[[caption-width-right:350:The Crypt Keeper, hawking Creator/ECComics' wares.]]

The Horror Host is a {{narrator}} who presents harrowing tales to his audience. This eerie character first appeared on radio serials, creating continuity between otherwise unrelated stories. They then spread to horror comics, most notably Creator/ECComics titles like ''Comicbook/TalesFromTheCrypt''. Soon they appeared in movies, and then television.

During the 1950s and 1960s, a horde of Horror Hosts haunted television viewers across North America. There were hundreds of local presenters on low-budget shows based around cheap [[BMovie B-Movies]]. Sometimes, the host trope was used to tie together otherwise unrelated material into a single episode for broadcast. By the 1980s, the genre had nearly died out completely -- possibly due in part to changing audience tastes, but more likely due to general cost-cutting that resulted in the end of ''most'' locally-produced non-news programming in favor of syndicated fare.

The Horror Host often takes a sadistic glee in the events of the story, and cannot resist making the implication that the reader might meet a similarly dire fate. He may become an InteractiveNarrator, but is usually content to stay at home, whether it be a tomb, a featureless void hung with paintings, or a broom closet with a cardboard coffin. The Horror Host may be grotesque in some manner, possibly with a backstory of his or her own, but ultimately most Horror Hosts are presenters, not protagonists. Their personalities are revealed in various skits, often featuring BlackComedy, morbid props, and puns. These asides usually comment on the themes and morals featured in the episode, making this an example of a FramingDevice.

Instead of a NightmareFuelStationAttendant, the presenter may be TheStoic, and remain aloof. The one thing they ''won't'' be is scared.
In a Live Action TV context, the Horror Host is often the mock-sinister antithesis of the ExcitedKidsShowHost. More recently, this character has been fictionalized, appearing as a 'type' in films and movies, or being parodied by characters within a show, often as the introduction to a HalloweenEpisode.

Talkative cousin to the MetalBandMascot.



