How About Some Obscure Horror Television for Halloween?
So here we are, just about a week away from Halloween and maybe you're lining up your horror viewing for the next seven days.
Certainly there are plenty of horror movies from which to choose, but I'm going to recommend a couple of television series that you may have never heard of. And, as far as ONE of them is concerned, I'd bet a good chunk of money you've never heard of it.
My sister and I loved watching horror anthology TV series when we were kids. I guess Night Gallery, hosted by Rod Serling, was the big one (Twilight Zone was well before my time and almost before hers and was less horror than, well, just weird).
But in 1972, a series premiered called Ghost Story. It was hosted by the late Sebastian Cabot, who brought a properly sinister vibe to his introductions of hour-long stories that revolved around the supernatural. The show only lasted one season and, in fact, changed its name to Circle of Fear midway through.
You can find episodes on YouTube and I have to tell you, I'm not sure how they'd hold up today; it's been a TON of years since I've seen it. But these stories always featured really big names and, by today's standards, pretty cheesy visual effects. But that great, eerie 1970s TV horror movie music always helped. And, if I'm not mistaken, there some really creepy storylines.
Here's a sample episode that features a very young Jodie Foster:
The other one--the one that should be somewhat more familiar, I suppose--is Kolchak: the Night Stalker. It was one of my all-time favorite shows and still holds up fairly well, thanks to its star, Darren McGavin, who plays reporter Carl Kolchak, an employee of the fictional International News Service (INS) in Chicago. The series, which has become a cult classic and airs on MeTV, only lasted one season, and I never missed an episode.
Every week, viewers would see Kolchak investigating bizarre deaths at the hands of some unexplained force--usually some kind of monster. Think Scooby Doo, only WAY darker and no big pull-off-the-mask reveal at the end followed by a scolding from the perpetrator of "those meddling kids and that dog."
No, Kolchak's nemeses were straight up from the world of the supernatural; an abridged list of villains includes a vampire, a werewolf, a zombie, a swamp creature, a coven of witches, and--perhaps the silliest of them all--a headless motorcyclist (even though the back story was fairly well-written). Here's one of the episodes you'll find on YouTube:
Kolchak: the Night Stalker employed low interior lighting and mostly night scenes and a lot of wet streets to create the perfect creepy atmosphere. Plus, the deaths of these--at the hands of supernatural beings, mind you--always felt like they came at the hands of, say, a human serial killer.
And McGavin really dug into the role and played it naturally--as if this sort of thing happens all the time. He also narrated each episode with a sort of smart-alec cynicism that, honestly, made the proceedings just a little bit darker.
The show was also a HUGE inspiration for The X-Files.
Like you, I'm going to find some classic horror films and indulge between now and October 31st, but I'm going to check out these old TV series as well and relive some great, spooky memories.