We are introduced to the character of Liz Powell(BARBARA NICHOLS), a professional nightclub dancer who has been hospitalized for nervous exhaustion and fatigue brought on by overwork. She has been experiencing a recurring nightmare for the past six nights, which she claims is not a dream, but an actual waking occurrence. Her Doctor, played in a suitably creepy and sardonic manner by JONATHAN HARRIS, refuses to allow that it's anything more than a bad dream caused by her fatigued mind playing tricks on her.
This "dream" unfolds in an exact chronology each time. She is in a fitful, restless semi-slumber and awakens feeling very thirsty. The bedside clock is ticking loudly and as she reaches for a glass of water, the glass slips out of her hand and shatters on the floor. She then hears the sound of squeaky footsteps outside her door, such as that made by a nurse in rubber-soled shoes. She goes over to the door, opens it and sees a nurse in the elevator across the hall as its doors close. The nurse is standing motionless, her face in shadow and her hands clasped at her chest. The elevator goes to the basement and Miss Powell follows it down. She does this in fear and trepidation, knowing what she's going to see. But she appears unable to resist the compulsion that seems to be drawing her there. She exits the elevator in the basement and walks down a corridor, which branches off to the right. She stops in front of a room- Room 22- which is the hospital morgue. The doors are swinging shut as if someone had just gone inside. All of a sudden, the door swings open and a nurse appears. The inference is that it's the same nurse who was in the elevator. The nurse is beautiful but has a sinister air about her. Definitely not Florence Nightingale. Beautiful but spooky. She is played by ARLENE MARTEL, billed herein as ARLINE SAX. She looks right at Miss Powell and utters five words. Five words which cause Miss Powell to run screaming in fright. MARTEL is only seen on screen three times for a few seconds each. And each time she says the same five words. The way she says it and the look on her face will send chills down your spine. Her voice sounds like it's coming from the grave.
Now the 'red herring" in this episode occurs when the Doctor is speaking in private with one of the staff nurses. Although convinced up to that point that Miss Powell had been dreaming the whole thing, he is nonetheless puzzled over the fact that she mentioned going down to the basement to Room 22 and identifying it as the morgue. Since patients are not allowed down there and do not have access to it, how would she know what room it was and what it contained?
It is MARTEL's performance in this episode which helps to make it so memorable. Even though BARBARA NICHOLS received top billing as the lead actress, it was MARTEL who stole the episode. And she did it with style. She was absolutely perfect. In her brief time on screen, she definitely proved that less is more. I remember being badly frightened by this episode when I originally saw it. And all these years later, it still frightens me. It's not until the end, in the last scene, that we are given to realize who this nurse really is. Serling at his best. Definitely a nail-biter. 10 out of 10.
The story line involves the above-mentioned character, whom we see lying in a hospital bed, her face completely covered in a thick swath of gauze bandages. We learn that she is horribly deformed and has just undergone her ninth and last medical procedure to try and make her look normal. The society this woman lives in is depicted as some kind of 1984-like Big Brother totalitarian state, where conformity and homogeneity are the rule.
Her circumstances set the stage for a debate between her and her Doctor over how people who are considered "different" are treated by society. She is aware that "the State" as it's referred to herein, has spent a large amount of time, money and resources to try and fix her face so that she can live among "normal-looking" people. The Doctor tells her that this is proof that the State is not unsympathetic to her plight. However, if this final procedure does not bear fruit, she has no hope whatever of joining normal society. She would be relegated to a segregated community, far apart from normal people, where she would live out her existence with others of her own kind.
It is this rule which she finds morally repugnant and unacceptable. She wants to live in society and be a productive, contributing member of it. She wants to belong. She really wants to belong and to be accepted. And she tells the Doctor she will do anything for that to happen. She will even wear a mask so that people would not have to look upon her ugliness.
Now, when this episode first aired, I was watching it with my Dad. And he picked up on something. He picked up on the "red herring" of the episode. He said to me "Have you noticed they're not showing the faces of the Nurses or the Doctor?" And he was right. You did see the medical staff in shadow or conversing together in darkened rooms. And though you could see their profile in the darkness, you couldn't actually see their faces or make out their features. But when in lighted conditions, you would only see a hand or an arm or a shot of the person from the neck down or from the rear. And in the shots where you were expecting to see a staffer's face, such as when they started to turn towards the camera, the camera would pan down and away to show another part of their body. My Dad told me that when they take the bandages off the woman, she's going to be beautiful and the Doctor and Nurses are going to be the ones who are ugly! My Dad was a smart man! But even with that foreknowledge, I wasn't prepared for what Serling was about to show us. Their faces went beyond just being ugly. They were horrifying. Horrifying and frightening. The actress who played Miss Tyler when the bandages came off was DONNA DOUGLAS, in her pre-Elly Mae Clampett days. She, of course, is beautiful. And when she sees the Doctor and the other staff, she flees in terror through the hospital wing- until she literally runs right into EDSON STROLL, a representative of the segregated community where she will now be going to. He, of course, is very handsome and good-looking. He tells her that they have a lovely village with lovely people and that she will soon feel a sense of belonging and of being loved. She asks him why is it that they have to look like this, as they do? He tells her he really doesn't know, but there's an old saying, a very old saying- "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This ending is so bittersweet, yet uplifting. Because it holds out the possibility of finding happiness no matter who you are or what you look like.
After the end of the First World War, a man named David Ellington(H.M.WYNANT) gets lost in a storm one night while on a walking trip through Central Europe. He happens upon an old monastery and requests food and shelter for the night. He is rebuffed by Brother Jerome(JOHN CARRADINE), the authoritarian patriarch of the religious order which occupies the premises. Physically ill, Ellington is about to be turned back out into the cold, rainy night when he collapses on the floor from exhaustion.
When he revives, he hears an unearthly sound which reverberates through the building. It's a mournful howling and he traces it to a makeshift cell containing a dirty, unkempt man in raggedy clothes. Ellington doesn't know what to make of this, especially when the man tells him how he wound up in the cell and asks his help in setting him free. Brother Jerome then appears and orders Ellington into his quarters. This sets up an interesting exchange between the two men, with Ellington making too many inquiries about the man in the cell and Jerome very anxious to get rid of this unwanted guest. Jerome feigns ignorance and keeps denying that a man is being held captive against his will. He tells him that no man has ever been imprisoned at the Hermitage. Ellington is incredulous at being told this, since he just saw the man with his own eyes and had a conversation with him. Apart from the fact that Jerome and the others saw him as well. Ellington threatens to go to the police and Jerome, realizing that he has a big problem on his hands, decides to reveal the uncomfortable truth to Ellington. He tells him that what he saw was not a man, but the Devil himself.
Ellington considers himself a modern, scholarly, 20th century man- too intelligent to give credence to a belief he considers little more than a medieval fairy tale. As Jerome continues to try and persuade him otherwise, Ellington becomes more convinced that the bearded Old Testament-like figure standing before him with the heavy wooden staff and the booming voice is a lunatic. And in the way he comes across, Jerome doesn't do much to disabuse him of that notion. Ellington says "But if he's the Devil, how do you keep him locked up?" Jerome holds his staff out in both hands and replies "With the Staff of Truth. The one barrier he cannot pass." Ellington decides to play along and tells Jerome that, although skeptical at first, he, Jerome, has managed to convince him otherwise. Ellington promises to keep their secret safe. Jerome accepts this and tells him he can leave in the morning. Ellington then heads over to the man in the cell and with a smile on his face tells him that Jerome says he's the Devil. The prisoner says "You don't believe him, do you?" and Ellington replies "No, of course not." But there's just the slightest appearance of doubt, both in his voice and on his face. He doesn't want to admit the possibility, but it's starting to nag at him. He stares intently at the prisoner, as if he's looking for something. A telltale sign, perhaps.
Later, Ellington steals a key from the sleeping Brother Christoforous, who was assigned to guard him, and locks him in the room they were in. He makes his way to the cell and the man tells him to lift off the wooden bolt that secures the door. Ellington sees that it's easily within his reach through the barred opening and asks why he hasn't done it himself. The man tells him there's no time for explanations and they'll both be killed if Jerome finds them together. Ellington starts to remove the bolt and then hesitates, letting it drop back in place. Christoforous awakens and yells at Ellington to stop. Ellington removes the bolt and the door swings open. He hands the man a cloak to protect him from the rain and then turns away. As the man exits the cell, he has a look of smug satisfaction on his face. He paralyzes Ellington, and changes into his true form before disappearing. Jerome approaches Ellington and tells him "I am sorry for you, my son. All your life you will remember this night. And you'll know, Mr. Ellington, whom you have turned loose upon the world." Ellington replies "I didn't believe you. I saw him and didn't recognize him." Jerome intones "That is Man's weakness and Satan's strength."
