On January 14, Ohio television personality Barry Hobart passed away at the age of 68. Hobart served as the host of channel WKEF's Shock Theatre (also called Science Shock Theatre and Saturday Night Dead at various points during its run) from 1972 through 1985 under the name "Dr. Creep." If you were a kid growing up (or just a fan of horror movies) in the Dayton, Ohio area during the '70s or early '80s, you are likely to have heard Dr. Creep's signature "Hoo Ha Ha Ha Ha!" laugh as he hosted whatever horror movie was being featured that week. Dr. Creep was also a regular on WKEF's children's show Clubhouse 22.
Shock Theatre intro from the late '70s:
Hobart's show was resurrected in 1999 as The New Shock Theatre and aired on Ohio Public Access Television until 2005. It was during this time that I met Dr. Creep at a horror convention (hosted by another Ohio horror host A. Ghastlee Ghoul) in Ohio in 2004. He and his manager Rick Martin introduced themselves to me following the presentation of my short Lovecraftian martial arts comedy film Enter the Dagon. We hit it off and I spent a good deal of time at the Shock Theatre table, discussing horror history with them. When I left to head back home to New York, I had a DVD of The Best of Shock Theatre in my luggage. I am watching it as I write this and enjoying the silly antics of Hobart and his co-stars (some of which were puppets). It makes me wish there had been a host for the horror and sci-fi movies I watched in the Rochester, NY area as a kid during that era.
A variety of clips from the first decade of Shock Theatre:
I was pleased to read that despite his failing health and limited mobility, Dr. Creep was able to attend the HorrorHound Weekend convention this past November as the guest of honor. A classy move on the part of the convention. Hobart is remembered also as a mentor to a younger generation of horror hosts and the co-founder of the Project Smiles charity. Project Smiles, which collects toys for Dayton area children in need during the Christmas season continues to this day.