Rod Serling’s Night Gallery 9 Terrifying Halloween Treats!

*THE CEMETERY -PILOT TV movie AIR DATE NOV.8, 1969
*THE DEAD MAN-AIR DATE DEC. 16, 1970
*CERTAIN SHADOWS ON THE WALL-DEC.30, 1970
*THE DOLL-AIR DATE JAN.13, 1971
*A FEAR OF SPIDERS -AIR DATE OCT. 6, 1971
*COOL AIR-AIR DATE DEC.8, 1971
*GREEN FINGERS-AIR DATE JAN.8, 1972
*GIRL WITH THE HUNGRY EYES AIR DATE OCT.1, 1972
*SOMETHING IN THE WOODWORK AIR DATE JAN.14, 1973

Next time up, The Tune in Dan’s Cafe, Lindenmann’s Catch, A Question of Fear, The Sins of the Father, Fright Night and There Aren’t Any More McBanes.

Available on dvd: with Season 2 Audio Commentary from Guillermo Del Toro and from historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson and Season 3 aslo with Audio Commentary from historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson

There will be no need for spoilers, I will not give away the endings …

The way the studio wants to do it, a character won’t be able to walk by a graveyard, he’ll have to be chased. They’re trying to turn it into a Mannix in a shroud.—Creator Rod Serling

“Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collectors’ item in its own way – not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, and suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”-Rod Serling Host

With the major success of The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), after it was cancelled in 1964, Rod Serling continued to work on various projects. He wrote the screenplays for the movie versions of Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes and The Man based on the novel by Irving Wallace. In 1970 he created a new series, Night Gallery which were tales of the macabre based on various mystery/horror/fantasy writers, H.P Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood and even Serling himself. The show was produced by Jack Laird and Rod Serling. The show that ran six episodes each, part of four dramatic series under the umbrella title Four-In-One. In 1971, it appeared with it’s own vignettes on NBC opposite Mannix. In 1971 the Pilot for the show had three of the most powerful of the series. The Cemetery starring Ossie Davis, Roddy McDowall, and George Macready. Eyes stars Hollywood legend Joan Crawford who plays an unpleasant tyrant who is blind and is willing to rob the sight of another man in order to see for a short period of time. The segment was directed by Steven Spielberg. The last playlet starred Norma Crane and Richard Kiley as a Nazi who is hiding out in a South American country who dreams of losing himself in a little boat on a quiet lake depicted in a painting at the local art museum.

Then Night Gallery showcased an initial six segments and the hour long series consisted of several different mini teleplays. In its last season from 1972-1973 the show was reduced to only a half hour.
Night Gallery differed from The Twilight Zone which were comprised of science fiction and fantasy narratives as it delved more into the supernatural and occult themes. The show has a unique flavor in the same way Boris Karloff introduced each one of Thriller’s divergent stories, Rod Serling would introduce each episode surrounded by his gallery of macabre and morbid paintings by artist Gallery Painter: Tom Wright Serling would open his show with a little soliloquy about life, irony and the upcoming tale of ghoulish delights.

Rod Serling was not a fan of Night Gallery and did not have the revelatory passion and inducement to plug the show the way he did for The Twilight Zone, in fact the series was panned by the critics. Two of the shows Serling wrote were nominated for Emmy’s, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” starring William Windom and Diane Baker and The Messiah of Mott Street “ starring Edward G. Robinson.

From Gary Gerani-Fantastic Television: A Pictorial History of Sci-Fi, the Unusual and The Fantastic
“No stranger to the interference of sponsors, networks and censors, Serling once again found himself locked by contact into an untenable situation..{…}… He owned Night Gallery, created it and it was sold to network and audience on his reputation . The competitor on CBS was Mannix, a formula private-eye shoot-and rough-‘em up. Serling felt that NBC and Universal were doing their best to imitate Mannix, with an emphasis on monsters, chases and fights. They turned down many of his scripts as “too thoughtful” Serling lamented. “They don’t want to compete against Mannix in terms of contrast, but similarity.” Not only was Serling unable to sell them scripts he was also barred from casting sessions, and couldn’t make decisions about his show—he had signed away creative control. As a result he tried to have his name removed from the title, but NBC had him contract-bound to play host and cordially to introduce the parasite to the TV audience.”

