Many shows that were not horror or dark fantasy would have special episodes at Halloween that reveled in a dark, scary atmosphere. Comedians would visit a haunted house and varieties would invite a special guest known for starring in horror films.
(Also included on this page are horror shows that have only one or two scary episodes reviewed.)
The New Sheriff (Guest: Bela Lugosi) 1948-05-05
Costello, the new Sheriff of Encino, must investigate Lugosi’s spooky house. Jokes are mediocre. Song: Dickey Bird.
Peter Lorre’s Sanitarium (Guest: Peter Lorre) 1944-01-13
Costello isn’t feeling well. A doctor appears, inviting him for a needed rest at his sanitarium… where a headless man flees the flu before the flu flies.
Thirsty Death, The
(John Carradine, Bela Lugosi) A jealous husband locks his wife and her ex-beau in a house surrounded by mad dogs, then injects “one of them” with rabies! He leaves a knife for one to kill the infected when they go mad…
Arsenic & Old Lace
[Boris Karloff] A sociopath returns to his family’s home to discover a cellar already filled with corpses! Was it his crazy brother, his sane brother, or his dear, sweet aunts? [Adapted from Joseph Kesselring’s Broadway play]
A Visit to Count Yorksha’s Castle
This episode is only 15 minutes, and the five-minute visit to the Count’s castle is such bad quality that I didn’t understand a single word of the poorly delivered jokes. A shame, I’m usually a big Bob & Ray fan.
Ghost in the Crypt, The
A fortune in jewels is hidden inside a haunted house. Mrs. Malcott found the treasure and frightens the benefactor’s nephew and heir away… until he calls on Blackstone! But what drives her assistant to flee the house?! Motif #1
Riddle of the Seven Zombies
Assistant Rhoda explores a ruined castle and witnesses a horde of zombies push a man off a cliff. When the drums command them to attack Rhoda, only Blackstone can save her! Followed by a matchbook magic trick!
Spell of Dimitri, The
In Cairo, Chandu refuses to let Betty (Chandu’s neice and Betty Regent’s daughter) spend time with Prince Dimitri, a man who death seems to follow. In return, the evil black magician takes control of his nephew Bob’s mind, kidnaps him, and turns him into a follower of Satan! They have a psychic showdown! Will the power of three times three be enough to save Bob?
Jan 30, 1938 – Guest: Boris Karloff
A variety show. At 20:00 minutes the sound muffles as Karloff narrates Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart. He returns again at 45:00 to do a comedy routine with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Charlie’s story of a haunted house makes Frankenstein faint.
A retelling of the classic tale by LeFanu. A young woman is targeted by a female vampire… and it wins her! [Adapted from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu]
(Bela Lugosi) A firebug is angered when a woman refuses his advances, and burns down her apartment building. His wife gives police a clue and he is apprehended before he can murder again. Bela reiterates the moral at the end.
Female of the Species
A Moll joins with her husband’s killer for revenge on the boss who contracted him out. When a hit goes wrong, she finds a hideout from both the cops and the crime boss… but they can’t hide forever.
It’s the dames, trigger, the dames. They’re never happy with the man they got, they always have to make him bigger than he really is.
Lucifer Meets a Client
A murderer is released from prison– but was he guilty, or did the Devil make him do it?
A man falls for a lady in his apartment building. When she rejects him, he kills her and hides her body in the back of a closet. When the police finally search there, they find only a missing sewing dummy. Was it all a bad dream? Nope!
Guest: Raymond Edward Johnson (7/26 1944)
Dunninger answers unspoken questions from the audience, often curtly reminding them to speak into the microphone rather than nod. They are shocked he knows their phone number! “There’s someone asking, “Where am I from?” The answer is Chicago. Who does this fit?” There is a musical interlude, then the guest judges present Dunninger with a “mental challenge”, each playing a character in a murder mystery skit. Raymond asks, “When does the meyhem begin?” Dunninger states he is not a fortune-teller. “Someone wants to know where to get ten thousand dollars. My good friend, you tell me, and I’ll split it with you!” (“If money could think, I’d tell you where it is.”)
