Thriller: Season 1, Episode 3

Someone at the Top of the Stairs (28 Jan. 1975)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 122 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 1 critic

A young woman and her friend rent a room in an old dark mansion. Soon they become aware of the fact that the other "renters" are a very strange lot, and that there are some very odd ... See full summary »




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Title: Someone at the Top of the Stairs (28 Jan 1975)

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Episode credited cast:
David de Keyser ...
Francis Wallis ...
Alethea Charlton ...
Mrs. Oxhey
Brian McGrath ...
Peter Cellier ...
Col. Wright
Clifford Parrish ...
Mr. Patrick
Rhoda Lewis ...
Emma Patrick
Alan Roberto ...
Laura Collins ...
Charles Hill ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Robert Corbet ...


A young woman and her friend rent a room in an old dark mansion. Soon they become aware of the fact that the other "renters" are a very strange lot, and that there are some very odd goings-on in the house that seem to be centered in the attic. Written by

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

28 January 1975 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Chrissie: Marvelous!
Gillian: What?
Chrissie: Marvelous. That is the single most used adjective people use in this house. 'We're going to have a marvelous time here', 'We'll find the room marvelous'.
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User Reviews

Video Tape Sucks!
23 February 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I must be a snob. I certainly admired the work Brian Clemens did on 'The Avengers', and I was impressed with the intelligence of this episode's script, but I found the use of video tape to be cheesy...not to mention jarring when inter-cut with actual filmed sequences.

I must confess, I have recently viewed much of the old black and white 'Thriller' anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff, and I was truly impressed with the fine black and white photography used on this television series. Clemens' own series, 'The Avengers', used film throughout, and the black and white episodes are fine. Although I'm certainly glad that eventually they switched to cover film to photograph the exquisite Diana Rigg.

But film has a language all of its own, and black and white film can almost be poetry. Lighting and moods are beautifully accomplished on film, but what can you possibly infer with video tape?

As far as the episode itself, I found both Donna Mills and Judy Carne not only in their prime, but capable actresses. The story vaguely hints at the wonderful 'The Innocents', the psychological sixties' horror film starring Deborah Kerr. That movie is brilliant, and so much of it has to do with the language of black and white film.

I know that video tape became the medium of many television shows during the seventies. But in a thriller, such as this story, it only detracts from the suspense. You would think video tape would make everything seem more 'real', and perhaps that is part of the problem.

Black and white film looks 'real', which is a contradiction in itself, since we do not see things in black and white. But video tape almost negates any 'mood' a director is trying to create.

And I often think of another contradiction. Sir Alfred Hitchcock, a superb painter of black and white, often nudges his audiences in the shoulder and reminds them that they are watching a movie. His films are full of obvious toy miniatures, his shots at times look surreal. Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam in 'Psycho') floats down the stairs in what looks to me a very contrived fall, at least to my eyes. But it is a perfect instance of Hitchcock reminding you that you are watching a movie.

With video tape, I'm always aware someone is making a 'film'. Maybe I've spent too much time behind a video camera, but I still maintain the medium has no 'language'.

I suspect it is an awful lot cheaper to opt for video tape over film. And video tape has its uses. Many people have mixed opinions about 'The Blair Witch Project'. I suspect many viewers were anticipating a blood and gore fest.

But for me, 'The Blair Witch Project' worked BECAUSE it looked like what it pretended to be...a slipshod video tape recording of teenagers exploring a mysterious wooded area. Granted, this was a one gimmick movie, but it was a gimmick wonderfully realized.

I'm sure there are many viewers and fans of Clemen's 'Thriller' series that do not even give the video taped aspect a thought. They are no doubt younger than me. They might be people who have never sat through a black and white film! Sorry if I bored that audience....

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