Archives: The Whistler – Retribution

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In light of my unexpected free time on account of snow, I thought I’d bring you a special extra post. Depending on how long I am stuck in the house without my beloved, you may get a couple of these extra posts.

Do you remember the horror serials on TV? You know Monsters, Tales from the Dark Side, Tales from the Crypt, etc. Many of us grew up with these shows and have many fond memories of them. We could rest assured that once a week we could unwind to some disturbing murder or other such macabre event. Now, it’s easy to see the evolution of these shows from earlier incarnations like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Those shows would be the parents of our childhood favorites. Recently, I encountered the grandparents of these great shows… radio dramas.

One of these shows that I have had the pleasure of listening to is a little gem called The Whistler. It aired once a week on CBS radio, featuring a new tale of the murder, mystery, and the macabre. The title character who narrated each story seems to take a great delight from the death and suffering of others, especially the villain of the stories, and would often make tongue-in-cheek jokes about their demise (reminds me of a certain Crypt Keeper we all know). It is my proud honor to bring you the premiere episode of this show and, in keeping with tradition, I will add a new episode every week. Each will be accompanied by my review of the episode which you will find embedded at the end of the posts. Dare you join me as The Whistler reveals “many strange tales hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows…”?

SERIES: The Whistler
EPISODE #: 1
EPISODE TITLE: Retribution
AIR DATE: May 16th, 1942
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: J. Donald Wilson
PRODUCER: George Allen
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Wilbur Hatch
SOUND EFFECTS: (uncredited)
WHISTLING BY: Dorothy Roberts (uncredited)
THE WHISTLER PLAYED BY: Bill Forman (uncredited)
OTHER CAST: (uncredited)

Review

This episode starts off with a brutal crime. A man murders his wife and stepson with an ax for the $10,000 in cash and bonds his old lady has hidden in their house. Due to a lack of evidence though, John manages to avoid the death penalty and receives a life sentence for second degree murder. Ten years later and not willing to let that kind of money go to waste, John plans his escape against the better judgement of his reformed cellmate.

We are then introduced to George and Joan, having car trouble while on their way to California. Their old jalopie breaks down outside of what they take for an old inn and they head inside to get out of the rain. This little side plot seems to do nothing more than throw a creepy scene into the middle of the episode because they serve absolutely no purpose in the end. In fact, the ending of the story is handled in a manner clunkier than their car’s engine.

I can forgive this fact though on account of the scene they provide is genuinely creepy. It is followed by John Hendricks returning to the story in a scene that, though not as creepy, is respectable as far as 1942 macabre goes. As stated, the ending is clunky and awkward and not just because of the useless characters. The “surprise” ending is not eluded to or foreshadowed at all.

It is worth a listen if, for anything, to experience a slice of horror history. I give this episode a ☠☠☠.

Listen to The Whistler: Retribution

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