Which came first? Nightmares, or my love of horror? I haven’t decided yet. But when quite young I used to feed the beast by reading Crypt Tales comic books and watching scary television shows. I remember scooting up to the old tube television set and watching, gasp, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It was one of my favorites. Today that old series seems pretty tame, or maybe even lame. But I submit, given the non-computer generated special effects (the word cheesy comes to mind) the storylines were pretty funny before some of them just got plain spooky.
For those not in the know, Carl Kolchak was a rumpled intrepid reporter with a nose for supernatural news. To me, Carl was more lovable than say, the popular Columbo. Carl Kolchak wasn’t a Buffy or a Winchester, but if he could send a monster, vampire, or creature back to Hell, then he was going to do it – perhaps while running away and with some skid marks in his dingy briefs!
Each episode began with light theme music…
Poor, rumpled Carl practically skips into the empty newsroom, whistling. He’s got a story in mind, and it might be a juicy one. He plops at his desk and rolls paper into his typewriter (yes, a typewriter). But too soon darkness encroaches. There’s something in that darkness. By now the theme music has turned sinister. Suddenly, Carl has a look on his face that tells us he knows something hideous is creeping up on him. He spins around. His face is frozen with fear.
Fade to commercial.
It’s a great setup for the episode. As a budding horror writer, I appreciated the time it took to build up that sense of horror. Note to writer: don’t flaunt the horror, instead let the reader’s imagination do your work for you. Hopefully, I’ve learned this lesson well. You have to tell me.