Inner Sanctum Mysteries - Single Episodes

(4.6 stars; 124 reviews)


The anthology series featured stories of mystery, terror and suspense, and its tongue-in-cheek introductions were in sharp contrast to shows like Suspense and The Whistler. The early 1940s programs opened with Raymond Edward Johnson introducing himself as, "Your host, Raymond," in a mocking sardonic voice. A spooky melodramatic organ score (played by Lew White) punctuated Raymond's many morbid jokes and playful puns. Raymond's closing was an elongated "Pleasant dreeeeaams, hmmmmm?" His tongue-in-cheek style and ghoulish relish of his own tales became the standard for many such horror narrators to follow, from fellow radio hosts like Ernest Chappell (on Wyllis Cooper's later series, Quiet, Please) and Maurice Tarplin (on The Mysterious Traveler). When Johnson left the series in May 1945 to serve in the Army, he was replaced by Paul McGrath, who did not keep the "Raymond" name and was known only as "Your Host" or "Mr. Host" (Berry Kroeger had substituted earlier for a total of four episodes). McGrath was a Broadway actor who turned to radio for a regular income. Beginning in 1945, Lipton Tea sponsored the series, pairing first Raymond and then McGrath with cheery commercial spokeswoman Mary Bennett (aka the "Tea Lady"), whose blithesome pitches for Lipton Tea contrasted sharply with the macabre themes of the stories. She primly chided the host for his trademark dark humor and creepy manner. The Creaking Door: The program's familiar and famed audio trademark was the eerie creaking door which opened and closed the broadcasts. Himan Brown got the idea from a door in the basement that "squeaked like Hell." The door sound was actually made by a rusty desk chair. The program did originally intend to use a door, but on its first use, the door did not creak. Undaunted, Brown grabbed a nearby chair, sat in it and turned, causing a hair-raising squeak. The chair was used from then on as the sound prop. On at least one memorable occasion, a staffer innocently repaired and oiled the chair, thus forcing the sound man to mimic the squeak orally. Guest Stars: Its campy comedy notwithstanding, the stories were usually effective little chillers, mixing horror and humor in equal doses. Memorable episodes included "Terror by Night" (September 18, 1945) and an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (August 3, 1941). The latter starred Boris Karloff, who was heard regularly in the first season, starring in more than 15 episodes and returning sporadically thereafter. Other established stars in the early years included Mary Astor, Helen Hayes, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, Claude Rains, Frank Sinatra, and Orson Welles. Most of the lead and supporting players were stalwarts of New York radio. These included Santos Ortega, Mercedes McCambridge, Berry Kroeger, Lawson Zerbe, Arnold Moss, Leon Janney, and Mason Adams. Players like Richard Widmark, Everett Sloane, Burgess Meredith, Agnes Moorehead, Ken Lynch, and Anne Seymour, also found fame via the Inner Sanctum Mysteries. Out of more than 500 programs broadcast, only about 200 remain in circulation, sometimes minus dates or titles. Information taken from From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.

This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.



