Canadian TV was home to many outstanding TV shows in the 1970's. The Beachcombers, Mr Dress Up, The Friendly Giant, Front Page Challenge, and The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. No other show could claim such a rabid following amongst Canadian children.
Originally produced by CHCH TV in Hamilton as an educational show, the incredibly talented Billy Van and the Markowitz Production company assembled a line up of segments featuring Dr Pet Vet, Grizelda, The Professor, a laboratory scene, the Librarian, sonnets by Vincent Price, Zany Zoo time, and likely, the first regular rock videoVJ, the Wolfman. As kids, we probably missed the educational aspect in the show, but hung onto the brilliant characters in the cast. Igor, the Count, the Wolfman, Dr Pet Vet, and the Librarian seemed larger than life. Brucie, the immobile, silent type always seemed to be the intelligent one. I think he got the best lines. Building on a career that spanned decades, Vincent Price rapped the Frightenstein theme poem and floated across thunderlit graveyards.
"Another lovely day begins, for ghosts and ghouls with greenish skin.
So close your eyes, and you will find that you've arrived in Frightenstein.
Perhaps the Count will find a way to make his monster work today.
For if he solves this monster-mania, he can return to Transylvania.
So welcome where the sun won't shine, to the castle of Count Frightenstein!"
Frightenstein, over the years, has garnered a fan base that will not let it die. Fans are split over exactly why it is so popular. Some suggested reasons include the theme song, "Gory, Gory, Transylvania", the mark of the three toed sloth, Brucie, Igor, Gronk, Grizelda, Billy Van in his various roles, the golf gall gorilla, or the funky Moog synthesizer theme song. The "Gory, Gory, Transylvania" edition includes 9 hours of brilliant comedy interspersed with educational themes. Anchor Bay Entertainment includes a documentary on the career of the versatile Mr Van. A bonus is 3 coloring pages that accompany the DVD covers.
This show is still popular. Kids of all ages recognize the music, or individual segments. While writing this, my children, wife, and three generations of Canadians remarked "What a great show", and "I watched that with my dad all the time.". Sure signs of a DVD set sure to be in homes across the country.
If there is anything missing, it's a booklet or companion piece on the history of the series. Perhaps that's coming next? Relive your childhood, learn better cooking with Grizelda the Gourmet, and dance with the Wolfman.
In the 1970's, I joined the House of Frightenstein fan club. Today, I renew that with enthusiasm, vigor, and appreciation.