Dark Fantasy

was a series devoted to the bizarre and uncanny, and featured stories from multiple genres including murder, Sci-Fi, horror, and the supernatural. It originated at WKY in Oklahoma City and had a tie-in with Movie Radio Guide, which printed the stories along with illustrations. The series ran from late-1941 to mid-1942 (possibly 1944) and included at least 31 episodes, all in half-hour format. Scott Bishop penned most of the stories, although he was almost certainly influenced by many masters: H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas DeQuincy, William Blake, Charles Lindley, Elliot O'Donnell, and Fitz-James O'Brien. The announcers were Keith Painton and Tom Paxton.

The series was often compared with Lights Out!. In a press release, Scott Bishop is quoted as saying "Give the listener enough material to let his imagination go to work, and he'll supply his own goose pimples", which is reminiscent of Wyllis Cooper's statement "I don't believe in too strong a story line because it's apt to be too hard for the listener to keep in mind... The charm in radio consists of good characterization. Plot should consist of a twist rather than a formalized structure."

Sources used to create my own log and double-check titles, dates and cast members: Radio Recall, Digital Deli Too, RadioGOLDINdex, and Nightkey's OTR Errors.
I am especially indebted to the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club and their publication, Radio Recall, for information about this series. In particular, it was the 3-part series of articles authored by Karl Schadow in early 2011 that sparked my interest. Definitely worth reading.


Currently this archive contains 12 of 30 plotlines and 14 reviews

Webmaster Recommends:

Jeff Dickson Recommends:

Convoy for Atlantis

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Cup of Gold, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Radio reporter Lee Saunders confronts Ruth Kendish about her murder of a golf champion, but she can't remember much about it.

Reviews:
Like this series' mind-boggling "Spawn of the Subhuman," the first half of the story is deceptively dull before exploding into increasingly improbable, utterly bizarre insanity. The Lights Out scripters sometimes used this structure, but if tall tale-teller Arch Oboler often comes across as an unsubtle imitation of the more writerly Wyllis Cooper, then Dark Fantasy's amateurish Scott Bishop is a crude, smudged carbon copy, written with a crayon, of both. It's almost Ed Wood-style radio. One of the more astonishingly craptastic episodes of this craptastic series. --- Anonymous

Curare

aka: "Karari"
Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Scott Bishop

"A weird and pulse-pounding tale of terror... "Curare", which relates how an angered witch doctor of the Ecuador jungle brews a bitter, deadly poison to use against a strange and heartless enemy..." --- announced at end of "The Edge of the Shadow".

Reviews:

Curse of the Neanderthal, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Dead Hands Reaching

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Possibly inspired by "Confessions of an English Opium User" by Thomas DeQuincy. --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Reviews:

Death Is a Savage Deity

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:
Recommended --- Luc L'Heureux

Debt from the Past

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Mary answers a job ad in a newspaper, but everything's so strange when she arrives, the clothing, equipment and people seem permanently locked in the year 1912. 

With Jane Wyatt ().

Reviews:
The kind of unusual tale Dark Fantasy first caught my interest with. Second time listening and I still enjoyed it. Lower rating due to audio quality 6/10 -- Noelle 

Delicate Case of Murder, A

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Harvey Winstead longs to be rid of his mediumistic wife Laura who refuses a divorce. Before a car accident claims her life, she vows to make him believe in the hereafter! A vow she carries out through Harvey's lover Frederica. 

Note: Some OTR vendors offer an episode called "Seance" for sale, but according to Nightkey, Digital Deli Too, and Noelle, the episode never existed. The recording in question is actually a partial recording of "A Delicate Murder".

Reviews:
I thought this would be a standard little murder-by-numbers story. I was pleasantly surprised with the ending. 6/10 -- Noelle

Demon Tree, The

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

A night-clerk at a tourist resort tells four bored guests about an ancient oak tree that wanders a nearby forest strangling the unwary. Humphreys, Crane, Clara, and Danvers go for a stroll to see if they can find this 'strangling oak'. Of course they do.

Possibly inspired by Elliot O'Donnell's story "The Strangling Oak of Nannau Woods", 1965, which is loosely based on the much older Welsh legend of Hywel Sele [Howel Sele], Owain Glyndwr [Owen Glendower] and Derwen Ceubren yr Ellyll [Hollow Tree of the Demons] dating back to the 1300s.

Another version aired on Tales of The Witch-Queen as 'The Ghost of Gobarrow Forest'.

Reading Link: 'The Midnight Hearse' including 'The Strangling Oak of Nannau Woods', by Elliott O'Donnell, available at The Internet Archive.

Newspaper clipping: "London, England, April 21, 1857. It is reported that Sir Horace Wakefield, earl of [Dorsha], was found strangled last night in Barlow Forest. His body was discovered entangled in the branches of a huge oak tree. [?]'s death recalls to mind the weird tale of the witch of Barlow Forest who is said to have lived in the 16th century, an evil old hag who upon having a falling out with Sir Thomas Hurley Wakefield, cursed him and warned him that any of his descendants who enterred Barlow Forest would surely perish... She also added that any person, or persons, with the Wakefield descendant would also die. She is said to have planted an acorn, smeared with her own blood. The acorn is supposed to have grown into a towering oak, capable of moving about from place to place in Barlow Forest. Sir Horace is the 6th of the Wakefield line to have perished by strangulation in the forest."

