Monday, October 28, 2013

Some Spooky Television Title Sequences

As you can guess if you've read a few of my recent posts, I'm in a mood for spooky things right now. And I don't think this is all that out of place on a Catholic blog.

When I look back at my childhood, I think that the strong presence of horror and heavy metal-- my older brother and cousin were Iron Maiden fanatics- helped to give me a thirst for the spiritual.

I don't think it's all that surprising that Iron Maiden's drummer, Nicko McBrain, became a born again Christian. Though I don't like that phrase, since all Christians should be "born again Christians", as Scripture makes plain (John 3:3.)

It's also interesting that several other famous heavy metallers became Christians, such as Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. And apparently Ozzy Osbourne is a practicing Anglican.

I think the Bible is sometimes the spookiest book you could read. The witch of Endor, the writing on the wall at Belshazzar's feast, the plagues of Egypt (especially the darkness), the flaming sword guarding Eden, even the burning bush that burns but is not consumed...I always get the impression, reading the Bible, that the sacred is uncanny and troubling (as we feel it should be). Angels in the Bible nearly always preface their speeches by saying "Do not be afraid", and this seems entirely appropriate-- and entirely satisfying, too.


A comment from Antaine made me think of spooky opening credit sequences from television shows. I've linked to a few here. (I hope this is OK, from a copyright point of view-- one of the videos at least was uploaded by the makers, but I don't know about the others. I'm wary of copyright because I don't want to break the seventh commandment. That's why there are so few pictures on this blog, though I'm starting to think this is too scrupulous.)

First and least, the original Outer Limits opening sequence. It's only mildly spooky, and dated in a rather hilarious way. (Things only date badly when they are desperately trying to be modern.) But there is still something unnerving about that steely voice.

Second, the opening sequence for Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible, a horror-spoofing comedy made by Steve Coogan's production company. The makers were obviously horror buffs, with a particular tendresse for Hammer, Amicus and Tigon films. (If you know who Amicus are, you're a British horror fan. If you know who Tigon are, you're a hardcore British horror fan.)

Third, the opening sequence to Tales of the Unexpected, the anthology show of tales with a twist, mostly taken from Roald Dahl short stories. This is less spooky than I remember it, to be honest. But it did give me a particularly nasty nightmare when I was a kid. I dreamed I was watching the sequence, and had come to the part where the tarot cards are spinning on the carousel, when both the cards and the music suddenly stopped dead. Shiver!

Fourth, there's the intro for the eighties version of The Twilight Zone, the one I watched as a kid. I'm actually not much of a Twilight Zone fan-- whether it's the original or the remake. (Although "A Little Peace and Quiet" scared the heck of out of me, and seems to have stuck in lots of peoples' minds.) But this little montage is as spooky and disturbing as anything.

Fifth, we come to the one mentioned by Antaine, the opening titles for Are You Afraid of the Dark?, a horror show from Canada. Though the show was made for kids, it was far from insipid, and the opening sequence is inspired. (The website TV Tropes has a whole page devoted to abandoned and deserted playground, as used for spooky effect. There is something uniquely creepy about that image.)

Finally-- and, in my opinion, spookiest and best of all-- the theme tune for the eighties show, Hammer House of Horror. This anthology show was only mediocre at best, but the opening sequence-- both music and visuals-- are delectably haunting, and even quite beautiful in a Gothic kind of way. Well, have a look and see what you think...


  1. Aw shucks, getting a mention.

    I like these intros because they are either eerie or else they have a spooky tune. All except the Roald Dahl intro, which seems quite unusual musically. Also, I do believe it was you that mentioned AYAotD first.

  2. Yes but you mentioned the intro first!!

  3. I don't know if you'd like it or not, but speaking of music and chills put together, you might check out the song, "The Curse," by Josh Ritter. I'll say right up front that I'm not anything like thoroughly familiar with his work, though that one is a good scary story set to music.

  4. I've heard the name but I have no idea who he is. I'll give it a listen, thanks!