Last October, when I was participating in the annual “Countdown to Halloween”, I wrote about the many spookyshows that have haunted our televisions over the years. I chose to focus on the theme music, since that gets much less credit than it deserves. Turns out I had neglected one show, or at least it’s theme and opening titles. The show wasn’t spooky in itself, but but the opening was decidedly gothic and eerie… Continue reading →
Last year I participated in the annual “Countdown to Halloween” , sponsored by the blog with that name. Alas, I gave out all my candy (as it were) then, and don’t have anything to contribute this year.
But all those posts are still there (look for things tagged “Halloween”), and the blog is still doing its annual Countdown.
So if you want to get more in to the spirit of the season, check out their links to the dozens upon dozens of nostalgia buffs, craftspeople, artists, and movie lovers who are once again sharing their love for all things spooky with us.
Because Halloween isn’t over until the dead have their day…
By the way, a tip of the warlock’s hat to all the other Cryptkeepers for sharing all their wonderful music, movie reviews, artwork, photography, commentary, and Halloween collectibles with us. It was a serious distraction at work checking in on everyone! I’d also like to thank everyone who stopped by here. I hope you will continue to do so – I’m hoping to be posting just as often during December for Christmas. And I am going to keep posting movie and book reviews, as well as my thoughts on baseball, and whatever else crosses my mind.
Horror movies haven’t generally gotten any respect from the Oscars. Yeah, the Academy has tossed a handful of nominations to the genre over the years, but wins for anything other then technical matters have been few and far between. Back in 2010, they attempted to make up for this with a montage of clips from classic horror movies. It was pretty decent – Jaws, The Blob, Nosferatu, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dracula, The Shining – but there was one colossal and unforgivable oversight….
Orson Welles’ radio play based on H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is arguably the most famous radio program of all time. The Mercury Theater’s 1938 dramatization was so effective that people thought it was an actual news broadcast, and panic ensued. Though there is much debate over how widespread that panic was, it cannot be denied that many people thought that the Martians were actually invading. Wells at first claimed it was just an honest attempt at giving listeners an entertaining fright that got out of hand. Years later, he changed his tune to say that it was a deliberate attempt to show that people shouldn’t always take what they hear, see, or read in the media at face value.
If it indeed was an experiment in mass psychology, the results were dramatic. While a major principle in scientific research is that any experiment must be reproducible, it’s likely that no one would want to reproduce this particular experiment. After all, who wants to deliberately cause a panic? And given the notoriety of the original broadcast, any scientist or radio producer would be hard-pressed to find virgin ears on which to conduct a follow-up.
The British make the best fake documentaries. There was the BBC’s “Spaghetti Harvest” of 1957 (which resulted in a flood of phone calls from people asking how they could grow their own spaghetti tree), and “Alternative 3”, a show on Anglia TV in 1977 that purported to uncover a secret plan to set up bases on the Moon and Mars (which despite including easily disprovable “facts” and a cast listing at the end is still taken seriously by some conspiracy nuts).
Judging by movies and television, everyone loves a good zombie. The walking, or perhaps shambling, shuffling dead, or undead, if you prefer…. Things that look like human beings but aren’t, so you can beat the crap out of them without any pangs of conscience.
Having done a bit of reading on the topic, I have concluded that there are actually six distinctly different types of zombie.
For whatever reasons, the major networks moved away from horror and suspense in the 1980s. Perhaps it became too expensive to produce the anthology series that were the mainstay of the genre. It was left to syndicated shows to provide the scares.
Quite a few horror movies have turned into veritable franchises, with many sequels (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th leap instantly to mind). But even though television cannot reproduce many of the scares that movies can, there have been plenty of television shows that are just as loved and appreciated as some movies. Often, it doesn’t take more than a few notes of the theme music to bring back the memories.
Pretty much everyone – at least I hope so – is familiar with Cassandra Peterson’s character “Elvira”. The self-styled “Mistress of the Dark” gained fame for her obvious sex appeal while hosting cheap horror movies on syndicated television in the 1980s. The popularity of her shows made her a national icon for Halloween.
The tradition of “horror hosting” that she epitomized goes back much further; at least to the 1950s. American Scary is a documentary that looks at this American tradition as a form of entertainment worthy of our appreciation.