Harry Metz loves what he does.
The 68-year-old man from Grindstone, a horror host, has been donning his Grim Reaper outfit to become the Spooky Specter for a few decades now.
He hopes enough of his fans love what he does too, and this is the year he will be inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame, joining Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, Vampira, cast members of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” The Cryptkeeper from “Tales From the Crypt” and Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille of Pittsburgh.
The official Horror Host Hall of Fame began in 2010 and is sponsored by Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums and is part of the annual horror host convention, The GOTHIC Gathering. The Hall of Fame permanently commemorates the living, the dead (and the undead) who have made major contributions to the world of horror hosting. This includes a person or character with a national or local television or web program that presents and shows horror movies as well as various skits.
Once the nominees have been selected (Spooky Specter from Metz is one of them), the inductees of the year are chosen by online voting.
“I hope everyone comes out and votes for their favorite, and I hope I’ll be one of them,” Metz said.
Her early experiences with horror hosting came courtesy of Cardille, whom Metz calls her “hero.”
“When I was very young, I used to watch Chilly Billy,” Metz said, recalling how he snuck off to watch Cardille’s “Chiller Theater” after his parents forbade him to.
In the late 1970s, Metz met Cardille through a cousin who had her sign autographs at his business every Halloween. Cardille made a life-changing offer to Metz: “He would let me do his show a dozen times and play different characters.”
That’s exactly what Metz and his wife Diane have done, appearing at the Chiller Theater several times. Metz was hooked, but when Cardille’s show ended in the early 1980s, he knew his life had to go on. Metz worked in the steel mills until they closed and eventually decided to go back to school to earn a degree in business administration.
It was at the University of California, Pennsylvania in the early 1990s that the Spooky Specter was created for CUTV.
“They were talking about doing something for Halloween, and we were talking about monster movies and something about a horror host for a monster movie marathon,” Metz said.
Spectrum’s early days were basic: Metz introduced each film generically and left it at that. However, much like a horror movie villain, Spooky was destined to return.
In 1995 Metz was approached by the folks at CUTV to do a series based on the movie marathon.
“Fright Night Friday”, aired from 1995 to 2000 on the college station. “Fright Night Theatre” followed on Fayette County TV, with Metz filming its 100th show late last year.
He has put a lot of time and effort into the shows and said he is rewarded by being able to do something he loves and hopes his audience will do too.
“I don’t make money from it,” Metz said, adding that, like him, many horror animators film away from home and on a shoestring budget. “We all work with stone knives and bear skin.”
He said his 100th show was memorable but bittersweet. His wife Diane helped him work there, but then died in February of COVID-19. He said Diane never cared much about his horror hosting – it took his time and his kids – but she supported him doing something he loves.
“The biggest problem is that my family sacrificed a lot of time,” Metz said.
Last year he took on a new project and character with the character of Scary Harry for his show “Scary Harry’s Reel Action Attractions”. Filmed at the State Theater Center for the Arts in Uniontown, the show features superhero series from the 1930s and 1940s.
Metz said the plan was to film an entire season at once so he would have more time to spend with his wife.
“Fifty-three (married); it’s long,” Metz said, trying to hold back his emotions. “Now it’s hard. I have a lot of good friends and my family takes care of me and it’s special for me now.
He hopes his fans appreciate his passion for hosting and the sacrifices he’s made to entertain them over the years – and feel humbled to vote for his induction into the Horror Host Hall of Fame.
“If I’m not (inducted), all is fair and bless all who succeed,” he said.
To vote for the Spooky Spectre, visit the Horror Host Hall of Fame Facebook page to see the list of nominated inductees. Voters are invited to email [email protected] with up to five selections from the list of 20 horror hosts. The deadline to vote is August 5.