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Byron's Top 4 TV Horror Dramas of All Time

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Contributing Editor
created 10/21/2013 - 10:23pm, updated 10/22/2013 - 9:24am

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The winds are blowing, the corn crop is swaying and pumpkins are smiling evil smiles. Bwahahahaha!

Yep, it’s time for we in the CBN offices to salute those things that go bump in the night … especially if, while they did, they scared our socks off of us with dramatic and ghoulish abandon.

With that in mind, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer lists his Top 4 terrifyingly terrific monster masacres of television.

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4. Night Gallery (1970-1973)

Night Gallery, airing on NBC, featured stories of horror and the macabre, right up the alley of legendary television writer Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone). In this offering of his wit, Serling served both as on-air host of and as a major contributor of scripts, although he did not have the same control of content and tone as he had on The Twilight Zone.

Serling appeared in an art gallery  introducing the twisted tales that made up each episode (much like Alfred Hitchcock in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, except his was more a comical ploy) by unveiling paintings by artist Thomas J. Wright that depicted the stories.

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3. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965)

The movie mystery master plays himself in hosting this excellent dramatic series, but he does it for laughs, mostly at the expense of the sponsor. (Sure would like to be the ad man who had to sell time on this show, eh?)

Alfred Hitchcock only oversaw a handful of these mini-marvels himself, which ran on CBS from 1955-1960, NBC from 1960-1962, CBS from 1962-1964 and finally on NBC from 1964-1965. Each gem has elements of Hitchcock’s big-screen genius, but most fail to score from a viewer point of view, so it seems you are just watching an episode of an extraordinary program unfold – but not much in the shock/horror department.

The best of this series is definitely Hitch’s own appearances and humor. Without those bookends, Alfred Hitchcock Presents is a noble experiment at bringing big-screen drama to the small. Many episodes were good, but few (unlike the next two entries below) were great, memorable or “cult classics.”

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2. The Outer Limits (1963-1965)

This frighteningly serious series actually took control of the television set away from the viewer and played out its bizarre, highly science fiction dramas on landscapes that could easily be next door. The series ran on ABC from September 16, 1963 to January 16, 1965.

While the voiceover announcer was sometimes a little too moralistic for the passion play, TV viewers heard arguments about God and creation, the morality of artificial life, the safety of space and time traveling, all the while Gidget and Beaver were living ‘60s sitcom life on other channels.

The first season combined science fiction and horror, while the second season was more focused on hard science fiction stories, dropping the recurring “scary monster” motif of the first season. Each show in the first season was to have a monster or creature as a critical part of the storyline. First season writer and producer Joseph Stefano believed that this element was necessary to provide fear or suspense. 

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1. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

Running on CBS, The Twilight Zone and its creator/chief writer Rod Serling may just be the most familiar, most honored and most intelligent gathering of science fiction in television history.

With memorable episodes that almost anyone can rattle off (Burgess Meredith as a miopic bookish banker whose literary world explodes, William Shatner as a panicked passenger who sees an alien on the wing of his flying airplane, Bill Mumy as a boy whose mind has taken control of his world, more), The Twilight Zone continues to run to this day in reruns that are always well received.

With a classic beginning narrated by Serling, your on-air host, the show presents drama, hard and extremely soft sci-fi, and yes, even comedy, almost always masking social commentary: racism, government, war and human nature in general.

Search though you might through the annals of TV history, it is hard to top the shocking and end-twisting drama (and yes, the comedy) of The Twilight Zone.

Now get busy and let us at CBN know what your Top 4 (or 5 or 10) TV horror dramas are. Go!

 
 

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