Tag Archives: vintage broadcast

Movie (& Old Television Broadcast!) Review: THE WAY OF THE WEST (1934 / Summer ’99)

Certainly longtime readers (of which I have at least a few) will recall my affinity for the “B-Western.” That is, the poverty row or otherwise lower budgeted films of the western genre from the 1930s and 1940s. These cheapies weren’t limited to the 1930s and 1940s, but those two decades are certainly where the majority of my favorites hail from. I grew up on a steady diet of these offerings, via my much-loved and much-missed WAOH TV-29 (which I extensively detailed here), and it’s a fandom that continues to this very day. Of course, we’ve seen posts on the subject here on the blog prior (proof #1, #2 and #3).

Well, recently I was poking around b-westerns.com (an utterly indispensable site with a veritable wealth of information on the subject) when I decided to click on the vaaaaaaguely-familiar name of Wally Wales. It was while perusing their biography on him that my eyes fell upon a mention of one of the studios he worked for: Superior Talking Pictures. This perked my figurative ears right up, because Superior Talking Pictures, man, you wanna talk cheap, they were C-H-E-A-P. Monogram offerings were practically Spielbergian productions in comparison to Superior! They were terrible in the best way; because of this, I’ve held a serious interest in their offerings for years.

So anyway, I looked at Wally Wales’ filmography, and stumbled upon the title of The Way of the West, from 1934. The synapses in my brain began firing, and I progressively dredged up the memory: I taped that one back in the day! A thankfully-quick dig through my VHS boxes (helped by the recollection of the tape brand I had it on) unearthed the object of my desire, and so here we are.

Excepting specialty video dealers, the only normative way for most folks to catch & keep many of these B-Westerns back then was through the magic of VCR, provided you had a regular television outlet for these films – which I did. That has since changed exponentially; the public domain status of many (most?) of these flicks has meant a variety of DVD releases, never mind the legal online options. The Way of the West seems to fall under both categories – there were/are DVD editions out there, and even the Internet Archive has it for free viewin’ and/or downloadin’.

I’d certainly be interested in acquiring a shiny, factory-pressed DVD edition of the feature, but there’s something to be said for taking a trip back in time via a VHS recording. I have no exact date, but it’s from the summer of 1999 – a whopping 21 years ago! My recording is old enough to drink HAW HAW HAW! The sobering realization that 20+ years have elapsed since I taped this notwithstanding (talk about time shifting!), it’s fun to revisit a specific time and place in my personal history – especially since I have zero recollection of ever actually watching this recording! And even better: it’s from TV-29 (via America One Television’s syndication), so there’s some fun extras present, too!

We’ll take a look at those accoutrements momentarily, but for now, let us dive into the cinematic marvel that is Superior Talking Pictures’ The Way of the West

Our title screen (duh!)

I could be awfully choosy about what I did and didn’t keep where VHS recording was concerned back then, and truth be told, I’m really not sure why I decided to keep The Way of the West. I don’t know if I even realized this was a Superior Talking Picture back then (the pertinent info isn’t front-and-center on the opening screen seen here; it’s buried at the bottom of the following screen). Maybe it had to do with the mystery surrounding the leading man of the movie, as recounted by America One movie host Alan Stone before the picture? (Stone’s intro is one of the accoutrements we’ll look at after the movie, by the way.) Or maybe it was the involvement of, as you can see here, Art Mix, who I was familiar with back then. Or maybe I just liked the title and obscure creakiness of the whole thing, I dunno. Not that I’m complaining, of course.

Looking at the screen capture here, you’ll notice right above the title the specific notation of “The American Rough Riders.” Now, there was indeed a Rough Riders series of westerns, but they came later and were a product of Monogram. So, I’m not quite sure what the header alludes to here. Wally Wales is more or less a solo hero in this one, so was this an already-known group of silver screen names that Superior was capitalizing on, something Superior was trying to gather attention with, or…? At any rate, the more well-known Rough Riders had nothing to do with these Rough Riders. Maybe that’s why I kept the recording? I would have at least known of the later Rough Riders at that time, so maybe this struck me as weirdly funny?

