How and why did distinctly non-horror action-suspense melodramas get included in the SHOCK! syndicated movie package? I raised this question in a recent post on ENEMY AGENT for this viewing project, and my search for an explanation continues. One hunch that I had was to search for a pre-SHOCK! precedent, and the one that jumps most immediately to mind is the work of Vampira over KABC-Channel 7 from 1954-55. (A few weeks back, Mirek put up a post on Vampira and her horror-hosting.) I've often heard that Vampira's offerings were more murder-mystery than horror, so I dug around a little bit to see if she included any spy movies that might have been the precursor to the Screen Gems decision to include such titles in the SHOCK! collection.
04/30/1954 "Dig Me Later, Vampira" (Preview Show)Saturday Nights/Sunday Mornings at Midnight
05/01/1954 THE CHARGE IS MURDER. I’m not sure about this one, but one possibility is that it is the English-dubbed-for-TV version of the Italian thriller ATTO DI ACCUSA (1950): A wealthy lawyer discovers his wife has been having an affair; in revenge, the lawyer frames his wife’s lover by murdering the landlord of their love-nest apartment.
05/08/1954 THE FACE OF MARBLE (1946, Monogram). A mad scientist trying to reanimate the dead clashes with his housekeeper’s voodoo practices.
05/15/1954 REVENGE OF ZOMBIES (1943, Monogram). A mad scientist in the Cambodian jungle creates an unstoppable zombie army for the Nazi war effort.
05/22/1954 FOG ISLAND (1945, PRC). The search for hidden treasure in a mansion on a remote island becomes an exercise in murderous revenge.
Saturday Nights at 11:00 p.m.
05/29/1954 CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS (1948, Apollo). British film made in France about reincarnated lovers.
06/05/1954 Not listed, but probably WHITE ZOMBIE (1932, Halperin Productions). A woman becomes the zombie slave of a cruel voodoo practitioner.
06/12/1954 DEVIL BAT’S DAUGHTER (1946, PRC). The daughter of an accused mad scientist tries to uncover the truth about her dad’s experiments and nearly goes crazy in the process.
06/19/1954 THE FLYING SERPENT (1946, PRC). Murderous archaeologist commands a primordial Aztec god-monster to kill his enemies.
06/26/1954 THE MASK OF DIJON (1946, PRC). A mad magician discovers that he has the power to hypnotize and uses it bring death to his enemies.
07/03/1954 THE STRANGE MR. GREGORY (1946, PRC). A villainous magician fakes his death in order to frame his romantic rival.
07/10/1954 THE MAN WITH TWO LIVES (1942, Monogram) A man brought back to life by a mad scientist finds his body taken over by the soul of an executed gangster.
07/17/1954 CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS. See 05/29/1954
07/24/1954 FEAR (1946, Monogram) An impoverished and desperate student agrees to murder a loan shark for cash.
07/31/1954 ROGUE’S TAVERN (1936, Mercury Pictures Corporation). Shady guests at a remote inn are killed by a vicious dog prowling the grounds. Or are they?
08/07/1954 DANGEROUS INTRUDER (1945, PRC) A hitchhiking out-of-work actress is struck by a car; when the driver’s wife later turns up dead, the actress searches for the killer.
08/14/1954 MYSTERY OF THE 13th GUEST (1943, Monogram). A masked killer murders people one-by-one in an old dark house.
08/21/1954 MIDNIGHT LIMITED (1940, Monogram). The Phantom Robber plunders and murders passengers on a luxury train; a detective and his pretty assistant go undercover to catch him.
08/28/1954 BLUEBEARD (1944, PRC). A puppeteer in 19th-century Paris is a serial killer.
09/04/1954 MISSING LADY (1946, Monogram). An entry in Monogram’s “The Shadow” series. Lamont Cranston is accused of stealing a jade statue and murdering the witnesses.
09/11/1954 MURDER BY INVITATION (1941, Monogram) The scheming relatives of a rich old woman are gathered at her mansion for the weekend to decide the terms of the inheritance and are bumped off one at a time.
09/18/1954 RED DRAGON (1945, Monogram) Charlie Chan in Mexico City investigates three murders and the theft of some atomic secrets.
09/25/1954 THE MISSING HEIRESS. It’s not clear, but I think that this might be a British film called DR. MORELLE: THE CASE OF THE MISSING HEIRESS (1949, Hammer) ; it's a movie about a sleuthing hypnotist searching for clues to young woman who stands to inherit a pile of money who has disappeared from her family’s mansion.
10/02/1954 THE MISSING CORPSE (1945, PRC). A comedy-mystery about a newspaper publisher who opens the trunk of his car to find the dead body of his professional rival.
