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WSJS Halloween Spooktacular / 1969
by Billy Ingram

Bob Gordon TheaterMy favorite memory of Halloween came in 1969. I was 13 at the time, a bit old for trick or treat but I was a small, skinny kid so I could get away with it. I crunched dry leaves across neighborhoods far away, places I'd never walked through before, bringing home a HUGE stash of candy that lasted the month, at least.

But the real treat was at 8:30, after the sun had set - the first Halloween Spooktacular on WSJS (now WXII) channel 12 in Winston Salem, NC. On this night in 1969 they played a collection of the best Universal horror movies - Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy and Son of Frankenstein.

Host Bob Gordon and a collection of WSJS radio & TV personalities were on hand dressed as monsters for local flavored segments between the films.

I had only ever seen The Mummy before, the weakest of the quartet as I discovered, so I sat glued to the screen for the other three while my younger brother and sister were appropriately terrified.

Most people reading this have seen the first three films but perhaps not Son of Frankenstein - surprisingly good with Boris Karloff back as the monster, Basil Rathbone in the role of the mad scientist's twisted scion, along with Bela Lugosi breathing new life into Igor. The weirdo moderne sets are a sight to behold.

For Halloween 1970, WSJS once again returned to the Universal well with Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula's Daughter, The Invisible Man and The Wolf Man, another great lineup of chillers. Bride of Frankenstein is a classic of the genre for good reasons, Dracula's Daughter is more obscure but it's beautifully executed on every level with overt (especially to the modern viewer) Lesbian undertones.

If I'm not mistaken the 1971 lineup included The Mummy's Curse, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, The Invisible Woman, and maybe another weak sequel. There may have been one more Spooktacular in 1972 where Channel 12 went back to the original films but I can't be sure.

It was a practice that died out on WSJS as the seventies unfolded, interrupting an entire night of primetime fare just for the kiddies wasn't worth it any longer.

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