Saturday, October 8, 2011

Every Day is Halloween: Get Bitten by Tarantula Ghoul!

HALLOW! WEENIE! GOODNESS!

Tonight we bring you one of the lost treasures of Horror Hosting:

Pardon the lady's crease... and click to embiggen
That's Tarantula Ghoul, who hosted Portland's House of Horror. Tarantula (Taranch to her friends) was a pretty typical host in many ways. She rose from a coffin at the beginning of each show, lampooned the movies, engaged in macabre social satire, and had a sidekick. In her case, the hunchbacked gravedigger-turned-gardener Milton.

Though one wonders if perhaps he didn't sometimes confuse his two careers...
Also like many horror hosts, Tarantula's rise to stardom was surprising, meteoric... and quickly over. House of Horror ran from October of 1957 to November of 1958, but in that short span Tarantula hit it big. Her show was popular enough that she was featured in TV Guide (from which the creased picture above came), she made public appearances...

...in which she apparently carried Screamin' Jay Hawkin's walking stick...
...and generally lead the life of a successful 1950s horror host. And then her show got cancelled, only a little more than a year after it began. But it didn't end due to poor ratings. It was cancelled because Tarantula (aka Suzanne Waldron) got pregnant out of wedlock, and that just wouldn't fly in that more restrictive era.

That's not why we remember Tarantula Ghoul so fondly, however. We remember her because in her year of fame, she also cut a record. And what a record! Dig the hep sounds of Tarantula Ghoul and the Gravediggers, with their one and only single, "Graveyard Rock."


(Not the original video... obviously, I guess...)

Hot damn! That's one of our all-time favorite Halloween songs here on the Dork Forty, and it's not even the A side! No, that honor goes to the bossa-nova-flavored "King Kong," which you can also hear below:


Yeah, I know. It's not nearly as good...

No footage of Tarantula's actual show has survived, unfortunately. All we have are a few publicity shots to get a feel for what it looked like, but those suggest a fantastic air of ultra-cheap weirdness that I like quite a bit:

Yes, the monkey was a regular. 
So there you have it. A lost gem of the horror hosting world, and one hell of a great horror record to boot. If you wanna read more about Tarantula Ghoul, you can check out this piece from Our Favorite Horror Hosts, or a profile from her original station, Portland's KPTV. And, just 'cause we found it, here's one last picture from the show, a special set done for when Tarantula showed The Mummy:

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