Friends, it was forty-eight years ago that lucky kids and fans of kooky monster fun were treated to The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. The Canadian produced television series presented a collection of humorous monsters and citizens based around Castle Frightenstein – located in delightfully dreary Frankenstone. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein featured the talents of Billy Van (The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour), Julius Sumner Miller (Why Is It So?), Mitch Markowitz, Guy Big (Find the Lady), Fishka Rais (Ivan Reitman’s Cannibal Girls)… oh, the beloved television series also boasted segments featuring none other than Vincent Price!
How amazing must it have been to get your day started by seeing Vincent Price obviously having a blast in that intro every morning? While I sadly did not get to enjoy The Hilarious House of Frightenstein when it originally aired – I know how excited I was to see and hear Price in his role of Vincent Van Ghoul in 1985’s The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. As I have read it online Price was able to film all of his segments that were used throughout the 130 episodes of the 1971 series in a matter of four days – in addition, much like with his role in the 1985 Hanna-Barbera animated series, the legendary actor took the role as he wanted to do something for children. It was Billy Van who performed the lion’s share of memorable characters in The Hilarious House of Frightenstein – Count Frightenstein, The Wolfman, Bwana Clyde Batty, Dr. Pet Vet, Grizelda, The Oracle, The Singing Soldier, The Maharishi, The Librarian and the voice of the Grammar Slammer. As The Wolf Man is my favorite of the pantheon of Universal Monsters – it shouldn’t be a surprise that Van’s portrayal of the disk jockey at EECH is my favorite character.
Checking out that clip of the Wolfman in action, you can also see why back in the early ’70s that The Hilarious House of Frightenstein also caught on with teenagers and college students as well as children. The great news is that while there have been stalled attempts so far at bringing the television series back – thanks to Bleak December Inc. (Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Christmas Carol, The Phantom of the Opera) – Return to Frightenstein was released as a brand new audio production featuring the talented Anthony D.P. Mann as the Count, Dr. Pet Vet, Librarian, as well as the Oracle. Mann who is director of this full-cast audio production has worked with the likes of Sylvester McCoy, David Warner, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Tony Todd among others in past productions – for Return to Frightenstein he was able to get none other than Malcom McDowell to take over Price’s role of the Host!
If you too are a fan of The Hilarious House Frightenstein you can pick up a copy on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, and more. It is an absolutely fun throwback to the ’70s television series and a worthy continuation of the legacy of those involved with the original show – of course one hopes that somehow Return to Frightenstein will be popular enough to spawn additional trips back to the castle of Frightenstein and it’s colorful cast of characters.