first look at Deadrah!

Movie: The depletion of the earth’s ozone layer causes animals above the altitude of 5000 feet to run amok, which is very unfortunate for a group of hikers who get dropped off up there by helicopter just before the quarantine is announced.

SuperScary Saturday Dracula Has Risen From The Grave DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Dracula Has Risen From The Grave
Starring – Christopher Lee & Veronica Carlson    Rated G    1968

Host: Grampa along with Fang, Igor, Slim and his date are all in the Screaming Room as today they are going to watch old home movies and feel happy and reflect on the frienship they have had for many decades. Sadly, I am pretty sure the episode is missing the end segment.

Movie: When his castle is exorcised, Dracula plots his revenge against the Monsignor who performed the rites by attempting to make the holy man’s young niece his bride.

Super Scary Saturday Frogs DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Frogs
Starring – Ray Milland & Sam Elliot    Rated PG    1972

Host: Grampa is in the Screaming Room and has tired blood, and when Igor drops an iron on his head, he thinks he might have an iron deficiency! Grampa is hyped for the day’s movie like always and later wants to work on something that will pick him up. Grampa creates a drink that includes sweat from the NWA World Champion, the protection eye glasses from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a half eaten taco from Dom DeLuise and half a cup of bean sprouts…but he has the help of Slim who gives him Jack and the Beanstalk’s! Grampa drinks it and grows large and into a giant.  He needs help to shrink back to normal, and Igor goes to get help while Slim hides as Grampa is not happy at all. Igor brings a tailor from a Vampire tall and fat shop, who is no help at all, but on his own Grampa shrinks back to normal size and feels good and ready to prowl the his castle lab.

Movie: Jason Crockett is an aging, grumpy, physically disabled millionaire who invites his family to his island estate for his birthday celebration. Pickett Smith is a free-lance photographer who is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. Jason Crockett hates nature, poisoning anything that crawls on his property. On the night of his birthday the frogs and other members of nature begin to pay Crockett back.

Super Scary Saturday Gargoyles DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Gargoyles
Starring – Cornel Wilde & Bernie Casey    Not Rated    1972

Host: Grampa has an alarm installed on his casket and catches Slim in the act of trying to stake him through the heart! Grampa then tries to read some fan mail but soon finds that Egor gets double the amount he gets, but this doesn’t stop him from also introducing us to Fang, his new pet! Grampa also talks about how he and Egor have been friends with Gargoyles and that the day’s movie was really just a home movie they left for us all to watch. In the end Grampa is moon bathing, and Fang is cranky and hungry and thus ends another episode of Super Scary Saturday.

Movie: After receiving word about a mysterious carcass/skeleton unearthed in the Arizona desert, a father and his daughter decide to remove it from the burial grounds for further study. Once they do so, they, as well as the town, are besieged by a colony of gargoyles living in some nearby caverns.

Super Scary Saturday Ghidrah DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Ghidrah
Starring – Yosuke Natsuki & Yuriko Hoshi    Not Rated    1964

Host: Grampa digs in the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and finds the day’s movie as he picks Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster and is very hyped to present it and has Egor run the film. Grampa comes back to deliver some quick jokes about the monsters from today’s film just to spice up those boring commercial breaks. By the end Grampa breaks down the highlights and the rules of the battle between Ghidrah as he took on Godzilla, larva Mothra and Rodan.

Movie: A princess from a small Himalayan country becomes possessed by the spirit of a Venusian (a Martian in the American version) and escapes a plane just as it explodes. As this happens a meteorite falls from the sky containing Ghidrah, the monster responsible for her planet’s destruction. At the same time, Godzilla and Rodan emerge from hibernation and not only attack Japan, but each other as well. Mothra, along with its twin priestesses, attempt to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop their fighting each other and to team up to fight the new monster. At the same time, the princess is being hunted by a group of assassins who want to kill her so that her enemies can take over her homeland.

Super Scary Saturday Godzilla DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Godzilla
Starring – Raymond Burr & Akira Takarada    Not Rated    1954

Host: This is the first episode of Super Scary Saturday, and our host Grampa is so happy that we have joined him in the lab to watch the day’s movie! He goes to the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and digs around, passing on such films as Mommy Dearest and Death Wish, and finds Godzilla and is super hyped as it’s one of his all time favorites. Grampa sits in the screaming room and has Igor pour popcorn on his head as the movie starts. Grandpa hangs around and does a few silly puns in-between segments, and our first episode ends. I want to say that the last segment is missing from this recording.

Movie: Japan is thrown into a panic after several ships explode and are sunk. At first, the authorities think its either underwater mines or underwater volcanic activity. The authorities soon head to Odo Island, close to where several of the ships were sunk. One night, something comes onshore and destroys several houses and kills several people. A later expedition to the island led by paleontologist Professor Kyôhei Yamane, his daughter Emiko, and young navy frogman Hideto Ogata (who also happens to be Emiko’s lover, even though she is betrothed to Dr. Daisuke Serizawa) soon discover something more devastating than imagined in the form of a 164-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) monster whom the natives call Gojira. Now, the monster begins a rampage that threatens to destroy not only Japan but the rest of the world as well. Can the monster be destroyed before it is too late, and what role will the mysterious Serizawa play in the battle?

Super Scary Saturday Godzilla Revege dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Godzilla’s Revenge
Starring – Tomonori Yazaki & Sachio Sakai     Not Rated    1969

Host: Grampa is in the Screaming Room and is saying today’s movie is Monstermania and is the Wrestlemania of monster fights as Godzilla takes on all comers. Grampa also allows both monsters to give an interview (done by NWA Wrestlers) about how bad they are going to beat each other up! In the end Grampa interviews Godzilla live from the lab! Best part of Godzilla in the lab is that its a blow up toy!

Movie: Ichiro is a highly imaginative, but lonely, boy growing up in urban Tokyo. Every day he comes home to the empty apartment he shares with his railroad worker father and his restaurant hostess mother. His only friends are a toy maker name Shinpei Inami and a little girl named Sachicko. The only other kids that are around is a gang of kids led by a bully named Gabara. To escape his loneliness, Ichiro imagines that he is on Monster Island where he befriends Minya, the son of Godzilla. It is through his daydreams that he watches Godzilla and Minya fight other monsters, including one also named Gabara who is just as bad a bully as the one that is tormenting Ichiro. It is through these daydreams that he learns that it is okay to fight back and face his fears. These lessons also help him to outwit a couple of bumbling bank robbers as well as finally have the guts to stand up to Gabara and his gang.

Super Scary Saturday Godzilla vs. Sea Monster DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Godzilla vs. Sea Monster
Starring – Akira Takarada & Kumi Mizuno    Rated PG    1966

Host: Grampa enters that lab cackling like a mad man and looks in the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and digs up some movies that just wont do until he finds the afternoons movie and its Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster! He also introduces us to the Egor-Cam a small camera that is attactched to his bat sidekick! Grampa also claims that this film is the best sports movie ever made! Grampa ends the show by showing highlights from what he calls the first ever monster tennis match and shares clips of the film with Godzilla and the Sea Monster tossing a rock back and fourth.

Movie: Some teenagers want to obtain a boat to find a brother. When they look around a boat without permission, they find a thief who takes them on his escape. They are caught in a storm and arrive at Letchi Island where natives of Infant Island have been enslaved by the terrorist organisation Red Bamboo. Red Bamboo runs a heavy water factory to process a juice which holds off the monster, Ebirah, which otherwise traps them on the island. The young men meet beautiful but tough Daiyo and wake up Godzilla to put an end to the Red Bamboo.

Super Scary Saturday Island of Dr Moreau DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Island Of Dr. Moreau
Starring – Burt Lancaster & Michael York    Rated PG    1977

Host: Grampa is taking a trip down memory lane in the labs basement and is showing off items of his past like his first coffin and Blood Light a drink him and Slim use to guzzle down. He then shares that he was good friends with Dr. Moreau and drifts into memories of his past as Igor roles the days film. In the end Grampa is dressed in his old collage colors and gear and is pretty happy about his life and stays in the basement as he ends the show.

Movie: A ship-wrecked man floats ashore on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The island is inhabited by a scientist, Dr. Moreau, who in an experiment has turned beasts into human beings.

Super Scary Saturday King Kong vs Godzilla DVD

Super Scary Saturday: King Kong vs. Godzilla
Starring – Tadao Takashima & Kenji Sahara    Not Rated    1962

Host: Once More Grampa is very hyped for the days film as it pits Godzilla against King Kong in fight thats as epic as Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat and is truly the match of the centery! He also introduces the guests managers that has NWA Pro Wrestlers Michael Hayes in King Kong’s corner and Jim Cornette in Godzilla’s and each share why their monster will win the fight! Grampa inbetween commercials is still amped up the fight and is still filled with puns and site gags that he delivers with a smile. In the end Grampa shows highlights from the fight and Michael Hayes and Cornette argue on what monster really won the fight!

