18. The monsters moved to television in 1957 as Shock Theater
In October 1957 Universal released 52 of the horror films made prior to 1948, through the television arm of Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems. The classic Universal films, some of which had not been seen in years, included Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Son of Frankenstein, Son of Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, and many more. Distributed by Screen Gems to local markets, most chose to air them as late-night television or Saturday afternoon programs. Nearly all markets adopted a “horror host” to supplement the broadcast, costumed as a ghoul or other monster, on a set which added to the atmosphere.
Some of the broadcasts were done as camp, while some presented a more somber mood. Camp came to dominate. The local host was necessary because of the widely varying length of the films, with some lasting less than an hour and some nearly two hours. The name of the broadcast varied by market, but the films were distributed by Screen Gems as Shock Theater. It was the birth of the many camp oriented airings known today as Creature Feature, Svengoolie, and others. It also generated a renewed interest in the classic monsters which soon became prevalent in other media.