Macabre 620101-7 The Crystalline Man

Macabre is a very interesting show. It was basically written and directed as a labor of love by radio employees who were not professional writers or actors, and yet, it aired worldwide during the period of OTR. (It slipped in just under the wire in 1962). The driving force behind the program was William Verdier, an Assistant Production Director for the FEN (Far East Network). He was a former NBC and CBS radio employee who ended up working in Japan for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). Drawing on his previous involvement with other radio dramas while working for NBC (Inner Sanctum, Suspense, and Ellery Queen), Verdier wrote seven out of the nine dramas for the new horror series, most of which he also directed. Other staff and local talent joined in the fun. The series actually began as the result of a contest between the FEN and the AFRTS in Germany. Both networks sent tapes to the AFRTS headquarters in Los Angeles, and FEN Toyko won (Digital Deli Too). The results of the series overall are mixed. The acting is decent, but at times, lackluster. Verdier plays the lead in numerous shows, probably because they had a tough time finding good actors without an accent who would work within the budget--assuming they had one. (The limited resources become especially obvious when they read the credits and most everyone is military personal, including the host, Staff Sergeant Al Lapage.) Some of the pre-recorded sound effects don't sound natural, and other pre-recorded music isn't always a good match for the action. But these are little things common in other programs as well, and they are easy to ignore when you're caught up in the story. Some of the plot devices seem a little strained, but then surprise you with a final twist. There are many scenes that are chilling, and Verdier goes out of his way to deliver the goods for horror fans. Like Vardier told the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper writer, "There will be no holds barred, and when people get killed, you will hear it happen." (Nov 13, 1961) If you were unaware of the background to this series and heard it, you probably wouldn't enjoy it as much. But knowing the people who did it were doing it for thrills, helps deliver the thrills for us as well. It makes you wonder why more people haven't taken up the radio drama challenge and produced fun stories like these. They don't have to be perfect to be good and scary, as Macabre proved decades ago.



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