The last scene brings the episode full circle and again highlights our human frailty and vulnerability to the sorrowful-sounding entreaties of Evil. A masterful production. 10 out of 10.
Upon entering the Doctor's office, he regards the receptionist with a strange, perturbed look as he passes her desk. Hall tells the psychiatrist that he's extremely tired and the Doctor suggests that he lie down on the couch. This Hall does, closing his eyes for a few seconds. He then opens his eyes and bolts off the couch. Spying a picture of a sailing vessel over the Doctor's desk, Hall uses it as a prop to reference an ability he has had since childhood regarding his overactive and very vivid imagination. Hall tells him that when he was fifteen, he developed a rheumatic heart. He was told he would never really get well and that he was to avoid any kind of excitement or shock. He asks Dr. Rathmann whether he believes it possible to dream in sequence, like in the old-time movie serials. Rathmann replies that he doesn't think it's impossible and Hall assures him that it can happen. He tells the Doctor that he's been awake for 87 hours now. He says it's not that he can't fall asleep, he mustn't fall asleep. Because if he does, it will be the final shock.
Hall relates a frightening story of having two sequential dreams the previous week in which he found himself in an amusement park at night. He describes the park as the kind of place you see only in nightmares- everything garish, grotesque and misshapen. He stops at one of the attractions which features a carnival dancer named Maya the Cat Girl. Played by SUZANNE LLOYD, who deserved an Emmy for her performance, Maya focuses her attention on Hall and seems to know quite a lot about him. She is incredibly beautiful and sexy in a devilish way. She has a very sensual-looking mouth and gorgeous teeth. She's all that. Hall is both uneasy in her presence and attracted to her at the same time. She lures him into the funhouse and invites him to kiss her. He says "What if I don't want to?" She replies "Oh, you want to." With that, she plants a full-mouth liplock on him. Freaked out by her and the scary exhibits, he bolts as she mocks him with her devilish laugh. The psychiatrist asks him if he recognized her from somewhere and Hall replies that he might have seen her on the street, but he wasn't sure.
He goes on to tell the Doctor that after waking from this first dream, his heart was pounding. The next night when he fell asleep, he found himself back at the amusement park with Maya. It's obvious that he's very scared of her. He knows she wants to kill him and if he dies in the dream, he'll die for real. But he cannot escape her or the hold she has on him. He tells her that he knows none of this is real. That he's home asleep in bed and that he's having a dream and that she's a part of his dream. She tells him she knows that and that now he can do all the things he can't do when he's awake. She coaxes him to follow her onto the roller-coaster and he finds himself powerless to resist her. As they hit the crest of the first rise, Maya says sardonically "Hold on, Edward!" As the coaster picks up speed, Hall is out of his mind with fear and we see Maya sitting there with the shadows of the night playing across her features. She fixes him with an evil smile, her teeth flashing in the darkness. He screams "I've got to get out" and she tells him "Jump, Edward. Jump." He tells Dr. Rathmann that if he falls asleep again, he'll go right back to the roller-coaster and Maya will push him out. And that will be the end of him. But if he stays awake much longer, the stress will be too much for his heart and that will be the end of him. He opens the door to leave and looks at the receptionist again. And this time, we see her, too. He runs back inside and tells Rathmann that it's her, the woman in his dream. Realizing there's no escape for him, he dives headfirst out the window, screaming his life away.
We then see Rathmann sitting at his desk, with a pensive look on his face. He calls the receptionist in and they walk over to the couch on which lies the inert form of Edward Hall. The Doctor checks for a pulse but finds none. He declares him dead and the receptionist is shocked at this, saying that he just came in a minute before. Rathmann says he had Hall lie down because he complained he was tired and a couple of seconds after he closed his eyes, he let out that scream. The receptionist says "Heart attack?" and the Doctor replies "Probably. I guess there are worse ways to go. At least he died peacefully." Phenomenal episode with terrific performances, a surreal atmosphere, and a very effective haunting, eerie score. 10 out of 10, hands down.
