The Birth Of Shock Theater

Ron Sweed as "The Ghoul"

Influential Halloween Locals

The month of October is here again, and you know what that means. Monsters and goblins roaming our neighborhoods, late-night horror movies, wild parties, etc… However, the holiday wasn’t always like it is now. During the great depression years, Halloween vandalism was a major problem among youths. Universal, the studio known for producing famous monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula, didn’t even begin licensing their monster costumes until the 1960s. It wasn’t until after World War 2, when the 1952 Donald Duck’s “Trick or Treat” cartoon was released, that the Halloween phenomenon took root in children's minds. It wasn’t long afterwards that the candy companies jumped on the bandwagon. Scrambling to release their scariest movies during the month of October, Eventually, Hollywood studios joined in the mix. Today, Halloween is the top multi-billion dollar industry after Christmas.

What really contributes to the Halloween atmosphere that exists today was the birth of horror hosts on late-night television. In 1957, Universal Studios re released their classic horror films in a package deal to local TV stations around the country. It was Universal who encouraged the local stations, who purchased this “Shock” package, to provide a macabre host to showcase these scary films. Many of these horror hosts debuted during the Halloween month of 1957. Many of these hosts were associated with Halloween becoming local celebrates in their own right.

Here in the City of Parma and surrounding cities, we have had some of our own horror host celebrities. Late-night shows like “Shock Theater”, which aired Friday Nights on WJW TV8, had horror host “Ghoulardi” played by Ernie Anderson. Ron Sweed hosted “Nightmare Theater”, which aired on WKBF Channel 61 on Saturday nights as “The Ghoul”. Even though Channel 61 was located at St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, the station was transmitted to surrounding cities from a 1,069 foot tower located here in Parma. In addition, for ones who couldn’t stay up late, there was “Mad Theater”, which aired during the day on Saturdays. Marty Sullivan, the TV stations announcer, played, “Super Host”, whichwas broadcasted from WUAB-TV Channel 43, located right here in Parma, on Day Drive.

For those interested in learning more about the early years of horror hosts, you can catch the documentary, “The Birth of Late Night Horror”, which will air on Fridays at 8:00 PM on Cox cable, Channel 45,. Also, if you want to catch old episodes of “The Ghoul Show”, they will air on Wednesdays at 8:00 PM. For more information, you can contact Kevin at: or call: (440) 888 – 8327.

Kevin Kelly

I am a Parma resident who has lived in the city for over 24 Years. I'm also a non-profit video producer who produces national, and international documentaries for public access, private and goverment networks .

Volume 15, Issue 10, Posted 1:36 PM, 10.01.2023