Horror Host Icon: M.T. Graves

Over the decades so many amazing Horror Hosts have graced TV and computer screens worldwide, and in Florida back in the late 50’s and early 60’s young and old would tune into WCKT-TV Channel 7 at 4pm to watch The Dungeon with Host M.T. Graves who was super popular and would deliver both chills and humor with his goofy hosting style. I would say that M.T. Graves in fact might be the state’s biggest host maybe only rivaled by Dr. Paul Bearer, and that’s saying something as over the years Florida has had a great amount of great Horror Hosts that have had their own style. So with this being the 10th year of the Horror Host Hall Of Fame and me doing a Horror Host Icon update a month, I think that this is the best time to bring to you my readers and friends Horror Host Icon: M.T. Graves, a host who has been long overdue for an update.

M.T. Graves was a strange looking man with bucked teeth, bushy eyebrows, a hook for one hand, big feet and a massive scar on his face! He is a prisoner who’s locked away in a dungeon cell with a coffin for a bed and was forced to watch horror and science fiction movies that The Warden has selected…M.T. calls them the Warden’s “Home Movies”. When the show was going on, M.T. would find ways to amuse himself like conduct a fake orchestra or even talk to fellow prisoners or guards all the while enjoying the night’s movie with the viewers. Sometimes The Warden would allow M.T. Graves to make public appearances as well and he had to be accompanied by guards and people would rush to get to meet M.T. who was a true icon of Florida TV and proved just how important local Horror Hosts can be to their community. M.T. started hosting his show The Dungeon on Saturdays starting in the 1950’s and by the late 1960’s he was set free from his prison and the show ended, and this was a truly heartbreaking day for viewers as they watched their favorite inmate walk out a free man ending his time with them and sharing the Warden’s movies. Some people think that once freed from his Dungeon Cell M.T. went on to be blasted into space along side his old cellmate and he changed his name to M.T. Space…while others say that they are from the same family tree but different Horror Hosts all together. Say what you will about M.T. Graves but this strange looking prisoner sure made being stuck in a dank cell fun for all who watched.

Charlie Baxter was the actor behind M.T. Graves was born on March 29, 1925 in Toledo, Ohio making him an Ohio boy! After school he joined and survived the United States Marine Corps as well as lent his voice as he became the announcer for the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team. Later he moved to Florida and started working for WCKT-Channel 7 and later WKID-Channel 51 and was a major TV personality as he and the characters he created for both Horror Hosting and Kid Show Host like M.T. Graves, Captain Kidd, Professor Klinker and M.T. Space all became household names and must see TV. Charlie was super kind to his fans and was on TV from the 1950’s-1970’s and after this he started to work on shows for schools from Broward Community College. After this he decided to retire and in the mid 80’s he moved away to Nashville, Tennessee where he spent his time watching movies, reading books and listening to music, but he also loved to still keep in touch with his former co-workers as well as fans. Sadly Charlie Baxter passed away on October 3, 2007 at the age of 82 and in one last kind act he wanted his body donated to Nashville school Vanderbilt University School Of Medicine. Charlie Baxter will never be forgotten as M.T. Graves will forever live on in the hearts and collections of Horror Host fans.

Like all great Horror Hosts M.T. Graves had his fair share of cohosts and sidekicks that helped add to the laughs. Off screen The Warden and The Guards would interact with M.T. and while they most of the time were nice to him they also seemed to get joy messing with him! The Warden also howled like a wolf and this would be M.T.’s cue to start the movie or go to a commercial break. Reginald was his cellmate a monster who lived in the walls and would chat with him and even deliver messages from The Warden. And lastly there was Count Down The Vampire who as well would pop in from time to time to spend some time with M.T. and the viewers and get into some sort of adventure. Each and every one of these characters added to the show and made for so many funny moments and kept M.T. Grave on his toes. Check out the pictures below to see Count Down in all his glory.