Movie: Mr. Tako, the chairman of a pharmaceutical company, learns the roma tomato-sized berries that grow on Farou Island are a miracle cure, and that the natives worship a god called King Kong who has allegedly grown to giant size from eating the berries. What better way to promote the product, Tako figures, than to bring the creature back to Japan? He leads an expedition with Sakurai and Furue to get the berries and the monster. Meanwhile, some American pilots discover the chunk of the glacier Godzilla was sealed in back in 1955. Sakurai’s sister’s boyfriend Kazuo is busy trying to sell an invisible but super-strong wire, which of course no one wants until Kong escapes.

Super Scary Saturday Mothra dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Mothra
Starring – Furanki Sakai & Yumi Ito    Not Rated    1961

Host: Grampa enters the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and passes on films like “Body And Soul” and “Beat The Devil” and decides to select Mothra for the days movie but before he can fully start the movie he is attacked by Mothra who is flying around the castle! Inbetween the film Grampa delivers puns and jokes about Mothra being a big Moth. In the end Grampa chats about Mothra really being a good guy but he can forgive it for being a hero!

Movie: Shipwreck survivors are found on Beiru Island (Infanto tô), which was previously used for atomic tests. The interior is amazingly free of radiation effects, and they believe that they were protected by a special juice that was given to them by the island’s residents. A joint expedition of Rolisican and Japanese scientists explores Beiru and discovers many curious things, including two women only one foot (30 centimeters) high. Unscrupulous expedition leader Clark Nelson abducts the women and puts them in a vaudeville show. But their sweet singing contains a telepathic cry for help to Mothra, a gigantic moth that is worshiped as a deity by the island people. The giant monster heeds the call of the women and heads to Tokyo, wreaking destruction in its path.

Super Scary Saturday The Mummy 2 DVD

Super Scary Saturday: The Mummy
Starring – Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee    Unrated    1959

Host: Grampa has been selected as a guest on the show “This Is Your Death” with host Carl Crypt who brings Grampa into the lab and brings people from his past back into his life, but Grampa wants nothing to do with this and tries his best to take out host Carl before the show can even go on! But the show still continues as Grampa gets a call from his Mom and she tell him to do the show so we see such characters as Slim his skeleton collage friend and co-host of Super Scary Saturday, Igor shows up who was a flight school friend and as well co-host of this Horror Host Show! Lenny The Louge Lizard a dinosour headed man who use to dig up ghouls from the grave and stole Grandpa’s best ghoul and lastly his grandson Eddie shows up and the show ends with a happy reunion.

Movie: In the 1890s a team of British archaeologists discover the untouched tomb of Princess Ananka but accidentally bring the mummified body of her High Priest back to life. Three years later back in England a follower of the same Egyptian religion unleashes the mummy to exact grisly revenge on the despoilers of the sacred past.

Super Scary Saturday Mystery Of The Wax Museum DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Mystery Of The Wax Museum
Starring – Lionel Atwill & Fay Wray    Not Rated    1933

Host: Grampa is upset about all the bills that are pilling up and are all past due! He soons finds out that the money is being spent by Slim for his new mannequin girlfriend! The lab looses power and they must use candles to light it up and start to host the days movie, and Grampa ends up beating up Slim for using all the money! In the end Grampa gives his thoughts of the movies bad guy and closes the show with Slim who has a black eye and his head wrapped.

Movie: In London, sculptor Ivan Igor struggles in vain to prevent his partner Worth from burning his wax museum…and his ‘children.’ Years later, Igor starts a new museum in New York, but his maimed hands confine him to directing lesser artists. People begin disappearing (including a corpse from the morgue); Igor takes a sinister interest in Charlotte Duncan, fiancée of his assistant Ralph, but arouses the suspicions of Charlotte’s roommate, wisecracking reporter Florence.

Super Scary Saturday Rodan dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Rodan
Starring – Kenji Sahara & Akio Kobori    Not Rated    1956

Host: Grampa is in a great mood and comes dancing down the stairs and heads to the Superstation Movie Mausoleum were he takes the shovel from Slim and finds such films as The Exorcist and I Was A Teenage Werewolf but gets really happy when he finds Rodan and selects it as the days movie! Grampa loves the film so much he gives it 4 pints and two fangs up! Grampa, Slim and Igor ever judge Rodan’s dive into the water and as always inbetween the film Grampa delivers cheesy jokes and puns.

Movie: In the Japanese mining village of Kitamatsu, miners ares starting to disappear deep inside shaft number 8. Some of the men sent to investigate are killed but one who has managed to escape brings back a tale of a giant insect. Soon, the giant prehistoric insects are attacking the village. Not long after, something traveling faster than the speed of sound is found flying in the sky. It is Rodan, a giant flying prehistoric reptile that has come to life. It spreads terror throughout Japan and is seemingly invincible to any weapon they may throw at it.

Note From Matt: Not 100% sure if this episode is complete.

Super Scary Saturday The Thing DVD

Super Scary Saturday: The Thing
Starring – Kenneth Tobey & James Arness    Unrated    1951

Host: Grampa is in the screaming room and shares the plot of The Thing From Another World to the viewers as a planet grows bigger and bigger blocking him from the camera and the viewers. In-between the film Grampa once more tells the viewers about his contest to have dinner with him in New York to eat at his very own restaurant and also treats us to his jokes and puns based on the day’s film. In the end Grampa introduces us to Spudnic, a potato man who by the end of the show is attacked by the growing plant and is saved by Grampa!

Movie: Scientists at an Arctic research station discover a spacecraft buried in the ice. Upon closer examination, they discover the frozen pilot. All hell breaks loose when they take him back to their station and he is accidentally thawed out!

Super Scary Saturday Valley Of Gwangi dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Valley Of The Gwangi
Starring – Richard Carlson & Gila Golan    Rated G    1969

Host: Agent Friday The 13th is a part of Drac Net a group of Vampire Cops, his sidekick is SGT. Skeleton, and they must help Grampa as Slim is missing! Agent Friday The 13th gets to the castle and gets the facts from Grampa about the last time he saw Slim, and Igor even tries to help when he finds a ransom note that says the kidnapper wants pints of blood for the return of Slim. After investigating more clues, Agent Friday The 13th and SGT. Skeleton decide that they know who the kidnapper is and head toward the graveyard near the beach where the ransom blood was to be dropped off and find that the kidnapper is none other than Slim himself who wanted to prove a point to Grampa that he feels like he has been taken advantage of!

Movie: Cowboy James Franciscus seeks fame and fortune by capturing a Tyrannosaurus Rex living in the Forbidden Valley and putting it in a Mexican circus. His victim, called the Gwangi, turns out to have an aversion to being shown in public.

Super Scary Saturday War Of Gargantuas dvd

Super Scary Saturday: War Of Gargantuas
Starring – Russ Tamblyn & Kumi Mizuno    Rated G    1966

Host: Grampa is in the lab and gets a call from the Transylvania Army, and it’s his duty to report in.  His mission is to save the Transylvania Blood Bank that is being held hostage. Gramp decides to send in Slimbo, an elite fighting machine and sends Igor to get Slimbo’s pardon from jail.  When freed, Slimbo gets ready for war to free the hostages. While the battle is brutal, in the end Slimbo is able to save the day and free the hostages. Grampa also gives Slimbo a purple heart for his seek and save mission.

Movie: An experimental lab animal called a gargantua escapes from his captors and is suspected to be the creature that is killing people all over the countryside. But when the gargantua from the lab appears at the same time as the evil gargantua, the two begin to battle across Japan.

Note From Matt: This is my second favorite episode of Super Scary Saturday as it’s take on Rambo is super fun and has some of the best segments filmed for this Horror Host series. In closing “Last Blood Slimbo” kicks butt!

Super Scary Saturday Minotar DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Warlord Of Crete
Starring – Bob Mathias & Rosanna Schiaffino    Not Rated    1960

Host: Grampa, Deadrah and Slim are in the lab and wants to teach us all about Transylvania home cooking that uses such ingredients like worms and shark eggs. Grampa is truly the Monster Chef and even credits his one time friend Jaws for helping him get some of the items he needed. He teaches the art of making salads as well as navy beans soup and crab soup. Throughout the episode Grampa and his assistants show us all types of gross food as well as ones that are just terrible puns like a fish on a sword that he says is of course a swordfish.  Egor as well shows up just to add some annoyance to Grampa as he tries to cook. In the end Grampa shares the main attraction: the meal’s desserts that include lady fingers, chocolate noose and upside down cake that turns the camera upside down!

Movie: King Minos sacrifices the ‘required’ virgins to the Minotaur. As his wife lies dieing, she confesses that her daughter has a twin she has secreted to avoid giving one of the girls to the Minotaur. The daughter raised by Minos tries to have her twin killed, but failing in her first attempt, continues to try to have her given to the Minotaur. Theseus, the Greek hero, tries to prevent it.

Super Scary Saturday Willard DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Willard
Starring – Bruce Davison & Elsa Lanchester    Rated PG    1971

Host: Grampa is having a rat in the lab and along with Igor and Slim he is trying to ride the area of these pests, and Grampa builds a ultimate rat trap that would have had a weight drop and crush the rats but instead it backfires and he finds himself with a massive headache as he is the victim of the weight as it backfires and bonks him on the head. Grampa’s next plan is to use the Red Pages and calls The Piped Piper Rat Catcher servise to come to the lab and get ride of his rat issue…..buts sadly the episode is not complete and cuts off at the end of the film.

