Sammy Terry Lives

SammyCoverBOB CARTER 1929-2013

Yesterday there was An Open to the  Public Visitation at Singleton Mortuary in Indianapolis. As we could not be there, we thought we might have a memorial of sorts right here at HORROR HOSTS AND CREATURE FEATURES. Take a moment. Turn off your phone. Sit in a dark quiet place and read along.

sammy01SAMMY TERRY LIVES
By MR. LOBO, Art by DAVID HARDY

Special Thanks to MARK CARTER, SEAN KOTZ, SANDY CLARK, SOLOMON MORTAMUR, CREEPY CHRISTY SAVAGE, MARLENA MIDNITE, BLAKE POWELL,  JEROME A. DOLAN, DIXIE DELAMORTO, AND THE FANS OF SAMMY TERRY!

This is a very sad time for horror host fans. When the news broke. MR. LOBO was stunned. I didn’t think it was possible. I’d fallen for rumors before so–I waited. When fans kept asking for reaction I was a little too emotional to write anything. A simple “Thanks for whatever–RIP” on the FACEBOOK wasn’t nearly enough. Dixie and I needed to write something substantial about BOB CARTER AKA SAMMY TERRY’s Death. 
Mr. Lobo has a lot of friends in INDIANA and have traveled there many times for conventions and film festivals…always absorbing as many NIGHTMARE THEATER stories as possible.
Bob was with television affiliate WTTV in Indianapolis, Indiana, regularly during the 1960s to the 1980s, and continued to make appearances as SAMMY TERRY sporadically until his poor health made it impossibleOne of my favorite anecodotes about the impact of TV hosts in general is of BOB CARTER, the man under the red hood, green face, and yellow glovebobcartertvs. I was working as a researcher on the documentary film AMERICAN SCARY and producer/writer SANDY CLARK told me a story about BOB CARTER–When doing a live sponsor segment on the air for KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN he ad libbed the famous phase “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good”…The Colonel definately saw the value of a seasoned broadcaster that day. He immediately wanted that phrase as his restaurant’s motto and used it for decades.
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While preparing for AMERICAN SCARY, I viewed many of Sammy’s shows because he was unique. Sandy kept telling me how unusual he was. He’s one of the only horror hosts who is not funny. He’s scary. Although, thoroughly creeped out by him at first–I began to tune in to his wit. He’s not coconut-pie-in-the-pants bozo funny…but he’s clearly doing schtick. When he checks your X-Mas stocking for candy and there’s a foot in it–that’s a joke. But his serious commitment to the character made it scary for kids and many adults. And that is very rare. Sandy contacted me with another great story about a young fan of NIGHTMARE THEATER.
AMERICAN SCARY had a production assistant, PATTY GARCIA, who learned English as a child watching SAMMY TERRY after she came to the US from Central America. Sadly, SAMMY TERRY is one of those hosts we just couldn’t work into the movie due to time and expense and it broke my heart. I think Patti’s experience shows the reach of these men and women, though. It gives you an idea of the cultural work they were doing, far beyond mere entertainment. They manufactured belonging through shared experience. They bound us together ins ways some of us are only vaguely conscious of in our “real” lives. sammy-sepiaSammy and Patti were friends when Patti desperately needed a friend, even if SAMMY TERRY never knew it. Sammy taught Patti English. Sammy helped Patti belong when she was young, and frightened. He let her in on the joke when her classmates looked at her with suspicion and life was just that much better for her.” It is all bout belonging and finding a shared experience. For some of us, our founding fathers are TV ghouls… and I’m OK with that.”
A great example of the man’s impact. This was a big one. And Sandy’s help here with this article is an example of something else–another phenomenon at work. When this article seemed to big for DIXIE and MR. LOBO to do right–something wonderful happened–the HORROR HOST FAN COMMUNITY came together to add their memories and reflections to our obit story. Horror Host fans and fiends have helped MR. LOBO again and again in my career due to the tremendous amount of good will these kinds of shows create. We feel we want to pay back the debt we owe to this grand tradition. VirginiaCreepersLobbyCard2Documentary Filmmaker SEAN KOTZ, Director of VIRGINIA CREEPERS and HI THERE HORROR MOVIE FANS( What some call “Beyond American Scary 1 and 2”)breaks the ice with his wonderful dry humor.
Sammy Terry . . . it takes a second to kick in.  Sammy Terry . . . Sammyterry  . . . Cemetery. 
 
