At 13 Idle Hour Road sits Madblood Manor in the little town known as Pungo. And that is somewhere between Virginia Beach, Virginia and the Great Dismal Swamp. This is where the great and horrible Doctor Maximillian Madblood practices his medical arts and conducts his experiments!
The creator of Doctor Madblood is Jerry Harrell, a former Bozo the Clown, a former interpreter in the Air Force who thought up the character while he was creative services director for WAVY-TV 10 in Portsmouth, VA, in 1974.
It wasn’t until Halloween of ’75 that “Dr. Madblood’s Movie” debuted as a one-time special, though. It got so much fan response, that it became a weekly show. It just so happened the station had a late-night horror movie on Saturday nights that needed a host.
Originally, Dr. Madblood was going to be a Jekyll and Hyde split personality played by himself and his parter, Mark Young. Young’s half was to be the personality of a game show host. The two soon realized this would be a one joke thing and finally decided to go with the straight “Mad Scientist” route. Mark played Volley, the assistant instead—a silent dwarf in a monk’s robe, he was hardly visable.
For most of it’s run Madblood’s show followed “Saturday Night Live” at 1am and then it moved to Saturday afternoons in 1979. By January of 1982, the local PBS station, WHRO, picked up the Doctor with a new show, “Dr. Madblood’s Night Visions” which aired Sunday nights at 11pm. Unfortunately, ratings were low and “Night Visions” only lasted a year. Self-syndication proved unworkable and so Madblood took a sabatical for a while.
In 1984, on Halloween Dr. Madblood returned to his original station, WAVY, with “Dr. Madbloods Halloween Howl”. Here, the whole gang was back and were getting ready for the doctor’s annual party. The story crossed over cleverly into the movie “Brides of Dracula” and Madblood characters appeared in the film.
And again, the gang went away, moving on to other things for five years—until early April of 1989. WTVZ Channel 33 aired more Madblood. And the gang was back with a few additions such as Nurse Patience Dream. Madblood took a trip to Hollywood for a tour of Universal Studios and a visit with Forrest J. Ackerman. This incarnation of the show lasted until 2002. The show celebrated it’s 25th anniversary during this time.
Later in 2002, WSKY-TV picked up Madblood and put him in a prime-time slot on a series called “Doctor Madblood Presents The Friday Night Frights” wrapping around episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and Boris Karloff’s “Thriller”.
By 2004 the program moved to Saturday during prime-time, becoming simply “Doctor Madblood Presents” and it wrapped around Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery”. At this time, Madblood’s 30th anniversary on television was celebrated. The show concluded it’s run in August of 2007.
The Halloween specials continued on, in 2007 there was “Doctor Madblood’s Halloween Horror Express” where a plot was woven into the film for the Madblood characters to appear in scenes from the film “Horror Express”. 2009 brought us “Doctor Madblood’s Haunted Halloween” in which characters appeared in “House on Haunted Hill”. And in 2010, the 35th anniversary of the series was celebrated with a showing of “Horror Hotel” along with clips from the various episodes of Madblood’s shows.
While technology and television have changed a lot in the last three (nearly 4) decades, it seems there is always room for a horror host and, in Madblood’s case, a host of horrors! Most Tidewater residents will always think of Harrell as Doctor Madblood.
And the good doctor is at it again this Halloween—he’ll have a new Special on WHRO-TV Channel 15 and it will be streamed live Friday, October 31st at 10pm ET so that world-wide we can all catch the hijinks! So turn off the lights and pull the shades!
More info on that here:
And, as the Doc says,
“Thanks for turning us on.”
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