Posts Tagged ‘1980’

Nightfall #16: “Buried Alive”

Buried Alive - Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio coverThis is John Graham's fourth contribution to the series, though the best of his episodes is yet to come.

In this story, Don Franks portrays The Great Santini, a hypnotist with a daring plan to defraud his insurance company of $500,000 by faking his own death and allowing himself to be buried alive. Unfortunately for Santini, his two assistants have no intention of digging him up.

In this production, Bill Howell returns to using some of the interstitial music that made "Welcome to Homerville" so intense. He also employs some very creepy modernized organ music of the style heard in many old-time radio shows.

"Buried Alive" is one of 30 or so episodes that made their way into the Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cassette series (image left) back in the 90s.


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Buried Alive

Air Date: 10/17/80
Writer(s): John Graham
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Paul Mills
Featuring: Don Franks, Lally Cadeau, John Stocker, Frank Perry
Commercial Synopsis: The Magnificent Santini enters a deep trance, is declared dead, the insurance company pays – and he splits the money with his wife. It's a great plan, if she digs him up after the funeral. Santini's been down there for a while and nothing's happened. Maybe she's got ideas of her own.   (DHPA)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #15: “Special Services”

Linda SorensonHere we have another story about the perils of health care, but this time it's about the dangers of private clinics. Private clinics that cater to very wealthy, very important clients. And when one of these needs an organ transplant, the donor could be anyone of us. Whether we're willing or not.

Featuring Linda Sorenson (photo left) as Diane Katten and Colin Fox as Dr. Cornell.

This is the first episode not produced by Bill Howell, but is the first of three to be produced by Paul Mills. These days Paul runs a small recording studio out of his home in an eastern suburb of Toronto.

One of the interesting points in this episode, for me, is the casual way in which the staff of the clinic go about their jobs. Their computer tells them who is a match for their important client. That person is lured to the clinic, in some cases by involving them in an accident, and the requisite organ(s) taken from them. Without their consent. After all, these clients are far more important!

The music is also one of my favorites. The piece that trails off at the end of the play is quite often used to great effect in the series. I would love to get my hands on the stock music albums they used on this show, but I can't imagine there's any way to find out what they were. I have never heard these cues used anywhere else.


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Special Services

Air Date: 10/10/80
Writer(s): Martin Kinch
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Paul Mills
Featuring: Linda Sorenson, Budd Knapp, Colin Fox, Marian Waldman, Gordon Thomson, Grant Roll
Commercial Synopsis: The premise is an elite hospital which provides organ transplants for its wealthy and powerful patients, and its donors aren't always the willing kind.  (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #14: “The Stone Ship”

The Stone ShipAnother one of my favorite adaptations, again by the late Len Peterson: William Hope Hodgson's "The Stone Ship".

This one is a very faithful adaptation of the original short story and the cast are all first season veterans, led by Chris Wiggins.

Ghost stories are one thing. Sea stories are another. Combine them and you have Hodgson. Since hearing this episode, I have read most of his stories and they're all pretty creepy. Many of them would make excellent radio adaptations. There's just something about the loneliness of the sea – whether it be on a three-masted schooner or a steam freighter – that lends itself to tales of the unusual and supernatural.

It happens that my radio drama troupe, The Post-Meridian Radio Players, performed this story in 2007 and it remains one of our most-remembered productions. After you listen to the original, feel free to download and listen to our live production.


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The Stone Ship

Air Date: 10/3/80
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the short story by William Hope Hodgson)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Chris Wiggins, Arch McDonnell, Eric House, Graham Haley
Commercial Synopsis: Twenty days out of London, and well into the tropics, the crew of an old windjammer, the Alfred Jessop, sails in to the last resting place of a ghostly ship of solid stone. A story about the rocky graveyard of the sea and its petrifying effect on a tough old captain and crew.  (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #13: “The Repossession”

Here it is, folks. This week we present that episode. The most disturbing program of the entire series: Arthur Samuels' "The Repossession".

Wow, what can I say about this story? When I first heard it, I was creeped out from the get-go. I'd never heard anything like it. And the ending! I almost lost it. I sat there, my mouth wide open, unable to believe what I was hearing. And I was cringing the entire time.

