Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


End of the World?
CHICKEN HEART Lights Out radio episode. 

The days when families would gather around the radio to listen to shows like Lights Out! were quite a bit before my time, so I never had occasion to listen to some of these classic programs. However, many are now available on CD and at the Internet Archives. For 99 cents I was able to download and listen to this famous episode of the horror/suspense show Lights Out! produced by Arch Oboler. I mean, when I found out what the plot was I just had to listen.

"Chicken Heart," believe it or not, is about a chicken heart that is injected with a formula or some such thing and grows and grows and grows at an astonishing rate until it smashes cities, smothers humanity, and destroys the earth! No, this is not one of my infamous phony April's Fool movies [or in this case radio episode]; this actually aired and yes you can find it on amazon. The whole thing is only about seven minutes long. and I swear I could recognize the voice of Edgar Barrier of The Giant Claw [how fitting, as the monster in that is a big fowl] as one of the scientists. The show begins with the heart already breaking out of containment, so if I recall correctly you never really learn how or why the thing begins to grow except as part of some outre experiment. I mean, why exactly would anybody want a giant chicken heart in the first place? On the soundtrack behind the actors' voices you hear the beat beat beat of the giant heart as it gets bigger and bigger. Somehow I don't think the audience was expected to take this very seriously, but in spite of that it's kind of, well, creepy. I mean, what a way for the world to end. Or revenge of the Sunday chicken dinner! I feel like making up tee shirts: I Survived Chicken Heart. More on Lights Out! in the future.

Verdict: It's certainly different, but one hopes it was not a typical Lights Out! offering. **1/2.


Neil A Russell said...

This is another one of those "was it real or did I dream it" things.

I got to hear this back in the late 1970s when the radio show nostalgia craze was going on and it really stuck in my head (probably should have said "craw" to make it more on topic) but I never could chase it down again and figured it was either one of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater presentations or as I said at the start, I had just imagined it.

I'm glad someone else has heard it too and thanks for the confirmation that it was real.

Every time I come to this site I realize I'm not as nutty as I thought!

William said...

Thank you -- I think!

Seriously, this is on amazon for 99 cents, comes from an Arch Oboler album called "Drop Dead."

You can't make these things up, LOL!

Gary R. said...

I first heard "Chicken Heart" in the '60s when a 7th Grade teacher played that "Drop Dead!" album for our class. A memorable day, and a very cool teacher!

William said...

Definitely! I had a teacher who let us watch "The Man from Planet X" on TV one rainy afternoon -- she was cool, too.