Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spooktober: Chiller Theatre (1961)

If you live or have lived in New York City, chances are pretty good you're familiar with Chiller Theatre, which aired on & off on WPIX between 1961 & 1982. At the end of its run, Chiller, which usually aired in late night or primetime, moved to Saturday afternoons, which qualifies it to be in the Archives.

Chiller originally had an on-air host in Zacherle, "The Cool Ghoul", but he left after a couple of years and was not replaced. Instead, a montage of vintage clips was used to open the program. After a couple of variations, Rankin-Bass was commissioned to produce the now-iconic, six-fingered claymation hand that emerged from the swamp, and was used as the open beginning in 1971.

Wait a minute, you're saying. Rankin-freakin'-Bass?! The people who made all those Christmas specials? Yep. I gotta tell ya. I was a little stunned when I found out about it myself. Rankin-Bass had brought stop-motion animation (Animagic) to television, and now they were experimenting with claymation, which Art Clokey had introduced via Gumby & Davey and Goliath back in the 60's. Who'dathunk?

And, so, dear hearts, be not faint, 'cause here comes that hand, rising from the swamps.......



Everyone has their favorite movies that have aired on Chiller Theatre, which, as it turns out, was not an exclusive title to WPIX. There were other stations across the country with a similar package, but I doubt they had the hand.......

Rating: B.

4 comments:

William Mercado said...

NYC kid here, yes it brings back many great memories of bad movies

hobbyfan said...

I know WPIX has revived Chiller in recent years, mostly for Halloween, but it's just too bad you don't get this kind of thing on a regular basis anymore. The closest we have is the syndicated Svengoolie package on Me-TV.

Now, if only I can find that Seymour fellow........

Geed said...

There's a memory bomb! Forgot the hand had six fingers. Wonderful opening for that show.

hobbyfan said...

To be honest, I never really noticed it until I read up on Chiller's history.