Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 26

On April 26th 2006, Paul Daniels purchased an 18 DVD Box Set of Boris Karloff presents THRILLER. You don't have to be a magician to work out that this is completely up Paul's street... it contains all 67 episodes in their original airing order and each DVD gas a main menu screen allowing you to go to any episode you like at the touch of a button. Exactly as you'd expect from this collector's edition box set.

Here's what he bought:
VOLUME 1 Episode # 1 The Twisted Image (September 13, 1960) A pair of deranged temporary employees seek permanent positions. George Grizzard is excellent as the psychopathic mail clerk, as is Leslie Nielsen as the smug yuppie precursor who finds out corporate society isn’t always buttoned down to reality.
Episode #2 Childs Play (September 20, 1960) A young boy with an unhappy home life gets dangerously absorbed in his imagination.
Episode #3 Worse Than Murder (September 27, 1960) An embittered widow seeks revenge on her mother-in-law, using her dead husband’s diary as the motive for blackmail. A gutsy, hard-boiled performance by Constance Ford; Cleveland Amory panned this segment as being “worse than murder” in hit TV Guide column back in 1960.
Episode #4 Mark of the Hand (October 4, 1960) An eight-year-old girl is accused of murdering a man, and then trying to kill him again after she failed the first time. This episode required two directors – something almost unheard of in television filming.
Episode #5 Rose’s Last Summer (October 11, 1960) When an aging film actress dies under mysterious circumstances, a friend and her former husband try to unlock the secret to her death. Mary Astor stars in the role of Rose French.
Episode #6 The Guilty Men (October 18, 1960) Everett Sloane gives a fine performance as a former mobster who tries to go straight. Again, no horror story but Hubbel Robinson had said that the writers’ strike was the main reason the early scripts weren’t living up to the name of the series.
Episode #7 The Purple Room (October 25, 1960) This is the first episode of the series to criss-cross suspense with the supernatural. The audience is left guessing as to whether or not there had been an actual haunting. Rip Torn gives a great cynical performance as an heir to a fortune if he spends the night in a haunted house. Believing his cousins are after the house themselves, he is determined not to be frightened out of his inheritance….But is the house really haunted? The setting, incidentally, was the original house used in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, which even today, still resides on the Universal lot.
Episode #8 The Watcher (November 1, 1960) This was the first directorial effort by John Brahm, who would helm many episodes of the series. Some nice kids are bugged by a born-again homicidal maniac. Watch for the infamous scene with the man squeezed to death by a car lift. Stephen King once recalled with fondness in a recent issue of TV Guide he described as “what happy memories!”
Episode #9 Girl With A Secret (November, 15, 1960) Espionage involving covert arms sales seems almost out of place for a program of this sorts, but count on Charles Beaumont to bring us an enjoyable romp. Beaumont also wrote teleplays for THE TWILIGHT ZONE, including some of the show’s most memorable episodes.
Episode #10 The Prediction (November 22, 1960) Boris Karloff doesn’t just host, he actually has the starring role in this episodes, the first of five Karloff would do for the sake of clever scripts. For this episode, Karloff is a stage act mentalist who discovers that he really can see the future. For special effects, keep an eye on KaRloff’s face as it dissolves when his ESP acts up.
Episode #11 The Fatal Impulse (November 29, 1960) Elisha Cook is a mad bomber loose in the city during election time. A young Mary Tyler Moore co-stars in this episode.
Episode #12 The Big Blackout (December, 6, 1960) Talk about hangovers – this episode isn’t even worth talking about. Regrettably, the worst episode of the series – but thankfully, they get better from here on in.
Episode #13 Knock Three-Two-One (December 13, 1960) A well crafted crime/suspense episode with Warren Oates as a would-be psycho killer. A compulsive gambler in debt to the mob attempts a bizarre scheme to raise the cash.
Episode #14 Man In The Middle Werner Klemperer (Col. Klink of HOGANS’ HEROES) plays a ruthless kidnapper in this thriller. Comedian Mort Sahl is in good form as an unlikely hero caught up in a kidnap scheme.
Episode #15 The Cheaters (December 27, 1960) Antique spectacles posses the peculiar power of revealing the odd things on people’s minds – but their use leads to madness. Henry Daniel’s all-too-brief appearance as the Alchemist in the beginning was his first of many brief appearances of other THRILLER episodes. It features the single most horrific make-up job in the entire series, courtesy of Jack Barron. This episode is considered one of the top ten episodes of the series.
Episode #16 The Hungry Glass (January 3, 1961) A haunted cliff house almost makes the house in episode four look inviting! Undead souls lurk in mirrors with scary special effects. William Shatner gives an excellent performance, and Karloff makes a grand entrance dressed in Edwardian clothing.
