Archive for October 30th, 2021

Monster Movie MatineeBelow is a repost of one of my more popular posts. After the 12 years since it first went online, I still occasionally get people contacting me who have come across this post and have memories of Monster Movie Matinee, the Syracuse-based show that ran for many years at 1 PM on Saturdays. A documentary was also made in the intervening years which chronicles the show and its effect on the many kids who found themselves glued to the couch watching classic (and not so classic) horror films. More clips and photos have come to light including those at the bottom. If you are interested in the documentary you can get more info at its Facebook page, Monster Mansion Memories.

Hope you have a very scary Halloween! Or not– it’s not necessarily a holiday suited to everybody’s taste. Here’s the post from 2009:



Monster Movie Matinee 1On this pre-Halloween Saturday, my mind switches back to past Halloweens and all the things that go with them.  Part of my normal Saturday routine growing up was to be in front of the TV at 1 o’clock to watch Monster Movie Matinee, a show out of Syracuse that ran for a couple of decades and showed classic ( and not so classic, as the years went by) horror and sci-fi movies.

It was a great kitschy broadcast. It would start with the camera panning in over an obvious model of an haunted-type mansion on a hill as eerie monster movie music played. It was hosted by Dr. E. Nick Witty (I think this is supposed to be a joke of some sort but it eludes me) and his assistant, the wretched Epal..Epal on Monster Movie Matinee

You never saw anything of Dr. Witty but his long emotive fingers but that was all you really needed along with his deep, rich voice and trademark laugh. His sidekick, Epal, was played by the station’s longtime weatherman who also played other characters (his other main character, an old seaman named Salty Sam, introduced me to Popeye cartoons) on a number of other locally produced shows, was covered in rough-edged scars and wore an eyepatch. His appearance seemed to constantly worsen and erode as the years passed.

They had storylines that they used as they introduced the films, little vignettes that ran from week to week. I remembered the show as goofy stuff but fun, though seeing some of the clips now I am surprised at the level of the performances by the two characters. They really put an effort into the production. But ultimately they let the movies they showed be the real stars and I saw most of the greats through them. All the Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman movies were in regular rotation in the early years mixed in with a plethora of lower quality, monstery B-movies, which unfortunately took over in the later years.

215px-Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon_posterI remember one wet and dark Halloween Saturday back then spending the afternoon watching one of my favorites with Dr. Witty and Epal. It was The Creature From the Black Lagoon. It was a movie that was shown at least a few times a year so it became part of the kid memory bank. It was the story of a group of geological researchers sent to explore a fossilized skeletal claw-like hand found up the Amazon where they encounter the Creature, a rubber-clad Gill-Man who makes repeated attacks on the research vessel, finally abducting the babe girlfriend of the main scientist.

Originally in 3-D in the theaters, was a pretty stylish 50’s monster movie. Pretty good quality, actually. The Creature was a great costume, very sleek and somewhat believable- at least to the kid sitting on the couch with the Fig Newtons. It had nice underwater photography of the Creature gliding after his prey and also had great sound and music that really enhanced the story. It wasn’t the scariest but it kept you involved with the story. Like many other viewers, I always felt more of a connection with the Creature than I did with the crew of researchers and actually felt myself kind of rooting for him at times. Much like King Kong, he seemed sadly alone.

That wet and dark Saturday many years ago seems to come to life now whenever I think of the Creature or Halloween, for that matter. I remember the light, the feel and smell of that living room. Funny how certain things, even the smallest trivialities, imprint on the memory  when coupled with something important, as Halloween was to a kid.

Today I’m thinking of that day and that lonely Gill-Man and Dr. Witty…

There are three clips below. One is the opening is from the show’s later years and one is from the earlier black and white days. There is also a clip from the documentary, Monster Mansion Memories. 

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