My Interview with Wolfman Mac

Wolfman Mac and Boney Bob

An Interview With Wolfman Mac of Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema

Imagine a day when movies were not at your fingertips. A time when you couldn’t easily rent something, or find it on cable. Remember a time when you had to find the movies that would help to form the person you were to become. I want to take you back to a time when the airwaves were filled with horror hosts – local people with a passion for horror and science fiction films and a knack for showmanship. This was a time when these personalities would, portraying any number of spooky personalities, would present old movies to both the young and old with skits and jokes thrown in to add a touch of humor to what could be considered some terrible films.

The era of the horror host has long been thought dead, and with television channels turning to re-runs or infomercials to fill their late night slots, you would believe the form IS dead, I am here to tell you that the horror host is alive and well and, at least in Detroit, Michigan, is in very good hands.

Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema is the home of the titular Wolfman Mac, a friendly sort of werewolf that takes up residence in a spooky old drive in with his sidekick Boney Bob and a variety of friends and guests and each Saturday he shows another sci-fi or horror film that is often so bad it is good. Movies that may have been forgotten, but they haven’t been forgiven. Nightmare Sinema is all about paying homage to the spook shows and horror hosts of old and to provide a safe haven for families and fans to appreciate these genres anew with tongues firmly in cheek. With inspiration from Wolfman Jack, the Ghoul, and Sir Graves Ghastly, Mac Kelly and his fiends have created a unique throwback to a time when families could sit together and watch creepy films together without fear of the overt sex and violence of today’s film. With skits, cartoons, and personalized commercial breaks that are tailored to the advertiser, Nightmare Sinema has been strictly local for Detroit for the past two years but is on the verge of becoming something far bigger and more special.

At a recent convention in Flint, Michigan, I was able to sit down and interview the wolfman himself, Mac Kelly.

When did you get first involved in broadcasting?

I had my first radio job at 19. So, that was, gosh, ’85.

When did you first become interested in old horror and sci-fi movies?

Watching Sir Graves as a kid. I sent Sir Graves a picture when I was 11, the best I could draw, of Lon Chaney Jr., and he put it on television.

How did you first get started doing Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema?

Um, well, in late 2006, I had already been working for a few years as a radio DJ in Saginaw, I had been staying a few nights in Bay City, and on one of the channels a guy was showing old scary movies and I called him, Glen Kirkland, and I congratulated him on showing all those great movies and told him he needed a host. He told me that if I wanted to do it then I could but it wouldn’t pay so I went down, just me, in my radio

t-shirt, and we started hosting horror movies. One night after my radio shift I started thinking that I needed I could really do this and I needed a character, so I was at a big boy and started scribbling out ideas.

Nightmare Sinema got its start on public access airwaves – how did you move from there to broadcast television?

We started in July of 07 on public access. We did ten episodes for it.

I started shopping it around, I went to all of the stations actually, and I discovered the hard way that all of the stations charge you for the air time but Channel 20 {in Detroit} offered me a more reasonable rate and figured I could sell the advertising to make up for it and said lets do it.

What is the difference?

The difference is credibility, for one, which is not to say public access is bad but I think that when you are won real broadcast TV there is a certain expectation you have to rise to.

Did you have any inspiration to make you want to become a horror host?

{Detroit’s horror host from the seventies and eighties} Sir Graves Ghastly, and watching the Ghoul {from Ohio} and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

What does a typical shoot entail for Nightmare Sinema

Well, we have a writers meeting where we discuss the upcoming movie, and script ideas and then jut prior to shoot day we have a read through with the cast where we all sit around a table and read our lines and do blocking. And the day of the shoot we have people come in and do our set, and lighting. It takes about an hour and ten minutes to get my makeup done, and about fifteen to get it off. We start taping around seven and are done by one in the morning typically.

What is the perfect movie for Nightmare Sinema?

It has to have a mixture of spook show, and be terribly cheesy.

What’s it like meeting the fans and doing public appearances?

It is the absolutely best part of this. We all thrive on it and it’s the one thing I will say motivates us.

It s the greatest part of what we do. We’re very grateful for that.

