Up for a little scare? On Monday, CBS All Access renewed the new version of The Twilight Zone for a second season.
Never far from a trend, Netflix has recently premiered a whole tomb full of scary shows including one launched just last Friday: Chambers. It stars Uma Thurman and Tony Goldwyn and it is about a teen with a heart transplant who keeps having unexplained visions. Earlier this month, the shot-in-Calgary drama Black Summer, about a mom searching for her daughter during a zombie apocalypse, also premiered on Netflix.
Kingdom and Love, Death & Robots are two other recent scary Netflix offerings. NOS4A2 (say it like it’s a licence plate) is a dark drama starring Zachery Quinto about a bad guy who feeds of the souls of children. It begins June 2 on AMC.
I have to admit the horror genre was never my cauldron of tea. It might have something to do with two short but nightmarish and constant TV moments that gave me the willies way back when I was first dropped in front of a 19-inch Marconi.
The first was a commercial for a creepy, diabolical toy. As soon as I would hear the announcer say, “Garloo the mighty! Garloo the terrible! Who can control this monstrous creature?” I would run out of the living room. This two-foot tall plastic fiend was ghoulish green (somehow vividly obvious even on black & white TV sets) with pointy ears and teeth. He wore a medallion, sandals and a loin cloth like some sort of hipster Flintstone. It was of no comfort to me at the time that Beelzebub Junior was controlled with a battery-operated hand-held device.
On the ad, he smashed through a bridge, Godzilla-like, his satanic face emerging through a dense fog. He scared the s— out of me.
Had I stayed in the room long enough, I would have seen the more benign second half of the 60-second spot. This freak Garloo was shown picking up other toys and being nuzzled by a little girl while oddly chirpy, Huckleberry Hound-like theme music played in the background.
The scariest part: this toy, by Marx, sold for $17.98. That was a fortune back in 1961! TV Guide was 15 cents. The Toronto Star was a dime. You could buy ponytail bread and a jug of milk at Beckers for under a dollar. My parents would not have spent $17.98 a month on groceries. Still, if you can find Garloo today in working condition, he could cost upwards of US$600 bucks.
The other terrifying moment from my earliest TV memories were those disturbing tests by the Emergency Broadcast System. I’m not quite old enough to remember the cartoon-y “duck and cover” days where a turtle was shown dealing with an atom bomb blast. So I was confused and unnerved when a title card went up an authoritative voice started stating, “This is a test of the emergency broadcast system…” These ran on the Buffalo, N.Y. network affiliates I habitually watched from Toronto when I was a tyke. They went something like this:
The set-up was followed by a long electrical wine and then some static — sounds one might have heard trying to fine tune a distant signal on a car radio back then. When it ended, Announcer Man returned to say it had only been a test, but if it had been a real emergency, I would have been directed to another channel to get more information, or perhaps an evacuation zone. What the hell! And miss the rest of Romper Room!? Mommy, what does radiation mean?
These two things will always be scarier to me than any Game of Thrones battle or Twilight Zone reboot. And you? What are your scariest childhood TV memories?