Reviews:
Recommended. --- Luc L'Heureux

Beat-you-over-the-head foreshadowing gave the conclusion away within the first five minutes, but this was still a good episode. Strong descriptive imagery and solid acting—though a little melodramatic at times—created tension even with the foregone conclusion. Music was limited to needed accents and was not overdone. So even though I knew how the story was going to end, it still had me snuggling deeper into my chair cushion. [7/10] --- zM

Edge of the Shadow, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Funeral Arrangements Completed

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Another version aired on The Crime Patrol as "A Coffin for Two". Possibly inspired by Charles Lindley. --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Reviews:

Headless Dead, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

A previous version aired on The Crime Patrol. --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Reviews:

House of Bread, The

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Late one evening, Scott Bishop falls asleep at his typewriter—amidst the soft spicy odour of incense and the faint sound of an organ—and has an enlightening dream. A strangely familiar man urges Scott to search for Truth in the "House of Bread". Upon waking, Scott and his wife begin a multi-year journey to discover this "House of Bread" and learn the Truth.

Snippet: "If you are sincere in wishing to find the truth... if you really desire to know the way of light, and happiness, and peace... if you would know the road to all these majestic things, then seek you the House of Bread..."

Reviews:
For a show like Dark Fantasy, this story isn't very dark... but then, every now and then we need a reminder that there's still some light in the darkness. The characters in this particular story were believable... from the skepticism of Scott's boss... to the sense of wonder displayed by Scott and his wife. Scott and his wife take turns narrating, though Scott narrates most of the time, and the dialogue was as natural as possible to match this (the character named Word is the only exception to this, for reasons the story reveals close to the very end). Although there was no real way to get into the characters' heads aside from the narration, the actors played their parts exceptionally well. I have to admit that while the pilgrimage was a little slow and tended to wander a bit, the description of the locations (all here on Earth) and details of the journey, itself, make the slow pacing worthwhile. The music and the sound added atmosphere of the story. While the tone of the story was serious, there was no real conflict here, no heroes or villains... so those looking for tension will probably want to pass on this one. But those looking for a tale of wonder and discovery might find this to be a rare treasure.  8/10 --- Prophet Wing

I Am Your Brother

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Letter from Yesterday, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Man Who Came Back, The

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

With cold anger, Philip Blake slips into Keith Grange's unoccupied apartment and waits for Grange to arrive. When he does, Blake accuses him of having an affair with his wife, Sylvia. Grange admits the deed. In fact he laughs it off, claiming Sylvia will never give him up to go back to her boring husband. Blake threatens Grange... Grange pulls a gun... Blake promises that if Grange kills him, he will come back from the dead and avenge himself...

Features "Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 39, No. 15" by Johannes Brahms.

Reviews:
First episode of the series. Good pacing and buildup; solid acting. A slow-moving tale, which builds tension throughout... or it would if I hadn't heard this type of story so many times before. I had to keep reminding myself that this was written in 1941, before this story-type became a cliché. The recurring Brahms melody is a nice touch. [7/10] --- zM

Man with the Scarlet Satchel, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:
Recommended --- Luc L'Heureux

Men Call Me Mad

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Dr Terhune, suspecting that all creation consists of worlds within worlds, invents a type of colour film designed to reveal objects within atoms... objects smaller than the atoms themselves... and this leads to the discovery of an entirely unknown world within the ray of a single moonbeam. After enduring the scepticism of his peers, he proposes to visit this strange world and bring back proof of its existence.

See also: 'The Time Machine' by H.G. Wells and 'The Diamond Lens' by Fitz-James O'Brien

Snippet: "Take me to your scientists!"

Reviews:

Pennsylvania Turnpike

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:
Recommended --- Luc L'Heureux

Rendezvous with Satan

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Resolution, 1841

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:
Recommended --- Luc L'Heureux

Screaming Skulls, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Sea Phantom, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Seance

see: "Delicate Case of Murder, A"

Sleeping Death, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

First half only.

Another version was aired on Tales of the Witch-Queen, possibly as 'The Deathmaker of Shillingham Road'. --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Reviews:

Soul of Shan Hai Huan, The

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Scott Bishop

"A tale of the tombs of ancient China... the adventures that befell a young couple who acquired in San Francisco, a small brass idol with the inscription 'Possess Me and Die'." --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Another version aired on Tales of The Witch-Queen. --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Reviews:

Spawn of the Sub-Human

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Superstition Be Hanged

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews:

Thing from the Darkness, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Adventure
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

After a desert storm forces his plane down, a pilot is held captive by a village who believes he must be sacrificed to a den of jaguars in order to appease their angry God.  

Reviews:
Not one of the best efforts of this series. Avoid, please. 2/10 - Noelle

Thing from the Sea, The

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Movie stars Philip Hayward and Judith Johnston, along with Miss Johnston's movie-director father, encounter problems while sailing to New Zealand aboard Hayward's yacht. En route, they encounter Boule and Lana, two ancient spirits who have the ability to enter and control human bodies. Boule and Lana were once the emperor and empress of Ebaan, a lost continent that was destroyed 10,000 years ago, and are looking to rebuild their civilization...

Another version aired on Tales of The Witch-Queen. --- Karl Schadow, Radio Recall

Snippet: I am Boule, emperor of Ebaan, and I've returned to claim again my ancient kingdom. If you come one step nearer, I shall be compelled to slay you.

Reviews:
Sometimes the line between the fantastic and the absurd is a thin one, easily crossed. I couldn't really get into this story. Plenty of detail was provided for the back-story, but improbable events explained away with silly dialogue killed my enthusiasm. You slay me, Scott. [2/10] --- zM

'W' Is for Werewolf

Year: 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Bishop

Reviews: