Old Time Radio Thursdays – #017: A Halloween Mystery Sampler

The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.

A couple of weeks ago we listened to a sampling of comedy shows with a Halloween theme. Last week, we had a creepier sampling with, a variety of different horror offerings from the Golden Age of Radio. This week, I thought we’d bring the detective and mystery shows into play, so here is a selection of dramas all somehow related to the spookiest holiday of the year.

Next week we go back to our usual format, focusing in on one particular radio show. Which one? Well, in keeping with today’s theme, I think I’ll let that remain a mystery.

Until next time, Happy Listening!

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31 Days of Halloween – 031: Le Manoir Du Diable (The Devil’s Chateau) (1896)

And so, here we are, and the end of the countdown. I’ll be honest, there were days this month that I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Not that I didn’t think Halloween would come, that was going to happen no matter what, obviously, just that I wasn’t actually going to make my post-every-day goal. Of course, it’s meant back-burnrering a couple of the other regular features, but worry not, faithful readers they will be returning. (Well, for the most part, anyway There may be a few changes coming up, but more on that another time.)

hc3So, let’s wrap things up in a big way, shall we? How? By going back to the start.

Le Manoir du diable (variously known in English as The Devil’s Chateau, The Devi’s Castle, and The Haunted Castle) is only 3:16 long, but it holds a special significance in the history of cinema as it is recognized as the first horror/vampire film.

Created by silent film pioneer Georges Melies, the film, though short, is full of his trademark camera tricks, and is easily recognized as the work of a master at play, seeing exactly what he can do with his camera, and trying new tricks as he went along.

Obviously, it’s not really meant to terrify, but it does have some interesting moments, and uses its short duration to its fullest. And in many ways,, it foreshadows all of the many many vampire movies that would follow in its wake, including even those made today.

It’s a truly fascinating little film, and one that deserves to be seen and loved as much as Melies’ later and much more famous A Voyage To The Moon.

So, in honor of one of film’s great pioneers, and in celebration of All Hallows Eve, here is Le Manoir du diable:

31 Days of Halloween – 030: The Midnight Coterie Of Sinister Intruders (SNL 2013)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Every once in awhile, Saturday Night Live still hits one out of the park, and they’ve definitely done it with this year’s Halloween film parody. The premise is simple: what if Wes Anderson directed a horror movie? The results? The Midnight Coterie Of Sinister Intruders. The verdict? Hilarious!

31 Days of Halloween – 029: Spook Sport (1939)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Spook Sport is a kind of animated ballet created by Norman McLaren in 1939 and set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre.

31 Days of Halloween – 028: Creature Feature Theater – Svengoolie Presents Saturday The 14th

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

I really wish that I had more time to write about this today, going into the history and legacy of Chicago horror host Svengoolie and also talking about the horror comedy Saturday the 14th itself which is another one of those that really belongs on my “favorite guilty pleasures” list – yes, it really is as bad as you think it might be – but other commitments mean that I simply can’t today. I do promise to return to both topics before too long, though. In the meantime, however, I’m just going to invite yo to kick back with me and enjoy the show.

31 Days of Halloween – 027: Three Skeleton Key Starring Vincent Price

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile now will know that Vincent Price holds a special place in my heart. Of course, if you’ve been following along, you also know that I have a special love for Old Time Radio shows. Today those loves come together as I spotlight one of my all-time favorite shows.

Three Skeleton Key” originated as a short story written by French author George G. Toudouze. It first appeared in English in the January 1937 issue of Esquire magazine. The story concerns three men who inhabit and tend a lighthouse on an island off the coast of French Guiana. One night, an abandoned ship, which has been overrun by thousands of ferocious rats, wrecks on the island. From that point on, the lighthouse, which has meant life for so many, becomes a deathtrap for the three men.

The short story was adapted for the radio by James Poe, and was first broadcast on the anthology series Escape in 1949. It was so popular that it was performed again (these were actual re-performances, not simply rebroadcasts) in 1950 and 1953. It was also performed on the series Suspense at least twice, once in 1956, and another time in 1958. Each of these performances had different casts, but three of them, the 1950 Escape broadcast and the two Suspense performances featured Mr. Price in the starring role.

The version that I’m presenting below is my personal favorite, the March 17, 1950 Escape broadcast.

Also, for those interested in reading the original short story, it’s available in .pdf format here. And, of course, for more Golden Age of Radio goodness, just check back here every week for Old Time Radio Thursday.

A Dog And His Boy: Here’s The New Trailer US Trailer For Mr. Peabody And Sherman (2014)

Y’know, the thing I’m most concerned about as far as Dreamwork’s upcoming Mr. Peabody and Sherman goes is not the CGI – that looks fine as far as these things go – it’s the expansion of what were originally perfect little shorts written for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (The shorts were then known as Peabody’s Improbable History) into a feature-length movie. As always with these kind of efforts, the creators have to keep in mind that what works just fine as a short doesn’t always work in expanded form. I suppose we’ll just have to wait until next year to see.

Anyway, here’s the trailer:

And for those who may not be familiar with the originals, here are a couple of examples: