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The season for radio horror programs

Tuesday 9/28/21

These are some radio horror programs I've been listening to lately, which go well with this fall season. I listen to radio horror all year. I'm not a seasonal person in any way, I'd say, when it comes to art. In March I will watch the Christmas film, listen to the Jimmy Smith Christmas album. In sweltering July heat I'll read the Washington Irving tales set in fall. I didn't used to be that way, but I think I want to be. I kept evolving, and when you evolve, you shed other planes, or leave them behind, and you pull more into you, such that you're not something in a point in time, but you're someone in multiple temporal spots. You're like a living palimpsest.

The first two episodes here come from that program I touched on yesterday, The Sealed Book, which ran for about half a year in 1945. Many of the scripts were written by Robert Arthur, which strikes me as strange, because they're very cheesy. The program's appeal is in that cheese. We're a long ways away from the subtle artistry of, say, Quiet, Please, or the production values of Suspense. Arthur dispensed with the cheese for his eventual Three Investigators YA series, which I'd say is the book series I love the most, and have done since being introduced to them by a teacher in fourth grade. I was always done before the rest of the class, and one day this teacher suggested a Three Investigators title to me, andI was hooked. I still read them. When I get my house back in Rockport, there will be a stand-alone shelf of the entire series. It's ironic, I suppose, that Arthur would turn out what are essentially the meatball sub versions of scripts for adults with this radio program, and save the smartness for mid-teens. The Keeper of the "ponderous" Book is a pretty amusing character. He has one job, and yet he always sounds disorganized.

Here's an episode of The Hall of Fantasy called "The Shadow People," and this is the script. Don't you like that people take time to post things like that? Or maybe type them out? That they have that passion for something? I find it heartening. The Hall of Fantasy ran from August 1952 to September 1953. This episode is right near the end. It's typical of the series as a whole in that there's no concern with happy endings, or pulling the humans through that last tough spot. The forces of evil often just crush them in The Hall of Fantasy. There really isn't another series that takes the same approach to the same degree.

Here's another Hall of Fantasy episode I enjoy about invidious fog. Shades of John Carpenter?

These next three programs involve Dracula. The first is the kind of thing I'll often listen to when they come up--that is, community theater in audio/radio form, tackling a horror novel I like. I like the spirit that amateurs can give this kind of thing. I like the passion. What I'll do is jump in somewhere in the middle, to hear the accents. If the voices sound even vaguely believable, I'll go back to the beginning and listen to the whole thing. The second program comes from the script of an un-produced Hammer Dracula film, instead of the Stoker novel. I had mentioned having a Halloween idea for Outside, and that idea is about Hammer films. Hammer is the horror studio that sends you outdoors. Almost all of those films are set in autumn. The colors are deep-toned, and you're often in the woods, or by a rill, and when I see so many of those scenes, I want to head out into the woods. You don't get that with the Universal horrors. They're in black and white, for one thing, and the forests can be striking, but it's not the same as a Hammer forest, which is more natural. There is less in the way of a throng of angry villagers, less of that all-encompassing fog you get with the Universals. I love that fog--it's like a character. But you don't really see fog like that, do you? And when you see it in a film, you don't think, "Yes, I should take a long hike this weekend, it's the perfect time of the year." Whereas, the Hammer films can make you think that way. And then lastly, there's a CBC adaption of the Stoker novel, with Lorne Green--who will play Ben Cartwright on Bonanza, in about nine years--as the Count. I love Bonanza, so that's pretty cool to me. I was really into Bonanza starting at probably fifteen-years-old. I remember my mother telling me that when she was a kid she was Lorne Green at Downtown Crossing, and he was handsome. I think about that every single time I walk through Downtown Crossing.


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