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Early Grumble

Grumble Sketch

Sammy Terry:
A Pleasant Nightmare

Sammy Terry is a play on the word 'cemetery'A bright, blue moon casts stark shadows outside my bedroom window. The wind hisses and moans through the woods behind our house, and far across the field in front moves a blackness, a shadow. I watch from my bedroom window and it stops to stare back at me. My neck tingles and ice fills my veins. How many seconds would it take for “it” to cover that 50 yards and come crashing through the screen? What’s there to stop it? Don’t just sit there staring, shut the window! But in a moment it turns away and disappears over the hill.

I sigh in relief and collapse back into bed. It was probably just a dog, or a coyote…or a werewolf. Or a … a wind-wraith. Yeah. Or an Undead Tracker Troll ranging the hills for human bones to munch. Brrrr… a kid with a good imagination sleeps lightly when he sleeps at all.

Samuel Terry - (Ghoul)And that was my primary motivation for swiping dad’s old 13″ black and white TV and setting it up on the desk next to my bed. The rabbit ears were taped on and the VHF knob would fall out if you weren’t careful, but at least it worked.

I spent many sleepless nights scanning snow for some faint signal. It picked up the big four stations out of Louisville – 3, 11, 32, and 41. But I was more interested in what was hiding in the static, and on one particularly clear night, I got something.

Sammy Terry - rises from his coffinIt was WTTV out of Indianapolis, and not only that – it was a horror movie double-feature hosted by … by some strange guy with a haunting, booming laugh named Sammy Terry. (I eventually figured out the “cemetery” joke)

If you live in central Indiana, then you know the ghoulish character that was played by Bob Carter on channel 4 on Friday nights. In the late 60s, Carter was the host of “Shock Theater”, then later “Nightmare Theater”, and still later in the 80s he returned to the air, his show simply named “Sammy Terry”. This is when I picked him up.

Sammy Terry bumper'In the 70s on channel 41 we had Fright Night, a weekly horror movie double feature hosted by the “Fear Monger”. I was introduced to all the classics back then, and it was a sad occasion when it disappeared for good in 1974. Finding Sammy Terry in or around 1981 was a joy, like discovering a long lost relative … who probably would’ve got chased a lot by pitchfork-wielding mobs.

Sammy Terry bumperSammy Terry told bad jokes, made bad puns, and dressed as a … I never really figured that out.

There was definitely a local flavor to the show with its low production costs, but that added to the appeal. Sammy and company (George the spider, Ghoulsby, and others) were spooky and fun much because of the cardboard sets and his latex gloves with veins drawn on.

Your host for an orgy of fright on a chili Fall nightI think that perhaps some of the Spooky Blue style is derived from this small-budget, big-heart approach to things, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

Sammy Terry and his good friend Bob Carter have given us many great memories. They brightened the darker hours with light-hearted warmth, making wraiths and trolls seem a lot less scary.

Sammy Terry’s Official Website
Pleasant Nightmares – Sammy Terry Tribute
Sammy Terry’s MySpace Page
Sammy Terry on YouTube

Special thanks to James Mannan at “Pleasant Nightmares” for allowing us to use his pics.

Animated movies I should have regretted seeing Part 2:
“Heavy Metal”

I remember noisy schoolbus rides on old “No. 15”. I was jammed into the seat with my books, folders, and a saxophone case all bouncing over potholes on the narrow country roads. It was a feast of sensation from the butt-pounding of the rickety suspension to the smell wafting out of a dozen lunch boxes as the younger kids traded Little Debbie cakes.

Living out in the sticks, we were isolated from the brighter world of video arcades, cable television, MTV. We were aware of these things, but rather than bathe in them, we only got to dip a toe in from time to time. But we were basically happy. Still, every now and then a trickle of new information came to remind us of our isolation.

One such bringer-of-things-from-the-outside-world appeared on our bus one morning. I don’t remember his name, but he had long black hair, tinted glasses, and wore a camouflage jacket. He looked like the kind of guy who drank coffee and had a stash of Playboys that his parents didn’t care about.

He had moved to Paoli from Indianapolis, as street smart and hard as they come. You never saw him at school. When he stepped off the bus he disappeared until the afternoon when it was time for the trip home. He usually carried some unusual book or some arcane artifact that he would show off to a few of us, careful not to let anyone outside our little circle see. And he always had in his posession a blue spiral notebook with the letters “REO” erased onto the front. One day he showed me what was hidden there and it was the coolest thing this 8th grader had ever seen – a copy of “Heavy Metal” magazine.

I was struck first by the boobs. (Heh) This was my first taste of comic book cleavage with full-on, heavily undershadowed, twin-dotted chesty goodness. There were also dragons and space ships and monsters and stories about zombies and World War II bomber pilots, and it was glossy and thick and absolutely superb.

Memories of moments like that sometimes grow larger than they might have actually been, so it was inevitable that, many years later, my expectations for the animated Heavy Metal movie were set way too high. Still, it was interesting enough that some bits stick with me even today. Like this one, easily my favorite short of the entire movie.

“B-17” is dark, violent, and very scary. Brr….zombies on a plane.

Animated movies I should have regretted seeing Part 1:

There was a time way back in a previous life when your pal Spooky didn’t have a sweetie or a shop to call his own. It was a dark time. Oh, there were highlights, like the months spent building Duke Nukem levels. You have to be a special class of nerd to know what I’m talking about, and to understand the deep magic surrounding “sector effectors”.

It was during this time that I came across a worn VHS copy of the animated movie Heavy Metal. Now, this wasn’t what I would call a good movie. However, it was different, and it was the first entry on my list of animated movies that I should have regretted seeing.

I loathe most forms of Japanese anime. However, there is a peculiar class of animated movie that I found to be particularly interesting, and not so much because of the gratuitous boobage usually featured. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason for the appeal, especially since the stoner plots were usually something along the lines nazi orcs pouring out of Mordor in hover-tanks to seriously kill yer buzz, dude.

Okay, maybe it was the boobs. Regardless, the unusual characters and sometimes disturbing stories were … different. Unusual. Now, everybody has heard of Heavy Metal, but I’d bet a dollar and my best zombie that not 10 of you have ever heard of most of the other movies on the list. Some are worth the time you’ll waste watching them. Others not so much. And since I can’t remember the names of most of them, the point is moot.

But sometimes you come across things you never thought you’d see again. Here is one example. Thanks to Youtube and that one other guy who saw this great example of cinematic dreck, I present in 8 parts, Isaac Asimov’s Light Years (aka Gandahar).

Gandahar – 1988 – “An evil force from a 1000 years in the future begins to destroy an idyllic paradise, where the citizens are in perfect harmony with nature.” ::Nudity::

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8