 

THE CEMETERY -Night Gallery pilot 1st segment released November 8, 1969

Written by Rod Serling and Directed by Boris Sagal.

The Twilight Zone had been cancelled for six years when Serling returned with another anthology show that dealt this time with the supernatural instead of sci-fi fantasy themes. The one similarity is that both were hosted by Rod Serling, with little soliloquies that introduced that evening’s story.
The first segment of the two hour pilot episode that featured three unique stories of the macabre opened quite like Boris Karloff’s Thriller episodes The Incredible Doktor Markesan and Pigeons from Hell, with it’s decaying mansion as the camera pans over to the family plot, a morbid fixture to this antebellum estate. What reminds me of the Thriller episodes are the eerie moss cover willow trees, the uncanny wind blowing the leaves around and the sense of forgotten days and decay.

It starts in an antebellum mansion in Louisiana surrounded by weeping willows falling leaves and an eerie wind blowing. The wealthy William Hendricks has suffered several strokes leaving him paralyzed, taken care of by his trusted man servant Osmond Portifoy (Ossie Davis) Hendricks has few pleasures, he’s an amateur painter but can’t even hold his paint brush anymore. Stuck in his wheelchair at the mercy of his incapacitated body. Hendrick’s painting have a morbid preoccupation with everything dying and dead.

This is one of my favorite episodes with an evocative music score by Billy Goldenberg. A rich old man who paints named William Hendricks ( George Macready) is close to death after several strokes, bound to his wheelchair unable to vocalize and his only heir is the unscrupulous black sheep nephew Jeremy (Roddy McDowall) who is more than willing to help his uncle die quicker so he can be the sole inheritor, before old Hendricks can change his will.

We meet Jeremy (Roddy McDowall) with his funky 70s clay colored leather jacket and ascot. McDowall is wonderful at performing a feigned heterosexual identity with an effetely droll sensibility. Jeremy has a serpent’s tongue, his nasty and cruel and has no scruples in hiding his virulent greed and animosity toward the uncle who ignored his only sister. “Tell me Portifoy, all those 30 years waiting hand and food on that dying blob of flesh upstairs. You didn’t know there was a nephew in the woodwork did you Portifoy?” Jeremy asks contemptibly. “Nor did your uncle, Sir.” “Well now you do so dwell on it.”

Jeremy ponders the day he’ll inherit the old man’s fortune. Staring at the painting at the end of the long staircase and oil painting that depicts the family “As of the day he stops staring at this particular point of view and become a part of it.”

Portifoy tells Jeremy he’s a scoundrel and a swine, but Jeremy warns him that one of these days when he bears those ancient fangs he threatens to pull them one by one.

Jeremy taunts his uncle and places him by the open window and leaves him alone with the wind blowing the chill into the room. As the camera pulls back it’s a highly effective scene as we see the old man struggling at the window. Hendricks succumbs to pneumonia, falls into a coma and dies. The doctor is played by character actor Richard Hale (Boris Karloff’s Thriller episode The Incredible Doktor Markesan) and Hendrick’s family attorney Carson is played by Barry Atwater  (vampire Janos Skorzeny Kolchak The Night Stalker pilot). He tells Jeremy that he is not a civilized man. But Jeremy is impervious to ridicule or admonishment. He tells him he’s not a civilized man, he’s a “black sheep nephew with an itch.”

After the old man dies, a strange occurance begins to beset Jeremy. A painting the old man hung in the great hall depicting the family plot shows that of a fresh grave in the cemetery that continues to display changes upon each viewing, though Jeremy is the only one who can see it. William Hendrick has been attended to by his trusted butler Osmond Portifoy (Ossie Davis) for over thirty years. After Hendrick dies leaving Portifoy a small stipend and Jeremy to contend with he is disgusted with the scumbag that Jeremy is. After a his abusive attitude Portifoy leaves Jeremy to flounder in his possible delusion which throws Jeremy into a state of panic as the bedeviled painting keeps changing to depict his uncle coming to claim his retribution for his murder. Is he really creeping his way out of the grave and out of the family plot to exact revenge on his murderous black sheep nephew or is he losing his mind?

