The evening of Saturday, November 11, 1978 was the final broadcast of Horror Incorporated. As was often the case in those days, there was no message of farewell to the viewers. After the final program featuring Son of Dracula and The Mad Ghoul — something of a table wine for the horror connoisseur — the show simply dropped off the schedule.
But Horror Incorporated had a good run. It broadcast a total of 478 shows spanning nine years. 429 of those shows were double features, and most were broadcast in its traditional time slot of Saturdays at midnight. There were 54 noontime Saturday installments. If that doesn’t sound like many, remember that the Saturday shows were broadcast only seasonally, in the late winter between the end of football season and the beginning of baseball season. There were also 26 episodes broadcast on Friday nights in the early 1970s, when the show was at the zenith of its popularity.
This project has taken somewhat longer than I originally anticipated, and the world has changed since I began. When I started in the spring of 2010, there was still a Blockbuster Video in my neighborhood. Many of the early movies I obtained were available only on VHS tape, as they had never gotten a DVD release, and I often ordered them through Ebay. Streaming existed, but was still relatively new (Netflix streaming numbers had only caught up to DVD mailings that year) and it took me several years to find a reliable gray-market distributor for titles that had never been released on home video. I am happy to say that while there were titles that were difficult for me to obtain, I was able to find every movie in some format. Before the internet era that would have been an unlikely outcome.
Many of the films broadcast on the show were familiar to me, but many were not. I’ve now seen all of the golden age Universal monster titles, even the most obscure ones, along with most everything in the original Shock! and Son of Shock! TV package. And I’ve seen a number of very good movies I’d never even heard of, such as Isle of the Dead, Return of the Vampire, The Death Kiss, The Devil Commands, The Maniac, Dead Men Walk and The Scarlet Claw.
At the beginning I accessed the old Minneapolis Tribune TV listings through the Hubbs Microfilm Library at the Minnesota History Center in Saint Paul, a great resource with an extremely helpful staff, and I whiled away many a happy hour in that space, shuttling through reels and reels of microfilm. Later I subscribed to Newspapers.com, a subscription-based service that lets you access archived newspapers online. Much more convenient, but a good deal more expensive.
I’ve met some great people through this project, in particular the great Jake Esau, who hosted the first reboot of Horror Incorporated ca. 2000. I was privileged to get to know Jake and to count him among my friends; he died in 2018, and you can find my posts about him here.
I’ve also connected with some great people in the Twin Cities horror, collector, and vintage TV community. Please check out their websites on the blogroll to the right.
While the headline on this post says the project is complete, that isn’t quite true; I have never compiled a proper database of the show, and I’m belatedly working on that now. And I expect I will post some follow ups in the coming weeks and months. But I think it’s safe to say that our journey through the graveyard is, finally, at an end.
Thank you for walking with me through the haunted spaces of classic cinema all these years, and sitting up with me in the flickering light of late-night broadcast television. It’s been a pleasure, and I have really enjoyed your company.