Svengoolie: Reunion with an old ghoul friend

Like a lot of people in Central Indiana, I grew up watching “Sammy Terry” late Friday nights on Channel 4. Sammy, whose son has lately taken up the mantle of corny horror movie host — at least on special occasions — was a fixture of most of our childhoods.

My misspent young adulthood, however, was spent in the company of Svengoolie.

For those who aren’t familiar with him, Svengoolie was a longtime horror movie host on Chicago TV station WFLD. The Sven that my friends and I were familiar with was played, for much of the 1980s, by Rich Koz, the second actor to play the part of the hippie ghoul and horror movie host.

Koz, in Svengoolie drag, would present classic (and not-so-classic) horror movies during his Saturday night show. My friends and I tuned in every week, snacks and beverages at hand, to enjoy the movies and Koz’s irreverent approach to them.

Our love for Svengoolie was so great that, when we heard that WFLD was being dropped from the local cable channel lineup in the mid-1980s, we sent him a telegram — kids, that’s the pre-Internet version of email — that he read on the final show that we could see.

My local cable lineup recently added MeTV, a nostalgia channel, and Svengoolie is right there, on Saturday nights, hosting — and making fun of — classic movies.

Last Saturday he aired “House of Frankenstein,” the 1944 Universal gem featuring not only Frankenstein and Dracula and the Wolf Man but a hunchback assistant.

Koz is older and has put on a few pounds — unlike the rest of us, who have remained young and svelte — but the show is snarky, campy good fun just like it was … holy crap, nearly 30 years ago.

Thirty years? That would make Koz and Svengoolie a classic showing classics. Hopefully for the viewing pleasure of classic old geeks.



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