There was a time when late night TV didn't consist of Jay Leno jokes or David Letterman stunts... Johnny Carson was king. 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' to deliver, we baked generic cardboard pizzas in the oven. (But, they tasted 'oh, so good!') Along with refreshing glasses of Kool-Aid in which to wash it down, these were the snacks that we enjoyed as we waited for horror movies to produce tingles down our spine & goosebumps on our forearms.
Back in a time when there was no cable TV... and television was limited to maybe 13 channels at most, we would huddle around the console 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 creature features. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Werewolf, The Creature from The Black Lagoon, The Blob, and even Godzilla. Raymond Burr's performance could even make Godzilla appear to be real scary!
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, and a handlebar mustache. Seymour (pronounced Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeymour during the opening intro) did the usual horror host shtick with comments on the movie while playing back scenes that had occurred in the previous segment. 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 1130 PM. Mom and dad are in bed. You and other family night owls 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 it 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 are 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. 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. They will never be forgotten.