Now combined into one show, it’s the 2008 Radio Free Charleston Horror Theater Halloween Specials! Episodes 54 and 55 of Radio Free Charleston were an ambitious attempt at recreating the cheesy horror movie-host vibe, only with short films and music videos instead of actual movies. Host segments were shot at the late, lamented LiveMix Studio.
This remastered version combines them both into one 37-minute show. The sequel episode from the following April Fool’s Day will be posted in the order it was first released in a few weeks.
Part one of RADIO FREE CHARLESTON HORROR THEATER features music from Doctor Senator and The Hellblinki Sextet, plus a short film about Jack The Ripper, vintage animation from Wladislaw Starewicz, excerpts from a film by Spike Nesmith, and loads and loads of extra-creepy-coolness.
Part Two of RADIO FREE CHARLESTON HORROR THEATER continues our tribute to old-time-TV horror movie hosts. We’ve got music videos from Under The Radar and Go Van Gogh, a short ghost film by Rich Allen, scary-freaky animation from Wladislaw Starewicz, plus a studio full of Zombies.
This episode was the first guest-starring turn on the show by Chelsea Cook, who plays “Celeste, the Zombie Supermodel.” Chelsea is the official Barista of RFC, and had done animation intros on the show before. You may know her now as Kitty Killton, and as Rudy Panucci’s imaginary daughter. And she did the Zombie make-up in these episodes.
I recruited Liz McCormick for the show after seeing her as “Mathilda” in the 2008 CYAC production, “Jack The Ripper.” Liz was great in the show, and was a real trooper coming in and getting zombified on short notice. “Jack The Ripper” which also numbered RFC Big Shot Melanie Larch, Symphony Idol winner Ryan Hardiman, and No Pants Players mainstay Kevin Pauley among its ultra-talented cast, played a big part in this episode of RFC, as you’ll see later.
Liz was also in R.J. Haddy’s short film “First Date,” which aired on the Chillers channel on Direct TV. Liz went to contribute to RFC as “Flare Baroshi” and was a big part of our 2010 Halloween special. She’s now a big-shot reporter for WVPB, covering the state legislature and other natural disasters.
Our final zombie in part one is RFC Big Shot Brian Young, co-owner of LiveMix Studio, and one of my best friends for almost three decades. Brian and I used to do comedy bits for the old radio incarnation of RFC, and it was a kick getting to work in front of the camera with him after all these years. Brian plays “Ron Birkston,” a name I pulled out of thin air while we were doing this bit for the show. “Ron” is the leader of a Kajagoogoo tribute band from Mercer county called “GooGooGaGa.”
That name came from RFC Big Shot Melanie Larch, who you’ll get to see meet up with the zombies in part two. The voice and attitude are pure Brian.
Also part one, we have music from Doctor Senator and The Hellblinki Sextet.
Doctor Senator treats us to “Avenue A Is A B-Side,” recorded at one of the Bridge events in Davis Park in Charleston. This was the first time Doctor Senator played this song live.
We previously saw The Hellblinki Sextet on RFC 49 when Valerie tore through the Italian revolutionary song “Bella Ciao.” This time this North Carolina band’s leader, Andrew, sings, and plays guitar and drums (at the same time) on “Don’t Go Down To The Woods,” which was perfect for Halloween.
Our animation on both parts of “Horror Theater” is from “The Mascot.”
The short film “The Ripper” could not have been made without the kind indulgence of The Contemporary Youth Arts Company, director Dan Kehde, and the cast and crew of the 2008 musical production of the original Scarpelli/Kehde show “Jack The Ripper.”This was an incredible show, filled with amazingly talented people, and luckily many of them agreed to let me briefly hijack their production for the sake of a cheap fart joke.
Legendary DJ Spike Nesmith contributes a short film of the former State Mental Hospital at Weston, which you can see during the end credits of part one. Many thanks to The Spikester for letting us use this cool bit of video.
I have to correct a couple of omissions in the credits in episode 54. I accidentally left out the name of our second unit director, Sergei Eisenstein, when I put together the credits. Sergei was invaluable in shooting the baby carriage footage in “The Ripper.” I also forgot to mention that Chelsea Cook, with some help from Melanie Larch, crafted our zombie make-up. I was so impressed by her performance in RFC 54 (and in 55) that my brain was overloaded and I left out her make-up credit.
In part two, now conveniently following part one in a single clip, you won’t want to miss the Zombie chorus line, or the all-star Zombie jam session at the end of the show! In addition to Rudy Panucci as “Count Rudolph, this episode of RFC features Chelsea Cook, Liz McCormick, plus RFC Big Shots Brian Young and Melanie Larch.
The Zombie massacre continues in part two, as our cast continues to swell the ranks of the undead. One bit of unscripted brilliance that Chelsea and Liz started in our last episode is that the Zombies, after springing back to life from having their brains eaten by other Zombies, are really friendly with the Zombies that killed them. There’s even a Zombie group hug in this show. I was very lucky to have a cast that “got” the material and was able to add to it.
My cast was so good that I only had to do a second take of one segment during both episodes. And that was because Brian came up with a really cool bit of comic timing during the intro to the Go Van Gogh video.
First up in this show was a film by Rich Allen, which I won’t give away the title of, since that’s part of the charm. Rich is a talented singer-songwriter (you may remember him from RFC 35) but he’s also a filmmaker with a sense of humor every bit as twisted as mine.
Under The Radar is Rusty Marks, Bill Robinson and Mark Lanham, and as soon as I heard “Mothman Prophecy #1″ I knew I had to have it on the Halloween show. We shot UTR at St. Albans City Park in September 2008, and I did the animation and synched the live performance up to the studio version of the song on Monday, October 27, 2008–one day before this show was originally posted.
I’ve wanted to see Go Van Gogh’s video for “Planet Of Psychotic Women” finished since I first saw the unfinished version in the early 1990s. Stephen Beckner had done an incredible job of recreating the look of a low-budget sci-fi movie from the late 1950s, but he’d never managed to edit in footage of the band performing the tune. When I found an old video tape of the band performing the song at The Levee, I decided to put together a “finished” version.
One other note on this video. While the recording features the classic four-piece line-up of Go Van Gogh, the performance we captured on video was by the expanded “Traffic-like” line-up, which included Mark Mangrone on keys and additional perucssionists. This was in addition to Stephen and Mark Beckner and Johnny and Tim Rock. And, yes, the alien women are Amee Beckner and Libby Rojas.
This was our most ambitious production of Radio Free Charleston at the time, and it’s cool to have it restored and available again in one piece. Our chronological march through classic episodes of Radio Free Charleston will continue every Saturday, here in PopCult.
What you see above is an exercise in guerrilla film-making. This mini-episode of Radio Free Charleston (number 55.5, for those of you scoring at home) was assembled in less than four hours. We’re dropping it here to keep these clips coming in order. This quickie show was put together using footage shot October 25 at the RFC Halloween Party at the La Belle Theater. A few years later I would adopt this format for the RFC MINI SHOW.