Among the many quality anthology TV series of the the mid-20th century, few people today are familiar with the short-lived Thriller. The show ran only two years, from 1960 to 1962, and was hosted by the legendary horrormeister Boris Karloff.
Thriller originally presented little more than quite ordinary tales on crime and mystery, the content and format (including a host and his opening narration) being in apparent imitation of the popular contemporary program Alfred Hitchcock Presents. However, it soon became a showcase for gothic horror stories, many of which were based on works by authors who were the greatest writers in the genre, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Cornell Woolrich, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Richard Matheson, and Charlotte Armstrong.
As would also occur later during the 1960’s with the gothic daytime television series Dark Shadows, Thriller’s producers quickly came to realize that television viewers of that era had a pronounced taste for horror and the supernatural, as opposed to mere mystery and crime drama, and there came a sea change in Thriller as a result. Suddenly, instead of mere mystery and ‘cops and robbers’ intrigue, there soon appeared a host of zombies, witches, demons, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, sorcerers, voodoo practitioners, and other unworldly beings and things, with a much greater thematic emphasis on supernatural horror.
The effect was astounding. Thriller quickly became one of the first, if not the first, ‘must-see TV’ programs of the 1960’s, and it has since garnered a cult following that is active to this day.
If you enjoyed The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, you'll love watching Thriller. Read a full rundown of the TV series, including full videos of the best episodes, in an article by Neatoramanaut WTM.