Boris Karloff’s Thrilling: Another Visit with Boris Karloff’s Cinematic Television Masterpiece

When I first started blogging on The Last Drive In, I chose one of my most beloved memories, a thing of nostalgia for me, and what I consider to be one of the greatest television programs that contained not only the classic crime mystery drama, but Gothic horrors based on some of the most prolific writers of these genres back then, such as Cornell Woolrich , Robert Bloch and August Derleth.

I recently covered episodes like The Hungry Glass, The Hollow Watcher, The Grim Reaper, The Cheaters, The Incredible Doktor Markesan and Pigeons From Hell.

This time I will be blogging about a few more interesting tales such as The Ordeal of Dr Cordell starring Robert Vaughn. The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk starring Jo Van Fleet and John Carradine, The Premature Burial starring Sidney Blackmer (the piercing Roman Casstavette in Rosemary’s Baby) and Boris himself as Dr. Thorne. And finally Rose’s Last Summer starring Mary Astor since I’m on a Mary Astor kick what with working on my Aldrich series and Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte post that’s giving me an infarction, it’s so detailed, yet I don’t know how to write any other way.

I’ll be periodically choosing other great episodes from the series,but these were the ones I thought would be really interesting to cover right now.

I am talking about Boris Karloff’s television series that ran from 1960-1962: Thriller: The Complete Series.

Also the contributions by directors like John Brahm, Ida Lupino , Herschel Daugherty, Arthur Hiller and Paul Henreid who had a unique visual perspective that created creepy landscapes and lighting that would fit the noir canon very well.Also very notable for me as a musician are the musical scores by Mort Stevens, Pete Rugolo and Jerry Goldsmith that were nothing short of stunning, evocative melodies that tore at your soul and fit the mood of each episode,adding another vivid dimension to the atmospherics.

I have written earlier about some of my favorite episodes from Boris Karloff’s anthology series Thriller, which was an unusual collection of mixed genres. The series seems to be a very popular one here at The Drive In, so I’ve decided to write about a few more that have stayed with me over time, not that I didn’t absolutely love every single episode, all 67 of them. I only wish there had been more, or that someone would discover lost episodes that were never released. I have virtually watched each episode hundreds of times, not only catching little details for the first time with each reviewing, but never do I grow tired of them. That is the sign of something timeless, and masterful. And the more time goes by, I realize even further how preeminent this body of work truly is.

I can only imagine how excited fans like me were when they finally released the box set.I cried, I am not even kidding you. I, like many other devotees, waited a very long time for them to release this masterpiece on DVD. I used to have to wait up until 3am back in the day so that I could set my VCR to record when the Sci-Fi Channel had the good sense to run the episodes. Although I’d always get hocked off that the commercials were ads with nude girls telling me to “pick up the phone” while they were sliding up and down a pole. I know that boys and men love sci-fi and horror, but news flash! girls and women actually can have an avid appreciation for all things scary, thrilling and wondrous like the marvels of science, just as much. We can have a visceral passion for action and frightmares just like anyone else. So having to endure the “babes” of late night Sci-Fi Channel commercial land was irksome. Now I can watch Boris with some undisturbed dignity and I don’t have to be told to “pick up the phone” by some bimbo jutting her tongue over her shiny lip gloss, as if that were sexy to me. I’d rather watch Marisa Mell or Barbara Steele sitting under a tree reading a book. But again I digress as by now you know I am apt to do. Forgive MonsterGirl her little occasional rants.

So anyway, not only was there unmistakable atmosphere to each of Thriller’s episodes, but the stories themselves were lensed in a unique way that was very ahead of it’s time. The actors brought a serious attitude to their characters and the plot development, and didn’t treat them as merely short pulp stories as fodder for the tv masses. This was an intelligent show, and the presence of Boris Karloff only added a charming sage fabulist narration that was like being tucked in by your remarkable grandfather who loved to tell a good spooky tale to you right before bedtime. I’ve said this plenty, I wish Boris Karloff had been my grandfather.


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