1942 - 1944
Host and character voices provided by Don Douglas.
Black Castle is one of those quaint 15 minute series that epitomizes the charm of old time radio horror. It had organ accompaniment, and some other simple sound effects, but it was really the sheer will-power and charisma of the voice actor who carried it off. Don Douglas played all the roles, including the Wizard host, complete with his trademark insane laughter. To jump from one character's voice to another was no easy task, especially when the Wizard would suddenly interrupt the action to laugh hysterically and narrate the story in greater detail. (Remember, this series was produced before magnetic tape made editing practical.) The stories were pretty imaginative too. The short format encouraged quick action, and Black Castle didn't waste a lot of time getting down to business. Whether it was American fighter pilots discovering they were stuck on a jungle island with mysterious giants, or a fugitive of the law being turned into a monster by a mad Asian scientist, Black Castle knew how to conjure dramatic images in the mind's eye.
Some episodes were single installments, others were two parts, and still others would play five installments per week.
Scottish born Douglas also played character and bit parts in nearly 100 movies, including Murder My Sweet (1944) and Gilda (1946). He died suddenly at age 40, soon after finishing Gilda.
Unfortunately, few samples of Black Castle have survived, perhaps as few as two.
(Note: There is also another actor with the same name,( British) who's appeared in films such as A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), as well as many popular British TV shows.)
The Standard Intro:
Announcer: "Welcome friends, to the Black Castle. Come, follow me please, for again, we visit the wizard who dwells yonder in the great hall. Now up these steps to the iron studded oaken door that yawns wide on rusted hinges, bidding us enter....
(SFX: His voice begins to echo.)
"Follow softly down this long stone wall corridor...
(SFX: Eerie music starts to play.)
"Music, do you hear it? It is he, sitting before the ruined, old organ, striking the keys with ancient stony face.
(SFX: Bird squawks.)
"There, perched on his shoulder is his pet raven. Wait! It is well to stop. For here is the Wizard of the Black Castle!"
(Organ flairs and Raven squawks. Maniacal laughter follows.)
Wizard: “Yes, I see you. Good evening, good evening! You're on time I see. Good, good!
"Diablo, off you go! I'll be your personal actor! (LAUGHS WILDLY.) Yes, yes! That's a good bird. Now, the strange story of Escape To Death. It is the hour when the city sleeps. In a residential section, all the homes are doused, all except one, from which a faint light glows. Suddenly the stillness of the night is shattered by the shrill screech of a police whistle. Another is heard. And then, another, and another, and another! A frantic, panic stricken man leaps from the shadows and races down the street. The police whistles now sound on all sides. He is cornered. Ah, the house with the light is his only hope! The last chance for escape. Up the steps he bounds and into the (inaudible). The police are now in full pursuit. Then, flash lights are turning the shadowy corners into days and (inaudible) into glaring lights, yes, glaring lights. In desperation, the hunted man presses the button and-- (MORE INSANE LAUGHTER.)"
A Typical Ending: (Spoiler alert!)
Wizard: (LAUGHS INSANELY.) "Yes, the law of the jungle. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth! (LAUGHS.) The two flyers rescued by the landing party that stormed the unresisting little village couldn't make anyone believe their story about the giant without eyes. Because the only other signs of human beings about the native huts were the bodies of the dead Japanese which littered them. Bodies with faces that had been mangled as if by wild animals in the dark of the jungle night! (WILD LAUGHTER.)
The Standard Closing:
Announcer: "Come quickly friends. We retrace our steps down the corridor to return to our place of rendezvous on the hillside, overlooking the peaceful valley.
(SFX: Distant church bell begins to toll in background)
"Now, we must part, for the hour grows late. Remember please, we shall expect you next Saturday evening, 7:15 Eastern War Time, for another visit to the Black Castle. All voices and characters of the Black Castle were portrayed by yours truly, Don Douglas. This is Mutual."
Hear it now, FREE!
(Courtesy of Youtube)
Escape To Death - Trying to elude the law, a criminal slips into the house of an unconventional scientist. It turns out his new host needs volunteers for a rather frightful experiment!
Jungle Adventure - When two American flyers bail out of a crashing plane, they discover a giant with black magic powers awaits them below.
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