Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Twilight Zone - A Most Unusual Camera



For me, A Most Unusual Camera takes its place right next to the likes of Black Leather Jackets and Caesar and Me. I think the ending is so lousy and ridiculous (how can so many people wind up going out a window???) it taints what is already a rather laboring time spent with folks not particularly worth investing thirty minutes with. Thieves wanted for their crimes, a trio use a camera found in an antiquities shop to secure moneys from dog races. The camera, most unusual, has no latch to open to install the necessary materials needed to take and receive pictures but nonetheless prints out an image of a future event, granting whoever owns it ten before it must go to someone else. Ultimately, it appears as if the camera is like the monkey’s paw. Those who trifle with the camera die. Whatever the case, it couldn’t have happened to better people. Include Marcel Hillaire among them, inserting himself into the picture (pun intended) like the ultimate opportunist.





--
Constantly bickering married heisters (Fred Clark and Jean Carson) raided an antique "curio" shop of inventory that was anything but worth the effort, hitting the mother lode it seems with a camera taken along with items claimed as priceless by those robbed. The camera has no location on the box to load film but it does take pictures…of events five minutes before they happen! You just point and click and the location will provide you with whatever happens accordingly. Soon Carson's dunderhead brother (Adam Williams; many TZ fans will know him best as the sailor Inger Stevens hopes will stay in the car with her in "The Hitch-Hiker") arrives after escaping from prison where he was serving a seven year sentence. The trio decides to use the camera to bet on the races, making quite a bit of cash in the process. But when a French waiter (Marcel Hillaire) in the hotel they stay reads an inscription on the camera regarding "ten uses of the camera", the frivolity and unity decays quickly with greed and avarice determining the trio's ruination. Hillaire might just attempt to capitalize on their demise. Basically this TZ episode spends its entire running time with crooks hoping to make big thanks in part to a magic box with the ability to offer pictures of clairvoyance. These people are out for themselves and don't like each other all that much. So when flights out the window start to happen, it is no surprise. Regarding the trips out the window…I was amazed how the episode sees that all *four* principles go over to it, when you'd think none of them would dare take such a chance considering the danger. Hillaire's fate is especially preposterous…why would *he* go anywhere near that window?!?! Carson just watching as Hillaire bags all the cash her crooked fam accumulated without even putting up a fight is also rather perplexing…surely she'd knock him over the head with something, you'd think! Clark barks and gripes, a rotter to the core, while Williams is all "duh". Carson is satisfied when their crimes offer a fur coat or neck candy to wear. Hillaire had that face of the lecherous schemer, the kind of underhanded sneak who would merrily knife you in the back at the most opportune time…Lost in Space fans will know him as the Junkman in the final episode of the series, "Junkyard in Space" or as a strangler always trying to rope Smith in "Condemned in Space". While we must spend time with these scoundrels for twenty-two or so minutes, at least they get what's coming to them. Ultimately they are presented as small time hoods briefly basking in the color green, but their time "in the money" is fleeting due to their own personal shortcomings. That the camera's final picture has all of them "together" through unanticipated means (look what they had and yet that wasn't enough) seems fitting for them.
--
I looked back at my review from January of this year above for IMDb wondering what was I thinking. I wanted to watch a Twilight Zone episode early on Saturday morning before drifting back to sleep on a lazy day for myself after a rather tiresome work week. I chose this episode because to me it is not a significant example of TZ at its best. I knew I wouldn’t be too inspired to give it my whole heart because, quite frankly, it just doesn’t deserve it. It seems to be a darling in marathons, though, and some fans enjoy the cast and premise. On the premise, I like it a lot. I’m a fan of the “monkey’s paw” stories and think there is plenty of creative ways to use the theme (and it has been a creative source for many television shows and movies). I think the camera—with its French inscription seeming to indicate it came from some place far from the setting of this episode—is a neat device to tell a story, but I just wish it would have been for a different story and cast of characters. I think the impact of the monkey’s paw derives from how those in desperation (loss of a loved one, deep in debt and needing a miracle, stuck in a compromising situation needing help to escape from…) use it to better themselves only to fall into its trap. Folks who we can relate to and sympathize with. These people in A Most Unusual Camera are just rather detestable and self-absorbed, living their lives looking for the easy cash. Well, in saying that there are plenty out there that can relate to these three (umm, four counting Hillaire), come to think of it. I don’t know: the episode seems bound and determined to have the characters go out that fucking window. There are plenty of ways to kill them off yet why not just choose the most improbable way possible? And the convenience of Hillaire being French and being able to read the inscription kind of made me laugh. I agree that what happens to these people is karma sentencing them to a just, deserving end to a led life of stealing and robbing, but why not have them bumped off in ways that might make sense and could be just a bit more imaginative? I guess this episode was the “budget conscious” kind…keep the activity of the story and characters in almost one specific location. In some crummy room high above the sidewalk below so that four bodies could meet it in a most unusual way thanks to a most unusual camera.


You know, I can recall few times where you actually see the characters in the same shot as Serling. He almost always seemed to be just away from the principles yet within the setting. While I'm not that crazy about this episode this unique visual decision sets it apart from the majority of the episodes in the series.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Girlfriend Experience- Boundaries

Before I sod off, I have had this on paper for a week! Been either forgetting about it or just avoiding it. Last Thursday night I watche...

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
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.