THRILLER

Sixty Minutes
Black & White
Sixty-Seven Episodes
First Telecast: Sept 13, 1960
Last Telecast of a First-run Episode: Apr 30, 1962
Last Telecast of the Original Network Run: Jul 9, 1962

Host: Boris Karloff
Executive Producer: Hubbell Robinson
Producers: Fletcher Markle; William Frye and Maxwell Shane
Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Pete Rugolo, and Morton Stevens

Thriller (aka Boris Karloff's Thriller) is an hour-long TV horror anthology series that originally aired on NBC from 1960 to 1962. At the beginning of each Thriller hour, Hollywood's original master of the macabre, Boris Karloff, sets the tone and primes viewers for frightful and chilling dramas based on the works of some of the horror genre's greatest writers: Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, Cornell Woolrich, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch, to name just a few. Shot in eerie black and white, each episode offers at least one complete drama—a few episodes divide the hour between two or three shorter plays—and many feature notable guest stars such as William Shatner, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leslie Nielsen, John Carradine, Tom Poston, Edward Andrews, and even host Boris Karloff himself.
 

During the years since its original run, the series has garnered a huge base of fans, some of whom are themselves big names in the entertainment industry or the horror subculture. For example, Lawrence Rapchak, musical director for the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra in the Chicago area, says he loves Thriller because it perfectly embodies "that spooky, exciting, 1950s Halloween-type zeitgeist that [he] experienced as a kid." Famed splatterpunk author and genre historian David J. Schow is also enthusiastic about the show, citing certain episodes as the palpable progeny of EC Comics and pointing out others that "resonate like a feature film." And even venerated horror-meister Stephen King is a devotee. Indeed, in his popular nonfiction book on the horror genre, Danse Macabre, King goes so far as to call Thriller "the best horror series ever put on TV."
 

Of course, like most anthology shows, Thriller has its share of clunker episodes that elicit groans of displeasure from even its most ardent fans. And some horror aficionados, including a few high-profile ones, are also put off by the handful of episodes that are crime-based "thrillers" rather than stories of the ghastly or the macabre. Film historian and frequent Fangoria contributor Tom Weaver, for example, has a reputation as a "Thriller killer" because he openly reviles the series as "bottom-notch" horror, usually proffering the crime-based episodes as his primary evidence. However, detractors like Weaver conveniently ignore the fact that the best episodes of Thriller are often cited by both horror fans and entertainment pundits as some of the most memorably terrifying hours of broadcast television. And in spite of the occasional naysayer, Thriller has stood the test of time and can still give an audience chills, thrills, and goose bumps aplenty.