[[folder: Comic Books]]
* The UrExample in comics wasn't technically horror. The pioneering crime comic series ''Crime Does Not Pay'' featured a character called "Mr. Crime", a ghoulish spectre in a "CRIME"-emblazoned top hat who sometimes acted as a gloating narrator for the stories, and sometimes directly intervened to tempt the villains to worse acts.
* Creator/ECComics was probably the TropeMaker, at least for comic books:
** The Crypt-Keeper in ''Tales from the Crypt'' (and its LiveActionAdaptation ''Series/TalesFromTheCrypt'' and its AnimatedAdaptation ''WesternAnimation/TalesFromTheCryptKeeper''.)
** The Vault-Keeper in ''Vault of Horror''.
** The Old Witch in ''The Haunt of Fear''
** Drusilla, the silent but beautiful "lost [=GhouLunatic=]" who co-hosted ''Vault of Horror'' alongside The Vault-Keeper for the last four issues of its run.
* Examples from Creator/DCComics, most of whom went on to be supporting characters in ''ComicBook/TheSandman'':
** CainAndAbel in ''ComicBook/HouseOfMystery'' and ''House of Secrets''
** Lucien in ''Tales of Ghost Castle''.
** Destiny in ''Weird Mystery Tales''
** Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred, [[TheHecateSisters The Three Witches]], in ''The Witching Hour''
** Eve in ''Secrets of Sinister House'' and later ''Weird Mystery Tales''
** The Mad Mod Witch in ''The Unexpected''.
** Judge Quentin Gallows in ''The Unexpected'' (who ''wasn't'' used by Creator/NeilGaiman, but did appear as an antagonist in a Len Wein story within the SpinOff series, ''The Dreaming'')
** [[FortuneTeller Charity]] in ''Forbidden Tales From Dark Mansion'' (who also wasn't used by Gaiman, but did go on to appear in James Robinson's ''ComicBook/{{Starman}}'')
** Creator/ElviraMistressOfTheDark (see below) was the licensed host of ''House of Mystery'' in TheEighties (no, she didn't appear in ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' either.)
** Death (not to be confused with Dream's sister from ''Comicbook/TheSandman'') hosted ''Weird War Tales'', usually in the form of a skeletal soldier or TheGrimReaper.
** Squire Shade, who briefly hosted ''Ghosts'', was visually identical to the DC supervillain known as the Gentleman Ghost.
* ComicBook/TheJoker himself played this role in ''Joker's Asylum'', though the stories, eerie or not, were more crime than horror based.
* Warren Publishing's black and white comics magazines had several:
** Uncle Creepy in ''Creepy''
** Cousin Eerie in ''Eerie''
** Vampirella for the first eight issues of ''ComicBook/{{Vampirella}}'', after which she was reinvented as a lead character.
* From Britain's ''[[ComicBook/TwoThousandAD 2000 AD]]'':
** ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' character Judge Edwina Strange in "Judge Edwina's Strange Cases"
** Henry Dubble in "Tales of the Black Museum"
* ComicBook/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch briefly served as an EC-style Horror Host in the 1972-1974 Franchise/ArchieComics series ''Chilling Adventures in Sorcery As Told By Sabrina''. It was actually pretty strong stuff for [[UsefulNotes/TheComicsCode Comics Code]]-approved material in its day, and especially for Franchise/ArchieComics -- straight-up horror, albeit still drawn in the Archie house style.
* The short-lived 1969-1970 magazine ''Web of Horror'' (published by Major Publications, best known for ''Magazine/{{Cracked}}'') was hosted by Webster the spider.
* Creator/MarvelComics had a few:
** Headstone P. Gravely (alongside his cohort, Roderick "Digger" Krupp) hosted stories in ''Tower of Shadows'' and other titles.
** None other than Creator/StanLee himself served as a "fill-in" host for Headstone P. Gravely [[http://seanhowe.tumblr.com/post/37987714069/smilin-stan-your-host-in-the-chamber-of for a story in ''Chamber of Darkness.'']]
** ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, of all people, could be considered one, albeit only on a technicality. The last two issues of his Golden Age title [[NewSeasonNewName were retitled]] ''Captain America's Weird Tales'', because horror was selling and superheroes weren't. Cap didn't actually introduce any stories "on panel," though. In issue #74, he appeared in a regular Captain America story (albeit one with horror aspects, as he fought the Red Skull in, literally, Hell.) He didn't appear in #75 at all, except in the title.
* Creator/CharltonComics had an especially large and colorful stable of Horror Hosts:
** [[http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2011/10/impys-haunted.html Impy the Imp,]] a tiny ghost in an all-white costume, hosted ''Haunted''.
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Many_Ghosts_of_Doctor_Graves Dr. M.T. Graves]] (usually just "Dr. Graves") hosted stories in several titles, including ''The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves''. A heroic ghost hunter, Dr. Graves sometimes starred in stories of his own.
** [[http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2011/09/dashing-mrdedd.html Mr. I.M. Dedd]] of ''Ghostly Tales'', despite his horns and pale blue skin, was rather dashing and handsome by the standards of Horror Hosts.
** [[http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2011/05/red-white-bloody.html Baroness R.H. Von Bludd,]] an {{Expy}} of Comicbook/{{Vampirella}}, was a beautiful redhead vampire who hosted ''Scary Tales''.
** Professor Cyrus Coffin hosted ''Midnight Tales'' with his lovely niece [[http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2011/02/arachne.html Arachne.]]
** [[http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2010/06/winnie-witch.html Winnie the Witch]] was a beautiful young woman with deep blue skin and a penchant for "mod" fashion. She hosted ''Ghost Manor''.
** Baron Weirwulf hosted ''Baron Weirwulf's Haunted Library''.
** [[http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2010/03/charlton-horror-host-poll-results.html Even more obscure Charlton Horror Hosts]] include Mr. Bones, Colonel Whiteshroud, the Old Witch, Mr. Dee Munn, and Mortimer Tishin.
* Dr. Death, the cadaver-like host of ''This Magazine is Haunted'', a series published by Creator/FawcettComics and then Creator/CharltonComics (which purchased most of Fawcett's properties when Fawcett got out of the comics business), in the 1950s.
* Creator/JackKirby had Horror Hosts for his series in the abortive "Speak-Out" line of adult-targeted magazines that he created for Creator/DCComics in the early 1970s:
** Dr. E. Leopold Maas, a parapsychologist, was the host for ''Comicbook/SpiritWorld'', which featured tales of the paranormal.
** ''ComicBook/InTheDaysOfTheMob'' featured RealLife stories about gangsters such as UsefulNotes/AlCapone. But its host, Warden Fry, nevertheless qualifies for this trope, because he's literally the warden of {{Hell}}.
* More recently, the horror comic, ''Bela Lugosi's Tales From The Grave'', published by Monsterverse, features [[Creator/BelaLugosi the legendary actor]] himself ([[BackFromTheDead back from the grave!]]) as its host, alongside beautiful vampire groupie, Nosferina, and Hugo, a deformed dwarf.
* Creator/IDWPublishing's book of pre-code horror comic reprints called ''Haunted Horror'' is hosted by two all new hosts: Forelock The Warlock and Mr. Karswell.
* ''Film/TrailerParkOfTerror'' has the lovely Norma spin her tales from the titular trailer park.
* Jay and Silent Bob parody this trope in ''Film/{{Clerks}}: The Lost Scene''.

