Saturday, February 2, 2013

Uncle Don's Terror Theater

As a kid growing up in De Kalb Illinois (1985-1989) I discovered a late night Television Shows that featured old horror movies.   Uncle Don's Terror Theater (which later became Uncle Don's Theater).  Every Saturday night my brothers I would pop microwave popcorn and turn to WQRF channel 39 in Rockford, IL at 10:30 pm.  His jingle would come on I knew I was in for a night of fun horror movies and hilarious parodies and hi-jinx from Uncle Don (Matt Swan).  

On top of great schlocky movies he did some comedy bits in between the movies and commercials which to me really was the whole draw to the show.  It was great fun all around! He would make even the worst horror films better.  He his shark sidekick (Sharkey) that would set up his jokes as Uncle Don knocked them down and he'd always read fan mail every week as his nephew "Ramsey" (also played by Matt Swan) would bring in the mail. 

Some of the movies I remembered he showed were War Of The Worlds, Food Of The Gods, The Dunwich Horror,  A Bucket of Blood,  Count Yorga, The Leach Woman,  King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Godzilla (all of the ones from the 50s, 60s and 70s) Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Pit And The Pendulum, The Black Cat, Murders In The Rue Morgue (pretty much most of the Universal Monster movies)....

On top of great schlocky movies he did some comedy bits in between the movies and commercials which to me really was the whole draw to the show.  It was great fun all around!

In last year the show was on it moved to Saturday afternoons and he dropped the "Terror" and just called it Uncle Don's Theater.  He had broadened the focus of the show, I remember he showed the mini-series "Shogun" which was great!

Horror movie hosts have had a bit of a resurgence with Elvira restarting her old show and Svengoolie which is currently my favorite.  But overall I've got great memories of Uncle Don!

Oddly enough Uncle Don lives in De Kalb now and is the Communication Communication Instructor at Northern Illinois University.  One of these days I'll have to get in contact with him!

Check out some of these hilarious bits from his show!


  1. I grew up in the Chicago burbs, so it was "Svengooli", "Son of Svengooli", and "Creature Features" that we watched. I definitely remember "Svengooli" and "Son of Svengooli" being on WFLD-32 (UHF), on Saturday afternoons, back then. I believe they had a late-night slot as well (a twice-a-day thing). "Creature Features" was on WGN-9, and they used a famous image of Lon Chaney, in his "London After Midnight" make-up, as their "title splash". That make-up creeped me out as a kid, with his crazy eyes and jagged teeth. It's burned into memory. "Svengooli" is still on the air after all these years, but I have not seen it in a long time (we do not have cable these days). Back then, as folks our age remember, television was still "free", with a roof antenna.

  2. ...let me add, that there was the original "Svengooli" in the 70s, then the original retired and Rich Koz became "Son of Svengooli". Eventually it once again became just "Svengooli", with Koz still playing the role (to this day). He's had some health issue recently, but still going strong, I hear.

  3. I actually get Svengoolie on a non-cable station, but reception depends on your location. I used to watch Phantom of 13 WREX 13 in Rockford as well. That was on friday nights so was usually set for the weekend.

  4. The Travel Channel is running a show on James Dean's Porsche as a cursed auto. They're interviewing Uncle Don at the Roscoe Auto Museum.