LETTERS  PCR #190      (November 10--16, 2003)

•  John Lewis's update on "Creature's Corner"
•  ED Tucker on "Professor Paul Bearer II"
•  Will Moriaty on on "Professor Paul Bearer II"
•  Derrek catches Terence...
•  ....or Does He?
•  Last word from Derrek

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.

Hello Gang:
It's been a rough one here in the "Castle" for the last week and a half. Somebody left the lower catacomb gates open and several Gremlins leaked into the castle. The major damage was to our computer's internet connection; IT DOESN'T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I'm on another computer but I've got to be quick. I'll be back next week with a full report of Screamfest.

Anyway, new on the comic front; CONAN, he's back and Dark Horse has got him. Kurt Busiek, Cary Nord, Dave Stewart, and Richard Starkings have taken on everyone's favorite barbarian hero. And the best part is (drum roll please) this one-shot is only .25 cents. So run out and get one, TODAY!

Also just in is the long awaited Legion Companion. This is TwoMorrows Publishing's history of The Legion Of Super Heroes, everyone's favorite thirtieth century super-hero group. It looks to be a fun ride. I have my copy and look forward to diving in this weekend.

Have a Great Week. C-Ya!!!

John (The Creature from Clearwater) Lewis


Thank you for the video clip of "Professor Paul Bearer II" from Channel 10. (Re: "Professor Paul Bearer II" in last week's PCR, but I also sent out the entire 5-minute TV segment to a few on my mailing list as a compressed movie file.--N) I have to confess my amusement at the newscaster's blatant insincerity over the whole thing. First she claims to be a fan of the original Dr. Paul Bearer, having grown up watching the show with her brother, then she proceeds to not be able to tell the difference between the original clips and the new ones! She couldn't even remember if the show was on Saturday mornings or afternoons. There is a true fan for you! I hope she does a better job with the weather.

This appears to be an interesting and heartfelt tribute to Dick Bennick's Dr. Paul Bearer character but I have to wonder what the ultimate goal is for the project. If the intent is to launch a new horror host program then I believe it may be misguided. From a practical standpoint, I think it is obvious that the concept of this type of program belongs to a kinder and gentler time and is essentially dead these days. In the near decade since Dick Bennick's demise, the only sustained host style program I can think of is Mystery Science Theater 3000 and that was really an anomaly unto itself.

Toward the end of his life, Dick Bennick complained openly about the lack of respect that Channel 44 gave him and it was really only the devotion of his fans and the sheer apathy of the station that kept him on the air. Nowhere is this more evident than in the meager tribute 44 did for him to commemorate his 20th anniversary and later cannibalized to make the even more inadequate memorial they did for him the Saturday following his death. Keep in mind that these tributes were to honor a man who had spent over 20 years at Channel 44 providing an incredibly popular product as well as doing fundraisers and promotions that benefited the station. Had Dick Bennick not passed away when he did, I think the days of him hosting a program would have been numbered anyway. The show had already been cut down to one film, was often preempted, and was becoming saddled with movies that had nothing to do with the horror, science fiction, or even the fantasy genres. The facts certainly point to Channel 44 putting the program on the fast track to cancellation city.

Speculations aside, Channel 44 did pull the plug on the show immediately after Dick Bennick died and has made no attempt to revive it or any similar concept in the ensuing eight years. No other Tampa television station has made any bid for the audience that Creature Feature catered to and the few national attempts and revivals that have occurred have all folded faster than Superman on laundry day. Worse still is the fact that no channel I am aware of, local or national, shows classic horror movies on any sort of regular basis. This past Halloween was the worst in recent memory for being able to catch the classic fright films, like the Universal catalog, but AMC certainly made a point of running the inferior Halloween sequels into the ground.

While it is difficult to tell from the sparse information offered in the newstory, this project could be walking the fine line between tribute and merchandising ploy. Unfortunately a market base that is unwilling to watch a program for free is even less likely to pay any money for related products. Dr. Paul Bearer only had one licensed product available during his long run, a well-produced set of trading cards that still gather dust on comic store shelves to this day. Unfortunately, it was too little at too late a point in his career to spark off the merchandising campaign that might have succeeded years earlier.

I consider myself to be one of Dr. Paul Bearer's greatest fans and while my admiration may not approach the infatuation level of some people, I would certainly love to see any project related to him succeed. I have to view this with an unbiased sensibility though, when comparing this project with current trends. Someone new may be lurking for us but I think it is going to very interesting to see how many people really care.

- ED Tucker


PCR Readers,
There could be a major mass of turbulence for die-hard fans of the original Dr. Paul Bearer brewing on the horizon.

