In 1982 Frederick Fontenot had a dream.
Inspired by horror hosts such as New Orleans’ Morgus the Magnificent and the growing national popularity of Elvira, Frederick wanted to become a horror host of his own.
In these pre-internet days, the path to horror host stardom wasn’t through YouTube channels or Facebook glory, it was through public access drudgery.
Still, every Saturday night at 2 AM New Orleans public access channel WBEZ would turn into Dr. Fred-N-Stein’s Movie Massacre. A two-hour show that featured the best, or worst, of public domain horror aired in between skits of Frederick playing the titular character as well as a host of oddballs.
But this was no ordinary horror hosting gig. Dr. Fred-N-Stein didn’t have a lair or a study, Frederick meticulously recreated sets from the films he featured, building them as well as his skills and budget would allow.
Every week he’d recreate a set in his garage and film his skits in there. This passion soon led him to quit his job and work full time, building sets, writing scripts and recording new episodes of his show. He toiled night and day on this project and put everything he could into it.
However, despite his efforts, his star never really rose. Though he gained a few fans over the months, most of his audience was the same group of drunks and insomniacs it had been. He was allowed to keep his time slot since no one else wanted it, but he wasn’t being moved up either.
It was then his failure was beset by tragedy. Though Frederick performed most of the characters himself, he brought in his friend and local actor Sally Hebert to fill in scenes where a woman was needed or there had to be two people in the same shot.
While acting out a human sacrifice scene, Frederick grabbed the wrong knife and, instead of plunging a fake dagger into her chest, he accidentally killed his long-time friend.
Panicked, Frederick disposed of the body but faced another conundrum. His episode was due in less than 24 hours. As he looked back over the footage though, he realized just how “realistic” the scene now looked.
Hesitantly, he used the footage and, much to his surprise, not only did no one come looking for Sally, but his show found itself being praised for it’s effects.
The accolades became too much for Frederick. He quickly set out to create a repeat performance. Soon he found a pattern, luring unsuspecting men and women to their deaths with innocent casting calls, always being careful to choose people no one would miss, and then airing the footage as part of a skit for his horror hosting show.
Frederick’s show became a quick success, everyone praising it for its effects with no one seemingly realizing that the deaths were less than staged. For all of his madness, he was careful and despite months of weekly murders, no one in the city was any the wiser.
It ended up being his finances that became his downfall. Even though his show grew in popularity, it remained a public access staple and never brought Frederick any income. The money he spent on cheap sets didn’t go to his mortgage and soon he found himself in foreclosure.
When the sheriff finally came to evict him, Frederick was gone. However, in his garage was aftermath. Corpses stacked in the rafters, buried in the yard and stored in the shed. The police quickly pieced together the truth about Dr. Fred-N-Stein but never told the public. After all, how would they feel when they learned they had unwittingly witnessed dozens of murders?
The story of Frederick Fontenot was kept quiet. He never reemerged and the city never saw a reason to discuss it.
But here’s the thing, Dr. Fred-N-Stein never really went away. He’s just been waiting for the best time to come back and now, in 2017, seems to be the perfect time and here, at Bernie Baxter’s, is the perfect place.
So come one and come all. As the doctor is in and he’s looking to create some new episodes. Let’s just hope that this is one time the director doesn’t yell “Cut”.