MR. LOBO AND THE TOTALLY FAKE GHOST BUSTERS
Part 3: Saturday Matinee to Saturday Morning to Saturday Night Live
To coincide with CINEMA INSOMNIA’S HAUNTED HOUSE SPECIAL premiering on ROKU Halloween Night via ZOM-BEE TV, MR. LOBO was asked to share some of his comedic influences. In parts 1 and 2 of this extremely nerdy article we looked at the somewhat unfair status of “the one, the only, the original” GHOSTBUSTERS(1984).
AYKROYD and RAMIS were doing the same thing LOU SCHEIMER and NORM PRESCOTT of FILMATION were doing in 1975 with their version THE GHOST BUSTERS continuing a great American Comedy mainstay of ‘busting ghosts’. This tradition was particularly rich in the 40′s with the films of THE BOWERY BOYS who were influenced by many other comedy teams like ABBOTT and COSTELLO in HOLD THAT GHOST and OLSON AND JOHNSON in GHOST CATCHERS.
Going into the 1950′s, a producer director who worked with THE THREE STOOGES, EDWARD BERNDS had THE BOWERY BOYS re-enacting borrowed gags from STOOGES and transformed them into lucrative kiddie-matinée fodder and found a new generation of fans when the films were repackaged and syndicated for TV in the Sixties and Seventies. Often used to fill up the early-afternoon time-slots on weekends, kids of the 70′s like MR. LOBO were getting a major dose of 40′s shlock and slapstick comedy.
Excessive violence in Saturday cartoons was a hot topic and by 1969 JONNY QUEST and SPACE GHOST were canceled because of pressure by concerned parents groups, most notably ACTION FOR CHILDREN’S TELEVISION(ACT). Just like when THE COMICS CODE was enforced in the 50′s, this was the perfect storm for nostalgic clean-cut fun to make another come-back. When horror magazines like TALES FROM THE CRYPT were banned by outraged parental groups, funny books like ARCHIE reigned supreme and in 1969 it’s video counterpart THE ARCHIE SHOW by FILMATION–with it’s #1 hit bubble-gum pop song by RON DANTE “SUGAR SUGAR”–was a powerhouse. Eager to build upon this success, CBS asked Hanna Barbara for a cartoon featuring teens who solved mysteries–as a cross between the popular I LOVE A MYSTERY radio programs of the 1940s and THE ARCHIES and that it couldn’t be “too scary”.
They developed the show to focus on the lighter elements and especially the comedy-duo of the cowardly SHAGGY(Jughead) and SCOOBY(Hot Dog), who are more motivated by hunger than any desire to solve mysteries, save for a BOB HOPE-inspired tendency towards temporary bravery, due to the peer pressure of the other teenaged members of Mystery, Inc., FRED(Archie), Daphine(Betty), and VELMA(Veronica). Like the BOWERY BOYS leave the malt shop to bust a ghost, monster, or other supernatural creature causing trouble that is actually an elaborate hoax, and—often with the help of a RUBE GOLDEBERG-inspired trap designed by Fred—they capture the villain and unmask him.
Although many critics claim DOBIE GILLIS(which was also influenced by THE ARCHIES) inspired SCOOBY DOO, MR. LOBO believes I LOVE A MYSTERY, THE ARCHIES, and ENID BLYTON’S FAMOUS FIVE(1942) books–that featured four youths with a dog busting a hoax–were the template. 40′s nostalgia to please concerned parents.
It premiered opposite another teen mystery-solving show, ABC’s THE HARDY BOYS by FILMATION and buried it at the bottom of the ocean with 65% share of the TV ratings.
HANNA-BARBERA and its competitors produced several animated programs also featuring teenaged detectives solving mysteries with a pet or mascot of some sort, including JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS(1970), FUNKY PHANTOM(1971), THE AMAZING CHAN AND THE CHAN CLAN(1972), GOOBER AND THE GHOST CHASERS, SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH and THE GROOVIE GOULIES.
Tucker ironically played a human character named “KONG”–from KING KONG(1933), while Storch played ZOOT-SUIT-wearing “SPENCER” and Burns was credited as TRACY the Gorilla’s “trainer”–taken from the famous actor SPENCER TRACY. A Tape recording of MR. ZERO(voiced by co-producer LOU SCHEIMER)explained their mission at the start of the show in a parody of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Their investigations would invariably take them to the same spooky old mansion, and after a series of chases and pratfalls the Ghost Busters would send the ghost back to the afterlife with their Ghost Dematerializer.
Meanwhile, by the late 70′s and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alumni DAN AYKROYD and JOHN BELUSHI where a new breed of comic duo. Appearing together in THE BLUES BROTHERS, 1941, and NEIGHBORS, Aykroyd’s Fascination with the paranormal lead him to write a vehicle for himself and Belushi.
We’re told the original story, GHOSTSMASHERS as written by Aykroyd, was wildly different from what was eventually filmed. The GHOSTSMASHERS dressed like futuristic riot-cops with witch wands and traveled through time, and other dimensions in space combating bizarre ghosts like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man–which DID make it into the film .
But ultimately, the movie was shaped to follow the tied and true premise of professional paranormal “exterminators” from THE BOWERY BOYS SPOOK BUSTERS(1946). And Like THE BOWERY BOYS ghost movies–the fantastic is grounded in the urban setting of New York. Even “working class American” names of the GHOST BUSTERS seem BOWERY BOYS-LIKE.
EGON SPENGLER, WINSTON ZEDDMORE, RAY STANTZ, and PETER VENKMEN would fit right in with ALOYSIUS MAHONEY, HORACE DEBUSSY JONES and LOUIE DUMBROWSKY .
Our “Totally Fake-Ghost Buster” characters in this weeks CINEMA INSOMNIA HAUNTED HOUSE SPECIAL don’t quite have the same ring…MR. LOBO, SHERIFF BRONSON CANYON, DOCTOR RUMMAGE GOODWILL, PROFESSOR EX-EXORCIST, VINNY PRICE TAGGE, and KOGARELLA but their influences will be apparent when you see it!
(To Be Continued in MR. LOBO AND THE TOTALLY FAKE GHOST BUSTERS Part 4, ” I Aint Afraid of No Ghost Busters”)
This HALLOWEEN NIGHT at 8PM be in front of your TV with your favorite snacks and watch MR. LOBO in a REAL HAUNTED HOUSE with his own hilarious group of “Paranoid Investigators” comprised entirely of fellow TV HORROR HOSTS. If you haven’t yet already, treat yourself to a ROKU streaming player for connected TV and add the ZOM-BEE TV channel for FREE classic and new horror thrills!