The plot? (Some spoilers ahead, like anybody cares.) Hey, did you know that cattlemen and sheep herders were (are?) mortal enemies? I sure didn’t, but that’s exactly what this movie posits; that those in charge of cattle hate those in charge of sheep with a deadly, all-consuming passion.

That’s what drives the plot here: the government gives out land for grazin’ and whatnot, with no regard for whether the animals doing said grazing are big smelly milk machines or cotton covered creatures. Well, Dad Parker and his two children, ‘Fiery’ Parker and her younger brother Bobby, have some of this gub’mint granted land and a huge herd of sheep – and that draws the ire of one Cash Horton and his cohorts (one of which is the aforementioned Art Mix, who had a storied western career; like I said, I knew of him even back then). These nefarious chumps have been enlisted to drive Parker off, and this, needless to say, provides the impetus for our story here.

Wally telling Cash to get lost (or something along those lines)

Standing in defense of the Parker family and solidly on the side of good is Wally Gordon (Wales). Wally comes to the aid of Fiery early in the picture, rescues Bobby from some bullying via Cash’s crew, and is just an all-around good egg. To further demonstrate the burning rage that apparently exists between cattlemen and sheep herders, when queried on the subject of whether he’s a cattle man or a sheep man early in the film, Wally responds: “Well, I try to be just plain human being; sheep or cows, we have to live and let live, you know?” The fact he even needed to elaborate on this points to a rift that, again, I had no idea was a thing. Maybe it was only an issue in the world of the movie?

Wales isn’t a bad leading man, though a tad generic in the role. He certainly fares better than he could have, considering the material he was saddled (HAW HAW HAW) with. You don’t expect much from a B-Western, particularly one that isn’t from one of the big ‘B’ studios (Monogram, Republic, heck, even PRC). Even so, Way is pretty creaky, and more importantly, dumb. Hey, it wouldn’t be a Superior if it wasn’t!

Amongst the inanity (and this is just a sampling):

Awkward camerawork (particularly later in the film) that ostensibly progresses the plot (sheep being herded etc.) but really kind of juts around haphazardly and with obstacles in the landscape (read: trees) partially obscuring the shot. Good enough, I guess!

Also, a few instances in which the dialogue seemingly starts late during a new shot or is awkwardly paused/broken. Forgotten lines, miscues, or poor editing? I don’t know, but it’s pretty funny when it happens!

Regarding the script, it’s often eye-rollingly stupid. Shortly after Dad Parker specifically introduces his foreman (Wally!) to Cash, Cash asks who he is, to which it is then re-explained to him! There’s more than one dumb instance between Wally and Cash, too; the final exchange between them, a callback to a conversation from earlier in the film, is so awkwardly delivered that it’s practically jaw dropping – especially when Cash concludes by having a hearty laugh over it! (Despite his being in custody and about to be put in the slammer…though, oddly enough, without being restrained in any way. I guess this hardened criminal was on the honor system?)

You want amateurish action? The Way of the West has you covered! The fights in this one are bad even by cheapie old western standards. Dig this: early in the picture, Wally knocks a baddie out by raising his arm towards him, and then there’s a quick cut to his fist pushing the bad guy’s face, and then a cut to the guy hitting the ground – unconscious. It’s amazing. Apparently folks in the world of the movie are made of paper; the slightest shoves are capable of knocking people to the ground. And accusing Cash of killing in cold blood, even though mere accusations are all that can be thrown at him at that point? Why, that’s the cue for a huge, yet highly pathetic, bar brawl to take place!

Near the end of the film, Superior realized that speeding the film up (as in, running it at a faster FPS rate) during fight scenes helps, which it does indeed do; too bad that relatively-clever decision actually makes the stuff that came before look even worse in comparison. Prior to that decision, there’s a long drawn out bit where Wally and Cash wrestle on the ground, and instead of the daring fight it’s supposed to be, it just comes off awkward and sad – especially since there’s no music on the soundtrack to enhance the action. (The lack of soundtrack, aside from the open and close of the film, was par for the course for cheapo westerns at that time).

