Friday, March 29, 2013

Case Study No. 0882: The Librarian of The Hilarious House of Frightenstein

The Librarian from The Hilarious House of Frightenstein
The Librarian, played by Billy Van, had the goal of frightening viewers with tales of horror. Unfortunately for me, this went right over my head as a child. Only now do I appreciate the humor of this sketch.

Isn't it odd how things stay with you subconsciously? When I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, I pictured the Hogwart's caretaker, Argus Filch in my mind very similar to the Librarian. The similarity became even stranger to me when I discovered the Librarian had a cat, Horrendous, just as Argus Filch had a cat, Mrs. Norris. I'm so glad I have the opportunity to enjoy this show again. I can't thank the people at Critical Mass Releasing Inc. enough for bringing this show back to air in Canada.
Tags: librarian hilarious house of frightenstein children's television 70s billy van
Added: 6 years ago
From: kabukiwolf
Views: 46,933

[scene opens with the decrepit male librarian (pale skin, frazzled white hair, brown dress jacket, blue shirt, black tie) accidentally knocking over a pile of books in his library, then he turns and (as if noticing the camera for the first time) motions for the audience to "follow" him as he goes to sit down in a large green chair]
LIBRARIAN: Welcome ... welcome to the library, and I am the librarian.
[cut to another shot of the librarian as he shambles towards the chair, pointing his cane at a stuffed bird perched on top of it]
LIBRARIAN: This is Polly ...
[he then points his cane at a (living) kitten sitting on the shelves behind the chair]
LIBRARIAN: And this is Horrendous.
[he motions towards the kitten]
LIBRARIAN: Hello, Horrendous ... "Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?"
[he laughs to himself, then sits down]
LIBRARIAN: Well, are you ready now for your daily session with fear?
[cut to another shot of the librarian, as he opens the book he was carrying and begins leafing through the pages]
LIBRARIAN: Oh, I have some terrifying ones for you today! And the first is entitled "Bow Wow"' ...
[he gives the camera an ominous look, then begins to read]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "Bow wow says the dog ... meow meow says the cat!"
[he looks behind him at the kitten]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "Grunt grunt goes the hog ... and squeak goes the rat!"
[he clears his throat]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "Who goes the owl ... "
[the kitten mews softly]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "Mew mew says the cat ... caw caw says the crow ... quack quack says the duck!"
[he gives the camera another "ominous" look]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "And what cuckoos say, you know ... Koo-koo! Koo-koo!"
[he laughs, then speaks directly to the camera]
LIBRARIAN: Gripping, isn't it? Yes ...
[from off camera, there is a noise from the bookshelf]
LIBRARIAN: Horrendous, behave yourself!
[he turns back towards the camera]
LIBRARIAN: The next is entitled "The Owl" ...
[he starts reading again]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he heard, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard ... Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?"
[he looks up at the stuffed bird on his chair]
[he takes his cane and pokes the bird]
[he puts the cane down, then speaks directly to the camera]
LIBRARIAN: Get ready, for here comes horror again!
[he starts reading again]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "Ding dong bell! Ding dong bell! Pussy's in the well! Who put her in? Little Johnny Green! Who pulled her out? Little Tommy Stout! What a naughty boy was that, to try to drown poor pussy cat! Who never did him any harm, and killed the mice in his father's barn ... "
[he turns the page, then speaks directly to the camera]
LIBRARIAN: And now ... and now I'm going to get you with this one! This will terrify you!
[he starts reading again]
LIBRARIAN: [reading] "Peas, porridge, hot ... Peas, porridge, cold ... Peas, porridge, in the pot nine days old! Some like it hot ... Some like it in the pot ... Nine days old!"
[he looks into the camera expectantly]
LIBRARIAN: Yes, I thought I'd get you with that! Yes, you're terrified! You're full of fear! You're ...
[he stops and gets a confused look on his face]
LIBRARIAN: You're laughing? Why do you laugh at the librarian? But never mind, I'll get you another day. And until that day, I will say ... goodbye.
[he closes his eyes, as the camera pans back]
LIBRARIAN: [quietly] Goodbye ...



The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was a Canadian children's television series produced by Hamilton, Ontario's independent station CHCH-TV in 1971. It was syndicated to television stations across Canada and the United States and occasionally still appears today in some television markets. In Canada, the series is currently airing on Space, TV Land Canada, Drive-In Classics and MTV2.

A quirky sketch comedy series that included some genuine educational content among the humor, the show's cast included Billy Van, Fishka Rais, Guy Big, Mitch Markowitz, Vincent Price, and Julius Sumner Miller. Van played most of the characters on the show.

All 130 episodes were made in a single nine-month span starting in 1971; the scenes with Price and Miller were all filmed within one summer.



Are you ready for fear? Then enter the library. Within the Librarian sketch (which is a show staple, appearing in every episode), the mock horror element of the Hilarious House of Frightenstein reaches its pinnacle. The man (played by Billy Van) is an old curmudgeon who haunts the castle library - a dark place full of antiquated volumes and dust and cobwebs by the kilo. His defining characteristic is his unique sense of the macabre, which is reflected in the choice of tales that he tells. The appearance of the Librarian is just like that of his books - ancient, wrinkled, and dusty. His costume is an old dress suit (missing only the top hat) reminiscent of a mortician's outfit from the last century. His long unkempt grey hair spills over the deeply grooved face with the fat nose and long moustache, onto his shoulders white with dust. The Librarian walks stooped over, leaning on a cane, and speaks in a deep, gravelly voice.

The Librarian sketch opens with a shot across the library, through a half empty bookshelf with a couple of stacks of books on it. The Librarian appears and knocks over one of the stacks, and the books land with a resounding whomp! He just smiles at this, and motions us to follow him. He picks up a large old volume, shuffles across the room to his high-backed chair and drops himself into it. On the way, he introduces us to Polly the stuffed bird (perched on the top of the chair), giving it a good whack with his cane; and also to his cat Horrendous, if it is prowling in the area. The Librarian cracks open the big volume, blows a cloud of dust from it, and now the fun begins. The Librarian has two loves: fables and nursery rhymes. He is quite convinced they are the most horrifying tales ever told. And evil-hearted one that he is, he wants to use them against us. He is ultimately impotent though, as the likes of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "The Tortoise and the Hare" won't scare anyone. After finishing his reading, the Librarian eagerly turns to the camera in hopes of seeing through it the horror on the faces of his viewers. He sees only smiles and laughter though (as he tells us), and this makes him crestfallen. But hope springs eternal within the heart of the Librarian, and he swears to us that he will get us next time. But for now, the Librarian grows weary ...

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