Most of us fondly remember Horror Incorporated on Channel 5, which started in 1969. However, the classic monster movies first appeared in the Twin Cities back in 1958. Shock Theater started on February 1, 1958 with the original 1931 Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff.
Shock Theater was a collection of 52 Universal Horror movies packaged for syndication by Screen Gems. Many individual stations around the country featured their own local “horror hosts” to introduce these films, often as a costumed character. Some of the most popular were Zacherly (John Zacherle) in New York and Philadelphia, Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson) in Cleveland, and Sammy Terry (Bob Carter) in Indianapolis. Vampira (Maila Nurmi) was one of the earliest in Los Angeles back in 1954.
So who was the host in Minneapolis? The very scarey Mel Jass!
- TV Guide, Feb. 1 1958. Pavek Museum collection