And then there’s the just plain puzzling moments in general. At one point, Wally is pinned down by Cash’s gunfire, so he takes his hat off and uses some nearby sticks to set it up as a decoy so he can make a retreat. Not a bad idea…except that he sets up the hat so low to the ground that Cash couldn’t possibly see it. And if he could, then he could also certainly see Wally exiting.

Among the most “say what?” moments of the movie: at one point, some unconscious bad guys are “humorously” dumped in a watering trough. (The actors tend to flinch when they first hit the water, but don’t let that destroy the illusion, okay?) Sound lighthearted enough? Well, considering one of them is dropped in face down while ostensibly unconscious…

And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s heroic-yet-comedic relief provided by young brother Bobby Parker. I have yet to see a B-Western where a kid in such a role doesn’t annoy me to some degree. His accidentally almost shooting an unsuspecting guy in the head is actually treated with frivolity! Later, he’s enlisted to go undercover to find proof that Wally didn’t kill a guy in cold blood – as if a little kid skulking about wouldn’t be suspicious. (Of course he overhears a conversation that needlessly explains the frame-up in detail.)

Oh, and by the way, Wally is secretly a government agent sent to investigate the cow/sheep war, but this point has no real bearing on the story and thus never really goes anywhere; it’s just kinda ‘there’ by the end of the picture. So why even include it in the first place?

But you know what the ironic thing about all this is? For a Superior Talking Picture, this really isn’t that bad. Is it cheap and creaky and occasionally amateurish, even outright stupid? Oh, without a doubt. And yet, considering how bad these Superiors could be, The Way of the West actually kinda succeeds in comparison. It’s hardly a beacon of B-Western movie making, and you don’t go into these things expecting a highfalutin experience anyway, but it still fares considerably better than, say, Range Riders, which could probably be considered the high (low?) water mark of Superior Talking Picture ridiculousness-in-every-facet. (Indeed, I once had an extensive DVD review of the film up here at the blog, though it’s currently reverted to draft-form for revisions; maybe I’ll get around to re-posting it at some point, provided I feel industrious enough.)

So yes, The Way of the West, it’s technically terrible, but a lot of fun to watch in a “bad movie night” sorta way. Its flaws are myriad, but except for that whole “potentially drowning a guy” thing, I guess it doesn’t do anything too offensive…

Oh…oh wow…

…OH HEY WAIT A SECOND WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!

Is, is t-that a freakin’ swastika on Cash Horton’s back?! It sure is! Boy, the dude’s an even bigger bad guy than he first appeared to be! I guess there’s no better way to say “HEY THIS IS THE VILLAIN OF THE PICTURE” though, is there?

ACTUALLY, before it became known as the symbol of, erm, you know, the swastika had a number of different iterations and meanings. Indeed, this isn’t even the first time I’ve seen it in a B-Western. Here, let Wikipedia tell you more.

The trivia section of Way‘s IMDb page says it was meant as a Native American good luck sign. I believe it; besides the fact the ‘bad’ version of the symbol is slightly different anyway, we’re talking pre-WWII film making here; it wouldn’t make much sense to put the Nazi symbol in a movie of this nature anyway. As we’ve seen, Superior could do some dumb stuff in their movies, but that would be particularly head-scratching.

Nevertheless, none of that changes the fact that the image does provide an initial “HUH?!”

(By the way, this is the scene where Horton shoots Dad Parker in cold blood. Dad winds up dying from his injuries, so just ignore the fact that it seriously looks like Horton shoots him in the posterior, okay?)

So, that’s The Way of the West. Okay, sure, from a technical standpoint it’s a terrible movie. Or at least, not a very good one. But you know what? I had a lot of fun watching. It held my attention, and while it’s not the chief offender in Superior’s oeuvre, there’s enough eyebrow-raising moments to be found to make it worth your while. Boy am I glad I taped it forever ago!

