Most of my earliest memories of watch TV relate to being scared. Continuing with my October theme of scary TV shows and movies, I am reminded of a television show called Fantastic Features which aired on WHBQ-TV from Memphis. I was born in 1962 and so was this show. It was a showcase for horror and science fiction films. It was hosted by a character named Sivad. Sivad is best described as a ghoul. He wore a top hat and cape. He had make-up that made him appear very pale and fangs that made him slightly difficult but not impossible to understand. Sivad was portrayed by a man named Watson Davis who worked as an advertising director for the Malco theater chain in Memphis. The name Sivad is Davis spelled backwards.
My father says that I would beg him to watch Sivad with me and I would just hide behind a chair during the show. The opening credits of the show featured Sivad riding on a hearse, creeping around in fog and opening a casket. I remember this being the scariest part of the program. I do remember hiding behind the chair during this part of the show. I don’t remember being as scared of the segments that were done in the studio. I also don’t remember being that scared of any of the movies but I’m sure this depended if they were showing something like Frankenstein or sci-fi schlock like Queen of Outer Space. I remember one of my cousins was lucky enough to have gotten to meet Sivad at one of his personal appearances. He had an autographed photo of Sivad that seemed just as scary as the opening of the show. We would take the photo to a dimly lit room, look at it and run as quickly as we could to anywhere with more light.
Fantastic Features lasted for 10 years and I watched it off and on for any of that time that I can remember. By the time I was able to really remember any of the films, they were showing more 1950’s B-movie selections than anything considered classic horror. These are the kind of movies I love to watch today. I would like to think that Sivad helped me develop my taste for these films. Even to this day, I find the opening sequence to Fantastic Features to be at least a little scary.
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