Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thriller Part 1

Thriller was a tv anthology show that ran between 1960 and 1962. It started out mostly in the same line of stories as Alfred Hitchcock presents but the did a left turn into the twilight zone. More "Weird Stories" actually, going for a gothic horror feel. It was a perfectly logical thing given that the host was Boris Karloff. It's a good Boris too, not the sick Boris of a few years later. You can tell he still loves acting.

The show itself is a fun trip into memory lane. First off, black and white. How can you beat black and white ladies and gentlemen? It instantly helps set the stark mood of the stories. Then you have the credits which are sort of mod with straight lines suddenly cutting across the screen, but then it also reminds me of cracked glass or a spiderweb. Over that is strong, strong music. Very emotional, with a bongo beat. It was like William S. Burroughs doing a voodoo ritual.

There would be a scene to set the story. Karloff would then appear, as Karloff by the way not some unnamed narrator, and he'd give a spiel to set the story up more. Then they would introduce the players often with literal head shots. All this had only just a hint of camp, it mostly came off as just plain classy.

As you can tell I have some fond memories of this show, so its a pleasure to finally see it again in DVD. Like many older properties it has not appeared in DVD heretofore because of the idiocy of "Rights, rights, who owns the rights." Well things have FINALLY been sorted out and I'm pigging out right now.

The most interesting episode so far has been "The Premature Burial." It is a straight up adaption of Poe with a few added twists. It's interesting, more interesting besides the story itself that is, because it came out at the same time as Corman's movie of the same material. Also, it's one of the few Thrillers that Boris stepped down from narrator to join in the fun. Here he is Dr. Thorn and manages to shock the not so dead corpse back to life with steam punk shock pads. Feeling responsible after saving his life the good doctor helps his patient get over his fear of being buried alive again with elaborate plans to protect against it. Unfortunately, those plans hinge on the wife being a good and loving wife. In this sort of story?? HA! Before you can say "Michael Jackson's thriller," the poor guy is put in the ground again and the wife is making whoopee (this is sixties tv) with the handsome young stud. Someone is going to come back from the grave very annoyed.

It's a great little hour of television and Boris adds a lot to the story. One never knew exactly how good the good doctor was, which added to the suspense. Like every episode of thriller this is very moodily lit, with a great music score. Definitely if you can add this show to ye olde netflick line do so!

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