The discovery of new old stuff like this is just what made young me so addicted to TV-29 and America One’s syndicated offerings that 29 presented on a daily basis. Indeed, considering I (to the best of my recollection) never actually watched the recording, I guess this is as close as I can get to recreating those days of my youth.


HEY, WAIT! We’re not done just yet! Remember, I promised to showcase some accoutrements that were part of this broadcast! There were four moments outside of the movie that struck my interest. Three of them were commercials, but the fourth was this:

Alan Stone! Stone was the host of America One’s movies at the time. If you scroll waaaaay back up to the start of this article and read my TV-29 retrospective link (here, just have it again), you’d see how much I liked this guy. In fact, after that article, I did an online search for him, hopefully to find where he wound up after his A1 duties were finished. Maybe I could get a hold of him for an interview – or at least an autograph. Sadly, I didn’t turn up anything helpful.

Stone appeared before and after movies on a daily (nearly daily?) basis at the time. Unfortunately, his outro was cut off by me (mistake!) on this recording, but I kept the intro. Stone mainly talked about the many names Wally Wales was known by throughout his career (seriously, look it up!), and as he often did, displayed some of his dry humor with a “so you figure it out” after naming several of Wales’ monikers off.

For this broadcast, obviously this was part of America One’s “Western Theater” showcase, which specialized in movies just, like, well, just like this one. (Aw okay, they usually weren’t this chintzy!) It’s strictly thanks to Western Theater that I’m the B-Western fan that I am today!

Instrumental Legends Compilation Ad! Okay, so when it came to broadcasts on TV-29, there would typically be two ways the commercial breaks during a respective broadcast could go: ones that split time with ‘national’ ads and locally-produced spots, as you would tend to expect of an independent station. But then, there were other broadcasts where it was strictly ‘national’ ads; ITT Tech, mail order music and videos, things like that. It’s the latter category that this broadcast we’re looking at now falls in. I’m okay with that though, because the music compilation commercials present, the ads are practically burnt into my mind, so often were they run back in the day.

Many of these commercials were for Cornerstone Promotions comps, and that’s the case with what you’re seeing now: Instrumental Legends, a two disc (or cassette) set comprised entirely of instrumental oldies. I actually own this one (collecting these Cornerstone CDs has become a hobby of mine, thanks mainly to these commercials I saw endlessly back in the day), and there’s a lot of good stuff on it – provided you like instrumentals, of course. (Check out that Discogs link and judge for yourself!) And look at that screencap; it may be hard for some to remember a time when two CDs could run nearly $30, and two cassettes were nearly $20!

Malt Shop Memories Compilation Ad! Of all of the Cornerstone Promotions commercials I saw back then, there was perhaps none more played, or memorized by yours truly, than this one: Malt Shop Memories, another two disc/tape set, this one focusing on 1950s jukebox-worthy tracks; stuff you’d supposedly hear in a – say it with me – malt shop. Go figure! (Be forewarned: there’s more than one compilation that goes by the title Malt Shop Memories, but this is the one burnt into my brain.)

Since I’m very much a 1950s &1960s rock guy (in all the various forms the vague term of “rock” entails when applied to those two decades), this set is very much right up my alley. Looking at that Discogs link, you’ll see that the set leans towards slower, Doo Wop tracks, though I’m just fine with that.

Unlike the preceding Instrumental Legends commercial, which mainly featured happy couples and ‘relaxing’ images (flowing streams and whatnot), this Malt Shop Memories commercial went all out in recreating the stereotypical 1950s malt shop, complete with teens in period-appropriate clothing, dancing, and just enough lip-syncing to make me feel embarrassed for the actor. Oh how I love this commercial; it just may be my favorite music compilation spot of all-time!

Pinkard & Bowden: Gettin’ Stupid Ad! Another one I practically know by heart, though despite the (seeming) ubiquity of the commercial at the time, in comparison to the preceding two collections Gettin’ Stupid is actually kinda tough to find, or at least sells for a bit more.

