THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Thrillville" Turns 20

Twenty years ago this month, sometime in April 1997, I hosted my first show at the old Parkway Theater in Oakland, CA. Back then I called it "The Midnight Lounge," since it happened every Saturday at midnight. I booked a lot of old cheesy AIP monster/JD/biker flicks and such, though my very first movie was Blue Velvet. I haphazardly concocted a doppelganger persona called "Will the Thrill" (which a fellow driver at a blood bank where I once worked always called me), a retro-beatnik-lounge lizard-clown partly inspired by the Buddy Love character in Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor. Eventually it just became an extension of my own personality, the distinction blurring as I was recognized around town, though truthfully I never felt that comfortable performing in public.

In January 1999, after mixed success as a midnight show, we moved it to Thursdays at 9pm, re-dubbing it "Thrillville Theater" and adding live burlesque and surf/rockabilly/lounge bands, showing cult and exploitation films from the 50s through the 80s, all in 35mm. It was a big hit, at least for a while.
By this time Monica Cortes Viharo, "The Tiki Goddess" - whom I met when she attended a 5/31/97 screening of Jailhouse Rock and I chose her to spin the big wheel - was my full time lovely assistant, on and off stage. We were married on 5/31/01 at the Cal-Neva in Lake Tahoe in a Rat Pack style ceremony/celebration, with mariachis. As many of you know, she's now earning her PhD in Drama at the University of Washington. 

Anyway, the retooled show remained in the prime time time slot (eventually rotating with the Cerrito Theater), weekly then monthly, until Speakeasy Theaters folded suddenly in 2009. Then I took the show on the road to theaters around the Bay Area, maintaining the basic format of B movies and burlesque or bands. Finally it was downsized into a monthly movie night at called "Forbidden Thrills" at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, CA. (I also booked band there, many of which played Thrillville).

Logo designed by Dyer Wilk
When The New Parkway opened in 2012, I was asked to revive Thrillville there. Monica and i hosted a few shows ourselves, but mostly I just programmed it, designating guest hosts like Lord Blood-Rah, the Queen of Scream, and The Undertaker.
After I moved to Seattle almost three years ago, I did a couple of local shows, but now I'm only organizing/hosting Noir at the Bar Seattle quarterly.
Now it's all come full circle with my own imprint, Thrillville Press. I'd never aspired to be a movie impresario, just a writer. In fact, I was asked by the co-founder of Speakeasy Theaters, my old friend Kyle Fischer, to produce and host a live show to help promote the novel they had published with their small press, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, back in 1995. In 2001 we received a letter from Christian Slater, who wanted to option the book for a film, which he'd direct himself, playing Vic Valentine, Private Eye. I thought my ship had finally come in. I wouldn't just be hosting other people's movies anymore. My own work would finally be presented and preserved on celluloid.

"Blue Velvet" was not only the first movie I ever showed, but the first one I ever acted in! Well, sorta...

Today, a full two decades after Thrillville began, I'm a dog walker in Seattle. Not my planned career trajectory, but there are certainly worse options (I know, since I've done many of them). After many years of effort the movie almost got the green light, then stalled again. I have no idea what happens next. But then who does?

True Romance Is Too Violent For Me: Miami, June, 2012. Seems like so long ago now. Sigh.

Meantime, thanks to Thrillville, I not only have my own press, but also my own theme song (which you should play while reading this blog!), feature documentary (watch that later, highly recommended), official fez, and official T-shirt! (Buy both of those immediately - I don't get a cut.)

"Thrillville," my official theme song by The Moon-Rays
"Director's cut" of Jeff M. Giordanos' documentary THE THRILL IS GONE(2014)


Though sadly, I'm still probably best known for this...

And this...
With our wedding pastor, Robert Ensler, as "Dino"

2001 French documentary featuring us,  archival footage of Vegas and The Rat Pack, 
and Steven Soderbergh!

SHATFEST is a big part of my "legacy" as well. It was always my most popular annual event.

And I wonder why no one seems to take me seriously as a writer. Except down in Costa Rica. Oh well.

But really, my marriage made it all worthwhile, if nothing else. Thrillville is how I met Monica. Our wedding alone was the production of a lifetime, at least ours...

Anyway, to mark this "landmark" anniversary of my so-called brand name, below is a rather epic pictorial/video history of Thrillville, followed by a list of all (or at least most) of the films I've ever presented. Dig, or don't. 

