Saturday, July 17, 2010

HORROR DOUBLE BILLS/HORROR FILM SEASONS ON TV













Remember the time when TV stations would put on a horror double bill or have a season of classic horror films on late at night? These were quite a regular thing during the 1970's and 1980's especially BBC 2 and ITV stations such as Anglia [ATV], I mention Anglia because out of all the ITV channels this region seemed to put on quite a lot of the horror double bills/horror seasons and according to Greg whom sent me the photos you see above really did a great job in presenting these classics of the macabre. Remember when ITV had interval captions that popped up before and after the advert breaks which gave the title of what was on and were usually nicely illustrated/designed?, the horror double bills were the highlight of a usually friday night for most horror film fans, myself included; and if you were one of those that were really too young to watch these films or had to go to bed early, then it was either creeping downstairs while Mum and Dad were asleep and putting the TV on and tuning the sound down very low so you wouldn't wake your parents, or hopefully persuading them to let you watch them anyway [after all there was no school the day after]. Anyone else also tried to tune in the TV to other ITV regions? If you did then you know what it was like you see in the TV Times that another channel that you don't get in your area are showing a horror film that you really want to see and so you try and tune the TV in to hopefully get that channel, more than likely when you do it is either a very poor snowy picture, poor sound or both. This didn't deter you though, no matter how bad the picture or sound was just having that channel on with the film you wanted to see was good enough, as you know this was before video recorders [or they were too expensive to buy]. It was more of a thrill back then because you never knew when these films would be on again, if at all. The above photos that Greg kindly sent are pages that he put together in several scrapbooks of clippings from various horror double bills and horror film seasons during the 1970's/80's [The ones above from BBC 2's Horror Double Bill] fantastic that he kept a record of these memorable TV highlights. Should hopefully have a few more to put on soon too. If there is anyone else that kept a scrapbook or 2 of clippings, pictures, articles etc about horror films/TV/fiction etc and are willing to share here then please do feel free to send some pictures, I'll get some of mine scanned or photographed too and post them here in this dusty old cobwebbed room.

13 comments:

cerebus660 said...

Paul and Greg - thanks for sharing these memories with us! I used to love the BBC2 Horror Double Bills as a kid. When the channel first started showing them I was only allowed to stay up to watch the first film on the bill. So, I watched all the classic Universals but it took a while before I could watch the Hammer, Amicus etc. films. These always looked too exciting for words ( Colour! Gore! )but only a few really lived up to expectations. I still go back to the Karloff / Lugosi / Chaney classics for their unique atmosphere and style.
Again, thanks for posting :-)

Soapy said...

Wow, this brings back some good memories. I used to go to bed with my younger brother and get up once he'd fallen asleep, otherwise he would have kicked up a hell of a fuss. As i recall it always used to be an older black and white film on first and then a newer colour one on second, although that could be the old memory letting me down. I vividly remember watching Night of the Demon and being so scared that mum and dad said i couldn't watch them anymore, man i had to do some serious begging after that :)

Bleaux Leaux said...

I used to see some great stuff on the late night double bills. Of course, that was way before cable, VCRs, and the ability to pretty much watch anything at any time changed programming forever. Some channels still run the the late night "fright fests" from time to time, but it just doesn't seem the same.

Cyberschizoid said...

These are really fantastic pics and an excellent historical record of times gone by.
This brings back many memories for me as I used to sneak downstairs to watch late night horror movies on our local ITV stations when I was little!
I hope you're all aware of the campaign to bring back BBC2's Horror Double Bills. Feel free to check out the blog and Facebook Page and to sign the petition!

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bringclassichorrorfilmsbacktothebbc/

http://bringclassichorrorbacktotelevision.blogspot.com/

The_overfed said...

Wow. This has really brought back the memories.
Saturday night bbc2 horror double bills: classic BW movie then a full technicolor film. I think in the summer this would be separated by cricket- the theme to which always takes me back to these horror movies.
I also used to strain my tv to pick up Thames or LWT (I lived in Suffolk, so got Anglia)... I think this is how I got Hammer House of Horror!

Great post.. Good to hear these old specials having an impact on others still.

Paul said...

