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Lights Out!

was one of the most famous—and infamous—series of all time. Even those not interested in OTR have generally heard of Lights Out! Created by Wyllis Cooper (of Quiet, Please) in 1934, and passed on to Arch Oboler in 1936, the series went through several incarnations and reincarnations throughout its long life, lasting until 1947.

The exact number of episodes is a nebulous issue, since Oboler frequently renamed episodes several times over for rebroadcast, expanded the length of some of Cooper's shows, and freely moved shows back and forth between Lights Out! and his other projects with re-edited intros, making it very difficult to identify episode origins with any degree of certainty. To make matters worse, many shows have been lost over the years. Therefore, this is by no means a definitive listing (if such a thing can actually exist), only a partial one based purely on personal bias as to what properly fits the parameters of this site and what does not. Episodes vary in length from 15 min to 60 min.

In 1970, twenty-five of the Lights Out! episodes (along with one episode from Arch Oboler's Plays) were syndicated, given new names, and then rebroadcast as episodes of

The Devil and Mr O

. These episodes generally have better sound quality than the older versions and are sometimes mislabeled as being from the original series.

In 1962, Arch Oboler released a 36 min LP album called

Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror

. Some of the tracks from this LP are circulating as "partial" Lights Out! episodes, most notably, "The Dark" and "Chicken Heart".

Currently this archive contains 53 plotlines

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Across the Gap    *LOST*

aka: "Homus Primus"
Year: 1936
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Time Travel / Creatures
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Neanderthal" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Arch Oboler

A couple vacationing in the French countryside have a car accident, which somehow transports them back 12,000 years into the past, where they are menaced by a Neanderthal hunter.

The Lights Out! version has been lost. The Devil and Mr O version is available.

Alley Cat

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Cat Wife"

Ancestor

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Archer"

Archer, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 28 min
Genre: Supernatural
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Ancestor" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A young woman held prisoner in an old mine by bandits receives help from an unearthly source.

Reviews:
Oboler misses the target with a routine, occasionally silly, exercise in ghostly vengeance, featuring performances that ring about as falsely as the twang of the ethereal archer's bowstring. --- Anonymous

Author and the Thing, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 23 min
Genre: Occult / Supernatural
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An odd episode (the last of the series) which stars Arch Oboler as himself, the head writer and producer of Lights Out, confronted with a malignant presence given life by the force of his own creative imagination and persistent concentration.

Reviews:
This goofy self-parody aired as the last episode of Oboler's 1942-43 Lights Out revival, but surprisingly he had written a version of it as one of the earliest of his 1936-38 Chicago run. During that first broadcast, he reportedly didn't play the role of the writer, and may not even have been in town, but he certainly does a fine job with the part in the remake for which he's added in-joke references to friends like movie producer Joan Harrison and radio's Nat Wolff. --- Anonymous

Balance Sheet

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Profits Unlimited"

Ball, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Paris Macabre" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Two American college students in Paris attend a ball with some unusual masked guests.

Battle of the Magicians

Year: 1946
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An occultist detective is hired by an airline to investigate a plane crash that may have been caused by supernatural means.

Reviews:
A rather routine, almost juvenile, story that sounds like it was meant as a pilot for a series about a mystical detective. --- Anonymous

Big Mr Little

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Projective Mr Drogan"

Bon Voyage

Year: 1942
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Supernatural
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Two old ladies go on a cruise to get away from it all. Only it is a very strange cruise, because they find out that no one else is aboard...

Reviews:
The acting is shrill and the mechanics of cosmic justice seem a little too elaborate in this "Outward Bound"-ish Oboler tale. Not exactly memorable, but not bad either. --- Anonymous

Call Her Jean

see: "Her Name Was Jean"

Cat Wife

Year: 1936
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Creatures
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Alley Cat" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "Cat Wife" (Everyman's Theater)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An angry husband vents his rage by calling his wife a heartless cat, only to witness his accusations take on a disturbing reality when she begins a strange lycanthropy. One of the versions produced stars Boris Karloff.

Reviews:
Boris Karloff is a big favorite of mine and he's great here, but this episode is overrated in my opinion. --- Clarence Grigsby

One of the series best efforts; corny, cheesy, outdated and unbelievably fun—just what a Lights Out show should be. Boris is as "Karloffian" as ever. Don't miss this one! --- Luc L'Heureux

Cemetery

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Scoop"

Chest, The

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Story of Mr Maggs"

Chicken Heart

Year: 1937
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Arch Oboler

One of the most famous radio plays ever: the subject of a scientific experiment, a chicken's heart starts a cycle of rampant, uncontrolled growth, threatening to overwhelm the entire surface of the earth within weeks.

See also 'Green Death' (The Mysterious Traveler).

