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'Possession' was the second episode of Thriller to be aired and
consolidates the impressive beginning made by 'Lady Killer'.
John Carson excels as Ray Burns, a successful businessman who moves into a stylish country house with his wife Penny (played by Joanna Dunham). However the house holds a grim secret which reveals itself as being the site of a shocking murder some twenty years before. Naturally such an event does not occur without consequences and the house gradually takes on a haunted air.
The supporting cast is well served by Hilary Hardiman who plays the psychic medium called in to investigate the strange going-ons and James Cossins as the fussy and officious estate agent Kellet. Many viewers will recognise him as a particularly awkward guest in 'Fawlty Towers'.
The conclusion while not wholly surprising, is entertaining in its lead-up and the overall story makes for compulsive viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first thing I noticed about this excellent episode was how much
like James Mason John Carson sounded, it was quite extraordinary!!
"Possession" starts off in 1953 when a woman is murdered at an isolated
farm house by an unseen man. 20 years later the house is finally sold
to Ray and Penny Burns (Carson and Joanna Dunham) - Ray is beside
himself with glee, he has always been keen to live in this house, Penny
is not sure, in fact she is not at all keen and soon has reason to
suspect her feelings were right.
The odd job man uncovers a skeleton in the cellar, the radio plays old time dance music and suddenly, when rooms begin to look as though a bomb has hit them, Penny calls in a medium. The medium senses an evil presence - usually when Ray is about and it seems that the evil spirit has passed to his body - the eerie whistle, the clicking fingers, the disappearing knives etc. A woman is then found murdered in London and Penny finds one of the stolen rings in his drawer - is Ray a cold blooded killer or is he possessed???
With mediums, seances and eerie happenings I put this episode in the supernatural file. When "Thriller" first aired it had a few "supernatural" episodes ("A Place to Die", "Spell of Evil"), gradually though, it seemed to concentrate more on the "a killer walks among us" type of story. Anyway "Possession" ends in a completely different way. If you have ever seen a particularly famous movie thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, it should become clear!! Joanna Dunham made a very pretty Penny - I could remember her from "Van Der Valk" where she played Arlette.
Videotaped TV thriller is undeniably familiar material, and often looks like one of those low-budget Dan Curtis/supernatural horror flicks popular on television in the '70's. But the British cast is pretty good, and there are some effectively creepy moments. As far as an evening's worth of amateurish entertainment goes, you could do much worse.
A couple buy a house in the countryside not knowing it was a scene of a
brutal murder several years earlier . Right away with a premise like
this and with a title like that you're expecting all types of
supernatural horror . The problem is with THRILLER you get the
impression the show is pulling its punches when it attempts an out and
out supernatural tale almost as if Clemens and co are terrified of the
show being labeled horror . That said I'm not watching the series in
chronological order and had to remind myself this was the second
broadcast episode and the show is probably still trying to find its
The other problem is that not a lot happens and this might be the problem in having a show running in the region of 70 odd minutes an episode . Say what you like about HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR but those episodes had a run time of 50 minutes per episode which meant the storytelling was more compact and streamlined . That show also benefited from being shot on film and while scenes were no doubt written as being spooky and atmospheric with a mysterious whistling of Greensleeves the fact that the episode is filmed on videotape means atmosphere is missing
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