Movie: A social misfit, Willard is made fun of by his co-workers, and squeezed out of the company started by his deceased father by his boss. His only friends are a couple of rats he raised at home, Ben and Socrates. (And their increasing number of friends) However, when one of them is killed at work, he goes on a rampage using his rats to attack those who have been tormenting him.

Note From Matt: This also has the same skits as Ben and cuts off the same time, how does Grampa rid the lab of the rats, dang it?!!!

Super Scary Saturday TV Ad

Super Scary Saturday was a great way to unwind from the day’s cartoons when I was a kid and also acted as an alternative to Commander USA when he was off air for tennis matches.  While Grampa might not have been as iconic in the Brassfield house, he still was a big part of my childhood and once more I must stress he was the first to introduce me to Godzilla in movies as well as many of the Hammer Horror films and for that alone he is a true icon of Horror Hosting in my eyes. I must also note on some of these episodes they had a contest were you could win a trip to New York and have dinner with Grampa at his own restaurant or even win a life time supply of Grampa’s Home Pasta! Man, that would have been amazing to have dinner with Grampa.  If I would have won this as a kid I am sure he would have loved me talking about horror films, cartoons, toys and comics nonstop! So to wrap up this Horror Host Icon Update, I want to say once more thanks to Grampa, Slim, Igor and Fang for help making my childhood amazing and filled with monsters and horror. Our next update will take us out of the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and into the world of crime where thugs like Mumbles, The Brow and Flattop run the streets and only one man can bring them to justice.  That man is Dick Tracy, and he will be the subject of our next update so I hope to see you back here for that one. So until next time, Support Your Local Horror Host and Be There Or Beware for my next update!

Dick Tracy Logo preview

Horror Host Icon: USA Saturday Nightmares

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s update will be about that wonderful Saturday night block of horror known as USA Saturday Nightmares! I know many of you are saying how can this be about a Horror Host when the films and TV shows were aired with no host? Well simple, while no host was shown, the iconic voice of Alan Kalter would welcome us to the night’s fears and even give an introduction to the nights film making the show feel like a horror host program. So it’s truly my honor to present to you my readers and friends Horror Host Icon: USA Saturday Nightmares.

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo

Saturdays when I was a kid were a fantastic time for TV.  Not only was the day packed with classic cartoons all morning but it also was swamped with some great horror host programs like Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, Super Scary Saturday with Grandpa Munster and USA Up All Night. But one horror themed program that my brother and I looked forward to every Saturday night was Saturday Nightmares on USA.  It was like clock work as we would beg our parents to let us watch the night’s horror film and as an extra bonus they would show such TV shows as The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Werewolf and Ray Bradbury Theater making for one spooky themed night. This is the place I first saw many great b-movie horror films like The Video Dead, Zombie Nightmare and Forever Evil and is also the place I got to see such classics as Friday The 13th and Prom Night. My brother and I would plant ourselves in front of the living room TV with a bowl of popcorn or potato chips as our parents would go watch TV in their room, and we would be sucked into the eerie terror glowing from the TV screen as most the times we would turn off the lights to add to the atmosphere and mood of the night’s feature movie. The block of programs was very simply formatted and would start at 8 pm with the intro to the show that would act as a way to show you the plot of the film as well as the two shows with a amazing voice over.  The most famous intro consisted of a haunted house with the camera going down a hallway where the pictures on the wall would morph from say Dracula to Frankenstein and the next from Freddy Kruger to Jason Voorhees. During breaks they would have a title card with the show’s logo and the voice intro-ing us in or out of a commercial break. Sometimes if the movie was running a little short on run time, they would fill in with a short horror film, the most popular being The Dummy that was also shown many times on HBO. Saturday Nightmares began in 1986 and would run till 1994 before USA would pull the plug on their horror block on Saturday nights.  This was a sad day indeed because by 1989 Commander USA was off the air and Up All Night only lasted 4 years more when it went off the air in 1998. Nowadays USA is a shell of what it used to be and now mainly focuses on Law and Order and C.S.I. reruns making for some boring and over played viewing. I will say that USA does still air WWE Raw as well as makes their own shows, but they are far from “America’s Favorite Cable Network” like they use to be.

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo 2Saturday Nightmares Logo 3Saturday Nightmares Warning

That’s something TV nowadays is really lacking, the horror program blocks that were so popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and when USA dropped the ball, TNT picked it up when they introduced Monstervison in 1993, but that series will be held for another Icon update. DATV in 2013 tried to make a great horror themed line up called Saturday Night Nightmares that showcased Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of The Macabre as well as Andy Copp’s cult movie review show Neon Madness and his “mix tape” style show called Psychotic Feed. But sadly the program block was too hard for them and myself to keep up on a weekly bases with new and fresh “cult” style shows so as quickly as it started it ended. I really wish USA Network would bring back Saturday Nightmares as well as Commander USA and Up All Night; I think it would surprise them on just how many people really do miss and want these shows back on the air. Shows like Saturday Nightmares was a great place for kids to watch and learn about horror films that were not in the mainstream as well as those were.  While many would say that they can learn about these films via the internet, nothing could take the place of sitting in front of the TV with your favorite snack and watching horrors unfold before your eyes on your TV screen. In fact when I was a kid, I can remember kids talking about some of the films we all had watched on USA Saturday Nightmares and comparing what part we got chills from and what deaths shocked us.  It’s a shame that this kind of enjoyment is taken away from the youth of today.

USA Saturday Nightmares Short Film LogoSaturday Nightmares Haunted Castle

So below are some USA Saturday Nightmares I own on DVD-R, and while no host segments are present, I still will take the film descriptions from IMDB so you can see what types of horrors as I kid I got to witness. And as an added bonus I will also include the horror films from the 80’s and early 90’s that I have that were taped from USA Network. So sit back and relax and welcome to my Saturday Nightmares!

USA Saturday Nightmares curse of the cat people dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  The Curse Of The Cat People
Starring – Simone Simon & Kent Smith      Not Rated      1944

Movie: This mostly unrelated sequel to Cat People (1942) has Amy, the young daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed. Amy is a very imaginative child who has trouble differentiating fantasy from reality, and has no friends her own age as a result. She makes an imaginary friend though, her father’s dead first wife Irena. At about the same time, she befriends Julia Farren, an aging reclusive actress who is alienated from her own daughter Barbara.

USA Saturday Nightmares friday the 13th dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Friday The 13th
Starring – Betsy Palmer & Adrienne King    Rated R      1980

Movie: One summer at Camp Crystal Lake, a group of young counselors begin to get ready to lead campers. Unfortunately for the former, someone isn’t happy about what’s going on in the camp and enjoys playing kill the counselor. As bodies fall to the ground in the camp, no one is safe.

USA Saturday Nightmares spookies dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Spookies
Starring – Felix Ward & Dan Scott      Rated R    1986

Movie: Taking a wrong turn, travelers find themselves trapped in a mysterious house. One horror after another threatens them as the sorcerer who lives within needs sacrifices to give eternal life to his beautiful bride.

USA Saturday Nightmares tourist trap dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Tourist Trap
Starring – Chuck Connors & Tanya Roberts    Rated PG      1979

Movie: A group of young friends stranded at a secluded roadside museum are stalked by the owner of the place, who has the power to control his collection of mannequins.

USA Saturday Nightmares werewolf dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Werewolf
Starring – Chuck Connors & John J. York      Not Rated      1987

Movie: Young Eric has been bitten by a werewolf. However, he’s not particularly thrilled by this turn of affairs and wishes to escape his curse.

USA Saturday Nightmares shorts dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  The Dummy & Living Dolls
Starring – Carrie Vickrey & Park Dougherty      Not Rated    1982/1980

Movies: The Dummy – A woman is trapped in her apartment alone with a murderous ventriloquist dummy. Living Dolls – Melvin is a henpecked worker in a Bridal shop. To get way from the nagging women, he retreats to a storage room filled with mannequins where he vents his frustration. The only problem is, the mannequins upstairs offer something more horrifying than Melvin expected.

So while your blood is still chilled from all these nightmares, I should also take a moment to highlight some great horror films that aired on USA during the 80’s and early 90’s that I happen to own on DVD-R and VHS, cause I would never get the chance to speak about them any other time that would be as fitting as this update! The main regular none Nightmare or Groovie Movie USA Network airing of a horror film I remember has to be the George Romero zombie epic Day of The Dead.  They did a great job of promoting the premiere, and my brother and I were so hyped to watch it and were not let down after seeing it. I happened to get a copy of an 80’s USA Network airing of Day of the Dead from my pal Jason Young who taped it off TV when he was a kid.  He edited out the commercials but left the amazing intro that showed clips of Night of the Living Dead. So a big thanks goes to Jason for letting me watch the USA Network TV print of my favorite Romero Dead film again. So here are a few of those films that also scared the young viewers at the time of airing.

USA Network Day of the dead dvd

USA Movie:  Day Of The Dead
Starring – Lori Cardille & Joseph Pilato      Rated R      1985

Movie: Zombies rule the world, except for a small group of scientists and military personnel who reside in an underground bunker in Florida. The scientists are using the undead in gruesome experiments, much to the chagrin of the military. Finally the military finds that their men have been used in the scientists’ experiments, and banish the scientists to the caves that house the Living Dead. Unfortunately, the zombies from above ground have made their way into the bunker.

