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There are many "Thriller" episodes that raise the goosebumps, but the one I will never forget, "La Strega" (Italian for "The Witch") remains to haunt me to this day. Starring the great Jeanette Nolan, Ursula Andress and Alejandro Rey ("The Flying Nun"), it told the story of an artist (Rey) who falls in love with the granddaughter (Andress) of a witch (Nolan). When I saw this, back in the late sixties, it was on late night TV. Just the truly evil appearance of Nolan gave me nightmares for a week. Every few years it would be broadcast again (always late at night) and I would always watch. And the nightmares would return (no other film, TV show or book ever scared me as much} stronger than ever. A few years ago, thirty years since the last time I saw it, it was shown on the Sci-Fi channel. No nightmares this time, but I made a point of making sure every door and window was locked before I went to bed because this time, like all the previous ones, I happened to be alone.
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.
Amazing how many of you remember the "Hungry Glass" episode. I was only about 9 years old at the time, and still vividly remember it as the scariest TV show I ever saw. What astounds me is that, with all the cable channels and all the JUNK programmed on them, they don't seem to find a slot to rerun these Thriller classics. It's a shame.
There's no doubt about it, that this show had some of the eeriest and most
unsettling stories to ever be aired on network TV. However, it would (I
feel), be naive to think this show was the best of its kind. Like other
anthology shows of its genre (NIGHT GALLERY, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, etc.) it
suffers from a hodgepodge of dull scripts, mixed in with some genuinely
effective ones. While the good on this series could be really good, the
weaker shows could be insufferably boring. As a horror/fantasy enthusiast,
it's those shows which I enjoy the most from this series, but the
non-horror, the crime "thriller"s, those are generally a
That aside, the horror segments on this show are some of the best ever done for television. Very moody, atmospheric pieces, suitably filmed in black and white. I suppose one could say that this series is what THE TWILIGHT ZONE would have been like, had it been a horror show, or what NIGHT GALLERY would have been like, had it been in black and white. Boris Karloff introduces each segment, in his usual drawl, but although he does fairly well at that, he doesn't have quite the same eerie restraint that Serling had on his series'.
Among some of the better segments on this show, that I enjoy:
"The Weird Tailor": Extremely clever story, with perhaps the most chilling final moments of any of the THRILLER episodes.
"A Wig for Miss Devore": One of Patricia Barry's best roles, and one of THRILLER's best shows.
"The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk": Jo Van Fleet is great in this one, as is John Carradine. This plays like a dark comedy...twisted and fun.
"The Cheaters": Most remember the final moments from this episode, but the whole show is very well done.
Definitely a series worth checking out for horror fans, and those who appreciate quality television. It's a shame this series doesn't get enough of the credence it deserves. It's not perfect, but it's certainly not without its laurels.
"Thriller" in the 60's would air on the Local NBC affiliate, Saturday nights at 9 PM. Of all the episodes, and I think I saw them all, had to be "A Wig for Ms. DeVore". Following Marie Antoinette's execution on the gallows, her hair was removed and made into a wig. The owners, of which there were many, all fell under a horrifying curse.For those of you who might come across this episode, BEWARE of the ending. If there was ever an episode of "Thriller" that would cause one to hide their eyes, this has to be the one, hands down.
Even tho I was about 8 years old at the time, I can still vividly recall
this series, which used to scare the crap out
I especially remember (as mentioned by the other reviewer) the episode "the Hungry Glass"; MAN! Was it scary! If anyone knows where I can get a copy of this episode, PLEASE let me know!
Several years ago, several episoded were re-issued, but the only memorable ones were the one with William Shatner with the picture of the Grim Reaper, and the one about the man who was buried alive. A disappointing collection.
I hope that they release MORE episodes in the future!
