Fri 9 Mar 2012
[When you think of Old-Time Radio, what program is the first that comes to mind? I’ll bet most people, at least those over a certain age, will say one of the following: The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, or even The Jack Benny Program.] To some minds old radio has become nearly synonymous with top-notch horror shows, and Lights Out has a reputation in this regard second to none.
I happen to think that the series as a whole is largely overrated, but then again there were a few prime examples of creepy crawly midnight chills on that series, real chillers that stay longer in the memory than those of other similar shows, and somehow they seem to make up for all the dull rather uninspired episodes that everyone manages to forget.
The theme of “Superfeature” the show broadcast on April 6, 1943, is a good one. According to Arch Oboler’s introduction, the most frightening thing in the world is the everyday object suddenly no longer seen or heard in its commonplace form. The familiar unfamiliar. The shutter banging in the wind. The cat at night staring at you with suddenly gleaming eyes.
Even motion picture projectors. You don’t get to see the show that the two backwoods entrepreneurs put on to bring the spice of life to audiences of country bumpkins, with ulterior motives, but you can certainly imagine it from the reactions of the crowd. The finale of their repertoire is a monster flick, that mysteriously comes to life, later, after the projector has been turned off. And what we learn then is how this pair of crooks finally get what’s coming to them.
It ends with a scary manhunt through a swamp — scary, that is, if your imagination is capable of believing the huge dose of hokum that’s the whole basis of author Arch Oboler’s story.
So … why did I leave the lights on? I’d have to admit that listening to a man drown before my ears is something that could keep a more sensitive person awake for a good long while afterward. You could build quite a reputation for a show based on the sound effects alone.
And only incidentally, I’m also glad to say that I’ve finally discovered what Ironized Yeast was used for.
Editorial Comment: Follow the link above to listen to this particular episode yourself. A complete log for Lights Out can be found here.