THE VERWOLF FILES







former WGN employee Karen Verwolf speaks about writing for
WGN's CREATURE FEATURES...

...In 1970, WGN Television began plans to run old horror films on Saturday nights, calling the series "Creature Features." Karen Verwolf. already writing on-the-air promotions as well as introductions to another movie package, "When Movies Were Movies," was asked to write an introduction for this series. The rest, as we say, is History! In this special expose, 39 years after the show's beginning, Karen speaks about her time with WGN-TV and how she came to write the weekly scripts for Creature Features for 2 and a half years from 1970-1972. Yes, Karen was the one who wrote some of the most famous lines ever heard on Chicago televison..."Gruesome Ghouls and Grisly Ghosts", you know the rest! Karen has also unearthed ACTUAL ORIGINAL SCRIPTS she wrote for the show. You will see them only here on this website.

"GRUESOME GHOULS AND GRISLY GHOSTS,
WRETCHED SOULS AND CURSED HOSTS,
VAMPIRES BITE AND VILLAINS CREEP,
DEMONS SCREAM AND SHADOWS SLEEP.
BLOOD RUNS COLD IN EVERY MAN,
FOG ROLLS IN AND COFFINS SLAM,
MORTALS QUAKE AND FULL MOON RISE,
CREATURES HAUNT AND TERRORIZE..."
-Karen Verwolf 1970

How did we ever find Karen Verwolf...?

The only reason I knew who had written the poem was by a friend finding an old 1971 newspaper article on microfilm about 3 years ago at a local Chicagoland public Library while doing some research for me. I thought, cool, at least we know her name. Sometime in April of 2009, I recieved an e-mail from a woman who had visited this site and was very suprised and please that I had actually given her friend, Karen Verwolf, credit for writing the show's poem. She said she has known Karen for some time and would have her contact me. Well, a few weeks later, I got an e-mail from none other that Karen herself. Here's what she had to say...

Dear Dan…
"I am amazed that there are people out there who even remember Creature Features let alone relish those programs. I often told friends that “Creature Features Writer” on one’s resume just didn’t convey any degree of professionalism. And yes, Verwolf is my really real (as Bozo used to say) name. I worked at WGN for 9-ish years. The first four were in radio programming, just when Wally started in mornings and the rest, as they say, was history. A wacky year as production assistant on Bozo followed until I landed as person/director/manager of on the air promotions for WGN television. This was writing/producing/scheduling all those annoying promos with several interesting side bars. One was writing copy for all print WGN TV ads which were then produced by the art department with final OK from Paul Kelvyn. Another was writing the intro to Monday night’s When Movies Were Movies/Flash Gordon with Carl Greyson as announcer. Being an old movie fan, I loved this part. It was very camp and I had a lot of fun with it. I’m not sure who came up with Creature Features idea, probably Paul (he planned the TV media buys, wrangled the huge fall promotion push and was sort of my boss) or Sheldon Cooper. The start date also escapes me but I’m sure you know that. Paul picked the music and produced the opening sequence, Greg in the Art Department (his last name escapes me but he also did art work for a lot of print TV ads) did our monster and I wrote the opening poem. I think your web site called the poem a sonnet. I never knew I wrote a sonnet. I did write the weekly intro copy for each Saturday night program very late on Friday afternoons, I liked to use nursery rhymes for an interesting juxtaposition with the horror films. I never suspected there was anybody out there in TV land paying the slightest attention to what I cooked up and was floored when WGN got requests for pictures of the Monster as well as copies of the opening poem. They finally had the post card printed with Greg’s monster and the poem on the cover. I think they sent out thousands."


(The original Postcard sent out to adoring fans of the show in 1971)

"But all good things, even nursery rhymes about werewolves, must come to an end and I left WGN about 1972. I can proudly say I had nothing to do with a “live” host, which sounds like Wayne’s World meets Count Dracula. (Webmaster's note: I asked Karen if she remembered anything about the "Live Host" experiment WGN did for a few shows) About those Creature Features scripts - I think you may think they were more grand, detailed, professional, Hollywood, show biz when they were fairly casual. I wrote the first page, beginning with the Creature Features poem followed by my new copy for the evening's scary selection. I also did another intro if we ran a second feature. We ended the broadcast with a promo for next week's feature and bade a good evening to all. All this was done on memo paper (WGN blue of course) with directions for appropriate slide and tape, and my brilliant copy for the announcer, usually 4-5 sheets per Saturday night event (the same procedure for When Movies Were Movies/Flash). These were handed over to the night/week end manager for recording with Carl Greyson or Marty McNeeley whenever. And then, boom, just like a TV miracle, there it all was on Saturday if all went well. I would get my blue sheets (somewhat tattered) back on Monday, filed them and we chugged on for another week. So when I left Fort Bradley, I just took all my script files. Here’s either my favorite Creature Features intro or the one I remember the most…

"Count Drac had a beautiful daughter
She did what a vampire ought’er
She flew through the night
With teeth long and bright
Which proves blood’ s thicker than water."
Best wishes,
Karen



The webmaster's reaction...

Well, needless to say I was very excited to hear from someone who "worked" on the show we all held so dear to our "Monster Kid" hearts, but also flattered that this website had reunited Karen with her fans (even though she didn't think they remembered it anymore!) Karen will be sharing more stories with us very soon, as soon as she remembers them. After all it has been almost 40 years. And now, seen here by the public for the very first time anywhere, are the ORIGINAL SCRIPTS from the show. Unfortunately the scripts were never movie-specific and Karen seldom mentioned the movie's title in her introductions, but i'm sure you "Monster Kids" out there will have some pretty good guesses. Here they are, for the fans, graciously presented by Karen for your enjoyment...

Special Note:
These scripts are the property of Karen Verwolf, NOT to be reprinted or reposted in any way.
They have been "WaterMarked" for protection.
Please respect Karen's request. Thank you!




THE ORIGINAL 40 YEAR OLD SCRIPTS FOR WGN'S CREATURE FEATURES




THE ORIGINAL 40 YEAR OLD SCRIPTS FOR WGN'S CREATURE FEATURES








The webmaster would like to thank Karen Verwolf for taking the time to share with all the fans her memories and documents. This website is here for one reason, for the fans. To share memories, and bring back some as well, of one of Chicagoland's greatest horror shows ever!
Many Thanks Karen....The Webmaster