I can remember a time when late night TV didn't consist of Jay Leno jokes or David Letterman stunts. As Saturday Night Live limps thru another season, I can remember the days before the talented 'Not Ready for Prime Time Players'. Before there was microwave popcorn, we made 'Jiffy Pop Popcorn' on the stove top in those aluminum foil tins. (Cook it too long, and you'll end up with burnt popcorn!) Before there was a 'Dominoes Pizza' to deliver, we baked generic cardboard pizzas in the oven. (But, they tasted 'oh, so good!')
Back in a time when we were without cable and limited to maybe 13 channels at most, we would huddle around the television set late at night on weekends. By tuning into a local station and fighting the rabbit ears to get the best reception, we would turn out the lights and watch those late night creature features. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Werewolf, The Creature from The Black Lagoon, The Blob, etc.
Late nite hosts would keep us entertained between commercial breaks. KHJ, Channel 9 in Los Angeles had a show called 'Fright Night ' that ran in the early 1970's. Its host was named Seymour . Big black cape, wide brimmed black hat, almost handlebar mustache. Seymour (pronounced Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeymour) did the usual horror host shtick, with comments on the movie, including playing back scenes that had occurred in the previous segment and commenting on them specifically. Does this format sound familiar? The producer of Seymour's Fright Night was the same guy who produced Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
It's after 1130PM. Mom and dad are in bed. You, your brothers and sisters, and/or friends are in the darkness of your living room. It isn't uncomfortably cold, but their is enough of a chill in the air to warrant the blanket you are wrapped in as you huddle on one corner of the couch. The curtains are drawn. The light of the TV flickers and plays across the walls and ceiling. The house creaks as it often does and you know it is nothing... just as you know that the shifting colors of the TV is making you think that you just saw something moving out of the corner of your eye. Despite this rationalization, you take a quick look around the room just in case. If there is one thing that you've learned in those early childhood years, it is that you can't be too careful.
These things are all but gone from our lives. Those were the days when we feared being afraid... but it was more fun to let yourself be scared anyway. Your experience may vary a little from the one that I just described, but I'm sure that you can relate to it. I used to live for those night owl horror movies. I couldn't wait to see what classic was going to be on TV each week. Some movies would scare the heck out of me... and it didn't require sex and gore. Sure, we have HBO and Showtime now... and you can always watch videos and DVDs today, but they will never replace the fun that I remember. That was the magic of childhood and the classics that gave us those spine tingly feelings. I will never forget them.