Svengoolie TV on METV

Svengoolie is an American-hosted horror movie television program. The show features horror and science fiction films and is hosted by the eponymous character Svengoolie, who was originally played by Jerry G. Bishop from 1970 to 1973, before Rich Koz succeeded him in the role from 1979 on. Before and after commercial breaks, Svengoolie presents sketches, tells jokes, and performs parody songs related to the films being aired. The show is a long-running local program in the Chicago area and in recent years expanded nationally, airing Saturday nights on MeTV.

Who is Svengoolie?

Svengoolie – the title character and host of the show, who introduces the film, tells jokes and relates trivia about the movie. The character was originally portrayed by former WCFL personality Jerry G. Bishop, who held the role from 1970 to 1973.[5] When the show returned in 1979, Rich Koz took on the role of “Son of Svengoolie”, which he portrayed until the show’s cancellation in 1986. In 1995, Koz was set to bring the show back and Bishop told him he was “all grown up” and could drop the “Son of” from his character name. Koz has been playing “Svengoolie” ever since.[6]

Svengoolie TV Format

The show airs both low-budget and classic horror and science-fiction movies, with host “Svengoolie” – a telescoping of the words Svengali and ghoul – played by Rich Koz (pronounced “Koze”), who wears thick skull-like makeup around his eyes and cheekbones, a moustache, goatee, and long wig, all black, and a black top hat with a tuxedo jacket over a bright-red, open-collared, pleated tuxedo shirt.

Just before and after commercial breaks, Svengoolie presents sketches, tells corny jokes, and performs song parody spoofs of the film being aired. Some shows were presented in what was later dubbed “Sven-surround” – a pun on “Sensurround“, a brand name theatre audio system – in which Svengoolie would joke as the film aired sometimes with humorous sound effects.[1] This stunt was discontinued for a short time, then brought back due to viewer request, although as a clip segment aired outside the film.

One relatively recent addition to the show is the simultaneous use of Twitter with the hashtag #svengoolie, allowing those watching to comment on the show.

Svengoolie TV by METV
Svengoolie TV by METV

Svengoolie Films

In August 2006, it was reported that WCIU had obtained broadcast rights to the classic Universal Monsters films of the 1930s and 1940s. These films had been requested since Svengoolie aired in the 1980s. By December 2006, the show featured four episodes of the Abbott and Costello “Meet” series, with Universal Studios Monsters and several Hammer Film Productions that were distributed by Universal-International. On May 5, 2007, Svengoolie presented Bela Lugosi‘s Dracula (1931), claiming that it was the first time the movie had been shown on local television in more than a decade.

Svengoolie Themes

The show opens with a reference to early radio broadcasting: “Calling all stations, clear the air lanes, clear all air lanes for the big broadcast.” This is a sound clip from the preview “trailer” of one of the four “Big Broadcast Of …. (1932, 1936, 1937, 1938)” movies. In a running gag throughout the series, Svengoolie’s mentions of the Chicago suburb of Berwyn are met with an audio clip of several people groaning “BERWYN?!?” Another recurring gag involves rubber chickens thrown at Svengoolie after a weak joke, usually at the end of an episode’s opening and closing sketches. Visitors assist the crew in throwing rubber chickens during taping.  Frequently sound clips are used from Warner Bros. cartoons (“Oh we’re the boys of the Chorus,”…etc.), radio broadcasts of The Stan Freberg Show (“Thank you for all those cards and letters, you folks in television LAND…..”, “Wun’erful, Wun’erful” and “Ow, OW, OW!!!” from “The HoneyEarthers”), and other sources.