Pinkard & Bowden were a comedy country music duo, specializing in parodies of popular songs and humorous originals. Think of a countrified Weird Al Yankovic x 2 or something like that. The ad plays up the comedic aspects of the duo by having them lip sync and act out in costume some of the songs found on this collection.

This commercial, obviously it was still running by 1999, but apparently the compilation first released in 1993. One of the things I find my most interesting about it now is seen in the screencap here: the option to purchase it on vinyl. I consider, roughly, 1990-2005 to be the ‘lost years’ of vinyl, and releases within those years, after the format lost mainstream popularity and before it made a welcome comeback, to be of extreme interest. If the CD version of this comp is tough to find, I can only guess how obscure the vinyl is!

(The option to buy on the seemingly-dead vinyl format was often seen on these mail order advertisements throughout the 1990s, and as someone who scours a lot of vinyl at thrift shops and whatnot, I can tell you used copies of these don’t turn up nearly as often as I’d like. A 1991 Bobby Vinton comp was and is cool, but the big find in this category for me over the last few years? Andy Griffith’s 1995 Gospel music collection. I remember the commercials for that one, too; I do believe they were still airing well after ’95.)


There you have it: a movie review, an old television broadcast review, and a look back at what comprised my cinematic interests 21 years ago. (Hey, some things never change!) Stuff like this provided the foundation for not only my ongoing love of the B-Western genre, but also local programming (even though, technically, nothing here was really locally produced).

This was a fun article to write, and definitely a fun broadcast to revisit, or visit, depending on how you look at it. Maybe some of the content here will be hard for people to understand just why I’m so enamored by it, but if nothing else, maybe I’ve introduced another good bad movie for y’all to throw into the queue. That’s something to be proud of, I think? Whatever.

EPISODE REVIEW: The Ghoul’s airing of 1935’s SCROOGE (December 17, 1999)

I have no idea what’s happening the rest of the month, so consider this your de facto Christmas and New Year post.  I suppose I could wait till Monday and post this on the 19th anniversary of the original air date, but I’m, uh, not.

But hey, if I’m gonna jump the gun, what a way to do it!

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t do another “Ghoul post” so soon after the last one, even if the last one was in actuality back in August. Not that I couldn’t babble about Ghoul Power every single day if I wanted to; it’s just that I worry about over-saturating all four of my regular readers or something like that.

At any rate, in the months since that August update, some sad and shocking news dropped: Ron “The Ghoul” Sweed suffered a massive heart attack. I don’t know all of the details, other than it happened and that triple-bypass surgery was needed. As far as I know, and hope, he’s had the surgery and is recovering now. Scary, scary stuff; I sincerely pray he makes it through with flying colors and comes out stronger than ever.

Well before that news (and also well before that August post), and certainly continuing afterwards, I had made a habit of revisiting a lot of the old Ghoul shows I recorded off WBNX TV-55 in the late-1990s and early-2000s. For the most part they don’t feel that old to me, and yet it’s been so long since I had watched some of them (or in some cases, taped but never watched at all), that they’ve essentially become ‘new’ to me all over again. I have greatly enjoyed having a regular (sometimes every single night) dose of Ghoul Power!

So, to talk about a horror host in December, it may seem a little strange, until you realize (or at least read the title of this update) that every Christmas season, The Ghoul went all-out in celebration, and he perhaps never went more all-out than he did in December of 1999, when the entire month was dedicated to Christmas-appropriate films. Not only was it intensely festive, but The Ghoul was probably at his peak in both material and visibility on the station.

Over the course of the month, not one but two films that would become personal Christmastime favorites of mine were presented: 1964’s Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (for me it has become a tradition to watch this movie at some point in December each year), and our subject today, 1935’s Scrooge, which also happens to be my go-to film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The Ghoul tackled it on December 17, 1999, one whole week before Christmas Eve! The anticipation was running high, and Santa Ghoul was running rampant!