Hi Cerebus660
Its a pleasure sharing these memories and that others appriciate them. I suppose its great that any parent back then let their children of a certain age watch a late night horror on TV. I am presuming you have seen many of the Hammer and Amicus films now. I too have always loved the old Universal Monster films, like you say Unique atmosphere and style. Such icons of monsterdom.

Hi Soapy
I had to share a bed with my younger brother back in the 70's, so I can understand what it must of been liked if he woked up and you were creeping downstairs. I think you were probally right regarding the older black and white horrors were shown first on a double bill, makes sense I suppose. Did you have nightmares after watching 'Night of the Demon'?, what eventually persuading your Mum and Dad to let you watch horror films again?

Hi Bleaux Leaux
Yes it was a great time to watch late night films back before VCRs, Cable etc, now its too easy to see these films whenever you want which of course looses the anticipation and thrill of knowing that you may or maynot see them for a long time after. We hardly get any late night horrors on these days.

Hi Cyberschizoid
Glad you liked the pictures, always nice to see something like them, like you say they are an excellent historical record of times gone by. I think its fantastic when you are a child sneaking downstairs to watch a late night film with the lights off, telly turned down low and face close to the screen.
Thanks for the links, hope many horror fans will support this campaign.

Hi The Overfed
BBC2 was always good for a horror double bill, I think you have confirmed that a black and white was shown first then the more scary colour film afterwards. Its funny how sports always seems to get in the way of something like the horror double bills or sport gets shown in place of something you have been looking forward to on TV. Nice to read another person tuning their TV into another channel, it was almost like trying to find some sort of alien channel bradcasting from space and then you get the strange ghostly images of out of tune channels, quite strange really but I found I quite enjoyed the task of getting beyond the white noise.

David said...

Ive got most of the Radio Times issues from these 70s/80s seasons,which i kept at the time, and couldnt bear to cut up. I have many happy memories of them - planning with my cousin to watch `Masters of Terror'(1976)'s opening double bill of `The Phantom of the Opera'/`Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde' and being disappointed when he got bored at about 9 o clock and wanted to go home (he was 8, i was 9, being disturbed by `The Man with X-Ray Eyes' but refusing to go to bed, being bored stiff by films such as `Night of the Lepus' and `Bug', and sometimes wanting the films to end to find out what next weeks pair were.

john40dalek said...

would like to see more horror double bill on BBC2 Saturday

Paul said...

Hi David, thank you for your memories of the horror double bills, it was Interesting to read and it is so great that you still have the copies of Radio Times from these seasons. Must bring back some fond memories of those film nights.

Paul said...

Hi John, Yes it would be great if they did these horror double bills again like they used to do, you get the odd ones but not like you used to do.

David said...

I still associate the BBC2 Cricket theme with horror films, Paul, as cricket coverage often used to be shown between the 2 films, and i would impatiently sit waiting for it to end.
Remember when the film broke down during `Night of the Demon' in 1980?

Cyberschizoid said...

oh wow i would have been watching Night of the demon in 1980 but can't remember a problem with the film! LOL must be old age!

Stephen James said...

I can remember if it were only yesterday! I can remember the build up, excitement, and anticipation on a Saturday night when just like a Christmas Eve the clock would mysteriously tick in double slow time towards horror double bill commencement. Boy! Did those Saturday nights not arf drag on after 6.00pm?

I just loved the atmospheric vibe and contrasts of production standards between movie era’s that the double bill scheduling format tended to enhance. It was like you were in the click of a finger being transported in a time machine from one era to another! The big budgeted spellbinding Hollywood look sets of 1930’s and 1940’s Universal horror and basic economy driven ‘Britishness’of Hammer Production back-drops both had an utterly unique style, look, and charm that I find heartwarming and enchanting.

Oh and the double bill seasons all happened during those school summer holidays when I/we were so young, had not a worry in the world, had no school on Monday, and looked forward to endless sunshine, lazy days, and recreational activities. The escape from summer exam stress and revision made it all even more profound.

How I took those beautiful days for granted and how I dearly miss some people and loved ones whom were alive during those times but are alas sadly no longer here to recollect those beautiful memories! Thanks for the web page and scrap book cuttings!