Creature Features Fans… Assemble! By Lord Blood-Rah
The San Francisco Bay Area in 1971: Vietnam War protests and bell-bottomed trousers were in the streets, and on television a bespectacled gentleman in a yellow rocking chair, cigar in hand, declared the movie not worth staying up late for. And so was born CREATURE FEATURES!
That man was Bob Wilkins, a horror host sans make-up, sans costume, and brimming with cool, dry wit. He would remain in that chair presenting classic Horror and Sci-Fi films, as well as a fair dose of dreck that he made great sport of, every Saturday night for eight years. Fans watched not only for the movies and Bob’s humor, but to get the latest information on upcoming films and genre happenings. The show quickly became a rallying point for Bay Area fandom.
In 1979, Bob left KTVU, after a heavy workload that included a second edition of CREATURE FEATURES on Friday nights and a daily half hour kids show called CAPT. COSMIC. John Stanley, a long time friend and entertainment reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle took over the as show’s host. John continued the tradition of classic shock and schlock cinema, adding more celebrity interviews and even his own “mini-movies.” But six years later, due to the changing demands on independent television stations and the limited availability of suitable films, CREATURE FEATURES was canceled in September 1984 after fourteen years.
Cancellation could not kill the memories of, and affection for, the show and its two hosts. One man who kept the CREATURE FEATURES flame burning was Tom Wyrsch. “I started watching Creature Features early on,” Tom recalls. “Not sure if I caught the first show, but I watched it every Saturday night I could from 1971 to 1984.” Tom’s love of the show grew into a friendship with Wilkins and Stanley, which lead to the compilation of two scrapbooks and eventually inheriting the official Creature Features archives. These materials were distributed by Wrysch in numerous DVD releases for fans, and in 2008, produced and directed the definitive documentary on the show, WATCH HORROR FILMS-KEEP AMERICA STRONG! A JOURNEY INTO CREATURE FEATURES. But his greatest contribution to Creature Features Fans is still yet to come.
On May 5th, Tom will present CREATURESCON ONE: The World’s First CREATURE FEATURES Convention! at the Bal Theatre in San Leandro, California. John Stanley will be a special guest, as well Ernie Fosselius, creator of the classic sci-fi spoof HARDWARE WARS which had its television debut on CREATURE FEATURES and of course, the late great Bob Wilkins will be there in spirit. There will be dealer’s tables, a Q & A panel, an exhibit of rare Creature-phernalia and hours of lost and rare celebrity interviews and clips will round out the days events. Most importantly, this will be an opportunity for CREATURE FEATURES fans to get together, share memories, and celebrate the show that united the Bay Area Horror and Sci-Fi fan community that thrives to this day. Get all your monster pals together and we’ll see you at CREATURESCON ONE! As Tom points out, “It all goes back to Creature Features and Bob & John.”