The Midnight Movie Queen of Mississippi

In February, as the rest of the world shares with one another their black hearts on Valentine’s Day, we horror fiends recognize the month as honoring women of horror.

Instead of blogging about authors, artists, or feminist themed movies, I would like to take a stab at discussing horror movie hostesses.  For legions of fiends, from my generation and prior generations, we are forever haunted with the memories of ghouls, witches, and maniacs who provided commentary on the films they broadcasted.

Unfortunately, horror movie hosting has been buried alive, and left scratching at its coffin walls.  This grim fate has left its fiends, hoping for its resurrection amongst the living.  It has also left younger fiends moaning, “What’s a horror movie hostess/host?”  “Why would we need a horror movie hostess/host?”  The answers were sinfully simple and vital to midnight movie cults.

A horror movie hostess, for those fiends too young to know what one is, was a character who would introduce the movie that was being broadcasted.  Through dark humor, puns, and sarcastic jokes, they set the stage for the midnight movie.  Between commercial breaks, the hostess would return, killing the audiences with their comments about the movie as it progressed.

A horror movie hostess was needed, because sometimes, the movie they showed was so god awful that a morbid, but humorous, character was needed to seize everyone’s attention – similar to those who are not sports fans, but they tune into the Super Bowl to watch commercials and the halftime show.

Although there are plenty of evils worth screaming about, a few being Vampira and Elvira, I would like to shine the moonlight on a local celebrity, who is a veteran to hosting horror movies prior to other infamous monsters.

scarticia1

In the early 70’s, not long after Jackson’s local TV Channel WAPT debuted, the Magnolia State of Mississippi was haunted every Saturday night by a miserable, witchy character known as Scarticia. All clad in black, with expressions that glorified depression and angst, she was the perfect role model for all Mississippians who wanted a weekly dose of classic horror.

Scarticia’s broadcast, Horrible Movie, catered to films from the 1930’s -1950’s. Each Saturday night, a demographic of Mississippians would watch as she would host these movies in a tight fitting, black dress.  Although her wardrobe would best suit Morticia Addams, her face wasn’t something to write home about. Scarticia had a face with character, and let’s face it, if you were going to be a gravestone amongst other infamous haunts, you had to have character.

Scarticia was accompanied by a plethora of co-hosts, and her most utilized sidekick was a suave gravedigger known as Scoop Gravely. This duo played off of one another with one liners and catch phrases.  Some phrases included her greeting, “Good evening, animals!” And her farewell, “unpleasant nightmares.”  Such as other horror movie hostesses/hosts, Scarticia and Scoop were unafraid to shoot critical jokes toward the movies they broadcasted.

To show the impact Scarticia had upon Mississippi cult life, during the 70’s her following began having “Horrible Movie” parties.  What was once celebrated in mass quantities is now a fading gem, something that needs to be revitalized for a new era. This leaves me scratching my skull, wondering what would happen if the horror movie hostesses were released from Pandora’s Box amongst new victims.

Below are a few videos, keeping the memory of Scarticia and Scoop alive.

If there was a horror movie hostess on a mainstream broadcast, do you think they would possess the charm and following of their predecessors?

Who was your favorite horror movie hostess?

Did your state have a local horror movie hostess that you would like to shine light on?

 

Best Wishes,
Alexander S. Brown

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One Response to “The Midnight Movie Queen of Mississippi”

  1. Steve Patrick Says:

    A miracle this footage of Scarticia survived ! Recorded onto a “2 inch quad” tape in 1971 at the tv studio… it was transferred to a VHS tape in 1981. Discovered in 2010 …(thanks to “Scarticia” herself)… it was downloaded and copied onto DVD just as the tape BROKE ! There are SO many stories people share about the things they did every weekend on “Horrible Movie” here locally in central MS. It is WAY past time to give Scarticia the key to the city of Jackson… or indeed the entire state of MS . Many thanks to the talented men and woman who entertained us with these unbelievable characters every Saturday night . Too bad all the rest of that footage was lost to the sands of time. Ahhh…. memories….

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