If you grew up anywhere near Detroit in the seventies and you liked cheesy b-rated horror movies, then you probably remember the Ghoul. The Ghoul appeared on WKBD-TV Channel 50 in Detroit on Saturday nights starting at 11:30.
The Ghoul, Ron Sweed, smoking a cigarette, clad in a blue lab jacket, fright wig that he constantly adjusted, a pair of sunglasses with one lens missing, a big black mustache and goatee was part of my Saturday routine for years. I loved the Ghoul because he always seemed a little crazy and I never knew what he was going to do next and I couldn’t wait to see each week’s show.
The Ghoul played by his own rules and they changed constantly. Ron Sweek tells a story about early days in the show’s history. The Ghoul wasn’t getting the reactions that he had hoped for. So, in one show, he had a garbage can filled with 16 mm film scraps. He told the audience, “Remember last week’s movie? That was an A1 bomb. And here it is, in the Ghoul’s Golden Bowl of Garbage and I’m going to obliterate so we don’t have worry about it.”
The next thing we saw was the Ghoul tossing lit M-80s into the garbage can. The garbage can lid stuck to the ceiling but he got the reaction he had been looking for. From that point forward, firecrackers and M-80s would become a Ghoul mainstay. The Ghoul blew up Froggy, Cheez Whiz, rubber turkeys, pumpkins, apples and toys of all kinds.
He used sound effects like blood curdling screams from movies and, of course, the sound of a flushing toilet.
In his Halloween 1974 show, he used a toilet prop for an apple bobbing skit.
His sidekick, Froggy, was a frequent victim of the Ghoul’s explosive antics.
There was a bit where the Ghoul took a power drill and drilled Froggy through the head and spun Froggy around at 3000 RPMs. As we watched the spinning Froggy, you could hear the Ghoul laughing the whole time.
Don’t worry. Froggy wasn’t a real frog. The Ghoul must have grown up with Andy’s Gang form the fifties because that’s where Froggy made his debut. Froggy made his entrance from a cloud of smoke after the audience yelled, “Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy.” Froggy would appear and say, “Hiya, gang, hiya, hiya, hiya.” Of course, the Ghoul was the voice of Froggy.
Cheez Whiz was another regular Ghoul prop. One of my favorite skits featured the Ghoul, dressed in a turkey costume. He stuffed a rubber turkey with Cheez Whiz, a dirty sock, potato chips, kielbasa and pizza. Then, he lit an M-80 and stuffed it in the turkey and, kablooy. Rubber turkey, Cheez Whiz, potato chips, kielbasa and pizza flew everywhere.
The Ghoul had something about Parma which is a town or suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Whenever the Ghoul mentioned Parma, the polka song “Who stole the kishka,” started playing. Every once in a while, the Ghoul would remind us that Parma spelled backwards is AMRAP—which he would say slowly with the voice echo sound effect so it sounded like AAAMMMMRAAAAPPP.
I loved the Ghoul’s catch phrases. He had so many of them. Another one of my favorites was “Scratch glass, turn blue.” A lot of his sentences would be laced with, “overdey.” Many of these found their way into my vocabulary when I was young.
I looked forward to every Saturday night when the Ghoul was on from 1971 to 1975. Every Saturday afternoon, I rode my bike down to a little take-out store near where I lived in Cadillac, Michigan where I would buy a bottle of red cream soda and cheese popcorn. That was my Ghoul show snack. My parents would go to bed and I hunkered down in my dad’s recliner, opened my cream soda and cheese popcorn and watch the Ghoul.