[A tip from Anonymous: "Sadly, although Bill Cosby immortalized this show in one of his classic stand-up comedy routines, no recordings of the original Lights Out broadcasts are in circulation. An abbreviated reconstruction from Oboler's 1962 "Drop Dead" album (often mistaken for a portion of the original) is available, however, and a 1999 recreation of the entire script by the Gotham Radio Players also exists."]

Reviews:
The widely-heard climactic excerpt of this play is pure Oboler and a hoot—but the rest of the script seems to have been inspired by a similar, earlier script by Wyllis Cooper (about a lab accident that creates a rapidly growing amoeba which SLURPS! loudly and absorbs mice, cats and human beings). --- Anonymous

Chicken Heart

Year: 1962
Duration: 7:46
Genre: Super Science
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror.

Reviews:

Christmas Story

see: "Uninhabited"

Coffin in Studio B, The

Year: 1946
Duration: 28 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

A difficult rehearsal for a murder scene in Lights Out is interrupted by an eccentric old man peddling coffins. Despite the director's misgivings, the broadcast goes well, until...

Reviews:
Smart, funny exercise in self-parody by Wyllis Cooper that probably inspired similar Oboler plays like "Murder in the Script Department" and "The Author and the Thing." Cooper later reworked the basic idea for his Quiet, Please episode "A Night to Forget." The surviving recording of "Coffin" is a 1946 remake which includes some updated lines, including a brief, snarky reference to Orson Welles. --- Anonymous

Come to the Bank

Year: 1942
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: Lights Out!
See also: "Come to the Bank with Me" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

When a man learns to walk through walls he decides to try it out and gets stuck.

Reviews:
More often than some of his peers, Oboler put a lot of effort into writing juicy parts for actresses and this overwrought descent into madness is a classic example. --- Anonymous

Danse Macabre    *LOST*

Year: 1936
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Arch Oboler

Bereaved composer Camille Saint-Saëns visits his son's grave and encounters a mysterious violinist who encourages him to commit suicide.

Reviews:
Written for Lights Out, an abbreviated version of this Oboler play survives as a dramatic sketch from a 1938 Rudy Vallee variety hour. It's a fine vehicle for Boris Karloff who goes from quietly menacing to scenery-chewing crazy in a few short minutes—and a rare example of a surviving Lights Out play with a dramatically necessary musical score. --- Anonymous

Dark, The

Year: 1962
Duration: 8:34
Genre: Horror
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A doctor and a cop are called to a house, which has a closet with a void of darkness. A new kind of evil lurks in that darkness, a force which turns you inside out! This version of the story does not star Boris Karloff.

Due to the length, I strongly suspect that this circulating episode is actually from Oboler's 1962 album: "Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror". I don't know if a full half-hour version was ever produced.

See also "Nothing behind the Door" (Quiet, Please).

Reviews:
Not one of the better Lights Out shows. Must have been an early entry. Two guys that discover a "darker" darkness. Not very interesting. --- Marcia Haley

It's a very brief show, but when I first heard it, I was I think about 7 years old, and it scared the crap out of me. The sound effects were extremely realistic (I found out later it was really nothing more than a wet rubber glove), and I couldn't fall asleep the rest of the night. I heard it much much later when I rediscovered OTR, and it was almost as hard hitting, but I could see how corny it was with the wisdom of age. Still a great episode. --- R. Riddle

Darrell Hall's Thoughts

see: "The Dream"

Day at the Dentist's, A

Year: 1962
Duration: 3:42
Genre: Horror
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror. The basis for a half-hour episode of Fear on 4.

Reviews:

Death Robbery

Year: 1947
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Super Science
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

A researcher has developed a resurrection technique that he's successfully performed on animals and now plans to try on his recently deceased wife. But, as is typical with mad science, the results are less than desirable.

With Boris Karloff.

See also 'The Search for Life' (Hermits Cave) and 'Return From Death' (Hall of Fantasy).

Reviews:
Hard to come by but a gem of a show; excellent. The sound effects are great. Great presentation of the idea of body and soul. --- Anon

Slow to get to the punch, but worth the wait; the woman who portrays the resurrected Ruth will chill your bones to their marrow. --- Jeff Dickson

Not only is this a chilling story, it's also a great morality play on the dangers of "playing god". Karloff is great and the actress who plays his wife deserved some sort of award. A true classic.--- Clarence Grigsby

Unquestionably the most unsettling of the surviving Wyllis Cooper episodes. Lurene Tuttle's uncredited performance as the wife is absolutely unnerving. --- Anonymous

Devil's Due

Year: 1939
Duration: 29 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Hobart Donovan

After a robbery-murder, two crooks encounter a mysterious man who offers to take them to a place where the police will never find them.