I didn’t get it the first time I heard it, but then again I am not a Hoosier by any stretch.  I am a Virginia native and really like exotic geographical features–like mountains, oceans, trees.  The first time I went to Indiana and drove for at least 40 miles without finding a gas station amid the corn fields I wondered vocally (and in language not suitable for nuns and kindergarten teachers), how do people do it here?
 
Well, maybe the answer is SAMMY TERRY. sammyvssammy
 
You see, as I mentioned, I didn’t get  . . . until I heard SAMMY TERRY  say the name as a “dactyl.”  In the event that you can’t pull your 11th grade English poetry meters out of the cobwebs, a dactyl is a three syllable construction where the first is stressed and the other two follow unstressed:  SAMmyterry.  I had heard the guy was good—unique and immersed in character—but SAMmyterry, well, that took a brain.
 
As a documentarian of horror hosts, I have collected here and there whatever VHS and DVD copies existed of various host.   Everyone thinks the guy (or occasionally gal) they saw first is best ever and view all other hosts askance in that mirror.  But when you’ve seen a lot of them, you start to realize there are some who are truly, truly remarkable and folks, SAMMY TERRY was one of the best.
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It is not just that his show, in one form or another, lasted over 50 years.  Think mile upon mile of corn field and you get a sense that LOTS of shows could have lasted 50 years.   No.  SAMMY TERRY lasted that long and was so captivating because BOB CARTER created a character that was at once completely and utterly unnerving to listen to and at bobcarteraka-sammyterry3_72the same time, a kind of MISTER ROGERS for the misbegotten. 
 
I think it all comes down to the strangeness of the character.  For one thing, 99% of horror hosts dress in black.  SAMMY TERRY donned blood red . . . plus a turtleneck and bizarre (downright bizarre) yellow gloves.  
 
Similarly, most hosts break away from the persona at some point.  Little asides, spit takes and guffaws, knowing “I am in on the joke too” looks at the camera, but SAMMY TERRY seemed to actually inhabit the weird world created around him fully.  Like DAN AYKROYD, SAMMY TERRY sold the bit 100%.
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But, ultimately, it was the weird, hollow, broken cadenced voice of SAMMY TERRY that left me strangely (and pleasantly) unnerved as a viewer. Even removed by time and distance, seeing what limited amounts available on the old tape networks from the early days of the internet, that weird tone resonated.  At times, he’d totally free-form like a cskullsammyadaverous beatnik, winding up some creaking spring of tangential associations and then  . . . BANG  . . . drop you into the plot of the movie in the last 20 seconds before the cut away.
 
HOOSIERS, MY HEART goes out to you.  You are blessed that BOB CARTER’s son, MARK CARTER, picking up the banner, but more than that, you have been blessed with a character who was genuinely distinct and talented.
 
You deserve a cocktail  . . . type O with Lady Fingers.”

 

SEAN bobwilkinsKOTZ brings up a good point. SAMMY TERRY IS NOT DEAD! Bob Carter handed it down to his son MARK CARTER a couple years ago. He does a remarkable job. It was chilling and heartwarming at the same time to meet the man in Indiana. He introduced himself to me and we remarked that we both have been given the torch to carry by a beloved horror host. Back in California, BOB WILKINS from CREATURE FEATURES gave me mine and his Dad from NIGHTMARE THEATER gave him his.Svengoolie This is also the way of it. Chicago’s SVENGOOLIE handed it over to Son of Svesammyelviran…Who is now largely accepted as just SVENGOOLIE. Cleveland host THE GHOUL got GHOULARDI’s blessing. DR. SANGUINARY in Omaha spawned the SON OF SANGUINARY. Dr. Paul Bearer’s son has picked up his dads undertaker coat down in Florida. Although, ELVIRA had a PR disaster searching for THE NEXT ELVIRA on Fox Reality TV…perhaps it’s too sacred of a tradition to force it.