USA Network_childs play 3 dvd

USA Movie:  Child’s Play 3
Starring – Brad Dourif & Justin Whalin      Rated R      1991

Movie: Chucky, the doll possessed by a serial killer, returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy that defeated him and has since become adult.

USA Network_Psycho 3 dvd

USA Movie:  Psycho III
Starring – Anthony Perkins & Jeff Fahey        Rated R      1986

Movie: Norman Bates is still running his little motel, and he has kept the dressed skeleton he calls mother. One of his guests is a young girl who has left the convent where she lived. To get some help he employs a young man. One day a nosy journalist comes to see him to ask questions about his past.

Note From Matt: I was lucky to get this 1995 USA Network Broadcast of Psycho III thanks to my friend Mike Ritchie who taped it off TV during the cool marathon they were having called “Psycho Saturday”. The film is complete with commercials that is highlighted by advertisements for WWF Monday Night Raw, Duckman and Tekwar. I found another tape at his house that had only a small part of Psycho IV taken from the same marathon but it was taped over with WCW Monday Nitro…yeah he has a lot of wrestling tapes.

USA Network Logo

While we are on the subject of USA Network, I should also take a brief moment to talk about a syndicated show they used to air called “Kung-Fu Theatre” because otherwise I never will be able to. The show would feature some really cool martial arts films, many made by The Shaw Brothers exposing viewers to the vast world of Kung-Fu films. The show aired in the early 80’s and disappeared by the mid 80’s and made room for Commander USA as well as all the other movie themed broadcast that followed. One thing I remember that USA did one summer in the early 90’s was called Kung-Fu June where they would play some really cool martial arts films one being called Chinese Super Ninjas, a film I still love to this day. I can remember thinking that this June long fun event would happen every year and was let down when it did not. But as you can see USA Network back then did not just cater to the horror fans they also were delivering action to the Martial Arts fans…those were the days. Below are some screen grabs from Kung-Fu Theatre, so check em out and enjoy.

Kung Fu Theatre 1Kung Fu Theatre LogoKung Fu Theatre 2

I happen to have two episodes of Kung-Fu Theatre from the USA Network thanks to my horror host pal Dr. Pureblood, so why not showcase them a little as well while I have the chance.

kungfu theatre ninja exterminators

Kung-Fu Theatre:  Ninja Exterminators
Starring – Lung Chan & Lung Ching      Not Rated    1980

Movie: A ruthless rapist and jewel thief and his gang are brought to justice by a cop and a young avenger.

kungfu theatre showdown at the equator

Kung-Fu Theatre:  Showdown At The Equator
Starring – Lieh Lo & Nora Miao      Rated R      1978

Movie: An undercover detective uses a restaurant targeted by harassment by a criminal gang to infiltrate the gang and arrest its members.

USA Network Map Logo

USA Saturday Nightmares meant a lot to me growing up, and spending Saturday night watching a cheesy horror film as well as horror related TV shows with my family was what I called a perfect weekend night. Looking back at USA Network as a whole, back then the whole station was iconic to me as I would watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, USA Cartoon Express, WWF Monday Night Raw and so many other great programs that all entertained me. If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and had cable I am sure you also watched many of these shows, and if you were into horror I am sure you watched Saturday Nightmares and know what I mean about how awesome it was to watch. I should also note that I am looking for more taped off TV Saturday Nightmares movies and if you have some please contact me as I would love to watch them! So as this Horror Host Icon update comes to an end, I think our next update will be based around the world of pro wrestling’s most dominate tag teams and the mini comic series based around them and of course I am talking about The Legion of Doom! So until then make sure to support your local horror host and watch a horror film or two, cause you never know maybe you’ll have your own nightmare.

Legion Of Doom Logo

Horror Host Icon : Commander USA

Growing up a strange kid was a very fun way to live life. I was able to be me and not worry about what others thought of me, and I must say all my fellow classmates in Waynesville were all very cool kids and no one thought it was weird that I drew pictures of Satan, demons and monsters all the time. In fact, I can only remember one teacher ever really being an ass, and his name didn’t even stick with me because he was a piss poor teacher who was younger than the rest and walked around like he was the man when really he was a dud.  He was a computer teacher and he gave me crap for writing about Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and The Toxic Avenger.

Waynesville was a good time and was way better than the second time I had to go to Kettering Schools who had many teachers who targeted me for being “satanic” in their eyes. Many things helped make me the person I am today and have lead to all the cool creative things I do from no budget films with companies like Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video, to the TV show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, to music concerts at local venue Gilly’s to even my early made comics of Benny The Squirrel and Robo-Racoon that were drawn with colored pencils. Of course my Mom and Dad played a big part in it, as they never discouraged me from being myself and even my brother Bryan played a big part of just helping my mind work with all his fake wrestling leagues and such. But of course entertainment also played a big part in warping me.  Things like pro wrestling with all the amazing characters like Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, video games on the NES with all the high adventure, Universal Monster movies with all the classic scares and horror hosts that brought me doses of comedy mixed in with my horror. The hometown Dayton area host was Dr. Creep, a lovable character who hosted Shock Theatre and later Saturday Night Dead.  While he played a part in my life at the time but more so later on, it was one horror host that aired on cable TV on USA Network that truly was an icon to me and a guy me and my brother tried never to miss.  You long time readers know who I am talking about..that’s right, the one and only Commander USA who hosted his Groovie Movies Saturdays and later on Sundays.

Commander USA 1Commander USA 2Commander USA 3 Commander USA’s Groovie Movies started airing in 1985 and would show two horror or cult type films on the USA Network. Commander USA is a retired super hero whose secret headquarters (The Video Vault) is located in the basement of a shopping mall in New Jersey and with his Heat And Radiation Screen That Protected Tel-Psychotronic Screen he would watch the film alongside us as well as his best friend and sidekick Lefty (his hand with cigar ash on it) or some other guest. Commander was part of the Legion of Decency and is a fan of all the cheesy goodness he shows and took pride in presenting the movie along side showing us how to make a mid-movie snack that was some gross mix of food that should not go together.

Groovie Movies would come on Saturday at noon and was the perfect follow up to the major networks’ cartoon blocks.  This was the perfect thing for Monster Kids of the 80’s like myself as later that night USA Network would have Saturday Nightmares that consisted of a horror film and shows like The Hitchhiker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Then after that, USA Up All Night would come on with host Gilbert Gottfried, making this the perfect station to watch on Saturdays. Commander USA would switch to showing one film and later even moved to Sundays before sadly going off the air in 1989. Commander USA was the first host that drew me 100% in and really helped spark my interest in slasher films and low budget horror flicks.  His style of hosting is what I would consider the best as he would have a storyline that would run through out the episode, and you would feel as if he was watching the film with you, the sign of a good solid host. Commander USA made the odd little kid me feel as if I was normal and that many of people out in the world liked the same things as I did. I know my brother and I have a lot in common, and I would almost guarantee that he would also say that Commander USA had an impact of his young life. Something about sitting down and eating lunch or a snack and watching Commander USA host films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Friday The 13th Part III and Aztec Mummy are magical moments that some day I hope future kids of mine will share with their favorite horror host.

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Jim Hendricks was the actor who played Commander USA, and he was a former radio DJ and theater performer. His other acting gigs include bit parts in Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Brutal Fury and a cameos as Commander USA in the Christmas film classic Scrooged and pool shark film The Color Of Money. While not a household name, Jim Hendricks will always be one of my favorite actors of all time for his role of being the Commander. I should also note that Jim Hendricks is talked to in the horror host documentary American Scary, a film every fan of hosting should watch.

Jim Hendricks

Commander USA is a character who has a very blue collar super hero look.  Commander wears a tight red body suit with USA logo on his chest, star suspenders, blue baggy shorts and a polka dotted cape. He also always has a cigar, and his mask is blue grease paint painted around his eyes. As I stated back in my “Top 10 Should Have Been Star Comics,” Commander USA should have been made into a comic book series because I would have been a buyer of every issue. In fact I would love to see a comic series made even now about the adventures of Commander, and I know of a few comic artist that would be perfect for that job! Below is some artwork done by two of my friends, Eric Shonborn and Bruce O’Hughes, as well as an art piece I found online.  All are different in style, and all are amazing in their own way. So make sure to take a look at these amazing drawings.

Eric Commander USA ArtBruce Commander USA artCommander USA Art 1 Commander USA was joined by all types of guests from vampires to mall shoppers, but only really had two co-hosts/sidekicks that appeared in almost every episode. The most popular was Lefty, his right hand with a smiley face drawn on with cigar ash.  Lefty was a strong willed hand puppet who had a mind of his own. Lefty was his righthand man and was always around to help out the Commander in whatever silly thing that was going on. The second sidekick was Monroe, a mounted stuffed deer head who made weird noises and would always hold the Commanders coat, and sometimes he would have some ideas for The Commander to try. So I had to give both of these great sidekicks a shout out, and I can remember loving Monroe when I was a young lad. So this update is not only for Commander USA, the fans but it’s for Lefty and Monroe as well!

