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.

One Response to “Sammy Terry:
A Pleasant Nightmare”

  1. I grew up with Count Gore De Vol on WDCA Channel 20 in the suburbs of Washington D.C.
    Watching Saturdasy Night Creature Feature with my Dad was such a wonderful time that it was the memory I highlighted at my Dad’s funeral.
    I still watch him on the web.
    I wish we still had great regional things like local horror hosts around here.