I’d long believed –and recklessly asserted –that Horror Incorporated, latecomer though it might have been to the creature-feature TV genre, was nonetheless the Twin Cities’ first late-night horror movie program.
Well, turns out I was wrong.
To be honest, I should have seen this coming. A couple of readers had posted questions about another Twin Cities creature feature called Dimension 5. I’d never heard of it, and assumed that if it existed at all, it must have been something that lasted a month or so and vanished without a trace.
I was wrong about that, too. The Dimension 5 title alone should have tipped me off — it was broadcast on KSTP (channel 5, get it?) and predated Horror Incorporated by several years at least.
The estimable Jake Esau, who hosted Count Dracula Presents in the Twin Cities in the 1980s and later Horror Incorporated in the 1990s and early-aughts, knew Dimension 5 well. In corresponding about other topics (I’m planning a substantial write-up on Mr. Esau’s career later) he provided some background on this elusive show:
“Dimension 5” wasn’t hosted; it was introduced by a graphic with musical accompaniment and possibly a voice-over (nothing truly memorable). The words “Dimension 5” were centered in the screen and possibly “throbbed” like the “Hypnotic Eye” effect from the 1960 film of the same name starring Jacques Bergerac. My recollection of the show was that it ran on late Friday and Saturday nights (midnight or so– depending on the length of what preceded it).
My memory of the movies shown is much clearer: they were from the “Shock Theater” and “Son of Shock Theater” packages that had been distributed to television for the first time in the late ’50’s. Not only the traditional Universal horror greats (“Dracula,” Frankenstein,” et al.), but many classic “B” movies, with a whole passel of character actors evident; also many Columbia features with Boris Karloff as assorted mad scientists, plus public domain films from a master collection that all Twin Cities TV stations possessed.
They were repeated frequently, some revisited so many times that I knew much of the dialogue (of course, I still continued to watch them!).
The quality of the films wasn’t very good, some being quite “washed-out.” While I lived in a dorm on the U campus (’66-’67), a small group of us would gather to watch together many weekends; later (’67-’68), I worked overnight shifts at University Hospitals during the weekends and watched as many as I could in one of the station lounges during slow times at the top of the work night. These were seen on black-and-white TV’s, color being somewhat of a luxury back then. A list of titles that I definitely remember follows, generated from the titles in the “Shock” and “Son of Shock” packages:
–“Horror Island” (1941)
–“House of Horrors” (1946): Rondo Hatton, Martin Kosleck –“Mad Doctor of Market St. (1942): Lionel Atwill –“Mad Ghoul” (1943): George Zucco –“Man-Made Monster” (1941): Lon Chaney, Jr.
–“Man Who Cried Wolf” (1937): Lewis Stone –“Mystery of the White Room” (1939) –“Night Key” (1937): Boris Karloff –“Secrets of the Blue Room” (1933) –“Spider Woman Strikes Back” (1946): Gale Sondergaard –“Strange Case of Dr. RX” (1942): Atwill –“Before I Hang” (1940): Karloff –“Face Behind the Mask” (1941): Peter Lorre –“Behind the Mask” (1932): Edward Van Sloan –“The Black Room” (1935): Karloff as twins –“Boogie Man Will Get You” (1942): horror spoof –“Island of Doomed Men” (1940): Lorre –“Man They Could Nor Hang” (1939): Karloff –“Man Who Lived Twice” (1936): Ralph Bellamy –“Man With Nine Lives” (1940): Karloff –“The Devil Commands” (1941): Karloff –“The Black Raven” (1943): Zucco –“Stranger on the Third Floor” (1940): Lorre. There were others, but these were memorable– even all these years later.
This is fascinating stuff. If I ever get the time I may delve back into the 1960s and gather what I can on that show.
In the meantime, many thanks to Jake Esau for the information. And if anyone else remembers Dimension 5 and can provide more information about it, I’d love to hear it.