Leftymonroe

1989 was a dark year as it marked the end of the Groovie Movies and was a sad time to be had by all.  While we still had USA Up All Night and USA Saturday Nightmares, the Video Vault was closed for good and and reruns were not in the cards. For the following years, I was able to get my cheesy horror flicks fix via other horror host shows, cable TV like HBO and renting VHS tapes from the library and video stores.  While they were all fun ways to discover and relive the horrors of the movies, they were all still lacking Commander USA. I kicked myself for never recording the episodes on Beta or VHS, but the younger me was to busy taping Godzilla films and cartoons. Over the years my brother was able to track down some copies of Groovie Movies on VHS and burned them onto DVD-R’s, and we were both able to relive our youth and be reunited with Commanders wisecracks and silly jokes. We both spent time tracking down episodes and trading them to each other, and now I own a large amount of these episodes and even still to this day am inspired by Commander USA who is my favorite horror host of all time. One episode that I have been looking for is the one where he hosted the 1973 Hammer Horror film “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell.” This was the only episode that for the first few times he showed it, my Mom would not allow us to watch cause it had the word “hell” in it! So if you have a copy of this episode or any episode of the Commander, please get in contact with me because I would love to get a copy!

So on this update I am going to take a look at some of the episodes I own of Commander USA, and I am going to tell you what the film is and what he does in each of these episodes.  So be ready to go back to the past when the USA Network was the top cable station to me and my brother.

Commander USA 7

Before I get into these episodes I should explain a few things, like first what is a Groovie Movie?  After growing up watching this show, I can give you a run down: it’s the following type of films, classic horror, cheesy horror, Mexican horror, fantasy, low budget action, slashers, goofy comedy, low budget horror, sci-fi and kung fu films. Now on each episode that I review, I will break down the host segments as well as give a brief write up for each film he is hosting.  The film write ups I will get off IMDB, and the hosts ones I will write myself. I will also give the names of two actors in the film as well as its rating and year of release. I will not be doing my comic 1-4 star ratings for these episodes because I have such a soft spot for all these episodes that the ratings would all be high! I will also review them in alphabetical order to make it easier. I want to also credit Stumpy Disk for the cover design idea. But now that I gave you a little more info, let’s get ready to enter the Video Vault.

Commander USA abominable snowman dvd

Groovie Movies: Abominable Snowman
Starring – Peter Cushing & Forrest Tucker   Not Rated   1957

Host: It’s a heat wave in New Jersey, and Commander is happy to be in the Video Vault and wants to do summer activities indoors! He makes boats out of snack food and sails them in a bowl of water.  He butchers “fresh” fish and plays a game of fish ball where you play bad mitten with fish heads, makes a slime zoo, opens his own cloths fashions and just enjoys the cool air in the Vault.

Movie: A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti.

commander usa alligator people dvd

Groovie Movies: The Alligator People
Starring – Beverly Garland & Lon Chaney Jr.   Not Rated   1959

Host: It’s Halloween time, and the Video Vault is set up for the first ever Groovie Movie Halloween Party and guests include Lefty and Angela The Alligator. He also gets a visit from a zombie who brings him a voodoo doll that looks just like Commander.  He helps Dorothy escape a evil witch, makes some snacks, gets a visit from a vampire and just has a blast at his party as other ghouls and goblins come to party.

Movie: A newlywed couple sit in a train. The husband receives a frantic telegram. He gets off at a station to make a phone call, the train pulls away without him on it, and that’s the last his wife sees of him. Years later after a long search she finally tracks him down on his family’s southern estate where she discovers that a failed medical treatment has turned him into an alligator mutant.

Commander USA an american werewolf in london dvd

Groovie Movies: An American Werewolf In London
Starring – David Naughton & Jenny Agutter  Rated R   1981

Host: It’s New Years Eve, and Commander USA is going to have a pub party in The Video Vault and has some guest to help that come all the way from England in honor of the days film. In the end of course, he spends the party just with the help as no one else comes, but he has a blast with his new friends.

Movie: Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

Commander USA Beast From 20000 DVD

Groovie Movies: Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Starring – Lee Van Cleef & Paul Hubschmid    Not Rated    1953

Host: The nights film is one of Lefty’s favorite films and for the showing Lefty makes a reptile dude ranch play set! Tourists pour in to see the ranch and Commander orders and receives his very own Dinosaur who just so happens to be way to large for the miniature ranch as Monroe opens up a souvenir shop to help out at the attraction. Commander gets a little hungry and makes his own weird ice cream thats made with cheese in a can, cake frosting, avocado and ketchup, and when that don’t work he makes yet another gross snack. The Dinosaur escapes into the mall and Commander and Lefty must travel above to stop it’s rampage.

Movie: As a result of an arctic nuclear test, a carnivorous dinosaur thaws out and starts making its way down the east coast of North America. Professor Tom Nesbitt, only witness to the beast’s existence, is not believed, even when he identifies it as a “rhedosaurus” to paleontologist Thurgood Elson. All doubts disappear, however, when Elson is swallowed whole during an oceanic bathysphere excursion to search for the creature. Soon thereafter the rhedosaurus emerges from the sea and lays waste to Manhattan Island until Nesbitt comes up with a plan to try to stop the seemingly indestructible beast.

Commander USA Beginning Of The End dvd

Groovie Movies: Beginning Of The End
Starring – Peter Graves & Peggie Castle   Not Rated   1957

Host: Some one has entered the Video Vault has has stolen Commander USA’s Headcheese Tarts, and now Commander and Lefty break out a Sherlock Holmes dress up kit and are on the case to find his missing snacks. His prime suspect is Rose Rosewood whom has teamed with one of his rouges gallery before, but is she the snack thief and will ge get his tarts back in time to enter the malls headcheese bake off?

Movie: Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

Commander USA Blade Master dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blade Master
Starring – Miles O’Keeffe & Lisa Foster   Rated PG   1984

Host: Commander USA brings his two prehistoric friends Fred and Wilma Fieldstone to the Video Vault to watch the days film. During this time Fred and Wilma dance around, eat a meal made of hearts, give buckets of blood to the blood drive and Wilma tries to help Commander sale a book based on the wise words given by one of the films characters. Commander also gets his mail delivered by a Wizard who he thinks looks like the wizard from the movie!

Movie: In this sequel, the Fighting Eagle returns. This time he must save a former mentor from the evil Zor. Ator battles cavemen, invisible swordsmen, and barbarians with his new sidekick Thong to finally have the ultimate showdown with Zor.

Commander USA blood beast Terror dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blood Beast Terror
Starring – Peter Cushing & Robert Flemyng   Rated G   1968

Host: In this episode Commander USA tells of a monster concert in Japan and the crazy shopping sales going on in the mall above as he is joined by a strange man who is a entomologist (studies bugs) who is trying to capture a very large butterfly, the man is annoying and keeps walking around with his net and being an over all pain and even with the help of Lefty he seems to not be able to run this unwanted guest off. The Commander is also visited by weird bug girls who flap around the video vault and once the entomologist uses his net on one of them, he pushes the Commander to far who frees the bug girl and drops a net on the entomologist!

Movie: A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head moth and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his daughter when she is in her human incarnation and feeds on the blood of her victims when she is in the moth form.

Commander USA Blood Song dvd

Groovie Movies: Blood Song
Starring – Frankie Avalon & Donna Wilkes    Not Rated     1982

Host: Commander USA is gearing up for St. Patricks Day and is making all kinds of green colored food from roast beef to mashed potatoes as well as costumes like the Map of Ireland hockey mask. Commander also changes up his look with a green mask and shamrock suspenders in honor of the holiday. He also cleans up around the Video Vault and Monroe is also dressed up all in green gearing up for the Holiday. Commander shows us a Irish Game called Potato Toss where he throws a potato into the air and shoots it with a machine gun as well gives us silly none true facts about Saint Patrick!

Movie: A psychopath escapes from a mental institution and starts a murder spree, which ends in the pursuing of a young handicapped girl, who once got a blood transfusion from him.

Commander USA Brood DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Brood
Starring – Oliver Reed & Samantha Eggar   Rated R   1979

Host: Commander USA in honor the the movie brings a crazy psychiatrist to the Video Vault named Fraud who comes complete with a straight jacket. The man is a quack and gets a crush on Monroe and speaks gibberish to Commander who seems to be in on the joke that this man is nuts. And in the end the Nut House comes looking for him. 

Movie:A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation.

Commander USA CHUD DVD

Groovie Movies:  C.H.U.D.
Starring – John Heard & Daniel Stern    Rated R     1984

Host: Monroe has won the lottery, and Lefty is writing a bunch of short stories with Commander helping with the proof reading and typing of the stories. Lefty then decides to become an investigative reporter!

Movie: A rash of bizarre murders in New York City seems to point to a group of grotesquely deformed vagrants living in the sewers. A courageous policeman, a photo journalist and his girlfriend, and a nutty bum, who seems to know a lot about the creatures, band together to try and determine what the creatures are and how to stop them.