In any case, thank you for all the support. 

For Diablo Magazine, 1999 - shot at The Ivy Room, where we officially met when I was hosting an Elvis Bday party there, 1/8/98

San Francisco Chronicle Datebook, 2010, at Forbidden Island with Mel Waldorf of Meshugga
Beach Party and Ferenc Dobronyi of Pollo del Mar, two bands I booked frequently
Photos by Jim Ferreira
One of my custom made lobby card giveaways designed by Bob Ekman

Honored to be given the John Stanley Bay Area Horror Host Award at a surprise ceremony
at the Bal Theater in San Leandro, just before I left for Seattle in 2014

My original Thrillville column in "The Parkway News", 1997-98:

Previous anniversary posters by Aaron Farmer:

Event posters by Rich Black:

Event posters by Strephon Taylor:

Event posters by Miles Goodrich:

Poster by Ken Dashner

Postcards by Tanoa Stewart


Some of my many special guests over the years:

The late Bob Wilkins

A replica of the original "Creature Features" set, with the late Bob Shaw, John Stanley, and Bob Wilkins

John Stanley

One of many guest appearances by the late Ray Dennis Steckler - who ironically died the same day as Bob Wilkins: January 7, 2009

Gorilla X, Ray Dennis Steckler, Jello Biafra

John Michael McCarthy and Emmy Collins

My stepmom Anne Helm and the late Deborah Walley
Robin Roseaan, the late Yvonne Craig, Gary Lockwood
Raven de la Croix
The late David Hess

Horror Host Palooza; Adam Trash, Mr. Lobo, Son of Ghoul, Ms. Monster,
Rock 'n' Roll Ray, Dr. Goulfinger

Kitten on the Keys and Ms. Monster at my 10th Anniversary Show, Cerrito

Mr. Lobo, the Queen of Trash, Gorilla X
Ernie Fosselius and Mr. Lobo

Mr. Lobo and Dr. Zombie

With "Uncle Bill" Longen, The Trailer King! 

The Undertaker, Lord Blood-Rah, the Queen of Scream, and "Gargantua" at The New Parkway

Godzilla (Dennis Lancaster), August Ragone, and Bob Johnson

Gamera! (Eric Yee)

Godzilla and Mothra! (Dennis Lancaster, Eric Yee)

The Metaluna Mutant (Eric Yee)

The Monster of Piedras Blancas. Well, his head anyway.
My lucha alias, "Guillermo El Thrillermo"

"The Gill Creature" (Eric Yee)

Special effects guru Phil Tippett

Author/screenwriter Barry Gifford co-presented several of his films over the years, including "Wild at Heart" and "Lost Highway"
Eddie Muller co-hosted my annual film noir series

The Devil-Ettes

Mr. Lucky, Sprocket Ensemble, Connie Champagne

Robert Silverman on theremin

The Phenomenauts

Pollo del Mar

Apocalypso Now

Project Pimento 

Kitten on the Keys

Cherry Malone

"Lady Frankenstein" of the Hubba Hubba Revue
Diamond Daggers

The Twilight Vixen Revue

Apocalypso Now

The Atomic Lounge Show

The Wigglin' Wahines
The Mai Kai Gents

Otto Von Stroheim
My father, actor Robert Viharo!


The Parkway Speakeasy, Oakland, 1997-2008

The first time I ever publicly designated the realm of "Thrillville" was during this early TV interview, which also features some favorite film clips:

The Cerrito Speakeasy, El Cerrito, CA, 2007-2009:

Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, Alameda, CA, 2009-2013:

With owners Michael and Denise Thanos (Photo: Jim Ferreira)
 Tiki Goddess

With Bud E. Luv, Marky Luv, and Mikey Luv, New Year's Eve Party
Back Lot Tiki Drive-In!
14th Anniversary Thrillville Party
With Lord Blood-Rah and Johnny Legend
Hosting the late Tura Satana's 69th birthday party!
Selling and signing books
Still there in "spirits"!
Shooting my first book trailer...

Original book trailer for The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection, shot and edited by Christopher Sorrenti (2011)

The New Parkway Theater,  Oakland, 2012-2013:

 ROAD SHOWS, 1999-2015

One of several gigs at The Werepad, San Francisco
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA
Midnite Movie Mamacita presented me with a surprise birthday day cake
when I was a guest host at her show in Phoenix, AZ

Annual "Spookylau" Shows at Copia, Napa
Cash Flagg (Ray Dennis Steckler) and me in one of his original road show costumes,
Fine Arts Theater, Berkeley...

