October 9, 2003
By Franklin Harris
It's October, so it's time once again for my annual survey of television horror. As usual, several cable channels are offering a veritable trick-or-treat bag of Halloween programming.
First the treats.
Turner Classic Movies never disappoints. This year the channel is spotlighting the films of Hammer, the independent British studio that set the standard for gothic horror in the '50s and '60s. Each Sunday at 7 p.m. (all times Central), TCM will air two Hammer films, followed by a few more horror classics from the Turner vault.
This Sunday, TCM will show Christopher Lee's first two outings as Bram Stoker's immortal vampire: "Horror of Dracula," co-starring Peter Cushing ("Star Wars"), and "Dracula: Prince of Darkness," co-starring Barbara Shelley and Andrew Keir. The vampire theme then continues with "Mark of the Vampire," with Lionel Barrymore and Bela Lugosi; F.W. Murnau's silent masterpiece, "Nosferatu"; Lugosi in 1931's "Dracula"; and the 1970 TV movie "House of Dark Shadows," starring soap-opera bloodsucker Jonathan Frid.
Other Hammer films airing during TCM's festival include "The Reptile" and "The Plague of the Zombies" on Oct. 19 and "The Devil's Bride," starring Lee and Charles Gray, and "The Devil's Own" on Oct. 26.
This month TCM is also featuring the films of Boris Karloff, which air each Tuesday night starting between 8 and 9. Of note are "The Mask of Fu Manchu," co-starring Myrna Loy and airing early Wednesday at 12:15; "West of Shanghai" on Oct. 21 at 8:15; and "The Raven" and "The Black Cat" beginning at 7 on Oct. 28.
TCM also gives Karloff the star treatment on Halloween night, showing three of his "Frankenstein" films starting at 7: "Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein," and "Son of Frankenstein." They are followed at midnight by Hammer's "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed!"
Bravo offers up three nights of Halloween programming on Oct. 29, 30 and 31. Each night at 7, Bravo will air "Creature Features," a three-part special on how filmmakers have brought monsters to the screen from the earliest days of film to today. Then, following each episode, Bravo will present a modern monster movie: "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" on Oct. 29, Bravo's new production of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring John Hannah ("The Mummy Returns") on Oct. 30 and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" on Halloween.
Lastly, American Movie Classics will again air its weeklong Monsterfest from Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. through Halloween. As it did last year, Monsterfest will screen a mix of classic monster movies and more recent fright fare. Here are some highlights: "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter," Oct. 27 at 11:45 a.m.; "Godzilla," Oct. 28 at 6:45 a.m.; "King Kong" (the original), Oct. 28 at 10:15 a.m.; "Rosemary's Baby," Oct. 28 at 11 p.m. and Oct. 29 at 2:15 p.m.; and "Scars of Dracula," Oct. 30 at 12:55 a.m. and 11:05 a.m.
Now for the tricks.
The Sci-Fi Channel plans two days of horror programming that you should avoid like a vampire avoids garlic. On Oct. 30, Sci-Fi will air "Exorcist 2: The Heretic" at 11 a.m., followed that night by the teenybopper flicks "Urban Legend," "The Faculty" and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" starting at 6. On Halloween, it's more of the same, with an afternoon of "Wishmaster" movies beginning at noon. It's a pitiful slate coming from a channel that specializes in this sort of thing.
The only program on Sci-Fi worth catching is the "Scare Tactics" Halloween special airing Halloween night at 9 and 11.