Updated: Oct 3
Written by Greg Martin at Friday Fright
Pizza...check! Root Beer...check! Popcorn...check! It's another Friday night and the local creature feature is about to begin.
How many of us that grew up in the 50's and 60's spent our Friday or Saturday nights glued to the TV? Everything seemed to revolve around this one event. It was good clean fun and something I missed after growing up. My only son was growing up with late night offerings like Dateline...and the Shopping Channel. Something had to be done.
The kernel of an idea started forming in the back of my head. The idea was easy enough. Get a bunch of old movies, slap on some goofy make-up and act silly between breaks in the movies. But after getting turned down by 3 local TV stations because of "network obligations," it became clear...it's not that easy!
Enter the local cable company and a glimmer of hope. They agreed to give us the air time as long as they could sell sponsorships to defray movie rights and production costs. All we had to do was create something that viewers wouldn’t tune away from. That meant a great idea including all the actors, scenery, costumes and scripts! What happened to a little make-up and acting silly? This was beginning to look like WORK! In fact, my wife and I had to create our own production company, Grail Productions, to oversee the process.
Now for the host(s) idea. Mad scientist? Been done. Ghoulish specter? Oh yeah, been done. Girl in skimpy outfit…been done, but hey! Hard to pass up. A little more brainstorming and we had the premise.
Friday Fright with Ravena the Goddess of Stonehenge and her faithful companion Anok! Ravena is a Princess of questionable origin, while Anok was her not quite bright mute dwarf nursemaid turned protector. Ravena has been asleep for over a thousand years, a spell cast on her by an evil sorceress. Now she awakes!!! (Can this get any cornier?) ((Just wait…))
So now to the talent search. Do you know that people in a small town think you’re a bit lecherous when you say you’re doing a talent search? And of course we were looking for a tall, beautiful, buxom blonde! So where did this Lana Turner wanna be come from? A local burger joint waiting tables. My wife pointed her out and said, “There she is!”
Low and behold…indeed, there was what we had spent the last 3 months looking for. 5 feet, 8 inches of teased blonde hair, a winning smile and of course curves where they ought to be. She had a way of making all her customers smile and feel good. Not a lick of acting experience but a ton of charm and the brass to give it a try. To answer the question on everyone’s mind, YES! She thought I was hitting on her when I said I was going to make her a star…and would you please take your clothes off and put on this skimpy little outfit? Right!
Now we had our Ravena and I would be Anok! Costumes and sets still needed to be built, scripts written, sponsorships sold and a source for the classic old movies found. Funny thing about old movies…you’d think that you could find them everywhere and you can if you just want a poor quality VHS tape to watch at home, but broadcast rights is something completely different. You have to have a good quality copy in a broadcasting format…not VHS. But in the end, the lights came up and the director yelled, “Action!” Ain’t life sweet?
For 26 weeks, we shot 2 episodes every other week. In between, we’d read script ideas and do a few public appearances in character. Still the word was not spreading as fast as we wanted and after the initial 26 weeks, we figured while the shows ran in reruns, we’d beat the streets for more sponsors and more viewership. Then came the big blow. An ownership change at the cable company and we’re out the door! Easy come…
The show was rebranded, recast and resold twice since then but between investors and the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the show has been sitting on a shelf for almost 20 years but then along comes The Film Detective! We are excited about the opportunity to be a part…and who knows…if you love the show enough and want to see more, the possibilities are endless. Just make sure you let the great folks at The Film Detective know you want more Friday Fright!
Greg Martin retired from broadcasting after 40 years. He’s currently living in SE Washington State with his wife of 41 years and is working on a pirate themed short film, playing his keyboards and enjoying the grandkids!
Catch the late night classic Friday Fright - every Friday night in October @ 10 PM ET on The Film Detective live channel or stream anytime on The Film Detective app!