Reviews:
One of the few surviving episodes not written by Cooper or Oboler. Author Hobart Donovan tries hard to match them but this is a little too slow and predictable. --- Anonymous

Dream, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 29 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A story about a woman who has the most amazing recurring dreams, night after night after night.

Broadcast once. Not to be confused with a different story which is alternately known as: "The Dream", "Darryl Hall's Thoughts", and "Kill".

Dream, The

aka: "Darrell Hall's Thoughts"
aka: "Kill"
Year: 1938
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Darrell Hall is a university professor who has never had a dream in his entire life. But one night he is inexplicably plagued by a nightmare in which pale, livid faces call out to him in a droning chorus and a hideous woman urges him with a constant command of "Kill, kill, kill..." Darrell is soon plagued by these horrific visions every night at 7:00, and it seems there is only one way to appease the demon that occupies his mind...

With Boris Karloff.

Initially broadcast as "The Dream" [1938] and alternately known as "Darryl Hall's Thoughts", it was rebroadcast under the name "Kill" [1943]. Not to be confused with a different story called "The Dream" [1943].

Reviews:
A good standard chiller that is elevated by the performance of the ever-reliable Boris Karloff. If it weren't for his wonderful lisp-accented terror and screams of anguish, this episode would be little more than average. The dream sequences are effectively handled, particularly the buzzing voices of the damned and the lines describing the siren's grotesque face. The dream woman's voice is a little feeble (the actress who portrayed Karloff's wife in "Death Robbery" probably could've done wonders), but the endless chant of "Kill, kill, kill..." induces an appropriate sense of madness. [7/10] --- Jose Cruz

Execution

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Nazis repeatedly attempt to hang a French girl but she keeps returning to the gallows alive and well.

Reviews:
Heavy-handed political allegory mixed with genuine horror - the Nazi caricatures may be cornball but the repeated sound of the hangings is very effective. Oboler used this script for his wartime propaganda series Plays for Americans, reviving it later that year on Lights Out where it fits right in, despite a rather unfortunate twist ending. --- Anonymous

Fast One, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Super Science
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Speed" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A doctor creates an elixir that speeds up his physical and mental processes, which he uses to commit robberies. But like any cutting edge drug, it eventually exhibits some nasty side effects.

Reviews:
After the semi-cliché opening scenes, this turns into one of Oboler's freakier descents into unintentionally hilarious horror weirdness. --- Anonymous

Flame

Year: 1943
Duration: 23 min
Genre: Occult
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Arnie Douglas is a prosperous young man whom, despite having prestige and a beautiful fiancée, has a bizarre fascination with fire, claiming that the flames are genuine living things. Quoting from an incantation used by fire worshippers of Olde, Arnie conjures a fiery elemental maiden who commands him to perform heinous acts as her newly acquired servant...

Reviews:
Arnie Douglas is a man who has everything, including an obsession with elemental fire spirits that he seeks to conjure from his fireplace.

One of Oboler's best. Obsession with a supernatural female is more often a device of Cooper's, but Oboler makes it work here without slipping into the silliness of, say, "Catwife." --- Anonymous

A fairly interesting premise that's honed into one of the more exciting episodes of Lights Out. Arnie's fascination with the fire elementals makes me recall those recorded chants made by Aleister Crowley. The voice of the goddess is nicely imposing and chilling and the scene involving the blazing hotel certainly gives the terror in this story more dimension and poignancy. And if all that wasn't enough, our "hero" isn't even given a shot at redemption in the downbeat finale. [8/10] --- Jose Cruz

Ghost on the Newsreel Negative, The

Year: 1946
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

Two milquetoast reporters journey out to an abandoned farm, supposedly haunted, to interview the resident ghost.

Not to be confused with "Super Feature".

Reviews:
As so often with Wyllis Cooper's gentler humorous stuff, the pace is leisurely, the characters are quirky, the mood is uncertain and the plot is basically just an odd situation with a few quiet twists. --- Anonymous

Going Down

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Sub-Basement"

Gravestone

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Poltergeist"

Haunted Cell, The

Year: 1946
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

A cop killer refuses to confess, so he gets put in a cell allegedly haunted by the ghost of another cop killer to see if that'll make him crack.

Reviews:
Just as Oboler sneaked social and political ideas into his scripts, Cooper raised religious and philosphical issues in his. With its first person narration and metaphysical concerns, this is a dry run for Cooper's Quiet, Please! series, for which he reworked the basic idea as the more subtle "Good Ghost." (But the highlight of the episode? Chicago cops beating a perp with a rubber hose!) - Anonymous

He Dug it Up

Year: 1943
Duration: 23 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

While digging a hole to plant a tree, a man uncovers an ancient Roman coffin. Inside he discovers something that would have been better left forever buried.

