Arsenio Hall was the voice of Winston Zeddmore on “The Real Ghostbusters” and starred alongside Eddie Murphy in classics like Coming to America and Harlem Nights, but we’re here to focus on two things and two things only.
To begin, Arsenio is somehow 61 today (where does the time go?), and secondly he was the only talk show host who ever worried the folks associated with someone by the name of Johnny Carson when it came to late night supremacy.
“The Arsenio Hall Show” ran from 1989 to 1994, but one particular episode holds significance for horror fans to this very day.
Little more than seven months from the show’s inception, the time came for Paramount Pictures to promote Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
Rather than simply asking for final girl Jensen Daggett or director Rob Hedden to chat about Jason’s trip to the Big Apple, Hall thought it would be a good idea to have the man behind the hock stop by for a little Q&A.
And that’s where brilliance entered the equation.
As outlined in Kane Hodder’s Unmasked: The True Story of the World’s Most Prolific Cinematic Killer, Hall didn’t just want Hodder to make an appearance, he wanted him to do so in full Voorhees get-up and remain in character for the duration of what turned out to be a roughly five-minute “interview.”
Prior to the show, Hall shared with Hodder that while he thought the segment would be a hit, the costume genuinely freaked him out and asked Hodder to refrain from anything overt that would frighten him on stage. Of course, Hodder agreed, but if you know horror, you are well aware that nothing delights Kane more than scaring people.
Hall went through his litany of questions and Hodder played the part with menacing stares directed at the host, jerky movements when touched and quick glances at the audience, which was eating it up.
Though it sounds simplistic, rest assured it is no easy task to keep a one-way conversation interesting. Hall’s demonstrably uncomfortable performance was spot on, peppered with clever questions for which there would be no answer but Arsenio knew would elicit a response from the crowd. A true showcase of Hall’s talents as a host and comedian.
When the moment to thank Jason for stopping by finally arrived, Hall hesitantly extend his hand, and was surprised when Hodder took it. What happened next was something Hall had not expected, and his response was genuine.
Nearly three decades on, it’s still the greatest gift “The Arsenio Hall Show” provided the world of horror, so in addition to wishing Hall a happy birthday, we thank him for a Camp Crystal Lake moment we will never forget.