First it just shows the cemetery beyond the gates in the family plot, then an open grave, then a coffin appears.Jeremy (McDowall) tries to burn the painting, but it stubbornly reappears on the wall. The ever changing painting throws Jeremy into a frenzied panic. Jeremy’s abusive attitude toward Portifoy who does not see the changes in the painting, drives him out of the house, leaving the murderous rogue alone and terrified.

This time with the coffin disturbed and lying in the open grave, His grave now open, the coffin is shown positioned vertically showing his uncle rising upward.

Then Jeremy can see his uncle climbing out of the grave and heading toward the house .

That night Jeremy hears noises and gets up to investigate.  The painting now shows his uncle walking out of the cemetery gates, eventually pounding on the front door

Jeremy sees the altered painting he can neither destroy it nor stop the ever evolving depiction, the morbid morality play of his uncle contacting him from beyond the grave to exact revenge on his murderer.

Is it a “haunt or a prolonged hallucination” Portifoy tells him, “In life he needed me but in death it’s obvious that he’s strong enough to take care of himself.” Jeremy-“Death is final, death is it!!!” Portifoy “I think not Mr. Jeremy. I think there are things stronger than death and more lasting than the grave. I think hate is stronger than death master Jeremy and I think you’re beginning to realize that.”

THE DEAD MAN—episode 1 season 1 AIR DATE DEC. 16, 1970

Based on the short story by Fritz Leiber, Jr.

The episode stars Carl Betz, Louise Sorel, Jeff Corey as Dr Miles Talmadge. And Michael Blodgett as John Fearing. Written and directed by Douglas Heyes.

A doctor Max Redford (Carl Betz) is conducting experiments on a young man (Michael Blodgett as John Fearing) who is highly sensitive to hypnosis. And is able to suggest to the young man that he has various diseases by signalling with different rhythmic taps of his pen. Fearing can demonstrate various diseases while in a highly suggestive hypnotic state.

Dr. Max Redford sends for his colleague Miles Talmadge to come to his private sanitarium and see his newest experiment for curing disease and the aging process. Redford has sent away all his other patients leaving him time to focus on his prize specimen, a perfect example of a blonde adonis.

Dr Miles Talmidge (Jeff Corey) comes to visit his old colleague and discovers this perfect specimen of a young man involved in Dr Redford’s experiments.

Redford shows off his subject lying on an examination table apparently sleeping or so his dear old friend and colleague Dr Miles Talmadge initially believes.

Fearing-“Were you surprised, were you impressed. What diseases did I do?”

Dr. Talmadge first sees a very virile and healthy young man but as he turns his back to speak with his old friend Max Redford about the young man, as he once again turns to face him he witnesses the subject exhibiting signs of a progressed heart ailment leaving him emaciated and necrotic.

Fearing actually does develop the disease, but can be cured by Dr Redford tapping the correct signals with his pen, in order to bring him back to perfect health.

He begins to test Dr. Talmadge on the different diseases that the young man Fearing presents. “You’d swear to that?” the body keeps exhibiting various symptoms. How does he simulate these diseases. “You trying to tell me all of these illnesses are psychosomatic?” because Fearing believes it so the physical manifestations are real. 3 years ago he came with a parade of diseases present then they’d go away baffling the doctors. He figure out that there was an emotional connection. Heredity was one factor sicne his mother was hysterical as was his father. Fearing is “Slavingly obedient to suggestion.” He takes the cues to execute commands, a signal, different taps for each pattern. He wants to reverse aging, conquer death. “Death a wall or a door?” Dr Max Redford can give Fearing any suggestion of a disease while he is under hypnosis who then manifests the symptoms.

