Z is for Zacherley, the legendary horror host of SHOCK THEATER fame, and in THE Z FILES the story of his uncanny career is uniquely told almost entirely via archival material. Feast your eyes, glut your soul on --
VINTAGE NEWSPAPER AND MAGAZINE ARTICLES!
HANDWRITTEN NOTES AND TYPEWRITTEN SCRIPTS FROM HIS TV HEYDAY!
“CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE CRYPT”!
SCORES OF SCARY PHOTOS!
They're all from Zach’s personal collection, unseen by human (and inhuman) eyes for more than 50 years. It’s a coolish, ghoulish Transylvanian treasure trove you must Z to believe!
John Zacherle isn't a name that every Book Points reader will recognize because his claim to fame was as a star on local TV stations, first in Philadelphia and then in New York, starting in the late 1950s. In Philly he was the on-camera host of late-night horror movies under the name Roland, and subsequently in New York he had the same duties but called himself Zacherley. “Zach” emceed the TV debuts of many of the Universal horror classics, from Dracula (1931) on up, doing schtick between reels and sometimes even interjecting himself into the movies. He cut a simultaneously spooky and silly figure with his ghoulish white face, frock coat and loud, exaggerated laugh, but the activities in which he engaged on his dark, dungeon-like set were all for fun: attempting to dig to the center of the Earth, singing opera, etc. His brand of fearsome fun helped make the Universal chillers (and other monster movies) ratings hits in their late-night slots.
Rich Scrivani, who first met Zach in the mid-1960s and later reconnected with him, wrote about the TV horror host and their friendship in the now out-of-print 2006 book Good Night, Whatever You Are: My Journey with Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul; and now with the help of warhorse Tom Weaver he has provided the follow-up, The Z Files: Treasures from Zacherley’s Archives (BearManor softcover, $19.95).
The Z Files tells the story of Zach’s showbiz career in an unusual way: by reprinting scores of vintage newspaper and magazine articles published back in his heyday. It begins with reviews of a 1954 play in which Zacherle, then new to acting, appeared, and continues on through his Roland and Zacherley movie-hosting days and even Disc-O-Teen, an American Bandstand-type series from the mid-1960s; Zach, still doing his Mad Transylvanian bit, was the ringmaster amidst garage bands and dancing girls.
Besides the articles, there are a lot of other ephemera sprinkled throughout: ads for personal appearances, his contract with WABC, hate mail from horror movie fans who disliked his mood-disrupting antics and had to get it off their chests, etc. This part of the book is followed by reproductions of several of his (typed) horror-hosting scripts and (handwritten) notes and prop lists, and then there’s a “Photo Ghoullery” with pics of Zach at various functions and conventions that brings him right up to the present day.
Casual fans can read some of the livelier clippings and enjoy all the photos while readers with a greater devotion to the Cool Ghoul will savor every last page; what was designed as a scrapbook can actually be read as though it were a career bio (the many articles about his professional life are arranged in chronological order). It’s hard to read (or even browse) the book without a smile; the light, spoofing tone of most of the articles and the outrageous photos are an effective one-two assault on the funnybone. Photo-wise, just for starters, there are shots of Zach in a coffin being carried by college students, running amok in his lab, dancing with high-school beauties, swinging on a swing, posing with “monsters” (fans in costume) at various conventions—and even a lot of pictures of the man contending with a large duck. A LOT of pictures of Zach and the duck. The book is even dedicated to the duck!
In short, The Z Files achieves its goal by being as weird, wild and woolly—and uninhibited--as Zach himself. It’s a perfect tribute.
- Classic Images
"A must for all devotees of Horror Host history... [It's] authoritative, entertaining and archivally of immense value."
- Video Watchdog
"This makes it a great scrapbook for fans of Zacherley’s, as well showing how much fun putting together a low-budget show. For those curious about the backstage of one of those old-fashioned monster shows, there is some great insight given here."
- Portland Book Review