“Lurking among the corpses are the body-snatchers, plotting their next venture into the graveyard…”
Those were the first words that welcomed Twin Cities viewers to the weekly night of terror offered by the local TV station KSTP, back when I was a kid in the 1970s. The show was called Horror Incorporated.
There were many such creature feature offerings on local television stations all over America in those days. Our horror movie showcase was a little different than most. Ours had no host.
No Vampira. No Ghoulardi. No Mister Lobo. No Sir Graves Ghastly. No Doctor Creep. No Sharon Needles. No Grimsley.
But my research does show that Horror Incorporated did indeed, however briefly, have a couple of hosts. First was Dr. Paul Bearer (get it?) in the early 1970s. There also appears to have been a second host in the mid-70s, who went by the name Graves. Neither host lasted very long. For the majority of its run from the fall of 1969 until sometime in the later 1970s (I’m not certain when it ended) there was no host.
And having no host was good, because…
In the 2000s, the show was revived with hosts. There were two attempts at a revival, in fact. I don’t know which came first, but one was hosted by Count Dracula, who stood in front of a green screen and did a not so great Bela Lugosi impression. He would make puns and tell a few facts related to the featured horror movie. He would then tell viewers to “OBEY!” and come back next week. Lame, but the actor did his best with what he had to work with.
The other attempt had a small cast of young actors doing sort of a take off on the Addams Family. In fact, the main character, Uncle Ghoulie (center in above photo. No, not the wolf!), was a cross between Gomez Addams (as played by the great John Astin on the ’60s TV show) and Svengoolie, a current and longtime horror show host. They did skits and tried their best to insert humor into the proceedings. They had varying degrees of success.
Neither incarnation lasted long.
I might have a bit of nostalgic bias here, but I prefer no host. That’s the way I saw the Friday night creature feature when I was a kid. There was no silliness, except what might have been in the movie. The way that version was presented was to absolutely creep you out. You were supposed to be scared. It set the tone for a scary movie. And if they had a good one to show, one with Lugosi or Karloff, perhaps, the viewer would be in the proper mood for a scare and not a giggle.
The show featured a simple open and close which often times were far more frightening than the featured film. They consisted of a sparse set: Black with only a coffin in a spotlight. And, of course, there was fog. The lighting would change from harsh white to yellow, blue, purple, green, red. There were sounds of creaking doors, shrieks, groans, and cries of anguish. And then the lid of the coffin would begin to open and two pale, claw-like, almost skeletal, hands would come into sight. The occupant was rising from his coffin to head into the night in search of blood… I’m guessing.
And there was the voice-over provided by Jim Wise, who was also working for KSTP radio. He sounded excellent as he welcomed viewers to that week’s “excursion through Horror Incorporated…” Chills! Good old-fashioned, blood-curdling chills, folks!
When the feature was complete, the scene returned to the coffin. This time its occupant was returning from a night of terrorizing innocents. And the voice-over told us…
“Next week, I will be back again with another venture into the chamber of horror. Come along for another experience through the unknown, into Horror Incorporated.”
Now just try to get some sleep, kids!
You can watch the opening and closing at this link. See if you don’t agree that it is very effective. Also, visit The Horror Incorporated Project. It’s a fun site that really helped me in my research.
Feel free to comment and share.
Images used under Fair Use.
Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.