Monday, October 6, 2014

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 6): SHOCK ARMSTRONG, ALL-AMERICAN GHOUL

And some have greatness thrust upon them...

‘Shock Armstrong’
The All-American Ghoul
WTVT-13, Tampa Bay



Veteran WTVT Channel 13 announcer Paul Reynolds was summoned into his bosses office one day and was told he was going to host “Shock Theatre” and was handed a University of Tampa football uniform with ’13’ on it and a Frankenstein mask, and said ‘Paul, you’re a teenage ghoul.’



Paul went on to create Shock’s personality from his own personal life—a mother who always wanted the room cleaned (he would murder mother every episode, usually before the first commercial)… a nosy neighbor who would try to meddle… and a general mistrust of authority figures.  The crew provided a suitably trashed bedroom.



The show debuted on September 25, 1964 and wasn’t an immediate hit.  Shock didn’t say anything the first few episodes, merely moaning and groaning and getting mad and breaking things between scenes.  He was like a big klutz.  The show only really took off once ‘Shock’ started talking.



The main title started off with a clip from “Dracula” as Bela Lugosi glides menacingly amidst the foggy forest, the ‘Shock Theatre’ logo is superimposed.  Wolves howl, music climaxes as Lugosi transforms into a bat and flies away as lighting flashes.  Cut to an old mansion that looks like the ‘Psycho’ house and the scene shifts to the window of Shock’s attic bedroom.  Shock is asleep in a coffin.  When his alarm clock chimes out Big Ben’s bells, it shocks Shock awake because it is wired directly to his neck bolts.  Shock would rise, kiss his stuffed Wolfman doll named Lamby-Pie and launch into the routine.





Morbid jokes, running gags, skits, that included a long suffering off-camera mother who would only be heard screaming, smashing an old TV set, taunting his neighbors, cuddling a tommy gun and brewing nuclear dishwater.



Reynolds hosted Shock Theatre for three years until management replaced it with the new Joey Bishow show in April of 1967.  Programmers weren’t ready for fan reaction as protestors appeared at Channel 13 with signs demanding the return of Shock Armstrong!  They relented, bringing the show back, but it didn’t last long--the last appearance of Shock was on Friday, January 26, 1968.  Reynolds had been fired.



That’s all well and good, but hear Reynolds himself talk about his old Shock Armstrong days and why there may be no videos of his monster anymore at the link below and the ones below that are all related too…





That is all for tonight, but I’ll leave you with this really neat work of torturous art by James Jean--that bastard's so talented I hate him…


1 comment:

Robert Koenn said...

I grew up in Tarpon Springs during the '60s and I fondly remember Shock Theater and Shock Armstrong. I loved, and still do love, the classic Universal monster movies and would watch Shock Theater whenever I could get my mom's permission to stay up late and watch it which wasn't often. She had strict bedtime rules even on weekends. Times were much simpler than and there was only three or four TV stations to watch. So on Friday nights at 11:30 it was Shock Theater and on Saturday afternoons on ABC it was Terminus: The Theater of Science Fiction in the Tampa Bay area.