Amazing Death Of Mrs Putnam 25:15
The Tell-Tale Heart 26:42
The Death Ship 27:10
Hunter from Beyond 5:24
Island of Death 28:31
The Man from Yesterday 29:26
Death Has Claws 30:53
Dead Reckoning 29:24
Study for Murder 22:28
Black Sea Gull 28:41
The Horla 20:52
The Skull That Walked 29:43
The Melody of Death 26:23
The Silent Hands 25:53
Death Is a Joker 30:48
Dead Man's Vengeance 20:20
The Voice on the Wire 29:05
The Color Blind Formula 24:59
Desert Death 29:30
Death Is an Artist 29:30
Death in the Depths 29:43
No Coffin for the Dead 29:37
The Bog-Oak Necklace 29:24
The Judas Clock 29:35
Song of the Slasher 29:19
The Girl and the Gallows 28:22
The Black Art 28:30
Dead to Rights 29:34
Musical Score 29:32
Death Across the Board 29:41
Portrait of Death 29:49
Dead Man's Holiday 29:30
Dead Man's Debt 29:21
Dead Man's Deal 29:27
The Murder Prophet 28:58
The Last Story 23:45
Terror by Night 29:09
The Lonely Sleep 29:39
The Shadow of Death 28:48
Death by Scripture 26:39
Death by Scripture 30:03
Till Death Do Us Part 26:53
Till Death Do Us Part 28:33
The Corridor of Doom 29:15
The Wailing Wall 29:18
Boomerang 29:55
The Dark Chamber 25:13
The Dark Chamber 29:50
The Undead 29:15
The Undead 29:44
The Creeping Wall 29:35
The Edge of Death 29:33
The Confession 25:10
The Confession 28:31
Blood of Cain 29:44
Skeleton Bay 29:39
The Man Who Couldn't Die 29:24
I Walk in the Night 26:54
I Walk in the Night 29:37
Strands of Death 28:40
Death Is a Double-Crosser 24:22
Death Is a Double-Crosser 29:39
Lady with a Plan 28:39
Make Ready My Grave 24:21
Make Ready My Grave 29:40
You Could Die Laughing 28:55
Detour to Terror 29:31
Eight Steps to Murder 29:41
I Want to Report a Murder 24:52
Spectre of the Rose 26:21
Murder Comes at Midnight 25:12
The Dead Laugh 26:01
Death's Old Sweet Song 29:34
Death Bound 29:51
The Ghost in the Garden 25:12
Don't Dance on My Grave 25:58
Over My Dead Body 24:40
Till Death Do Us Part 29:12
Death out of Mind 24:13
Tempo in Blood 24:22
The Doomed 24:55
The Magic Tile 24:21
Death Demon 29:43
The Eyes of My Murderer 25:34
Murder Takes a Honeymoon 24:11
The Murder Ship 25:18
House of Doom 25:52
Death Rides a Riptide 24:55
Hangman's Island 26:15
Murder by Prophecy 24:50
Death of a Doll 25:02
Deathwatch in Boston 26:29
Cause of Death 24:14
Murder Faces East 23:40
Between Two Worlds 24:07
Fearful Voyage 25:20
Murder Comes to Life 26:07
Mark My Grave 26:28
Mark My Grave 25:18
The Devil's Fortune 25:32
Death Demon 25:52
Birdsong for a Murderer 25:20
Flame of Death 26:15
Only the Dead Die Twice 24:59
Appointment with Death 25:58
Death Wears a Lonely Smile 24:42
The Death Deal 25:30
The Unburied Dead 25:42
The Corpse Is Lonely 25:41
Death on the Highway 25:31
Corpse Without a Conscience 25:06
Pattern for Fear 25:47
Deadly Fare 26:07
Dead Heat 24:20
Mind Over Murder 24:13
Death's Little Brother 26:13
Murder Rides the Carousel 24:27
The Vengeful Corpse 28:08
Honeymoon with Death 23:48
Catch a Killer 26:19
The Devil's Workshop 26:08
Image of Death 26:12
Night Is My Shroud 25:12
Corpse for Halloween 26:09
Wish to Kill 24:14
Beyond the Grave 24:38
The Enchanted Ghost 21:44
Killer at Large 25:17
The Scream 24:23
The Hitch-Hiking Corpse 24:14
Skeleton Bay 29:26
Murder Mansion 23:41
Beneficiary -- Death 29:41
No Rest For The Dead 29:02
Twice Dead 29:35
The Smile of Death 14:08
Man from the Grave 15:06
The Unforgiving Corpse 29:46
Birdsong for a Murderer 21:40
Terror by Night 22:58
Death Pays the Freight 23:06
Death for Sale 24:51
The Listener 23:58
The Murder Prophet 24:06
Murder off the Record 25:04
The Magic Tile 24:37
The Corpse Laughs Last 25:13
No Rest for the Dead 25:16
No Rest for the Dead 29:19
Strange Passenger 23:10
The Meek Die Slowly 23:18
Till Death Do Us Part 24:17
The Corpse Nobody Loved 23:24
The Dead Walk at Night 23:05
The Judas Clock 26:13


Raymond himself is worth the price of admission alone!