Dr. Max Redford challenges Miles Talmadge on his first diagnosis and asks him to take another look which he does to find the patient exhibiting yet another disease. After his second diagnosis he looks again to find Fearing healthy once again. Dr. Miles Talmadge believes this is some kind of parlor trick on Max’s part, when Fearing himself sits up and introduces himself.

Ultimately Dr. Max Redford signals to Fearing that he is dead, but will awaken upon receiving the correct pattern of taps.

But things go terribly wrong when he cannot recall the particular tap to bring him back to life.

Is his subconscious jealousy for the attraction his wife has shown the young man clouding his ability to conduct his experiment?

That night at dinner it is obvious to Max and Miles that Fearing and Dr Max Redford’s wife Velia are romantically involved with each other. He can’t separate his wife from Fearing, because Fearing will leave and he’ll lose his prime research subject. But his wife is in love with Fearing. They are so enamored with each other. Dr Mile Talmadge- “If you considered creating it you must have considered uncreating it.” Dr Max Redford- “Last night I asked you for a definition of death … here is death”  He instructed Fearing to be dead, defying anyone in the medical profession to prove him alive. But when Dr Max Redford tries to get him out of it, he can’t signally to him several times with the same tapping but no repsonse.

Delia his wife screams- “You willed it, you ordered it. You told him to die and he did.” She tells her husband can you tell me without any reservation that when they bury John Fearing in two days, he won’t be buried alive.

Finally, his wife (Louis Sorel as Velia Redford) overhears the correct signal and runs to the tomb to awaken her sleeping love!

CERTAIN SHADOWS ON THE WALL-air date DEC.30, 1970

Certain Shadows on the Wall is a spooky, atmospheric ghost story. The setting an ominous Victorian mansion. The heartless Stephen Brigham (Louis Hayward) reading to his dowager sister Emma (Agnes Moorehead) from Bleak House. Moorehead is the consummate actor whose ultimately capable of conveying her suffering through the most powerfully subtle body language. Her most notable performances as Velma Cruther in Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964), Fanny Minafer in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and the Woman in The Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” (1961) delivers a powerful impact through tormented body language and expressions.

There are strategically placed shadows of the two on the wall by the bed. He reads to her her lips are a grotesque blue. He slips her powders in a glass of water for her pain, though we suspect it is arsenic. He is obviously desperate for Emma to die already so that he can inherit the family fortune to be divided up with his other two sisters. She asks him how long she’s got to live. Stephen is not only her brother but her doctor who is delivering her to death’s door. Emma “What I really want I can’t have, I want life Stephen… Read to me from Great Expectations”– She never tires of Dickens. Stephen seems annoyed at her he tells her to think of when they were the four of them young happy children. She has a morbid preoccupation with death.

Rebecca (Rachel Roberts) is simple and very kind. She asks how Emma is feeling. Grayson Hall (Dark Shadows, Satan in High Heels, Night of the Iguana, Gargoyles) plays Ann. She sits in the parlor knitting. Stephen is a dandy. He comes downstairs, we see the clock ticking with emphasis on it’s sense of the time. Stephen wipes the glass to the curio cabinet. He’s a stickler for fine things obviously. We see his greed for what he can get for the sale of the house and it’s contents. Rebecca apologizes a lot. Ann corrects her and tells her to stop saying she’s sorry. Grayson Hall is the hardened sister. They quibble about Emma not eating enough, with a comment by Stephen who knows she needs to eat to keep up her strength but he’s not doing enough as Emma’s doctor. Stephen isn’t trying to cure her illness, but facilitate her death. Her sisters understand that she needs nourishment not the pills Stephens been administering her. In fact, what ever is in those little white pills just might be poisoning and killing her. There are many nicely quaint creepy touches in this segment. “And please bear in mind Stephen that you are a guest in this house” Ann tells him. “Guest… I was brought up in this house If I’m a guest so are you and Rebecca. It was after all to Emma that father left this property and we all live here by her charitable sufferance.”

