A story doesn't have to appeal to the heart, it can also appeal to the spine. Sometimes you want your heart to be warmed and ... sometimes you want your spine to tingle. The tingling, it's to be hoped, will be quite audible as you listen tonight ...
This love of "the creeps" goes as far back as there are written records of theatrical presentations. It probably goes back to the earliest stories ever told! Certainly Shakespeare's audiences loved a good scare: the witches in Macbeth; the ghosts in Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Richard III; the supernatural encounters in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and so on.
Ghost stories and supernatural tales became especially popular during the Victorian era, due in large part to the Spiritualist movement and the continuing development of psychology. Authors such as Sheridan LaFanu, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker developed melodramatic tales of spectres, vampires, and other things that go "bump" in the night, which were read out loud in homes as entertainment.
Radio is a natural extension of this practice, and is an especially effective means of conveying frights, because what you can imagine is much more terrifying than anything that can be shown. That's why shows like Suspense, Lights Out, Dark Fantasy, and The Witch's Tale were popular with the radio listeners.
Since 1997, LBSC has made a point of producing spooky treats for the Halloween season. We've done our own adaptations of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Dracula, as well as radio plays of Frankenstein, episodes of Arch Oboler's Lights Out, and many Suspense scripts.
The Witch's Tale was a horror-fantasy radio series that aired from May 21, 1931, to June 13, 1938. The show was hosted by Old Nancy, the Witch of Salem, who introduced a different terror tale each week:
The fascination of the eerie... Weird, blood-chilling tales told by Old Nancy, the witch of Salem, and Satan, a wise black cat. They are waiting... Waiting for you.... now.
Nancy: Now go up to the fire and gaze into the embers. Gaze into them deep and soon you'll be with us in Switzerland. Soon you'll hear our yarn of Frankenstein. (cackles)
The Hitchhiker is a story written by Louise Fletcher for Orson Welles. Ms. Fletcher wrote Sorry, Wrong Number, which is still one of the most popular radio dramas ever, and was adapted for the screen as well, The Hitchhiker was also a hit four years earlier, and was eventually adapted for the television show, The Twilight Zone. Ms. Fletcher was a successful writer for radio and film, and for a time was married to Bernard Herrmann, who composed scores for Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, among others. In fact, The Hitchhiker was conceived as the couple was driving from New York to the west coast on their way to work with Orson Welles!
The 1955 Suspense episode, Zero Hour, was written by Ray Bradbury, adapted from his short story in his collection called The Illustrated Man.
There is something especially creepy about perverted innocence. Children take their games seriously, and when challenged by an adult, often become secretive. This could mean nothing, or it could mean life or death! Bradbury brings home the point that we should not dismiss the actions of children. They sometimes know more than we do!
In 2013, LBSC presented Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation of Dracula. This time, we present a 1949 Canadian adaptation, written for Lorne Greene (who later went on to great fame in TV's Bonanza). This is a difficult story to condense into an hour, but they managed to capture the essence. Note our use of the water glasses in the scenes with the "Brides" of Dracula. This effect is described in the original novel:
They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand.
Dark Fantasy was a short-lived radio series from 1941 to 1942. The show was created and written by a man using the pseudonym, Scott Bishop, who cited among his influences Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas DeQuincy and Samuel Coleridge. The episode we present is called W is for Werewolf. It is the best-known of the series, perhaps because it was the 13th offering and aired on Friday the Thirteenth! It had creeps galore, and its use of sound effects and descriptive dialogue help make it a memorable example of old-time radio horror.
One of the great radio programs of the Golden Age of Radio,Suspensewas subtitled "radio's outstanding theatre of thrills."Suspenseusually featured leading Hollywood actors of the era.On a Country Roadwas written for Cary Grant and Jeanette Nolan, and originally aired on November 16th, 1950.
LBSC opened the Richard Goad Theatre on Halloween night of 2002 with its own adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. For several years following, we produced our own adaptations, until 2008, we decided to perform Howard Koch's adaptation, written for Orson Welles. This proved so popular, we've been doing it ever since.
Every April, LBSC celebrates the month in which William Shakespeare was born. Among our features, we found an old Gunsmoke radio episode about an itinerant Shakespearean actor (originally played by Hans Conried, played here by Carl Wawrina) who finds himself in Dodge City.
Around Dodge City and in the territory out west, there's just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers, and that's with the U.S. Marshall and the smell of … Gunsmoke.