Retro-View: The Horror Hall Of Fame (1974)

If you were but a lad or of memory age in the 1970’s, you might have stumbled across ABC’s attempt to beat the King of Late Night, Johnny Carson. Titled, ABC’S WIDE WORLD OF ENTERTAINMENT — a piggyback on their popular WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS — the series ran from 1973-77, a myriad of post-11 p.m. talk shows, concerts, comedy segments, made-for-tv quickies and other odd specials. MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS made their American debut in highly-truncated bits, prompting Terry Gilliam to sue ABC. Dick Cavett hosted a week of his own brand of urbane interviews, the highlight for me which was an actual sit-down with Godzilla (!) courtesy of clips from GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER. And even Michael Parks turned up in the notorious shot-on-video feature, WEREWOLF OF WOODSTOCK.

Beast of all for us monster kids, THE HORROR HALL OF FAME from 1974, an hour of host Vincent Price (at the end of his AIP run) with hunchbacked sidekick, Billy Van, and various embarrassed guests on an audio-visual tour through the wide world of scares. Almost like the video equivalent to a great issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, no doubt due to Forrest Ackerman credited with research, THE HORROR HALL OF FAME plays like a typical variety special of the era, replete with laugh track and jokes that have the taint of Bruce Vilanch (“This cross can stop vampires and Charo“) and the awkward interviews that made me cringe even as a tyke. Poor Candy Clark shows up to be transformed into a witch by Oscar-winner William Tuttle — tho the result is pretty cool; John Astin appears and discusses the popularity of the genre, with a funny ad for John Landis’s SCHLOCK (thanks Uncle Forry!) as Vincent Price shows off the iconic Aurora models (Godzilla!); John Carradine sits down to claim he never actually portrayed a monster on-screen; and Frank Gorshin rounds off the guests with a panoply of his terrific impressions. Price is always watchable and Billy Van is funny (a regular of 70’s variety shows) and since I haven’t seen the special since I was a lad who barely recalls it, I’m thrilled that THE HORROR HALL OF FAME is finally available for viewing; watch it tonight while the moon is full and rain spatters you like dripping blood as you approach a dank castle…When you get to the door tell them Boris sent you…

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2 Responses to “Retro-View: The Horror Hall Of Fame (1974)”

  1. I wonder if this special was taped at the same time as Billy Van’s Canada-based kids show “THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN,” which featured bumpers from Vincent Price that were shot in one marathon session. Critical Mass in Canada have a nice DVD box set of episodes from the show. They don’t hold up to marathon viewing – the corny gags get repetitive – but they’re fun in seeing Van’s various characters, plus Professor Julius Sumner Miller (“Physics are my business!”) teaching some science tricks.

    • Yes, definitely same time period. I’ve checked out a few episodes and they’re good flashback fun, but in small doses.

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