Wednesday, January 14, 2015

AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 1: The Complete Ghoulardi Collection

I've gotten a ton of feedback through the last few years about people digging my Archives. If you're not familiar, A.C.A. is a series of bootlegs that are either out of print, hard to find, or that I personally have recorded. I release them here on my blog for free for the love of the subject material rather than personal gain (a lot of record stores charge a small fortune for these). Well, the popularity of it got me thinking... not only do I have a small library of rare albums, I also have a TON of bootleg VHS, DVD and digital recordings of often sought out material. So, here we go, the first edition of Video Archives is of the Classic Cleveland Horror Host Ghoulardi.

Horror Hosts:
Back in the earlier days of TV, local networks didn't have the budget to carry only programs from the major networks. So in addition to normal programming, they also produced a fair amount of in-house entertainment for the local broadcast area. One of the most popular things to do to fill the midnight hours when only few were watching was to run and re-run old movies that were, quite frankly, atrocious. This was common practice because they cost very little to purchase the rights to air them. To draw in viewers to these programs, it became popular to have local, colorful personalities host these videos in funny and campy ways, thus, the Horror Host was born.

Cleveland's Horror Host (or at least the first of them) was a character named Ghoulardi and was played by the notorious Ernie Anderson. Ernie had somewhat of a disdain for authority and brought a touch of that young rebellion to the beatnik inspired and beloved character. Every late Friday night for damn near 3 years WJW's Shock Theater aired the crappiest of Horror Movies which were openly scoffed at by Ghoulardi (Plot holes so big only the Swiss could love it!). But the movies weren't the only thing he mocked... he also openly made fun of the management for being cheap, neighboring conservative communities for being uptight (Parma!) and even the Mayor of Cleveland himself. Ernie lambasted anyone and everyone he chose to in the guise of Ghoulardi and it frightened the shit out of "the powers that be".

My Original Ghoulardi Poster
But beyond just pushing boundaries, he was also a massively popular character who cornered nearly every market of audience. Children stayed up late, both white and black adult audiences loyaly tuned in, and he even had a massive Cleveland marketing campaign featuring promotions at local restaurants and his face plastered on bus's (I own an original Ghoulardi Manners poster my Mom bought me in a Cleveland flea-market). The Cleveland Police Department even said that juvenile crime dropped 35% on Friday nights due to his show. His influence can be seen most predominantly by the band The Cramps who dedicated their genius album "Big Beat From Badsville" to his memory after Anderson died in 1997.

Ernie Anderson
Letter from WJW asking Anderson to
refrain from riding his motorcycle
in the lobby.
Stories vary over Anderson's decision to discontinue the character, but many point to the WJW station management's constant bickering (even to the point of having to post a notice stating that motorcycles may not be rode in the building after Anderson apparently did). So he packed up, moved to Los Angeles to reconnect with friend Tim Conway, and had a huge career in announcing shows such as Star Trek and the Love Boat. It would seem that after years of creating well-deserved havok in Cleveland, it was just simpler to be a small fish in a big pond and make a boat-load of money.

Cool it with the boom-booms
As a personal note, my own influence from Ghoulardi can be seen in my second-short film from college "The Final Episode of WEBZ's Shock Theater" in which I have a horror host introduce a crappy Sci-Fi movie that we shot ourselves and contains commercials we also shot. In the background of all hosting segments, a Ghoulardi poster can be found. Additionally (also in college), I located digital encodes of old reel-reel tapes of Ghoulardi hosting "The Walking Eye" and animated the character to it which can be found here. Side, side note: I now live off of Oxnard Street! How cool is that! Ova Dey!

The Video:
As to this video, over the years I have purchased numerous Ghoulardi bootlegs and have a treasure-trove of digital bits. This is my attempt to take the best source of every nugget I have and put them end to end in one complete video for you to enjoy... and I hope you do. I imported all of my DVD's and VHS's into 1080p (overkill I know) then desaturated the black and white footage to remove annoying VHS color artifacts, added a slight sharpening filter, adjusted the white/black levels, and outputted it via h264.

 Stay Sick!!!


  1. thanks for taking the time to do this! always wanted to watch ghoulardi but could never find much online xo

  2. Working at channel 8 for over 35 years, I found it ironic that I would someday work for the same station that hosted Ghoulardi. He was a favorite of us kids in school, and watched him loyally every Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Most of his work was wiped cleaned as the 2" videotape would be erased and reused. Only these bits you collected remain. Thank you so much for your contribution. Rusty.

    1. That's amazing insight, I always wondered why there was so little footage. Thanks for taking the time to check it out!

  3. Watched every weekend back then.
    Even went to his show when the studio was on 17th and Euclid Ave in downtown Cleveland.
    Man that was a long time agi.

  4. loved it!!!! brought back so many memories..

  5. When I was living in Las Vegas, I had a VHS tape with the WJW 25 Years of Horror Hosts special, random footage of The Ghoul, Superhost's 20th anniversary show, AND Barnaby's last show! I worked at a punk rock record store there, and when the Cramps came through town, made a copy for Lux Interior. He was one happy camper! Thank you for your fine work.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this!
    Can you tell me where one might look for bootlegs of Ghoulardi? I'm wondering if there's more material out there. I could watch this stuff for hours!