Hideously Yours!February 26, 2010
An iconic figure in the memoryscape of Australians who were around in the late 60’s-early 70’s was the cadaverous Deadly Earnest, host of late-night B-grade horror and Sci-Fi movies on the o-10 Network, Awful Movies with Deadly Earnest. Way before Elvira, we had Deadly Earnest!
Each state had their local variant of the Deadly Earnest character and a cult following built-up fairly quickly. This marathon of pant-wetting movies was programmed on a Friday night and I was young enough to have the bejebus skeered out of me, yet I always begged my parents to be allowed to stay up late to watch at least the first movie. Mostly, I had to go to bed at my usual bedtime and then my folks would wake me up in time to see Deadly Earnest fling open the door of his upright coffin.
I remember one night the first movie was Vincent Price’s “The House of Wax”, which I was desperate to see, but my folks insisted I had to go to bed for an hour and then they’d wake me up. I sensed they were trying to pull a swifty on me, so instead of snoozing off, I counted down the hour, second by second, and was wide awake when mum opened my bedroom door – expecting me to be sound asleep.
I took up my usual position, cross-legged on the floor, in my Baby-doll jammies, and blissfully watched one of the spookiest movies I’d ever seen in my young life.
The Japanese horror monster movies such as Godzilla skeered the bejebus out of me. I didn’t know a great deal about Japan, so thought those creatures really existed.
The gruesome deaths in “The Abominable Dr Phibes” and “Dr Phibes Rises Again” should have given me nightmares, yet I can honestly say I never experienced night terrors induced by a horror movie.
For maybe 2-3 years, I lapped up a weekly diet of vampire, werewolf, Frankenstein and creature from the black sea-lagoon-river-puddle and Outer Space movies and then, I dunno, I either grew out of watching Deadly Earnest and the offerings from Hammer Horror, or had started to develop more sophisticated tastes in movies at the grand old age of eleven!
The good old days of late-night television before TV evangelists and Guthy Renker teleadvertising.
It’s a hot summer’s Friday night here. There is sweet FA on TV, not even coverage from the Winter Olympics. I miss Deadly Earnest . . . and being able to get up after sitting cross-legged on the floor!