Count Gore de Vol
Dick Dyszel started hosting horror in 1973, under the name of Count Gore de Vol. But many also knew him as Captain 20, a pointy-eared alien cartoon show host. Others knew him as Washington, DC’s Bozo. And still others knew him as the guy in the plaid suit who spun the big movie prize wheel. Basically, if you watched local TV in the DC area in the 70s and 80s, you probably saw Dick Dyszel in some guise at some point. But through it all, there was Count Gore.
The character apparently debuted on Bozo, and was such a hit that the station (WDCA, Channel 20) gave him his own show called Creature Feature, where he, as you would expect, hosted horror movies. Count Gore very swiftly moved on to slightly more… grown-up material with Creature Feature. His name, for instance, is a double joke: it's a neat play on the name of author Gore Vidal, but for local viewers it also plays off Washington's De Vol Funeral Home. He also made political satire a Creature Feature staple, having a particular field day during the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. Count Gore also fully embraced the sexual revolution. He was infamous for having Penthouse Pets as guests on the show, and Count Gore himself is a rather amorous (though eternally frustrated) sort of vampire. He's a bit like your sleazy uncle. If your sleazy uncle was Bela Lugosi...
And if that sort of thing appeals to you, continue on after the jump to see Count Gore in action...
Other than that, Creature Feature presents a very typical sort of horror host comedy, with puns, bad jokes, horror-themed mayhem, the whole nine yards. There’s not much vintage Count Gore footage out there, but here’s a very short clip from earlier this year that really captures the feel of the show:
Heh. Like Svengoolie, Count Gore’s jokes aren’t really very funny. But the fact that he’s telling them is absolutely hysterical. And yes, Count Gore actually does have a life-size poster of Vampirella hanging on the inside of his coffin lid. Because of course he does.
Here’s a slightly longer piece that really gives you a feel for what Creature Feature is like:
Wow. That’s one of those bits that only gets funny as he persists in doing it. Though the 3D glasses were a nice touch...
(And why the Big-Mouth Billy Bass? Two words: Comedy. Gold.)
Creature Feature was actually cancelled (along with all other local programming on Channel 20) in 1987, a victim of the advent of the infomercial. When a station could make more money off two solid hours of advertising than it could off providing actual entertainment, the need to fill airtime with cool, funky, local programming evaporated, and television became a lot more boring.
Count Gore went away for awhile after that. But in 1998, Dick Dyszel made entertainment history by becoming the first horror host on the internet, when he brought Creature Feature back as “the weekly web program.” Each and every week, he brought you a new episode, featuring a different public domain horror movie. Most of them were horrible, of course, but that’s really only a bonus for anybody who’d be interested in watching Count Gore in the first place.
Around the movies, he built a full-service horror website, complete with news and reviews of horror-tinged books, films, and music. And it’s still running today. Count Gore tends to leave the movies up a little longer these days, with new episodes coming every two or three weeks instead of his old insane weekly pace. And these days, he sometimes shows new B-Movies mixed in with the public domain stuff. I never find those quite as much fun, but it’s great to see him keeping his show fresh and vital.
You can find all this entertainment greatness at http://www.countgore.com/. Or, if you wanna just jump straight to the movies, you can go to directly to Count Gore’s Horror Lab at http://www.countgore.com/gore/Lab.htm. This week (as I write, anyway), he’s showing that sweaty redneck classic, Attack of the Giant Leeches, co-hosted by two actresses from something called Ninjas vs. Vampires. There’s also something about genetically-altered bed bugs, but I haven’t made it past the first host segment yet, so I’m not sure where he’ll be going with that. Wherever he goes, though, you can be sure it’ll be super-cheesy. And, hopefully... awesome.
Count Gore (or, rather, Dick Dyszel) is now also the subject of his own documentary bio-pic, called Every Other Day is Halloween. So I’ll leave you with the trailer for that: