Friday, April 29, 2016

Night Gallery



This show capitalized a lot more on Serling's presence as a presenter than his contribution as a writer. He has some works in the show he could be proud of, but overall Night Gallery isn't remotely close to the quality or prestige of The Twilight Zone. Like anthology shows of its nature, there are good episodes, mediocre episodes, and poor episodes. Certain episodes featured multiple stories with varied degrees of quality. Sometimes the tales themselves were up and down with highs and lows. Some were just flat or uninspired. Serling, unfortunately, is tied to the show and when it is less than spectacular those disappointing thoughts retreating back to Twilight Zone emerge. Why isn't NG as good as TZ? It's a given. However, being as big a fanboy of TZ as I am, even I must acknowledge that the classic show had its lemons as well. Watch the awful The Bewitchin' Pool for such an example. So taking an objective look at Night Gallery, putting aside TZ and looking at the other show Serling is attached to on its own.






The Cemetery
Roddy McDowell is deliciously repulsive as a greedy, conniving nephew looking to inherit his debilitating uncle's property and wealth. Uncle Hendricks (George Macready) can't talk and his body has fell victim to stroke-inflicted crippling, leaving him in a wheelchair. Exploiting a clause in Hendricks' will leaving everything to his mother which means he inherits what she would have if living, McDowell makes damn sure to collect as soon as possible. He opens a bedroom window letting in the cold of outside, placing his uncle right next to it. Right before leaving the room, McDowell makes sure to rub his nose in his eventual demise! A painting with the Hendricks home and family plot hangs on a stairwell wall starts to feature "updates", with a hole dug, a casket appearing, and Hendricks' body laying inside it! Burning the painting does no  good! Ossie Davis is Portifoy, the butler, and McDowell loves to denigrate him. He was loyal to the uncle but isn't about to endure a long-term servitude to his ridiculing, disreputable nephew.  The painted image of Hendricks walking from his grave is cool, and Portifoy amusingly gets the last laugh. The way McDowell says, "Portifoy" has a sound of contempt to it. But how the painting doesn't let off Portifoy for his own criminality tells us that karma has a way of returning for him as well. ***


Eyes
Seven Spielberg directed Joan Crawford in this doozy of a tale. While Crawford can dominate a scene like none other, it is a sympathetic Tom Bosley (Happy Days) who walks away with this morbid tale of a blind, rich woman, a wretch who has used her power and wealth to destroy and harm in order to gain her position and lot in life. Most of her words have sting and venom, and her need for personal gain--particularly sight--no matter the cost will be her eventual undoing. The dandy of a twist to this one: she gets her eyes through the misfortune of a gambler indebted to his prodding bookie. Money owed causes Bosley to forgo his eyes so she can attain a procedure to restore her sight for a mere twelve hours. Oh, but through her connections Crawford is able to blackmail an eye surgeon into performing the experimental surgery (it has only succeeded with animals). What happens when it is successful? There's a blackout in the city and her surroundings are mostly dark! She sees the sun as it rises but loses her sight soon after! Ha! How's that for karma taking it out on her hide?!?! ***½

  • Excellent juxtaposition of Bosley and Crawford's faces merging at the eyes, and Crawford "succumbing to the dark" upon receiving her sight with all the disorientation--as if a nightmare of dark entrapping her--really work visually. We Mario Bava fans know Barry Sullivan from Planet of the Vampires (1965); he is the eye surgeon and sad-faced moral compass shattered by Crawford's trash digging. His disappointing lecture about how his transgressions result in eyes being taken from one just so she can see temporarily see resonates, especially when the blackout occurs. 


Escape Route
Superb performances and a still viable examination of the Holocaust really bolster this tale significantly. Richard Riley, with a scar on his eye, is chilling as a Nazi in hiding who sees a painting of someone in a boat in the middle of an isolated lake, wanting desperately to be him. Looking over his shoulder for Nazi hunters (like George Murdoch) and trying to avoid Sam Jaffe (truly mesmerising), portraying a concentration camp survivor who knows his face and bears the scars of evil his men put upon Jews, he so wishes he could will himself into the boat of the painting and leave behind the fear of capture. Jaffe bears the weariness of his experience and his soft, victimized voice testifies all too well what Auschwitz left behind to the survivors. He's a symbol, and Jaffe is a testimonial that must not be forgotten. Riley, for his part, is confined to a prison of terror, concerned of being caught and tried for his participation in atrocities forever etched in history. Wearing a fisherman's outfit, always sweaty and anxious, lacking sleep and taking to the bottle, Riley tries to remain anonymous, but how long can he run from his past? A Crucifixion painting related to the Holocaust is haunting and it's use at the very end in relation to Riley is fitting. ***


The Dead Man
Louise Sorel's closing histrionics kind of ruined this tale of "hypnotism can possibly cheat death" for me personally. But for the most part, I found it quite compelling. Can scientific curiosity be tainted by jealousy? That seems to be the case as a doctor of the mentally ill decides to send away all his other patients to focus on one particular psychosomatic headcase who was the product of seriously unstable parents later dying due to their bodies succumbing physically to the power of suggestive disease. Pretty boy Hodgett (I know him from the cult film, The Velvet Vampire (1971)) would drum up illnesses that effected his body, later recovering from them, repeating this over and over. One disease after another until Dr. Redford (Carl Betz) used hypnosis to cease them, realizing it might be possible to actually defy death beyond cancer and many other illnesses. He calls on fellow doctor/scientist, Dr. Talmadge (Jeff Corey; this guy was in a bit of everything. His presence was seen in a lot of television and film from the 50s through the 80s), to join him in his studies. When it appears that Hodgett's Fearing is having an affair with his lovely wife, Velda (Sorel), it begins to torment him. When attempting to revive him after death, tragedy strikes...did Redford use the correct selection of taps to return him from his demise? ***

  •  This episode considers that the subconscious mind might respond to primal impulse even if consciously the person isn't typically violent or hostile. Velda is so in love, she glows and Fearing only remains at the residence because of her. Free of the anxieties and neuroses that burdened him before, Fearing has a healthy body and handsome features Velda responds to. Science trumped by emotion, even if unintended and unintentional, fascinates me, and the anguish of Redford in grieving his wife through a mistake he tried to correct effectively conveys how the subconscious betrys him. Chilling conclusion has a deteriorating Velda ghost white at the coffin of Fearing, with Talmadge finding Redford strangled by a rotted Corpse.

The Housekeeper
Amusing bit of tomfoolery has desperate husband Larry Hagman (JR Ewing himself) hiring elderly and bedraggled "domestic" (Jeannette Nolan, two episodes of Twilight Zone featuring Southern characters, The Hunt & Jess-Belle) to volunteer to "transfer" her personality with his miserable and divorce-threatening wife (who has seven million he wants to hold onto), played by Suzy Parker. Hagman seems to have attained a book of black magic spells, and through the conduit of a frog (!), he has successfully transferred the personalities of dogs into roosters, birds into cats, and vice versa. Well, it proves successful and he rids himself of Nolan's body...and of his shrewish wife's personality! But there are complications...Nolan rejects all contact and wants to leave him penniless due to him being such a bad man! ***
  • Hagman has a showcase here, with the anxiety of being left broke and a marriage wrought with trouble and fighting all but forcing his hand. Nolan seems a fitting foil to manipulate, but she has a moral compass that encourages Hagman to go a different route...one of which she couldn't expect. There's an irony in the twist: everyone's replaceable. Fun fact: Parker and Nolan were both in the cult wax museum chiller, Chamber of Horrors (1966)
Room with a View
Devious little tale has a bedridden wealthy stroke victim, understanding that his pretty trophy wife is cheating on him with his hunky chauffeur. With binoculars to spy on them from the outside, he capitalizes on the jealous homicidal tendencies of a cute little nurse who attends to him and calls him, "Mr B" to get even with both of them. The nurse confides in him that her and the chauffeur are engaged, encouraging a plan of action and all he has to do is provide a gun to iniate a violent response. "All she sees is red" when it comes to women trying to claim her man she indicates and this turns the wheels of revenge the invalid so desires. ***
  • This is only about 9 minutes but leaves an impression primarily because it features Diane Keaton in an early role. She's bubbly and vibrant...just a delight. Wiseman, who played Dr. No and was in the TZ episode, One More Pallbearer, charms Keaton, and with all his bellyaching and griping about his age and weakness, has the perfectly diabolical, scheming mind still intact. How he needs his gun looked at by the chauffeur, knowing his wife is with him, urging Keaton to surprise him, is quite cunning indeed. Angel Tompkins is the wife; fans of The Teacher and her nude spreads are quite fond of her.
The Little Black Bag
Burgess Meredith stars as an alley bum who once was a practicing medical doctor, losing his position and profession to mistakes resulting from booze. An appendectomy disaster led to his disbarring from the medical field leading to "twenty years of alcoholic fog". Chill Wills is a morally dubious wino Meredith meets while looking for a dime to buy a bottle of liquor. When Meredith finds a " medical bag from the future " (2089 to be exact), he reclaims some dignity when items inside provide an opportunity to help heal folks in his Urban neighborhood, but Wills only wants to benefit financially from its contents not offer the hope of a brighter future to the sick and dying. Wills is a perfectly loathesome opportunist, locked in a devilish reasoning that assured him a chance to attain money while Meredith is denied his chance to find redemption and earn some needed respect. ***½




The Nature of the Enemy
This right here just rent me in two. Serling's name attached to the writing of this leaves me quite disappointed. Eight minutes are devoted to this sci-fi joke involving a moon camp base operation disrupted by an attack. An astronaut communicates to NASA about what he sees, recording what appears to be a giant mousetrap built by missing astronauts on the Moon soon encountering something himself. Mission control tries to learn of what has led to the destruction of two shuttle landings, with wreckage scattered across the moon's surface. Reporters are persistent in acquiring answers, but none are prepared  for what a planted camera on the Moon reveals. *½
  •  Joseph Campanella is the Mission control director who tries to solve the mystery of what happened to two moon landing crews, and he looks just like a scientist you'd see working for NASA. The image of a giant mouse on the Moon surface might have seemed amusing, I guess, but seeing it now just leaves much to be desired. This is something you'd see directed in the 50s by nobudget hacks, not written by one of the most respected television sci-fi writers in history. This is rather laughable, and not really in a good way.





The House
Peculiar puzzler has the stunning beauty, Joanna Pettet, at the end of a stay at a sanitarium recovering from what seemed to be a nervous breakdown and depression, recollecting a curious dream to her psychiatrist about driving in her cherry red convertible (as her lovely blond hair blows in the wind via slow motion) to a house, using a knocker on the door to call upon the owner of the residence, and leaving before there’s an answer. What is the significance of the house? What is the significance of the occupant of the house? And what is the significance of the dream? Will the dream and reality become one and the same?
·         God, the women of the 60s/70s were just absolutely attractive. The long hair, the free-flowing clothes (or, during this “age of Playboy”, no clothes at all), enchanting face, Pettet is very much an alluring example of a splendid era of woman. And her haunting quality—I guess the best way to describe this is that she seems almost too otherworldly, as if from the very dream that lingers in her life—really captivates because there’s something about her that seems to indicate she doesn’t quite belong among us mortals. I guess ethereal is the word that maybe describes her best. She’s the entire show, really. It is her dream and this house, functioning almost like a spectre, which dominate this tale. I was a bit miffed by the intention of the dénouement, but it leaves quite a lot to chew on. Who is Pettet and how does the “dream Joanna” and “reality Joanna” have the ability to exist simultaneously? ***½





  • This definitely gives new definition to the term “ghost”. That a ghost seems to haunt the previous occupants (while Joanna is in the sanitarium dreaming of visiting the very house she’d eventually purchase in a steal of a price), and then Pettet herself comes to the realization of who this is—telling her psychiatrist (Steve Franken) on the phone—as the episode ends with us wondering just how her life would continue now that she has this knowledge. Paul Richards is the real estate agent who sells Pettet the house and becomes a confidant of sorts, trying to dispel the rumors of a haunting. Richards’ face and presence is quite interesting in relation to Pettet…he has this, I dunno, “cold fish” quality, as if the house’s rep has been a sour spot in his career. Despite this, he does seem to be easy to share a confidence and carry on conversation. He’s very “few words” and chooses what he says with deliberation. Pettet’s beauty is almost piercing…the direction uses darkened shadow and close-up to capitalize on the lure of her face and compelling mystery (no background is provided, nor where she came from) that is an aura hard to shake. She left a definite imprint on me. I won't forget her...


Certain Shadows on the Wall


Serling wrote the teleplay for this wicked slice of macabre featuring invalid and suffering Agnes Moorehead just wanting the pain to end, death to give her release, and asking her brother, Louis Hayward, to make the funeral a small gathering of friends. What Hayward couldn’t anticipate (considering the pills that were supposed to be sedatives are in fact poison, gradually killing her, indicating just how cruel brother was towards sister) was a “shadow” of Moorehead remaining on a wall in the living room of the mansion as a reminder of her overwhelming presence. Hayward cannot escape his actions no matter if his diagnoses were taken as cause of death with no investigation to determine his fault in Moorehead’s demise. Meanwhile his other two sisters, Grayson Hall (Dark Shadows) and Rachel Roberts (Picnic at Hanging Rock), the former quite aware of his intentions (he’s not sticking around to read Dickens, night in and night out, out of some family obligation or a sense of sympathy for her plight), while the latter is just naïve enough to avoid what might actually be happening under their roof. This naiveté will actually be Hayward’s undoing as the very pills he used against Moorehead to “help her sleep” will be misguidedly provided to him in his tea by Roberts! He is cataloguing all the items and the mansion itself, quite ready to cash in and get gone…but he will not be rid of Moorehead as irony and karma dictate.



  •  The shadow of Moorehead is actually rather creepy, and the anxiety of Hayward is palpable…cleverly, although Moorehead is in the tale for a manner of minutes, her presence remains through the shadow! The use of a grandfather clock as a device which communicates death and “reactivity” is quite well done. The dialogue between Hayward towards his sisters, full of acid and animosity, further encourages that his fate would be quite egregious to him…even after death! Roberts is an enigma: part of me thought she knew more than Hayward thought she did, and her face has this way of seeming innocuous while after the her bro takes the tea there's something sinister behind her eyes/expression. Sisters unite! Home sweet, home. ***½





Make Me Laugh

A burnt out comic, who can make no one laugh and finds himself bombing in no-account juke-joints with small turnouts consisting mainly of barflies, so desperately wants to tell jokes and earn chuckles instead of silence. He meets a down-on-his-luck guru needing to provide a miracle for someone or else lose his ability to work as a genie and be considered an embarrassment, shamed by his peers. In that bar the comic is granted his miracle--to makes them laugh--and everyone finds him hysterical, even if he's done nothing funny to deserve their uproarious laughter. Godfrey Cambridge is a classic Serling show actor, equipped with the chops to bring a pitiable character to life, awakening those feelings of failure and understanding the tragedy of an unfulfilled existence many of us know all too well. 



  • This has the well versed "be careful what you wish for because with miracles come repercussions" theme so recognizable in dramatic television, where the supernatural provides more than a character bargains for. Tom Bosley returned for another Night Gallery tale, this time as Godfrey's long-suffering agent, trying to encourage "booby" when it appears the end of the road is near. Jackie Vernon has a hoot of a part as the turban-wearing guru with a gift that is also a curse to whomever accepts the miracle he offers. When the miracle is just not enough to satisfy Godfrey--he can't even order a meal or put on and off his hat without others bursting into laughter--he requests another miracle but this time the price is rare beyond what he could possibly expect. He will move people to tears alright...Al Lewis has a minor but strong part as a club owner with comments directed at Godfrey's act that aren't commendable to say the least! ****



Clean kills and Other Trophies


Serling scripted “Clean Kills and Other Trophies” featuring Raymond Massey as a lecherous miser, Colonel Archie Dittman, who has lived a long life killing game for pleasure. He has arranged a codicil in his will that states his son, Archie Jr.(Barry Brown), in order to receive millions through just his signature, must kill a deer with him the next morning. We get a glimpse at how Archie Jr. has been treated all his life as his disapproving father balks about his son's passions, scorning the charitable work he has advocated (and he particularly has disgust for his son’s approval of the woman’s lib movement!) This happens in front of Jeffrey Pierce (Tom Troupe), the family attorney who has prepared the will, very vocal regarding his own distaste for the Colonel's extra-curricular activities; the trophy room with all the dead animals on the wall as evidence of the thrill of the kill certain repulses both Jeffrey and Arch, Jr. Herbert Jefferson Jr. is the manservant Tom, who practices voodoo and black magic, brought from the African jungle to “a civilized world”, but his culture and heritage are also reviled by Dittman, for the exception of how they killed to stay alive, perfecting it to an art. Tom agrees with Pierce that Archie Jr. shouldn't kill a deer, that such a deed would tear his soul asunder, because it stands against the young man's principles. ½

  • Because Archie Jr. hasn't picked up the rifle, willingly hunted prey for amusement and kicks, he's deemed weak and pitiful. But, the Colonel will get a taste of his own medicine when he raises the ire of Tom for forcing this upon Archie Jr. Massey is the perfect villain for a Serling treatise on man killing animal for sport, not out of just need for food and survival. Although Arch, Jr. is a pacifist who has probably been shaped and molded with his stance for helping not hurting based on his father’s thrill and pleasure of the hunt, if he doesn’t want to be disinherited he must at least kill one animal: Serling has the means with this to cast a stone at the villainy of white game hunting. Although Massey has little to embrace and plenty to hiss and boo, his little mincing with words is a Serling specialty: Serling has a special way of filling cruel men with words so disdainful and harsh (but sprinkled with intellectual language to give the words bite), it just takes the right actor to make them seethe and splinter. The final shot of Massey’s head on a wall is a bit grandiose, but that is Serling’s style: a visual image to go with karma’s visit upon the wicked. **





Pamela's Voice
Poor John Astin (of Addams Family fame) just can't be rid of his loud, obnoxious, always-talking wife (Phyllis Diller). Even in death she won't let him have peace! He learns of just why he can't be rid of her--and it has to do with too much celebrating after burying her--his bacchanal venture into indecency cost him dearly! Serling had a field day serving up traded barbs regarding what Diller's voice sounded to Austin in his trademark language and prose. Aston genuinely looks worn down and wrought with anxiety...Diller certainly fulfills her casting as we perfectly understand why he pushed her ass down the stairs hoping it at least hurt a bit before death came. The opening set up monologue by Serling to describe the episode is a real treat!  I think you can tell he had a grand ole time writing this one. It is a minor bit of piffle, but the dialogue has some unique ways to convey how the sound of a voice could lead a man to have a psychotic break and kill his wife! ***



Lone Survivor
John Colicos' monologue of his experience on the Titanic and its sinking while supposedly in a lifeboat dressed as a woman is reason enough to go out of your way to watch this tale, penned by Serling. If there was a tale close in spirit and haunting quality of a Twilight Zone episode it is "Lone Survivor". The doomed ship, the Lusitania, picks him up and Colicos realizes that he himself is a human Flying Dutchman! Then he is picked up by the Andrea Doria to close the episode! Colicos' sweaty, raggedly-bearded, reddish face, full of terror, recounting all from memory to Hedley Mattingly is powerful stuff! Torin Thatcher's cynicism being thwarted as he does realize he's a phantom, and just the spooky nature of it all really leaves quite an impression. ****



The Doll
A colonel (John Williams) returns from India to his baronial estate, which belonged to the dead parents of his niece who is in his care to find her with a ghastly doll, sent by an Indian (Henry Silva, consummate career heavy) who practices the black arts and seeks revenge for the execution of his brother. The colonel led a firing squad that executes him for attacks on the British Army, doing his duty for His Majesty. The doll, a hideous sight with pallid porcelain, wicked eyes, and disheveled hair, talks to the niece and is responsible for tearing apart a new doll bought for her by her uncle. Silva visits Williams, warning him that the doll would finish its mission to bite the colonel which would finish him off.
If so, the colonel will not go quietly into that dark night without leaving a present for Silva. The doll is a thing of grotesque beauty and Williams, as a caring uncle who is concerned for his niece's happiness and realizes all too well after spending 21 years in India what dangers lie in wait for him, is first rate. Williams is not a cipher, but an intuitive and contemplative long-time military officer who takes the threat of the doll seriously, not dismissive of the power of black magic and it's perilous effects. Not bad at all! Recommended for fans of the "creepy/killer doll" plot. The conclusion, when Silva gets a present himself, is nifty! ****

They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar
For a review, read Here.