Reviews:
Excellent, suspense filled episode. The concept of curiosity is dealt with very well. --- Anonymous

Heavenly Jeep

Year: 1943
Duration: 29 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Reviews:

Her Name Was Jean

aka: "It Happened"
aka: "Call Her Jean"
Year: 1938
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A young woman on a lark in Paris is abducted by a kidnapper and taken into the labyrinth of sewers under the city. She manages to escape her captor, but is lost and runs afoul of a demented sewer dweller who means to apprentice her in his ghoulish pursuits.

The title is an arbitrary one, as no title is offered by the narrator; it is derived from the first words of the story. Why some copies of the episode are labeled as 'It Happened' is a mystery to me.

Reviews:
Unsubtle characters, a rambling plot, overwrought stream-of-conciousness narration, energetic work from Chicago's talented actors and sound effects crew, and a brutal, grisly climax. In other words, the best and most interesting of the surviving Oboler episodes from the 1930s series. --- Anonymous

Hole, The

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Oxychloride X"

Hollywood Visitor

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Lord Marley's Guest"

Homus Primus

see: "Across the Gap"

House Is Haunted

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Mungahra"

Hungry One, The

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Meteor Man"

It Happened

see "Her Name was Jean"

I'm Hungry

Year: 1962
Duration: 2:29
Genre:
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror.

Reviews:

Immortal Gentleman, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 24 min
Genre: Time Travel / Future Earth
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Live Forever" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "The Immortal Gentleman" (Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An alien disregards protocols

Introduction to Horror

Year: 1962
Duration: 2:09
Genre:
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror.

Reviews:

Kill

see "The Dream"

Knock at the Door

Year: 1942
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A woman drowns her despised mother-in-law in the basement well. But Ma intervenes when the missus plans the same for her not too bright husband.

Reviews:
Reviews: A decent episode, but boy, some of those lines were really kinky sounding (though I'm sure Arch didn't intend that). You'll know them when you hear them. --- Harry Leshko

A fun little ghost story, has everything I expect from OTR horror. The three main characters are completely unlikeable, but I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. --- Anonymous

Laughing Man, The

Year: 1962
Duration: 6:47
Genre:
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror.

Reviews:

Little Old Lady

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Creatures
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
See also: "Mrs Kingsley's Report" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Story by: Arch Oboler

A college student and her friend go pay a surprise visit on an aunt she hasn't seen for a while. But it is they who get the surprise when they encounter the aunt's cat.

Reviews:
As with the episode 'Poltergeist', it's a pretty good story that gets ruined by atrocious acting (in fact, I think those may be the same actresses that were in the episode 'Poltergeist').--- Harry Leshko

Yeah, the acting was subpar, but this was a fun little episode. --- C. Grigsby

Little People, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 31 min
Genre: Super Science
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "The Shrinking People" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A scientist murders, then shrinks the bodies of his wife and her lover.

Reviews:
There's a scene in this one that's gross if you visualize it. Another episode where I found the main characters not very likeable, but that turns out to be a good thing.--- C. Grigsby

Live Forever

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Immortal Gentleman"

Lord Marley's Guest

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Hollywood Visitor" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Man in the Middle

aka: "After Five O'Clock"
Year: 1935
Duration: 32 min
Genre: Speculative / Drama
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

John Phillips, successful businessman, is in quite the pickle: he is having an affair with his pretty secretary Patricia, and he fears it won't be long before his wife Lucille finds out. With Patricia's infatuation growing ever deeper, her brother arriving to threaten John with a good thrashing, and Lucille heading down to the office that same day, John finds himself in the middle of an ever-constricting circle of guilt and suppressed feelings that will lead him to make the only final solution possible...

Reviews:
Originally broadcast in March '35 as "After Five O'Clock," this Wyllis Cooper story amusingly employs stream-of-consciousness interior monologue to flesh out an otherwise routine love triangle tale. Sadly, the surviving recording from '45 doesn't quite live up to the potential of the extremely offbeat script. --- Anonymous

Certainly not horror or fantasy, but fairly amusing given John's inner monologue that fuels most of the narrative. Cooper's script is wry and humorous, especially in how we hear John's raving thoughts in his head juxtaposed with the stuttering mumbles of indecision that he voices to the other characters. A quirky "portrait of a desperate man" type story, this Twilight Zone-esque piece has its bleak ending marred by one of the worst cop-outs of fiction. [6/10] --- Jose Cruz

Meteor Man

Year: 1942
Duration: 24 min
Genre: Aliens
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "The Hungry One" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A suburban couple are astounded when a small meteor crashes into their yard and they bring it inside, only to find that it houses a malevolent alien mind.

