The "Horror Double Bills" were TV seasons of classic horror movies broadcast annually in the UK on BBC2 during the summer (usually July and August) between 1975 and 1983. Even 40 years after their broadcast, they are still fondly remembered by UK horror movie fans, as they were rare opportunities (in a pre-VHS or DVD era) to see some of these films.
Each week two horror, science-fiction or fantasy movies would be shown, the majority of which were from Universal and Hammer studios, though other less familiar movies were also featured. The first season was broadcast in 1975 under the title "Midnight Movie Fantastic," though the season title would vary throughout the years ("Horror Double Bill," "Monster Double Bill," "Dracula, Frankenstein & Friends"). The third season in 1977 ("Dracula, Frankenstein & Friends") featured the most famous Universal monster titles (paired with each other or a Hammer/AIP title)whilst the final original season in 1981 consisted of the Val Lewton RKO horrors paired with more obscure modern titles.
After seven years and remarkably few repeated screenings, there was no season in 1982. A final series of Double Bills was broadcast during the summer of 1983, although this season was entirely made up of the classic Universal horrors from the 30's and 40's, all of which had been shown before, predominantly in the 1977 season "Dracula, Frankenstein & Friends."
After 1983, the BBC decided to rest the format. However the Double Bills returned in 1993 following the success of an all-night Halloween horror marathon on BBC2 a year earlier. The marathon was introduced and linked by Dr. Walpurgis, played by Guy Henry and created by Kim Newman. The other memorable event of that evening was the broadcast of the infamous Ghostwatch on BBC1 starring Michael Parkinson, Mike Smith & Sarah Greene. During this evening it was intended that the Doctor would have the privilege of introducing for the first time on British TV the uncut version of Curse of the Werewolf (Hammer 1960), which the doctor described as having “extra stalk and slash scenes.” However, problems led to the showing of the usual cut version of the film. The uncut version aired a few months later.
Dr. Terror's Vault of Horror was broadcast on Fridays on BBC1 between September and December 1993 and featured Guy Henry's character, though he was renamed Dr. Terror. The Double Bills only ran one year, although Dr. Terror would return to introduce individual horrors in 1994 and 1996.
The Classic Horror Campaign was set up to persuade the BBC to bring back the iconic Saturday night classic horror double bills. The campaign hosts its own classic horror double bill screenings in the UK and organized the hugely successful Frighten Brighton Classic Horror Film Festival in the south coast city of Brighton in 2012. Actress Emily Booth is among the campaign's supporters.