Episode #17 The Poisoner (January 10, 1961) This is a late 1800’s period piece about an art collector tortured by others’ lack of good taste. To alleviate his frustrations, he poisons them in a most efficacious manner and defaces a painting of his wife with crossed lines similar to the THRILLER titles.
Episode #18 Man In A Cage (January 17, 1961) Diana Millay, a Dark Shadows regular, co-stars in this odd tale of intrigue involving heroin in distant Tangiers. If you are expecting any horror from this episode, don’t count on it.
Episode #19 Choose A Victim (January 24, 1961) Susan Oliver is a slumming heiress, and fast talking Larry Blyden is an unwardly mobile beach bum. But watch out for someone tampering with another’s automobile and Billy Barty as that tough little Carnie Barker.
Episode #20 Hay-Fork And Bill-Hook (February 7, 1961) Ancient Druidic goings-on in backwoods England. An especially atmospheric and chilling opening teaser.
Episode #21 The Meriwether File (February 14, 1961) Betrayed wife allows husband to die for her crime. Very good direction by John Braham in the German expressionist/film-noir style.
Episode #22 The Fingers of Fear (February 21, 1961) Child murderer lures little girls with a talking doll. Yearh that still goes on today but this episode goes down as one the sickest psycho/crime episodes. Thankfully the onscreen violence is committed on a doll.
Episode #23 Well Of Doom (February 28, 1961) Tour de force performance given by Henry Daniell wearing over-the-top make up similar to Chaney’s LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. Check out the scenes of the fog enshrouded moors where a demonic duo menace and murder their hapless prey.
Episode #24 The Ordeal of Dr. Cordell (March 7, 1961) Brilliant scientist goes into a frenzy whenever bells ring. Stars pre-Napoleon Solo Robert Vaughn as the psycho killer.
Episode #25 Trio For Terror (March 14, 1961) Three tales of suspense. The first is the weirdest starring terrence de Marney as a Magi who returns from the dead. The other two tales are comical in one aspect, but still chilling to the bone. Episode #26 Papa Benjamin (March 21, 1961) Voodoo curse brings a down-beat ending for a talented musician. Jazzy and atmospheric. One of a handful of episodes based on a Cornell Woolrich story. Episode #27 Fighting against them, a fast-thinking man sweats bullets trying desperately to prevent the older brother from being caught for a justifiable homicide. Episode #28 Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper (April 11, 1961) The infamous Ripper maintains his youth into the twentieth century by ritual killing. Noteworthy music by Jerry Goldsmith, similar to his List of Adrian Messenger (1963) score.
Episode #29 The Devil’s Ticket (April 18, 1961) A wry twist on the deal-with-the-devil theme. No exaggerated make up job here, as they did on THE TWILIGHT ZONE. John Emery’s voice and gestures alone are suitable satanic. The story is lightened by Robert Bloch’s tongue-in-cheek dialogue.
Episode #30 Parasite Mansion (April 25, 1961) A woman is imprisoned in a ramshackle manor where evil prevails. Her tenuous escape route leads up creaky, spider web-covered stairs to another prisoner in a far worse predicament.
Episode #31 A Good Imagination (May 2, 1961) Edward Andrews is thoroughly amusing as a cheated on husband who cleverly punishes his wife and her two lovers. If it wasn’t for the fact that this script was form the typewriter of Robert Bloch, we might otherwise think this as a droll episode.
Episode #32 Mr. George (May 9, 1961) A guardian from beyond saves a child from her wicked relatives. A macabre fairy tale that strikes a universal chord, especially the ending.
Episode #33 Terror In Teakwood (May 16, 1961) An Egocentric musician steals the hands from the corpse of his arch rival. What he chooses to do with the hands isn’t half as gruesome as what the hands choose to do with him! Interesting trivia: After shooting the teaser, an appreciative crew broke into applause, inspired by Reggie Nalder’s climatic scene.
Episode #34 Prisoner In The Mirror (May 23, 1961) An evil sorcerer hypnotizes woman, borrows bodies, kills them, then retreats to a bewitched mirror. An exceptionally immortal tale of what happens when innocence uncovers this mirror, how it affects them, and their attempts to destroy the sorcerer once and for all.
Episode #35 Dark Legacy (May 30, 1961) A magician leaves his nephew an accursed book on the black arts. A superb music score by Jerry Goldsmith, and an on target performance by Harry Townes and Henry Silva.
