Saturday, October 9, 2010

Swami Drana Badour -- Is He TV's First Horror Film Host?



It appears that Vampira was NOT the first horror film host on television. Swami Drana Badour was the host of MURDER BEFORE MIDNIGHT, a show that debuted on Chicago's WBKB on January 23, 1950, ending its run in 1952. The following information about Swami Drana Badour is chiefly taken from a discussion on the Classic Horror Film Board and the posts of Don Glut.

TV announcer Allen Harvey played the Swami, and the show ran from Monday to Saturday, showing films in serial-like form, as the program was only half an hour. Art Hern later replaced Harvey as the Swami.

Glut: "Accompanied by spooky music, the camera would slowly push in towards the Swami and his crystal ball, which is where the movie would begin. Then the shot would dissolve to the movie itself. The movies were not run in their entirety, but 'serialized' over three days. After the movie segment was over, the Swami would do an over-the-air quiz, phoning people at home and asking questions relating to the movie. Winners got a jackpot prize offered by sponsor Allied Motors."

Glut lists some of the films shown on MURDER BEFORE MIDNIGHT:

THE CORPSE VANISHES
WHITE ZOMBIE
PANTHER'S CLAW
A SHOT IN THE DARK
THE FACE OF MARBLE
BELOW THE DEADLINE
REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES
DARK ALIBI (Charlie Chan)
RED DRAGON (Charlie Chan)
SALUTE THE TOFF
HAMMER THE TOFF
RETURN OF THE APE MAN
SHADOW OVER CHINATOWN (Charlie Chan)
THE APE MAN
PHANTOM SHOT
NIGHT COMES TOO SOON
THE ACCUSED
THE NIGHT HAS EYES
IMPORTANT WITNESS
THE INTRUDER
MEET SEXTON BLAKE
THE CASE OF CHARLES PEARCE
THERE GOES KELLY
TANGLED EVIDENCE
LORD EDGWARE DIES
SOMEONE AT THE DOOR
THREE WITNESSES
ACE OF SPACES
PAUL TEMPLE'S TRIUMPH
WOMEN IN THE SHADOW

It's an eclectic brew, but certainly such a mixture of horror and mystery films was part of the Vampira show and, later, the SHOCK! and SON OF SHOCK! programming.

My suspicions are that a rigorous search through newspaper TV programing guides in other cities will uncover other horror hosts that predated Vampira and possibly the Swami himself. Our work has just begun!

1 comment:

kochillt said...

Only five of these were shown on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater- THE CORPSE VANISHES, THE FACE OF MARBLE, REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES, RETURN OF THE APE MAN, THE APE MAN. 1935's A SHOT IN THE DARK is a Chesterfield whodunit wherein Edward Van Sloan is revealed to be the surprise killer. 1942's THE PANTHER'S CLAW was PRC's one shot at Thatcher Colt, here played by Sidney Blackmer, while Adolphe Menjou portrayed him in 1932's THE NIGHT CLUB LADY and 1933's THE CIRCUS QUEEN MURDER (Dwight Frye).