Murder is the Medium
In this detective drama based on a Dashiell Hammett character, The Reynards are invited to a “manifestation” where Harriet speaks to her departed first husband, who asks for money. When the undercover Detective Runyon (The Fat Man) exposes the fraud, the medium, Sala, is killed! Her assistant is then poisoned. Runyon discovers the film and voice track used at the seance came directly from the Reynard house itself…
In a Spooky Cemetery
Comedy. After a seance at a friend’s house, the family car runs out of gas. They shelter from the rain in an abandoned mansion filled with eerie noises… and a caretaker! The girl’s whining is supposed to be funny, but I found it grating. Still It was enjoyably entertaining.
Guest: Bela Lugosi
(Bela Lugosi) Bela wants to sub-let his apartment. Bela appears at the halfway mark. Filled with jokes that are not funny.
Guest: Boris Karloff
(Boris Karloff) Boris wants to sub-let his house. His entire appearance is five minutes of poor, scripted jokes.
Guest: Peter Lorre (“The Killers”)
(Peter Lorre) Texaco Star Theater. Peter makes a 5 minute cameo (at 14:00) playing up how few people would know about the morgue if not for him while Fred insults him repeatedly with racist jokes, calling him a “let down” and a “runt”. Then the song When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along!
Haunt Me a House
Comedy. Real-Estate agent must sell a haunted house. “I tell ya, there’s no such thing as ghosts.” Too bad the same isn’t true for mothers-in-law!
What Was It?
An opium-smoking ghost hunter and a friend capture an invisible thing in their boarding house. Plaster reveals a flesh-eating ghoul! [Adapted from Fitzjames O’Brien][See also: Weird Circle: What Was It?]
The Big One
(Robert Griffin) A bum offers to tell a pub patron his story for a hamburger. The blue plate special gets you a doosey. A mentalist agrees to read a woman’s mind to discover the location of her daughter, a lost heir she has been hiding. When he discovers she is dead, he plays the old gypsy switch with his own estranged daughter. The tragedy is, the ruse succeeds!
Broadcast on the tenth anniversary of his death: October 31, 1936
It is explained that Bess and Harry Houdini had made a pact that if either of them should die, they would attempt to come back on the anniversary of their death, but to call it done after ten years. There was a secret code pre-arranged so there would be no question. Presided over by Doctor Saint, the participants encourage Harry’s spirit to appear, but he doesn’t. At the end Bess pronounces that she does not believe there is any way back from the other side.
Ghost Who Forgot Halloween, The
Children’s story about a little ghost who can’t help falling asleep… even on Halloween! He is punished by having to go without a sheet. Seems overly cruel, they should consider ADD medication or a possible medical condition like narcolepsy. Typical 1950s punitive approach.
Gift From the Dead
Mr. Mystery’s friend has a sister who has been shut away from the rest of the world by her possessive, domineering husband. When the husband dies, she is sure he will return…an heirloom jewelry box gives his family “Immortality”. Will his ghost return on their anniversary? The story had truly great potential until the shock ending… shockingly dumb. Disappointing.
