Episode 2 – Charlene Lydon



Scared of Podcasts? This episode is now on YouTube

My guest this episode is Charlene Lydon, Charlene is programmer of Dublin’s best cinema The Light House. She has also been a film critic, journalist, writer and director.

Beverage: Casillero del Diablo – Merlot 2011.

Films: Halloween, Repulsion and The Devil’s Rejects

Spoilers Galore.
Under Your Bed on iTunes

Follow @charlenelydon and @LighthouseD7

GhostWatch: A TV Horror Classic

In 1992 audiences were a lot different. With minimal exceptions (Cannibal Holocaust) the idea of a documentary/found footage style horror film was a far off notion till we were introduced to The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. As such people watched with a certain earnestness and gullibility, which was critical for both the success and tragedy of the broadcast of GhostWatch.


On Halloween night, 1992 I and many others across the UK and Ireland found ourselves watching GhostWatch, which seemed to be a live TV show on BBC1 presented by Michael Parkinson, a well respected British chat show host, a serious interviewer, from a time before only stand-up comedians hosted chat shows. Michael explained to us tonight they where investigating a haunting in a family home in Northolt, Greater London, where poltergeist activity was believed to be taking place…. Michael Parkinson was not a known for being a prankster.

Now let’s be clear on this. The last thing the BBC wanted to do was fool people into thinking GhostWatch was real, they placed it in their drama slot Screen One, complete with Screen One title before the show, they also insisted on writer’s credits at the start. However these details went unnoticed by many. Wall Street was on ITV that night (good choice for Halloween ITV!) and it’s ending slightly overlapped with the introduction to GhostWatch. Remember, this was before DVRs.

Michael was based in a studio which linked up to the rest of the cast based in the supposedly haunted house. These included Craig Charles (Lister from Red Dwarf) and Sarah Greene, who was best known for children’s TV. Both playing themselves acting as co-hosts. Craig cracking jokes and being playful and Sarah being serious and sensitive about the whole thing.

Sarah then talks to the family about their ghost problem who the children have named Pipes, because of his habit of knocking on the house’s plumbing… Yeesh.

As more of the story of Pipes in revealed, the more he starts appearing in brief flashes, we get glimpses of a bald man with a bloodied face. One compelling sequence involves CCTV footage of a poltergeist attack in the children’s bedroom. The video is shown at the start of the show and later a lady calls in to say she saw a figure in the corner of the room in the video. Both Michael and paranormal expert Dr. Lin Pascoe are skeptical yet still later look at the tape again, they play it and there is a clear figure in the corner by the curtains…

But Michael doesn’t see it! They rewind and watch again and the figure is gone! Terrifying.
Pipes pops up several more times, some kind Youtuber has put them all together here, but don’t watch if you’ve never seen GhostWatch, they’re fun to spot yourself.

These mind-raping blips of a malicious spirit really got into some people’s’ head. People who had just enjoyed Wall Street started thinking they were seeing real spirits and worse the presenters weren’t acknowledging them. Combining this with the realistically dull gruelling build up before pipes really went nuts and you scare the pants off people.

There was a number on screen for people to share their ghost stories, if rang you should hear a recording reassuring you that it was all fake, sorry about that… Happy Halloween!
But so many people rang the lines got jammed and only a handful of people heard that message.

After the broadcast the BBC were flooded with complaints from irate and frightened viewers, and British newspapers criticised the BBC the next day for the disturbing nature of some scenes, such as a cast member’s abduction and the several “possession” scenes. Tragically the broadcast was also linked to the suicide of a mentally disabled 18 year old factory worker, Martin Denham, who was tormented by the dodgy central heating in his home, Martin blamed the noise on Pipes. His suicide note read “if there are ghosts I will be … with you always as a ghost”.

GhostWatch was never broadcast by the BBC again and such a show was never attempted again, unless you count the “real” ghost hunting shows, which are more laughable than scary.

It’s available to watch in parts on Youtube but you could get the DVD here and turn off your smartphone, close the laptop, hide the remote and watch it as you would in 1992 and imagine how the line between reality and fiction got blurred.


Creator Stephen Volk
Starring Michael Parkinson
Sarah Greene
Mike Smith
Craig Charles
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel BBC1
Release date 31 October 1992
Running time 91 minutes

Creighton Chaney aka Lon Jr.

In the film Man of a Thousand Faces a dying Lon Chaney played by James Cagney signals for his son Creighton to hand him his make up box inscribed with his name and with greasepaint he adds “Jr.” to the “Lon Chaney”. A Hollywood film signalling the start of Lon Chaney Jr.’s career of putting crap on his face for the sake of film.


The irony being that the mixture of a famous name, inheriting the endurance of painful make up techniques and being a hulk of a man. Chaney Jr. was either a monster or a goon for 95% of his career and the pressures of Hollywood turned him to a life reliant on alcohol. You almost think Lon Chaney Sr. would have served his son better if he left the make-up box as it was .
No matter what, Lon Jr. always remained under his father’s shadow. Who was respected for playing tortured souls like Quasimodo and the Phantom and not just because he put on a lot of make up. Saying that, his  career blossomed some what, he is the only actor to play four of Universal’s famous monsters, a vampire in Son of Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster and of course the Wolf Man.
Playing The Wolf Man was one of the twelve step backs towards alcoholism. The make-up and effects in the film were gruelling 6 hours to put on 3 hours to take off, with some of the transformations in The Wolf Man series clocking up a shooting period of 24 hours. That’s 24 hours of Chaney Jr, lying down while they slowly add more and more hair and prosthetics to his face. Who wouldn’t want a tipple under those circumstances? It’s fair to say that Mr. Wolf Man was pretty drunk by the end of those transformations.
Lon Chaney Jr.’s alcoholism became embarrassingly public knowledge when he turned up inebriated to play the monster in a live TV production of Frankenstein, you would think it’s a character where the actor could get away with playing it drunk, but unfortunately Lon thought the live broadcast was merely a dress rehearsal, so instead of smashing things up like the monster is supposed to do, he picked up chairs and carefully put them back down, apparently he can be heard mumbling “break later”.
Lon Chaney Jr.’s career of playing scary things under layers of make up is bookended by two stand-out performances. Neither of them under disguise. Near the beginning of his career he played Lennie Small and near the end of his career he played Bruno in Spider Baby.
And for me, Spider Baby is what I’ll remember him for. . In Spider-Baby we see Lon’s character wear his heart on his sleeve as Bruno, the elderly carer for the children of the Merrye family, a family stricken with an unfortunate disease called Merryre Syndrome (not a coincidence), in which they devolve and regress mentally, socially and physically. His relationship with the children is interrupted by two distant relatives who feel they are entitled to the house and to put the children into care. Bruno’s desperation to keep the family together and cared for by him as promised to their parents knows no bounds and it’s in this he gives his most soulful performance.
The alcoholism was public knowledge at this stage, although some crew members claim they never saw him touch a drop, others were well aware that the oranges he seemed to love so much were injected with hard liquor. That’s when you know an alcoholic has gone pro. Aware of his problem, ashamed almost, but still coming up with ingenious ideas of how to keep it up.
Lon Chaney Jr. was hailed to be a child prodigy and like his father become one of the biggest stars in the world (Chaney Sr. was just behind Chaplin) and ended up being used and spat out by the industry that embraced his father so much. Only to end up being an alcoholic in low budget horror comedies like Spider-Baby, without make-up, playing the straight man to the monsters. The irony is how this was his best performance, though unfortunately not his swansong, he went on to star in several more films, his final role being, fittingly a supporting one in Dracula vs. Frankenstein.
He died of heart failure aged 67.
Seek out a copy of Spider-Baby and raise a glass to Creighton Chaney, the fallen prodigy.