In 2011 at Horror Hound Weekend for the first class inducted into The Horror Host Hall Of Fame the iconic M.T. Graves received the honor. He was inducted by Victor Von Scary and joined the likes of Dr. Creep, Vampira, Sammy Terry, Ghoulardi and Sir Graves Ghastly to name a few. It was great to hear the crowd erupt with cheers and claps as his name was said and it was clear that he truly was a very impactful Horror Host not only to his home state but also to the genre as a whole. It was truly a great moment to see, and I hope that M.T. Graves in that great Dungeon in the sky got a smile on his face knowing that he is remembered and still very much well loved.

I have been a big fan of Horror Hosts since I was a youngster and read about many of them in magazines and later on the internet and one I knew about was M.T. Graves as his image always stuck with me, and what’s funny way before I seen any skits of his I always imagined him to be a little more sinister and have a way different voice then what he had once seeing him in action. Plus his name always cracked me up; as it’s a nice play one words and sounds as if you are saying “Empty Graves” when you speak his name. But for years and years I searched for an episode of his and knew that one of the only ways I was ever going to see an episode was by finding a fan reproduction…and several times I did…and each time the DVD would not work. I would get the episode in a trade or buy it from a Grey Market site and every time I would try and play the disc the it would not work and this was the start of what I called The M.T. Graves curse, and I say it every time now I get a Horror Host DVD and it does not work! But finally thanks to Horror Host Dr. Pureblood I was able to get a M.T. Graves disc that worked and made this update possible. And after finally seeing M.T. Graves in action I can say I am a fan as his style and humor is fantastic! So do yourself a favor and check out clips of M.T. Graves on YouTube and enjoy his zany personality and the real strangely cozy nature of his Dungeon cell.

So like many Horror Hosts of this time almost every episode and inch of footage is gone as stations would tape over them, they would be recorded live or over the years they would just throw away the tapes! So the one episode I have here is a fan reproduction that took some of M.T.’s found footage to build a viewing experience. So as you readers know, I will not be rating this episode of a star scale like I do the comics and will be taking the hosted films write up from IMDB and will myself write about what the host does during the episode. So if you are ready, let’s head to The Dungeon and see what M.T. has in store for us.

The Dungeon: Revenge Of The Creature
Starring – John Agar & Ricou Browning   Not Rated   1955

Host: M.T. Graves starts the episode in his dungeon cell with the gate opening and is playing with a yo-yo and is talking about how we are all in our own dungeons and sends us to the night’s warden home movie. We next join M.T. who is reading a book about hypnotism and wants to use his newly learned skill on the Warden in order to escape, instead he finds that he is the one being hypnotized by Warden who figured out his plan to escape. After snapping out of it we next see him portending to conduct an orchestra that plays the Lone Ranger them that causes and earthquake! M.T. Graves is banged up after the earthquake and a man on a horse rode through, and worse this horseback madman knocked out the air conditioning leaving them all burning up. The episode ends with the air conditioning being fixed and is quickly becomes super cold and even starts snowing and the cell gate lowers.

Movie: The Creature from the Black Lagoon has been captured by scientists and transported to an aquarium in south Florida. Once there he becomes attracted to the lovely female scientist and manages to escape and kidnap her, and heads to Jacksonville, with her real life love in pursuit.

Note From Matt: This episode is a fan reproduction as they used what little footage of M.T. Graves is out there for fans to see.

Classic Horror Hosts like M.T. Graves truly are something special as they are the pioneers of this genre we all love and lead the way for all the hosts that have followed all the way up to this very day. Horror Hosting is alive and well and with outlets like Facebook, YouTube, Public Access TV, Broadcast TV and Streaming Stations the world is filled with so many options of Hosts to choose from that fans are so lucky. Again I want to stress this Horror Host Icon update was long overdue and if not for defective discs this update about M.T. Graves would have happened way before 2021! Well for our next update we are leaving The Dungeon and the world of Horror Hosting and will be heading to the world of Horror Comics again that is based on a film as we take a look at Meathook Massacre III and the Creamy Rat Comic one-shot issue that was released in alongside it. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a meaty spooky good time.

