It's sort of funny and charming to browse through the user-comments on these early 70's made-for-TV chillers; also known as the notorious ABC movies of the Week. The only few and brief comments are customarily written by people who watched the original airings on TV, got terrified of what they saw and then for years unsuccessfully tried tracking down a copy of that one movie that left such a gigantic impression on them. Well, I hope all these devoted fans managed to found a copy in the meantime, but normally that shouldn't be a problem nowadays because thanks to new media canals and exchanging methods, such a thing like an obscure movie hardly exists anymore. Heck, I even came across a proper version of "The Strange and Deadly Occurrence" and I never fanatically searched for it. I do immediately understand, however, why this is such a loved and intensely remembered film among 70's TV-thriller fans. The basic plot of "The Strange and Deadly Occurrence" is rudimentary and straightforward, but the atmosphere is unceasingly tense and there are two or three exceptionally unsettling sequences that are guaranteed to make your entire body tremble. All the other reviews collectively babble on and on about the scene with a headless dummy and petrifying pounding sounds. Those particular sequences are indeed quite scary, although I do think they must have been at least a dozen times scarier back in the early 70's, when horror was merely suggestive and everything else was left to the imagination. The happy and harmonious Rhodes family has been living in their secluded but luxurious countryside mansion for a couple of months now, but lately the number of little problems increases dramatically. There are problems with the electricity and plumbing, the estate is infested with gophers, the 16-year-old daughter suffers from spooky vivid nightmares and the brand new family dog mysteriously dies in the horses' stable. Is the area haunted or does someone just really wants to chase the Rhodes family out of there, like the suspicious Dr. Gillgreen who offers to buy the house at all prices. As said, a very simplistic formula but one that is compelling enough to keep you interested and guessing along with the protagonists regarding the secret of the house. John Llewellyn Moxey, arguably the best TV-thriller director of the era with other highlights in his repertoire such as "Nightmare in Badham County", "Where have all the people gone" and "The Night Stalker", keeps the pace reasonably fast and perfectly knows how to uphold the atmosphere of mystery until the very end. Robert Stack and Vera Miles give adequate performances as the married couple and Margaret Willock is very cherubic as the teenage daughter. This definitely isn't the greatest TV-thriller you'll ever watch, but nevertheless a very decent one.
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