The episode opens with a really cool intro: old footage of “Santa Ghoul” from the WKBF TV-61 days (i.e., the 1970s) being pulled by a reindeer, and then transitioning to the modern day Santa Ghoul on his set, before transitioning back to the old footage to close the intro out. Neato!

During the ‘current’ portion of his intro, The Ghoul promises not just a movie, but all kinds of “eclectic Christmas vignettes,” and boy, he wasn’t lying! During the Friday 11:30 PM era of his WBNX run, man, there would be a ton material packed into any given show, and this installment was no exception. Some vintage bits, some trips around Cleveland (including visits to the WOIO and WNCX studios), some ice skating, all in addition to his on-set antics and a genuinely good Christmas movie! When it comes to local holiday celebrations, this was a terrific, jam packed example – and there was still a week to go before his actual Christmas special!

Before we get to all of The Ghoul stuff though, let’s look at Scrooge. Look, I wanted to do some kind of tribute to The Ghoul before the year was out, but I also really, really wanted to talk about this movie. I love this movie; not that I’m terribly familiar with the others, but it’s still my favorite film version of A Christmas Carol. Some of that’s nostalgia; for years, WAOH TV-29/WAX TV-35 (“The CAT”) annually ran a commercial-free presentation of it each Christmas Eve (I talked about it before, though don’t bother visiting that link; the article is old and terrible). But even beyond the fond memories, I just think it’s a genuinely good film.

Released in 1935, this is not only one of the more underrated adaptations of the story, it’s also one of the more obscure. Both the 1938 and 1951 versions tend to eclipse it, though I admittedly have no real experience with those (they may very well be, and apparently are, better movies).

Still, when you’ve got the foundation of stellar source material, it’s probably all relative (to a point, anyway). The classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miserly and anti-Christmas-lovin’, getting a verbal beat-down by the tortured spirit of former business partner Jacob Marley and then put in check by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in order to make him not only get Christmas but get Christmas all year long, hey, it’s legendary stuff. No joke, calling it “legendary” actually seems to downplay the whole thing; A Christmas Carol has become one of the most recognizable, enduring ‘extras’ associated with Christmas.

(In other words, do I really need to explain any more of the plot? Doesn’t everyone know it by now? I’m pretty sure there are kids that are born automatically knowing this story.)

Great source material or not, I’d imagine any filmed version of A Christmas Carol ultimately hinges on the guy in the lead role, and let me tell you, Sir Seymour Hicks makes for an excellent Scrooge. From the onset, he’s not just cranky; he’s downright unpleasant. You’re not supposed to initially like Scrooge of course, and Hick’s rendition is so filled with vitriol, so angry at anything approaching cheer, that you really don’t.

Of course, that just makes his eventual redemption all the more joyful, and Hicks is terrific in demonstrating the transition. He really comes off as a changed man! And his looks of sadness at what he has and is missing out on, as well as his fear at what will be, are all nicely portrayed as well.

1935’s Scrooge also has something going for it that I find continuously appealing: a feeling of authenticity. Sure, the movie is old (duh!), black and white (duh duh!) and a little creaky (duh duh duh!). But it somehow feels like Britain in 1843, as if it was really filmed back then. Sure, there’s probably some time period inconsistencies, but for your average fella such as myself, the vibes are overwhelmingly old fashioned, I guess you could say. It feels like you’re there during an old timey English Christmas, or at least it feels that way to me.

The movie also does a good job of presenting the deeper aspects of Christmas, as you’d expect. Sure there’s the parties and merriment and so on, but ultimately it’s about a generosity and happiness of spirit, with obviously the birth of Christ at the center of it all, even if only by implication. (I should mention now I haven’t actually read the original book, unless you count the mega-abridged and rewritten edition I read when I was in like 3rd grade – which I don’t.)