The arrival in New York of an international terrorist named Wulfgar(RUTGER HAUER) finds the two Detectives temporarily reassigned to an elite counter-terrorist unit called ATAC. A British expert on counterterrorism in general and Wulfgar in particular(NIGEL DAVENPORT) is recruited by the Department to train the selectees in the different strategies and tactics they'll need to deal with this new threat. His character, Peter Hartman, is an old hand at understanding the terrorist mentality and how they operate. He is also a believer in "taking the shot" when the opportunity presents itself, even if it results in "collateral damage", or death to a civilian hostage.
Stallone's character has a big problem with all this. He indicates that he didn't join the Department to kill people, whether they're street criminals, terrorists, or especially, innocent civilians. Clashing with Hartman at every juncture, he says he doesn't want any part of this and indicates to the Englishman that he's quitting the unit. His partner talks him out of it by telling him that Hartman sees him as one of the best and that's why he was chosen. In reviewing DaSilva's wartime kill record in Vietnam, Hartman tells him that he has faith that when the time comes, he'll do what needs to be done.
Wulfgar is very intelligent, cunning and good-looking and his MO is to hook up with women he meets at discos and move in with them, using their apartments as a safe house. When he meets Pam(HILARIE THOMPSON), an airline stewardess, she asks him what he does for a living. Knowing that she won't believe him, he tells her the truth- that he's an international terrorist wanted by the police in various European countries. When she stumbles upon his weapons stash in her closet after he moves in with her, she realizes too late that what he told her was not a jocular remark. When the police find her body they also find a clue that he inadvertently left behind indicating what his strike target here in the City will be. DaSilva and Fox start scouring the discotheques with the woman's photo in hand to try and get a line on whom she might have hooked up with. They hit paydirt when DaSilva spots whom he suspects might be Wulfgar at a disco with his newly altered facial appearance, courtesy of plastic surgery in Europe. DaSilva uses the police trick of staring Wulfgar down to see if he gets hinky and Wulfgar realizes he's been "made." A chase into the subway ensues, with Wulfgar taking an elderly woman hostage at knifepoint. DaSilva gets him in his sights but doesn't take the shot out of fear of hitting the hostage. In the ensuing chase, Sgt. Fox is ambushed by Wulfgar, who slices his face open and then makes good his escape. DaSilva, whose button has now been pushed, will no longer harbor any illusions about what he's dealing with.
Wulfgar's associate in terrorism is one Shakka Holland, played by the beautiful late Indian actress PERSIS KHAMBATTA. She is so effective in her portrayal of a coldhearted woman who kills without compunction or remorse, that your blood will be chilled when you see her on screen. Without even saying anything, she will terrify you. You will not forget the look on her face. It will definitely haunt your dreams.
We all know that the movie is leading up to a climactic confrontation between DaSilva and Wulfgar. And we know when that moment of truth arrives that DaSilva, now effectively disabused of his "I'm not here to kill anyone" philosophy, will indeed do what needs to be done. I won't reveal the ending here, other than to say that it reflects well on his training and experience in the Street Crime Unit.
This is a well-crafted thriller with excellent performances, beautiful photography, and a storyline that will resonate with the viewer on a visceral level. It will keep you hooked from the opening sequence until the end. Yo Adrian- this is my favorite Stallone film. I give it a 10 out of 10.
The opening sequence and the end sequence act as bookmarks to bracket the film and bring it full circle. Three American soldiers- a sergeant and two privates- one of whom has a serious leg wound, find themselves cut off and are attempting to make their way back to their own lines. They stumble upon a cabin in the woods occupied by a German woman named Elisabeth Vincken(LINDA HAMILTON) and her 12-year old son, Fritz(MATTHEW HARBOUR). Mother and son both speak English, but this does not help in endearing them to Sergeant Ralph Blank(ALAIN GOULEM), whose hatred of Germans does not distinguish between soldiers and civilians. Mrs. Vincken is depicted as a proud, strong-willed woman who is grounded in morality and has only distaste and contempt for Adolf Hitler and the ruinous war he has foisted upon the German people. Fritz, on the other hand, like most young boys his age, is a believer and looks forward to becoming a member of the Hitler Youth and joining the fight against the Americans.