Commander USA death of bruce dvd

Groovie Movies:  Death Of Bruce Lee
Starring – Ron Van Clief & Phillip Ko   Rated R   1975

Host: Ralph Headwards shows up to the Video Vault and is doing a “This Is Your Life” for Commander USA! But the big issue is that the Commander does know some of the people from his “past” or they are stand ins for people he knows and some he just doesn’t want to remember!

Movie: Three rival gangs embark on a search for Bruce Lee’s handwritten “finger gifting” manual.

Commander USA Deathquake dvd

Groovie Movies: Deathquake
Starring – Hiroshi Katsuno & Eiji Okada   Not Rated   1980

Host: The Commander is pretty excited to be showing Deathquake and due to all the fright and sub plots of the film, he invites a woman named Sheare Fryte who is an expert in these things and wrote a book called The Fryte Report.  However while he was thinking she was a sweet woman, he soon finds out the she is a very mean diva who hates men!

Movie: Seismologist Hoichi loses touch with his family when he predicts that there will be an earthquake in Tokyo of greater magnitude than the one in 1923, which his father predicted. Because of this, he starts seeing another woman, who already has a boyfriend. Hoichi’s wife wants to meet her before she will grant a divorce. Eventually, the earthquake he predicted does come, which changes all relationships and exemplifies the character of the Japanese.

Commander USA Def Con 4 DVD

Groovie Movies:  Def-Con 4
Starring – John Walsch & Lenore Zann     Rated R     1985

Host: In honor of the day’s film and its scenes of space, Commander USA signs up to go to Space Camp that also acts as a Trailer Park! The camp sends a spaced out female councilor to help him get ready by the name of Astral Plane.  Can she help prepare Commander and will Space Camp even happen after a meteor shower?

Movie: Two men and a woman circle the globe in a satellite armed with a nuclear device. The third world war breaks out, and a few months later the satellite crashes. They survive the crash but one man gets killed by survivors and the other man gets caught. The woman stays by the remains of the the satellite but is soon caught by evil punks who have taken power.

Commander USA Devils Nightmare DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Devil’s Nightmare
Starring – Erika Blanc & Daniel Emilfork    Rated R    1971

Host: Commander USA decides that in this episode he is going to analyze dreams and nightmares and spends time watching the movie along with you, giving his thoughts during his breaks.

Movie: Six of seven tourists in a east European castle overnight are victims of a helper of the devil. Is Satan willing to spare their souls?

Commander USA duel of ultimate weapons dvd

Groovie Movies: Duel Of Ultimate Weapons
Starring – So-Jeon Yu & Hwang Jang Lee    Not Rated   1983

Host: Commander USA hangs around the Video Vault with his friend Debbie who is dressed as if she is from Japan, and together they watch the movie and eat and make a lot of snacks!

Movie: The evil Dong Won has unbeatable kicking legs and proudly travels the land proving his expertise. But when a young man loses his foster parent to Won’s deadly kick, he seeks out an old drunken master to learn a way to defeat the Master of the Leg.

Commander USA FINAL TERROR dvd

Groovie Movies: The Final Terror
Starring – Daryl Hannah & Adrian Zmed   Rated R   1983

Host: As part of a super hero group he has joined, Commander USA is allowing one lucky camper to spend the day camping inside inside the Video Vault! That lucky camper is a rich fun loving woman named Pearl who seems to be hyped to be camping in the Video Vault.

Movie: A group of forest rangers go camping in the woods, and trespass into an area where a backwoods mama likes to kill people who come onto her turf.

Commander USA Friday 13th 2 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 2
Starring – Amy Steel & John Furey    Rated R    1981

Host: In the Video Vault, Commander USA gives some camp safety tips like the buddy system and plans a trip to Washington D.C.! He also practices his acting skills that has him dancing with a fake bird and gives a silly daily joke.

Movie: After killing Mrs. Voorhees, who was avenging her son Jason’s death, Alice Hardy can finally sigh with relief. But there is just one problem; Jason never drowned at Camp Crystal Lake and lived in the nearby woods as a hermit all this time. The day that Alice beheaded his mother, Jason saw everything, and his heart filled with thirst for revenge. Two months later, Alice gets stabbed by an ice pick in the temple and disappears. Is Jason behind this? Five years later, a camp next do to Camp Crystal Lake is built and the counselors start snooping around the old, abandoned camp ruins. This makes Jason very upset, since his shack is next to the remains of Camp Crystal Lake and what is inside the shack shall be kept secret forever, even if it means killing nine people!

Commander USA Friday 13th 3 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 3
Starring – Tracie Savage & Dana Kimmell   Rated R   1982

Host: Commander USA is hyped to be showing Friday The 13th Part 3 and shows the viewers his new barber chair as well as the Merry Go-Around Wall and even does a recap of parts 1 and 2.  This is an epic showing for him as Friday The 13th Part 3 was new to cable and aired only once before on USA Saturday Nightmares. The Commander has thrown out his back and is waiting for his friend who can fix it by having him lay on a bed of snails, and Commander just sits around the Video Vault reading mail and eating a snack and gets a visit from vampire Count Phantom. 

Movie: Jason Voorhees, having barely survived a wound to his shoulder from his own machete, is back to revenge on all that visit “his” woods. A new group of friends come over to party at an area close to the campsite. This time, Jason will be stronger than ever, and gets a hockey mask from one of those friends.

Commander USA Gamera Vs Barugon dvd

Groovie Movies: Gamera vs. Barugon
Starring – Kojiro Hongo & Yuka Konno    Not Rated   1966 

Host: Commander USA comes face to face with his second planet doppelganger, The Evil Commander, who does bad things and they decide to watch, the film together. The two fight over the film with Commander being on the side of Gamera and the film and Evil Commander just trashing it all and more siding with Barugon. In the end Commander USA uses a spray and rids himself of the Evil Doppelganger.

Movie: After a treacherous expedition to retrieve a giant opal, disaster strikes as the opal reveals itself to be an egg which spawns Barugon, demon dog from Hell! Armed with a deadly tongue and cold beams, Barugon wreaks havoc on Japan. Gamera comes to save the day.

Commander USA The Hand dvd

Groovie Movies:  The Hand
Starring – Michael Cain & Charles Fleische   Rated R   1981

Host: Lefty feels like Commander USA is holding him back from movies and we learn that Lefty went to school with Michael Cain’s hand who is the star of this movie. So to make him feel better, Commander lets Lefty show his talents.  From stunts to music he does it all to catch an eye of a movie producer so that he can go work in Hollywood.

Movie: Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.

Commander USA The Hearse dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hearse
Starring – Trish Van Devere & Joseph Cotten    Rated PG    1980

Host: Commander USA has built a casket box car for the annual Dirt Box Derby and has asked for the help of a lazy mechanic named Backwrench to make sure it looks good and is built to win.  In between naps, Backwrench places all types of stuff the Commander doesn’t need on the coffin car and in the end his high bill might just keep the Commander from entering the race.

Movie: Jane Hardy decides to stay the summer in the house her aunt left her when she died, to try and recoup from a bad divorce. Little does she know, her aunt practiced witchcraft and is still thought of very badly by the town’s citizens. As soon as she moves in, she is haunted by a old black hearse and it’s creepy driver. Is she going insane or is she truly being menaced? She meets a friendly young man and becomes involved with him, but is he and the creepy driver one and the same?

Commander USA hercules 2 dvd

Groovie Movies: Hercules II
Starring – Lou Ferrigno & Milly Carlucci   Rated PG   1985

Host: Commander USA is at Mel’s Mount Olympus Diner for this episode in honor of the day’s film. The worker Feta is a goofy joke telling girl and takes a break to watch the Groovie Movie along side the Commander. The diner sits on top of the mountain, and the clouds are all around as The Commander gets some of the worse service from the greek workers, but he still is having a blast! And then at some point during the episode Commander is working at the diner and helping out. In the end the diner is closed down by the Health Inspector. 

Movie: Hercules searches for the Seven Thunderbolts of Zeus, which have been stolen by renegade gods.

Commander USA hills have eyes  dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hills Have Eyes 2
Starring – Michael Berryman & John Bloom   Rated R   1984

Host: Commander USA has won a collage degree from Publishers Clearing House but must pass a test given to him by some very bored board of education members. Can Commander’s super quick wit and charm get him his degree? Of course it can, but the important question is what is he going to do with it when he gets it?

Movie: A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off, and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest.

Commander USA Horror Werwolf DVD

Groovie Movies:  Horror Of The Werewolf
Starring – Paul Naschy & Mercedes Molina    Rated R    1975

Host: When entering the Video Vault, Commander USA gets a “pentagram” message that asks if he would watch over his friend Lon’s pet named Chuck, but when the pet arrives he finds out that Chuck isn’t a dog or cat but a werewolf who is as rude as rude can be. Commander puts up with his friends rude guest for as long as the day’s movie and just as he is about to send word that Lon needs to pick up his annoying pet, Chuck turns back into human and is a pretty woman who ends up getting dinner with the Commander!

Movie: Waldemar, the renowned adventurer, joins an expedition to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. While hiking the mountains, he’s captured by two cannibalistic demon nymphets guarding a remote Buddhist temple and becomes their sex-slave. They transform him into a werewolf setting him loose to roam the mountain where he encounters a sadistic bandit.

