Sunday, October 30, 2016


After word got around about the SHOCK! movie package, it didn't take long for your fiendly neighborhood censor to come knocking at the TV network's collective studio door.

Now, one must remember that this was also the time when the Comics Code Authority (headed by John Goldwater, the publisher of Archie Comics) held a first amendment chokehold over the comic book industry, forbidding the use of such terms as "horror" and "terror" for comic titles and disemboweling the contents of these selfsame books, prohibiting a laundry list of no-no's when it came to monsters, criminals, blood-letting, gore, and other dastardly deeds.

The warning for TV came from the humorless National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Code Review Board during a three-day conference in November, 1957, just a month after SHOCK! debuted. The kindly inquisitors, influenced not surprisingly by a Catholic papal encyclical, declared that TV executives needed to be reminded that the code called for the elimination of "the use of horror for its own sake" in TV programming, to which I would ask, how else could it be presented?

Putting the SHOCK! phenomenon into context, it is difficult to imagine in today's on-demand, fast-forward culture that there was a time when visual home entertainment was derived solely from network television, and us Monster Kids had to wait --- pray for a rerun of our favorite monster movie. Sometimes our wishes would be granted, but it could have taken weeks or months when we got another chance to see Frankenstein, Dracula or The Wolf Man again. Surely, this must have been one of  the reasons that the mystique of SHOCK! grew into an obsession, and finally, a full-on monster mania. I am reminded by a certain actor who came out from behind a theater curtain to introduce Universal's FRANKENSTEIN: "Well, we warned you!"

NOTE: If you enjoyed this weekend series of posts, be on the lookout for MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD'S special 60th anniversary commemorative print edition of SHOCK! THEATER, coming in 2017!

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