Reviews & Ratings for
"Tales of the Unexpected" The Landlady (1979)

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Classic horror themed Tales of the Unexpected story.

Author: Paul Andrews ( from UK
23 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tales of the Unexpected: The Landlady starts as 18 year old insurance salesman William Weaver (Leonard Preston) arrives in the English town of Bath, there he sees a notice in the window of a house advertising 'Bed & Breakfast' & since he's looking for a place to stay a few nights he decides to check in there. The landlady (Siobhan McKenna) seems a little eccentric & strange but in a warm innocent way like a dotty old aunt & since the room & house is so nice William is more than happy. However as he signs the guest-book William notices that there are only two other signatures from several years ago, to his cost William discovers that his landlady has a dark secret along a unhealthy obsession with young men & taxidermy...

This Tales of the Unexpected story was episode 5 from season 1 & originally aired here in the UK during April 1979, the first of nine Tales of the Unexpected episodes to be directed by Herbert Wise The Landlady is a classic tale when the show actually had a dark & sinister edge that was sadly lacking by the time it was canned. I personally put that down to Roald Dahl's brilliant writing skills & being able to turn a seeming innocent situation into something completely different & shocking, his short story The Landlady had already been adapted for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV anthology series back in 1961 before Robin Chapman dramatised it for us Brits here in the UK for this series. The Landlady is one of the few Tales of the Unexpected stories I have seen that I would describe as horror orientated, most are moral tales or crime dramas with a twist so it's a rare treat to see a horror based tale. The basic concept isn't particularly original but it's very effective here with a nice quick build up & an effectively satisfying & memorable twist at the end as the landlady's dark & morbid secret is revealed. At only 25 minutes long it zips along at a nice pace, the character's are good & overall I thought it was a creepy little tale from the show's golden period.

This one hasn't dated too badly at all & it has better than usual production values with nice sets. This is actually quite a creepy episode & therefore is one of the more memorable ones. During his introduction Dahl states that he finds this story funny & also says that if you think it's far fetched just stop & think about it for a minute because he claims it's perfectly feasible & could happen! I'm not sure about that but what I am sure about is there's another good cast here including a great batty performance by McKenna as the landlady.

The Landlady is a classic tales of the Unexpected story that has become one of my favourites & it's nice to see some proper horror for a change, well worth a watch for those interested in the bizarre.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Actually very good for a TotU episode. *SPOILERS*

Author: naseby
27 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Though as Paul Andrew states, the story is adapted from an old Hitchcock anthology series.

A dotty, seemingly innocent B&B Landlady played by Siobhan McKenna, takes in a young travelling salesman, William Weaver, played by Leonard Preston.

The 'innocent old lady' though has an interest in taxidermy applied throughout the house, Weaver notices the names on the signing-in register of only a couple of chaps that ring a bell in his head somewhere. That somewhere is in and between the time it takes the landlady to drug him sufficiently enough to become one of the taxidermy exhibits. Helped along by us seeing the two 'stuffed' boys who had been in the back of his mind, actually stuffed away in a bedroom just sitting up like bloated corpses, except preserved well in taxidermy style. (Of course the two men/names were where Weaver heard their names after their mysterious disappearance). You can see it coming, but you sort of don't really believe it to be the case, then in the usual 25 minutes, you get to exactly what you weren't sure was going to be the outcome. Gruesome, compelling, horrific! Strangely, Leonard Preston, the actor, seems to have disappeared from IMDb! Probably along with 'The Flypaper', the very best of the series.

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A cozy episode with intrigue

Author: Parker Lewis from United States
14 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Roald Dahl makes an appearance in front of a fireplace to introduce his episode. I wonder if the intro was filmed at his residence, or in a studio. Still it looked authentic. This has the typical hallmarks of a Roald Dahl Tales of the Unexpected, and you can sense much foreboding in the bed and breakfast. Get out of the house now!!!! No carpets in the bathroom!

Based on what happened, I doubt this bed and breakfast will get a positive write up on a web review site if you know what I mean. It makes me think twice about bed and breakfasts in the UK, but still, they are a common part of the UK accommodation scene.

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A magical episode. So ordinary, yet so twisted.

Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
9 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Young Billy Weaver heads to Bath, transferred to start a new job and gain some invaluable experience. He sets for a large Hotel, but instead opts for a guest House, run by a seemingly sweet, kind Landlady. When Billy signs the Guestbook, he spots two curious names, familiar somehow, he then notices that her cat, dog and bird are all stuffed, he learns a terrifying secret.

The brilliance of this story lies in its total simplicity, the fact that a seemingly sweet, normal and ordinary nice Landlady can be so dark and twisted, just so well realised.

I love the scene when Billy sits down with his Landlady and it begins to click that something is definitely not right with the situation, 'More Tea?.'

Siobhán McKenna is just magical as The Landlady, giving such a soft and delicate, and yet crazed performance, at no stage did she overplay the part. For such a small role (25 mins) she did a great job with creating the character, making her so vibrant.

Great story, very slick and nasty, a total juxtaposition, how something so sweet and normal can mask something so dark, brilliant 9/10

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"What would you like for breakfast?" "Nothing thanks, I'm stuffed!"

Author: BA_Harrison from Hampshire, England
7 January 2013

18 year-old Billy Weaver (Leonard Preston) travels from London to Bath for a regional work placement but he hasn't booked a room to stay. Rather than find a hotel, he goes for the cheaper option: a B&B run by an eccentric old lady who seems just a little too friendly for comfort.

Take my advice: never book into a B&B without informing friends or family of your whereabouts; I did once, and it freaked me out (my imagination goes wild in such situations). Mind you, had I seen this delightfully dark episode of Tales of the Unexpected beforehand, I probably would have slept in my car instead. From the moment the landlady (played by Siobhan McKenna) locks her front door shut behind Weaver, I was thinking 'where's the meat cleaver?'; I wasn't quite right with my assumption, but suffice to say that young Billy would have been much better off shelling out for a night in a Travelodge.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Thank god you materialised

Author: begob from The Undertow
8 February 2016

A naive young man travels abroad to the lovely city of Bath, where he chances upon a landlady willing to make him more than welcome. There is no happy ending.

I disagree with the other reviewers, because the story is too simple (although the gag about being stuffed would have been perfect). Padded out in the first few minutes with en route exposition that doesn't tell us anything interesting about the hero, it gets better with the introduction of the sweet and creepy villain but becomes awkward with the foreboding implausibly created by the recognition of the names in the register. Then it comes to a predictable halt.

The actress is good, a menace who covets youth.

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