Jeff Bodean wants to scare the bejeebers out of you, but in the gentlest of ways.
The independent TV producer and actor is the host of “Creature Features,” a remake of the Bay Area late-night KTVU spook-show classic now originating from an elaborate Victorian-era set at Crowhaven Productions in Windsor.
The premise is the same one that local Baby Boomers may recall – an evening of ghosts, ghouls, bloodied villains and terrifying zombies starring in sci-fi and horror flicks – but the Northbay TV show has a new spin and hauntingly realistic special effects.
Bodean, 53, introduces the weekly movies from the impeccably decorated haunted mansion he spent three years creating. He interviews a special guest during each two-hour program, about 20 minutes of unscripted chat and banter.
Viewers are guided through two hours of heart-pounding programming, with Bodean and his guests providing calming companionship and humor. It’s hand-holding via Channel 49, the Internet and streaming on devices like smartphones and Macs – all for free, many of the options in high-definition clarity.
No one is left alone in the dark, wondering whether a flesh-eating creature from “Night of the Living Dead” is about to break through a locked door. The 1968 cult classic was Bodean’s series opener on Halloween weekend.
Bodean welcomes “Creature Features” viewers in the persona of Vincent Van Dahl, his has-been 1980s rock-star character from “The House on the Hill,” a 2013 spooky sitcom that started out online and ended production after six episodes.
Dressed in classic all-black Goth attire, Bodean brings his unique touch to the host position popularized on KTVU by the droll Bob Wilkins and later by John Stanley, an entertainment reporter and author (and one of Bodean’s first guests).
KTVU’s “Creature Features” ran from 1971 to 1984, back when Bodean was a kid growing up in Novato.
“My mother wouldn’t let me watch it,” he said. “I’d wake up sometimes with nightmares.”
His parents already were in bed by the time the show aired at 10 p.m., giving Bodean an opportunity to sneak into the kitchen, turn down the volume and catch a campy monster movie or a frightening sci-fi thriller.
“It was probably the first time I rebelled in my life. I was sneaking up and watching that show,” he said. “On the bright side, I wasn’t sneaking out of the house.”
He was a fan for years.
“I watched ‘Creature Features’ every Saturday night religiously, at least until I was old enough to go chasing girls,” Bodean said.
His fond memories and desire to bring unique programming to his 2-year-old Northbay TV enterprise prompted Bodean to update the classic show.
He and a pair of fellow producers stage the show from an otherwise nondescript business park.
Bodean’s set is a perfect backdrop for the new venture. It’s a tastefully appointed world of the macabre — plush and intricately carved Victorian furnishings, portraits of sullen-faced people in gilded frames, a grand pipe organ and stained-glass windows.A herd of mounted wild game peers from the walls, a taxidermy penguin stands atop a side table, and a suit of armor and various human skulls — real or not, up for debate — are among the decorative curiosities.
“I can’t even decorate my own house but I knew what I wanted” for the elaborate, $200,000 set first constructed for the now-defunct “The House on the Hill” series.