Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good evening friends of the creeking door...

So begins one of the greatest horror themed radio programs of all times, INNER SANCTUM MYSTERIES. Airing from January 1941 through October 1952 this twisted crimson jewel shared with its audience a disturbing mix of dark tales of terror; from murder and depravity to supernatural evils and vengeful spirits. Not only were the stories consistently horrifying in nature, they were served up in a dark and creepy mood dripping with a thick rich sauce of eerie organ (eeew organ sauce) music and superbly performed sound effects, which themselves were used to tell much of the story. Along with that the talented performers always effectively portrayed the suspense, fears and desperations of their characters under the direction of one of the most accomplished radio directors of all time, Himan Brown. The series also boasted an impressive cast of guest stars such as horror legends Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Claude Raines to name but a few.

One of the most notable features of this program was its hosts. The original host of the series, Raymond Edward Johnson, simply referred to as "Raymond" laid the ground work for practically every horror host that has ever followed. While himself not the first to host a horror or suspense program, it was his innovative character which provided a creepy yet humourous twist to the program. His evil yet gleeful interaction with the audience relishing in death and the macabre was littered with puns and and morbid jokes. After Johnson's departure from the series in 1945 (for military service) the mantle was taken up by Paul McGrath who kept the stylistic nature of Raymond's character, but respectfully did not take the name only being referred to as "Mr. Host".

In 1945 the show took on the Lipton Tea Company as it's primary sponsor and the show rounded a new corner with the addition of Mary Bennett to the cast. A proper and always excessively cheerful housewife to act as Mr. Host's sidekick. With her unflappable sunny disposition despite the macabre subject matter she became the shows Gracie Allen, and in my opinion played off of Mr. Host's dark wit beautifully. Although there are many fans of the series who don't enjoy her near as much as I do, it must be acknowledged that Mary's role as sidekick and foil to the shows host was another innovative and significant addition in horror host history, particularly evident on modern horror host programs.

Sadly of the 535 episodes originally broadcast, fewer than 170 are still known to exist. But for those that remain I am dearly grateful.

Here is the pilot episode of Inner Sanctum Mysteries originally Aired January 7, 1941 (re-aired July 13, 1952) starring the the one and only Boris Karloff.

Death For Sale

Link provided from if you are a fan of Old Time Radio this site is a must for your personal links.

Gary D. Macabre


Horror pariah said...

...And it was this very show which helped pave the path down route 666 that led to also spawned a hilarious little 2nd person narration show called "Nightmare"("for those who like to dream--violently")that runs as a bonus on old recordings of the Shadow and x-minus 1.I like this blog,i'll be back.

Gary D Macabre said...

Glad to hear you like the blog. I love OTR, especially the horror and sci-fi. Thanks for reminding me of Nightmare, to be honest I haven't heard it in years and kind of forgot about it as I've only heard a couple episodes. I have never heard it attached to a Inner Sanctum or X-1. Cool. Believe me I'll run plenty more OTR horror around here amongst other macabre oddities, films, etc.