There was no host, but the announcer was Keith Paynton. (Photo above advertised the series)
Dark Fantasy is not one of my favorite series, although the stories themselves are pretty good. What is lacking most is any sort of series persona. There's no host, really, just announcer Keith Paynton (spelling uncertain) who repeats the title of the series in a menacing voice. But even that is kind of fun because it implies the producer thought this series was so scary, that just the mere mention of the name would be enough to get people nervous and in the right (spooked) mood. Another plus point is that Paynton would sometimes act in the shows as well (Grams, 2000, 124). Dark Fantasy aired late on Friday night, well past the bedtimes of the little ones, which probably encouraged liberties with the dark nature of the story lines. Murder, drugs, thievery, being buried alive... these were all themes found in just a single episode ("Dead Hands Reaching"). So you can imagine what the other stories had to offer.
The series lasted 31 episodes, and luckily, at least 28 of those recordings have survived. The lack of any bookends (a popular host to introduce and conclude the series) was extremely rare for an anthology horror series. After all, without a recurring narrator, every week was basically filled with strangers (new characters, a different setting, and an unexpected plot). So there was nothing familiar for a regular audience to identity with. One benefit though, is that it gives today's audience a chance to compare and appreciate how much such a character adds to the overall experience.
The stories were usually quite imaginative. They were usually horror stories, but there were also a few sci-fi themes. The writer, Scott Bishop, was certainly a capable author. He wrote all the stories for this series and The Strange Dr. Karnac. He also contributed scripts to The Mysterious Traveler, and The Sealed Book.
The Standard Intro:
Narrator: "Dark.... Fantasy..."
An Opening Narration:
(Excerpt from the play is played as a teaser.)
Hear An Actual Episode!
(Courtesy of Relic Radio.com )
The Headless Dead - (The show begins after the modern introduction from Relic Radio) A tourist gets locked in the Tower of London overnight by accident. At midnight, he witnesses a unbelievable ceremony of the dead, and is forced to swear upon heaven that he will return the following night.
I Am Your Brother - (The show begins after the modern introduction from Relic Radio) A surgeon saves the brain of his best friend to preserve the amazing knowledge it contains. He was born capable of speech and predicting the future, but feigned retardation for protection.
Pennsylvania Turnpike - (The show begins after the modern introduction from Relic Radio)
The Thing From the Darkness - (The show begins after the modern introduction from Relic Radio) A pilot-for-hire crash-lands in the desert. He is confronted by an ancient race of leopard worshippers who demand his death for witnessing the beauty of their princess.
Resolution 1841 - (Courtesty of OTRcat.com)
Hear more episodes courtesy of Archive.org
Karl Schadow's multiple installment series on Dark Fantasy by (from Radio Recall). Read part one, part two, and part three.
Below: A photo-story board of an episode from the May 16, 1942 issue of Movie-Radio Guide (plus another article) reproduced by Digital Deli Too.
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