(5 stars)

a landmark series for suspense and horror - and Raymond's hosting, with his ghoulish puns, are the icing on the cake.Many of the great actors of OTR can be heard on this series throughout its run. And while more of these are mystery than horror, there are suspenseful moments galore - though that doesn't mean there are no good frights along the way! A highly recommended classic.

Mystery Playhouse Versions

(5 stars)

The Mystery Playhouse was an Armed Forces Radio (AFRS) that took programs like Inner Sanctum, Molle Mysteries, Mr & Mrs North, etc. and rebroadcast them for the Armed Forces with the commercials removed. The time that was used by the commercials would be used for the intro by someone like Sergeant X. Some would have a preview of the next episode aired. The Inner Sanctum episodes that were also Mystery Playhouse episodes would have the Inner Sanctum intro by Raymond or the Host.

(5 stars)

This is by far the best of the old timers. I'd heard about this show from my parents and uncles when I was a kid in the 50's but only found it lately through Old Time Radio Research and what a thrill it was listening for the very first time!

The Smile of Death

(3 stars)

I really enjoy suspense and this podcast did not disappoint. What I didn’t like was that it left me wanting more. I was confused when the dialogue stopped because I felt like the story was still developing when the last lines were said. I really enjoyed the actors themselves and the tone of the voices with each character because they matched exactly with the aura of their intentions. The title was what got me interested in this particular episode but I feel like the smile described in the podcast was not developed enough to be the main descriptor. The smile was scary, yes, but it was only mentioned at the end and nothing came of it. What does the smile indicate? More than just that the man is haunting them. Why is he smiling? If I were him I would have a frown because the wife clearly does not love him and the man who gave him the room was completely rude. Does he have a trick up his sleeve? I’m clearly just disappointed with the ending.


(5 stars)

Can anyone explain to me why The Mystery Playhouse is introducing some of these shows? I have some mp3's of Mystery Playhouse and that show quite often introduced episodes of other shows like Mr. and Mrs. North, Sam Spade, and a few others I can't remember. I'm quite confused over this because Mystery Playhouse wasn't like AFRS as it did broadcast shows that weren't episodes from other OTR shows and were either classic short stories or original stories written just for Mystery Playhouse. I'd really appreciate either a repose or just an answer on my confusion. Thanks! Inner Sanctum is one of my favorite OTR series and it's so awesome to hear 149 episodes in one place!


(4 stars)

I really wasn't expecting to enjoy that as much as I did. This episode really brought out my love for mystery stories like the ones I used to read as a kid. The suspense was great and the way the story was crafted really set the scene and made me use my imagination. It surprises me that all that was used to create this story were some sound effects, a couple different characters, and some great dialogue. The only thing I didn't like were some of the creepy sound effects and the narrator was funny but made me feel a little uncomfortable. However, neither of those things bothered me too much to not enjoy the story.

Does anyone know the piece of music at the end of a few episodes?

(5 stars)

A few of these fun stories that are recorded here were re-broadcast over the Armed Forces Radio Service, like "Deathwatch in Boston." After the show there is an interesting musical piece that I am puzzled about. Does anyone know what the name of this ending music might be? The program itself is great fun and is best listened to in the evening!

What happened to the Bromo Seltzer commercials

(5 stars)

In looking over these programs, I could only find a few with the original Bromo Seltzer commercials. The one in particular was "The Vengeful Corpse" (1949). When Lipton Tea sponsored the program, the recordings were duplicated for copyright purposes. These recording have since found their way into the hands of collectors. The programs sponsored by Bromo Seltzer were re-released as AFRS recordings and the commercials were edited out.