Holiday Horrors: 1980s Local News Teasers

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UPDATE, 12.16.09: Video now working. Thanks for your patience.

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating: I was scarred for life by the news teasers I saw as a kid. There are two reasons for this.

1) I grew up in New York in the 1980s. In these post-Giuliani’s reich years, it’s hard to remember just how truly effed up NYC was in the 80s. The city was beset by all manner of horrifying things–drugs, murder, arson, poverty, Ed Koch…

2) The 1980s also marked the beginning of SCARE NEWS. Local stations couldn’t just entice you with actual news. They did SPECIAL REPORTS and INVESTIGATIONS on how everything in your house could murder you in your sleep.

The combination of these two phenomena made watching TV as a kid an exercise in terror. In my memories, the news was even worse during the holidays. Every news clip took place in a driving snowstorm, with squad car lights glinting off dirty road ice, and included at least three of the following:

  • A crumbling tenement stairwell
  • Cops draping a white sheet across a dead body
  • Blood spattered on wall/floor/window
  • A front door blackened by fire/explosion
  • Close up of a crack vial
  • Victim’s screaming relatives
  • Charred children’s toys
  • A sketch of the alleged perpetrator, making him look like maniac

If you weren’t there, it’s hard to convey just how frightening it was. But thanks to the Vast and Dusty Scratchbomb VHS Archives, I’ve compiled a bunch of these teasers into one handy-dandy YouTube clip.

Most of these are from CBS-2, but they’re pretty representative of news teasers for all local NYC stations back in the 1980s. Keep in mind, all of these teasers–all of them–aired during holiday specials intended for kids. “Manhunt in progress for the man police call The Face-Peeling Rapist. Is he in your town? We’ll tell you at 11. But now, back to A Charlie Brown Christmas!”