In its original British incarnation, Scrooge was 70+ minutes long, but for the U.S. it was edited down to around an hour, and it’s those truncated prints that made the rounds on American television and home video for decades. (And the fact that it’s apparently public domain in the U.S. only exacerbated matters.) Obviously it was a common hour-long version that The Ghoul was running, but unlike a good many flicks featured on the show, it wasn’t chopped to ribbons. The only bit I really noticed missing was the “Lord mayor of London celebration” scene, but its exclusion didn’t hurt the plot any. Indeed, by and large, the ‘meat’ of the story is here and is completely coherent.

And of course, since this was The Ghoul after all, there was a bevy of sound effects, music and what have you dropped into the film, including the humorous “fact bubbles” that were a staple of the show at the time, as you can see here to your right.

So, when you’ve got a movie that’s not only fitting for the season but also actually good and whose plot you can easily follow, hey, that’s always something that can get you in the holiday mood. But of course, being only an hour long originally, even after commercials were taken into consideration, there was plenty of time for wacky Ghoul material, and that’s just what viewers got that night of December 17, 1999…

(Indeed, there was so much material, I’m only going to focus on a few of the personal highlights here.)

The Ghoul liked to take little digs at Big Chuck & Lil’ John, albeit digs that were always good-natured in spirit. Given the shared Northeast Ohio-history between the two shows, never mind that both aired at the same time on Friday nights back then, it was only natural. Here, because it was in the thick of the Christmas season, The Ghoul wanted to wish good will to men, all men, even Chuck & John…which was demonstrated by him holding up a Big (wood) Chuck and a Lil’ John (toilet)! This was followed by a “call” to Chuck in which The Ghoul had to remind him not only who he was (“Not Ghoulardi; The Ghoul!”), but also who Lil’ John was!

Immediately following that little bit was footage of The Ghoul, in full Santa regalia, and Froggy visiting the offices of WOIO/WUAB, traipsing around the lobby, talking to some of the staff, and culminating in The Ghoul pulling his beard and mustache off and putting them on a hanging portrait of Denise Dufala, and then making a hasty exit!

Dufala was another local personality that The Ghoul had a good-natured “feud” going with at the time, and the shot of her picture with the beard and mustache on it was repeated for the longest time afterwards, with the declaration that she was a “bad mamma jamma” later grafted on.

Ahh, a blow up! What would The Ghoul Show be without a little juvenile destruction? It was a tradition going all the way back to the Ghoulardi days of the 1960s, and a show never quite felt complete without one ‘splosion to set the mood.

This time around, it was a model car that got the explosive nod, and it did indeed blow up real nice! Quick, silly, simple, and a lot of fun.

You know, it’s amazing how big of a destructive influence The Ghoul had on both me and my brother. We never really had legit fireworks in which to destroy things, but fire, smashing, what have you, that sort of stuff was within our reach. In fact, I have two related stories that can be directly attributed to the influence of The Ghoul…

1) Once, at a computer swap meet-type convention (of all places), my brother bought a box of already-assembled model cars from a guy. They weren’t particularly old, nor were they particularly intricate pieces (snap-on plastic, maybe some glue, decal stickers), but the dude had obviously spent some time putting them together. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Over time, all of those cars met destructive ends, mostly by crushing/smashing, I’d imagine. I almost feel bad about it now, because I can just imagine the guy feeling like he was passing these cars, cars he spent time with and enjoyed assembling, on to someone who would (supposedly) appreciate them, and that was the end they met instead. Actually, it’s kinda (darkly?) funny when you think about it.

2) At one point, again in lieu of fireworks, I combined by Ghoul-fueled destructive tendencies with my love of Japanese giant monster movies and created a game imaginatively titled “Gamera.” “Gamera” took place in our backyard, in the circular dirt “arena” in which our old pool once stood, and involved a thick plastic sea turtle I got at SeaWorld or some place being tied to a rope and swung around in the air before attempting to slam it down upon G.I. Joe figures that weren’t deemed important enough to keep. (Since I collect that early-1980s to mid-1990s G.I. Joe line nowadays, this decision was eventually revealed to be a mistake.)