Horror Host Icon: Crazyman

It’s Saturday night in 1974, and Saturday Night Live has just ended and as always the comedy skits of Belushi, Aykroyd, Murray, Radner and Morris have tickled your funny bone but you need more! You are watching KVOA-TV Channel 4 in Arizona and you are still up and looking for entertainment as you finish your drink and bowl of snack food and to your delight Crazyman TV is on and he is hosting a cheesy horror movie for the night.  In other words you get more comedy and a dash of Sci-Fi and Horror. And while Crazyman might not be a household name when it comes to the world of Horror Hosting, he for sure means something to his viewers as when looking into him, the viewers of the show surely loved every second they spent with him on those light nights. So if you readers are ready, I know I am ready to bring you Horror Host Icon: Crazyman! So let’s enter the dungeon cell or asylum room and chat about this true crazy man of Horror Hosting.

The Crazyman is a strange man with a bald head who wears a lab coat and was spending his life in a dungeon cell for his crimes against humanity! All he has in his cell is an old radio, a coffin to sleep in, and an eclectic chair, and he spends most of his time having fun hosting the movies and getting orders from The Warden off screen who is keeping him in the cell for what’s best for all mankind. But from time to time Crazyman was allowed visitors that were fans of the show or even his only true friend, a talking floating head by the name of Streamline. The Crazyman had a very loud voice and was over all very good natured as in some episodes it seemed like The Warden loved to pull pranks on him like dumping food items on his head as he talked to viewers. At some point due to his good behavior and bringing so much laughter and chills to his viewers, The Crazyman was set free back into the world and his journey ended for many years. But in 2010 he was minding his own business driving down the road and was chased by the cops, and this time is forced to spend his life in an Insane Asylum! So as you can see, for some reason those in power here in America really want to keep Crazyman away from the population and want to keep him locked away and forced to entertain those who watch his shows. While he has been off the airwaves and web streams for a while now, who knows when and if The Crazyman will appear again and where this time they will keep him locked up. Crazyman was played by Gary Craig who is a man of many talents as he is not only a Horror Host but is also an actor, writer, radio host, comedian and is known for his roles in movies like Echelon 8 (2009) and American Hustle (2013), and for those who want to learn more about Gary Craig, you should read his book “Tugging On The Sleeve Of Fame” about his life as an entertainer.

The Crazyman Show started in 1974 and aired very late nights on KVOA-TV Channel 4 and was one of those the makers paid to have it played right after Saturday Night Live. It took viewers by storm as it gained a cult following but sadly only lasted a couple of years before going off the air. But while only lasting that short amount of time, the Crazyman Show made an impact of viewers of Arizona TV, but some might find it also interesting Crazyman also was on the Radio as part of Gary Craig’s show. But after decades off the airwaves, The Crazyman Show would appear again this time via YouTube with an all new season of short shows that would have him hosting a clip from a popular movie that he would add himself into. This Internet version of the show would last 5 normal episodes and would also have a small handful of Holiday Specials, and would show that Crazyman still had lots of laughs yet to deliver. The fun thing about both the broadcast TV show and the YouTube web show is while they really are very much different in appearance and location (Dungeon Cell to Asylum Room), the vibe and zany humor is still there for both. While Crazyman Show is not having new episodes, I do have a gut feeling this is not the last we will see of it and its host Crazyman.

As I have said before, all good Horror Hosts have their fair share of great sidekicks and cohosts and Crazyman had his fair share. His most used had to be The Warden, a voice that echoed out in order to tell his prisoner things as well he always liked to mess with Crazyman during segments and tried to throw him off his hosting game. Also around in the Dungeon Cell was Streamline, the talking head that would stop in to visit Crazyman and carry on talks about things going on. Both these sidekicks added their own level of fun and silly moments to the show, and they each had their own fans that looked forward to seeing what they would be doing on their next appearance on the show. While The Warden and Streamline are not in the hosting history books, they were great characters that made The Crazyman Show a better watch for viewers. I also want to give a shout out to The Head Docto,r the voice from the speaker box for the rebirth of the series that took place around 2010/2011.