* Creator/BorisKarloff hosted ''Film/BlackSabbath'' as an unhinged version of himself. He also starred in the second of the featured short films.
* ''Film/FrightNight1985''. Peter Vincent was the host of the ShowWithinAShow with the same title, which consisted of him introducing horror movies to his TV audience.
* The Creeper from ''Film/{{Creepshow 2}}'' qualifies, although he barely showed up in [[Film/{{Creepshow}} the first film]].
* ''Film/Gremlins2TheNewBatch'' featured an in-universe horror host named Grandpa Fred (whose look was lifted directly from [[Series/TheMunsters Grandpa Munster]]) who hosted Z-grade horror movies at Clamp Cable. When the plot starts to pick up momentum, he teams up with an excitable Japanese(ish) cameraman to report on the activities within the building and keep the outside world informed.
* Dr. Francis B. [[HeavyMetalUmlaut Gröss]], the narrator/host of the infamous {{Shockumentary}} ''Film/FacesOfDeath''. Like the film itself, "Dr. Gröss" had a number of imitators. In the ''Faces of Death'' series itself, Dr. Gröss was succeeded by "Dr. Louis Flellis," who claimed (in separate installments) to have accidentally killed Dr. Gröss on the operating table, or that Dr. Gröss committed suicide after having been driven insane by witnessing so much death.
* Brain Damage, the mascot of Brain Damage Films. A few of their releases have an intro by him, and in them he's played by company founder Darrin Ramage. As an example, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whtTHzASHP4 here's]] the one for ''Terror Toons''.
* A 1986 horror film called ''Film/TerrorVision'' features an in-universe busty horror host called "Medusa" who perfectly fits the GorgeousGorgon trope.
* [[TheVoice Balan]] from ''Murder Collection V.1'', a GenreThrowback to the shockumentaries mentioned above.
* ''Film/Plan9FromOuterSpace'' has Criswell addressing the audience directly and introducing them to "the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space."
* In ''Film/BodyBags'', Creator/JohnCarpenter plays an oddball character with creepy fixation with the dead called The Coroner. He brings the viewers three tales centered around the cadavers in his care.
* The 2005 film ''The Roost'' uses this as its actual FramingDevice, with its primary tale presented as a weekly ''Frightmare Theater!'' episode. It's introduced by a creepy bald butler from a cheesy cardboard HauntedHouse set, where he badmouths the BatOutOfHell main story and deadpans terrible puns.
* ''The Criminolgist'' from ''Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShow'', narrates the movie from his office and is implied to be investigating the events with witness statements and police reports.
** The original play and the [[Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShowLetsDoTheTimeWarpAgain remake]] have ''The Usherette'', a cinema ice cream sales girl who sings the opening song and its DarkReprise.

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Chuck_and_Lil%27_John Big Chuck and Li'l John]]
* Creator/ElviraMistressOfTheDark[[note]]Who is technically a parody of horror hosts.[[/note]]
* Creator/ErnieAnderson (Ghoulardi), who spawned The Ghoul, The Cool Ghoul, Son of Ghoul, and Creator/PaulThomasAnderson.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_(horror_host) Marvin]]
* Series/{{Svengoolie}} (originally ''Son of'' Svengoolie)
* Vampira, the 1950s Los Angeles inspiration for Elvira also infamous for her appearance in ''Film/Plan9FromOuterSpace''.
* Character/{{Zacherley}}
* Creator/RodSerling was one of the rare examples of TheStoic host on TV, in both ''Series/TheTwilightZone1959'' and ''Series/NightGallery''.
* ''Series/{{SCTV}}'''s Count Floyd was a Horror Host parody. InUniverse, he was Floyd Robertson, co-anchor of ''SCTV News'', who moonlighted as the host of ''Monster Chiller Horror Theater''.
* UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC station WDCA-20 had [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Count_Gore_de_Vol Count Gore DeVol]] hosting ''Creature Feature'' from 1973 to 1987. Played by Dick Dyszel, who also appeared as the Spock-eared alien ExcitedKidsShowHost Captain 20 in the daytime.
* In the TV series ''Series/FreddysNightmares'' [[Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet Freddy Krueger]] himself served as host. This includes episodes where he pulled double duty by starring as the MonsterOfTheWeek, giving the impression that he's ReminiscingAboutYourVictims before the viewer.
* ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' provides an unusual take on the trope, as Joel Robinson/Mike Nelson and the bots might be considered unusually genial Horror Hosts, while Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank could be considered more typically sinister Horror Hosts of the ShowWithinAShow that the Satellite residents are forced to watch.
* ''Series/OffBeatCinema'' has three laid-back {{Beatnik}} horror hosts, who are less sinister and more into "digging it."
* ''Series/TheHunger'' had two of these, one for each season. Creator/TerenceStamp did the honors for Season One. Season Two went further by casting Music/DavidBowie (who had a key role in [[Film/TheHunger the movie]] that inspired the show) as an original character: MadArtist Julian Priest. Unusually for a Horror Host, his backstory is complicated enough that the first episode of the season ("Sanctuary") is devoted to telling it, so he doesn't address the viewer until the final sequence. Subsequent episodes use traditional bookends as he muses over the themes of the stories in question, with touches of BlackHumor here and there. He's rather elegant and melancholy for a horror host too, but that only makes his sadistic (and sometimes ''masochistic'') moments all the more unnerving.
* ''Series/TheMunsters'' features an episode with a fictional HorrorHost named Zombo, who, to Eddie's disappointment, isn't a blood-thirsty ghoul outside of his television show.
* Balrok and No Name, effectively a pair of frat boy demons, are two newer examples of B-movie horror hosts with the UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco-based ''Creepy [=KOFY=] Movie Time''. Besides running a public domain film each week and making the usual variety of jokes about it, their host segments feature a house band, some scantily-clad lovelies, chats with contemporary B-movie makers, and a guest stand-up comedian, making for a goofy VarietyShow.
* Salem the cat was a horror host during certain Halloween episodes of ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch''.
* TNT MonsterVision's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByokwFrLZEk Joe Bob Briggs]]. One of his most popular bits included cataloging the various methods of violence and mayhem in the feature film and listing them out with "Fu" attached, such as Car-Fu, Chainsaw-Fu, etc.
* Creator/AlfredHitchcock himself provided the hosting duties for the eponymous ''Series/AlfredHitchcockPresents'', airing from 1955 to 1965 on CBS and NBC. Hitch's macabre drollery and frequent use of props such as guillotines and gallows makes him a classic HorrorHost, and colorized footage of his introductions were used in a 1985 posthumous revival.
* Creator/RoaldDahl presented the first two series of ''Series/TalesOfTheUnexpected''. His quiet, avuncular manner and comfortable surroundings (overstuffed armchair, cozy fire, knit cardigans) usually managed to make the audience feel ''more'' disturbed, thanks to the contrast between his introductions and the bizarre stories that usually followed.
* Creator/BorisKarloff's tenure on ''Series/{{Thriller}}''.
* Detroit's equivalent was Count Scary (Tom Ryan), a standard Creator/BelaLugosi-type vampire who not only hosted occasional horror films, but starred in local comedy specials as well.
* Discontinued Canadian horror channel "SCREAM" had several horror hosts. Mistress Olga was a goth/vampire/dominatrix who hosted monster movies, Tiff was a DumbBlonde cheerleader who hosted slasher movies and Nancy was a British schoolgirl who hosted supernatural and occult movies. They were all played by the same actress, Jane Meikle.
* Several two-parters of the television adaptations of the ''Series/{{Goosebumps}}'' were given intros and outros hosted by the books' writer, R.L. Stine himself, with Cryptkeeper-esque jokes and puns, but mixed with stoic Rod Serling-esque delivery. For unknown reasons these were abandoned after season two.
* The 2001 BBC horror-parody series ''Series/DrTerriblesHouseOfHorrible'' included a parody Horror Host in the titular character, played by co-writer Creator/SteveCoogan.
* Parodied by ''Series/TheTwoRonnies'' in "The Bogle of Bog Fell", where Ronnie Barker (as the Laird of Cockahoopie Castle) introduces the eponymous ghost story.
* USA's ''Up All Night'' midnight movies were hosted most notably by Creator/GilbertGottfried, who would joke about the films in his classic persona. The films included horror films as well as various B-movies and sexploitation films.
* Parodied by two skits in ''Series/ABitOfFryAndLaurie'' featuring Creator/StephenFry as Gelliant Gutfright, host of ''The Seventh Dimension'', who is a Horror Host combined with Weird and Loquacious Stephen Fry Character:
-->'''Gelliant Gutfright''': Between imagination and desire, between reality and ambition, between what is known and what is feared, between purpose and despair, between sense and [[SophisticatedAsHell shite]], between the visible world and the inner world that straddles the curtain hung between what we know and what we think we suspect is a dark veil that waves gently between the beckoning finger drawing us into the world of what could be and [[ConfusingMultipleNegatives what never couldn't be impossible to dread]]. ''OR DO THEY?''

* The Crypt Keeper in Creator/DataEastPinball's ''Pinball/TalesFromTheCrypt'', naturally.
* Played with in ''Pinball/ScaredStiff'', insomuch as [[Creator/ElviraMistressOfTheDark Elvira]] is the hostess to the player as they watch (and play) various horror movies together.

[[folder: Puppet Shows]]
* Parodied with [[MadScientist Dr Phil van Neuter]] and [[TheIgor Mulch]], who presented the recurring ''Series/MuppetsTonight'' sketch "Tales from the Vet".
* Uncle Deadly of ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' was [[WhatCouldHaveBeen planned]] to get his own anthology series called "Uncle Deadly's House of Badness" where he would have acted as a parody of this trope.

* Raymond of ''The Inner Sanctum'', he of the creaking door, Hurricane Of Puns, and final wish of "Pleasant dreeeams?" Often bantered with his Mandatory Plug co-host, the Lipton Tea Lady.
* ''The Mysterious Traveler'', voiced by Maurice Tarplin, who told his stories on a [[AfterlifeExpress train]].
* ''The Strange Dr Weird'', also voiced by Maurice Tarplin, and who was based in "the house on the other side of the cemetery".
* The Man In Black, voiced by Valentine Dyall in Creator/TheBBC's ''Appointment With Fear'' and TheMovie ''The Man In Black''. And by Creator/MarkGatiss in TheRemake of the radio series ''The Man In Black''.
* ''The Whistler'' of the same show, known for his eerie whistled theme tune and always having one last twist revealed in TheStinger.
* ''Radio/TheShadow'' started out as the host of a crime-drama series, but became a character in his own right when audiences found him more interesting than the stories that unfolded. Not strictly a horror host, but his voice was chilling.