Reviews:
I've heard a lot about this episode, all of it bad. While it's nothing special, it's hardly the ghastly mockery of a story that I've heard it described as (certainly no where nearly as bad as Cat Wife). --- Harry Leshko

The 1942 recording is a lot less interesting than the 1937 script in which both Helga the Stereotypical Swedish House Girl and Diane the Stereotypical Wimpy Wife die horribly when their brains are sucked right out of their skulls. Apparently, brain-eating aliens were okay at midnight in the 1930s, but not ready for prime time in the '40s. "He wants the very brains of us!" writes the Great Playwright Arch Oboler. --- Anonymous

Mirage

Year: 1943
Duration: 28 min
Genre: Occult
Series: Lights Out!
See also: "Mirage" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A couple walking down the beach one night come across an old man writing names in the sand and the dates when they'll die.

Reviews:
This pretentious drama for two actors is more of an eerie, Twilight Zone-ish exercise than an outright horror story. Cheap to produce, it was repeated on many of Oboler's other series. --- Anonymous

Mr Freak

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Ugliest Man in the World"

Money, Money, Money

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Three Thousand Dollars" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "Money, Money, Money" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A poor sailor wins three thousand dollars in a sweepstakes but his friend Tony has other plans for the money.

Reviews:
A straightforward ghostly revenge thriller, tame enough to be revived on the 1939-40 Arch Oboler's Plays series. Rebroadcast as "Three Thousand Dollars" on The Devil and Mr O. --- Anonymous

Mungahra

Year: 1942
Duration: 24 min
Genre: Occult
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "The House is Haunted" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A frustrated fortune hunter murders his native guide to get his hands on the man's diamond, but he gets more than he bargained for when the native vows vengeance with his last breath.

Murder Castle

Year: 1943
Duration: 26 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An old man finds new ways to build his house and make money while doing it.

Reviews:
This is one of the most demented shows of the series --- James Cornelius

Murder in the Script Department

Year: 1943
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Two network secretaries find themselves the object of bizarre occurrences while typing out a script for Lights Out.

The Naked Man

see "The Projective Mr Drogan"

Nature Study

Year: ?
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Nature Study" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

While on a scenic tour of a canyon, a group of four becomes enclosed below by a landslide of boulders that claims one of the members' lives. As she passes, she confesses to the murder of her husband and it soon becomes apparent that this "freak accident" might just bring out everyone's darkest secrets.

Reviews:
The recording I listened to was from "The Devil and Mr O" series and while not masterly superb it does offer a fairly unique tale of Mother Nature's judgment. Just when it seems to be heading for a "sentient rock life forms" story, Oboler keeps it grounded in his human characters with just a hint of the supernatural lurking in the background. The final set piece, complete with howling wind, waxy moonlight, smiling corpses, and mad ravings is a nice corker to this episode that kicks it up a notch. --- Jose Cruz

Neanderthal

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Across the Gap"

No Escape

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Until Dead"

Official Killer

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "State Executioner"

Organ, The

Year: 1937
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Vacation with Death" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A family renting a creepy old house write off the warnings of the old caretaker, until they hear organ music in the middle of the night and their son claims to have conversations with an old woman who is clearly not there. Or is she?

Oxychloride X

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "The Hole" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

At a college, after a student is refused membership in a fraternity he decides to pay them all back. Being a science student he turns to science and builds his instrument of revenge a chemical that can dissolve anything. He calls it a miracle as it eats deeper and deeper. You must decide—is it a miracle or his destruction?

Reviews:
A story of revenge that eats out a young man's insides and a chemical that can eat through the earth. Not the best Lights Out show that I have heard but a good one with a twist. --- Don Walker

If there was ever a case for sympathizing with someone who causes such destruction, the actor playing Ray Stuart has succeeded—Ray sounds just like your best friend's sweetly nerdy brother. And how could he possibly face his mother if he isn't pledged into that fraternity? A guy has to redeem himself in some way, right? --- Gudrun Brunot

Paris Macabre

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Ball"

Poltergeist

Year: 1942
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Occult
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Gravestone" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

When three young women desecrate a grave by dancing on it, they discover the hard way just how deadly the old superstition against such taboos can be.

Reviews:
What could have been an entertaining episode was made unpleasant by a severe case of overacting on the part of the cast. Regarding that "legend" about dancing on a grave incurring the wrath of a poltergeist, I've never heard that one and personally think Arch just made it up. --- Harry Leshko

Posse, The

Year: 1962
Duration: 1:38
Genre:
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror.

Reviews:

Prelude to Murder

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A jealous conductor thinks his wife is cheating and plans to do something about it.

