Category Archives: Way Back Wednesdays

Way Back Wednesdays: “Suspense: Dead Earnest”

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As we get ready for Trick or Treating Saturday night, I am taking this week to look at a variety of spooky things.  So I figured for today’s Way Back Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman), I’d look back on something from pop culture that chilled me in my younger days and left an impression on me.

I’m a big fan of old time radio, especially the old time comedies. I was introduced to old time radio by the Star Wars radio dramas.  They used to air on my local NPR station Sunday evenings and that would lead into a show called the Big Broadcast.  The Big Broadcast was a couple of hours of vintage radio shows that aired each Sunday night.  Among those in the regular rotation were The Great Gildersleeve and Suspense.

The good thing about old time radio is that it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps.  The bad thing about old time radio was that it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps.  This is especially true when it came to scary or suspenseful shows since my imagination is far better than television or a movie could ever hope to be.

Suspense-logo-300x168Which brings us to the episode of Suspense for today, “Dead Earnest.”

The set-up is fairly straight-forward.  A guy named Earnest is a catalpetic.  This means that he can appear to be dead even if he’s not.  Earnest has a medical bracelet detailing his condition and carries a note in his pocket.   But when he’s almost hit by a car and suffers an attack, he’s separated from both.    What follows is an edge-of-your-seat story as various people find the note and other pieces of Earnest’s wardrobe and we wonder if Earnest will be actually killed when the people at the morgue go to embalm him.

This episode really got under my skin when I first heard it and listening to it years later, it’s still a good study in how to build tension and suspense.

Suspense broadcast the story several times with a variety of casts during its run.

If you want to hear the story, the good news is that most old time radio is in the public domain, so you can download and enjoy it.  The Escape and Suspense web site has an entry on the episode and a couple of versions you can download and enjoy.

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Wayback Wednesdays: The Last Starfighter

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It’s mid-week and time to set the Wayback Machine for Wayback Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman).  The meme was originally intended to look back at the books we’ve read that have made a lasting impression on us.  But I’ve expanded my responses beyond just books to other forms of pop culture. This week, I want to take a look back at a movie that celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and that I saw when it was originally running in theaters: The Last Starfighter

last-starfighterThe Last Starfighter centers on Alex, a young man who lives with his family in a trailer park.  Alex has big dreams of getting out of his home town and making something of himself, but he’s frustrated when a loan doesn’t come through.   Little does he know that his ticket out of the trailer park lies in a video game that he sits outside the convenience store at the trailer park entrance.  Alex is very good at Starfighter, one night setting a new high score on the machine and defeating the game.

A few hours later, a strange visitor in a strange car shows up looking for the person who beat the machine.  Before Alex knows it, he’s being swept off into outer space.  Turns out the video game was a test to try and find an Earthling that is a candidate to become an actual starfighter and join the armada to defeat the evil Zurg.  Like all good b-movie villains, Zerg has his heart set on overthrowing the forces of good and has teamed up with a group of heavily made-up baddies to do just that. Continue reading

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