History of Creature Double Feature

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Not only is this a tribute to Boston’s great horror TV programming of the past, but also an homage to some wonderful New York tribute pages that you can find at DVD Drive-In.com!  We look to them as inspiration on how to truly do justice to the great shows that we saw as kids.

The following is a description of Creature Double Feature, one of the most beloved of Boston (and New England’s) horror TV Shows of the 70s and 80s.

If you have any information, video clips, or audio clips of CDF or any other related programs that aired in Boston and New England from the 60s to the 80s, the please contact us using the info at the bottom of the page!

Boston’s Horror scene was a cavalcade of great shows in the 60s and 70s including Simon’s Sanctorum, Feep, and Chiller.  We hope to bring you info and links on those shows in the near future.  Right now, sit back, relax, and enjoy our retrospect on one of Boston’s standout programs…Creature Double Feature!

As many of you may know by now, CDF was recently brought back for one time only on June 24th, 2006.  This has helped foster a wave of nostalgia among fans that remember the original show back in the 70s and 80s.  While there is some debate over the exact date of CDF’s first airing, the general history is as follows:

(Special thanks to Dzilla, LL Soares, and Bob Eggleton for permission to use these posts from the CDF Message Board)

From LL Soares

Hi everyone, my name is L. L. Soares and I write horror fiction. (Feels like an AA meeting. LOL). I grew up in New Bedford in the 70s and was a big fan of Creature Double Feature, The Ghoul, Chiller Theater, etc. Back then, there were about five different horror movie shows on any given weekend, starting with the Ghoul movie on Friday nights at 11:30, to Creature Double Feature on Saturdays (both on Channel 56) to Chiller Theater on Saturday afternoons (mostly movies from the 40s and 50s) on Channel 5. Then on Saturday nights, Channel 5 would show two Universal classics (mostly 30s movies) from 11:30 to 2:30 in the morning. This doesn’t include other horror movie shows that popped up on channels 38 and 27 over the years.

This was back before video and cable, and there was no way else to see these movies. So it was like a crash course in the history of Horror/Sci-Fi movies. Sure a lot of them were cheesy, but they were more entertaining than anything else on the dial, and they were a lot of fun.

From Dzilla (Former host of the CDF Message Board) –

  Recently I read Ethan’s post about CDF starting in September 1975. This messes with my memory cause my mother died in October 1975, yet I remember distinctly watching CDF before at least a year or two. Not just like a weekend movie but actual CDF intro and all. Also what is interesting is that the station in the early 70’s call letters was not WLVI but WKBG it was still UHF 56 but was under Kaiser Broadcasting. Not Field Communications. Also I believe the announcer you hear on the older Shado recordings was a man who was also a sports announcer called Tom Evans (not confused with the baseball player) I might be wrong on the name, as I could find nothing on him, although I did once, when I endlessly researched CDF and WLVI…I have heard he is called Cecil also. 

Here are some interesting quotes from several people on this subject of scheduling etc.:

From Shado
"Boston’s CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURE Movie History
"

In the early-mid 1970’s, a local Boston television station (WLVI-TV, 56) broadcast a movie at 4pm Saturdays (called "The 4 O’clock Movie") and decided to run a Godzilla movie weekly until they "ran out" of their stock! They did this for two (2) cycles.  The ratings went through the roof with youngsters.  Then they decided to start the films at 12 Midnight, calling it "Creature Feature".  In a bold move, they quickly moved it to 12 Noon to increase ratings…. and realized that competing with WCVB-TV Ch 5’s "Candlepin Bowling" was a futile attempt, so it was moved to 2pm.  It became so popular in the ratings; they expanded it to "Creature Double Feature" starting a 1pm and increased their library with the rights to as many "Giant Monster Movies" as they could. Out of all of it, "Ghidrah: The Three Headed Monster" was the only Japanese big generic monster movie they never could get the rights for (nb: "King Kong vs. Godzilla" was another, but in time, they did secure the rights for that film during the CDF run).  A lot of this information was made available to the public on a WLVI-TV 56 TV show called "Meet the Manager".  When I was a child, I wrote a letter to them and received a response.  I am still looking for that letter.  If I find it, I’ll post it here.

The CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURE series ran for some 6 years (I believe) and all kids (now in their 30’s and 40’s) who lived locally during that time, remember this as the Saturday Afternoon to watch the great monster movies. When Creature Double Feature started to die down, WLVI-TV started to broadcast martial arts films…. mind you, that didn’t last too too long.  I believe CDF ended its rein in 1981.  Also typical is WLVI-TV’s current 21st Century status, which as a media monopoly entity (they are now part of the WB Network…and don’t be fooled, this is part of the AOL TIME WARNER monopoly), knows nothing about its history, nor the existence of CDF."

