Curator's Corner: Chiller Theater and the Girl with the Terminal Stare


In the 1950s, the film industry encountered stiff competition from the new home entertainment phenomenon of television, and Hollywood studios tried to figure out how to make money from their vaults full of old films. In 1957 Screen Gems released to television a package of 52 horror films from Universal Studios, the producer of such classics as Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man. They called the package “Shock Theater.” Eagerly acquired by television stations around the country, the offering soon gave birth to a new TV personality—the horror host. Pittsburgh had two. Bob Drews, originally a morning drive time DJ, became Sir Roger “residing in a gloomy English manor house.” George Eisenhauer, who began his television career in 1949 as WDTV’s first announcer, grew a goatee and became “Igor.” In a few short years, however, local stations ran out of films to show and the programs were dropped. But fans of horror and science fiction missed the shows and agitated for their return.

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