MONSTER KID MEMORIES: The Creature Double Feature

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Remembering back to when I was a kid, I have come to realize that I was quite the loner. Though I had friends at school, I rarely hung out with them after school or on weekends. With that being said though, I had no issues keeping myself entertained, especially on weekends. During the 70’s, one of the things I looked forward to the most on the weekends were monster movies, especially those shown every Saturday afternoon on WLVI channel 56 out of Boston. The show? The Creature Double Feature.

Because this was pre-cable, I had to rely on a roof antenna to draw in the UHF station, often to mixed results. Sometimes the signal was so snowy that watching was impossible; at other times, it was decent. This oftentimes depended on not only the time of the year but with the weather as well. During the summer it was almost impossible to get my weekly monster fix but during the winter, when I wanted to be inside anyway, the signal was usually strong. Another factor could be time of day as it was easier to draw the station in at night then during the afternoon. This was beneficial as channel 56 in the beginning also ran a Creature Feature on Saturday nights.

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The Creature Double Feature began on September 6, 1975 and ended on January 15, 1983, when the timeslot switched over to Martial Arts Theatre. One of the most memorable aspects of the show was the opening credits, that featured snippets from many of the films shown on the Creature Double Feature with Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s song “Toccata” from their album Brain Salad Surgery playing in the background. This often featured voice-over work by Ron Dwyer and Tom Evans (in early years) and Dale Dorman (in later years) telling the viewers, in a creepy voice, what movies they were about to see. This show was so popular for the station that they oftentimes placed ads in the weekly TV Guide showing what that week’s movies were going to be.

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A typical Saturday for me was waking up at around 8 AM and watching cartoons until 11 or so. From there I would watch professional wrestling until 1 and then from there, signal permitting, I would watch the Creature Double Feature. It amazes me that even today, so many years later, that people will bring up to me memories of spending their Saturdays the very same way (though not always with the professional wrestling) as I did. The Creature Double Feature also introduced me to my first horror host and as a result, Fangoria magazine.

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Near the end of its run, the Creature Double Feature tried something new by syndicating the Son of Svengoolie, a horror host based out of Chicago. I do not know how many stations were doing the same thing at the time, but for each market, he would record area-specific parts to his show, making it seem more local. Though I was aware of horror hosts, the Son of Svengoolie was the first one that I actually saw and he became “my” horror host. I never would’ve guessed that so many years later, I would not only become friends with Rich Koz, who plays him, but would also be able to sit in on a taping of the show and appear on it as well!

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The Son of Svengoolie added so much to this show with his quick humor, fun skits and great musical parodies. I wish there were recordings of these original shows available because there was just so much good material that he did and if you know me, you know I love things that are nostalgic. As much as I love his show now, it’s the shows that I first saw that are near and dear to my heart. While watching him, he talked about Fangoria magazine issue number 25 that was going to feature an article on him. I immediately went out and found this issue and not only was the article on Sven really good, the whole magazine just blew me away. It was at this time that I started to buy this magazine every month.

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Original ad for Creature Double Feature in the TV Guide.

As I get older I find myself thinking about the past more and more, especially childhood. There are just so many fond memories. The magic of Christmas, going out trick-or-treating, hunting for insects and every Saturday in front of the television watching monster movies. The Creature Double Feature really helped shape me into who I am today. It was a much more innocent time back then; one that I truly miss at times. In a time where everything can now be streamed, there is no excitement or anticipation. Nothing to look forward to. Unlike most kids, I did not look forward to weekends because of time out of school. I was excited for a three-hour block of time every Saturday afternoon, where I could sit back in the safety of my home and watch the scariest, and sometimes the goofiest, monsters ever put on film. I miss getting the newest TV Guide, where I would immediately look up the double feature that was just days away. When you have things to look forward to, it allows you to feel alive and appreciate every minute leading up to that special moment. Very few get to experience this anymore because almost everything is now available twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Though I enjoy streaming as much as the next person, I truly miss the simpler times.

NEXT UP: A complete list of every Creature Double Feature broadcast with the movies shown!!!

~David Albaugh

 

 

 

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