From Bob Eggleton –

Okay…the history of Boston Monster movie shows, as I remember them…

Channel 56 used to be WKBG in the early 70’s, but changed to WLVI. It changed hands a lot. It was part of Kaiser Broadcasting, then that became Field Communications then they were owned by Tribune (I think) and that was sold to WB in the mid-90’s.

When they were WKBG, they showed "Science Fiction Theater" that showed at 2pm Saturdays, and this showed Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster, Godzilla’s Revenge and others. What reamed me, and I will never forget this, was I begged for a $1.00 from my folks to see "Minya Son of Godzilla" in early 1972-it was GODZILLA’S REVENGE with a kinder-gentler title change.  Everything was the same, except for the opening title card, which was a totally different typeface than the rest of the credits. Several weeks later, they advertised "Godzilla’s Revenge" on the 8pm movie and it was "Minya" or, the other way around.

There was no host of Science Fiction Theater; just a mystery voice.  That often humorously introed the films. Possible it was a re-verbed and altered Dale Dorman voice.

  On Saturday night, they had a horror-related theater – The Ghoul, and they never showed Kaiju films, but a lot of Mario Bava stuff like "BLACK SUNDAY."  Sometimes they’d show "THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD" and "THEM."

Those both disappeared and, CREATURE FEATURE debuted at 8:00pm on Saturdays in 1975, it was later moved to midnight. I remember the debut: they showed the 1951 "THE THING." Then they debuted CDF on Saturday Afternoons, shortly after.   Then, they tried something on Friday-hosted by Dale Dorman’s voice called "The Channel 56 Drive-In Movie Theater". It was short-lived but they did show "King Kong ’33", "Godzilla ’56", and a number of hot-rod and Frankie and Annette movies. The format was to show two films starting at 8pm and finishing about 11pm.

CDF scarfed up as many Kaiju films as they could lay their hands on. As I recall, CDF continued into the early 80’s and the Kaiju films virtually stopped in favor of repeated showings of "THE KILLER SHREWS", "BEAST WITH A MILLION EYES" and so on… when it became "Son of Svengoolie" which was essentially a syndicated failure, like The Ghoul years before.

Channel 38 however, in the mid 70’s had the lock on  "GODZILLA VS THE THING" and "MONSTER FROM A PREHISTORIC PLANET" and they’d show them in rotation, on Saturdays at 4pm with their own "Science Fiction Theater".

Channel 27(WSMW) out of Worcester (remember them, real UHF low output fuzzy!) was the only station that aired "GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE".  They also showed on their "The Early Show" at 7pm stuff like the old "Starman/Super Giant" films with Ken Utsi. I remember those with fond memories. Later 27 became PREMIERE which was one of the first pay-TV stations made as a competitor to HBO at the time, and in the 1980’s they switched back to regular broadcast now as WHDD and had more fare on like "SON OF GODZILLA "and "GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER" (I first saw those there) and later in the late 80’s and early 90’s ran "Shock Theater" before being sold over to the Spanish network UNI and moving to Needham.

Channel 6 out of New Bedford could never find an identity. When they weren’t showing a Sox game they had on "THE X FROM OUTER SPACE", "FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD" and "RETURN OF THE GIANT MONSTERS" on Saturday or Sunday afternoons and sometimes at 1am. IT was typical they would edit out entire chunks of the films!!! Later, these were all grabbed by WLVI for CDF. Channel 56 was doing so well with CDF, they couldn’t scoop up enough films!!!

Channel 7 would have the lock on the two Godzilla films "GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS" and "KING KONG VS GODZILLA" and show them on Sundays or on their odd weekday 4:30 pm movie!  This was in the early 70’s as they changed format slightly in the mid-70’s and had games shows and more sports in those spots and in the mid-80’s ran "Hot Hit Video" in that timeslot.

Over at Channel 5, they had CHILLER THEATER at 2pm-when it wasn’t pre-empted by some ABC sports special, because WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS followed that. That showed everything Universal from the l950’s and 40’s. One time, they did show a Japanese entry (rare for Channel 5) called "TERROR BENEATH THE SEA"(1966). I remember watching it on a broiling hot summer day. But they showed "THE DEADLY MANTIS" and "TARANTULA" with continuing rotation. Then they had, at 11:30 pm after the news SIMON’S SANCTORIUM, which was hosted by the titular "Simon" and showed again, mostly Universals from the 40’s and 50’s, never any out and out "Sci-Fi" films. Then, at 1AM Sunday morning they would have "CLASSIC HORROR" which was basically, nothing after 1942 Universal and a few other obscure studio outputs. After that at 2:30am they’d have "Charlie Chan Theater" with an endless rotation of various Chan films.