Reviews:
Sort of Oboler's version of Cooper's "Man in the Middle": another potentially deadly love triangle is evoked by interior monologue. But where Cooper is subtle and intentionally funny, Oboler is unsubtle and unintentionally funny. In later years, Oboler claimed this was his first use of stream-of-consciousness and that he wrote it before taking over the series. --- Anonymous

Profits Unlimited

Year: 1943
Duration: 22 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Balance Sheet" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "Profits Unlimited" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
See also: "Efficiency Island" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A woman inherits a mysterious island and finds it populated with inhuman creatures.

Reviews:
First aired as "Efficiency Island" on Arch Oboler's Plays, this was originally a rather ballsy (and, unfortunately, still relevant) allegory about the ugly side of global capitalism. For the surviving Lights Out remake, Oboler cut out the most overt political references to turn it into creepy science fiction with a mild social conscience. --- Anonymous

Projective Mr Drogan, The

aka: "The Naked Man"
Year: 1943
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Big Mr Little" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

What evil could a man wreak upon the world if every wicked desire he conceives were to instantly come true? As they say, Absolute power corrupts absolutely....

Reunion after Death

aka: "The Ghost of Diana" or "Reunion"
Year: 1945
Duration: 27 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

Because he has thrown away a flower from her grave, a grief-stricken widower believes he has doomed his dead wife to haunt a darkened cemetery forever.

Reviews:
Not outright horror but ghostly Gothic romance in a low-key, claustrophobic mood. With the usual quirky touches (the characters—Adam, Basil, Christian, Diane and Evelyn—appear in alphabetical order!) by writer Wyllis Cooper. --- Anonymous

Revenge of India, The

Year: 1946
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Occult
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

A British officer serving in India makes use of Eastern mystic powers to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of thugs back home.

Reviews:
When Oboler writes a bad script, the episode often turns into an over-the-top cheesefest. When Cooper writes a bad one, it usually turns out to be workmanlike but dull. This is dull Cooper, I'm afraid. --- Anonymous

Revolt of the Worms

Year: ?
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Revolt of the Worms" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "Revolt of the Worms" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A botanist obsessed with growing the perfect rose invents a hormone formula that, when poured into the ground, has a startling effect on worm physiology.

Ring, The

Year: 1947
Duration: ?
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

Julian, a dead man, haunts Carol, the woman he still loves. (only the first half of the episode is extant).

Reviews:
Only the first half of this episode circulates, which is a shame because, given Boris Karloff's restrained but ominous performance and Wyllis Cooper's moody script, it seems to be heading for a potentially interesting climax. --- Anonymous

Rocket from Manhattan

Year: 1945
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: The Devil and Mr O
See also: "Rocket from Manhattan" (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

The first manned mission to the Moon is returning to Earth in triumph, but the home world is not the same place as when they left it.

This story was adapted as 'The Last Survivor' on The Mysterious Traveler.

Reviews:
This notorious cautionary science fiction fable was not written for _Lights Out_ at all but for the '45 version of Arch Oboler's Plays just weeks after Hiroshima, making it one of the first dramas anywhere to deal explicitly with the Atomic Age. It's interesting, but more as historical curiosity than art. Rebroadcast with the same title on The Devil and Mr O. Oboler also expanded it into his flop Broadway play "Night of the Auk." --- Anonymous

Rocket Ship, The

Year: 1945
Duration: ?
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

"A story of interplanetary travel," according to the previous week's announcer.

Reviews:
Can't really review this Wyllis Cooper episode because I haven't heard it. A surviving recording from '45 is not in circulation, but apparently exists at the Library of Congress. Maybe someday it'll emerge and we'll hear how it compares to Oboler's "Rocket from Manhattan," with which it's frequently confused. --- Anonymous

Room for the Night, A

Year: 1938
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Arch Oboler

Reviews:

Sakhalin

Year: 1943
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Reviews:

Scoop

Year: 1942
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Cemetery" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A newspaper gets a new owner who decided to purge the staff, leading one columnist to commit suicide. On a drive home late one night, he finds out what a bad idea it is to treat his underlings in such a shoddy manner.

Sea, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An Irish miscreant, jealous of his brother's fiancée and their mother's favoritism, plots his death. He succeeds, but doesn't count on his brother refusing to stay at the bottom of the sea.

Shrinking People, The

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Little People"

Signal-Man, The

Year: 1946
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Horror / Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Charles Dickens

A journalist interviews a railway signal-man who claims to be haunted by a spectre that warns of impending danger.

Versions of this story were produced for Beyond Midnight, CBC Mystery Theater, Columbia Workshop, The Creaking Door, Seeing Ear Theatre, and Suspense (three versions).