Crazyman is a host that I discovered via YouTube and after watching clips of his classic show from the 70’s, and I laughed at their silly nature and knew I had to see more! I searched far and wide to see if anyone had any full episodes as I checked trade lists and sadly it appears that there just aren’t any classic episodes in the world. One thing that I 100% noticed is that The Crazyman borrows lots from Florida Horror Host M.T. Graves, most notably with the prison setting, The Warden being an off camera co-host and even a head that was the hosts friend. And it’s clear the makers of this show were huge fans of M.T. and his influence is felt in the Crazyman’s episodes. I myself like to think the two are linked and The Warden is the same Warden who went from imprisoning Graves to Crazyman and enjoys what he does. What drew me into Crazyman is the fact that everyone who made the show come alive seemed to have a blast filming it and The Crazyman with his voice is just silly fun stuff. The comeback series of The Crazyman that was started in 2010 was more of a comedy skit with a dash of Horror Hosting and is very different in appearance, but still in my opinion holds the charm of the 70’s show.

So for this Horror Host Icon update I searched every Dungeon and Asylum looking for Crazyman as I wanted to take a few moments and ask him a few questions, and lucky for you and me…. I found him!! So here we go 5 Questions with a true Crazyman!

Me: Welcome To Rotten Ink Crazyman, my first question for you is what or who got you into Horror Hosting?

Crazyman:  I’ve been in radio and TV since 1971.  Worked at numerous radio stations, and had different TV shows in a few states.  Hosting came naturally to me. Loved to be on camera, and to be totally in charge of writing and performing the episodes.  Early in my career, Charlie Baxter was very kind to me.  He had a character named M.T. Graves and was very popular in Florida.  I performed on his show, and “borrowed” a few ideas from his show when I was writing mine.

Me: M.T. Graves is a true legend of Horror Hosting! So out of your first classic episodes what was your favorite movie you got to host?

Crazyman: That’s a tough one because I didn’t really pay that much attention to what the movie or show was…too busy writing and producing my portion of it.  I do remember we had some Doctor Who episodes.  I do remember years later in Hartford Connecticut.  I hosted the film, “Gorilla at Large” and I did it IN a gorilla costume.

Me: Ha that’s great! So if you could host any film what would you pick?

Crazyman: It would be difficult to pick a film now because it would depend on what I would do in the episode…and if I were doing it today, I would be reacting specifically to the film.

Me: Understand that, What does the future hold for you Crazyman?

Crazyman: UPS just arrived with 40 cases of Purell.  I’m going to put my hazmat suit on and watch some Elvira episodes.

Me: So finally what advice do you have for any future Horror Hosts reading this?

Crazyman: Yes. Youtube

I want to thank Crazyman for taking his time to answer these five questions for me here at Rotten Ink, and I hope you readers enjoyed it! It’s very interesting that he sees the future of Horror Hosting being YouTube and I can see what he means as it’s one of the best ways for any creator to get their work seen by millions of people, but I also do think at times some very talented shows and Hosts on that platform get overlooked as its an outlet that is very much over saturated, and things get lost in the shuffle. I think that YouTube along with Public Access TV and streaming stations like The Monster Channel, Shudder and The Vortexx working together will be what is what will keeps Horror Hosting alive for generations to come.

So now that you understand The Crazyman a little more I think it’s time that we get to the episodes I have of his, and like I said sadly the 70’s episodes as of right now are lost to time with only a few clips surviving and being shared on YouTube. So what I will be reviewing is Crazyman’s 2010 returns episodes as well as the holiday specials he did. I want to remind you that I will not be giving these episodes a star rating and watching these for the first time just for this Icon update! I will be taking the films’ writes up from IMDB and will be writing the host segments breakdown myself. So let’s go visit Crazyman in the place he feels right at home in the Asylum.