The Last Laurel
“The Last Laurel” had the misfortune of following “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” in the same episode. It was quick and rather forgettable, so I felt a bit sorry for Jack Cassidy, Martine Beswick, and Martin E Brooks who offered performances perhaps worthy for a better tale. Astral projection is the supernatural theme used, and there’s a better tale for this not present in “The Last Laurel”. It feels rushed/hurried (it is maybe 8 minutes long) and the special effects are not up to par with the fascinating theme of the capabilities of your soul leaving the body and being able to travel in a type of spiritual form absent the flesh. Cassidy had a serious freeway accident that left his paralyzed and bedridden. Obsessed with his young, beautiful wife’s potential infidelities considering he can no longer “get the job done” sexually motivates an all-consuming, all-encompassing fury building to a possible uproar. Willing the ability to astral project himself during a dark, stormy night, he plans to murder the personal care physician he believes is having an affair with wife Beswick. The setting is ideal—a thunderstorm beginning to rage and night leaving it hard to see in his home—but the tale is sped to a conclusion a bit too quickly so nothing about it leaves a lasting impression. It is over and done with, concluding with the right twist but I think there’s a clear indication that this was commissioned to fill time defeating what a game actor like Cassidy brings to his part. He deserves better, plain and simple. You see this a lot later on in Night Gallery. Tales that are offered as time filler, with little meat on the bones, barely an appetizer to satiate the viewers looking for something thought-provoking or thrilling, were typical as Jack Laird’s influence seemed to rival Serling’s. In regards to the underused Beswick, I always have felt she was a missed opportunity during her prime. You see all the potential in the world in “Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde”, but meaningful parts were few and far between for whatever reason…I always felt she had the right looks and edge to her ripe for horror. Too bad. **

The Diary
If there was a tale that could be shorter, it is “The Diary”. It is mainly because of Patty Duke’s television show victimizer, responsible for destroying the lives of aging movie stars through a platform of trash talk and surprise pictures taken of them at the most inopportune times. One such victim is Virginia Mayo (White Heat), who purchases a diary from a black magic shop which seems to predict future events that Duke will write, becoming all too destructive on her when the actress takes a suicidal leap from a loft window to the sidewalk below the apartment complex. So with Mayo dead and Duke starting to unravel as she begins to believe that future writing showing up on dates before they happen supposedly predicting outcomes yet to take place, this tale spends a lot of time watching the cipher unleash acidic vitriol (and she loves the sound of her own voice and revels in how they often irritate and harm) towards others. Even her psychiatrist (David Wayne, the Mad Hatter on Batman, and the lead in the clever Twilight Zone episode, Escape Clause) is obviously visually annoyed and exhausted by her. Her fate is amusing, considering how poisonous she is, but spending 26 minutes with her was a bit much. Duke has rarely been more caustic. **

A Matter of Semantics
“A Matter of Semantics” was actually directed by producer Jack Laird and is an example of how Night Gallery would feature way too many tales within one episode, an indictment on its seriousness as a show with intentions on telling strong, compelling stories that offer food for thought or stay with you as the end credits start. It is a quick horror parody featuring a (appropriately) campy Caesar Romero as Camp Dracula visiting a blood bank for some much needed plasma! It is over in a hurry and might tickle the funny bone for a few seconds before its forgotten altogether. I did groove to the Bela Lugosi painting that represents the tale. Obviously, I would say this was beneath Rod Serling’s talents although he did write the tale of a mouse on the moon in a previous episode so he doesn’t get a whole lot of slack, either. **

The Big Surprise
For a review, read Here

Professor Peabody's Last Lecture
While I might not be quite as high on this one as some Night Gallery fans, I had a good time with it thanks in no small part to Carl Reiner. His professor speaks all scholarly and politely, it is a side to his work you don't always regularly see. His professor is a bonafide skeptic and when reading from texts supposedly related to highly believed gods (in this tale's case, Lovecraft's monster gods, located in a small book favorable to a diary), Peabody doesn't take them as fact but fancy, historical and important but not on face value. 

This skepticism will be tested when the atmosphere outside "cracks up" and his body endures "transformation" as a result of his reading from the historical document featuring the names of gods not meant to be spoken aloud. His brainy sense of humor and the dead reaction of the students (tough crowd, but he soldiers on) is quite amusing. The nerds bringing up suggestions and legit questions on Peabody's actions in handling the "book of the otherworld gods" are met with hospitable acknowledgment, but the professor still goes ahead just the same. The monster he becomes is right out of cheesy alien on Lost in Space. ***