Zombie Prom, San Francisco

Since we didn't have The Wheel anymore, we employed "The Magic Tiki"
to telepathically give out prizes at theaters like the Balboa and Four Star in San Francisco,
and the Camera 3 in San Jose

The Vortex Room, San Francisco
Roxie Theater, San Francisco
Donna Loren at the Balboa Theater, San Francisco

Christmas Tiki Party at the Conga Lounge, Oakland...
"Home of the Mai Tai, Not Just the Drive-by"...

Hosting a "Mad Men" Party at Kingman's Ivy Room in Albany CA 

We hosted several movie nights and symposiums at Tiki Oasis, San Diego

Interview with Scott Fulks and me for Tiki Oasis TV, August 2015 

Sharing the stage at Bimbo's in San Francisco with the iconic Peaches Christ
Legendary Lloyd Kaufman, B Movie Celebration, Franklin Indiana, 2008

The Blob photobombs Scott Mensching of The Moon-Rays and me, B Movie Celebration, Indiana

Hosting the premiere of "Black Dynamite" at The Grand Lake Theater, Oakland,
with director Scott Sanders and star Michael Jai White, 2009

On the set of Creepy KOFY Movie-Time with The Deadlies

Judging an Elvis Impersonator contest at The Crocodile in Seattle, January, 2015
Legendary director William Grefe flew out from Florida to co-present his classic "Impulse"
at my final SHATFEST, Central Cinema, Seattle, June 2015
A Swedish Halloween Party at The Swedish Club, Seattle, October 2015

A small sampling of the generous coverage Thrillville enjoyed over the years




Abbott and Costello Go To Mars
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Academy of Doom
Across 110th Street
The Adventures of Captain Marvel
All About Eve
The Amazing Colossal Man
An American Werewolf in London
Angels With Dirty Faces (2)
Angel Heart
Angry Red Planet
The Astro Zombies
The Atomic Submarine
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Attack of the Giant Leeches
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
The Bad Bunch
The Bad Seed
Barbarella (4)
Bare Knuckles
Battle in Outer Space
Batman (1966) (3)
Beach Blanket Bingo (2)
Beach Party
Beast of the Yellow Night
Beat the Devil
The Beat Generation
Beast from Haunted Cave
The Beach Girls and the Monster
Bell, Book and Candle
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
The Big Heat
The Big Sleep (1946)
Billy Jack
The Blackboard Jungle
Black Caesar
Black Christmas (1974)
Black Dynamite
Black Mama, White Mama (2)
Black Sabbath
Blood Feast
Blood of Dracula
Blood Shack
The Blob (1958)
Blue Hawaii
Blue Velvet
Body Heat
Born To Kill
Boss Nigger
The Brainiac
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
Bride of the Monster
Bucket of Blood (3)
Bullitt (2)
The Burglar (1957)
Burial Ground
Brides of Dracula
Bye Bye Birdie
Carmen Jones
Casino Royale (1967)
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Cat-Women of the Moon
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Cleopatra Jones (2)
Coffy (2)
Conan the Barbarian
The Cool and the Crazy
Cooley High
Cotton Comes To Harlem
The Craving
The Crawling Eye
The Creature Walks Among Us
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Creature from the Haunted Sea
Creature with the Atom Brain (2)
The Crimson Kimono
Curse of the Demon
Curse of the Aztec Mummy
Curse of the Stone Hand
Danger: Diabolik
Dark City (1998)
Dark Passage
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Dead Alive
Dead Reckoning
Death Race 2000
Dementia (Daughter of Horror)
The Devil’s Hand
Devil in a Blue Dress
The Devil’s Rain
Diamonds Are Forever
Dirty Harry
Doctor No
Dr. Jekyll’s Dungeon of Death
Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine
The Doberman Gang
The Doll Squad
Double D Avenger
Double Indemnity
Dracula vs. Frankenstein
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (2)
Earth vs. the Spider
Easy Rider (2)
Enter the Dragon
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Evil Dead 2
Eyes Without A Face
Fantastic Voyage
Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!
Fire Maidens From Outer Space
First Men in the Moon
Five Against the House
The Flesh Eaters
Flesh Gordon
The Fly (1958)
The Fog (1980)
Follow That Dream (2)
For A Few Dollars More
Forbidden Planet (3)
For Your Height Only
Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake
Foxy Brown (2)
Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
The French Connection
From Hell It Came
From Here to Eternity
From Russia With Love
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Gamera 2: Legion
The Giant Claw
The Girl Can’t Help It (2)
Glen or Glenda
Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack (Bay Area premiere)
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Bay Area premiere)
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
Goldfinger (2)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gun Crazy
Guys and Dolls
The H-Man
Hand of Death
Hercules in the Haunted World
Hercules and the Captive Women
Hot Rod Girl
Hot Rods to Hell
Hideous Sun Demon
High Sierra
Hillbillys in a Haunted House
High School Confidential
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers
Horror Express
Horror of Dracula
Horror of Party Beach (2)
Horrors of Spider Island (1960)
House of Frankenstein
House on Haunted Hill
The Howling
How To Make A Monster
I Eat Your Skin
Impulse (Shatner) (5)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (3)
Infra-Man (2)
Invaders from Mars (1953)
Invasion of the Saucer Men
It Came From Beneath the Sea (2)
It Came From Outer Space
It Conquered the World
It Happened at the World’s Fair
It Happened One Night
It! The Terror From Beyond Space
In A Lonely Place (2)
Incredible Two Headed Transplant
Incubus (Shatner)
Isle of the Damned
I Was Teenage Werewolf
I Was a Teenage Frankenstein
Jailhouse Rock (4)
J.D’s Revenge
Jason and the Argonauts (3)
Johnny Guitar
Journey to the 7th Planet
Key Largo (2)
Kid Galahad (1962)
Killer’s Kiss
The Killer Shrews
The Killing
Kingdom of the Spiders
King Kong (1933)
King Kong Escapes
King Kong vs Godzilla
Kiss Me Deadly (2)
Kiss of Death (1947)
Kitten With A Whip
Kong Island
L.A. Confidential
The Lady From Shanghai
Last House on the Left (1972)
Last Tango in Paris
Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (2)
The Lineup
The Long Goodbye
The Losers
Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
Louis Prima: the Wildest
The Mack
Mad Doctor of Blood Island
The Maltese Falcon (Bogey)
The Magic Sword
The Manchurian Candidate (original)
The Manster
The Man With the Golden Arm
Mark of the Astro Zombies
Mean Streets
Mermaid of Tiburon
Mickey One
Mildred Pierce
Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy
Missile to the Moon
Mr. Sardonicus
The Mob
Monster From Green Hell
Monster of Piedras Blancas
Monster on the Campus
Mothra (3)
The Mummy (1932)
Murder by Contract
Murder My Sweet
Mysterious Island
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
Neptune’s Daughter
Night of the Bloody Apes
Night of the Lepus
Night Moves
Night Tide
Night of the Comet
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Ocean’s 11 (1960)
Olive or Twist? (martini documentary)
Once Upon A Time in the West
One Million Years BC (1966)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Outlaw Women
Out of the Past
Pal Joey
Panic In Year Zero
Phantom of the Paradise
Plan 9 From Outer Space (2)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
The Playgirls and the Vampire
Point Blank
Poor White Trash
Queen of Outer Space (2)
Raising Arizona
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (3)
The Rebel Set
Rebel Without A Cause
Red Rock West
Reform School Girl (1957)
The Replacement Killers
Return of the Vampire
Return to Macon County
Revenge of the Creature
Revenge of Frankenstein
Rio Bravo
The Roaring Twenties
Robin and the 7 Hoods
Robin Hood (1938)
Robot vs the Aztec Mummy
Rock Baby, Rock It
Santa Claus (1959)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters
Santo vs. the Vampire Women
Satanic Rites of Dracula
Satan’s Cheerleaders
Scandal Sheet
Screaming Mimi
The Seven Year Itch
The Shadow (serial, 15 chapters)
Shanty Tramp (3)
Shaft (2)
The She Creature (1956)
She Devils on Wheels
She Freak
She Gods of Shark Reef
Shock Waves
The Silencers (2)
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
The Sniper
711 Ocean Drive
7th Voyage of Sinbad (2)
Some Like It Hot
Son of Blob
Son of Godzilla
Spider Baby
Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Animation Festival (1998)
Sting of Death
Stormy Weather
Strangers On A Train
Sugar Boxx
Sugar Hill and Her Zombie Hit Men
Sunset Boulevard
Superstarlet A.D.
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
Sweet Smell of Success (2)
Taxi Driver
Terror Beneath the Sea
Terror From the Year 5000
Them! (2)
The Time Machine (1959)
The Tingler
The Thing (1951)
The Thing (1982)
13 Frightened Girls
13 Ghosts (1960)
This Is Elvis
This Island Earth
The Three Stooges (various shorts)
The Thrill Killers (4)
Thunderball (2)
The Trip
20 Million Miles to Earth (2)
The Undead (1957)
Underworld USA
The Unearthly
The Usual Suspects
Valley of the Dolls
The Vampire’s Coffin
The Vampire Lovers (2)
Viva Las Vegas (5)
Voodoo Black Exorcist
War of the Colossal Beast
War of the Worlds (1954)
Way Out West
Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory
Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women
West Side Story
White Heat (2)
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
White Comanche
White Zombie
Wild at Heart (2)
Wild in the Streets
The Wild Bunch
Wild Guitar
The Wild One
Wild Ones on Wheels
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
World Without End
Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy
X – the Man with X-Ray Eyes
You Only Live Twice
Zontar, the Thing From Venus
Zombie (Fulchi)
Zombies of Mora Tau (2)


Toasting my 54th birthday, Frank's, Seattle, 4/2/17:

The Octopus Bar, Seattle, 4/2/17

Scarecrow Video, Seattle: Mecca
Me with the University of Washington mascot, Dubs! 4/10/17

Monica and me at the University of Washington
when she was honored as one of the 2017 UW Husky 100, 4/10/17

Hosting Noir at the Bar Seattle, Fireside Room, Hotel Sorrento, 4/13/17
La Isla, Seattle

Pie Bar Ballard, Seattle

Bop Street Records, Seattle

University of Washington Club

With two of the stars of my favorite horror movie, Gaylen Ross and Scott Reiniger
Crypticon Seattle, 5/6/17

The Lodge Sports Grille, Seattle
Shanghai Room, Seattle

North Star Diner, Seattle
I love my day job!
Debuting my custom made jacket, Cafe Lago, Seattle

Mammoth, Seattle
Seattle's great new tiki bar, Navy Strength

Celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary in classic style at one of our favorite restaurants,
Canlis, Seattle, 5/31/17

Cheers to Elvis, 8/16/17 Hula Hula, Seattle
Southpaw Pizza, Seattle  - Hail to The King 8/16/17
Ba Bar, University Village, Seattle 

With author Pearce Hansen, West 5, Seattle
With Lisa Petrucci, Something Weird Movie Freakout, 8/25/17

You may also dig:


Noir at the Bar Seattle, July 13 at Hotel Sorrento

Hosting Noir at the Bar Seattle, July 13, 2017:


 Saturday August 5, Hotel Sorrento


I wrote a story for this year's Tiki Oasis program, which be viewed in its entirety here

Issue #39 of Bachelor Pad Magazine features my movie column about Ann-Margret!

Bachelor Pad Magazine #40, featuring my 40th movie column, this one about Elvis,
who "disappeared" 40 years ago this August 16!

Book trailer for Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room,
animated by Vincent Cortez (2011)

Reading from Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me (2014)

Live reading of my short story "Escape from Thrillville" (2014, included in The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection, Volume 3)

Book trailer for It Came from Hangar 18 (2012)

Interview conducted by Drive-In Radio host Alec Cizak, October 24, 2017,
broadcast from Missoula, Montana.






My story HOT NIGHT AT HINKY DINKS is included in this cocktail-themed flash fiction anthology, now available for pre-order:

New anthology of Christmas horror stories from Coffin Hop Press,
including my story THAT'S A WRAP, coming Fall 2017

My story MEANTIME is included in this bitchin' anthology, 
for which I also wrote the foreword:

My short story BEHIND THE BAR is included in this anthology

My erotic horror noir novella THINGS I DO WHEN I'M AWAKE 

The new Vic Valentine novel HARD-BOILED HEART now available from Gutter Books


VOLUME ONE: A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge and
Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room

VOLUME TWO: Lavender Blonde and Down a Dark Alley

VOLUME THREE: Chumpy Walnut and Other Stories

Fate Is My Pimp, Romance Takes a Rain Check, I Lost My Heart in Hollywood, Diary of a Dick