Ghost of Diamond Jim Brady, The (54-04-25)
Jack and his crew go to a seance where the spirit of Diamond Jim Brady tells Jack to have fun and spend, spend, spend! But the effects man in charge of the crew’s ghost prank was also Jack’s stage manager, so the staff doesn’t get a raise. (Episode also called: Seance)
Snake Pit, The
(Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price) The real-life horrors of a mental institution in the 1950s and the alienation of electroshock therapy. A service announcement. It can’t compare to the horror of Moorehead’s whining. [See Also: The Snake Pit (1948) with Olivia de Havilland]
Withered Arm, The
Unknowing witch dreams revenge on her lover’s new suitor, who then must touch a hanged man’s neck to be cured of the dream-curse: A useless, disfigured arm! Guess who the hanged man turns out to be? [Adapted from Thomas Hardy]
Night Has a Thousand Eyes
(Edward G. Robinson) A mind reading act goes south when the medium receives real visions. He sees his assistant/lover die, so he leaves to avoid its possibility. She marries and has a child while he lives as a hermit, but she cannot escape fate. He then sees the daughter’s death… by a lion! Guess what just escaped the zoo? (Screenwriters Playhouse)
(Vincent Price) During transport to prison, a prisoner gets the best of his guard, and when a woman has to share their train car, she wonders why the man handcuffed to the officer is bleeding… and dead. The killer coerces her to unlock the cuffs, then jumps out the window on a slow curve, planning to steal the cops’ identity. The criminal is supposed to be “paranoid;” they use the term improperly, but its superfluous to the story. No plot and a tacked-on spin ending, but Price makes the tension fun.
Raised From the Dead, The
Crime. A trio fake a friend’s death to break him out of prison, but once he draws a map to where the loot is buried, it all goes for nothing. One by one, the rest of the mob drops, and the moll stands alone. Her crazy voice is something else!
Shadow of Huntley House, The
A woman decides she’s got a chance at her twin sister’s newly acquired inheritance… by taking her place! She kills her husband after he aides in dumping the body. She is almost successful, but murder runs in the family!
(15 min. episodes)
Empty Coffin, The
In 1875, an insurance investigator discovers that a coffin holds not a missing husband’s corpse, but scrap metal!
Girl With Two Personalities, The
A young girl wakes believing she is the daughter of a neighbor who died years ago. She knows things only that girl would know. The change lasts only a few days before the girl returns to herself.
Ninth Skeleton, The
Man gets lost in the dark woods on his way to meet his lover. The final in a procession of skeletons turns out to be his companion… but who are the other eight? [Adapted from Clark Ashton Smith]
The Bet (Boris Karloff, Frank Morgan, Roy Rogers) 1946
Karloff, sick of scaring, tries being a jokester and a singing cowboy, but reaches his swing as a romantic crooner singing to the Bat Woman. “Campbell’s Soup… Uhmmm,Uhmmm Ghuuud…” He then gives a straight performance in Anton Checkov’s The Bet— It’s great with The Wizard of Oz’s voice!
VanDyke Seance, The
Dick Diamond is hired to protect Mrs. VanDyke from phony psychic crooks. He proves Professor Leonardo is a bunko artist. Tongue-in-cheek humor gets out of hand when undercover character Lulabell laughs. But VanDyke dies that night.Diamond hunts down the Doc, but who’s got the jewels? After a gunfight, Diamond reveals the true plot! Then he sings “Don’t Blame Me” at the end. (Not horror. Crime/Detective? Comedy? Variety? It’s a weird ride.)
Big Clock, The
(William Conrad, Tony Barrett – 1949) A man is approached by his magnate boss’ girl after he quits, disgruntled. She’s killed, and still had his handkerchief in her purse. But their gag gift for the boss is missing from the crime scene! Can the crime reporter put the pieces together before he gets fingered? An abridged version of the film noir classic.
On Borrowed Time
(Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Lionel Barrymore) A short version of the movie. An old man traps Death up an apple tree. What happens when “Mr. Brink” lures his grandson too close to the tree? What of the boy’s meddling aunt? A morbidly sweet morality play. [Adapted from Lawrence Edward Watkin]
Murder Mystery. An opera singer with a cat phobia loses her voice permanently from screaming after she is locked in a room full of the demonic felines. Was her understudy responsible?
Devil’s Deep, The
Murder, blackmail, and intrigue at sea. Good crime noir adventure, no supernatural. The dead guy is alive, a master blackmailer… but he’s not the one!
An adopted son pines to get out and see the world. He would do anything to escape, even set fire to his adoptive guardian’s home!
Guest Spirit at the Seance, A
A journalist attempts to de-bunk a medium, but gets killed instead. His wife, seeking her still-missing spouse, attends a seance. This time the medium gives an authentic one!