‘Creature Features’ host tells all

Television horror-show hosts are a dying breed. John Stanley, host of the hit TV show “Creature Features” on KTVU from 1979 through 1984, knows that, but doesn’t let it stop him from publishing horror history books and appearing at sci-fi and horror conventions.

The title of his newest book — “I was a TV Horror Host,” printed in blood-dripping type — is a throwback to old horror films such as 1957’s “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” Such films have always been Stanley’s passion and were what drove him to become “Creature Features” host following the legendary Bob Wilkins.

Stanley, 67, watched the films while growing up. He also reviewed them as an entertainment writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he worked for 33 years. During his Saturday-night slot for “Creature Features,” Stanley told anecdotes about the films and interviewed their actors and directors.

“He is a walking dictionary of all the films and all the people that were part of the films," said Tom Wyrsch, a longtime fan of the show who created a scrapbook about Wilkins and Stanley. “It’s amazing — you can ask him about any film out of the blue and he pretty much knows what the story was about and who directed it.”

Stanley, who lives in Pacifica, has carefully studied the genre, which began in the 1950s and died off with the arrival of VHS technology in the mid-1980s.

“It was something that had a time and place in media history,” said Stanley with a sigh of regret.

“I was a TV Horror Host” is a semi-autobiographical book that includes many stories on the celebrities he encountered such as Lucille Ball, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Ray Bradbury and Jimmy Stewart.

Smiling at the thought, Stanley explains, “I’m the first so-called horror host to write a so-called autobiography.”

Stanley will be signing copies of “I Was a TV Horror Host,” Nov. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Borders Books in Stonestown Mall, San Francisco.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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