Episode #36 Pigeons From Hell (June 6, 1961) Two young brothers seeking shelter for the night find death behind their footsteps. Perhaps the single most remembered episode from the series. Even the daylight looks ominously dark in their weird, primal tale. One of the many spooky moments includes the lantern that keeps going dim whenever it’s carried into the strange house. “The stories on THRILLER were really scary, and amazingly graphic. I still have fond memories of guy staggering down the stairs of a haunted house, and a hatchet in his head,” recalled Stephen King just a few years ago.
Episode #37 The Grim Reaper (June 13, 1961) Gruesome legend about a painting so evil that whoever owns it will meet the fate of the reaper. William Shatner gives a fine performance as the nephew who warns his Aunt to sell the painting before it’s too late. Of course, the legend proves to be true. Thriller’s first season closed not with a bang, but with a whimper: one caught in the throat of a terrified William Shatner.
Episode #38 What Beckoning Ghost? (September 18, 1961) The premiere episode of the 2nd season finds a woman so cleverly frightened to death by her cheating spouse, that only THRILLER fans know that the dead rarely rest peacefully. This was the first of five episodes directed by Ida Lupino.
Episode #39 Guillotine (September 25, 1961) Poisoned pancakes are consumed by a nevertheless punctual executioner. Quick cuts between the events provide ironic twists throughout. A fine adaptation of a story by Cornell Woolrich. This was also directed by Ida Lupino.
Episode #40 The Premature Burial (October 2, 1961) The classic tale by Edgar Allan Poe is adapted for this THRILLER production which also takes a few cues from Clark Ashton Smith’s WEIRD TALES entry “The Second Internment.” Boris Karloff isn’t just the host, he also stars (one of five episodes in which Karloff would act as well as host) as the wise doctor who plays on the hysterical fears of a gold digger and her lover.
Episode # 41 The Weird Taylor (October 16, 1961) Bereaved father attempts to resurrect his son by the use of the Mysteries of the Worm, a rare book said to have been burned with its owners years ago! Written by Robert Block, who later reused this same story in the all-Bloch anthology film ASYLUM (1972). This version is better!
Episode #42 God Grant That She Lye Still (October 23, 1961) Ghost of a vampire witch possesses the body of a living descendant. Henry Daniell plays the vicar whose ancestor long ago burned the witch at the stake. Victor Buono has a brief part. For those who love horror tales, take pleasure in knowing that not everyone lives happily ever after!
Episodes #43 Masquerade (October 30, 1961) A honeymooning young couple takes refuge at an old hotel when caught in a storm. An old woman is heard laughing insanely in the attic though the raggedy clothed innkeeper (John Carradine) denies anything is amiss. The solution to the old dark house mystery? Possibly vampire bats. Originally aired on October 30, 1961, the Halloween-eve debut of this segment was more than appropriate.
Episode #44 The Last Of The Summervilles (November 6, 1961) Murder and treachery hasten an inheritance. Karloff is alright as the clever Dr. Farnum, and Marita Hunt (from BRIDES OF DRACULA) as the eccentric aunt has the best scene when she’s electrocuted in the bathtub. This was Karloff’s third episode in which he acted a role.
Episode #45 Letter To A Lover (November 13, 1961) When a doctor is murdered two of the chief suspects, a husband and wife, seem to be auucsing each other of insanity – which one of them is correct?
Episode #46 A Third For Pinochle (November 20, 1961) A man plans to murder his wife using his noey neighbors for an alibi – but the eccentric ladies across the street may have a trick or two up there sleeves.
Episode #47 The Closed Cabinet (November 27, 1961) A ghost wanders the halls with a knife in hand, and only by solving a 300 year old riddle can the curse be lifted and peace be restored. This was the third of five episodes directed by Ida Lupino.
Episode #48 Dialogues With Death (December 4, 1961) Two thrilling short stories involving the dead or dying who are quite communicative. Boris Karloff stars in both segments, his fourth episode in which he acted a role.
Episode #49 The Return of Andrew Bentley (December 11, 1961) Demonic spirits return from the grave. John Newland, the host of ONE STEP BEYOND, directs and stars in this episode, as the heir to a haunted mansion. Terrence De Marney plays Bently’s arch-rival in the black arts. Don’t miss the wild solo on pipe organ that ends on a rather sour note!
Episode #50 The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk (December 18, 1961) A mysterious, lonely woman who raises prize hogs on her farm is in truth the ancient goddess Circe. John Carradine co-stars with Jo Van Fleet, and the tortured screams of Bruce Dern being turned in to a pig start off this delightful segment.
Episode #51 Portrait Without A Face (December 18, 1961) A murderer is gradually revealed by a rather unusual method: an artist complete his final painting posthumously, gradually revealing his killer’s identity.
