Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.
Other than LeBron James, the only thing significant about Cleveland, as we know, is GhoulardiFest, happening as an apres-Halloween treat this weekend in the only place it could happen - Parma.
It's virtually impossible to imagine North Coast culture without channel 8's Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson, who, as host of WJW-TV's "Shock Theatre," put on a garishly phony goatee and Fu Manchu mustache and spiced up B-grade horror and sci-fi flicks for insomniac viewers in beatnik-comic fashion for a few brilliant years there in the mid-1960s. The silver-tongued announcer, unrecognizable in his fright-wig disguise, would do blackout comedy bits (some including a young sidekick named Tim Conway), sound effects, songs and the catchphrases. "Turn blue!" "Stay sick!" "Ovaday!" "Dorrrothy..." And offscreen his family grew to include filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (MAGNOLIA and othes).
Ernie Anderson left Cleveland to find national renown in Los Angeles as an ABC-TV announcer (he also put out a series of classic audio comedy LPs with Tim Conway). But Cleveland never forgot, especially with TV host-successors such as Charles "Big Chuck" Shodowski and Ron "The Ghoul" Sweed carrying on the tradition. About a dozen years ago the GhoulardiFests began, as a local-TV nostalgia expo and tribute
The 2014 GhoulardiFest takes place at the LaVilla Party Center at 11500 Brookpark Road, with a galaxy of VIP guests. The festival is a weekend of special guests, small-screen, big-screen and media nostalgia, with an emphasis on the Ghoulardi-grade brand of science-fiction, comedy, fantasy and horror cinema.
Tim Conway himself will pay a return visit. Actress Dee Wallace, best known for E.T. - THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL and THE HOWLING is also coming in. Arch Hall Jr., a B-movie lead whose notorious career included the likes of WILD GUITAR and THE SADIST will perform with his band. Big Chuck, sidekick John "Li'l John" Rinaldi, Houlihan, Dick Goddard, Son of Ghoul, and other special guests from inside and outside of town will be present, as well as movie and comic-book memorabilia dealers, film screenings, pumpkin carving, pizza-eating contests, live recreations of famous TV sketch material and more. Live musical entertainment includes the Rat Pack tribute act Frank and Dean.
Hours of GhoulardiFest are Halloween Friday, Oct. 31, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 2, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 at the door for adults, with a $30 weekend pass. For more information go to www.theghoulardifest.com.