Are you a connoisseur of bad movies? Do you appreciate “the creepy, the strange, and the poorly and cheaply produced?” Looking for an overview of films so inessential or poorly curated that their copyright has lapsed?
If you live in Northern Virginia, you need look no further than your local television channel. Beginning this spring, you can tune into County Gauntly’s Horrors from the Public Domain, Brian Terrill’s television show in the tradition of classic horror hosts.
The first two episodes of County Gauntly’s are currently airing at various times and days on Fairfax Channel 10. You can find the airtimes on the Count Gauntly’s facebook page.
I sat down with Brian, the host of County Gauntly’s who showed up for the interview dressed in character, to talk a little bit about his show and its origins.
Brian Terrill is a lifelong fan of cinema’s slipshod and strange. His interest in old, fantastical films dates back to when he watched PBS as a seven-year-old.
“On Friday nights at 9:00, they would show an episode of The Red Skelton Show,” Terrill said. “Then at 9:30 after that was over, they would show a sci-fi or horror movie. It kind of ran the gamut.”
The first wonderfully awful horror film Brian saw on these airings was 1959 film The Hideous Sun Demon. In subsequent weeks, his cult classic education continued with the likes of The Beast of Yucca Flats, Fantastic Planet, and the public domain’s most famous film, Night of the Living Dead.
In high school, he was known for quoting and screening Troll 2, a movie so infamous for being bad that it has its own documentary.
As an undergraduate majoring in film and American studies at William and Mary, his love for publicly sharing film grew. He started Brian Terrill Movie Nights, a regular screening of cinema’s most entertaining dregs that attracted dozens of curious students.
Tuning into Count Gauntly’s, you’ll see a combination of unfiltered public domain film and intercut tongue-in-cheek skits and commentary. Episodes are not available online, but you can view the show’s opening sequence (embedded above) and a proof-of-concept sample episode, “Carving Magic.”
After graduating, he stumbled upon an idea for how to continue his love of sharing strange films: public access television.
“I hadn’t really heard about it. I saw it on Wikipedia, looked it up, and saw – hey – we have it in Northern Virginia,” he said.
He went through the requisite training and service hours when finally he was given that holy grail: approval for an hour-long television show to share “that eldritch abyss known as the public domain.” His character is an unspecified member of the undead killed for airing copyright-protected film.
His biggest challenge in producing the show, other than his limited selection of films, is operating within the confines of the one-hour block he’s been assigned. Most movies are longer than the fifty-some minutes he has space for.
Brian falls easily into his Gauntly persona, occasionally going in and out of character during our interview. He’s a passionate, enthusiastic entertainer with a passion for sharing his love of surreal and dubious film. His charisma makes his skits and bits pop with charm, even if the material he’s presenting isn’t Academy Award material.
A large reason the show works is Brian’s infectious excitement at being on the small screen. Traveling across the airwaves (or “under the ground,” as he notes, because FPA Channel 10 is a cable channel) is something special even in the Internet age.
“Having it come across on a TV set makes it seem more real than if it were on YouTube,” he said.
Though it was Brian who greeted me, it was Gauntly who bid me adieu.
“Farewell, viewers. Until we meet again in television land!” he said with a villainous cackle.
Count Gauntly’s Horrors from the Public Domain began airing this month, and FPA Channel 10 recently released the May schedule, which you can find on Gauntly’s Facebook page.
Please support local, aspiring television talent by tuning in and liking the Count Gauntly Facebook page. Stay tuned here for further updates on the progress of Count Gauntly’s Horrors from the Public Domain.