Thursday, December 24, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 1 ...


     The clock on the wall and the headline on this page tells us that our time is up for another year here at the K.A.C. As we do every year, we're going to leave you with our annual Christmas ghost story. 

     Actually, there are two. The first is a traditional chiller and the second one is somewhat different. Oh, there are spirits involved, but it takes a very unexpected turn from the tales you are used to reading here.

     But first, a bit of info on the man who wrote them. Arch Oboler (1909 - 1987) was a prolific and gifted writer with a fertile imagination, most noted today for his guiding hand on the LIGHTS OUT radio show of the 1930s and '40s. His most famous (or infamous) show was the "Chicken Heart" episode (in which a chicken heart kept alive in a lab grows out of control and devours all life on Earth), a masterpiece of sound effects that gave kids of the time the jim-jams and was so popular and well-remembered that Bill Cosby had one of his most famous stand-up comedy routines about hearing it as a kid and the unfortunate incident that transpired in his home because of it. 

     Oboler was also an acknowledged inspiration for such future writers as Rod Serling and Stephen King. He was responsible for cinema's first 3-D feature (BWANA DEVIL, 1952), as well as being the mastermind behind another 3-D feature we've shown at Conjure Cinema, THE BUBBLE. 

     I had the good fortune to correspond with Mr. Oboler when I was a college student in the 1970s and he spoke of many things, including (like Rod Serling after him) his disdain for the interference and changes to his scripts by network sponsors and the like. He also wrote one of the finest horror novels I have ever read (House On Fire, 1969). For years it was out of print and impossible to find, but has been recently reprinted and is well worth your time.

     That rather long introduction aside leads us (at last) to this year's tales. Our first story is entitled "Poltergeist" (aka "The Gravestone"). It originally aired on LIGHTS OUT the night of December 16th, 1936, and is a stellar example of how Oboler could wreak havoc with one's imagination with only words and sound effects. Give it a listen here: 

     Our second tale is entitled "Uninhabited" and aired on December 22nd, 1937. It was, I'm sure, a surprise to regular LIGHTS OUT listeners who were expecting their regular dose of in-the-dark radio horror. Oboler was always one to turn expectations on their head throughout his long career and this episode is no exception. So turn out YOUR lights and settle in (courtesy of the Old Time Radio Christmas website) as we join three weary travelers on a long train ride home ... that takes a VERY unexpected detour:


     Finally, let me leave you with this quote, appropriate for the holiday ... and any other ... season.

     "Resolve to cultivate a cheerful spirit, a smiling countenance and a soothing voice. The sweet smile, the subdued speech, the hopeful mind are earth's most potent conquerors, and he who cultivates them becomes a very master among men".

                                                                                         - Elbert Hubbard 


     Thank you for joining us for another edition of the K.A.C. - we hope we've educated and entertained you along the way and brought some happiness into this stressful time. We'll be back next year when the calendar reaches December. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

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