Whats our favorite ride at (Knott’s) Horrorbuzz.com? Elvira!!!!
So I have to first give a virtual hug to my best friend Norm for giving me one of those true childhood geekout moments last year at ScareLA when he brought me back to tape and interview with (and for the opportunity to meet) Cassandra Peterson a.k.a. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She was perhaps the greatest influence in the early development of my love of cheesy horror movies, and also where I really developed a taste for a little bit of comedy mixed with my chills. She also had a huge influence on my involvement here on the site…
By the early 80’s when her show, Movie Macabre, started out here in Southern California, I was in my early teens. As you can imagine the sexy, siren with her ample…talent was something I never missed, even when I had to watch on my tiny black and white television because the family room TV was in use. So OK…yes she was (and still very much is) very sexy and seemingly very comfortable in her on screen vamp persona, but she was also really really funny, and I still giggle when I watch her shows on Netflix when I watch them. She was a “valley girl” before it really became 80’s hip, she was punk and vampire chic before Goth was a thing, and she a snarky, sarcastic, and great “date” on a Saturday night when I was too young to go out with my friends.
The show also contained the talents of one of my favorite comedian sidekicks John Paragon, who I think is best remembered as Jambi the Genie from Pee-wee’s Playhouse, but on Movie Macabre, he played “The Breather” who would call and tell really bad jokes. (He also had a great TV special The Paragon of Comedy, filled with his and Peterson’s fellow Groundling alums, if you can find it.)
I will discuss the impact she has on my love of Knott’s Halloween Haunt separately, but for this article I want to focus on the brilliance of her 3D television specials, because they not only caused a sensation and sold millions of pairs of 3D glasses, but they also had a tremendous impact on my love of immersive film/video technology. In fact all of the video we have posted on the HorrorBuzz.com youtube channel HERE, in 3D or 360 degree, is really due to those first 3D television events.
See, when I grew up there wasn’t a lot of 3D happening. Disney and Kodak hadn’t developed the 70mm polarized lens technology that is still the basis of most of the 3D we see in theaters today, and the red and blue (or green) tinted glasses that were developed in the 50’s and 60’s as a gimmick to lure television viewers back into movie theaters had pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur.
So I had never seen a 3D movie when the broadcast event was announced, and 7-11 became the place to buy a pair of special glasses to watch it.
I wish I could say the experience itself was amazing….even with Elvira in 3D, the tinted glasses were headache inducing, and the effects on the small screen were difficult to detect. Still, the seeds were planted and I was hooked on the idea of immersive video that reached out of the screen.
Ken Toghia is a director, animator, technologist, and horror/haunt fan living in Orlando, Florida. He was raised in Southern California on Friday the 13th films, Elvira’s Movie Macabre, Oingo Boingo Halloween shows, Theme Parks, and Haunts. He started off his career as a Jungle Cruise Skipper and Riverboat Pilot at Disneyland, has a degree in Film and Television from Cal. State Long Beach, and loves to attend haunts and horror films with his amazing wife and sons (who also happen to love this stuff)