In the 1970’s and 80’s the local independent station KTLA (now the CW) used to show the old Universal Horror films. For one week, twice a year, the viewer was treated to Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, and The Wolf Man. On the weekends you could find The Creature from the Black Lagoon and some Hammer Horrors (my introduction to just how sexy horror could be) on appropriately enough, channel 13.
The night brought hosted horror from Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Elvira was sexy with her mouth closed, funny when it was open and half naked all the time. She specialized in low budget, Z-grade films and Euro horror that uncut would play like pornography.
If you were home in the afternoon, maybe sick from school, you could watch The Addams Family and The Munsters. You also had anthologies like Tales from the Darkside.
Every day of the week there was some kind of horror on TV, serious horror! Then one day, it disappeared like a Virgin in a Whorehouse! I mean gone!
Cable killed a lot of TV markets, but horror was one of the hardest hit. Why watch your favorite films dismembered on TV? I love and respect horror and it’s because I do that I say this: Horror sates to primal urges; the need for sex and the need for violence! That’s what we want to see. Cable gave us 24 hour film options, uncut! Though you could catch the occasional horror film, horror really became the domain of one show; Tales from the Crypt.
Tales from the crypt gave us big name stars, sex and violence. While nowhere near as sexy as Elvira the Crypt Keeper gave us the one thing Elvira couldn’t (well not overtly)…T& A. The general structure of Tales involved sex at the beginning to get your heart pumping and the violent or horrific climax to well, bring you to climax (metaphorically of course).
TV couldn’t compete with that, so it stopped trying. Sure there were the X-Files and Millennium, and dozens of supernatural themed shows that lasted about as long as your first time, but no vampires, werewolves, witches or demons, until Buffy Summers move to town.
High School as Horror
Buffy the Vampire Slayer created a horrific world in the classic sense. Vampires ruled this world but every kind of creature inhabited it. It created a depth to the Vampiric society only glimpsed at in film. Interestingly enough, most of the horror came from the consequences of Buffy’s actions. Friends often die and Buffy’s own mother is found dead on the couch after a brain aneurism. Fun! Though it had its reputation as group therapy for teens, Buffy mattered.
Horror TV is both nostalgic and derivative today with Vampires the reigning kings of the horror world. By the way, Vampires are now pretty white kids with immortal problems (thanks Twilight)! Network TV and Cable have learned to play nice together. There are Supernatural quest shows (Duh, Supernatural) Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Walking Dead, and they keep coming. What’s funny is that none of these shows have any bite with the exception of The Walking Dead.
Zombies Zombies Zombies
The Walking Dead is an AMC scripted show based on the long running Image comics’ series. Following a group of survivors trying to find a safe place to live after a Zombie apocalypse, it leaves the viewer wanting more each week. Gory, Emotional, and serious as hell, this is the one to watch.