Sunday, October 1, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: The Countdown to Halloween (Day 1)

If you are new to the “Countdown to Halloween”, then here’s how it goes: Each day of the month of October we bloggers participating will blog about the upcoming holiday of horrors.  It can be as big or detailed as the most well researched article in a professional magazine, or it can be a simple piece of art, a song, or anything that takes one another step closer to Halloween.  In short, it’s just a celebration of the season.

For my part this year, I will be counting down the best "TERROR TEE-VEE" ever to cross the airwaves.  Now, I’m not going to go in any particular order, in fact, I may well be mentioning the best horror show in TV history tonight (THRILLER)—but I’m not judging them in order of greatness, just how I happened to order them to keep it interesting.

Also, since we lost so many great horror icons this past year (William Peter Blatty, Bernie Wrightson, Basil Gogos, Tobe Hooper and George A. Romero), we will be featuring them briefly all month long.  For Mr. Gogos that means that I'll be using his art all month long at the top of my blogs.

And so...
Here we go again—
let the “Countdown” begin!


“As sure as my name is Boris Karloff, this is a Thriller!”

Boris Karloff’s Thriller fits comfortably among such pioneering anthology shows as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Where Serling’s Zone focused more on science fiction allegory, Thriller was more concerned with earthly matters of flesh and bone.

With writing by Robert Bloch, Cornell Woolrich, August Derleth, Richard Matheson and Robert E. Howard, one can see that Thriller—at it’s heart—was a televised version of pulp fiction. Stark settings, dire situations, high drama and the twisted plot in the dark are all elements that worked well for the show.

And though, with it’s mix of crime thrillers and supernatural chillers it was an uneven watch for those tuning in every week to watch, it lasted for two seasons.  And it would have continued on, had it not been for an interesting jealous interloper who murdered it in it’s infancy… Alfred Hitchcock.  That’s right, the innocent looking little film maker felt his show threatened enough by Thriller’s success (it had higher ratings) that he used his considerable power at Universal to axe the show.

But we’re not here about the death of this show, we are here to celebrate a few of it’s greatest efforts!  And, in the humble opinion of this viewer,
these are the top three episodes of Thriller…

Nearly every TV critic puts “Pigeons from Hell” at the top of the list for classic television terrors.  Taking the Robert E. Howard short tale about two stranded travelers who, along with a local sheriff, battle an evil force in an abandonded old plantation house on swampy land, Thriller simply told a gem of a horror tale with great atmosphere that ratchets up the suspense.  And, what do you know, it’s here on the Youtubes:

Next up is “The Hungry Glass”, a kind of haunted house story centered on the allegedly cursed mirrors in the house.  A young couple has purchased the home from a friend and are apprehensive after hearing the rumors about the deaths that are associated with the place.  Adapted from a short story by Robert Bloch, it features William Shatner in a fairly restrained performance that, even as he is drawn into the horror of the house, rings very true.
And, thanks to the mighty, mighty Youtube, it is available here:

I would finally offer up “The Incredible Doktor Markesan”, which is a great dread-filled episode starring the great Boris Karloff.  However, since it isn’t offered to the general public on the Youtube for some strange reason, I will offer another equally creepy episode…

“The Return of Andrew Bentley” is adapted by Richard Matheson and Mark Schorer rom an August Derleth story.  It is about a poor couple seeking financial help from an Uncle who soon dies, leaving them the house and all of his possessions if only they stay in the house and oversee the safety of his dead body.  It’s not long after that Andrew Bentley comes calling… looking for the body.
As per custom, here is that very episode:

Here are a few more in depth articles and blogs on the thrilling spook show that is THRILLER:


Bob Johns said...

Ok added Pigeons from Hell to my watch list. Happy October!

Gary Lee said...

Right back at you, thanks for the comment!

Caffeinated Joe said...

Some great - and spooky - episodes of Thriller. I enjoyed the show, a lot.