The Lost Zacherley Pilot

It's a manic Manhattan morning as I am sitting in traffic with my friend John, in a cab on our way to a top secret destination on 23rd Street. The time is roughly 10:30 a.m. on an April morning of 1989. Horns are honking, people are running the streets like ants, and vendors are barking their wares on every street corner. John and I had embarked on this journey several hours before from Woodbridge, New Jersey; parking in the car park at the Port Authority bus terminal in the City that Never Sleeps. We alight from the cab and pay our fare, to the soundtrack of two rummies fighting over who's having the best case of the DTs and which one of them has the most pink midgets.

We move quickly to avoid stepping on their little friends, into the open door and a waiting elevator. We are lifted two floors up as the elevator creaks and moans, setting the scene for what lies beyond the rusting iron doors. Suddenly the doors open with a screeching noise, and John and I are in a small studio, which is transformed into a creepy projection booth supposedly in the wilds of New Jersey where we have just come from, via the turnpike and the Holland Tunnel. Crewmen are running cables, setting up lights, attending to props, and checking video monitors. In the center of all this madness is the "Cool Ghoul," Zacherle.

We move to the back of the studio out of the way of the grips, and watch as special effects make-up wizard Tom Savini begins his segment with Zach. They get the gag in a couple of takes, and it's break time. We had missed (the late) Brion James segments, which were filmed earlier that morning to promo his picture, Horror Show.

Z TV was intended as a weekly half hour show, with a focus on all that was current in the world of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. The pilot featured trailers from the then new Batman and Ghost Busters II. Brion James and Tom Savini were the featured guests, with the show opening up on a ghoulish monster chasing a young beauty through the wilds of New Jersey, which then cut away to Zach coming out of a battered trash dumpster, eating a moldy old pizza, explaining that the old theater in the background is his new home, and that this was the location on which many old monster movies were shot.

Zacherle's interview with Tom Savini encompassed a Savini special effects gag, Zach introducing Savini to his wife, "My Dear," and dissecting an amoeba. Later, Zach is visited by "the Toxic Avenger" plugging his new flick, Toxic Avenger II.

A new character was added for the festivities, a reptilian creature named "Doc," who has nitroglycerine in his veins, and is always blowing up. Zach is in fine form on this outing, which was largely inspired by the highly successful Horrible Horror, which was released in 1986 on Good Times Video.

It's a shame this pilot didn't sell, because it's a hoot and a half. Written by Diane Miner, Rick Schiaffo, and Jeff Bianchi, and directed by Rick Schiaffo, this could have been the Entertainment Weekly of the graveyard. But alas, it's now an unseen piece of Zacherlore.

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