Ever since Silky and I moved to the lovely and desperate City of Sin, we have met some down in the... I mean, down TO... earth personalities. Take this fellow, for instance... this is just one
example of an upstanding human... or, he used to be... that we've stumbled upon and has now become one of the main cast.
Of course, he doesn't look like this now... nor do we call him Horatio
(gag)... we call him CAMEO! Much better, don'tcha think?
This vintage publicity photograph from March 24, 1947 was taken inside Chicago's WGN radio station. The shorter, happy-go-lucky chap standing behind the microphone, is none other than Art Hern! During this period, Hern was a member of the cast for the popular radio program Captain Midnight. A few years later, Hern would portray television's first horror host character - the Swami, Drana Badour!
The ominous Swami appeared on a local television station program in Chicago, called Murder Before Midnight (1950-1953). For most of its run on WBKB (Channel 4), the half-hour show serialized the films throughout the week.
Art Hern was actually the second person to portray the Swami Drana Badour. A television announcer, named Allen Harvey, originated the role.
In 1948, when Columbia Pictures decided to expand the company and enter the new media realm of television production, they needed a name for their subsidiary company. They chose to use the already established Screen Gems.
By 1956, after several years of producing successful television programs, they also began to syndicate theatrical films from Columbia's own archives. However, for fans of classic horror movies, August 27, 1957, marks a significant historical point in time when Screen Gems obtained the rights to syndicate, for a duration of ten years, over 550 of Universal-International's motion pictures.
The films were compiled into themed packages in order to entice television stations throughout the United States to purchase them in bundles. Regardless of the number of movies featured in a particular package, it is suspected that television stations were able to barter the quantity of titles and the price.
One of the most popular packages was called SHOCK! It was such a success, that even today, fans continue to pay tribute to it. The package featured 52 films from Universal-International's vault and consisted, primarily, of their most cherished horror film classics (i.e., Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, etc).
The promotional SHOCK! media book was 11 x 14 inches and was printed on thick, glossy stock paper. The moment you opened the book to the first page, the figure of Frankenstein's Monster would pop up.
The splashy pages that followed attempted to convince television stations of the appeal these films would have on their audience.
The SHOCK! media kit also offered suggestions on how to promote the films as part of a recurring "Shock!" program that would create anticipation, excitement, and lure new viewers.
Conveniently, the book contained a page for each film, which included an image, synopsis, credits, promotional media material, and cast bios, in order to assist television stations in promoting the film they would be airing. Some titles in the SHOCK! package, such as Enemy Agent, The Mystery of Marie Roget, Sealed Lips, and The Spy Ring, were mystery, suspense, and spy flick thrillers, which most TV stations tried to avoid including as part of their horror-themed program. Periodically, however, stations found it necessary to use some of these non-horror titles as fillers when obtaining additional, and affordable, horror films proved difficult to obtain.
For quick reference, all 52 SHOCK! films and their catalog number are listed below:
1. The Black Cat (1934) #693
2. Calling Dr. Death (1943) #694
3. The Cat Creeps (1946) #695
4. Chinatown Squad (1935) #696
5. Danger Woman (1946) #697
6. A Dangerous Game (1941) #698
7. Dead Man's Eyes (1944) #699
8. Destination Unknown (1942) #700
9. Dracula (1931) #701
10. Dracula's Daughter (1936) #702
11. Enemy Agent (1940) #703
12. Frankenstein (1931) #704
13. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) #705
14. The Frozen Ghost (1945) #706
15. The Great Impersonation (1935) #707
16. Horror Island (1941) #708
17. House of Horrors (1946) #709
18. The Invisible Man (1933) #710
19. The Invisible Man Returns (1940) #711
20. The Invisible Ray (1936) #712
21. The Last Warning (1938) #713
22. The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942) #714
23. The Mad Ghoul (1943) #715
24. Man-Made Monster (1941) #716
25. The Man Who Cried Wolf (1937) #717
26. The Mummy (1932) #718
27. The Mummy's Ghost (1944) #719
28. The Mummy's Hand (1940) #720
29. The Mummy's Tomb (1942) #721
30. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) #722
31. Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) #723
32. Mystery of Marie Roget (1942) #724
33. Mystery of the White Room (1939) #725
34. Night Key (1937) #726
35. Nightmare (1942) #727
36. Night Monster (1942) #728
37. Pillow of Death (1945) #729
38. The Raven (1935) #730
39. Reported Missing (1937) #731
40. Sealed Lips (1942) #732
41. Secret of the Blue Room (1933) #733
42. Secret of the Chateau (1934) #734
43. She-Wolf of London (1946) #735
44. Son of Dracula (1943) #736
45. Son of Frankenstein (1939) #737
46. The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) #738
47. The Spy Ring (1938) #739
48. The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942) #740
49. Weird Woman (1944) #741
50. Werewolf of London (1935) #742
51. The Witness Vanishes (1939) #743
52. The Wolf Man (1941) #744
Cast: Loretta Young, Robert Cummings, Wendell Corey,
Sam Jaffe, Douglas Dick, Suzanne Dalbert
Despite its all-star cast, and its reputation as a true film-noir classic, The Accused proves to be a rare gem that is difficult to locate for viewing. Although not a horror movie, this suspenseful feature film from 1949 was one of the first thrillers to be presented on television by a horror movie host.
Back in the early days of horror hosting, fright flicks were difficult to obtain, and programs, such as Murder Before Midnight, Lady of Horrors, Terror! Theatre, and Vampira, often acquired mystery and suspense films as fillers. The Accused was one such feature, and appeared on Murder Before Midnight in nightly half-hour installments.