Episode # 52 An Attractive Family (January 1, 1962) Need money? Try killing off insured relatives. This black comedy was one of THRILLER’s strongest assets, unlike most of TWILIGHT ZONE’s humor. The eerie prologue to this episode gives a little hint of the hilarity to follow.
Episode #53 Waxworks (January 8, 1962) Wax figures coming to life in order to kill is an oft used theme, yet here is a fresh treatment by Robert Bloch, combined with great over the top acting by Oscar Homolka and Martin Kosleck. Peter Lorre was even considered for the lead role, but turned the offer down.
Episode #54 La Strega (January 15, 1962) Our favorite old witch Jeanette Nolan is back at her old haunt of fear, stirring up a ghastly brew. Ursula Andress, in top physical form, rounds out this romantic tale of lovers fleeing from a terrifying corpse.
Episode #55 The Storm (January 22, 1962) Alone in a remote house, a woman attempts to escape from a sick killer. One of the better non-supernatural episodes of the series.
Episode #56 A Wig For Miss Devore (January 29, 1962) A witch’s wig made from the hairs of victims transforms frumpy has-beens into ravishing beauties in seconds. Of course, the reverse is also true – in spades! Masterful macabre make up by Jack Barron tops it off.
Episode #57 The Hollow Watcher (February 12, 1962) Scarecrow comes to life to exact revenge on adulterers deserving punishment. Backwoods legends are always a great source for spooky stories, and this is no exception.
Episode #58 Cousin Tundifer (February 19, 1962) Another segment that might have been at home in the TWILIGHT ZONE. A time warp into a checkered past opens for a family of eccentrics, but only the greedy nephew knows it exists. The perfect punishment fit’s the perfect crime, all in due time (no pun intended).
Episode #59 The Incredible Doktor Markesan (February 26, 1962) Karloff did not just host the series, he also acted in 5 of the episodes. This was his fifth and final acting performance and it’s a tour-de-force role as the undead professor who secretly reanimates deceased rival colleagues for after midnight interrogations. Possibly the most gruesome of all the terror segments, Boris nevertheless has some rather dry one liners and seems to be enjoying himself thoroughly.
Episode #60 Flowers Of Evil (March 5, 1962) Take a class in Murder 101 at the Academy of Arvonne. Beaudelaire is required reading. A rather dreary period piece, but worth watching for THRILLER FANS.
Episode #61 Till Death Do Us Part (March 12, 1962) Go West young undertaker! Henry Jones gets his turn at droll humor in this Robert Block yarn.
Episode #62 The Bride Who Died Twice (March 19, 1962) Poetic tale of a fatal romance. Desperate to escape an evil despot and his henchmen, a young woman deigns suicide. She flees with her lover only to have to repeat the experience in earnest. Effective torture scenes are assured by director Ida Lupono. This was the final episode produced for THRILLER, but aired in a different sequence from the production numbers.
Episode #63 Kill My Love (March 26, 1962) Here’s one for those who enjoy crime/suspense segments. A neurotic family man kills anyone who threatens his family relations, including his family itself! Morality goes in and out the window. Richard Carlson hams it up for this episode. Donald Sanford, who wrote the episode “The Cheaters,” scripted this one.
Episode #64 Man Of Mystery (April 2, 1962) A ruthless tycoon hides behind fictitious corporate identity in order to savor beautiful women vicariously, until the inevitable when he steps out form behind the curtain. Mary Tyler Moore even sings!
Episode #65 The Innocent Bystanders (April 9, 1962) Loosely based on the infamous Buke and Hare grave robbing case history. Watch out for George Kennedy playing his meanest-ever role as an impromptu corpse deliverer.
Episode #66 The Lethal Ladies (April 16, 1962) Two short horror stories, both directed by Ida Lupono, the first lady of film-noir.
Episode #67 The Specialists (April 30, 1962) This was an unannounced pilot for an unnamed discarded series years ahead of its time (a pre-cursor to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE). Since the producers could not air it as a pilot, they used the film as an episode of THRILLER. Though not truly a thriller in the sense of the word, a violent bombing made the show go out with a bang, not a whimper.
BONUS DVD (Several very nice Karloff Television Gems)

Paul paid a wopping $119.99 (approximately £64.24) for this bumper pack of Boris Karloff related TV thrillers ending the auction early by using the 'Buy It Now' button at 9.47 am.

Yet again we accrue more evidence for Paul's excellence as an ebayer as the seller eskelton1 left feedback for Paul saying "GREAT EBAYER A++++" (note the capitalisation and the four pluses!) Paul has not yet left feedback for the seller.

We all know by now that Paul is a big fan of the horror/thriller genre and I'm sure that he will enjoy watching all 18 of the DVDs contained in this Thriller box set. Not a lot!

No comments: