Making Of The Undead Hepcat's Monster Show Part 1: Season 1 (Fall 1998)


When we last left our hero, he was skipping his way back to the dorm, mind a-blaze with the possibilities of closed circuit television stardom...

I didn't have a real solid plan for the character for the show. The creature features that I'd actually watched myself had sort of "goof ball uncles" as their hosts, and I didn't think that was the way to go.
 but - in general - I liked the idea of a suave, hard drinking, lounge act kind of guy -- stage presence of later years Dean Martin type.

My first Summer back from college I worked my former High School job at Theo's Java Hut (a coffee shop downtown Davenport), stayed out very late with my co-workers (all guys who were slightly older than I was and sort of drifting around in late-90's slackerdom), watched monster movies and cobbled my act together.

I found a dark blue suit and some skinny ties from a vintage shop downtown called "Trashcan Annie's" (a cavernous and patcholi scented upper story of a 19th century building cluttered with old clothes that I'd heard Scott Morschauser shopped at for his Kabbalas duds). I went to a magic shop that opened a couple blocks from my old High School and bought a make-up kit (a cheap Halloween set for a "vampire" with black, red and a pasty blue white), a rubber bat, and a rubber hand.

I don't know how I came up with the title, but "Undead," "Hepcat," and "Monster" were all words that were floating around my mind an awful lot back then. Putting them together was natural and I thought it sounded cool. The character name happened pretty quickly too -- "Borris" felt like a good Famous Monsters of Filmland era name and was a good nod to Karloff, Badenov, and Bobby Picket. I thought "Cirrosis" was appropriately morbid/funny because of the drinking gag I'd settled on, and it sort of rhymed*. 

 For the show itself, I only had a couple of movies purchased from UNI-TV's budget and I wanted to do a weekly show for at least September through Halloween. My folks had given me a boxed set collection of old horror movies on VHS the previous year, and most of these were old enough that I assumed they were public domain. I had a few others on tape that I figured were too.**

I came up with the first "season" line up:

Giant Gila Monster 9/11/98
Plan 9 From Outer Space 9/18/98
White Zombie 9/25/98
Night of the Living Dead 10/2/98
Blood Feast 10/9/98
Creature from the Haunted Sea 10/16/98
Dementia 13 10/23/98
Theatre of Blood 10/30/98


Then I scribbled out some notes for things to say - basically couple of gags for each movie (an opener, a closer and something in the middle) and I assumed that I'd be able to improvise the rest, got my props together and made the arrangements to drive up to Cedar Falls (about two and a half hours away) to shoot with my friend Eric.

I was under the impression that I'd get there and one of the Summer interns from the Communications Department would operate the two professional cameras in their studio, so that I could get a wide shot and some close ups to edit together later. I planned on a two camera TV set-up like I had used in AV club back in High School, shooting me on a flat black background to give me an old-style local TV station look.

When I got there, no body knew what I was talking about.

My contact had been a guy named Phil Hunt, who showed up a little late. He was sympathetic (or at least not doing anything else at the time) so he went and got a camcorder from the store room and agreed to record me in one of the rooms for an hour or so. 


I smeared some dark circles under my eyes and the blue-white around the rest of my face; put on the suit and a skull pinkie ring (a promo from the '96 Phantom movie with Billy Zane) and did my thing.



I pounded through the bits I'd come up with in one take.


Re-watching the footage; my lack of preparation, last minute changes and rushed time frame definitely show. However Eric  co-hosting White Zombie as "the original zombie, Jesus Christ" makes up for a lot.

*The fact that most of the Western world spells it "Cirrhosis" was completely lost on me. I seem to remember looking it up to check the spelling, but apparently that had no effect on what ended up on the poster. Once it was there, I stuck with it.

**I started to make this "assumption" a lot instead of actually trying to find out for sure. Ultimately, I figured it was going to fly under the radar, and if it didn't I could maybe concoct some kind of "fair use" argument.

Restoration Project Update: Ran into a technical issue that has yet to be resolved. The only video editing software I have access to is Windows Movie Maker, which I discovered does not support DVD as a format and helpfully also does not have ripping/file converting abilities for video. I tried three different "free" video converters and the best one installed a bunch of web browser-hijacking nonsense that I had to spend 30 minutes purging my computer from. The program appears to be able to convert DVDs to the file types I'd need to be able to use them in WMM, but I can't get its editing function to work...which means I'd have to rip and covert the full 90+ minute episode before I could cut out the three minutes of material I actually want -- which isn't impossible, but is a huge pain and not something I want to spend a week doing if I can help it. This is particularly an issue with the "first season" because I don't have the source material for those episodes. Any suggestions on reliable free software would be welcome.

I'll get some clips up here eventually. For now, its just stills. 


Comments

  1. I can already see why you wanted to keep this hidden...

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  2. Yeah, it he first season is pretty rough.

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