TARANTULA (see also COAGULUS, COUNT VON THIRSTENBURG)
Saturday afternoon at 6:30
WPGH-TV, Channel 53 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Late 60's? - ?? 1971
Bob Tinnell, director of the classic-horror-tribute feature Frankenstein and Me, several other very cool movies, and co-author of a series of award-winning, very cinematic graphic novels, recalls:
I remember as a young kid in the late sixties or possibly as late as 1971 a show hosted by a character called Tarantula on WPGH channel 53 in Pittsburgh. Who was this guy? I remember seeing some great stuff on there. I never see anything anywhere.
E-gorespondent Kurt McCoy provides some tantalizing details:
Very shortly after 53 went on the air, I'd have to say in the late '60's or very early '70's since I think Dark Shadows was still on the air at the time, they had a Saturday afternoon horror film show with two hosts. Initially they had a fairly lame vampire "Count" something or other with red hair. He was replaced by another host, called Tarantula. I remember the changeover quite vividly, since the ineffectual old count was staked in his coffin by Tarantula, complete with stage-blood and screams. Pretty gruesome for a Saturday afternoon kiddie show!
Tarantula was portrayed as a kind of dark occult swinger, with amulets and sideburns and a whispery guru-kind of delivery. Very cynical compared with his predecessor's glib one-liner, lame pun approach. They even had little serial adventures between commercials, usually featuring Tarantula trying to get ahold of some new occult trinket. He was very much the Anti-Hero kind of character, as opposed to the usual amiable eccentric style host. I don't think the show lasted more than a year or so, but I'd love to find out more about it!
E-gorespondent David Silvio remembers:
TV host Tarantula's real name is, I believe, Paul Kawecki, and the name of the show was Scream In. The Count's name was Thirstenburg. Tarantula's servant was Hugo. I remember there was a special episode referred to as "Tarantula Goes To Hell." In 1971 I went to the Pittsburgh Playhouse to see Tarantula and Hugo in person. They did a skit before the screening of Night of the Living Dead.
E-gorespondant FRANK-N_STEIN adds:
I have a few memories of the show from Pittsburgh featuring Tarantula as host. I seem to remember it airing Saturday evenings, although I saw someone said it ran Saturday afternoons.
Two movies I recall being on that show were Curse of The Demon and another movie that started out with a girl looking into binoculars which shot sharp spikes into her eyes when she adjusted the binoculars.....I can't recall the title of that movie. (It's Horrors of the Black Museum — E-gor.)
I also recall Tarantula doing skits before, during and after the movie. One time he was being chased by a wizard or some such being. Tarantula's figure was superimposed over another scene making it look like he was running across a narrow stone bridge high above the ground.
Tarantula also used to use the phrase "And now for some more of my incantational rites" after returning from a commercial break... and right before he'd get into one of his skits.
WPGH Pittsburgh horror host Tarantula and servant Hugo
TARANTULA and his
servant HUGO, hosts
Scream-In on WPGH
Ch. 53, Pittsburgh PA.
Click for larger view.
Of course Saturday Nights was Chilly Billy Cardille I was his wide eyed fan!!!