Sunday, May 1, 2011

Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers

It has been a tough week, dealing with my father's passing and everything that went along with it. The mourning will continue, but life does indeed go on and it's time to try to get back to being a Monster Dad for my Little Monsters.

As a result of my watching of the show Creature Double Feature on Boston's channel 56 (WLVI) when I was a kid, I tend to be a fan and supporter of the many Horror Host shows that are currently in production all over the country. Two of my favorites in this genre are the great public access shows "Saturday Fright Special" and "Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers". Part of the reason for this is because I personally know some of the wonderful people behind these two fun shows. Knowing how much of a labor of love it is to undertake something like this, I want to try to promote and support them in any way that I can. As an example, here's the Little Monster and myself back in February giving "Saturday Fright Special" a little free advertising during our trip to Walt Disney World in Florida:

"Shilling Shockers" has already completed and aired seven seasons worth of shows and they are currently working on their eighth season. They are seen on a number of public access channels around New England and elsewhere and are always looking toward expanding their reach. Both "Shilling Shockers" and "Saturday Fright Special" base their shows around movies that are in the Public Domain. These are films that can be used in shows like this without having to receive permission to use them and without having to pay to use them. To these generally less-than-stellar movies the shows will add a number of host segments that make the whole experience of tuning in to a PD movie a much more interesting one. The host segments of "Shilling Shockers" frequently follow a plot line that mirrors the featured movie (or some aspect of the movie) in some way. While they have traditionally made individual episodes that were self-contained and stand on their own, the seventh season introduced a continuing plot line that wound through several episodes. In addition to the host of the show--the witch Penny Dreadful XIII--the cast of "Shilling Shockers" also features Garou (a werewolf, and Penny's husband), monster hunter Dr. Manfred Von Bulow and Luna, "the escaped madwoman".

I don't actually get to see Shilling Shockers on TV (as I don't have cable), but do own two seasons worth of episodes on DVD sets (which "Shilling Shockers" produces and sells). In late-October 2009 I found out that the "Shilling Shockers" gang was going to be making an appearance at the studio of public access station WCCA TV channel 13 in Worcester, Massachusetts. I had recently met the cast at the Rock and Shock show at the DCU Center in Worcester earlier that month. It occurred to me that the Little Monster might enjoy meeting these characters too. And the fact that the appearance was on October 30 made it a great pre-Halloween event worth checking out.

The Little Monster was interested in making the trip, despite the fact that she wasn't familiar with the show or its cast. I showed her some segments of the show on DVD and some stuff online to give her an idea of what she was getting herself into. She agreed to go with me to go to the appearance. She put on her skeleton costume she wore that Halloween and we headed out to Worcester. On the way to the appearance she was very excited and a little nervous. the nervousness was certainly understandable--after all, how often do you get a chance to meet a witch and a werewolf? She tends to be shy around new people anyway, and was even more reticent about meeting Penny and Garou. She was scared to greet them, but DID manage to accept some Halloween candy from Garou! Candy makes for a very effective ice-breaker.

Here's my nervous Little Monster meeting Penny and Garou in 2009

And here she is on the set at WCCA TV

After we left, the Little Monster couldn't stop talking about Penny and Garou (especially Garou). We ended up watching a number of "Shilling Shockers" episodes over the next few weeks. I just had to enroll her into the show's fan club. Back in December an envelope addressed to the Monster came in the mail. She was very excited to find out that it was a Holiday card from Penny, Garou and the rest of the "Shilling Shockers" gang. They all added little personal messages and signed the inside of the card. The Little monster had recently learned to write her own name at pre-school and she ended up signing the card herself.

Here's the 2010 Holiday card from the Shilling Shockers Fan Club

And here's the inside of the card (complete with the Little Monster's autograph!)

I recently found out that Penny Dreadful and Garou were going to make an appearance at the book store Annie's Book Stop in Worcester. It was scheduled for Saturday, April 30. As fate would have it, Saturday wound up being the day of the memorial service for my father. I had told the Little Monster a couple weeks earlier that were going to the appearance, but then thought it wasn't going to happen. In the end the timing worked out so that we were able to go to the appearance after all. While the Little Monster was still her regular shy self, she didn't show any fear when meeting Penny and Garou this time. She really seemed to know them and know that there was no need to be afraid. She dressed up in her own witch costume and hat, and even brought along her Halloween Witch Barbie doll! Unlike the first time she met them, the Monster was able to comfortably pose with Penny and Garou for some photos--and even smiled in them! What a difference a year-and-a-half can make.

Garou, the Little Monster and Penny Dreadful XIII

Penny, the Little Monster and Barbie

Garou, Monster Dad, Little Monster, Penny Dreadful

The Little Monster had a great time, and I was able to catch up with Penny and Garou for the first time since last October. All-in-all it was a wonderful end to a day which had been full of stress and mourning. It was just what my aching Monster Dad heart needed!

Here's a little piece that WCCA TV13 (a local public access station that airs Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers) did about Penny's appearance. The Little Monster is featured! I hope the link works...


  1. What a wonderful article! It was hex-cellent seeing you and the Little Monster again!

  2. I love you Baby Bro and the Little Monsters are very luck to have you as well as Mrs. Schultzberg <3