Mrs. Vincken allows the Americans to use her house to try and patch up their wounded comrade- but with one condition attached. She will not tolerate the presence of weapons inside her home and has her son hide them for safekeeping in the cellar when the soldiers' attention was with their wounded buddy.
The arrival of three German soldiers at the cabin serves as the focal point for what will turn out to be a very unusual encounter between opposing enemy forces. The Germans- a Wehrmacht Lieutenant named Hans Klosterman(MARTIN NEUFELD) along with his Sergeant and a Private, are tricked into dropping their weapons by Private Jimmy Rassi(ROMANO ORZARI), a street-smart Italian-American soldier from Brooklyn.
With both sides now effectively disarmed, Mrs. Vincken offers them the hospitality of her cabin for Christmas Eve and works to establish and maintain a shaky truce between the two hated enemies. The main conflict comes in the obvious mistrust and dislike between the two ranking officers of each group. Lieutenant Klosterman is a hard-liner who believes in the inevitability of a German victory against the Allies. He believes that this battle is the first step in an eventual German rout of the Allied Armies that will succeed in pushing them back through France and into the English Channel. He realizes early on, however, that Sgt. Blank, a tough, grizzled combat veteran with an attitude, is no pushover and can handle himself quite capably in their verbal jousts. Mrs. Vincken has her hands full keeping them apart. However, when the German Sergeant(MARK KRUPA) helps save the wounded American's life by cauterizing his leg wound with a heated knife, it goes a long way in establishing a measure of trust and comradeship as the evening progresses.
Mrs. Vincken offers to feed these soldiers a Christmas meal out of the goodness of her heart and in the hope that sitting down at the table and breaking bread together might help both sides see that they share a common humanity in spite of their differences- at least for one night. She is challenged in her assumptions by the Lieutenant, who feels that she lacks the proper allegiance to the Fatherland. She puts him in his place by telling him that she has already lost her eldest son in the war and has no intention of sacrificing her youngest son in what has become a lost cause. Private Rassi understands what she's trying to do and suggests that each soldier- German and American- contribute to the meal by offering up items of food from their personal supplies. This goes over quite well and gives Rassi the opportunity to display his quick wit and repartee about Italians and food. He is shown as a sensitive, wise, intelligent and caring person. He knows how to communicate with people and reach them on an inner level and this ability goes a long way in bringing the two groups together.
As the evening wears on, the desired effect is achieved. With the exception of a conflicted moment between Rassi and the German Lieutenant, which was about to lead to fisticuffs but was resolved by a painful personal confession and an apology, the two groups actually start to relax in each others presence and begin to enjoy each others company as they come to know one another better. The effect that Mrs. Vincken had hoped for becomes a reality as the soldiers come to see each other not as a faceless enemy, but as people with shared dreams, fears, hopes and desires. Even Lieutenant Klosterman loses some of his hard edge and allows himself the spirit and significance of this night.
The next morning, the slumber of the men is disrupted by the sudden appearance at the cabin of an American Army MP Captain. I won't reveal what happens after he arrives, other than to say that this officer is a surprise for both sides. When the two groups part, they part as friends, with Lieutenant Klosterman giving Sergeant Blank a compass to help the Americans find their way back.
This is a beautiful, sensitive movie which shows that even amidst the horrors of war, men wearing different uniforms can, if only for a moment, come together in peace, reconciliation and healing. I give this one a 10 out of 10, hands down.
The movie is stolen by young newcomer actress Felissa Rose, who turns in a phenomenal performance as Angela- a painfully shy, quiet, and withdrawn adolescent girl who has a secret that she's been hiding since the death of her father and her sibling in a tragic boating accident eight years earlier. Without even saying anything, Miss Rose projects a screen presence that will indelibly imprint itself on the viewer. She is just so immensely appealing and involving. There is just something about her that makes you want to hug her and befriend her. I was very drawn to her character because I could definitely relate to her and her personality type.
