Television Terror: Tales from the Crypt’s Adaption of a Robert Arthur Jr. Short Story

“Television Terror” was one of the better episodes from the “Tales from the Crypt” television series. Although its source is supposedly “Television Terror!” from the SEP/OCT 1950 issue of the “Haunt of Fear”, its roots appear to go back about 9 years previous to that. Although not credited as such, it appears to be loosely based on the short story, “The Believers”, by Robert Arthur, Jr. from the JUL 1941 issue of “Weird Tales”. It can be found more readily in the anthology, “Ghosts and More Ghosts”, listed as “Do You Believe in Ghosts?”, published in 1963 with reprints through 1972.

Morton Downey Jr. plays a parody of himself as a TV shock journalist giving an on-air tour of an eerie haunted house.

The storyline is essentially the same, following a blow-hard radio show ghost hunter (Nick Deene of “So-Pure Soaps present Dare Danger with Deene!”) in pursuit of his fictitious, ratings-induced “Carriday Curse”, a “Thing” with a “face like an oyster”, supposedly lurking the grounds of the 18th century Carriday mansion. The broadcast takes place on Friday the 13th, with Deene being handcuffed to the four-poster bed (sans the key) where 3 generations of Carridays allegedly died under mysterious circumstances. With 10 million listeners all believing the faked live broadcast in unison, it doesn’t quite end the way Deene had intended.

The “Tales from the Crypt” version follows a television ghost hunter, Horton Rivers (Morton Downey, Jr.) of “Horton Rivers Live!”, in pursuit of the ghosts in a house that is supposedly haunted in the aftermath of the mass slaying of a dozen elderly people who used to live there. Both stories end on a very similar note.

“Television Terror” is a nice adaptation of the original short story by Robert Arthur, Jr. It is unfortunate that he is not given the credit he rightfully deserves regarding the original storyline itself. Movie plots, more loosely adapted than this, have credited the original source material for their screenplays. H/T>

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