In what could be the continued legacy of one of the world’s longest running fright show hosts (twenty-two years from 1973 to 1995 in the Tampa market alone), there is a move afoot by Mr. Jason Thomas to resurrect the good Doctor’s persona through the creation of “Professor Paul Bearer II”.

Seasoned readers of this column have expressed to me what can only be described as their high reverence for the character that radio and television personality Dick Bennick originally breathed into life at WGHP TV in Greensboro, North Carolina and then introduced to audiences in the Tampa Bay area on WTOG Channel 44’s “Creature Feature” in October 1973.

The reverence and adoration that Bennick instilled in those generations of viewers fortunate enough to have witnessed his dynamic and quirky nature during the Saturday evenings and afternoons of their younger life was most certainly well earned.

Of all of the columns I have published, none evokes more profound emotion and wonderful memories from my readers than the articles about Dr. Paul Bearer. I have received both lengthy and touching letters from the likes of fans such as Andy Lalino, ED Tucker and John Lewis.

Now the Dr. Paul Bearer fan community is faced with what could be a new challenge to their paradigm - - is Mr. Thomas’s attempt to air a fright show whose character is based on the legendary Florida icon a cheap and exploitive rip-off or an honor of the highest degree to the memory of Dick Bennick and his creations?

Undoubtedly there will be divisions on both sides of this issue by the Paul Bearer faithful.

I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Thomas’s attempt is something that I support and embrace.

Television has devolved into a pop culture wasteland as of late. It is fraught with moronic and chintzy “reality” programs, and is basically on life support from an artistic and quality standpoint. It has now totally earned the nickname, the “boob tube”.

A locally-produced fright show is desperately needed, regardless of concerns that such an attempt might not be successful in today’s media marketplace.

Although a totally original fright show host concept would be more desirable, Professor Paul Bearer II is certainly better than nothing - - and that’s exactly what we have in this TV genre right now.

For more information on Professor Paul Bearer II, link to www.paulbearerproductions.com

William Moriaty


Terence says in his obit to Elliott Smith (Re: The Digial Divide, PCR 188.--N), "For instance his influence is felt in bands like The Shins and its [sic] arguable that Bright Eyes wouldn't even exist without albums like Figure 8."

From the UBL bio on Bright Eyes: Bright Eyes' first two albums, A Collection of songs written and recorded between 1995-1997 and Letting Off the Happiness were released in 1998.

Figure 8 by Elliott Smith was released in 2000.

Derrek [Carriveau]

I've already responded to Derrek personally, but I wanted to share this exchange with my readers to show there is a screwy teamwork involved here, despite all the egos. The misspelling of "its" as opposed to "it's" is my fault, I'm the sleepy-eyed editor and it got past me. I forwarded the letter to Terence for comment on the release dates and here's how he replied to me originally:

<<<< Yeah, um, I forgot to put that something in that sentence. It was my fault. It should read........"For instance his influence is felt in bands like The Shins and it's arguable that Bright Eyes' Lifted wouldn't even exist without albums like Figure 8." >>>>

WOOPSY! Heh, heh. OK, so he can and will admit a mistake on the super-rare occasion it happens. I went back and made the corrections (so don't bother bookmarking that Digital Divide). I figured that was put to rest. Figured wrong. Terence has something else to add...---Nolan

Yes Derrek,
Thanks for your input, you helped us all to notice a typo. What you failed to do was catch me slipping. Bright Eyes indeed did record before Figure 8's release, but in my opinion it is plainly obvious that his music didn't sound the way it does now, on Lifted, until after the release of Figure 8. Bright Eyes is obviously influenced by Smith, who was recording since 1994 (Smith was in the band Heatmiser previously) and took the same steps that Smith did in furthering his music.

So yes, you caught the typo, but you didn't catch me. Nice try, but no cigar, bucko.

Enjoy, in Hell
Terence Nuzum

Hey kids,
I really wasn't trying to point out the typo. I put the [sic] in there, because, well, that's what you're supposed to do. I do the news section of Legion all the time and don't usually have someone else look at it first, so I notice all kinds of mistakes later on. A few weeks ago I write that my folds [sic] had their dog put to sleep, instead of my folks. It's a crazy world we live in. I guess my point was Terence is the first one to start pointing fingers at that kind of thing (back to the Bright Eyes comment), so I had a little fun at his expense. Like I wrote to Nolan, just giving him some grief. I also said that I hoped he would take it well, but I didn't think he would. It seems I was right. Then again, Terence has never shown any semblance of a sense of humor, so I wasn't really going out on a limb.

Hoping the stay in Hell is as much fun as the way,
Derrek Carriveau
Editer [inside joke] Legion Studios, Inc.

To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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