Ann tells him, “None of which gives you the right to treat us as incompetent help.” He gave up his practice to take care of Emma, because he was flat broke and had no practice left. Due to his gambling habit according to Ann. “I’m hard pressed to determine which you’re more inept at. Gambling or the medical profession. You’re certainly not much of either. Tensions between Ann and Stephen brew. We’ll I’m here aren’t I and I’m up in that room eight hours a day reading Dickens to her. We’re a family” “For as long as she’s alive anyway” Her death is a matter of days perhaps even less.” They try to keep it out of their conversation but it’s there all the time. Emma’s death. Emma’s always been sickly always in bed demanding to be read to. Rebecca perpetually smiling over nothing. According to Stephen sister Ann the tyrant “doomed even then to spinsterhood and everyone else should share her graceless state.”

They hear a crash Emma has died and the clock stops. “At long long last” Stephen decries, he dumps the book in the trash..

As Stephen calls to inform the coroner that his sister has passed away, Rebecca and Ann in the parlor gasps at something they see. There on the yellowing wallpaper is the shadow figure of Emma sitting up. Her silhouette there, leaving the three of them horrified. Is it a trick of the light, is it the position of the furniture casting the shadow. A stain, a discoloration. Stephen moves furniture frantically, breaks a light bulb in the lamp. “What are you doing” “What does it look I’m doing. I”m contemplating the shadow.” Ann tells him to “let it be” Stephen-“It’s not a shadow” Ann-“Of course it is. And we both of us know Stephen. We both of us know who it is.” Stephen- “It’s an illusion, that’s what it is.” Stephen says he’ll get some paint or new wallpaper to cover it up. Ann tells him”You’ll try but you won’t be able to. I doubt you’ll ever be able to cover it up. What was the cause of Emma’s death?”

Written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeff Corey.

THE DOLL-AIR DATE JAN.13, 1971

Written by Algernon Blackwood. Serling-“The least likely object can be filled with the most likely horror”

Guest stars Shani Wallis as Miss Danton, John William as the Colonel and Henry Silva as Pandit Chola. Written by Rod Serling and Directed by Rudi Dorn.

British Colonel, Col. Masters (John Williams great character actor who is always wonderful in any role) returns home to England from British occupied India.

He is met by his niece Monica (Jewel Blanch) holding the grotesque doll and her nanny Mrs. Danton (Shani Wallis). Mrs. Danton has assumed that Col. Masters had sent the doll as it has a return address from India. Visibly disturbed by the filthy object he offers to buy Monica a new doll from London, but she is very attached to this one.

Monica has come to live with them after her parents were killed, and he is taking care of her. Retired he goes back to work so he can support her. On his return he finds that she has been sent a horrific little doll, with razor sharp teeth and a sardonic grin sent from India. It was given as a token of revenge by Pandit Chola (Henry Silva) for the execution of his rebel brother by Col. Masters for leading raids against the British outposts.

When he sees the ghastly thing he is horrified. “Filthy looking thing.” Monica has grown fond of the doll, she says it’s intelligent and talks to her and sings. The Colonel asks Miss Danton the nanny, how she could turn over to Monica such a wretched grubby specimen. He sends for a new doll from London.

That night, he hears crying in his niece’s room.  When he and Mrs. Denton enter the room they discover the new doll torn to pieces, and the evil doll with it’s wicked smile is baring it’s sharp angry teeth.

Monica’s a lonely child. “Miss Danton, I asked you if you had the reason to doubt the harmlessness of Monica’s doll” At the time you chose to disregard my query I should like that question answered now”

“it’s probably nothing” “But you’re not sure” “Monica is growing so desperately attached to it. She keeps it with her constantly. Every waking moment. And then with her in her bed at night. I hate it. I really hate the thing. It’s unwholesome there’s something terribly evil about it.”

Col-“We’ll have to get it away from her somehow, but mention nothing about it in the doll’s presence.”

Col. Masters is bitten by the nasty thing, but that is not the end of things!…

A FEAR OF SPIDERS—AIR DATE OCT. 6, 1971

A columnist, gourmet critic Patrick O’Neal as the unlikable Justus Walters, is an elitist snob, who is being relentlessly pursued by his neighbor the incomparable Kim Stanley as the sympathetically heart wrenching Elizabeth Croft. Elizabeth is insistent on a romantic liaison with Justus. Justus with his refined aesthetic is brutally indifferent to the lonely woman, rebuffing her affections. O’Neal is always masterful at playing it arrogant and Kim Stanley has a sublime character that consumes any challenging role. Just think of her portrayal of Myra Savage the medium in Bryan Forbe’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon and how effective she is at balancing a myriad of emotions, Stanley is as complex as Rubix cube of intuitive responses.

