Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: The host with the most!
As a fan of horror movie and cheesy humor, it makes me sad that I missed the golden age of television horror hosts. While I do remember one or two local television stations from my youth having hosts that would introduce weekday afternoon cartoons, I never got to experience the garish costumes and horrible fake accents of local television personalities who would introduce black-and-white horror movies to those brave kids (and adults) who stayed up past their bedtime.
For a generation of kids in the Washington D.C. area, Dick Dyszel was that man. On Saturday mornings, he would entertain kids as the area’s resident Bozo the Clown. Weekday afternoons, he was Captain 20, the sci-fi influenced mascot of local affiliate Chanel 20. On Saturday nights, though, Dyszel donned a black cape, plenty of white make-up and a thick accent to introduce a night of horror movies to an audience that consisted primarily of horror-loving children, Dyszel-loving women and those party-loving people who were either stoned, drunk or a combination of the two.
Every Other Day is Halloween is a documentary directed by C.W. Prather that explores Dyszel’s legacy. Despite a rocky start, the film eventually wins over audiences thanks to the extremely likable personality of Dyszel.
Using a combination of vintage clips from Dyszel’s stint as a television host and recent interviews with Dyszel and the legion of modern day horror hosts that he has inspired, the film tells the story of the rise, fall and resurrection of one man’s career as a monstrous movie maven.
Every Other Day is Halloween stumbles at the beginning — not properly setting up an introduction to Dyszel or even the concept of a horror movie host until well into the film. While I’m not one who insists on a movie laying all its cards on the table right off the bat, without a proper introduction I found myself having a hard time caring about and investing myself in a person I hadn’t grown up with and had never heard of before watching the film.
For those who stick it out past a rough 30 minutes, though, the film’s strengths come into play pretty soon afterwards — primarily due to the documentary’s wealth of classic clips from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Dyszel guides audiences along a brief introduction into his career. The documentary glosses over Dyszel’s life before he started hosting television programs or what his life was like when he wasn’t dressed in silly costumes. Instead, the film moves though his career as Washington D.C.’s Bozo the Clown, host of a popular children’s game show, to his eventual duties as Captain 20 — a job where he would don Spock ears and host a weekday afternoon line-up that centered around boy-centric cartoons and television shows such as Speed Racer and Ultraman.
Soon, though, Dyszel happened upon his favorite gig —transforming himself into Count Gore De Vol, the host of Saturday night’s Creature Feature. It was in this gig that Dyszel would gain his largest group of fans — eventually resurrecting the character for a new generation as the host of an online horror-themed show.
Besides its focus on Dyszel, Every Other Day is Halloween pays a lot of attention to the rebirth of the horror host in general. A lot of attention is paid to a group of modern decedents of Count Gore, including Karlos Borloff (the alter-go of Jerry Moore II, a rock-and-roll horror host who is in serious danger of being sued by Rob Zombie for ripping off his look) and Dr. Sarcofiguy (Washington D.C.’s new resident horror host played by John Dimes, a man who grew up glued to Dyszel’s shows).
Every Other Day is Halloween eventually finds its feet thanks to the great clips unearthed for the documentary, some fascinating insight into the rebirth of horror hosts on the Internet and public access television stations, and the film’s punk rock attitude.
What makes Every Other Day is Halloween slightly disappointing, though, is that it could have been a much better film. There is some serious story to mine in the life of Dyszel and I get the feeling Every Other Day is Halloween only scratched the surface. It’s still entertaining to watch, though.
Clearly a labor of love (self-love too, perhaps — Dyszel produced the film), Every Other Day is Halloween may lack slick professional production values or strong narrative focus but the movie comes close to making up for its weaknesses with its enthusiasm and love for the subject matter.
As much as Robert Saucedo wishes he could have watched horror hosts on TV, he wishes he could have been one more. Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Tags: Bad Movies Done Right, Rob Zombie, Speed Racer, ultraman