Friday, December 19, 2014

I WANT TO BITE YOUR HAND - Gene Moss, not Christopher Lee

Is it nice that Christopher Lee just released yet another heavy metal howl? Actually, it's horrifying in every sense of the word, but at 92, it's nice to know the undead star is still alive and growling. "Jingle Hell" is exactly as expected...a terrible punk bunch of headbanger clods slam at the melody. Lee either shouts his karaoke over it, or did it beforehand and the band just tried to add backing. Either way, it's a one-joke novelty that'll cost you a buck to buy.

The concept of a horror voice used to try for a novelty hit ain't new. Oddball tracks from a previous generation of horror stars exist. Boris Karloff sang on the Broadway cast album for "Peter Pan," Vinnie Price is represented by a variety of tracks from Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" to a re-working of "Monster Mash." Lon Chaney Jr. covered "Monster Holiday," and Basil Rathbone, Peter Lorre, John Carradine and others recorded as well.

Impressionists have done their best Karloff and Lugosi and Lorre impressions for novelty 45's, and both Guy Marks and Paul Frees issued full length albums of celebrities singing. When The Beatles invaded America, it was inevitable that somebody would try a horror-novelty..."I Want to Bite Your Hand." It's the work of Gene Moss (Eugene Harold Moshontz).

In its sepulchral silliness, it's actually right up there with Chris Lee's gothic goofiness. The dead-serious Count offers his version of Beatle lyrics, with the added grunt of "Sure," here and there. Just where Moss picked up this as a Lugosi catch-phrase, I have no idea. He died back on July 15, 2002. He remains undead thanks to this novelty single on RCA, which became part of an entire ridiculous "Dracula's Greatest Hits" album.

Gene first made some bucks in the record biz by writing album notes for Capitol. Following his lone comedy album, he and his writing partner Jim Thurman wrote the "Roger Ramjet" cartoon show. Gene voiced Noodles Romanoff, while Roger was handled by Gary "Laugh In" Owens. Moss became a local TV kiddie host in Los Angeles via KHJ, His "Dr. Von Schtick" is fondly remembered by some California kids, though the nostalgia remains greater for musty sufferers like Zacherley, Ghoulardi and Vampira. Moss and Thurman were rewarded with a late night talk show but they kept their day job, running an ad agency.

Gene continued to do voice work through the 80's (notably as the latest Smokey the Bear). His son, Chuck Moshontz, became a newscaster at KLOS-FM in L.A. And every Halloween, or every time a guy like Christopher Lee tries for a horror-novelty, "Dracula's Greatest Hits" gets dragged out for an airing. Maybe when he turns 93 Chris, the Hammer "Dracula," might want to take a stab at "I Want to Bite Your Hand." His reputation wouldn't be at stake.

PS, in the case of Gene Moss, the original record IS actually valuable, if the album also includes the "monster trading card" page that RCA thoughtfully tucked in with the vinyl. (Don't hunt for a cover that has Gene Moss in the lower right corner...that's a Photoshop job done here at the blog).



Mr. Nasty said...

I love this album. Remember, 1964 was "The Year of the Monster." Moss had a kiddie show where he did a bad snd-off of Boris Karloff as mad scientist/host. Some days he got sick of talking that way and just stopped, reverting to his regular voice. Gene Moss was a good one.

Ill Folks said...

I wish there was some surviving footage of that. I think every city had a horror show host, from Ghoulardi and Zacherley on the East Coast to Vampira and Gene Moss on the West Coast, with a ton of ghouls in the middle. What a time...Munsters, Addams Family, and Forry Ackerman's "Famous Monsters of Filmland"