Saturday, October 11, 2014

Night of Terror #10: 'Dr. Paul Bearer Archives Vol. 1'




Good afternoon whatever you are. I just spent an hour and 18 minutes watching the Dr. Paul Bearer Archives Vol. 1, a DVD I got from the estate of the late Dr. Paul Bearer. I didn't plan to watch the whole thing today, but once I started watching the 5-6 minute segments included on the DVD I couldn't stop, and I laughed more than I do watching many feature length comedies. Dr. Bearer was a horror host on TWOG in St. Petersburg, Florida, and in fact holds the distinction of being the longest-running practitioner of that particular art form, his Creature Feature running from 1973 to 1995, and it only stopped then because of his untimely death after an operation on his heart - as the Doctor himself was fond of saying, there is such a thing as death after life.

But I didn't spend 15 bucks on this DVD because of all that, instead what drove my purchase was the fact that I grew up pretty close to St. Pete and have memories of seeing Dr. Paul on TV, and even once in person, at the Winter Haven Mall, which used to do a trick-or-treat event every Halloween that my parents took me to in lieu of the traditional door-to-door soliciting. I was pretty young then, and I remember being vaguely frightened of this weird guy with the ghoulish makeup and weird speech patterns, and today I was delighted to see him announce his annual personal appearance at the Winter Haven Mall on Halloween in one of the segments included on the DVD.

But I imagine that the treasures on the Dr. Paul Bearer Archives Vol. 1 would appeal to almost anyone with a taste for horror hosts and other pieces of that mostly extinct 20th century novelty entertainment sphere, not just people who were kids in Florida 20 years ago. He sings parody songs, and generates puns out of evert conceivable item on hand - my favorite from this brief sampling of his 22-year career is "State Harm Insurance." Some of the puns aren't even macabre or spooky, like when he gets a "knight shirt" for Christmas, which is just a black t-shirt with a knight on it. Can I buy that somewhere?

Watching more than an hour of Creature Feature segments in one sitting can start to get to you. I started imagining that Dr. Paul Bearer is actually a schizophrenic dentist who believes he lives in a "tenement castle" and talks to the walls about the "horrible old movies" that come on TV. He chats with his spider friend Spinjamin Bock (I'll admit I don't really get this pun - is Benjamin Bock a singer or something?) and eats his Devil's Food Scream Cake as his madness calcifies around his aging brain.

But enough jokes. If you don't live in Austin and can borrow mine, you might want to buy your own copy of the first (of many, I hope) volume Dr. Paul Bearer Archive, and you can do so here. I'll be lurking for you, etc.

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