Remembering circa-’90s TV horror host the GraveMaster, briefly Orlando’s answer to Elvira | Arts Stories & Interviews | Orlando

“And now my young children, it truly is time for Horrorscopes. Periscope down.”

The hooded creature perched on a gargoyle-festooned throne, on the lookout like a B-movie hybrid of the Cryptkeeper and Dr. Doom, theatrically pulls down a periscope from out of nowhere — with attendant submarine sounds. As dry ice billows as a result of the Tv studio set, he pulls out a tombstone and begins studying aloud absurdist predictions.

“Pisces: Your dog’s increasing sunshine is indicated by his again leg. Cancer: Do not lick meals from a stranger’s beard. Gemini: Beware if a person bleeding from the ears asks you to indicator a financial institution note. … And last but not least, Leo: Beware if your blind date has a mole the dimension of Ernest Borgnine. We are going to be again.”

Tucked absent at the 50 %-hour mark of the “Golden Age of Horror Hosts Vol. 1” movie on YouTube, this bizarre and amusing and compelling movie was our introduction to the GraveMaster.

“Horror hosts” are a uniquely American tv phenomenon: creepily attired comics and reduce-ups who’d crack jokes in excess of undesirable horror flicks for nearby Tv set stations keen to fill airtime, movie high quality be damned. It is really a very pleased, postmodernist custom that goes again to Zacherle and Vampire in the 1950s. But for each horror host who cracked the countrywide consciousness like Elvira or Svengoolie, there had been innumerable regional fiends effervescent less than on the considerably finishes of the dial. Why, nearby Tampa even experienced Dr. Paul Bearer, a cadaverous undertaker who’d dispense groan-worthy puns at a device-gun speed in in between similarly distressing horror films.

But back again to that GraveMaster clip. Even though quick, it can be extraordinary things amid the usually lo-fi specifications of the horror host style, and it truly is much more of a madcap romp than some of his peers’ operate, with peppier pacing and plenty of sight gags. The GraveMaster’s makeup and costume are prime-notch the established design and output is haunted-property deserving the puns are appropriately corny, Letterman-esque enjoyment (there’s a quip about a new kid’s toy, the “Mattel Quicksand Box,” that is pure demented father-joke territory). And the GraveMaster even offers absent tickets to the neighborhood premiere of a “hot new film” identified as Twin Peaks: Fireplace Wander With Me.

So significantly, so very good, correct? What really brought us out of our scrolling stupor, although, was when the GraveMaster announced a trivia contest in which the winner would score a glow-in-the-dim shirt with his ghoulish mug on it. And the handle he directed responses to be sent was the WKCF Television set 18 studio on Courtland Avenue … right listed here in Orlando.

For in truth the GraveMaster was a product or service of the Town Attractive.

click on image

  • screengrab by means of YouTube
  • Click to meet up with some of the GraveMaster’s Halloween close friends

Friday Nights With the GraveMaster broadcast for a number of halcyon months in 1992, weekly at 11:30 p.m. out of the Channel 18 studios. However evidently canceled following 1 time to make way for syndicated sitcom reruns (the horror!), the clearly show was ghastly fun correct out of the gate. And — given the trivia, caption contests and volume of viewer mail read through on the air — it identified an viewers of weirdos, horror hounds and insomniacs from working day one particular.

But regrettably, here is not substantially information on the GraveMaster to be discovered on the world wide web — a sparse IMDB entry in this article, brief capsule bios on a few of horror host-centric internet sites there, and a a lot better web-site dubbed “In the Night” that abruptly disappeared off the net. Even worse, no full episodes are readily accessible, just a handful of compilation clips put jointly by discerning Television set junkies. But the clips out there in YouTubeland hint at chic, “how did this even get on Television?” mayhem. We viewed them all religiously.

And what mayhem it was! The GraveMaster, in the study course of just a several months, was attacked by the Creeping Unknown, tormented by a miniature hand puppet of himself undertaking dreadful impressions, hosted a Xmas episode and even introduced in the winner of the initial (ahem) “Bithlo Expertise Contest.” (Who then experienced a tragic zipper accident.)

Who was dependable for this? We know a tiny.

The man powering the GraveMaster’s terrifying visage was Tim Kincaid (né Trombitas). If that name appears common, it is due to the fact his daytime gig was as Ranger Bob of the very common community kid’s display Ranger Bob’s Buckaroo Club. Sets and unique consequences have been handled by Pat “Fleagore” Tantalo, an business vet who went on to do distinctive effects for huge-time motion photos like Bug, A Stroll to Keep in mind and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Trombitas is now retired from television, walking a incredibly different route as both a man of the fabric in Winter season Back garden and a military services chaplain in Apopka. Attempts to access him to communicate about that function had been unsuccessful — which is not fully astonishing, given his existing contacting.

Tantalo, meanwhile, regrettably handed absent in 2017. But at the 11th (witching?) hour, we did manage to observe down the gentleman credited as both of those “Flooring Vampire” and “Ghost Writer” in the conclude credits: Pat Moran. Moran, now a team author at Charlotte, North Carolina’s alt-weekly Queen Town Nerve, associated a tantalizing anecdote all through a short trade that tied the demonstrate in with another lost landmark of Orlando fright: “At the time of GraveMaster, I also labored at Orlando’s Terror on Church Street, typically as Dracula,” Moran told us, “so I procured a couple coffins for the demonstrate.”

We had been not able to coordinate with Moran for a lengthier job interview just before this situation went to press. So we are remaining with additional thoughts than solutions, and only a little handful of movie clips, stray photos and an ad from the Sentinel’s Tv set listings on the web as tangible proof.

Far more than probably the GraveMaster is buried forever. There will be no Elvira-type comeback. The coffin is perfectly and certainly shut on an Orlando initial. And however, if you position your ear towards Courtland Street this Halloween evening, legend has it that you can still hear a ghostly voice whisper, “Good evening, slumber limited, and will not allow the bedbugs — or mysterious creeping bugs — bite.”

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