In this piece written for Killing the Buddha, Poole writes about Shock Theatre, hallucinogenic nightmares, and a profound reading of one of the most influential, important American horror writers to date.
In the fading gray of the Carter years, I spent long Saturday afternoons laying in front of our enormous console TV and watching Shock Theatre. Shock Theatre was a package of films that Universal Studios began marketing back in the 1950s, including a combination of classic Universal Monsters films and some of the newer creature features. They were often shown as late-night fare, but my low wattage station in rural South Carolina (I think they signed off at like 11:00 p.m.) broadcast these films through the long weekend afternoons—a dark pageant of vampires, shapeshifters, giant insects, and fifty-foot women.
For an eight-year-old, nothing quite compared to these black-and-white fairy tales, where fog rolled through semi-European never-never lands, Bela Lugosi slaked his dark desires, Frankenstein shambled about in his confusion, and the wolfman yowled his yearnings at the moon.
My parents were not amused. They held the firm conviction that such entertainment warped young minds, and that fresh air and sunlight had positive mental effects. Yard work built character.
They were probably right. (Read more >>>)