Obviously it wasn’t a very precise game, so a (relatively rare) direct hit was certainly cause for celebration. Since the toy turtle wasn’t exactly indestructible, his limbs began to wear down and break off from the abuse after awhile, plus I got a nasty blister on the inside of my thumb from the constant swinging of the rope. (Those Joes were pretty durable and put up a good fight, too!)

Look, my brother and I were young enough to be amused by things like this, and it was pretty much all thanks to The Ghoul. Anyway…

A short, funny bit in which The Ghoul greets carolers at (ostensibly) his front door, only to then be regaled with loud, out-of-tune, and mismatched Christmas carols. Eventually, he just goes back inside, only to have the carolers continue singing (and even peeking in his windows)!

I recognize some of the Ghoul crew as the carolers; I’m guessing the rest were family members? Oh to be one of those lucky few in a Ghoul skit!

In addition to the opening WKBF material, there was another nice holiday-themed surprise from the past presented on the show, this one from his WCLQ TV-61 run in the 1980s. Here, The Ghoul narrates some of the annual traditions that take place during the Christmas season, including an unlucky-in-love couple but mostly focusing on a big giant brawl (“What Christmas is complete without the traditional holiday fistucuffs?”), which The Ghoul passes through without trying to stop. (This piece appeared to be part of a larger bit that was truncated somewhat for this particular broadcast.)

Now this is really cool: during one host segment, The Ghoul holds up a shirt for the then-new Ghoulardi’s Bar & Grille, a local establishment named (obviously) after the Cleveland horror host who set all this in motion so many years prior. The Ghoul promises to visit there sometime in the “very near future.

That would turn out to be true, as there were multiple instances of footage from Ghoul appearances there run in the following years. And why not? The two were a natural fit!

I never had the chance to visit Ghoulardi’s, and the place has evidently since closed, so that’s something I’m just going to have to live with. (Also, with all of the old local restaurant glassware and such that I come across during my travels, I have yet to stumble upon some Ghoulardi’s memorabilia in-person, and that’s something else I’m just going to have to live with, apparently.)

Ah, my buddy, Jungle Bob! Yep, JB was a regular guest on The Ghoul Show at the time, for awhile there having a weekly segment.

This time around, he had some parrots with him, including “Booger,” the green one from the Amazon, and “Orion,” the African grey parrot. Both were only a few years old at the time, which means it’s a safe guess that they’re still alive. (Parrots, as JB points out in the segment, are pretty long-lived creatures!)

That’s the recently-retired (*sniff*) Mr. Classic of WNCX holding “Orion.” At the time, The Ghoul would join him during his weekly Saturday night request show on the station.

As I said earlier, there was a lot packed into this show, and more than what I’ve described happened during it. Other shenanigans included some ice skating, visits around Cleveland, chats with citizens, and even an interview with Michael Stanley during a trip to the WNCX studios. And through it all, The Ghoul was in his Santa suit, keeping things in the Christmas spirit.

But, I’m going to close out this article with the image above: Santa Ghoul, hopping out on his bouncy ball as the show drew to a close, Ghoul Power just about done for the night. It was one week till Christmas Eve, or, if y’all wanna get technical, a week till Christmas proper, since it was well after midnight by that point.

(A funny email moment before The Ghoul exited: someone wrote in asking if he was interested in getting some audio copies of his late-1970s WXON TV-20 shows from Detroit. The Ghoul declined, because as he himself bluntly put it, those shows “sucked.“)

So, like The Ghoul, I’m gonna hop on out of here (figuratively), because that just about wraps up the big Christmas update; a more fitting post I could not think of. A terrific Christmas movie, a generous helping of Christmas cheer throughout the skits and host segments, and what I hope is a fitting tribute to Ron “The Ghoul” Sweed as he faces his health crisis. My prayers, thoughts and best wishes are with him, and I’m sure it’s the same for countless other 10 Star Generals in the Ghoul Power Army.

I truly hope you all have a blessed Christmas and a happy, safe new year. Ignore the constant drive for more and more gifts and instead remember the true meaning of the holiday, what it’s all about and what’s really important. That is my hope for you all.