I've already talked about how Monster Squad was one of the big reasons I love Monsters so much as an adult, it seemed fitting in October to talk about another big influence, the Hillarious House of Frightenstein.
For those not in the know, Frightenstein is a Canadian series that mixes one part Universal Monsters, One Part Laugh in and a touch of Sesame Street to make an interesting and sometimes surreal cocktail.
Created in 1971 in Hamilton, Ontario. Frightenstein is a really charming and gorgeously made show, it revolves around the characters of Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone. The centerpiece of making it work is the comedy genius of Billy Van who plays 8 of the 11 characters including The Count, The Wolfman, The Librarian, Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet, Dr Pet Vet among others.
Also along for the ride are Vincent Price (yep!), Dr. Julius Sumner Miller (providing the educational segment) Guy Big as the Midget Count (Big was supposed to play the count but couldn't maintain his voice).
I loved the show as a kid especially the fact that one guy did so much and thanks to Can Con laws (a rule that Canadian Content Television shows MUST be played for a certain amount of time each day) it was on for the majority of my life along with other Canadian favourites like Spider-Man, Rocket Robin Hood and The Forest Rangers. When it went away for a time in the 1990s, I sorely missed it and it became a regular discussion with friends at the pub.
Well, Critical Mass has brought this Canadian classic back not only to the airwaves but to DVD with this great release (actually there are several Frightenstein DVDs out there all thanks to CM) the picture is cleaned up, music rights secured (I've always been curious how the series managed the Stones "Jumping Jack Flash" but I always think of the Wolfman when I hear it) and it's just a joy to see it again. Plus, free magnets! I needed these for my fridge badly.
Two things come to mind when I watch it now, one how much fun everyone seems to be having, especially Billy Van who is amazing at ad lib and two, how wonderfully psychadelic it all is. From Brucie's peace sign necklace to the Maharishi to the wonderful Wolfman music sequences (check one out here) there is no doubt in anybody's mind what era this came out of.
Overall Assessment: It's fun to be back in Transylvania!