October 1, 2013

Ghoulish Gary Gatorbait And The Horrible Truth About Pre'Ween

Pre'Ween October 2013 logo by beingretro.com
Pre'Ween logo by beingretro.com
     Pre'Ween is a sham.

     Pre'Ween is a term I coined to describe the thirty day period preceding Halloween.  Only this and nothing more.  I programmed  a weekend long horror movie festival for the proprietor of the real Dog Farm last October, and I referred to it in the schedules as The Movies At Dog Farm Pre'Ween Picture Show.  The event took place on the weekend prior to Halloween.  It was clearly in the spirit of the approaching holiday, but it didn't actually occur on the holiday.  Pre'Ween was born.  Pre'Ween is just a made up word.

     . . . except it isn't . . .

     Just for shits and giggles I vowed to promote the notion of Pre'Ween.  I decided it would be fun to see if I could get the term accepted into the local vernacular.  Since I now have another platform in the form of this blog with which to propagate the notion of Pre'Ween, I decided I would do so this October.  I researched a bit just out of morbid curiosity to see if I could find evidence of  the term being used anywhere else . . . and dammit, I did.  Pre'Ween wasn't my creation after all.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Screamin' Jay Hawkins, not Gatorbait
     It turns out the term Pre'Ween was first used way back in the sixties - 1965, to be exact.  It was used by a local horror movie host in Gainesville, Florida who hosted under the moniker Ghoulish Gary Gatorbait for the CBS affiliate WGFL-TV.  Like many local horror hosts, Gatorbait was actually a station employee Monday through Friday (an accountant named - I shit you not - Gary Numan), and he took on the role for WGFL's Friday night horror movie broadcast.  As was usually the case with these broadcasts, he hosted movies from the Shock Theater packages that were comprised primarily of old black and white Universal movies and sold to television stations nationwide.  The character of Gatorbait was fashioned to resemble a swamp dwelling witch doctor - think Screamin' Jay Hawkins, except white and minus the nose bone.  Ghoulish Gary Gatorbait is largely forgotten now, and he's almost never mentioned in books or documentaries about the horror host phenomena.  You see, Gatorbait was abruptly pulled off the air in November of 1966, and it was Pre'Ween that was responsible for the character's demise.

WGFL logo     October of 1966 was actually the second year that Gatorbait used the term Pre'Ween on air, but it was the first that the term turned up in print ads for the his show published in the Gainesville Sun newspaper.  WGFL used the term in newspaper ads throughout the month as a marketing hook to lend a little extra pizazz to the ads and to milk Halloween for an entire month rather than just a single day.  It's clear, though, that Gatorbait used the term on air in October of 1965, prior to its use in the station's marketing.

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
The arrival of the Great Pumpkin, the end of Gatorbait
     All was well until the station attempted a cross promotion and requested that Gatorbait promote the upcoming premiere of a Halloween special called It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on his own show.  Presumably, the powers that be felt that the Monster Kids who were staying up late on Fridays to watch Frankenstein and Dracula would likely be interested in a Halloween themed animated special, as well.  The special was set to air on Tuesday, October 27, and Gatorbait promoted its debut throughout the month.  It was during his final broadcast before the premiere that he raised the ire of a local church affiliation by likening Pre'Ween to the church's observance of Advent.  Without realizing it beforehand, he had inadvertently equated the month of preparation before the celebration of the birth of Christ to the month of preparation before the celebration of  the arrival of a cartoon pumpkin.

     Public outcry was swift and merciless, and even though he apologized on air the following week, the damage had already been done.  WGFL was anxious to quickly put the bad publicity to rest, and Gatorbait's show was replaced with reruns of The Honeymooners.  Ghoulish Gary Gatorbait vanished into obscurity, as did the notion of Pre'Ween.

     That, friends, is the horrible truth about Pre'Ween.  That's the whole story.

     . . . except it isn't . . .

     Carl at The Info Zombie has discovered that the history of Pre'Ween can be traced back even further than this sad chapter.  Click the link for the rest of the story.


Pre'Ween 2013 logo

1 comment:

  1. This justifies me having my Halloween decor out early! Happy October, Brandon, and to everyone at the Dog Farm!


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