Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nights of Fright

As a very young child in Utter Despair , N.J., THE FUTURIST! recalls three horror movie shows on Saturday nights. It was a cornucopia of creepy creature treats as three of the major non-network local New York channels had monster movie shows every Saturday (sometimes into the early morning of Sunday). THE FUTURIST! most favorite of fright features was WNEW-TV Channel 5's CREATURE FEATURES with its host The Creep. The Creep was a middle-aged man in a tuxedo with sunglasses who sat in a velvet upholstered chair and introduced that night's flick. Channel 5's show was a favorite because it had the rights to all the classic Universal Monster movies. This is where THE FUTURIST! first met Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster and the original Mummy, Henry Hull as The Werewolf of London, the fantastic teaming of Karloff and Lugosi in THE BLACK CAT, THE RAVEN and the underrated THE INVISIBLE RAY. Most of all THE FUTURIST! remembers this is where he first marveled at the voice and comic horror of James Whale's THE INVISIBLE MAN starring Claude Rains. Below is the theme music used to introduce the show, but the video is a slight reconstruction of the opening. The original opening slowly morphed from one Universal Monster to another:

Next up is the opening to WPIX Channel 11's CHILLER THEATER. This was originally hosted by Zacherley who became an icon of monster movie hosts. THE FUTURIST! does not remember ever seeing him, but does remember this scary opening that was used later. It could induce nightmares in the fevered brain of a young boy. The show, at the time THE FUTURIST! recalls, had no host and featured more films of the sci-fi genre such as MONSTER ON CAMPUS, THE LEECH WOMAN and TARANTULA and some dubbed horror films from Italy. There probably was some Mario Bava featured at times; BLACK SUNDAY, for instance.

Lastly, there was WOR-TV Channel 9's FRIGHT NIGHT. If he remembers correctly, THE FUTURIST! thinks this was on much later at night ... maybe 11:30 pm or even after midnight. THE FUTURIST! rarely watched it due to it being broadcast way past his bed time, but he occasionally crept from his bed to tune in to see what might be featured. It, too, had no host ... and though it includes classic monsters in its opening, the show NEVER featured them film-wise. The announcer at the end of this clip proclaims that the night's feature is Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM. Wow! Classy thrills for a young impressionable lad!


Dara said...

Very interesting. The thing about hugging your child was the scariest thing of all!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Fairfield County, CT where we got WOR which did indeed show lots of cool old movies. But that intro for Chiller Theater scared the crap out of me as a kid. Even now 30+ years later I got a frisson watching it.