Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sammy Terry

Dear Reader,

Recently, while searching the web for Halloween paraphernalia, I stumbled on a small piece of my childhood. As a kid I remember wanting to stay up for the late-late show. I believe every town large enough to have a local television station had (or has) a late night purveyor of B-grade horror flicks and in Indianapolis, it was Sammy Terry. He occupied the television schedule from midnight until two or three, filling the time with double features like "The Creature from 50000 Fathoms" and "The Bride of Dracula". It was a mark of manhood when I could outlast my brother in the face of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (I'll always have a soft spot for the scaly fellow for that very reason).

Reminiscing about brotherly torment aside, though, the particular piece of my childhood I encountered was Sammy Terry's MySpace page. I will repeat that - Sammy Terry MySpace. Unfortunately, repetition doesn’t make it seem any more real.

Sammy Terry being on the Internet seems - wrong. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from opposed to the idea. In fact I'm thrilled to see he's still active and has the kitsch sense of humor he always brought to his show. Maybe it's the pixelization of all my old memories that lends a surreal quality to seeing Terry on the web. Cherished things are best viewed in subdued light.

I close my eyes and I'm back in the tiny first-ring suburbia ranch house where I grew up, laying on the shag carpet and listening to Terry's ghoulish laugh. The TV is turned down so that it won't wake the parents as Sammy's coffin creaks open and the devilish MC rises to bid his fans and victims a goooood eeeevening. Then there'd be the send up of the evening's features with a good send up of the first monster to darken the screen. During the intermission between features, George (the chattering and suspiciously rubbery spider that took the role of Terry's co-host) would put in an appearance, reminding Sammy of some pertinent humorous line. Though I'd be asleep half way through the second feature, I wouldn't dare turn the television off. The staying up was the thing.

Years later Elvira, Mistress of the Dark would bring a new look to the late night horror genre but there'll always be something special about Sammy's late night antics. Through his show I saw some of the early masters of the genre and some of the great (and infamous) films of the forty's, fifties, and sixties. The world is a better place for your being in it, Mr. Terry.

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