O’Neal is a ninja when throwing out the barbs that reek of superiority, even as he rebukes the janitor for lacking the culture he feels so entitled to.

He was superb as the murderer in Columbo as the architect Elliot Markham in Blueprint for Murder. Put the two brilliant actors in a creepy chamber piece and it’s an unrestrained macabre playlet.

Elizabeth comes to the door begging him to let her in -“Justus please let me in for just one moment please. Justus do you understand what you’re doing to me. Do you know that I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. You’re destroying me piece meal. Why don’t you answer me?” Justus-“What’s destroying you my dear is your proximity to 19th century novels. Now you obviously avail yourself to all the literary syrup from Henry James to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Elizabeth-“Why are you so cruel?” “I’m not cruel Elizabeth. I’m refreshingly blunt.” She laughs uncomfortably as he continues- “Cant you get it through that tremulous brain of yours that I have no interest in continuing a relationship with you. I asked you out a few times for dinner because you live above me! It seemed congenial and neighborly. But these persistent nocturnal calls, the perpetual pestilence oozing with those red rimmed eyes, that is depressing abhorrent and frankly it must stop!”  

Justus finally alienates himself from Elizabeth, only to find that his phobia of spiders comes to haunt him as he is being taunted by a relentless growing spider in his apartment. Elizabeth gets her cosmic justice when he comes crawling back to beg her for company but fate takes over when he reaches out for her attentions but finds it’s too late he is alone and at the mercy of the spider who wants to devour him. The atmosphere is creepy and drenched in ironic humor as Justus’ cruelty comes back to bite him in the end.

Director: John Astin Writer: Rod Serling Cast: Patrick O’Neal, Kim Stanley

COOL AIR-AIR DATE DEC.8, 1971

A Gothic love story set in the early 1920s told in flashback starring the wonderful Barbara Rush as Agatha Howard who relates the horror filled tale of how she visits a friend of her father’s. Her father had a sudden heart attack the summer before, and after which Agatha discovers correspondence between the two men, both who refuse to accept the finality of death.

Agatha meets the landlady Mrs. Gibbons (Beatrice Kay ) who proceeds to take her up to Munoz’s room. “Smell that” “Yes” “Ammonia, I could never understand foreigners and this one I can understand least. He’s got a refrigeration machine in there that uses ammonia. The darn thing leaks half the time, and that machine keeps the whole house awake.” If he wasn’t paying me so much rent and paying it as promptly as he does well he wouldn’t be occupying three of my rooms. Agatha-“Could you knock” Mrs. Gibbons-“Don’t be so impatient sister, I have a feeling you’ll be wanting to leave soon.”  Gibbons knocks “Cold as a grave, like a tomb.”

Agatha-“It’s delightfully cool in here doctor.”

Agatha wants to let Dr. Munoz know about her father’s passing. He asks if she had read all the letters and she tells him that she found them fascinating. Agatha’s father did cellular research and the rejuvenation of organs. Munoz- “I’m afraid my own approach took the research a step further. Perhaps into the mystic!” So you said in your letters something to do with the human will staving off death.”

The captivating Dr. Juan Munos (Henry Darrow) is intellectual, attractive as well as mysterious, but not is all that it seems. Still Agatha is drawn to his gentle nature and curious alienation from the world. Soon after their meeting, she learns that he has discovered a way to prolong life. Munos lives in a self-imposed prison where he must inhabit a home that is kept refrigerated as if he were a side of beef.

