Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie

Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie

by Ted Okuda, Mark Yurkiw
     
 

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The first comprehensive look at the horror movie programs that found their way to local TV stations in the 1950s, this book discusses how the motion picture industry initially disparaged and feared television but eventually began to embrace it, and it focuses on films grouped into the horror genre. Thousands of films that had long been gathering dust in film studio

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Overview

The first comprehensive look at the horror movie programs that found their way to local TV stations in the 1950s, this book discusses how the motion picture industry initially disparaged and feared television but eventually began to embrace it, and it focuses on films grouped into the horror genre. Thousands of films that had long been gathering dust in film studio vaults gained new life with TV genre programming, and Chicago's tradition of TV horror movie shows was born in 1957.

During my generally misspent youth, I devoted an inordinate amount of time watching the most preposterous movies ever made. I use the word preposterous advisedly, because that s the precise term to describe films involving giant scorpions, teenage werewolves, little green Martians, big alien brains, fire-breathing space turtles, 50-foot women, puppet people, humongous leeches, killer shrews, and grasshoppers as big as the Shedd Aquarium. Not that I have any regrets.
--Author Ted Okuda, from the Introduction

Although the motion picture industry initially disparaged and feared television, by the late 1950s, studios saw the medium as a convenient dumping ground for thousands of films that had long been gathering dust in their vaults. As these films found their way to local TV stations, enterprising distributors grouped the titles by genre so programmers could showcase them accordingly. It was in this spirit that Chicago s tradition of horror TV movie shows was born. TV viewers couldn t get enough of the old monster movies everything from glossy Frankenstein and Dracula epics to low-budget cheapies featuring giant grasshoppers and teenage werewolves. Here in Chicago, these films were broadcast on such horror movie shows as Shock Theatre, Thrillerama, Creature Features, and Screaming Yellow Theater.

Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie is the first comprehensive look at Chicago s horror movie programs, from their inception in 1957 to the present. Through career profiles of the Horror Hosts who provided comedic interludes between commercial breaks, discover which creepy presenter was one of the 12 reporters to travel around the country with the Beatles during their 1965 66 U.S. tour, and learn about the politics behind Channel 32's sudden (and outrageous) switch from Svengoolie to the Ghoul. Also included are broadcast histories of such hostless programs as Creature Features, Thrillerama The Big Show, The Early Show, The Science Fiction Theater, and Monster Rally, along with a guide to 100 fright films broadcast on Chicago television and a look at the Shock! horror library that started a TV craze. Filled with rare photographs and ever-before-published data, Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows celebrates a grand tradition in local television.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A fun read . . . answers a lot of the ‘frequently asked questions’ viewers usually ask of me!”  —Rich Koz, Svengoolie

“A lovingly chronicled history of spine-chilling local programming.”  —Chicago Tribune

"An unexpected surprise . . . I was taken in by the book's buoyancy and verve, not to mention the great firsthand insights. This is a unique report that shouldn't be missed."  —Classic Images

"All the childhood memories of TV in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s come crashing back. . . . Authors Ted Okuda and Mark Yurkiw have hit the nerve that electrifies an era of our pop culture. This book takes you back with fun writing from people who are passionate, wonderful TV listing ads, rare photographs, the theatre promotions, and insight into Chicago's versions of it all. A true monster treat for The Monster Boomer Generation!"  —Ron Adams, director, International Monster Bash Classic Movie Conference, and editor, Monster Bash magazine

“For true Chicago television fans, there’s no better gift than a splendid new book about a programming craze that combined screams with laughter. . . . Lavishly illustrated with rare photographs and ads, the book also features several helpful guides, including detailed listings of monster movies and contacts for obtaining them on DVD.”  —Robert Feder, Chicago Sun-Times

“The writing is warm, lively, and energetic—not to mention, often, very funny. . . . This book is an absolute delight.”  —Mark Clark, author Smirk, Sneer and Scream: Great Acting in Horror Cinema

“Two scholars reanimate the gory days of Chicago television’s monster hits . . . rich with lively anecdotes . . . sure to amuse even the casual fan.”  —Time Out Chicago

“Ted Okuda and Mark Yurkiw explore the ways a generation’s collective memory was formed by these shows. . . . will appeal to horror fans who didn’t grow up in the greater Chicago area.”  —Kevin Maher, Monster Fest, AMCTV.com

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781893121133
Publisher:
Lake Claremont Press
Publication date:
11/28/2007
Pages:
255
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Ted Okuda is a film historian and writer. He is the author of The Columbia Comedy Shorts, The Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television, and The Monogram Checklist and the coauthor of Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay, The Jerry Lewis Films, and The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America. He has written for The Big ReelClassic Film CollectorCult MoviesFilmfax, and Movie Collector's World and has appeared on Chicago TonightNBC–Channel 5 News, Nude Hippo: Your Chicago Show, The Today Show, and Three Stooges Stooge-A-Palooza. He lives in Chicago. Mark Yurkiw is a journalist for the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark newspaper, and his articles have appeared in Forest Park Review, Wednesday Journal, and Suburban Life. He served as a research consultant for The Golden Age of Chicago Children’s Television. He lives in the Riverside-Brookfield area.

Ted Okuda is a Chicago-based film historian whose previous books include The Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television (coauthored with Jack Mulqueen), The Columbia Comedy Shorts, The Monogram Checklist, The Jerry Lewis Films (coauthored with James L. Neibaur), and The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America (coauthored with Scott MacGillivray). His most recent book credits include coauthoring Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay: Dawn of the Tramp David Maska, contributing chapters for Guilty Pleasures of the Horror Film and Science Fiction America, and writing the foreword for Castle Films: A Hobbyist's Guide. Okuda's articles, interviews, and reviews have appeared in such media-themed publications as Filmfax, Classic Images, Cult Movies, Outre, Classic Film Collector, The Big Reel, and Movie Collector's World. He has discussed film, television, and pop culture topics on The Today Show, Chicago Tonight, Three Stooges Stooge-A-Palooza, Nude Hippo: Your Chicago Show, and NBC Channel 5 News. Ted was also a research consultant for the cable access anthology series The Kings of Comedy.

Mark Yurkiw is a journalist for the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark newspaper; his articles have also appeared in Suburban Life, The Wednesday Journal, and The Forest Park Review. He holds a BA in television production from Columbia College and an Associates Degree in journalism and mass communication from Triton College. Mark is a member of the Network 6 Commission for Riverside, Illinois. He has been a member of the improvisational comedy troupe the Happy Clams, and a writer-performer for the cable access program The Funny Show. He has served as a research consultant for books dealing with movie/TV history and pop culture, including The Golden Age of Chicago Children s Television, and is currently the Grand Sheik of The Bacon Grabbers, the Chicago tent of The Sons of the Desert, the International Laurel & Hardy Society. He resides in the Riverside-Brookfield area.

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