The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was a Canadian children’s television series produced by Hamilton, Ontario’s independent station CHCH-TV in 1971. It was syndicated to TV stations across Canada and the USA. The producers were fortunate enough to get horror icon Vincent Price to star in introductions for the show’s various segments.
A quirky sketch comedy series that included some genuine educational content among the humor, aside from Vincent Price the show’s cast included Billy Van, Fishka Rais, Guy Big, Mitch Markowitz, Julius Sumner Miller. Van played most of the characters on the show.
All 130 episodes were made in a single nine-month span starting in 1971; the scenes with Price and Miller were all filmed within one summer. The chief character, Count Frightenstein (Van), was the thirteenth son of Count Dracula and was exiled to Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone, Canada for failing to revive Brucie J. Monster, a Frankenstein-like monster.
Assisted by Igor (Rais), an overweight incompetent, and a three-foot-tall mini-Count (Big), each episode followed the Count’s efforts to revive Brucie and featured comedy sketches. Each episode opened and closed with an appearance by the venerable horror star Vincent Price as he recited intentionally silly poetry with toy skulls and shrunken heads in the background. Price also did introductions for segments within the show.
‘The Hilarious House of Frightenstein’s cheap production values actually act in its favor and lend to the show’s B-movie charms. I think it’s safe to say that this show was responsible for me developing an interest in and a love for the horror genre. It was really the ideal introduction for a child growing up in the ‘70s – not too intense but just enough of a tantalizing taste of the macabre – albeit with a healthy dose of humor and educational content. There was nothing like it on T.V. at the time and there has been nothing like it since.’ J.D. Lafrance, Radiator Heaven
‘Two things come to mind when I watch it now, one how much fun everyone seems to be having, especially Billy Van who is amazing at ad-lib and two, how wonderfully psychedelic it all is. From Brucie’s peace sign necklace to the Maharishi to the wonderful Wolfman music sequences there is no doubt in anybody’s mind what era this came out of.’ Plaid Stallions
‘Although many Canadians and some U.S. residents hold the series as an innovative classic, it’s certainly not for everyone, so even 22 minutes of it might be heard to stomach. TV buffs who grew up in the 70s with horror hosts and monster mags will most likely find this stuff nostalgic, others will find the juvenile and sometimes tedious humor nauseating.’ George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In
We are grateful to Radiator Heaven for some of the images above