Years before deciding to undertake the insane task of reviewing every single episode of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, in their orginal broadcast order, I wrote several reviews of episodes that I heard on an Internet radio station that rebroadcast select episodes of the series.
The review that follows is a reprint of one of those early reviews. I reprint it here, in broadcast sequence, with little to no alterations to the original text or format:
Mel Stout and his wife, Liz, have used all the money they have to purchase the old Gromley house on Manitou mountain. The couple plan to turn it into a Ski Lodge, with the help of Liz's ski bum brother, Rory.
Just before the Stout's first guests are due to arrive, Mrs. Gromley pays a visit, aided in her wheelchair by her son Jason. Mrs. Gromley warns the Stouts that if they do not move out of the house, then they will meet the same fate that befell the previous owners. That family died in a terrible crash when their car was forced off the road by an oncoming car driven by a skeleton. If the final words of a dying woman are to be believed, that is. Rory laughs off the spooky threat and goes to pick up the first guests of the Stout Ski Lodge. While driving Michael Duncan and his wife back, Rory is forced off the road by a car driven by what looks to be...a skeleton! Duncan is the only survivor of the crash and, while his wife's body is prepared for burial, he vows to drive up and down the winding road to the lodge all through the night, until he runs into the ghost driver again, this time literally.
The Ghost Driver was written especially for the Mystery Theater by George Lowthar, and starred Mason Adams, Augusta Dabney, Mary Jane Higby, Nick Pryor, Leon Janney, and Norman Rose.
George Lowthar's script wisely keeps its biggest reveal until the very end, until that moment it is unknown whether the ghost driver is really a ghost or not. All the clues are there and, in retrospect, quite easy to see. Like many a tale of the supernatural (or mystery and suspense, for that matter) The Ghost Driver falls apart when you stop to think about it, but while the story is unfolding, it is easy to get caught up in the drama and simply ignore, or even be made to overlook, a contrivance or two. Several inventive twists and turns certainly help to keep the listener's attention, as well.
Norman Rose was a Mystery Theater regular and his performance is simply outstanding. Duncan comes across as a decent, albeit driven (no pun intended), man. My favorite moment is when, in the middle of a feverish explanation as to why he's compelled to hunt down and confront the ghost driver, his voice slows and cracks with emotion as he mentions his murdered wife.
A solid and satisfying episode of "The Fear You Can Hear."
Until next time, pleasant dreams...