The Return of the Sorcerer
The horror icon that is Vincent Price made an almighty appearance on Night Gallery for this surreal Gothic hoot about an aging sorcerer, John Carnby, hiring a language expert to interpret a passage in Arabic inside the book of the Necronomicon. Bill Bixby of "The Incredible Hulk" is the Arabic language expert, Noel, who should have walked right out the door of Price's occult-decorated abode, but is drawn to the allure of his sorceress Fern (Tisha Sterling, portraying a real oddball, but a sexy oddball). Her seductive powers keep Bixby from exiting stage left as soon as he realized what the Arabic writing said, yet he remains to a possible grisly fate. Including Satanic décor and a black mass sanctuary of worship (along with a black goat Price claims is his father eating at their table!), "The Return of the Sorcerer" is full of eye candy, the reds and blacks incorporated into the set design laying out Price's castle, along with skulls and these candle holders resembling monstrous hands, it felt like I was watching a Roger Corman Poe picture, which maybe was the intention, I don't know. 




  • It was fun seeing Price going full-bore into the part of a frightened sorcerer who believes he hears "bits and pieces" of his twin brother scurrying about just out of sight (Fern saying they are just rats), harboring a secret regarding what happened to him. Sterling as Fern is rather "ice queen", enigmatic, and devoid of emotion; she seems to be hiding something of her own, yet her sensual nature draws Bixby who seems powerless to resist her. Fern, with her pet toad, is just bizarre, as is the overall tone of this peculiar tale of Night Gallery. "The Return of the Sorcerer" is probably a must-see for fans of "moving body parts" and Vincent Price, whose response to the Arabic spoken in English is priceless. 


  • Bixby is very much in league with the bland leading men who often enter the strange world of Price in those Corman Poe films. He is this scholar unprepared for the occult trappings he now inhabits. Most of the episodes of Night Gallery I have watched seem to be more open to contemporary settings, while "The Return of the Sorcerer" seems more old fashioned, with its Gothic trappings and ghoulish subject matter. I had a grand old time, just the same. Price chanting Satanic gibberish might be too much for some horror fans, all dressed in his black robe (with the blood red upside down cross on the front of his chest), but I thought he was a riot. 


  • I can only imagine if Michael Reeves would have been alive, he might have disapproved of Price's performance which fits/suits the material. He does the "nervous/worried" bulging eyes bit, and the anxious response to the noise his brother's "fragments" make, with him twisting around immediately at the sound entertained me to no end. Bixby is all reserved and remains docile, keeping himself in check despite the Satanic shenanigans conducted before him...I found this choice of acting rather neat, balancing out the camp of Price and the weird of Trish. Sterling just has that sensual command which makes it a bit more reasonable to accept why Bixby might not get out as soon as he could. One of my favorite episodes of the series, and strange enough this wasn't penned by Serling. ****



Whisper
Sally Field portrays a young woman who invites spirits to possess her. She and hubby Dean Stockwell visit "the old country" (somewhere South) from Fresno, staying in a cottage. Stockwell adores Field's Irene to the point that he will tolerate her "mood swings", but how many times can she continue to allow them to have access to her before the occupants (or, more specifically, Rachel) refuse to leave? Sally Field already proves here how versatile an actress she is due to her ability to alternate personalities, one moment the full-of-light Irene (with a smile that melts your heart), then next a cold and indifferent Rachel, who suffered her share of difficulties during life. While plain, Sally was quite adorable, which makes her fate rather tragic because she admittedly allowed the spirits to enter her "inn" as part of a game so she wouldn't be just like everyone else, the owner no longer perhaps in charge of vacancies. "Whisper" has an eerie quality to it, the soundtrack using the rustling of the wind effectively, along with Field's performance. Stockwell used to look so weird back during this time of his career, the bushy eyebrows and curly locks, which makes him, in my opinion, perfect for horror and cult films. The director decides to allow Stockwell to talk to the camera, as if he were chatting with the spirits that are invading his Sally. Kent Smith, as a doctor Stockwell visits in regards to sleeping pills he wants for Field, many will know from the masterpiece, "Cat People". The danger of being a conduit, and the agreeable nature of the willing participant are at play here; the sheer eeriness of seeing Field talking between one personality and another can be quite unnerving. You just have to know she's walking on dangerous ground, possibly opening herself up to the wrong kind of phantom. Giving up your life because of love for another shows what Stockwell will sacrifice for Sally. Not only is Sally invaded, but the atmosphere surrounding her (wind going, particularly) reacts unkindly. ****

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Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

Nas

Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
In the kitchen, The Shape

exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.