Here's a Canadian TV series you may not have heard of: a twisted, dark sketch comedy show, with some educational content mixed in with the humour. It was called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
This is the premise: the main character is Count Frightenstein, the 13th son of Count Dracula, who has been exiled to Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone, Canada after failing to revive Brucie J. Monster. Each episode revolves around the Count's attempts to bring Brucie (think Frankenstein's monster with a sillier name) back to life, with various comedy sketches sprinkled through the show.
All 130 episodes of Frightenstein were originally produced in Hamilton, Ontario in 1971. The series was conceived by Riff Markowitz, a New York-born producer who grew up in Toronto.
After coming up with the basic concept, he invited a group of friends to his double suite at the Windsor Arms in Toronto, where they brainstormed ideas over spaghetti and champagne — a fittingly absurd genesis for the show.
One actor played most of the lead characters in Frightenstein. Billy Van, who died in 2003, played Count Frightenstein, Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet, the Wolfman (a radio DJ), and the Librarian, who would try to horrify viewers by reading benign fairy tales, and many others. Other cast members included Fishka Rais, Guy Big, Mitch Markowitz and Julius Summer Miller.
There was also a bona fide horror legend involved in the production: Vincent Price appeared in the opening and closing of each episode, reciting intentionally silly poetry. He also showed up to introduce some segments within the show.
Price agreed to do the show because he wanted to work on programming aimed at children. He shot all his sequences (about 400 of them) in only four days.
That tight production schedule extended to the rest of the show as well: all 130 episodes were shot in a single nine- to twelve-month period (there's some disagreement over the exact length of production, according to fan site Frightenstein.com).
In the spirit of the Halloween season, here are some great moments from the show, and a full episode. Enjoy...