Hilarious House of Frightenstein
(First Run Features)
Childhood nostalgia can be a tricky and illusory beast. Many films and TV shows I adored as a kid have held up beautifully while others have fallen flat. So I was a little worried when I sat down with The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, a show that was once ostensibly aimed at children. In 1971 more than 100 episodes were filmed in Hamilton, Ontario featuring a cast of about two people: comedian Billy Van, who plays eight different characters, and Vincent Price, intoning the show's silly opening titles and various lurid poems. Each show features the same cast of characters (mostly Van) going through the same routines. These include the title vampire Count Frightenstein, his cohort Igor, the inert Frankenstein, Bwana Clyde Batty, a weird, bulbous Australian zookeeper, and the Wolfman, doing a not-so-subtle Wolfman Jack impression. It's cheesy, occasionally unnerving and unmistakably '70s in both camerawork and animation: A Frightenstein marathon is recommended for a party where there are equal amounts of goofy grownups, costumes and hallucinogens. I wouldn't say that Frightenstein has aged well but it has come back to life as a cultural relic with cheesy humour, weird improv segments and overall low-budget grandeur that screams "cult classic."