On Friday nights in Indiana during the 1960’s and 70’s, you invited your best friend over to spend the night (Denny), pleaded with Mom to fix a tray of pizza rolls and, out of courtesy, asked to stay up late for a night of Nightmare Theater with Sammy Terry. Of course, Mom always allowed it, as you knew she would, fixed those pizza rolls, brought in the blankets and left the two of you to your night of magic because she sure as heck was not going to watch those “scary movies’.
The creaking of the coffin filled the house as you watched, transfixed, as Sammy Terry and his spider, George, emerged to host a night of classic horror. Usually, it was one of the Universal movies starring Karloff, Lugosi, or Chaney, Jr.
Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Black Room, Werewolf of London, The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, and Creature from the Black Lagoon were frequently shown favorites. Quite a few of the Val Lewton RKOs were shown regularly, as well as the occasional Jack Arnold film, such as Monster on the Campus, Tarantula, or The Incredible Shrinking Man. My own personal favortie was Ulmer’s The Black Cat with Karloff and Lugosi battling out to strains of the Beethoven 7th. If the films shown on Nightmare Theater were not always approached by the filmmakers as high art (i.e. The Wolfman) , then there was certainly consummate craftsmanship that one always felt Sammy approved of.
In between the features, Sammy Terry would discuss the movies, make jokes with George and other regulars (Ghost Girl, Ghoulsbie) , have an occasional guest, talk about the Pacers, or show off the crayola drawings of Sammy and George that local children would send to WTTV 4. Sammy had an inimitable laugh that would send shivers down the 8 year old spine.
If you made it to the end of the night (and frequently did not, hence the blankets) Sammy would retreat to his coffin and bestow his wish of “Many Pleasant Nightmares.” You knew, with excitement and dread, that he would return the following Friday.
There were lots of local urban myths about Sammy Terry and we were all too happy to spread those myths to fellow classmates since Sammy was a favorite subject. Of course, this was long before the days of cable TV, VCRs, and even color TV (at least until the mid 70’s at our house) so the local WTTV 4 Station ruled the roost out of the four available TV Continue reading NIGHTMARE THEATER WITH SAMMY TERRY