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The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (CHCH, 1971)

The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was a Canadian (children’s) sketch comedy television series. I’ve put children’s in brackets because the show was indeed marketed and targeted to children, but this show has become such a cult hit that even adults adore it. At the time, Frightenstein was the most ambitious TV show attempted by Canadian producers. All 130 episodes of this series were filmed over a nine-month span.

Canadian comedian Billy Van played the title character of Count Frightenstein (the 13th son of Dracula). In fact, Van played most of the characters on the show, including The Wolfman, The Grammar Slammer, Bwana Clyde Batty, Dr. Pet Vet, Grizelda, the Ghastly Gourmet (a female character), the Maharishi and The Oracle.

Other stars were Fishka Rais, who played Igor, Frightenstein’s assistant. Rais was an accomplished jazz singer. Guy Big played the Midget Count. Julius Sumner Miller was an American physicist that played The Professor. (It was he who provided much of the educational content that Frightenstein presented.) The biggest coup for Frightenstein? Landing Vincent Price. Yes, Vincent Price, the illustrious horror genre actor. Price provided most of the introductions for each segment on every show. He was attracted to the show because he wanted to do a show for children. Price and Miller’s segments were all filmed during the summer of 1971.

Frightenstein also made use of puppets. Harvey Wallbanger (the postmaster), Gronk (a purple sea serpent that interacted and interrupted a reading Count or joked with The Wolfman) and the Grammar Slammer Bammer (a large puppet that corrected Igor’s grammar).

If you are unfamilar with Frightenstein, it is definitely a show that needs to be seen to be believed. Every once in a while, Frightenstein reappears on some Canadian TV stations, like Space, TV Land or Drive-In Classics.