Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Radio Theatre Gems

Since this week's installment of Suspension of Disbelief is revisiting this blog's posts on two 1960s attempts to revive the dying art of radio theatre - Theater Five and Black Mass - let's examine here some more dusty delights to download:

From 1970 to 1973, a syndicated radio show called The Devil and Mr. O repackaged old episodes of the 1930s/40s radio horror drama Lights Out, which can be heard here. From the archive-org entry's accompanying text:

Wyllis Cooper, who created, wrote, and produced it, was then a 36-year-old staffer in Chicago's NBC Studios. Cooper created his horror "by raiding the larder." For the purpose of Lights Out sound effects, people were what they ate. The sound of a butcher knife rending a piece of uncooked pork was, when accompanied by shrieks and screams, the essence of murder to a listener alone at midnight. Real bones were broken - spareribs snapped with a pipe wrench. Bacon in a frypan gave a vivid impression of a body just electrocuted. And the cannibalism effect was actually a zealous actor. Gurgling and smacking his lips as he slurped up a bowl of spaghetti. Cabbages sounded like human heads when chopped open with a cleaver, and carrots had the pleasant resonance of fingers being lopped off. Arch Oboler's celebrated tale of a man turned inside-out by a demonic fog was accomplished by soaking a rubber glove in water and stripping it off at the microphone while a berry basket was curshed at the same instant. The listener saw none of this. The listener saw carnage and death.

Dimension X was a short-lived but highly influential NBC radio program broadcast from April 8, 1950 to September 29, 1951. The first 13 episodes were broadcast live, which turned out to be a logistical nightmare, so the rest were pre-recorded. Later the television programs The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits would directly mimic this program.

An attempt was made to bring Dimension X back under the new name X Minus One, which ran from 1955 to 1958. Stories featured adaptations of cutting-edge Science Fiction writers like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Theodore Sturgeon.

Meanwhile, The Hall of Fantasy ran in 1953 on the Mutual Radio Network, mixing inventive new scripts with older tales from the likes of Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe.

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