The art of horror hosting is just that – an art.
Back in the glory days of television, when almost every major market wanted their own niche on the horror host totem pole, these men and women were revered as local celebrities. To this day, the legends like Ghoulardi, Jerry G. Bishop and Vampira are still remembered with nostalgia and a smile.
In this day and age, the era of the horror host isn’t dead. Those who grace the small screen still prefer the term undead, thank you very much. While the number of hosts have dwindled over the years, there’s no arguing that the folks still haunting your television set are as active and popular as ever. From Chicago’s Svengoolie to Cleveland’s Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri (better known as The Mummy and The Monkey), Tennessee’s Dr. Gangrene to the never-aging Elvira, there are still a multitude of people who relish the Halloween spotlight 365 days a year for their fans’ pleasure.
One such member of this creepy crew is The Bone Jangler, a ghoulish host with the most who has been on the air for over seventeen years. His show airs in over twenty states and he’s a fan favorite across social media.
Recently, I had the chance to speak with The Bone Jangler and he dishes on his origins, his career up to this point and what the future may hold.
Buckle up, it’s about to get spooky..
MANGLED MATTERS: How did The Bone Jangler and your show come to be?
BONE JANGLER: Well, I’ve kind of always been around. I come from Beyond – beyond mortal concepts of time and space. The “Big Bang” that ultimately spawned Earth’s creation is what first drew my attention this way. The development of life on this planet held my interest. After the arrival of Homo sapiens, particularly the female of the species, I decided to come here for a closer look, and, basically, I never left.
As for the creation of The Bone Jangler TV show, that came about after watching various horror hosts on television around the States over a period of over forty years. I thought, ‘We can do this. These people are playing characters, donning costumes, wearing make-up. All we have to do is get in front of the cameras and be ourselves.’
Also, part of the reason why we started doing The Bone Jangler TV Show was to resuscitate the genre, an idea that was shared by almost all of the horror hosts that sprung up around the turn of this century.
MM: How many hours per week would you say you work on the show?
BJ: I have two television programs, The Bone Jangler and The Bone Jangler’s Daytime Dungeon. The Bone Jangler show is the one where we host Horror, Sci-Fi, and Cult films. That show runs between two and two-and-a-half hours, depending on the length of the film being hosted. So that show takes a lot of time to put together. I’d say, on average, I put about thirty-two hours into editing that show each time – and that’s after we shoot our scenes. The show I just finished working on took almost fifty-nine hours to edit.
The Daytime Dungeon show, that’s where we host old cartoons. It’s like an after-school kid’s show. That show’s only an hour-long, so it takes half the time to put it together. Both shows are jam-packed with content. I don’t just throw these shows together. Nowadays, there are so many hosts. A lot of them kind of just do a few minutes of banter, go to the film, come back for two minutes, back to the movie and so on. I don’t do it like that. I do it like you’re watching network television, tons of content. Also, these days, a lot of the newer hosts, they use so many effects, they spend hours and hours editing their shows too, but, usually, it’s not because of the over abundance of content. It’s because it takes so long to render those effects on the computer.
MM: Who are some of your favorite Horror Hosts from years past?
BJ: The original Svengoolie, Jerry G. Bishop, he’s always been my favorite. I used to watch him pretty much every Friday night. He was just so funny, and, so very cool. My whole week revolved around his Screaming Yellow Theater show. We’d order pizza every Friday night right before his show came on. Every delivery driver that came to the house said the same thing. “That’s the one thing that sucks about working Friday nights, missing Svengoolie.” They’d always step inside for a few minutes and watch him before going back to work.
Ghoulardi, Ernie Anderson, he’d be right up there too. Ghoulardi was so irreverent and off the cuff. He was always poking fun at people and institutions that were used to being treated with the utmost dignity. He didn’t care. If he thought you were un-hip, you were likely to become a target of his. The guy was ridiculously popular. He had, like, seventy percent of the viewing audience tuned in to see what he would do or say next, and, despite his popularity, the station management were also trying to get him to tone things down. However, you didn’t tell Ghoulardi what not to do. In a lot of ways, The Bone Jangler is like Ghoulardi with that increased sense of irreverence. You know, “What’s he going to say next?”. That sort of thing. Well, that, and the fact that, like Ernie, I improvise all the time because I’m not real good at memorizing schtick.
Aside from those two, Vampira, I’ve just always thought she had the very best look, spooky and sexy, with a hint of danger. To me, it’s all about the presentation and, in my opinion, Vampira was the ultimate in that regard.
MM: You’re hosting a horror movie marathon. What five movies are you showing and why?
BJ: For that type of event, I’d want to host a broad range of films. The Rankin/Bass stop motion classic Mad Monster Party would be great to kick it off, as it’s an all-ages Monster Rally type thing. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, another Monster Rally, would most definitely be one of them, as that is my favorite film of all time, and it’s another one that’s perfect for every age group.
I think Plan 9 from Outer Space ought to be in there. That way, it’s like Vampira’s there at the marathon in spirit with me, which, as it turns out, she often is, but, that’s another story for another day. They say it’s the “worst film ever made”, but, I can name several more recent movies with huge budgets that are far worse.
Let’s see… definitely have to include Night of the Living Dead in that kind of marathon. That film, it was such a groundbreaking piece of work in so many ways. A longtime fan of mine was stationed in Vietnam when the film came out. On Friday nights, they’d go to a big tent and watch whatever current film had been sent to entertain them. One Friday night, it was NOTLD. When the film was over, no one looked at each other, no one said anything, and, everyone made their way back to their barracks, minds officially blown. No one had ever seen anything quite like that before. Lastly, I’d go with the original John Carpenter directed Halloween, another wildly influential film that spawned a multitude of imitators. That’s another one where, everything about it, it’s just such an absolute classic.
MM: Your show is preparing to celebrate its 17th Anniversary! Congratulations! What can fans expect during this special episode?
BJ: Thank you! Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but viewers will get a look at some things that they haven’t seen before. Some in-depth interviews, some outtakes and things that I’ve held back on putting out there until now. I’m not one to run down the hill, shouting, “Look what all I have! Here’s everything!”. I like to build up to things. I’ve always got a few tricks up my sleeve. There will be some classic clips and things as well.
MM: Looking back, do you have a favorite episode?
BJ: Oh, I have several. Between the two programs, I’ve done so many shows over the years that it’s hard to narrow it down. With the nighttime show, there’s usually always some sort of sexy shenanigans going on. However, the early Daytime Dungeon shows, back when my nephew Master G was really, really young, like, 5 and 6 years old, those stand out to me, because that was like lightning in a jar. You can’t duplicate that stuff. And, again, it was all very unscripted, live, and organic, just the way I like it.
MM: Where can fans see the show?
BJ: The shows air on forty-three community television stations in twenty-one states, mainly in the Midwest and out East. The best way for people to watch the shows is online on The Monster Channel. We usually have people in forty-two to sixty-two countries watching every Saturday night. Between The Monster Channel and The Eerie Late Night Radio Show, it’s really more of an international affair as opposed to being regional or national. My dear friend, and legendary New Jersey horror host, Halloween Jack, does all the programming for The Monster Channel. His dedication is tremendous. There’s also The Eerie Late Night Horror Channel on Roku. The Bone Jangler and The Daytime Dungeon air there as well. Anyone looking for their horror host fix can watch online or on Roku and see past and present horror hosts from all over the place. There’s a lot of really good new hosts out there. Makes me feel good about the future of the genre.
MM: Are you planning on attending any conventions or shows in the near future?
BJ: I’ve been taking time off from the convention circuit. Sometimes, I think less is more. I don’t want to be that guy where you know he’s going to be appearing at every show, every convention, all night flea markets. I’d rather be unpredictable. I’m known for making a lot of surprise appearances. That’s one of the things that put us, Enchantress Nocturna and me, on the map originally – just appearing out of nowhere at the Cinema Wasteland convention in Northeast Ohio on September 15th, 2001 and having everyone collectively go, “Who is THAT???”.
Right now, I’m really focusing on making the two TV/Internet shows, and, working on music projects. Making music, that’s something I’d really like to do more of, but between making the two shows, booking guests for the radio show and such, there’s only so much time.
If you’re not keeping up on all of the shenanigans and frightful festivities going on with The Bone Jangler and his eerie empire, you’re missing out! Check out his site to keep up to date!