Up all night. When you read those three simple words, do you picture a blonde bombshell on the TV screen excitedly describing a horror movie about an un-dead prom queen seeking revenge on the offspring of those who played a part in destroying her beauty and causing her death? If the answer is yes to that question, then you are definitely among the generation that was blessed with years of spending Friday nights glued to your television set, and eating up every second of USA’s Up All Night with Rhonda Shear.
Predating TNT and Joe Bob Brigg’s Monstervision by a good two years, USA Network premiered an all night extravaganza of a block of films on Friday and Saturday nights (Saturday nights hosted by Gilbert Gottfried) usually between 11pm and 5am. A host who would guide you through the films with the use of lowbrow yet endearing comedic skits than ranged from the incredibly random to the theme of the night’s lineup of films. It was your standard hosting bit that bookended each film segment, but with each host – as with the myriad of hosts who have had this similar gig – it is the host’s personality that hooks you. Rhonda Shear had that personality. She had that energy. She had that presence. The vivacious blonde bombshell was not just a nightie wearing, baby voiced lady of the night, however. She was a hell-of-a-fun hostess who constantly parodied the sort of character that she was portraying while delivering true spirit to the genre puns.
As for me – well, preteen me – it was with Rhonda Shear that I discovered a few of my now favorite films. She introduced me to Mary Lou in Hello, Mary Lou: Prom Night II. She took me to Monster High (1989). She let me ride with Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989). She made me Once Bitten (1985). She sent me to Summer School (1987). If I wasn’t discovering films at my local video store (I miss you Finklea’s!), I was discovering films with Rhonda, and I always felt scandalous in doing so. I was not supposed to be up at the times that these films were on! I definitely was not supposed to be watching the sort of films that she showed! The films that were showcased during Up All Night were right up our alley (the horror fare) to literal late night comedies to heavily edited sexploitation films. They are the types of films that you remember certain scenes from, but can never place what movie they were from. The titles mentioned above were some of the more well known films, but then there were films showcased such as Monster in the Closet (1986), Rush Week (1988), Forever Evil (1987), A Polish Vampire in Burbank (1983), and a favorite of mine, Getting Lucky (1990).
Perusing Youtube’s vast collection of videos from Rhonda’s antics, I came across some videos that absolutely reminded me of how perfect she was for this gig. The first being from a night where she was showing a double feature of Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) and Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood (1988). It is during this night that she hangs out with an extremely generic Jason Voorhees. She gives Jason‘s mask a Rhonda makeover, makes him play with dolls, and talks all sort of things. A vague demasculation of the overtly emasculated Voorhees, and I was all for it. It is within the same episode that Voorhees brings over a friend in a very generic Hannibal Lecter. Then there are the multiple times that Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons) stopped by to either help Rhonda find great deals at a 24 hour grocery store in LA, or to have an all night girls only game night
Rhonda Shear has not been quiet in the industry since her last Up All Night in 1998. Just last October, Shear released an autobiography titled, Up All Night: From Hollywood Bombshell to Lingerie Mogul, Life Lessons from an Accidental Feminist. Shear was definitely very self-aware of the image that she was putting out there with her Up All Night persona. In an interview with The Jewish Journal, she said
“To keep the attention of people watching at the time, I made the character very sexy and over the top.“
In the book, she speaks about the scummy underbelly of Hollywood moguls that has shown itself within the past few years. When asked in an interview with The Writer’s Life E-Magazine if she has any other books that she is working on, Rhonda responded with, “Looking forward to writing a book about women’s image of their bodies. I will be taking a serious topic and writing it with honesty and levity. Women are so hard on themselves about what they see in the mirror. We have so much more to offer than our reflection.”
In addition to being an author, for over the past decade and a half, she’s partnered with the Home Shopping Network to showcase her award-winning, designer lingerie and intimates line. Her funny bone is still agoing as she’s also made appearance at stand up clubs. She’s constantly involved with and lending her time to many different charities, and is a strong opponent of animal rights. You can keep up with her on her Twitter (@RhondaShear), or at her website, rhondashear.com.
Not to take away from Joe Bob Brigg’s huge return to Terrorvision (literally, he managed to shut down all of Shudder’s servers), but what would it take to get Rhonda Shear to do one more Up All Night? Out of the utmost respect and with appreciation would I sit the entire night as she would introduce us to films of then mixed with puns of now.
So again, try to say those three simple words, “Up all night.” You did the “Up” in a higher register, didn’t you? You paused before the “… all night,” right? But you, nor I, nor anyone else, will perfect it as Rhonda Shear did every Friday night in the nineties.