The Crazyman Show: Season 1
Starring – Dr. Phil & Morris Katzman     Not Rated     2010/2011

Host: “Episode 1” The Crazyman is on the run from the law and when he is captured while at a cigar and joke shop, he is sentenced to spend his life at the Happydale Mental Hospital! Crazyman gets locked in a room and over a speaker The Head Doctor informs him that he will never be released and that his word is law, The Head Doctor also tells him that people are watching and he needs to show them a movie and he does just that as it’s a clip from “Wizard Of Oz” and Crazyman inserts himself into the scene. The clip is interrupted by a phone call from David Letterman who gives him a Top 10 List of things to do in a mental hospital. In the end Crazyman sits down and reads a book about straight jackets. “Episode 2” Crazyman gets a visitor and it’s his accountant, and as the visitor is making his way to his cell Crazyman shows a clip from the movie “Saw” and like before he places himself into the film. And after being told he is broke he has a flashback of being a late night talk show host and is like Johnny Carson and even chats with Donald Trump. When back to reality Crazyman can’t picture himself as a host on TV. “Episode 3” Crazyman this time gets a phone call from his agent as he thinks that if me makes some entertainment deals he could get out of the Asylum and offers him a Capital One commercial, and of course Crazyman botches it by not getting the lines straight and ends with the crew annoyed with him for it. “Episode 4” Crazyman is dancing around and gets a visit from Dr. Phil who informs him that Oprah is the only person who can free him from the asylum, but she is mad at him for eating all the Twinkies, and gives him a mental test that ends with Dr. Phil telling him off. We then see a clip of Crazyman in the film “Forest Gump” and right after a nurse enters his room and gives him an injection, right after The Head Doctor gets on the speakers and warns everyone that the nurse is a fake and is really a patient and to not let her inject ya…we end with Crazyman looking at the viewers. “Episode 5” Crazyman starts the show off with a visit from rock n roll icon Ozzy Osborne who is lost and can not find his room that is 212, after Ozzy leaves The Head Doctor calls and reminds him that he has a meeting with the hospital shrink today and Crazyman shows a clip of the film “Psycho” that has him of course in it. Crazyman while talking to The Shrink tells him about a dream he had about being on the show The Apprentice and that Donald Trump fired him! And after Crazyman spills his guts on all his weird dreams, we find out the Shrink is not listening and is looking at a gentlemen’s magazine.

The Crazyman Show: Specials
Starring – Dr. Phil & Morris Katzman     Not Rated     2010/2011

Host: “Crazyman Gets A Gift” It’s Christmas at Happydale and its snowing outside and The Head Doctor has allowed Crazyman to spend the holiday at his house, but with one condition that he behaves himself…he then has Crazyman open a gift that turns out to be a generic Apple iPad! “Happy New Year At Happydale” Crazyman is feeling down as it’s New Years Eve and he is stuck spending the day at the Asylum, when The Head Doctor gives him an old TV for his room so that he can watch the ball drop, while Crazyman and a female nurse plug it in he shows us a clip from “Casablanca” that of course has him in the movie. We then join Crazyman as the ball drops and he is clearly down, as a Doctor comes in his room and he gives him a party favor and a pat on the shoulder. “The Crazyman Is The New Pope” The Crazyman is now the new Pope and is given a speech about new rules as well as just silly crazy talk! “Halloween At Happydale” Head Nurse Sunny Valentine alerts all the patients that they will be having a gathering and The Head Doctor forces Crazyman to attend and then promises that maybe he will allow him out for an hour to go Trick Of Twerking! Crazyman imagines what it would be like to be free for awhile to get candy and after he thinks the world would be mean to him he decides to stay safe and sound in the asylum.

There you have it – Crazyman is a Horror Host that lives up to his name and his show really is crazy and over the top and heck of a lot of fun! One day I hope to see not only new episodes but also that someone will find complete episodes of the classic show! While The Crazyman is very much inspired by M.T. Graves, he adds his own touches to the formula and creates something very special on its own and delivers lots of laughs! And who knows maybe one day The Crazyman will find himself in the Horror Host Hall Of Fame as I feel he should be as he delivered the antics and shows that entertained the people of Arizona and later YouTube. But for our next update we will be leaving the world of Horror Hosting and the Happydale Mental Health Asylum and will be taking a look at the Shot On Video film Suicide 2 that was released by Independent B Movie! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update SOV fans!