Thursday, March 31, 2016

When Jason Stalked The Movie Loft

Now here's something you never see around here anymore - a new post! I know, I know - believe me, I'm as surprised as anyone! It's totally the last thing I expected. But look, here's the thing: the big question I always have to ask myself before posting anything is - "Is this worth the time I'm putting into it?" And also: "does anyone - and I mean anyone - even care about this shit?"

The answer to both of those questions is usually "no" but in this case I'm just gonna go ahead and waste my time and post about something very few people give a rat's ass about. You see, while poking around YouTube, I came across a few clips that combine two of my favorite things: legendary Boston area TV host Dana Hersey and Friday the 13th and I felt the immediate need to document that discovery here.

Unless you lived in Massachusetts during the '80s and '90s, the name Dana Hersey will mean nothing to you. But if you were a movie buff living in Mass during that time and you had access to Channel 38 out of Boston, chances are you were a fan of the Hersey-hosted program The Movie Loft.

While most of my movie host idols as a kid were all in the cult/horror/B-movie arena - like Elvira, Commander USA, etc. - Hersey was not a genre guy. He didn't have a character or a shtick, he didn't show up in a billowing fog of dry ice, or play to the kiddie crowd with goofy puns, comedic props, or puppets. He didn't do skits.

He was just a classy middle aged guy hosting a wide variety of films five nights a week (I recall it as being a Mon-Fri show but my memory on that could be off) from within a cozy loft set outfitted with a steel spiral staircase, a wall of lopsided book shelves, a cluttered desk, and classic movie posters.

Hersey himself was always dressed like a college professor with sweaters and jackets being his go-to look and his warm voice was indelible as he dispensed trivia and insight on each Loft film.

In an age in which the fan - and even the critical - community only seems to grow more coarse and hostile all the time, I miss the days when my image of an adult movie fan was the avuncular, educated Hersey. Hersey made being a movie buff seem like a smart person's past time - even when the Loft would air a low brow pick like Friday the 13th Part II.

In our digital age, the idea of a locally hosted movie program (or, really, the idea of watching movies on commercial TV at all) seems laughably outdated - just a relic of a time when viewers were hard up for options. But yet I can't help but feel that a program like The Movie Loft nurtured a love for movies in a way that no streaming service ever could. Yes, we have countless films at our fingertips now but watching a movie in the company of a skilled host made the solitary experience of movie-watching seem like a less lonely hobby.

If you were a Movie Loft viewer, enjoy the following clips. If you never watched The Movie Loft, you still might appreciate these clips, not as personal nostalgia, but simply as a glimpse of the kind of class act that used to be the standard in broadcasting but is all too hard to find these days.


Hans A. said...

I often feel the same way as you do, Jeff, towards blogging. I do enjoy your writing and would look forward to more posts, however. I've been nostalgic lately, too, towards movie hosts. When I was a kid in the eighties, my monster-movie host was Morgus the Magnificent, who broadcasted out of a local channel in New Orleans. You can see clips of him, too, on YouTube.

Jeff Allard said...

Horror hosts were the best and every one remembers their own local host fondly. What a shame that's all just a thing of the past now. Thanks for stopping by, Hans - and thanks for the shout out to Morgus! I'll check him out on YouTube!

nancy drew said...

I loved that show and Dana. I also loved the wlvi channel 56 movies.