The Hermit's Cave

The Hermit was a depraved, cackling old geezer who seemed to delight in the gruesome, the grisly, the ghoulish, and the ghastly—it's little wonder he was forced to go off and live in a cave. There he dwelt from 1940 to 1943 or '44, inviting the unwary in to hear his tales of the dark and the macabre. The stories often ended badly for the protagonists—much to the frenetic glee of our mentally unbalanced host. It's uncertain how many episodes were produced (one episode, "The Professor's Elixir", mentions it as #404!) but, as far as I have been able to discover, only about 30 survive. The series began as a 15 minute show, later evolving into a half hour format.

Recent information has been unearthed—no doubt from a cave somewhere—by the folks over at Digital Deli Too. According to them, The Hermit's Cave was more like a franchise than a single series, with at least 5 identifiable phases spanning 14 years and over 800 episodes:
  • 1930-1936 - The Mummers, 15 minute sketches, featuring a character called The Hermit; WJR, Detroit
  • 1936-1937 - Unsponsored, introductory run called In the Hermit's Cave; WJR, Detroit; 19 episodes
  • 1937-1947 - Olga Coal sponsored run called The Hermit's Cave; WJR, Detroit; 539 episodes
  • 1938-1939 - Don Lee-Mutual run called The Devil's Scrapbook; 37 episodes
  • 1940-1944 - West Coast run called The Hermit's Cave; KMPC, LA; 217 esipsodes
Sources used to create my own log and double-check titles, dates and cast members: Digital Deli Too, RadioGOLDINdex, Radio Horror Hosts, Nightkey's OTR Errors and Terror on the Air!: Horror Radio in America, 1931-1952 (Richard J. Hand).

Currently this archive contains 31 of 31 plotlines and 18 reviews

Webmaster Recommends:
Mr Randall's Discovery | It Happened on Sunday

Jeff Dickson Recommends:
The Search for Life

Author of Murder, The

Year: 1937
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A writer believes that the ghost of a character in his novel is jealous and wishes to kill his wife. He stays up each night until the stroke of midnight to prevent her from leaving his study and carrying out her plans.

Black Band, The

aka: "The Adventure of the German Student"
Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Washington Irving, 1824

Time: the French Reign of Terror. A young, reclusive student returns to his lodgings by way of the Place de Grève, the square where public executions are performed, and beholds a beautiful, disconsolate, woman who has witnessed her father, mother, and two brothers guillotined. He realizes she is, literally, the woman of his dreams... the woman he has been dreaming of for months. He comforts her, takes her home, and marries her... with surprising results.

A tip-of-the-hat to alert listener/reader, Noelle, who noticed that The Hermit's Cave story "The Black Band" and the CBS Radio Mystery Theater story "The Guillotine" are both largely based on the Washington Irving story "The Adventure of the German Student", which was first published as part of a story arc called "Strange Stories by a Nervous Gentleman" in the collection: Tales of a Traveller, 1824. However, the story may also have been published as "The Lady with the Velvet Collar".

See also "Episode of the Terror" and "The Guillotine" (both from CBS Radio Mystery Theater)

Reading Link: "The Adventure of the German Student", by Washington Irving, available at Project Gutenberg Australia.

Reviews:
I found myself alternately repulsed by the I-have-loved-you-all-my-life-though-I-met-you-for-the-first-time-today extended cliché and drawn in by the ploddingly-building tension. The acting was fairly good, and once I bought into the premise I found the story not so bad as I expected. UPDATE: I have read the Washington Irving story and realized the 'love-at-first-sight' motif is more than a cliché. The isolated and withdrawn student has been dreaming of a 'perfect' woman for months. Depending on your interpretation, this could be viewed as an escape from the brutal reality of the Reign of Terror, or an evil supernatural influence intended to snare the unsuspecting student, or the beginnings of madness. It is this woman whom he meets at the Place de Grève. (These alternatives are more fully explored in the CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation.) I also found it interesting that this 1930-something adaptation felt the need to marry off the couple in the middle of the night before they could become lovers. The 1824 Washington Irving version felt no such need: "It was the time for wild theory and wild actions. Old prejudices and superstitions were done away; everything was under the sway of the 'Goddess of Reason'. Among other rubbish of the old times, the forms and ceremonies of marriage began to be considered superfluous bonds for honorable minds. Social compact were the vogue. Wolfgang was too much of theorist not to be tainted by the liberal doctrines of the day." [6/10] --- zM

Blackness of Terror, The

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A woman who has spent her entire life at her wealthy father's side, until her recent marriage, receives a telegram saying that her now semi-estranged father is seriously ill. She fears he is lonely and heartbroken, but his problem may have more supernatural origins.

Buried Alive

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A man hires a nurse to watch over and care for his brother, who has been emotionally disturbed since the death of his wife... and to make sure he doesn't escape from his locked room!

Reviews:
Over-dramatized acting and simplistic dialog, combined with a totally unbelievable plot, yields a very silly result. Avoid. [2/10] --- zM

Castle by the Sea

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A couple of tourists set out to visit the ruins of a local castle. Despite warnings that the castle is haunted and a gathering storm with wind, lightning, and thunder, they press on to discover an old servant woman who has a tale to tell.

Conquest of David Rugg, The

Year: 1938
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A man driving home from the country at dusk is overtaken by a strange storm and suddenly finds himself on a narrow dirt road. When he stops to find out where he is, a farmer driving an old-fashioned horse and buggy and wearing clothes 40 years out of date, offers him a lift.

From The Devil's Scrapbook series.

Crimson Hand, The

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Four months before the Nazis move into Paris, when everyone who has money is moving out, a writer and his painter wife rent an estate for a song. It's a great deal. Really. Until one night when they hear a tap, tap, tapping sound and see a hand, red with blood, pulling the drapes aside...

See also "Crimson Hand, The" (The Hermit's Cave), "Dead Hand, The" (Murder at Midnight), "Death by Whose Hands?" (CBS Radio Mystery Theater), "Gipsy's Hand, The" (The Witch's Tale), "Hand, The" (CBS Radio Mystery Theater), and "Hand of Botar" (Hall of Fantasy).

Dark House, The

Year: 1935
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Duration: 12 min
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

"Night... when men sleep and evil wakes. A sedan pulls up in front of the foreboding house of the late Cyrus Dark. This creeping mansion of a crazed scientist has been for sale for several years." - from the intro. A you-are-there narrative of two men who venture into a spooky mansion and... well you'll just have to listen, won't you?

From The Mummers series in the early 30s.

Reviews:
Not bad for a very short story. A nicely paced opening followed by "Come over here Larry. There seems to be movement in this hole..." Oh, I'd go. Like a shot. [6/10] --- zM

Devil Dog    *LOST*

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Fever

Year: 1946
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

An old country miser is dying of a fever, while his daughter and scheming son await their inheritance. Not wanting to part with his hard earned money, he leaves them with another inheritance as well... a curse.

Reviews:
This isn't the most original plot by a long stretch, but it does have creepy moments, especially when the children fear their father may not actually be dead. It was enjoyable but not the sort of thing you would listen to more than once. --- Kurt Kuersteiner

Footprints in the Snow    *LOST*

Year: 1940
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

From Another World

Year: 1941; 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

An immigrant farmer counts his blessings when a falling meteor narrowly misses him, but worries that ill fortune will shortly follow. When Rita Haine, a geologist from the Brown Geological Society, arrives to retrieve the meteorite, the story... begins to heat up.

Reviews:
The hokey accents of the farmer and his wife, combined with poor audio quality, made this episode difficult to understand. Nevertheless, found myself slightly intrigued with the meteor. Knew it was going to be trouble, just didn't know how. [5/10] --- zM

Guilty One, The    *LOST*

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

Gypsy's Curse, The

Year: 1941
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Peter the butcher (a strange and stocky husband) and his wife Clara (with her dark and beady eyes and round face) learn that Gypsies are stealing pigs from local farmers, but they don't seem too concerned about it.

Reviews:
Unlike most surviving episodes, the Hermit delivers more than his usual quota of pseudo-ominous narration in the slow-moving early scenes. Fortunately, at least one wild pig is killed with an axe, if that's your idea of a good time, and then things get increasingly creepy after the middle commercial. --- Anonymous

Hanson's Ghost

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A couple seek to increase their chances of inheriting from their rich uncle by visiting him at his mansion. The uncle, who is rather disturbed and is obsessed with his cockamamie theories of achieving immortality through ghostly possession, has other ideas.

Reviews:
A very atmospheric little ghost story. The character of Phillip Hanson was perfectly portrayed. He was just the sort of old madman you'd expect to find attempting to summon dead souls to inhabit the bodies of living humans. The crazy old servant was also a very scary touch, but the characters of the old man's niece, and her husband could have been a bit more well written. All and all, a perfect little story to listen to during a Halloween party, or other scary occasion. --- 'Fallen Angel'

Haunted Theater, The    *LOST*

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

House of Madness    *LOST*

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

House of Murder, The

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A few days after a researcher moves to a house in the boondocks to conduct his experiments in peace and quiet, his servant requests her wages and quits, citing strange noises in the night. The researcher thinks this is preposterous... until he hears the sounds too... and sees the pages of his ledger turn by themselves... and feels something brush against his shoulder... Apparently, something in the house doesn't want those experiments completed.

House of Purple Shadows, The

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A man who hasn't visited his closed-up house since his wife died, returns and is trapped in a spectral form by a strange force inhabiting the house. When his niece and her husband move in, he tries to warn them away.

Reviews:
A slow-moving fatalistic tale lacking suspense, drama and horror, but with plenty of descriptive imagery and an interesting monologue about what it's like to be a ghost. [6/10] --- zM

House on Lost Man's Bluff, The

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Some folks have car trouble and get caught in a storm while traveling on a mountain back road. They take shelter in an abandoned old house, where an unpleasant stay is had by all. The house is not exactly unoccupied...

Reviews:
Despite a bit of slightly silly dialogue, an overall interesting episode. Even when listening the second time and knowing it was coming, the laughter of the story's supernatural nasty still gave me the willies. --- Harry Leshko

House with a Past, The

Year: 1937
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

After buying a drugstore in a small jerkwater town, a couple rent a very nice old house for a very reasonable price. They become increasingly alarmed, however, when neighbors tell them the house is haunted and they wake, late at night, to the sound of footsteps in the attic.

Reviews:
A by-the-numbers poltergeist tale, very routine even by the Hermit's low standards. --- Anonymous

Inheritance    *LOST*

Year: 1940
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

It Happened on Sunday

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A man (and his female cousin) become concerned when his best friend (her fiancé) becomes morose and obsessed with the death of his wife three years previously. The man retreats to his cottage in the country, has the housekeeper burn the painting of his ex-wife, and refuses to leave until after Sunday night.

Reviews:
A good yarn, well told. The acting and pacing are just right, and the ending surprised me. (But then again, it was one of the first Hermit stories I ever listened to.) [7/10] --- zM

Living or Dead    *LOST*

Year: 1940
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Lost Black Crow Mine, The

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Two men and a woman hire a third man who says he can guide them to the legendary Black Crow Mine; a mine the woman learned about from her grandfather. "Across the parched sands of the desert, near the ghost town of Pepe, Arizona, a party of 3 men and a lone woman are groping their way through the blistering heat. All around them are bare rocky hills... and nothing else as far as the eye can see." - from the intro.

From the West Coast-KMPC run. See also "The Paralta Map" (Suspense). Also vaguely similar to "Behind the Locked Door" (The Mysterious Traveler).

Man with White Hair, The

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

An aggressively manipulative financier, riding a wave of euphoria after closing a recent deal, scoffs when accosted by a fortune teller who insists on telling him he will die within 3 days at the hands of a man with white hair.

From the West Coast-KMPC run.

Marked Hours    *LOST*

Year: 1937
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Mr Randall's Discovery

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science / Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A banker pursues a nice, relaxing, science-oriented hobby at home... down in the basement... away from his wife and son... and inadvertently creates a microbial life-form, which begins to grow and grow and grow... Fascinated, he becomes obsessed and withdraws further from his family.

Some copies of this are actually from The Mystery Playhouse, hosted by Peter Lorre and re-broadcast overseas during WWII.

Reviews:
I thought the first 10 minutes of this show were absolutely hilarious—not that they were intended that way! The familial interactions among the boy, the mom, and the pop—with his get-away-from-the-family, down-in-the-basement hobby—were spot on. The way pop's personality deteriorates as his experiment wears on is well played. And there's some nice hysterical screaming in the second half. [7/10] --- zM

Mysterious Return    *LOST*

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Mystery of the Thing, The

aka: The Mystery of the Strange Thing
Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Dr. Foresteer discovered his future wife when she was wandering around the park near the hospital, lost, helpless, suffering from amnesia, and wearing an old-fashioned gown torn all to tatters. And today, months after becoming married, and several hours after Dr. Foresteer reported his wife missing, her clothes were found just inside the cemetery gate.

Reviews:
Many of the surviving Hermit's Cave episodes use the same 'formula'. Perhaps they are from the same writer? I don't know. This episode breaks free from that mold and presents something a little more original. Not a great story and not great drama, but slightly intriguing with adequate acting. [6/10] --- zM

Nameless, The

aka: The Nameless Day
Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A brilliant inventor, Stanley Crayton, invents a device that will cool the interior of an automobile, but his ruthless business partner, Harden Wilgen, poisons him and takes all the credit and subsequent riches for himself. The murdered, however, don't rest easy in the grave....

Reviews:
Although this story is supposed to be a classic "revenge from beyond the grave" episode, the poisoning of the murdered man who returns from the dead to avenge his own death stole the show. If you want to have a few nightmares about being poisoned, listen to this one before going to bed. Oh, and by the way, make sure you know what's in your drink before taking that first swallow. --- 'Fallen Angel'

Notebook on Murder

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A woman recovering from a nervous breakdown hears her bedroom door open slowly, followed by approaching footsteps—she screams, and the footsteps run away. But the fear and the expectation that the intruder might return wear on her nerves day-by-day, until...

Reviews:
The ending of this tale is predictable and abrupt, which is a little disappointing after the superb tension created during the middle portion... when the wife hears footsteps outside her bedroom door and frantically describes in a notebook everything she hears. [6/10] --- zM

Omen from The Sea, The    *LOST*

Year: 1940
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Plantation Mystery

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A ruthless and demanding, miserly plantation owner refuses to honor a verbal agreement with his foreman to share half the profits. When he encounters strange goings-on he blames the foreman despite numerous rumors the plantation is haunted. Meanwhile, the natives are restless...

See also "The Walking Dead" (Creeps by Night).

Possessed, The    *LOST*

Year: 1941; 1942
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Professor's Elixir, The

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

An evil scientist creates an 'elixir of death' for a beautiful nightclub entertainer who wants to be rid of her wealthy husband, but her refusal to pay him for his efforts elicits an uncanny revenge.

Reflected Image

Year: 194x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Two men lost in the desert and dying of thirst follow the vision of a beautiful woman to an old shack, where they listen to an old prospector tell an unusual tale of love and betrayal.

Sea Wolf    *LOST*

Year: 1944
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Search for Life, The

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A lab assistant kills his career-oriented girlfriend so that his mad scientist boss can bring her back to life with a slightly altered personality.

See also "Death Robbery" (Lights Out)

Sound That Never Ends, The    *LOST*

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Spirit Vengeance

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

An elderly couple get lost while going to meet their daughter on A Dark and Stormy Night. They end up staying the night at the isolated home of a mad scientist who, unbeknownst to them, has used their daughter for experiment stock.

Not to be confused with "Spirits of Vengeance".

Reviews:
This atmospheric tale, aided by periodic thunder and the scientist's creepy voice, gets off to a moody and suspenseful start, but falters at the end with an abrupt, simplistic ending. [5/10] --- zM

Spirits of Vengeance

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A woman and her son travel back to her childhood home, now owned by her mentally disturbed brother. He has become obsessed of late with the spirits of their dead parents, whom he says are haunting him constantly—watching, following him from room to room, and... waiting.

Not to be confused with "Spirit Vengeance".

Unseen Force, The    *LOST*

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

Vampire's Desire, The

Year: 193x
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

Two men lost in a downpour attempt to take shelter in an old house. Despite being told they're not welcome, they barge in anyway and blunder about in the darkness scaring themselves silly.

Reviews:
There's got to be a better way to start an abandoned old house themed story than having the protagonists come across it while lost on A Dark and Stormy Night. Other than this overused cliché and the fact that the advertised vampire was a wimp, a very well produced story. The scene involving the hermetically sealed room was particularly effective. --- Harry Leshko

Will in the Book, The    *LOST*

Year: 1940
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Without End

aka: You Only Die Twice
Year: 1946
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by:

A supernatural love story about a soldier who is convinced that the sweetheart he left behind protects him in battle.

Reviews:
Dull, syrupy, and predictable. Don't waste your time unless you're a diehard collector. --- Ed Corbeil

With its fluid, poetic narration and ambiguous resolution, this plays exactly like a rough draft of all those Quiet, Please episodes where Ernest Chappell moons over his ideal love, so much so that you begin to wonder if it isn't an abbreviated version of one of Willis Cooper's lost Lights Out scripts from the mid-1930s. --- Anonymous

You Only Die Twice

see: "Without End"