Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sivad in Cyberspace

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Any kid who grew up in Memphis during the 1960s remembers Sivad, the ghoulish host of Fantastic Features, which aired some of the best (and sometime hilariously worst) horror movies ever made. During the day, he was mild-mannered Watson Davis, head of publicity for the Malco Theatre chain. But then one day he reversed the spelling of his last name, donned garish makeup, a battered top hat, and black cape, and became the “Monster of Ceremonies for the popular show that aired Saturday nights on WHBQ-TV Channel 13.

"Fantastic Features went off the air in 1969, and though Sivad continued to make appearances throughout the Mid-South, Davis retired the character for good and moved to Clarendon, Arkansas. He passed away in 2003.

Columnist Vance Lauderdale tells the story of Sivad in the March issue of Memphis magazine.

But long after Sivad’s — or Watson’s — death, his memory lives on, and Memphians to this day remember the show’s spooky opening (filmed in a foggy Overton Park), and equally spooky theme music (taken from the 1950s science-fiction movie Destination Moon.

And for those of you who can’t quite recall all this — or just want to relive it — a Sivad fan has captured the opening scenes on his Web site if you want to see what Fantastic Features was all about. You’ll find a link to the intro, and some outtakes showing Sivad telling jokes. Corny by today’s standards, perhaps, but enough to give kids nightmares back in the 1960s. — Michael Finger

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