Anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff that originally told ordinary tales of crime and mystery, but later became a showcase for gothic horror stories, many of which were based on works ... See full summary »
Anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff that originally told ordinary tales of crime and mystery, but later became a showcase for gothic horror stories, many of which were based on works by authors such as Cornell Woolrich, Robert Bloch and Charlotte Armstrong. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
Karloff's classic 60's 'Thriller' was a rare, haunting gem of some of the scariest horror stories, written by the best authors of the genre. It's 'trademark' was its logo lines that would come in and out before and after the commercial breaks.
Veteran directors such as John Brahm ("Hangover Square") employed dark, baroque german expressionism to evoke a creepy, ominous mood of paranoia. Newcomer, Jerry "Alien" Goldsmith's eerie soundtracks were unsettling and morbidly effective. (Wish it was available on CD).
Karloff's intros were congenial and sinister, and helped to set the stage for the truly suspenseful and frightening tales. He also appeared in a few episodes such as 'Premature Burial', 'Last of the Sommerviles' (with Martita Hunt from "Brides of Dracula") and 'Incredible Dr. Markeson' with Dick "Bewitched" York. The zombies and dank atmosphere of 'Markesan' seemed like a pre-cursor to "Night of the Living Dead." Ending was truly terrifying.
A pre-Kirk William Shatner appeared in two outstanding episodes; 'The Hungry Glass' with Russell "professor" Johnson and 'The Grim Reaper with Natalie "Lovey" Shaffer. Both were written by Robert "Psycho" Bloch and were genuine supernatural classics.
Robert Arthur wrote 'Prisoner in the Mirror' where researcher Lloyd Bochner ends up trapped in a mirror by evil magician Henry "The Body Snatcher" Daniell. The conclusion was unexpected and quite disturbing - something Hollywood would never have the balls to do today with all its "play it safe" and PC crap.
Feminists may find it interesting to know that THRILLER was one of the first shows that had a woman director. It was Ida Lupino, who did a marvelous job on superb episodes like 'La Strega'; that featured a pre-Bond Ursula Andress and Jeanette "The Big Heat" Nolan, who convincingly played the most horrifying witch imaginable. Had a very hard-hitting surprise ending that was not easily forgotton.
Mz. Lupino also created Hitchcockian suspense in Cornell "Rear Window" Woolrich's 'Guilotine', which has a true kicker ending. Fine performance from Robert Middleton as the sensitive romantically jilted executioner.
'Trio for Terror' was another great Lupino-entry which was a trilogy of three short horror tales; among them, "The Extra Passenger" which had the chilling atmosphere of J. Tourneau's "Curse of the Demon." Clever use of subtlety, which we no longer have today.
John "One Step Beyond" Newland directed Robert E. Howard's 'Pigeons from Hell' with Brandon De Wilde, who, with his young brother, spend a memorable night in a old run-down southern mansion. A true terrifying classic and a masterpiece of atmosphere.
There were many more exceptional episodes that need to be re-discovered due to their great, timeless classic merits.
THRILLER was a genuine one-of-a-kind show, and a soaring tribute to the horror genre. There were also many memorable crime episodes that are worth your attention as well; written by top people such as John D. MacDonald ("Cape Fear"), Lionel White ("The Killing"), Fredric Brown, Philip McDonald; etc. Some of the darkest film noir with the most downbeat of endings. Also, there were occasions where episodes would do a criss-cross of the crime and horror genres to great suspenseful effect.
Make it a top priority to check out this remarkable classic series which Stephen King also had the highest praise for.
THRILLER was (and still is) the best of its kind. Needs a revival and full DVD release. Check the thread on the 'Classic TV' message board.
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