Friday, June 17, 2011

Inspired Stunts (page 6; unnumbered in the original)

The next page in the SHOCK promotional book gives TV programmers suggestions on how to promote the package to potential sponsors and news-people. You are urged to have a party at your studio or a haunted house. (Yeah, good luck trying to find a haunted house!) "Ghoulish props" include masks and daggers on the walls, a coffin, and....

Your buffet supper should be "ghouled-up" with a witch serving meat balls from a steaming cauldron.

Bottles labeled poison, bowls of aspirin and milltown, and a bucket of ketchup labeled "BLOOD" should be placed at convenient spots for the use of your guests.

Masked waiters, horror-inspired door prizes -- such as daggers, nooses, etc., and a public address system emitting weird sounds should add to the creepy atmosphere.

Then come the "inspired stunts" for your guests, such as:

The lights go out -- a scream is heard -- and a "spider-woman" dressed in a long, sleek, black gown enters the studio with a lighted candle.

A shot is heard -- a weird character staggers in with a knife in his back, and falls cold in the middle of the room. He is nonchalantly carried out by two waiters.

Men dressed in Frankenstein's monster make-up, converge on the room.

The day after these stunts it's recommended that you send your guests a bottle of smelling salts and a note asking them if they have recovered!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Stunning Impact (pages 4-5; unnumbered in the original)

The unnumbered pages 4 and 5 from the SHOCK! promotional book. (I've increased the pixel size; click on photo to make larger in a new window.)

Starting with: "For years, tales of terror, macabre stories of ghouls and ghosts have fascinated millions in every form of entertainment. Now, for the first time, this eerie world of the weird and supernatural comes to television with stunning impact in SHOCK -- an irresistible attraction for mood programming of feature films."

And ending with:

"SHOCK! captures audiences! holds audiences! builds audiences!"

... these pages try to convince television programmers about the enduring fascination the public has with horror, and how Screen Gems is offering just what they need to attain impressive audience numbers.

Interesting that the "screen's titan's of terror" includes the Mad Ghoul (hardly on the level of Universal's other classic monsters), but does NOT mention The Mummy! Also of interest is that E. Phillips Oppenheim is placed on the same literary and popularity level as writers Edgar Allan Poe and H. G. Wells. Oppenheim (1866-1946) was, indeed, a popular writer of thrillers, but one wonders if by 1957 his renown had faded. The SHOCK! package included a film based on one of Oppenheim's most successful novels, THE GREAT IMPERSONATION.

The promo mentions Universal's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA as examples of the company's "memorable films," but neither of these silent films was in the SHOCK! package--understandably so, as television audiences would not have patience with non-talkie films.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pop-up Frankie (pages 2 & 3; unnumbered in the original)

If you were one of the lucky TV station programmers to receive from Screen Gems your promotional SHOCK! book in October 1957, you may have been shocked (well, slightly shocked) to have a pop-up Frankenstein Monster jump at you as you opened it up. What a fun idea from whomever crafted this promotional book.

Tellingly, the promotion on the first two pages zeros in exclusively on Universal's monster films, not any of the other films that were also offered in the package.

The first several pages of the book were unnumbered. The numbering is reserved for the films themselves, one film per page.

Shocking Cover (Cover of SHOCK!)

In this next series of posts, we will be taking a look at the Shock! promotional book, sent to TV program directors in October, 1957. The rectangular 11" x 14" publication was plastic-comb bound. The top part of the cover shows a man's frightened upper face peering through his fingers. The bottom part of the cover shows John Carradine as Dracula, Bela Lugosi as the Frankenstein Monster, Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, Eric the Ape from MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE and Noble Johnson as Janos, from the same film. In between is the now legendary name for the film package being presented: SHOCK!

We currently do not know who the cover artist was, nor do we know the names of the person or persons who thought up the campaign, including the SHOCK! title. Perhaps one day an investigation in the archives of Columbia Pictures' Screen Gems, if such archives exist, will give us the answers.

Regarding the artist, I would consider the possibility that two artists worked on the cover, one for the top work and the other for the monster gallery bottom, which is a tad more primitive than what's above it.