What makes it special to be a horror host in Detroit?

Because there is as certain sort of… there’s something different in there air in Michigan, where there are people that just love scary movies and drive-ins and local television. People are just craving for local TV. And there are so many memories of Sir Graves and the Ghoul and Soupy Sales and Bozo the Clown; people are hungry to see someone bring this back.

Recently you had another host, Ormon Grimsbey from Raleigh, North Carolina, on the show, any other guests planned for appearance? Are there plans for you to visit other hosts and their programs?

I would love to have other horror hosts from other parts of the country on. I have been thinking of having them send me tapes introducing themselves and what they do so people can see that the horror host is alive and well out there.

How many people are involved in making Nightmare Sinema come together for each episode?

We have 35 cast and crew. All volunteers

What sorts of movies does Wolfman Mac show? How do you obtain them?

They are all public domain so no one owns them and we just get DVDs of them, and since there are no fees to pay, or concern over legality issues, it helps keep overhead down. We intend to break away a little bit in time but that is for the future.

How many characters are involved in the Nightmare Sinema?

About twelve characters, as well as our own version of Frankenstein’s monster

Do you have a preference for types of horror and science fiction films? Any era that you prefer?

No, because I love them all.

Any hopes that Nightmare Sinema will be picked up in areas outside of Detroit?

We are working on that right now. We are working on syndication on several different fronts.

I heard that you do commercials a little differently on Nightmare Sinema, care to elaborate on that?

Our commercials are a real throwback to how TV used to be where the characters would begin pitching a product in the middle of their skit. We build skits around someone’s product for them. So it isn’t the typical static commercial, we add something interesting to it. And we keep our prices affordable to help keep those mom and pop shops open.

The Nightmare Sinema is set in a drive-in, what do you miss about the fading drive-in culture?

Just the memories I have of going with my parents in a big station wagon – putting the back down, running back and forth to the concession stand, playing on the playground, and being in the warm night air and just watching these movies. There is an innocence there that is lost.

How did you meet the people who are involved with the show and appear as characters?

When I first started this I put out an ad on Craigslist and I said- I have an idea for a TV show but I have no equipment, I can’t pay, and have no place to film and said who is in – and I was flooded with emails. And I was introduced to people along the way, and so on and so on. And in a matter of three or four weeks I had an entire crew.

If someone had aspirations of becoming a horror host, what advice would you give them?

Be different.

Having seen a taping of your show, and how you interact with children, what do you hope kids who might watch Nightmare Sinema will get out of the show?

One of the reasons we keep the show family friendly is I don’t want the horror host genre to die with this generation. I want the generation that grew up with Sir Graves and the Ghoul to feel comfortable watching this with their kids. I know it is a lot more difficult to do something original than to copy from someone. It’s about bringing back the innocence of how things were back in the day.

How has the internet changed how you reach an audience? Do you feel it’s made the show more interactive?

Everything from our website to My Space and FaceBook and Linkd In that Sir Graves and the Ghoul never had access to. People can track me down and let me know if they loved or hated it, and it’s instant feedback.

What is your dream for Wolfman Mac and Nightmare Sinema?

I’d like to have the show in as many cities around the country as possible and I hope to be around ten to fifteen years from now, still being a wolfman.

What do you hope your legacy in broadcasting and as Wolfman Mac is?

I want people to say that I was a part of local television history

Anything else you’d like the good ghouls and boils to know about Wolfman Mac and the Nightmare Sinema?

Coming up on Nightmare Sinema – one Saturday per month we’re gonna be showcasing local horror filmmakers,’ cause no one is doing it and they are forced to show their movies to barely anyone and we will get them exposure to far more people on one night. Maybe someone will hit, you never know. There is a lot of good stuff out there. There are some limitations, but they can contact me through my emails for more information.

For much more info, and how to contact Wolfman Mac and the rest, you can head to http://www.nightmaresinema.com and get all the info you can use.

Bawooooooo

UPDATE

Wolfman Mac and  his gang can be found on RTV, the Retro Television Network that is syndicated nationwide.  The name of Mac’s show has also changed to Chiller Drive In though it is as wacky and wonderful as always.

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