DAVID HARDY, who supplied the cover artwork for our memorial, Contacted me. Immediately volunteering any and all of his wonderful of paintings of Sammy for MR. LOBO and HORROR HOSTS AND CREATURE FEATURES to use anyway we wanted. He had his own personal story about “Sammy”. Matt's finished painting 006Back in the late sixties he read one of my fan letters on the air ! It was one of those crazy , surreal moments that don’t happen very often in anyone’s life ! For a kid growing up in the Indy of the sixties and seventies Bob’s show was a MUST WATCH every Friday night !! It , along with FORREST ACKERMAN’s magazine FAMOUS MONSTERS helped to form this ” monster kid ” who now makes a living drawing and painting the monsters !! I owe Sammy a LOT . He is terribly missed already.” forryHardy, who will be in attendance at UNCLE FORRY’s favorite conference MONSTER BASH, loved Sammy Terry because his made his life a little more magical on Friday nights “He was my “Horror Hero”!! And he taught me some important life lessons !! If you can get over being scared of the ” monsters ” in those old movies than you can learn not to be afraid of the bad things in your every day life ! I miss him already.”

MR. LOBO reminded David that Sammy will haunt us forever.

“Yes he will !!! As “UNCLE FORRY”” used to say about LON CHANEY SAMMY TERRY will NEVER die !!!! Immediately, the conversation came back to the quality of his show and his commitment to the details. “I have some of his DVDs … I LOVE the fact that he left the ” bumpers ” and wraparounds intact !!! Even the cheesy old commercials!”

BLAKE POWELL producer of MIDNITE MAUSOLEUM chimed in. “We have around 30 episodes of Sammy Terry spanning 1974 through the late 80’s.”  MARLENA MIDNITE and he had many memories to share and even did a tribute on their Iowa based horror host show in  2010.  blake
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Check out a 30 second promo for their  tribute here.

MARLENA the lovely host of MIDNIGHT MAUSELEUM had these thoughts to share.

“This morning Blake and I were watching an episode from 1987 and talking about your upcoming article. When I began collecting and trading shows of older hosts around 10 years ago one of the first other hosts (hosts not local to me) I came across was SAMMY TERRY. Here are a few thoughts on Sammy: His delivery was like poetry and he had a voice and demonic laugh beyond compare. sammylaugh

I think my favorite Sammy Terry moment is the 1974 “Halloween / Birthday” special. what seems like an endless stream of political leaders – regional celebrities drop by and wish Sammy HAPPY BIRTHDAY. There is also an official proclamation of SAMMY TERRY DAY and although it seems like he is actually quite choked up, he NEVER breaks character and simply responds with things like “Howwww Awefuuuuuuul”

The very first MIDNITE MAUSOLEUM “public appearance” was at the SAMMY TERRY TRIBUTE event at the PARANORMAL SCAREFEST in Bloomington, IN (2010). Sammy was already far too ill to attend the event but his wife and family did. It was great meeting them and ROBYN GRAVES and I sent Cards and photos to him via his wife.

MARLENA and BLAKE Encouraged us to talk to Indiana ARTV host Dr. SIGMUND ZOID as well –

“being a kid sneaking to the TV to watch SAMMY TERRY is a whole different context”

So true. I reached out to the good Doctor but I got no reply. Without a doubt, he is having a rough week.Typical reaction of the many grown-ups MR. LOBO talked to while researching for the film AMERICAN SCARY–SAMMY TERRY scared them out of their wttv4minds as kids.

GEOFF ARBUCKLE From Indy, grew up on SAMMY TERRY and was so scared by the opening he had to leave the room at the start of every episode.

CHRISTY SAVAGE was not scared however. She is one of the organizers of Sacramento’s Notorious Midnight Movie series TRASH FILM ORGY and director of photography for PLANET OF THE VAMPIRE WOMEN. A film in which I was cast as FUTURE MR. LOBO.