Reviews:
Solid Frederick J. Lipp adaptation of the classic ghost story—as good, in its own way, as the more Spartan Columbia Workshop version. A real anomaly among the surviving episodes because the series seldom did adaptations. --- Anonymous

Slurp! Goes the Amoeba    *LOST*

Year: 1935
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

A scientist and his assistant battle a mysterious, rapidly-expanding amoeba.

Reviews:
The phrase 'Slurp! Goes the Amoeba' actually appears in Wyllis Cooper's untitled script -- as a sound effects cue! Like Oboler's later "Chicken Heart," this story also features a lab accident that creates a pseudopod-slinging, ever-growing monster with a creepy signature noise (SLURP-SLURP! instead of THUMP-THUMP!) and an odd change of mood from humorous to semi-serious scary. Cooper borrowed the basic idea for an even better Quiet, Please story called "100,000 Diameters." --- Anonymous

Speed

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Fast One"

Spider, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 26 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Two ne'er-do-wells stuck in Brazil stumble across a spider as big as a dog, deep in the jungle. Obviously, this is their ticket home—if they can catch it.

Reviews:
So-so episode, dragging a little at the end. Probably more frightening if you're afraid of spiders. --- Derek

State Executioner

Year: 1943
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Historical / Crime
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Official Killer" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: State Executioner (Arch Oboler's Plays)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

During the days of King George III, a man becomes obsessed with his profession as the state executioner, reveling in his work as he sends criminals to their death at the gallows. Turned callous and bloodthirsty by his job, the executioner purposefully withholds evidence that would prove his next victim innocent, but will wish that he hadn't.

Reviews:
A nice tale of just desserts that fans of E.C. Comics will surely enjoy. The actors rush through their lines a little too quickly at times in their quest to instill them with frenzied passion, but overall the production is solid from its great suicide preparation opener to its haunting climax and bitingly ironic (double!) twist ending. --- Jose Cruz

Story of Mr Maggs, The

Year: 1942
Duration: 26 min
Genre: Horror
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "The Chest" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An unassuming milquetoast obtains an empty chest at an auction, inspiring the wrath of his shrewish wife. He has no defense against her tirades, but the chest? That's another story...

Reviews:
Laughably outdated—the characterizations are ridiculously cliche, and the dialogue ("I'll get you, you chest!") is hilarious. Not one of old Arch's better efforts. --- Jeff Dickson

Sub-Basement

Year: 1943
Duration: 21 min
Genre: Creatures
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Going Down" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

A man takes his unfaithful wife down into the labyrinth of corridors beneath a large department store very late one night to "show her around." But his sinister intentions backfire when they encounter a thing that should not exist—a leftover from the Cretaceous.

Reviews:
Listened to this when I was a teenager and didn't like it. Gave it a second chance a few months back and I've had a change of heart. The interaction between the couple and the hopelessness of their situation makes for a good story. --- Clarence Grigsby

One of Oboler's best exercises in mounting horror, even though the characters and dialogue are characteristically unsubtle. ("Couples wandering underground in the dark" seems to have been a favorite Lights Out premise; Cooper wrote a lost episode set in the Roman catacombs and Oboler wrote one set in the Carlsbad Caverns.) --- Anonymous

Super Feature

Year: 1943
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Creatures
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

An enterprising crook and his crony travel to a small town looking to screen monster films to keep the locals occupied while they burglarize their homes. Seems to work in theory, until the monster on the screen decides to take affirmative action.

Not to be confused with "Ghost on the Newsreel Negative".

Reviews:
I've always been a sucker for the "fictional creature entering our reality" trope, and this episode is playful fun if nothing revolutionary. Most of the enjoyment comes from the two lead actors, the gruff "boss" and his squirmy, Horshack-esque assistant. Oboler works in some great dialogue between the vernacular of the locals, the heated exchanges of the crooks, and the frightened descriptions of the hound-like beastie that hunts them. Listen to this one with some popcorn at hand. --- Jose Cruz

Taking Papa Home

Year: 1962
Duration: 3:27
Genre:
Series: Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

From the LP Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror.

Reviews:

They Met at Dorset

Year: 1943
Duration: 21 min
Genre: War / Ghosts
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Two German commandos air-dropped into England to retrieve Rudolf Hess hide out in an abandoned farmhouse, yet find it occupied. They murder the inhabitants, but those stubborn Englanders just will not play nice and stay dead.

Three Men

see: "Uninhabited"

Three Thousand Dollars

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "Money, Money, Money"

Ugliest Man in the World, The

Year: 1939
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Mr Freak" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "The Ugliest Man in the World" (Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

The Lights Out! version does not appear to exist, but The Devil and Mr O version, "Mr Freak", does.

