Chance of A Ghost!
(Featuring Halloween selections from the 1950’s and earlier as we continue this years Halloween Spook-tacular! Originally podcast on 14 October 2013 on BlasphuphmusRadio.com, and again in 2015.)
Playlist & Footnotes:
I often associate Peter Lorre with this time of year, as his voice is forever associated with the 100s of imitators who would do his voice as a Halloween Shorthand when I was growing up. His career in film is incredibly well known, but his radio career is less familiar. So I was happy to find a program he hosted that fits the Halloween theme perfectly: Nightmare, a supernatural anthology show that presented a different story every week, hosted by the Master of Macabre, Peter Lorre himself. For this particular broadcast, I chose an episode from the mid-1950’s, and decided to pair it with a fair amount of period music to bring the point home.
As was typical for these kinds of Ghost Stories, there is only the smallest hint that something supernatural has happened during the tale, and even that is handwaved by the participants at the very end. However, as we can see in comparison to last week’s program, rather than report something “supposedly true,” we are starting to get to the point where radio was dramatizing the story, in a way that sets a very good Halloween mood. Considering that the 1950’s saw a resurgence of the Universal Horror Pictures – coupled with The Shock Theater TV package of horror movies that was sold to most stations in the mid-50’s – horror was starting to take hold of the public at large. (Horror comics started to sell like crazy in these days, too.) However, this was a budding genre, and there were still a lot of “mood” pieces that were not so much scary, but evoked the imagination. This is exactly where Nightmare fits in.
Finding musical accompaniment for this episode was harder than I thought it would be. While there is plenty of music that is labeled “1950’s Horror,” when you start to actually compare dates, many of these songs are from 1960 or later. The musical “monster craze” really doesn’t get started until 1957, when Shock Theater was nationwide, and people were seeing horror on TV late at night. However, there were enough songs to help flesh out the show, and in some cases, foreshadow bits and pieces of the story. I was pretty pleased with the evolution of music from last week to this week, and hopefully we’ll continue this evolution as we begin to enter the 1960’s, when the Monster Song genre really began to take off.
Among the selections from this show include a few really excellent gems worth mentioning: Tarantual Ghoul And Her Gravediggers! While I had heard this song on a few compilations prior to this show, in researching this artist I discovered that she was actually a Horror Host here in Portland Oregon in 1957 – 1959 on KPTV! You can find a few images of her here, and I would recommend searching around for other images and the flip side of her 45, “King Kong.” Clearly influenced by Vampira and the other Horror Hosts of the era, this is a great discovery for me, and I’m very excited to learn more about her. Novelty Record nerd will also like to hear that “The Casual Three” is actually a Dickie Goodman production, of the incredibly duo “Buchanan & Goodman,” most well known for their hit, “The Flying Saucer.” While it was common for people to work under a number of names in those days, I thought I knew just about everything there is to know about those guys. Always something new to learn.
Stay tuned, as we will be edging our way into the 1960’s, with more of our Halloween Spook-tacular, 2013!
Chance of A Ghost!
Part I: Nightmare In A Haunted House!
01.) Chance of A Ghost * Peter Lorre * Nightmare (31 March 1954) (Throughout The Show)
02.) Nightmare Hop * Earl Patterson * 1959
03.) Skeleton In The Closet * Artie Shaw & His Orchestra * 30 October 1936
04.) The Ghost Song * Salty Holmes * 1954
05.) Dead * The Poets * 1958
06.) Haunted House * Cris Kevin And The Comics * 1959
07.) Mad House Jump * The Daylighters * 1959
Part II: In The Graveyard!
08.) Satan Takes A Holiday * John Cali & Tony Guttuso * 1937
09.) Graveyard Rock * Tarantual Ghoul And Her Gravediggers * 1958
10.) Graveyard Boogie * Buster Doss & His Arkansas Playboys * 1948
11.) Nightmare * Jack Turner * May 1955
12.) Midnight Monster’s Hop * Jack And Jim * 1959
Part III: What Is And Isn’t There!
13.) White Ghost Shivers * The New Orleans Owls * 1926
14.) He’s A Vampire * Archie King * 1959
15.) The Invisible Thing * The Casual Three * 1958
16.) The Rockin’ Ghost * The Modernaires * 1962
17.) Nightmares * John Lowell
18.) The Monster * Bobby Please * 1959
19.) Swingin’ At The Seance * The Deep River Boys * 1940
20.) Ghost Satellite * Bob & Jerry * 1958