Thursday, July 02, 2009

"In Search Of"...the pants that show scared off me

The other day on Twitter, I re-Tweeted something about the anniversary of the Tunguska incident, which prompted a friend of mine to mention the old 1970s TV show, "In Search Of" which prompted me to remember just how much that damn show scared me as a child.

For those of you too young to have experienced "In Search Of" first hand, allow me to explain. The basic premise of the show was "do anything necessary to scare the shit out of children and scar them for life." How did they do this? By having Leonard Nimoy use a spooky voice to talk about unexplained phenomena and legends such as Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle or ghosts or whether aliens built the pyramids. (Of course they did!) Also, there was creepy music and every single recreation video looked like someone's last known photo. By my conservative estimate, I'd guess the show traumatized at least 98 percent of kids under the age of 10 who watched it. Much the way "Rock of Love" does to people with self-respect and a fear of bandannas today.

Most of the things that scared me as a child -- the Grinch, the Abominable Snowman, the horrible things that girl in kindergarten used to do with her snot -- no longer have the ability to shake me up. I say "most," though, because there are one or two things that put such an indelible fright into me, I'll never forgot them. I believe I've already mentioned my abject fear of the gremlin on the airplane wing in that classic "Twilight Zone" episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Well, "In Search Of" was the other bitter fright pill that's never left my system.

Here, why not check out a clip for yourself? Tell me it doesn't have "Blair Witch" written all over it.



See? That's scary! Okay, the title music is kind of cheesy -- and yet still scary in a "bad episode of 'Buck Rogers' way. But man, were these people craftsmen or what? They knew how to scare the daylights out of you: spine-tingling narrator voice, evocative language, that little owl hoot with the curtains blowing at the beginning and images of weird 1970s people. Add that all up? Terrifying!

So what shows scared you as a child? And do you still blame Leonard Nimoy? Do tell.

16 comments:

Jane said...

This episode (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0660843/) of Night Gallery scared the pants of me. I slept with a pillow over both ears for weeks after. I still can't look at earwigs without getting the shivers

Emily said...

The Shining. GAH! Now that I've even thought of it I will have a nightmare tonight. The scenario in which I saw that movie is most certainly best described as torture. There was a cabin, woods, a bunch of 11 year olds and that movie playing in the middle of the night. **shiver**

packy said...

I guess I was a little too old for "In Search Of..." to frighten me. Of course, I was just over the age of 10 when it was on, and I think my mom had already gotten me hooked on Star Trek by then, so the prospect of Spock talking about patently illogical things was somewhat humorous to me.

Someone Said said...

Night Stalker was a scary one, especially when vampires were involved.

And as Jane above mentioned, the Night Gallery earwig episode - thanks for the flashback!

Stephanie said...

Wow, I thought I was the only one who remembered this show.

cubicalgirl said...

What a blast from the past! I think the combo of Nimoy's voice and the crazy synth music on this show is what scared me the most. I also remember watching this with "Ripley's Believe It Or Not", which, while not super scary, did have a very intense Jack Palance as the host. I remember JP making me a little jumpy when talking about things like cannibal traibes and shrunken heads.

Sphinxvictorian said...

I remember In Search Of quite fondly. Yeah, it scared the pants off me, but it had Mr. Spock, who was a crush of mine, so I always felt it was okay, that he'd keep the ghosties at bay!

I was more scared by episodes of the Twilight Zone, like the one with Burgess Meredith and the books, or the one where the store mannequins came to life (influence on the first ep of the new Dr. Who, do you think?)

Mere said...

Wow -- for years I've been trying to remember the name of "that tv show that gave me such bad nightmares that I sleepwalked into the living room, where my Mom found me behind the couch screaming about aliens." I'm both glad that I'm not the only one who was traumatized and worried that I might be found behind the couch yet again tonight...

Sarah said...

The shows that scared me were the ones my older brother watched, namely "The Incredible Hulk." I had such a crush on Bill Bixby, but when he turned into the Hulk, I hid behind the couch.

readingredhead said...

The first episode of X-Files I ever watched was "Squeeze," the one with the guy who could squeeze through air vents and break into houses to kill people and eat their livers. The air vent they showed in Scully's house was the EXACT duplicate of the one in my bedroom. Shivers and horrendous nightmares ensued -- thankfully not terrible enough to destroy a budding love of X-Files, but it was close.

Carys said...

For a good 'ghost' show, I'd highly recommend Ghostwatch; it was a docudrama by the BBC in 1992, and very cleverly done it was too. It was filmed as a 'live' piece of television focussing on a particular family troubled by a ghost, with viewer phone-ins and odd occurences in the field and in the studio. I never saw it live because I was in Germany at the time, but if you can get a DVD of it (if they do it in America) it's PHENOMENAL. It's dated quite badly, but stuff from the early 1990s always does. It was actually banned from repeat viewing by the BBC because of so many complaints about it (most of the public thought it was real, that's how good it was); very scary stuff!

kendra said...

As some others have said, my Spock crush saved me from too bad a case of the frights when it came to In Search Of...

But Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I literally ran screaming from the room. The kicker scene for me was not the trippy gondola ride, but rather the bit where Charlie & his Grandfather are about to get hacked to bits by the giant ceiling fan after they drink the floaty bubbles.

I saw the movie on TV, and just as the ominous music is playing they cut to commercial. I didn't know the story, so I figured this was how Charlie was going to buy it for disobeying Factory rules.

Liz said...

Wow, I thought I was the only person terrified by the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or is it Willy Wonka?). That movie still freaks me out to this day. I was so happy when the Johnny Depp version came out so I could finally enjoy one without crawling out of my skin.

Anonymous said...

I remember that episode of X-Files!!!! Absolutely terrified me. But not as much as some bogus alien autopsy video I saw on TV. I was convinced the aliens were going to be so upset with me for watching people cut up one of their dead that they were going to come back and cut me up too.

Quilt Monkey said...

That is so funny you mention In Search Of -- my husband and I were just talking about it out of the blue a couple of days ago. For some reason we were talking about the lost civilization of Roanoke and that brought the coversation around to how scary In Search Of was (they had an episode on it). Of course I was such a scaredy cat back then -- even certain segments from "That's Incredible" scared me and I'm not just talking about John Davidson!

Renee said...

By my conservative estimate, I'd guess the show traumatized at least 98 percent of kids under the age of 10 who watched it.

Ayup, count me into that 98%. The episode that scared the pie out of me was the one on the Amityville Horror house. I wasn't allowed to watch the movie, but saw the ISO episode, and for weeks wouldn't look at the toilet water because I was afraid it was going to turn into the black oily stuff purported to be in the Amityville house's johns.