The Hilarious House of Frightenstein

“Another lovely day begins, for ghosts and ghouls with greenish skin…so close your eyes, and you will find that you’ve arrived in Frightenstein.  Perhaps the Count will find a way to make his monster work today..for if he solves this monster-mania, he can return to Transylvania.  So, welcome where the sun won’t shine, to the castle of Count Frightenstein!”  (the opening words to the show “Hilarious House of Frightenstein” recited by Vincent Price).

There is a little cult classic 1970’s TV show here in Canada known as The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.  My daughter and I both grew up on the show (reruns for her!) and honestly, looking back on it now, I often say “Huh?  I liked this show eh?” because it’s so campy, there are so many lame jokes, and so much slapstick humour.  Still, every time I see it in my TV listings (yes the reruns are still going strong), I have to smile and every once in a while, I will catch part of an episode if only for nostalgia’s sake.  The show was the brainchild of Riff Markowitz but it was the star, Billy Van, who was instrumental in its success.  Van, a comedian who began his show business career at the age of 12 and who was the son of Vaudeville performers, played the majority of the characters on the show from Count Frightenstein himself to Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet to Dr. Pet Vet to the Librarian (and more!).  You may be more familiar with Van’s work as a guest star on such shows as The Sonny and Cher Show, The Ray Stevens Show, and The Bobby Vinton Show.  The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was a comedy sketch show based on the adventures of the residents of Castle Frightenstein, run by Count Frightenstein, the 13th son of Count Dracula who was banished to Frightenstein because he was unable to revive his version of Frankenstein’s monster, Brucie J. Monster.  There was even a musical segment, hosted by The Wolfman, in which Igor would dance to popular music of the time.  Apparently, due to copyright restrictions, those musical segments have unfortunately been removed from the reruns currently playing but if you want to check one out, there are plenty of them out there on Youtube.  Unheard of nowadays, all 130 episodes of the show were filmed in a single 9 month period in 1971!  One special addition to the show was the appearance of Vincent Price, something that greatly increased the market for the show to include not only Canada but select cities in the United States as well.  Price did the opening and closing for each show and would at times appear within the show to recite some sort of “creepy” poem.  Ask any of us who grew up on the show and we can likely recite his opening and closing words from heart.

Count Frightenstein himself (played by Billy Van)

What is a vampire Count without his Igor? (Igor played by Fishka Rais)

And finally, once again here is Vincent Price doing the infamous closing to the show:

“The castle lights are growing dim…there’s no one left but me and him.  When next we meet in Frankenstone….don’t come alone!”


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