Commander USA Horror Of The Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Horror Of The Zombies
Starring – Maria Perschy & Jack Taylor    Rated R   1974

Host: Commander USA decides to have a zombie super model named Savannah Bright visit the Video Vault in the spirit of the day’s film, and she is able to give him modeling tips and show that zombies aren’t very bright!

Movie: The model Noemi questions her employer Lillian about her roommate Kathy that is missing after receiving a call from Lillian, and she tells that she will go to the police. Lilian explains that Kathy is in an afloat boat in the Atlantic with another model participating of a publicity stunt, and she brings Noemi to meet Howard Tucker and his henchman Sergio that have idealized the advertising campaign. Kathy uses the radio to report that a ghost galleon without crew has arrived and Tucker sends a helicopter to bring the models back; however the pilot does not find them at the location. Tucker contacts Professor Grüber that studies the Sixteen Century galleon and they use a boat to reach the ghost vessel with Sergio, Lillian and Noemi. Soon Professor Gruber learns that the damned galleon is stranded in another dimension and the crew is composed of excommunicated Templar zombies. Now they try to leave the galleon and return to their own dimension. Will they succeed in their intent?

Note from Matt: This film that is also known as “The Ghost Galleon” and is the third film in the Blind Dead series. When shown on Groovie Movies it goes under the title “Ship of Zombies”.

Commander USA i married a monster from outer space dvd

Groovie Movies: I Married A Monster From Outer Space
Starring – Tom Tryon & Gloria Talbott    Not Rated   1958

Host: A wedding consultant named Sally McBride shows up to the Video Vault and thinks that Commander USA is getting married because of the day’s Groovie Movie! Sally, like most of his guests tries to sell the viewers her books she wrote, and Commander makes some gross snack and has some random guests pop in! Sally then starts doing home improvements around the Vault and while she is annoying, the Commander lets her go crazy with repairs!

Movie: Aliens from outer space are slowly switching places with real humans — one of the first being a young man about to get married. Slowly, his new wife realizes something is wrong, and her suspicions are confirmed when her husband’s odd behavior begins to show up in other townspeople.

Commander USA I Walked With A Zombie dvd

Groovie Movies: I Walked With A Zombie
Starring – James Ellison & Frances Dee     Not Rated    1943

Host: Monroe turns the Video Vault into a video watching night club, and as the guests pour in they are treated to the film of the day as well as other entertainment like a singing mermaid and a terrible stand up comic. The club is a hit, and all have fun in the Video Vault making Monroe’s idea a great one.

Movie: A young Canadian nurse named Betsy comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager named Paul. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants.

Commander USA Infra Man dvd

Groovie Movies: Infra-Man
Starring – Danny Lee & Terry Liu     Rated PG    1975

Host: Commander USA has just gotten back from a Super Hero Convention and has gotten himself a SHERA Machine (Sanitary Household Experimental Robot Assistant) to help him do all types of stuff including make more great headcheese snacks! The Video Vault also gets attacked by a Couch Potato who blows himself up turning into potato chips, and Lefty gets a girlfriend who only has one eye. In the end Commander puts $10.00 into the SHERA Machine, and poof! a woman appears who doesn’t wanna go on a date with him.

Movie: The ten million year-old Princess Dragon Mom attempts to conquer the earth with her legion of mutant monsters. In response, Professor Chang creates Infra-man, turning a young volunteer into a bionic superhero to save the world. However, the Princess kidnaps Chang’s daughter. Can Infra-man save her and the planet before it’s too late?

Commander USA Its ALive DVD

Groovie Movies: It’s Alive
Starring – John P. Ryan & Sharon Farrell     Rated PG    1974

Host: Commander USA gets a good idea after walking through the mall.  It’s inspired by the day’s movie as he turns the Video Vault into “It’s Alive Nursery” where busy Mall shoppers can drop of their kids and have Commander USA watch them as they continue to shop. He gets a client who drops off her two monster kids who during the movie eat the Milk Man and rip the arm off of a baby expert! In the end, he must wait for his payment of $14.95 via check.

Movie: Heavily pregnant Lenore Davis tells her husband, Frank, that she is in labor. They leave their eleven year-old son Chris with their friend Charley and they head to the Community Hospital. Lenore feels that something is wrong and delivers a monster that kills the team in the delivery room and escapes through a skylight. Lieutenant Perkins comes to the hospital to investigate the murder and the press divulges the identity of the parents. Frank discovers a dark secret about Lenore and the baby.

Commander USA jaws of satan DVD

Groovie Movies:  Jaws Of Satan
Starring – Fritz Weaver & Christina Applegate     Rated R     1981

Host: Commander USA and Lefty get a make-your-own-radio-drama kit and decide to break into broadcasting and make their own old time radio show. Lefty writes a western drama called “Pa and Son” that is just plain bad, but Commander and him keep trying with many of attempts to make the show good.

Movie: A preacher whose ancestors were cursed by Druids battles Satan, who has taken the form of a huge snake.

Commander USA Kingdom Of The Spiders dvd

Groovie Movies: Kingdom Of The Spiders
Starring – William Shatner & Tiffany Bolling     Rated PG    1977

Host: Commander USA’s plant has a fungus so he calls on Dr. Root for help, and decides to have her stay in the Video Vault and watch the film of the day. Dr. Root gives plant advice as well as tries to sell the viewers things that she made like books and even a board game, making her whole appearance nothing more than a way for her to sell her goods at the Commander’s expense.

Movie: Investigating the mysterious deaths of a number of farm animals, vet Rack Hansen discovers that his town lies in the path of hoards of migrating tarantulas. Before he can take action, the streets are overrun by killer spiders, trapping a small group of towns folk in a remote hotel.

Commander USA land of the minotaur dvd

Groovie Movies: Land Of The Minotaur
Starring – Donald Pleasence & Peter Cushing   Rated PG   1976

Host: Outside the Video Vault is a raging blizzard, and Commander USA decides to turn the Video Vault into an inn for shoppers who are stuck in the mall and gets the help of Tiffany, a crazy woman who has worked for many inns in the past! He also hires a dim witted handy man, George, and finds that during this time of extreme snow people just don’t wanna stay in The Video Vault!

Movie: A satanic cult that worships a stone Minotaur kidnaps 3 young people and Priest Father Corofax and Milo Kaye must save them from the hands of this evil!

Commander USA Mako dvd

Groovie Movies: Mako The Jaws Of Death
Starring – Richard Jaeckel & Jennifer Bishop   Rated PG   1976

Host: Commander USA is having a tribute to Richard Jaeckel the star of the day’s film.  He even sets up a camera in the mall and has shoppers give their opinions of Jaeckel and his work. He also has Dr. Moist Brothers come in, and she talks about Jaeckel and the relationship with fish, and of course tries to promote her new book on the subject. Everything in the episode is in honor of Jaeckel!

Movie: A man accidentally learns that he has a mystical connection with sharks, and is given a strange medallion by a shaman. Becoming more and more alienated from normal society, he develops an ability to communicate with sharks telepathically, setting out to destroy anybody who harms sharks. People enter into his strange world to exploit his weird passion, and he uses the animals to gain revenge on anybody who double crosses him.

Commander USA mausoleum dvd

Groovie Movies: Mausoleum
Starring – Bobbie Bresee & Marjoe Gortner   Rated R   1983

Host: A worker at the mall’s morgue comes down and asks to store some dead bodies at the Video Vault, and the Commander allows it. Some of the morgue workers and other odd balls come down to work on the bodies or try and sell something as Commander is creeped out by the day’s movie. But once the bodies begin to stink, it’s time for Commander to want them out of the Vault.

Movie: Traumatized by her mother’s death, young Susan is becoming possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother before she died. More and more her husband and psychiatrist are noticing the strange changes.

Commander USA Motel Hell dvd

Groovie Movies: Motel Hell
Starring – Rory Calhoun & Paul Linke     Rated R    1980

Host: The Video Vault is now being used as a set for a Hollywood film called “Attack of the 50 Foot Cheesecake Girl,” and Commander USA will be the star and Mr. Grill is the director! During the movie Commander is reading his lines and meeting the crew, and he gets a shock when he finds out his co-star is Elizabeth Trailer famous z-movie star! In the end, Commander finds out he is not the star of the film likes he thinks and his big kiss scene with Trailer is scrapped, making the Commander see that he should not trust Hollywood.

Movie: Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travelers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left.

Commander USA Night of Creeps DVD

Groovie Movies: Night Of The Creeps
Starring – Jason Lively & Tom Atkins   Rated R   1986

Host: Commander USA has allowed a sorority house on a tight budget to hold their prom in the Video Vault for only $14.95 for the night. Commander USA watches the film with the decorating crew and helps decorate along the way. In the end only one of the girls’ dates show up to prom, and he is just a brain in a glass bowl so Commander takes all the ladies out for an all you can eat dinner.

Movie: In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth and infects a fraternity member. They freeze the body, but in the modern day, two geeks pledging a fraternity accidentally thaw the corpse, which proceeds to infect the campus with parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies.