Raised by her offbeat and eccentric aunt after her father's death, Angela is sent to sleepaway camp for the summer in upstate New York with her cousin Ricky, who is very protective of her. From the moment she arrives in camp, it's obvious that she will not fit in. Because she's different and doesn't interact well with others, she quickly becomes the target of harassment and bullying from the other adolescents- most notably a camp counselor named Meg(KATHERINE KAMHI) and a teenage queen bitch named Judy(KAREN FIELDS). Angela doesn't utter her first word until about the halfway point of the film and until then, we don't know if she can speak. We don't know if she's a mute or not.
Soon after her arrival, she's targeted for sexual assault by the head cook- a fat, ugly, repulsive pedophile who's thwarted in his attempt by the sudden, unexpected arrival of Ricky. This sets in motion the gruesome "accidents" and deaths that are to occur throughout the film. The cook, of course, is the first target of revenge- getting his comeuppance by being scalded on his face, body and arms by boiling water from a large cooking pot.
All the people who hurt Angela and are mean to her wind up paying a stiff price for their behavior. *** SPOILER ALERT*** It won't take long for the viewer to figure out that Angela is the killer- although the film, like most films of its type, tries to throw the audience off by steering it toward an obvious suspect. But seasoned veterans of this genre know that's just a ruse. The twist is not that the shy, quiet girl is capable of such homicidal violence- because that's the way it usually turns out in these films. The twist comes in the revealing of who Angela is- and what she is. Although other reviewers have already spilled the beans on this, I will not do that here. Suffice it to say that, even if you know how the film ends from reading some of the other comments, you will nonetheless be shocked by the disturbing image you see when you watch it. I give this one a 10 out of 10.
The background plot involves a war of subjugation waged against our planet by a superior race of aliens. This conflict has apparently been going on for a long time and the Earth is barely holding its own against the invaders, with little or no hope for any victory. A U.S. Air Force Space Command Major played by ROBERT PATRICK is captured by the aliens and thrown into a cave-like cell on their planet. He sees that he's not alone, for in the cell with him is a very attractive, young female cadet played by NIKKI DE BOER. Her character displays a vulnerability and sensitivity that the viewer will immediately hook into. She tells him that she was captured on a training mission flight. In spite of their dire straits (or perhaps because of it), they start to bond. It's apparent that PATRICK is quite attracted to her and she to him as well, through her shyness and innocence. Their jailer(MARK McCRACKEN), a hulking alien, periodically opens the cell door to throw their food in, which consists of two crablike crustacean creatures. DE BOER knows the trick of how to open the creatures to drink their slimy insides and shows PATRICK how to do it. The jailer also periodically cracks the door to grab DE BOER and drag her out of the cell. From his vantage point, PATRICK can hear her screams from a nearby chamber. When she's returned, he sees that portions of her body are populated by a reptilian-like, scaly skin. She tells him that when the aliens remove her from the cell, they operate on her with the goal of turning her into one of them. She says that's one of their tactics- to turn people into what they are through grafting and implantation. She's scared that it will only be a matter of time before she's no longer human. Knowing that time is running out for her, she tells PATRICK that she wants to know what it's like to be loved and wanted, but he cannot bring himself to make love to her. During the next operation on her, he climbs through a vent in the ceiling and crawls down a shaft until he's above the operating theater. He tries to grab one of the aliens through the grating and winds up having his hand cut off at the wrist. Back in the cell with DE BOER, who's now at least 50% alien, he sits her down and tells her that any hope they may have had of escape is gone. She mourns for them both and for the people of Earth who now have no hope of overcoming the enemy. She tells him she doesn't want to go on any more. She wants it to end. But PATRICK cannot bring himself to kill her. He tells her to have hope- not for the two of them- but for the Earth. He tells her that a huge armada of Earth's best fighter craft has been marshalled on the far side of the Sun and that in 30 days time from the date he was captured, this force will be unleashed against the aliens' home planet. It'll be enough to turn the tide. So in the end we will have won. DE BOER listens closely as he tells her this and then says "Thank you for telling me, John." I won't give away what happens next. Suffice it to say that this last scene follows the tone of the entire episode. It is dark and downbeat and will leave you with a desolate feeling. A phenomenal production. 10 out of 10.