* Every now and then, a somewhat creepy storyteller-narrator character appears on ''Webcomic/{{Jack|DavidHopkins}}'' to tell disturbing stories. He often gives his own thoughts while the story is in progress. At the end of the last arc to feature him in that role, he revealed [[spoiler: that he was in hell and so is the reader.]]
* Theodore Tremaine was a daytime newscaster for a local TV station on weekdays. On Friday evening, however, he took on the persona of Father Fiore, host of the Friday Night ''Webcomic/{{Freakwatch}}!'' Unfortunately, however, [[PosthumousCharacter he's no longer in a state to be hosting much of anything.]]
* ''[[http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/digital.php Bound by Law]]'', an educational webcomic about copyright law and public domain, opens with a creepy old man in a SpookySilentLibrary inviting the reader to the study of "a subject that makes strong men and women tremble" -- the law.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* In the ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' toon [[http://www.homestarrunner.com/ween09.html "Doomy Tales of the Macabre,"]] Strong Sad plays this role, suggesting various horrific fates to befall his friends.
* ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'''s annual Halloween segment "Longbox of the Damned", reviews of horror comics were conducted by the undead Moarte (a Creator/BelaLugosi parody with occasional outbreaks of the original [[SelfDemonstrating/BoisterousBruiser Toblerone]]), always greeting viewers with "Hello My Children!"
** For the summer 2016 edition of LOTD, ''Franchise/TheTwilightZone: Chain Reaction'' (which covers exclusively [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Twilight Zone comics]], Moarte has been replaced with, naturally, a Creator/RodSerling {{Expy}} known only as "[[EverybodyCallsHimBarkeep The Host.]]" The next regular edition had Moarte briefly do the Serling voice while covering another ''Twilight Zone'' comic.
* For [[Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses TGWTG]]'s fifth anniversary special, an anthology of shorts called [[WebVideo/TheUncannyValley The Uncanny Valley]], the host is The Webmaster, played by none other than [[WebVideo/WhatTheFuckIsWrongWithYou Nash Bozard]].
* WebVideo/{{Phelous}}' Blip channel is also home to '''Halloweenie''' who is HORRIBL-- Halloweenie who is AWF-- Halloweenie who is a horror host.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'' had a creepy robe and fez wearing Crow for a host in two of the episodes.
** An early episode had the Elvira CaptainErsatz, Atrocia.
* ''WesternAnimation/MaryShelleysFrankenhole'' has a live-action introduction to each episode which lovingly parodies the low budget Horror Host.
* ''WesternAnimation/TalesFromTheCryptKeeper''
** Interestingly enough, the second season episodes begin with The Crypt-Keeper fighting against The Vault-Keeper and The Old Witch for the rights to host the episode.
* Count Floyd (see Live Action TV, above) also appeared on ''WesternAnimation/TheCompletelyMentalMisadventuresOfEdGrimley''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' examples:
** An [[Creator/ElviraMistressOfTheDark Elvira]] parody named Boobarella shows up occasionally.
** The [[HalloweenEpisode Treehouse of Horror]] episodes often have the regulars spoof famous hosts, like Bart as Creator/RodSerling from ''Series/NightGallery'' or Mr. Burns as the Crypt Keeper.
** One episode was hosted by Creator/LeonardNimoy. He bails halfway through, necessitating he be replaced by the Squeaky Voiced Teen ("Keep watching the ''[[RougeAnglesOfSatin skis]]!''")
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'' featured Buster Bunny in a parody of ''Series/TalesFromTheCrypt'' and at least partially owning to the similarity of their names, another had "Elmyra, Mistress Who's a Dork" as a spoof of Elvira.[[note]]Who herself is, again, a parody of horror hosts.[[/note]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' episode "Terrifying Tri-State Trilogy of Terror" is hosted by Mr. Macabre of the Macabre Book Mobile.