Commander USA pandemonium dvd

Groovie Movies: Pandemonium
Starring – Tom Smothers & Judge Reinhold    Rated PG   1982

Host: Commander USA is being visited by Leo and Cleo, a pair of paparazzi junkies who take pictures of celebrities and Lefty! The pair is also on the run from someone in the mall and use the Video Vault to hideout in.

Movie: Tom Smothers stars as the brave mountie, who along with his trusty horse and bitter deputy Paul Reubens must track down a killer who is stalking coeds at a nearby cheerleader camp.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing the opening skit.

Commander USA Polish Vampire In Burbank dvd

Groovie Movies:  A Polish Vampire in Burbank
Starring – Mark Pirro & Eddie Deezen   Not Rated   1985

Host: Commander USA is hyped to see the day’s film because it’s his first time watching it and he wants all the viewers at home to join him on the watch.  But he also gets a guest to come watch it as he finds a 13 year old vampire kid who says this film is a must see for vampires his age!

Movie: A somewhat reluctant vampire is taken out by his sexpot sister for his first “night out on the town.”

Note from Matt : The version of this episode I own is sadly a very poor put together fan reproduction that cuts out many of the Commander’s skits and replaces them with segments from other episodes that deal with contests and poems. 

Commander USA Princess Of Nile dvd

Groovie Movies: Princess Of The Nile
Starring – Debra Paget & Jeffrey Hunter   Not Rated   1954

Host: Commander USA is getting bored with the look of The Video Vault and invites a team of decorating sisters over called the Little Designing Woman to spice up the look of the place. But the sisters can’t get along and argue the whole time and even during the free Christmas play that comes with their services. In the end, the Video Vault gets a minor change but pretty much stays the same, and Commander USA feels better about it.

Movie: Time: A.D. 1249. Shalimar, an Egyptian princess, striving to rid her country of its Bedouin conquerors, forms an alliance with Prince Haidi, son of the Caliph of Bagdad. She practices her intrigues both at the court and, disguised as a dancing girl, in the market place.

Commander USA Psychotronic Man DVD

Groovie Movies: The Psycho-Tronic Man
Starring – Peter Spelson & Chris Carbis    Rated PG   1979

Host: Commander USA turns the Video Vault into a place to help people with their fears and acts as a doctor to “save” them from what spooks them. He has some clients come in and tries to help them with fears of things like white paint and furniture and even gets accused by the news for taken bribes to show the day’s film from the director! In the end Commander gets a fear of other people’s fears and has to close up shop.

Movie: Just as Rocky thinks the world is proceeding along quite well, he dashes out of his barber shop in a kind of trance, as though possessed. Once outside he is driven to hunt for a victim and after he has found someone, he kills them with whatever forces are latent in his subconscious.

Commander USA Swamp Of Lost Monsters dvd

Groovie Movies: Swamp Of The Lost Monsters
Starring – Gaston Santos & Sara Cabrera  Not Rated   1957

Host: Commander USA gets a visit from a visit from a “Cowboy” who owns a store in the mall above that offers tacos, facials and boots! Commander does a lot of other things that all have a western feel to them, and he has fun with his Cowboy friend.

Movie: A disappearing body leads a detective and his sidekick into an encounter with a gill man.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing its opening skit. 

Commander USA They Still Call Me Bruce DVD

Groovie Movies: They Still Call Me Bruce
Starring – Johnny Yune & Victor Brook   Rated PG   1987

Host: Commander USA invites his friend Sue who knows secrets of the oriental massage and more to come to the Video Vault and watch the day’s movie with him. Commander is trained in the art of pressure points and even Kung Fu and is really trying to learn all he can from his guests who also includes Sue’s sushi chef and student.

Movie: Bruce Won arrives in America in search of an American G.I. who saved his life in the Korean War. He meets an orphan boy and together they land themselves in a string of outrageous situations. This high-strung farce culminates when a case of mistaken identity leads a gang of thugs to think Bruce is a karate master. They arrange a nationally-televised match which pits our hero against a monstrous brute, and Bruce is beaten to a bloody pulp.

Commander USA Toxic Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Toxic Zombies
Starring – Charles McCrann & Beverly Shapiro   Rated R  1980

Host: Commander USA and Lefty are all set in the Video Vault and are ready to watch the day’s film when all through it random people show up and do random things.  Even the Commander starts doing odd and random things, well more odd than usual. Over all the Commander just seems to be having fun watching the day’s zombie movie.

Movie: After drug crops are sprayed with a chemical by a passing airplane, the growers of the crop are poisoned by the chemical and turn into zombie-like mutants.

Commander USA trick or treats dvd

Groovie Movies: Trick Or Treats
Starring – David Carradine & Steve Railsback   Rated R   1982

Host: It’s a week before Christmas, and the mall above is filled with shoppers and Commander USA decides to show a movie more suitable for Halloween and has a guest named Nurse Nancy who has showed up to tell him his new gift idea (The Home Autopsy Kit) was foul. While Nancy seems negative she is also very flirty with the Commander who as always makes some snacks and even tries to sell the viewer paper plates with Lefty and his image on them.

Movie: A baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night who keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy’s deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.

Commander USA Vampires Coffin DVD

Groovie Movies: The Vampire’s Coffin
Starring – Abel Salazar & Aradna Welter   Not Rated   1958

Host: Rent is going up at The Video Vault so Commander USA and Monroe decide to open up a fast food restaurant mixed with a sock emporium to help pay the rent. Commander even hires a young woman named Wendy to help wait on the customers. Commander becomes the place’s chef and makes all kinds of gross dishes for his customers.  Of course by the end of the show the restaurant goes belly up and Commander has bankrupt yet another one of his odd business ideas.

Movie: Graverobbers stumble upon the tomb of a vampire, who turns them into zombies to do his bidding, which is to stalk and capture beautiful women.

Commander USA Witchmaker DVD

Groovie Movies: The Witchmaker
Starring – Anthony Eisley & Thordis Brandt   Not Rated   1969

Host: Commander USA has built his own Frankenstein Monster named FrankenSchtick and it’s a terrible stand up comic! At one point Commander summons the spirit of Jesse James with a can of tomato juice and spends a lot of the episode hearing the terrible comedy of his created monster and talking about the film they are watching.

Movie: A psychic researcher and his assistants investigate a series of murders of beautiful young women.

And with that this marks all the single feature episodes I own, and be warned at some point we will get into the double features!! 

commander usa autoAs you can see I have been collecting and trying to get as many old Commander USA episodes as I can get.  It’s been great reliving those days of watching Commander on my TV screen though nothing can take away those Saturday afternoons of eating lunch or some sort of junk food and spending two hours (four when he showed the double features) hanging out with my brother and watching Commander USA during his time of broadcast. I can remember the excitement of waiting for him to come on, and Groovie Movies became the true highlight of my weekends. Commander USA’s Groovie Movies was the first place I saw horror films like Friday The 13th 1-3, Final Terror and Motel Hell.  It’s the place where I became a super fan of films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and Horror of the Zombies.  Plus Commander USA is one of the main people that made me the creative person I am today, and for that I want to truly say THANK YOU. If not for the Commander, I would have not seen half the horror films I saw at a young age because of where I lived, and seeing these films on his show as well as USA Saturday Nightmares and Super Scary Saturday helped spark the interest in wanting to make my own shot on video horror films. One regret I have is never writing to the Commander and becoming a member of his fan club.  In fact I am not really sure why my brother or I never did do this. I should also take this time to thank some people that over the years have helped me on my quest of collecting and re-living the Groovie Movies experience: Bryan Brassfield, Stumpy Disks and my pal Darren Young.  

commander usa card

In 2013 at Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio Commander USA got one of the highest honors a host can receive as he was inducted as one of the thirteen hosts of that year into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. When I heard that he was going in, I asked if Baron Von Porkchop, the host I direct could induct him as I would feel that it would be the highest honor I could give back to him for being such a major influence in my life, but it was not to be as New Jersey Horror Host and all around great guy Halloween Jack was asked to do so. While I would have loved to have had the Baron do it, Jack was a great pick and did the speech with lots of class and respect. Baron Von Porkchop did get to induct Florida’s own Shock Armstrong, the 1964 host of Shock Theatre, and that as well was an honor as he meant a lot to many kids of the 60’s and was a great host who looked like Frankenstein’s Monster in a football jersey. 

Horror Host Hall Of Fame 2013 Commander USA

Commander USA was the logical pick for me when doing the first Horror Host Icon update as he was the host that was the first to mean something to me as does the next host on my list, but you all will have to wait and see who it is! This update is in honor of Jim Hendricks, the man who played Commander USA, and it’s also for all the fans of Groovie Movies who were glued to their TV’s and watched a spooky cheesy film and laughed alongside the Commander and his sidekicks. I have had a lot of fun doing this update, and while I could say a lot more, I think this will do for now as I can not express in words the wonderful impact this host and his show have had on my life.  If and when I get more episodes at some point, I would love to do an update blog and tell you a little more about the episodes I own…but that will be a while aways because we have lots of comics to read and other hosts to celebrate! Our next update takes us from a Commander to a Capn’ as we take a look at a free comic give away from Quaker Oats that allows us to set sail with the one and only Capn’ Crunch! So till next time, support and watch you local horror host and make sure to read a comic or two!

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