My Favorite Horror Host: Saturday Night Dead's Stella

One of the greatest pleasures I had as a kid was the opportunity on weekends to set my own sleep schedule. During the weeknights, it was pretty strict considering school, but Friday and Saturday nights were concocted events as I monitored the airwaves in hopes for a horror "Friday Night Movie" on Philly 57 and doubled my anticipation with the following afternoon of a Tales From The Darkside marathon on PHL-17 or an edited-for-television genre film on any of the other sparse channels. This was a golden period where your big three and syndicated-heavy, offshoots were enough.

Consistently on my radar on Saturday nights was Philadelphia's Elvira template, Stella, the hostess of Saturday Night Dead. The title was very a unsubtle play on Saturday Night Live, fitting that it aired directly after on our NBC affiliate station. Years after its run (1984-1990), the only thing I clearly remembered as a teenager was its whimsically, haunting theme (originally derived from "The Mooche" by Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra) and Stella's kooky aesthetic. Being considerably young at this time, what I learned from the documentary on horror hosts, American Scary (2006) was just how subversive the interludes between the film-of-the-week were. Stella blended unabashed sexuality, camp, and risque pun play to her personality that I doubly appreciate as an adult.

Stella, "the Maneater from Manayunk" is Karen Scioli, a South Philadelphia native and fellow Temple University alum who has been a performer since she was a child. Saturday Night Dead came on a whim while she was in New York City doing stand up and looking for steady work as an actress. Her mom alerted her to the hostess position and Scioli beat out 150 others for the part. Currently, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and stays busy with local events where her Saturday Night Dead fame is still of interest and continues to act in other genre projects including web series, the Goth Mothers Of Transylvania.

Are you a fellow Philadelphian who loved Stella as much as I did?

Who was your local horror host you look back fondly on?

Check out an interview with Karen here.

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