|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was really only coincidence that I had just watched Kolchak, the Night Stalker before checking out this episode of "The Hitchhiker", an HBO anthology series in the vein of The Twilight Zone, even having an enigmatic hitchhiker introducing the tales like Rod Serling. Darren McGavin never speaks which is odd because he's a delight in the right role, but in an odd change, he's a menace (!), an old, unidentified man found lying in the rubble of a collapsed building, wearing a signet ring that attracts loathsome nursing home nurse, Jane Reynolds (Margot Kidder, expert at playing a nasty bitch, here portraying an abusive night shift nurse who enjoys victimizing her patients), typically taking prized jewelry from the elderly patients, giving them to her beau, Johnny (Stephen McHattie; Pontypool), a no-good hustler who owes debts, never keeping them. Jane is such a hissable heel, you will revel when she gets her just desserts. There's nothing spectacular here, but the principles play their roles well, even if Kidder and McHattie's are basically caricatures. Hearing McGavin breathing heavily, as if a fire-breathing dragon sleeping until the right time before he will awaken to destroy, is just so unusual; I think this will be enough to warrant a viewing of this rather insignificant episode, "Nightshift". The old age make-up on McGavin is painfully obvious because director Phillip Noyce (Salt; Patriot Games) shoots a bit too close in certain scenes showing him sleeping seemingly deeply. Margot pretty much plays Jane one way: a wretched soul who gets what's coming to her. McHattie summons easily the vile petty thief always looking for another score. How the elders respond when their tyrant is put in her place is quite satisfying considering how poorly they were treated.
This "Hitchhiker" episode is nothing special just a tale that falls along the lines of the theme that most mystery shows have and that is bad people get what they deserve. "Nightshift" has Margot Kidder as a night nurse at an elderly folks home and she treats the old like dirt, then one night a new patient(Darren McGavin) arrives an old man with a red ring on. This ring seems to give him special powers but evil powers, and this wicked witch of a nurse has finally cared for the wrong patient! In the end it's a dose of her own mean medicine! Good that this episode had two acting legends in Darren McGavin and Margot Kidder their work is always respected, and it was needed here to carry this rather weak story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mean head nurse Jane Reynolds (well played to cold-hearted bitchy perfection by Margot Kidder) runs the night shift at a retirement home with an iron fist and makes some extra cash selling valuable jewelry owned by the elderly residents to local pawnshops. Jane and her no-count aspiring singer boyfriend Johnny (the always excellent Stephen McHattie) meet their match in the form of a mysterious new old man patient (a creepy mute portrayal by Darren McGavin of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" fame), who exacts a harsh revenge on the pair when they try to steal his sparkling gold diamond ring. Director Phillip Noyce ably creates a supremely spooky atmosphere and makes the most out of the uncanny supernatural vampire central element that becomes more increasingly scary and unnerving as it culminates in one of the show's trademark grisly and uncompromisingly downbeat shock endings. Kidder, McGavin, and McHattie all do sterling work in the lead roles; they receive fine support from Kenneth Gordon as the browbeaten Mr. Loring and Enid Saunders as doddery wheelchair-bound cripple Mrs. MacDonald. William Darrid's script delivers a relevant message about how you reap what you sow. Michel Rubini's spine-tingling score and the shadowy cinematography by Reginald H. Morris further enhance the overall flesh-crawling ooga-booga mood of this genuinely frightening episode.
Margot Kidder is Jane Reynolds, a stone cold bitch of a nurse at a
retirement home. When she's not robbing the clientèle, she's having an
affair with Johnny (Stephen McHattie) who's also her cohort in crime.
However one night when a mysterious old man shows up played by the late
great Darren McGavin, to give the two hideous people their just
desserts. If not for McGavin (whom isn't given much to do really), this
episode would be extremely lackluster. As it is, it's still pretty bad,
but it's always a pleasure to watch Darren in anything he does even if
it's a really bad episode of a cultish TV show. This is one of the
episodes that can be found on Volume 1 of the US release of the
Hitchhiker (why the couldn't release season sets like Canada is beyond
me). It also has optional commentary by Director Phillip Noyce & Lewis
Chesler (who produced 2 episodes of the series, but neither one of them
is this, so I don't really get his inclusion)
My Grade: D+
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