Frightenstein is rising from the dead on Crave

Another lovely day will begin with ghosts and ghouls with greenish skin

The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, the beloved psychedelic children’s monster show produced by CHCH, will have 129 episodes streaming on July 19. Their debut on the Crave TV platform was once slated for April, but the closed-captioning required extra time. (Perhaps one of the 130 produced hours fell behind the wing-back gauche sofa.)

Billy Van starred in Frightenstein as multiple grotesque characters—primarily the Count, but also the Librarian, Bwana Clyde Batty, the Maharishi and more, each of them a part of local lore. While it originated in Hamilton in 1971, the show aired on Citytv in the ‘80s, then became reliable Canadian content for specialty cable channels: YTV and Showcase in the ‘90s, and Space and Drive-In Classics in the ‘00s.

What remains to be seen with Crave is how much of The Wolfman segments remain intact. Producers originally didn’t bother to license the music that Van’s hirsute DJ character played:


Yesterday’s news alive and well on discarded videotape

Retrontario recently unearthed a trove of VHS cassettes, which contained clips of local news stories dutifully indexed on the sleeve. So far, just the first tape has yielded a CTV News profile of Gordon Sinclair shortly before his death, Harvey Kirck signing off from CTV, Sandie Rinaldo reporting on the discovery of the Titanic, and this wonderful Polaroid of what the Citytv newsroom looked like circa 1984:


The two architects of CityPulse

Moses Znaimer’s 20th annual ideacity featured speakers like Marie Henein, Hazel McCallion and Rick Mercer. (The talks are on YouTube.)

Visiting the conference, we spotted Jacques de Suze, the international “news doctor” who was sent to Toronto in the summer of 1976 by Citytv’s then part-owners, Montreal’s CFCF 12. He worked with Znaimer on what became CityPulse. The pair went on to further disrupt the newscasting genre with the creation of CP24, Citytv Bogata, and “The New Net.”


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A milestone that just doesn’t matter

June 29, 1979 was when Meatballs opened in theatres. The tax-shelter comedy was Bill Murray’s first leading role, and launched a mini-genre of movies that infantilized the summer camp experience. Ivan Reitman cut his teeth at Citytv in the early-’70s, and went on to direct cult favourites Foxy Lady and Cannibal Girls. Reitman and Murray followed up Meatballs with Stripes and Ghostbusters.

Vanity Fair had an oral history of Meatballs in 2017. Plus, the entire flick is free on YouTube.


“…on Highway 8 between Hamilton and Cambridge”

Recent news of an African Lion Safari trainer injured by an elephant recalled a more serious incident from 1989, when a 21-year-old park employee was crushed to death—also by an elephant. ALS celebrates 50 years on August 22, but “Go Wild!” commercials have been around for about 40. (The song was written by Hamilton jinglemeister Mike McCurlie, who also gave us Pizza Pizza’s immortal “9-6-7, 11-11.”)


 #RetroWonderland went Electric

Over on Instagram, you’ll find @retrontario throwbacks to Canada’s Wonderland’s colourful history, posted each Saturday. This week: clips from the first time that Electric Circus broadcast from there, in July 1994—with a thundering set from house music’s godfather, the late DJ Frankie Knuckles:


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