10/09/1954 THE FATAL HOUR (1940, Monogram). Mr. Wong is on the case when police captain Street’s best friend is murdered at the San Francisco docks by smugglers.
10/16/1954 PHANTOM KILLER (1942, Monogram). A city district-attorney is convinced that a celebrated deaf-mute philanthropist is responsible for several murders despite eyewitness accounts to the contrary.
10/23/1954 THE SHADOW RETURNS (1946, Monogram). Lamont Cranston unravels a case involving a secret laboratory, fake jewels, and murder.
10/30/1954 KING OF THE ZOMBIES (1941, Monogram). A Navy officer's plane goes down in a storm and crash lands on a Caribbean island where a voodoo master works to create zombies for a dangerous unnamed foreign power.
11/06/1954 DOOMED TO DIE (1940, Monogram). Mr. Wong and a feisty lady reporter look into the slaying of a shipping tycoon.
11/13/1954 HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1934, Monogram). A killer ape prowls around an old dark house in seeming fulfillment of a curse.
11/20/1954 MY BROTHER’S KEEPER (1948, Gainsborough Pictures). British film about a dangerous escaped criminal handcuffed to a young small-time crook who are being hunted by police and a newly-married newspaper reporter and wife.
11/27/1954 DEAR MURDER (1947, Gainsborough Pictures). A business man plots to kill his wife’s lovers in this British-made thriller.
12/04/1954 CASTLES OF DOOM. I don’t know what this could be, but the English-language, unauthorized re-cut roadshow version of VAMPYR. DER TRAUM DES ALLAN GREY (1932) was called THE CASTLE OF DOOM (1934). I wonder…?
12/11/1954 THE CHARGE IS MURDER. See 05/01/1954
12/18/1954 RETURN OF THE APE MAN (1944, Monogram). A mad scientist thaws out a prehistoric hominid and brings him back to life after giving him the brain of his assistant.
12/25/1954 MAN WITH THE GRAY GLOVE. Possibly the 1953 dubbed-for-American-TV version of the Italian musical-mystery L’UOMO DAL GUANTO GRIGIO (1948) about the theft of a Renaissance painting and a psycho killer in Rome.
01/01/1955 APOLOGY FOR MURDER (1945, Sigmund Neufeld Productions). A reporter gets tangled up with a scheming femme fatale who wants him to murder her husband, DOUBLE INDEMNITY-style.
01/08/1955 DECOY (1946, Bernhardt-Brandt Productions). A sap gets suckered into helping a femme fatale bring her executed bank-robbing boyfriend back from the dead in order to locate his missing $400,000 in loot.
01/15/1955 MURDER IS MY BUSINESS (1946, PRC). One of PRC’s “Michael Shayne” private eye mystery movies involving blackmail, robbery, and murder surrounding a wealthy woman and her two grown stepchildren.
01/22/1955 PHANTOM OF 42nd STREET (1945, PRC) A drama critic tries to solve the murder of a Broadway actor who was killed on stage.
01/29/1955 CASE OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL. Perhaps this is the British film THE ADVENTURES OF P.C. 49: INVESTIGATING THE CASE OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL (1949, Hammer), wherein a London bobby goes undercover to break up a vicious gang of truck hijackers dealing in stolen booze and cigarettes.
02/05/1955 LADY CHASER (1946, PRC). The fiancé of a woman accused of poisoning her wealthy uncle tries to prove her innocence and stumbles onto a blackmail plot.
02/12/1955 KILLER AT LARGE (1947, PRC). Two reporters tackle an embezzling ring with powerful connections.
02/19/1955 SHE SHALL HAVE MURDER (1950, Derrick De Marnay Productions) UK-made movie about a mystery-writing law clerk who suspects that the person responsible for the death of a client might be one of her office co-workers.
02/26/1955 THE LADY CONFESSES (1945, PRC) A woman discovers that her fiancé’s wife isn’t dead after all and winds up getting mixed up with gangsters.
03/05/1955 LARCENY IN HER HEART (1946, PRC) Another "Michael Shayne" movie , this one involving the search for the missing stepdaughter of a popular city political reformer.
03/12/1955 GLASS ALIBI (1946, W. Lee Wilder Productions). An unscrupulous reporter and his girlfriend plot to murder his rich wife.
03/19/1955 DETOUR (1945, PRC). A hapless cross-country hitchhiker finds himself ensnared in two deaths and a dangerous femme fatale.
03/26/1955 STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (1946, PRC). Atmospheric chiller about the ghost of hanged ferryman terrorizing a small town in search of revenge.
04/02/1955 WOMAN WHO CAME BACK (1945, Republic). A young woman descended from a witch-hunting judge returns to her family’s hometown and is haunted by the idea that a witch’s ghost is trying to destroy her.