Adrian Gall (Robert Hardy) is one of the true great Shakespearean actors in the world. He has had a legendary career that seen him travel the world in various productions of the bard. After a decade of retirement, marred slightly by unsavoury speculation concerning an acting rival, Gall finds himself troubled by haunting dreams in which he believes that during his last performance as Macbeth in Venice, (a city that had seen many acting triumphs from him) something was stolen from his dressing room during the rapturous standing ovation. His wife who was also a renowned actress in the production, tells him that nothing was taken, nevertheless Gall continues to be troubled by this fact and endeavours to make a return to the great watery city to once and for all end his nightmare.
Once back in the timeless city, Gall feels his loss even more, with a growing sense of being robbed of life itself. In a waterside bar of ill repute he meets up with an old friend from his past, an ardent fan and now Prefect of Police(Lee Montague). The Prefect is bemused by Gall's rather rude demands to return what is rightly his, but promises to investigate further, despite the passing of time. Gall is then bemused in return by the Prefect's query after his wife's health after her bad fall during that last performance had hospitalized her, a fact that seems lost on Gall. Someone is surely not telling the truth? While he awaits the results of the investigation, he bumps into an old flame, a very youthful Leonora(Sinéad Cusack), an actress he had loved dearly, but his real surprise is that he believed she was dead, he is overjoyed to find her alive and they spend almost every evening together, laughing, reminiscing and acting out their favourite scenes from past glories. Gall is shocked though by a sudden revelation from Leonora, confused he kills the Prefect in a fit of rage. He confides his crime with Leonora, only to be further shocked by another devastating reality. It is this story that Gall regales to the Club of the Damned
Welcome one and all to the Club of the Damned, a Club for Gentleman of a certain disposition. Once a week the members meet in the dimly lit club, they smoke cigars and sip on a port of fine vintage, while awaiting their entertainment, the aspirant is then admitted and must regale the members with a true supernatural event that they have personal experience of. If the members believe the story, the aspirant is admitted as a full member, if but one member denies its truthful credentials, the aspirant is condemned to death. Supernatural was a Gothic anthology series of 8 episodes, that I remember fondly from what I believe was its only run back in 1977. Why there wasn't a second series, I only learned in later life, was because it wasn't received very well at the time, mainly due I guess, to its rather cheap budgetary restraints and its rather dark visuals, it undoubtedly was a hard sell to the Star Wars generation. As with most TV Horror from Britain the show was blessed each week with a host of fine actors, amongst them, Jeremy Brett, Billie Whitelaw, Ian Hendry and Gordon Jackson. The first episode was Ghost of Venice and starred the great Robert Hardy as Adrian Gall, I think its fair to say that he is riveting in the role, portraying his troubles, fear and anger through demented eyes as he delivers some stirring words with a great passion. The production is well scripted and is rather slow going for a modern audience, again giving rise to some solid character development. The initial big revelation may not come as a surprise to many more insightful viewers, but the second twist is gloriously played out in front of the Club members. It's a decent opening episode, one that I remember well from its first airing, Gall's cloaked figure donning a skeletal mask and lurking through the darkened alleyways being a memorable scene that still struck a chord with me today, although not as scary as it was when I was a child. Supernatural as a series was undoubtedly a failure in most peoples eyes, but for me it had a great premise and some solid stories, well told. The opening credits of gargoyles combined with the loud brash church organ chords are very memorable and will immediately strike a chord for those who have seen it before. Lovers of Gothic horror will surely find some solace in these old stories told the old fashioned way.
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