Uninhabited

aka: "Christmas Story"
aka: "Three Men"
Year: 1937
Duration: 30 min
Genre: War / Fantasy
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyllis Cooper

Three servicemen (one French, one Australian, and one African-American) bunk with each other in a train compartment on Christmas night after long battles in WWI. Seeing a bright star in the night sky, they all succumb to a dream in which they are three old men on a journey through the desert to witness a holy birth.

Another version of this story can be heard on Radio City Playhouse, under the title "Thee Men".

Reviews:
This Wyllis Cooper script was the nearly-annual Christmas play on Lights Out in the 1930s, even after the author left the series. It's not horror at all, but a religious fantasy appropriate to the season. The 1948 Radio City Playhouse version is okay, but the surviving 1937 Lights Out broadcast (when it apparently pre-empted a scheduled Oboler episode entitled "Uninhabited," thus confusing people ever after) has a more complete script and slightly more interesting actors. --- Anonymous

Nothing spooky here, but a well-written story of magic and the fantastic nonetheless. This is the one that became a Yuletide tradition for the series, and its play on the trials of the New Testament and update to fit a war-torn "contemporary" setting is deserving of a Rod Serling teleplay, replete with poetic dialogue and a vaguely eerie twist to tie it up. Recommended for those looking to explore the series' mystical side. --- Jose Cruz

Until Dead

Year: 1943
Duration: 28 min
Genre: Murder / Supernatural
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "No Escape" (The Devil and Mr O)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Mac Rogan is put on trial for the brutal knife murder of his wife, though he swears it was perpetrated by a man named Mark Street. Mac swears to have vengeance on his wife's killer no matter what the cost, planning to mutilate him in the same way his wife was. When he's imprisoned with big shot Rico Bartelli, Mac and Rico plan on busting out through the prison's main sewer pipe. Once betrayal sets in, Mac makes it perfectly clear that he will not allow anything, not even the cold grave itself, deter him from his deadly mission.

Some sources list this as "The Luck of Mark Street." There is a character named "Mark Street" in this story, but this is not the same story that was aired on Arch Oboler's Plays. That story is lost.

Reviews:
A straightforward narrative of a wronged man's revenge. Nothing innovative, nothing revolutionary, but it succeeds in being fun time that moves at a good clip. The best treat here is undoubtedly the actors, especially the one playing our anti-hero Mac. Check out his lovely descent into hysterics during the courtroom scene. The conclusion is equal parts fitting, satisfying, and just a little odd. Worth your time. [7/10] --- Jose Cruz

Vacation with Death

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Organ"

Valse Triste

Year: 1942
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Thriller
Series: Lights Out!
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Two city women vacationing in the country lose their canoe and seek help within the dark woods. Coming upon a cabin, the women are then terrorized by a mad fiddler obsessed with chance who is intent on making one of them his bride and murdering the other.

Reviews:
Easily one of the most bone-chilling segments from the series. Oboler is in top form here and his tale unfolds with mounting dread before reaching a crescendo. Although the original 1938 recording featuring Boris Karloff unfortunately no longer exists, the story is boosted by the actor portraying "Old Man Boyd," his steady tone creepily contrasting with his violent tendencies. The horror displayed by the actresses is also top-notch, making this one a nail-biter right up to its bizarre and haunting conclusion. --- Jose Cruz

Perhaps the scariest OTR I've ever heard. The best script Arch Oboler ever wrote. I wish the original version with Boris Karloff had survived. --- Chlorine Dream

Where Are You?

Series: The Devil and Mr O
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Syndicated rebroadcast of: "The Word"

Word, The

Year: 1943
Duration: 26 min
Genre:
Series: Lights Out!
Rebroadcast as: "Where are You?" (The Devil and Mr O)
See also: "The Word" (Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater)
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arch Oboler

Michael and Eve are newlyweds who travel to the 102nd floor of a skyscraper overlooking New York City. As a raging storm approaches, they decide to head back down to the main floor but find that none of the elevator attendants are at their station. Walking their way back down, they soon come to the horrible realization that everyone in the city has inexplicably vanished. Moving through the still streets, they try to come to grips with whatever strange power has seemingly wiped existence off the map.

Reviews:
Strictly a morality play. Not much on thrills and chills. --- Clarence Grigsby

Another of Lights Out's morality play-cum-fantasy lite productions. The premise is intriguing, and Oboler enters some unpredicted territory when his characters begin to postulate that they might be the survivors of a Rapture-esque miracle. Byron Cain and Mercedes McCambridge effectively invoke both the love and terror of their characters, but several mentions of the "war overseas" and announcement at the episode's end for listeners to purchase war bonds add a slightly heavy-handed damper to this overly solid production. --- Jose Cruz


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