Holiday hoodoo with just about the right amount of scary
stuff for a kiddie costume party is contained in Hollywood Ghost Stories, an
original hour packaged with American Movie Classics' weeklong monster-fest.
Host William Shatner is the plainclothes version of Count
Floyd, the horror host from old comedy show Second City TV. He's very campy,
but benign, in his introductions of segments on haunted Hollywood homes and Malibu
Some of Hollywood's most enduring what-ifs get retold
here, such as the tale of the death of actress Thelma Todd, a blond 1930s ingenue and
restaurateur. She was found dead in her garage above her Pacific Coast Highway beachfront
For years, there has been speculation that scandal-adverse
studios covered up the true cause of her death, and that the mob -- lustful for a remote
gambling lair -- did her in. But the show provides no answers -- just speculation again,
added to the reminiscence of a former staffer in the building (which was renovated into a
production company), who recounts the heebie-jeebies she got when she worked there.
The feast for conspiracy theorists is the Atuk
script curse. John Belushi was purportedly considering a starring role in the adaptation
of a Mordechai Richter novel when he overdosed on drugs in a Hollywood hotel. Three major
comedy stars have gotten the wicked writing since then; all have died.
The stories with the greatest goosebump potential describe
the haunted house of 1960s babe Elke Sommer, and the legacy of the home of Jean Harlow.
The latter has a chilly tie-in to the Manson family murders decades later.
But beware of the paranormal experts and psychics on the
show. They are so serious that they are giggle-inducing -- a real mood-breaker. I mean,
twin psychics that are into automatic writing? Give the spooks a break.
Viewers may want to do some ghost-hunting of their own --
in conjunction with the horror-movie fest, AMC Web-site users can dial up a camera in one
of the featured haunted houses during Halloween weekend to see if they can detect any
Hollywood Ghost Stories will be shown on AMC Oct. 30 at