Friday, November 22, 2019

The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus

The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus
Roul Haig

Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus aka Morgus the Magnificent (Sidney Noel Rideau) was a television horror host from the 1950s to the 1980s originating from New Orleans, Louisiana. Horror hosts have a long and storied history popping up in regional television all over the world, beginning with Vampira in 1954 the tradition carries on to today.

"This presidential portrait is coming along splendidly!"
In general horror hosts existed to add a little flair to prepackaged or public domain films that television stations could air for cheap while still pulling in that sweet sweet ad revenue from the commercial breaks. A horror host will usually introduce the film and offer commentary or skits interspersed at the breaks. This means that audiences see a host in action for only a few minutes at a time and that these characters are usually very broad in order to maximize their impact in such a short period of time. What happens when that same character has to carry an 83-minute film with no opportunity to take a break with either a rubber monster movie or an ad for used cars?

In the case of The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus, nothing good.

There is a plot in The Wacky World of Doctor Morgus, but the movie takes its own sweet time getting around to a kooky and extremely 1960s affair involving Morgus making a machine that can turn people into sand and back again. A tiny nation catches wind of this invention and creates a plan to sneak spies into the governments of major countries all over the world. There are a lot of tiring hijinks with spies wielding terrible phony Eastern Bloc accents doing stuff and Morgus being grotesque and oblivious to all. All this supposed comedy is smashed into your ears as well as your eyes thanks to an overbearingly zany score full of wah-wah trumpets and other comedy sounds that were already worn out by 1962.

It's still better than House of 1000 Corpses.
The scenes with Morgus and his weird inventions or him dealing with normal people just seem to go on with no end. These scenes might work fine as short skits, Dr. Morgus himself is a fun character, perfectly embodying the whole ‘monster kid’ culture that arose in the 1950s with the advent of E.C. Comics and American International Pictures, but he has very little to play against. Later Elvira would star in her own movie and the lesson seems to be learned there, a horror host centered movie not only needs a plot it also needs other decent characters to interact with.

If you’re a horror history completist or even a horror history fan, you might have some interest in The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus, just be warned it is neither scary nor funny. It might even work better to occasionally pause the film and watch 5-10 minutes of another low budget horror movie to simulate the horror host experience. It certainly can’t be worse than sitting through this film from beginning to end uninterrupted.

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