I was fortunate to grow up in a time and place where local movie hosts/programming were a norm and not the exception. In Detroit we had Sir Graves Ghastly, Count Scary, Kung Fu Theater (with the infamous Charlie Lum), the Hot Fudge Show, The Scene etc but one in particular always spoke to me the loudest…and that was The Ghoul (rip Ron Sweed).
While other horror hosts had similar threadbare budgets/minimal equipment they usually did their best to have semi-professional (if not-quite-serious) shows…The Ghoul was something else entirely: Sweed’s shows felt more like a madman had discovered a deserted tv studio and just started f*cking around until he got caught. There was a manic anarchy to his approach to horror hosting that I feel owes as much to the experimentation and lunacy of Ernie Kovacs as to the man who inspired Sweed in the first place (another Ernie-this time Anderson aka Ghoulardi). There was a gleeful pushing of conventions, boundaries, good taste and acceptable behavior on THE GHOUL show that seemed to take the beats from Anderson and Kovacs but boost the volume to eleven:
While Sweed worked mostly in Cleveland, he relocated to Detroit a few times and had his show on ALL our independent UHF channels at one point or another (often losing it after various angry letters from parents and PTA groups) but his gonzo punk-esque version of ‘let’s put on a show regardless how ghetto it might be’ REALLY resonated with the Detroit audience.
Plus, his ability to adlib on the fly at length is something I picked up from him early in life and clearly still serves me till this day:
The Ghoul would often present flicks sneered at by the critics but he’d also show future cult gems like PSYCHOMANIA, BEYOND THE DOOR, LASERBLAST etc and often would add unexpected sound fx/music* to the lack of action onscreen so you’d actually had to pay attention during the boring parts of the movies…and if you replace * with ‘riffing’ one can see how this was rather influential to me.
Sweed returned to Cleveland for the majority of the remainder of his career but Detroit loved him so much a rabid fanbase helped fund his return for a sadly only 3 ep run in 2001 but that rebooted version demonstrated that The Ghoul was still THE Ghoul:
Sweed as The Ghoul made me while growing up embrace my own personal weirdness, to let my freak flag fly, to like what I like without apology and to have fun while sharing crazy shyt with other people…sound familiar?
Plus he LOVED to blow shyt up!
Fare thee well, Ron Sweed…GeekJuice pours one out for our historical horror host homie.