It was part of the American radio drama anthology series from The Mercury Theatre and aired as part of some Halloween programming on Sunday, October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network.
The trick to how this radio drama grabbed the fears of its listeners was multi-fold.
-It was presented as a series or news report broadcasts. To make sure no one was fooled, they made announcements on the air that this was fake. But many listeners were dial spinning looking for something to listen to, so they missed the opening of the broadcast alerting the listener to the fictional state of the following radio transmission.
-The broadcast also ran commercial free and the production was intended to seem realistic because the producers did not think it would pan out as a standard sounding radio play. (Well, they nailed that issue on the head!!!)
-During the interlude break, when they once again announced this was a fictional radio broadcast, folks were busy packing and evacuating, so many listeners missed that alert too!
I caught this info from a PBS special on the event and it is amazing on so many levels how this impacted people.
But be it as it may, if it were not for that event, that radio broadcast may have come and gone and become one of many titles that would have been shelved and listened to among the usual telecast marathons that come about once a year for Halloween. I have to wonder what might have taken its place as the leading scary broadcast from yesteryear? It's admittedly a great story regardless, so it probably would still have a place in our film history, but hey, who knows?
As far as which movie is better, ignoring the film making technology, the 1953 or the Tom Cruise starring 2005 version. Both have their merits if you focus on the story itself, but what blew me away was when I read the novel by H. G. Wells. The movies are different enough to make the book a fun and eye-opening read.
I thought I'd talk about this with the upcoming Halloween weekend and the programming that ensues, including on the "radio."
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