  Channel 56 also showed in "Prime Time" on their "Big Movie" THE "TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA" on 8pm on a Friday in Fall 1978.  I remember a date blew me off for someone else and I was instantly cheered when I opened the TV Guide and that was scheduled. They also showed "MONSTER ZERO" and "WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS" in 1971 as Prime Time "Big Movie" presentations and they did quite a bit of promo in the week beforehand.  MZ and WOTG eventually also ended up on CDF, as did "GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER" in 1974.

I think Toho wanted more money because the films all but disappeared in the ensuing 80’s with the advent of home video and cable stations like TNT and TBS which ran these films late night, and on TNT’s MONSTERVISION that ran from 1992 to as recent as 2000 showed the UPA library of Toho films.

  I can tell you, a friend of mine went to a film distributor close out auction in the last couple of years, near Boston and scored all the AIP Gamera dub versions/titles in 16mm. He told me that they were the ones actually rented to Channel 56 and it was really rudimentary how these films were basically projected and telecast.

As you can see, there is some conflict on the exact origin of CDF, but it was much beloved and still held in high regard by the fans.

A couple of years back, we spoke to a representative of WB56 and were told that they get the MOST amount of phone calls, mailings, and emails requesting that CDF be brought back.  When asked why they didn’t just put it back on the air, the answer was that WB56 could make more money on infomercials!!  Our sensibilities as fans were offended!

On June 24th, 2006 fans of Creature Double Feature had their wish fulfilled: Local auto magnate Ernie Boch Jr. bought that “infomercial” timeslot and brought CDF back for one day!  Utilizing the production resources of WB56 (soon to be the CW Network), Ernie donned a costume and makeup and took on the character of the Ghoul…an homage to the aforementioned horror host who appeared in the Boston area in the late 1960s (but was NEVER part of Creature Double Feature!)!!

Fans of the old CDF were in for a treat:  Ernie aka the Ghoul, and his sidekick Mr. Stump hosted two monster movie classics – GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTERand THE GIANT GILA MONSTER!!  He also gave out various monster movie facts during the host segments as well as other entertaining skits!  Those of us who remembered CDF were able to enjoy this new incarnation of the show and most importantly were able to share it with our children who missed out on all the great horror programming we grew up with.

So a huge THANK YOU goes out to WB56 for finally realizing that there is an audience out there for such programming!  Although they claim the ratings were low, CDF may return in the fall, perhaps even as a Saturday Night show (which actually would probably work better in this modern age since everyone usually has hectic schedules during the day!). 

If you live in the Boston Area and would like to see CDF return to the airwaves, click HERE to get contact information for WB56 in Boston, which is now the CW!

  The following is a listing of what CDF aired on certain dates.  Thanks to Ethan Souza for his painstaking research into old TV Guides to give is a window into the past!  We are still working on a full and complete list of dates and times, but take a peek into some of the dates in the mid-1970s (I miss those days…):

1975

10-04-75 – Rodan/Monster Zero

10-11-75 – Majin, Monster of Terror/Return of Giant Majin

11-01-75 – Voyage Into Space/Battle Beyond the Sun

11-08-75 – Dracula Vs. Frankenstein/Frankenstein Conquers the World

1976

01-10-76 – Amazing Colossal Man/War of the Colossal Beast

01-17-76 – Astounding She-Monster/The She Creature

02-21-76 – I Was A Teenage Werewolf/I Was A Teenage Frankenstein

04-24-76 – Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster/Incredible Two-Headed Transplant

As you’ve read above, there were also many other Horror TV shows and hosts in the Boston area during the 60s and 70s.   Unfortunately, most of those shows (including the intros to CDF) have been lost through the passage of time. 

Thus, Horror Haven is stepping up to the plate and putting out a CALL FOR VIDEO AND AUDIO CLIPS!!!

If you have any, or know anyone who has any sort of audio or video or film clips of ANY of the following, PLEASE contact us here at havenpodcasts@gmail.com:

Simon’s Sanctorum

Feep

Chiller

Shock Theatre

Science Fiction Theater

Or any other Horror/Sci-Fi show or other intro segment to movies that were shown on local New England UHF and VHF stations!

Send an email to: havenpodcasts@gmail.com

We would LOVE to post those clips right here at the Haven!

As we progress we will be creating more retrospects on these shows and others!  STAY TUNED!

 

 

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