Penny Dreadful XIII or just plain old Penny Dreadful is a New England based horror host created by actress/writer/comedienne Danielle Gelehrter. The persona was created because Danielle wanted to revive the concept of horror movie hosting on Boston-area television. She is, appropriately enough for New England, a witch.
Her show is called “Shilling Shockers” and it premiered on local cable in January of 2006, first airing on Public-access television in Providence, Rhode Island; and, Boston, New Bedford and Salem, Massachusetts. Throughout New England, it eventually expanded to over 200 cities and towns.
The witch, Penny Dreadful, is a mixture of both good and evil, being both silly and sinister at times. She refers to her viewers as “Dreary Ones” and uses the exclaimation “hex-cellent!” when excited.
Penny had been a witch for centuries before going Hollywood. She had cast a spell that backfired—she was poised to star in a never-made Universal horror film called ‘The Witch’—but the spell, instead, damned her to host the movies instead of starring in them.
“Shilling Shockers” is a rare horror hosting show in that there are storylines that develop throughout the season and they crossover into the hosted films at times. Gelehrter has credited this to two influences, a horror host by the name of Dr. E. Nick Witty who hosted for about 20 years in Syracuse, NY and his storylines that ran on for multiple episodes and that the name and title of the character and show are serialized tales. Readers would have to pick up the next installment of a penny dreadful or a shilling shocker to find out what came next.
Two-time winner of the Rondo Award for “Favorite Horror Host”, Penny was also the first host to recieve the award.
“The Dreadful HallowGreen Special”, a made-for-television film in which Dreadful co-produced and co-hosted with Larry Underwood aka horror host Dr. Gangrene, was nominated for a regional Midsouth Emmy Award in 2011. In the special, Dreadful, Garou and Dr. Gangrene join forces to save Halloween. In 2014, Penny Dreadful was inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame.
Penny’s sidekicks include Garou, who is a werewolf henchman and husband of the witch herself—portrayed by Magoo Gelehrter. He communicates only through growls and facial expressions, as entusiastic as your average labrador retriever; Dr. Manfred Von Bulow is a semi-retired vampire killer with a thick German accent—he is Penny’s foil and is portrayed by Ivan Bernier; Luna is a highly intelligent madwoman who was released from the abandonded Danvers State Hospital.
Magoo Gelehrter, who was Danielle’s husband, died earier this year after a battle with cancer. Due to this, the final and 9th season of “Shilling Shockers” won’t be completed and seen until some time in 2015.
Danielle has said that she may never appear at conventions or do another show as Penny, but that she is unsure how she will feel in five years.
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