This was one of the first television "horror anthology" shows. It came on before Twilight Zone and Night Gallery and Tales From The Crypt. Boris Karloff was a wonderful host. He probably scared more people then any other horror star in history. He hosted the show and also acted in it on occasion. I saw the episodes in syndication and didn't think they had aged at all. They had the highest quality horror writers turn out the best scripts and it clicked magnificently. One episode I remember was one with Dick York were Boris was a mad scientist and turned Dick's wife into a zombie before he could rescue her. The final scene showed him screaming in horror at the sight of his zombie bride. I saw that episode as a nine year old and it scared the bejesus out of me. Another episode was one called Yours Truly Jack The Ripper based on a short story by Robert Bloch (he's the man who wrote Psycho). It had a really neat twist at the end. They didn't use gory special effects on the show and a lot of big name stars got their start on it. They should put it out on video like they did with The Twilight Zone so a new generation can enjoy it and say "They don't do it like that anymore".
I was 11 years old when I had the fortunate (though for the sleepless week that followed I didn't think I was so lucky) when I saw the episode 'The Hungry Glass'...of course, being a kid generated its own fright quotient. Certainly 43 years later I could see the same show and laugh at it---maybe. I'll just say this, the sight of the spectres in that damnable mirror has never quite left me...much like the Banshee outside Darby O'Gill's door which I saw at about the same period in my life, causing me to wonder if mere acting can ever work up such emotional involvement again. Or as we age does life's humdrum banish true horrors to some remote chamber we've lost the key to?
Boris Karloffs' prelude monologue and narratives for "Thriller" provided the absolute best in issuing the most "spine-tingling", "white-knuckler" scariest series, next to One Step Beyond, on television!!! Unlike Twilight Zone;OuterLimits; Hitchcock; X-Files and Tales from the Crypt which provided some humorous/light-hearted episodes for the "faint of heart"! Thriller and "O.S.B." kept us scared out of our wits every week and hungry for more!!! NOTHING has ever come close to those series....often wondered why...maybe too many wimps and censors around now..too bad!!! Does anyne know where they sell those series??
To this day, Karloff's brilliant 60's THRILLER ranks the highest. It also
still scares all hell out of me. Do you need a more glowing recommendation
Many of the excellent stories were taken from the 'Weird Tales' pulp magazines, and it was that rare case that the writer's adaptations actually surpassed the original bizarre plots. Usually, it's the opposite aggrevations. The notable authors consisted of Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Augest Derelith, Cornell ('Rear Window') Woolrich, John D. MacDonald ('Cape Fear'), Philip McDonald and Poe; etc. Also, Donald S. Sanford (the 'Outer Limit's' "The Guests" episode) wrote many outstanding scripts for the show. One was 'Ordeal of Dr. Cordell' as a pre-UNCLE Robert Vaughn appears as a scientist who gets exposed to a deadly nerve gas. He survives, but whenever he hears the sound of a bell, he goes beserk and commits brutal murders. The frightening ending in the bell tower is excruciating. Their only foray into Science-Fiction, complete with a dark and forboding 'Outer Limits' mood.
Other memorable episodes were:
1) THE CHEATERS - a Bloch tale about a pair of accursed eye glasses, and the devastating effects they have on those who put them on. A true paranoia excursion into hell.
2) THE GRIM REAPER - another Bloch story about a grusome painting that carries a deadly curse. Stars a 'pre-Kirk' William Shatner. A thoroughly chilling score from Jerry "Alien" Goldsmith.
3) WAXWORKS - Bloch again. A creepy wax museum of infamous murders may be responsible for a few grisly murders. Superb script is a clever blending of the film noir mystery crossed with the supernatural horror genres. A great performance from Oscar "Mr. Sardonicus" Homolka & a "pre-Tarzan" Ron Ely.
4) PIGEONS FROM HELL - scary Robert E. Howard story about two teenage brothers who end up having to spend the night in an old, deserted southern mansion. They soon learn the meaning of 'regret'.
I'll stop here, and encourage you to check out this haunting memorable show.
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