Not to be confused with the old time radio series, Dark Fantasy, Dark Venture is a psychological thriller show that keeps you at the end of your seat.
Produced by J. Donald Wilson, who also produced The Whistler and directed later episodes of The Adventures of Nero Wolfe. Narrated by John Lake and sponsored by Wildroot Crème Oil during part of the show’s run.
Dark Venture was a grim kind of thriller where the listener got inside the twisted head of the murderer and heard his thoughts. It was not supernatural horror, but horror just the same… the kind that evil minds spawn when they are scheming ways to kill someone and get away with it. The writing was sharp and gritty. These killers were hardened sociopaths that didn’t give a damn about anyone else. They had no conscience and were diabolical in their plots. Unfortunately for them, the audience also liked to see others suffer, especially if that person was guilty and deserved his comeuppance. So each week millions could tune in to “see” the murderer meet his fate on the radio in their mind’s eye. The killing method wasn’t especially creative. It was usually the tried and true technique of strangulation, knifing, or shooting. No, what made Dark Venture interesting was the manner in which the killer plotted to get away with it all. Killers would devise sinister mind games to trick their wife into believing she was going insane, or manipulate a business partner into thinking he was being stalked by a phantom lover. Both of these elaborate plots were dreamed up to provide a fall guy for the murder, and both would have worked too– except for some small detail that would unravel the entire conspiracy. It was racy radio alright, the kind that made them pass new regulations in 1947 to tone it down. Maybe that’s why Dark Venture ended that same year. (Or maybe it was that producer Donald Wilson was too busy with a similar series which was even more popular, The Whistler.) Whatever the reason, only a few samples of this sinister series survive.
John Lake was the narrator but he didn’t present much except the introduction. Most of the actual narrating was provided by the culprit, which made it difficult for the listener not to identify with the killer at least a little bit, because we were sharing his thoughts. It was one of the fun aspects of the show. You knew he would get caught at the end, but you still kind of wished he would get away with it. After all, he seemed nice enough while telling us his story. It was just that small detail about taking someone else’s life that made him a menace to the rest of society…