No…he didn’t creep me out…I loved him! I lived in Indianapolis from 1977-1981. I thought he was soooo awesome with his creepy undead thing. I was always drawn to the unusual and creepy stuff. He was my second horror host…after DR. CREEP in Dayton, Ohio. I remember beindrcreepg around 8 or 9 and watching Sammy Terry all the time…a very influential time in building my love of horror films, for sure!

I’m pretty sure one of the first films I saw on Sammy’s show was the AIP JACK HIILL/STEPHANIE ROTHMAN movie BLOOD BATH (AKA Track of the Vampire). It had a HUGE influence on me…first time I’d really seen the mad artist theme and it struck a chord.”

Another filmmaker known for IT CAME FROM TRAFALGAR, SOLOMON MORTAMUR was a huge fan and he still lives in the great state of Indiana. He could a massive documentary himself with all the info and material he has.He used to tape many of his appearances/gigs and has a lot of cool unseen stuff. 6 hours of interviews of fans talking about him. Perhaps one day he will have time and resources to do something with all that great stuff…(perhaps a producer is listening)

For now Solomon offers his childhood memories.Sammy Sketch 003

“My cousin Tina used to babysit for me when I was 4 or 5 back in about 1977…

We’d stay up late and watch NIGHTMARE THEATRE.. Some of my earliest memories are of getting to stay up late and watch old monster movies hosted by SAMMY TERRY He introduced me to all the classic monsters as well as a few of the obscure ones too… Even with the fact that you could still see the wire dangling his pet GEORGE THE SPIDER around didn’t detour his show being terrifying to a young child.

His show was GREAT! Probably why it stayed on the air for so long…sammy1

One thing I find fascinating is that he was scarier than a majority of the films he hosted… He would scare me so bad with his voice & one of kind unmistakable laugh… I would have to turn his segments off… run back hide under the covers for the film to return or for a commercial break…

My favorite thing he used to say was… “I hope you had a horrible time” Then he’d usually do his laugh…. The way he could pronounce the word horrible was just brilliant spine tingling awesomeness.

I think he is one of very few horror hosts that could have been a Lugosi or a Karloff if he wanted.

He had that kind of talent…

Robert CarterLater in life I would get to meet Bob Carter several times at various gigs that he would do.

I was fortunate enough to have some nice conversations with him at some length about how he introduced me to all the good movies etc… and I thanked him as many folks have done over the years.

Bob Carter was a true genius and will be missed greatly.

But as all legends do he will… live on forever…

Bob Carter AKA Sammy Terry you will be missed… RIP”

JEROME A. DOLAN a New York writer who helped us with our E. NICK WITTY obit could only say–“Another TV Legend gone.”

Well, the man has left us but his legend endures…like Solomon said, that’s what legends do. Thanks for taking some time and joining us for this electronic memorial.sammy2

MARK CARTER who has taken on the role at his fathers request closes our offering today, skullsammyin character, as SAMMY TERRY.
“My creator, ROBERT CARTER, has died. But like all Great People, his gift to this realm lives beyond his years. It is my greatest honor and privilege to continue Robert’s passion and joy delivering spine tingling excitement and Many Pleasant Nightmares in his stead. Please watch my video Eulogy to my creator ROBERT CARTER on the www.sammyterrynightmares.com website as well as learn about the Public Visitation Friday at the Mortuary. As always… GEORGE and I wish you all… Many PLEASANT NIGHTMARES!!!!!!!!

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You can share your memories on the
SAMMY TERRY FAN PAGE on FACEBOOK
https://www.facebook.com/Sammy.Terry.Fan.Page

 

2 thoughts on “Sammy Terry Lives

  1. This was a great tribute to a wonderful Horror Host. I have many fond memories growing up in Indiana and watching Sammy Terry every Friday night. I do believe his show was the root of my love of scary movies.

  2. Absorbing Tribute. Sammy Terry, though not a \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\”Movie Star\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\” as they would call it, nonetheless joins the Ranks of Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney and Price as a Horror Legend in his own right. In the same moment he had the ability to frighten you…then offer comfort afterwards.

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