About Shock Theater
Shock Theater was a package of 52 classic horror films from Universal Studios released for television showings in October 1957 by Screen Gems, the television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures. The Shock Theater package included Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man and the The Wolf Man. A second package, Son of Shock, was released for television by Screen Gems in 1958, with 20 horror films from both Universal and Columbia.
Shock Theater was usually aired on late night television with a costumed horror host; a well-known example was Zacherley with Philadelphia WCAU-TV, 1957–1958, and New York WABC-TV, 1958–1959. Prior to Zacherely’s arrival at WABC-TV, Shock Theater was hosted off-camera by ABC Staff Announcer Scott Vincent. Shock Theater continued the American tradition of horror film television shows such as Vampira. Showings of the Shock Theater package were often introduced by local hosts in the style of Vampira or Zacherley.
One of the most innovative of the series was produced during 1962-63 at the Los Angeles Television station KTLA-TV which was owned by Gene Autry. Gene Autry brought in Bill Aken as musical director and overall producer. Aken re-vamped the commercial breaks making them as entertaining as the films themselves. With spooky music and actors costumed as monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula, the commercials for sponsor Baldwin Chevrolet took on a whole new aspect. Host Joe Salazar was driven onto the set in an ambulace carrying a coffin which Salazar would emerge from to start the show. Joined by ‘Monsters’ in all the Chevrolet commercials, with a special theme song, the show garnered an avid fan base all over the Los Angeles area during the two years it was on the air.