John Stocker, in one of his finest performances of the series, plays a dual role: that of Robert Stroud and the spirit of his deceased conjoined twin, Douglas. Mary Pirie, in her second NIGHTFALL appearance, plays Bob's wife, Beth. Neil Dainard plays Bob's friend Ted. And Chris Wiggins plays Dr. Brenner, the psychiatrist Bob consults when he begins hearing his dead brother's voice.

There's no doubt that the entire episode is creepy, but the final few minutes are what make "The Repossession" so horrifyingly disturbing. The sound effects sequence, combined with Stocker's screams, would make Arch Oboler proud. And if there's any truth to the stories about hundreds of letters of complaint about NIGHTFALL and affiliate stations dropping the show due to the content, this is surely the one that started it.

When I listen to the episode now, I try to take comfort in knowing how the sound effects were made. On my visit to Toronto in 2004, I was given a tour of the radio drama studio by Joe Mahoney, a producer from the time after NIGHTFALL whom I had met on-line. One of the folks I met there was Matt Wilcott , sound effects artist for many episodes of the series. He didn't work on "The Repossession", but he told me how SFX artist Bill Robinson created the principal effect for the ending: by working his hand around under the skin of a raw chicken.

Of Arthur Samuels' six scripts for NIGHTFALL, all but one have intense psychological elements. "The Repossession" is the best of these, but I would put "Child's Play" and "Reverse Image" up there next. Sadly, the one time I made contact with Mr. Samuels, he was in a retirement home and didn't feel up to an interview. I would love to have been able to hear the stories behind the stories.

This is one of 30 or so episodes that made their way into the Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cassette series (image left) back in the 90s.

So, here it is. "The Repossession". If you choose to listen to it, don't say I didn't warn you…


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The Repossession

Air Date: 9/26/1980
Writer(s): Arthur Samuels
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: John Stocker, Mary Pirie, Chris Wiggins, Neil Dainard, Jon Granik, Maggie Morris, Amanda O'Leary, David Stein
Commercial Synopsis: In a bizarre twist on the theme of sibling rivalry, Samuels examines the potential for a psychic and symbiotic relationship between a man and the malevolent ghost of his Siamese twin brother, who died when they were separated by an operation thirty-years ago.  (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #12: “Wind Chill”

Elva Mai Hoover

While "Wind Chill" this is not the first episode to feature actress Elva Mai Hoover (photo left), it is certainly one of the best she appeared in. Here she portrays a young woman lost in the snow, who's befriended by a mysterious young man that invites her to wait out the night at his parents' cabin not far away.

The characters Hoover plays in her 16 NIGHTFALL appearances range from the innocent young woman ("Wind Chill", "The Undertaker") to the devious witch ("The Blood Countess") and she does them all well. I've not heard a whole lot of her work outside of NIGHTFALL (a few episodes of Johnny Chase, Vanishing Point and one of Midnight Cab), but if you want to hear a real tour de force, check out her performance in the CBC Playhouse production of "The Sisters" by Silver Donald Cameron, with music by Stan Rogers. You can find it on the CD Poetic Justice, which it shares with the NIGHTFALL episode "Harris and the Mare", in which she also appeared. The CD is no longer in print, but it's very easy to find on eBay and, IIRC, on iTunes as well.

As to the title, there is some question as to whether it's "Windchill" or "Wind Chill", as both have been used at various times. If I remember correctly from my conversation with writer David McCaughna, he believed his original title had been "Wind Chill Factor", which was apparently changed before the episode was broadcast. I settled on "Wind Chill" as that is the title listed in the CBC Radio Broadcast Log for NIGHTFALL.

This is one of 30 or so episodes that made their way into the Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cassette series back in the 90s.


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Wind Chill

Air Date: 9/19/1980
Writer(s): David McCaughna
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Elva Mai Hoover, Robert Haley, Hadley Kay, Aileen Seaton
Commercial Synopsis: A city girl's car breaks down in the country in the dead of winter, and chilling events start to occur in the cabin of the mysterious young man who offers her a place to stay for the night.   (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

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