On a particularly hot night during a heat wave, the air cooling system breaks down and Agatha tries to come to his rescue by finding a mechanic in time to repair the machine. When he is unable to fix the system in time. Munoz meets her at the door but refuses to let her in, instead sending her to fetch a ton of ice to keep in his bathtub. In one of the eerier moments of the piece he is shrouded in a towel bearing only one eye peering out at her. In the end, Agatha finally learns Dr. Munoz’s horrifying secret.

Also stars Beatrice Kay as Mrs. Gibbons the landlady. Written by Rod Serling Directed by Jeannot Szwarc loosely based on the short story “Cool Air” by H.P. Lovecraft.

GREEN FINGERS – AIR DATE JAN.8, 1972 S2E15

A lyrically sinister work like a fable. I’ve been trying to decipher if cinematographer Bud Thackery is the cameraman out of the three listed on IMDb on this segment, it reminds me of his work, though it could be The Tune in Dan’s Cafe (starring the exquisite Susan Oliver) — which also has a streak of Thackery’s lens.

The old folk song Greensleeves is hummed by Elsa Lanchester throughout the episode.

Michael Saunders (Cameron Mitchell) is a ruthless cigar smoking executive of a large corporation Saunders Construction Company, has a multi million dollar construction project to build his factory. The project is held up by the old woman, the gentle widow Lydia Bowen played by the Fae like Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein 1935, Ladies in Retirement 1941) Lydia tends to her beloved garden which is situated smack dab in the middle of the desired construction site. No matter how much money Saunders offers her for her property, she refuses to sell. He calls her house a ‘museum piece’. “when you were a little boy Mr. Saunders you must have been very spoiled. You must have gotten everything you asked for. Or screamed for.”

The widow Bowen shows Saunders her lovely garden expressing her ability to make “everything I plant seems to grow” and flourish. She shows him a piece of kindling that has uncannily bloomed.

Frustrated with the old woman, he sends a thug with an axe to take care of her but accidentally kills her instead when she bleeds to death. What grows in Lydia’s beautiful garden? Watch this macabre episode and find out! Remember everything she plants “seems to grow.”

Driven mad by Night Gallery’s fatalistic retribution in the end Saunders is left rambling a soliloquy, with his eyes popping through the prism of bottle bottom thick glasses, hair turned white gray as ashes and set to fits of laughter, “Do you want to hear something funny? You know, from small acorns mighty oaks grow. That’s a fact. But do you know what grows form an old lady’s fingers? Hmm?

Screen play Written by Rod Serling based on the short story by R.C. Cook and directed by John Badham.

GIRL WITH THE HUNGRY EYES—AIR DATE OCT.1, 1972

Joanna Pettet is The Girl with the Hungry Eyes, in this chilling episode about a model who appears out of oblivion to seduce struggling photographer David Faulkner (James Farentino) for an advertising gig. While developing film in his darkroom he discovers the photo of a beautiful girl that he doesn’t recall taking a picture of. Mysteriously the “Girl” walks into his studio but the photograph of her has transformed into a different face. David asks her to come back the next day to do a photo shoot for the new ad for the Munsch Beer campaign he’s working on. Munsch (John Astin) walks in and decides that she is the perfect face for his advertising, where there’s a billboard mock up he has designated for just the right girl. The “Girl’s” visage becomes famous all around the city.

Of course David becomes obsessed with this provocative beauty but is warned not to ever follow her once she leaves the studio. But he discovers the true nature of her intoxicating lure. Co-stars John Astin as Munsch Written by Robert Malcom Young and directed by John Badham. This is the fourth episode that 60s & 70s staple actor Joanna Pettet (The Group 1966, Casino Royale 1967) who studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse appears in. The other three are The Caterpillar, Keep in Touch We’ll Think of Something and the haunted Elaine Latimer in The House.

When David’s friend Harry Krell (Kip Niven) becomes enamored with the model it’s like a spell comes over him. There is something hypnotic and stirring about The Girl’s eyes that draw you into her orbit. After David tosses Harry out of his studio, he notices he and the Girl walking down the street together, and decides to follow the pair. He catches sight of her running away, but remembers her eerie warning never to follow him and so he stops his pursuit, while Harry winds up dead. The next day Munsch insists on meeting his Beer girl. And that night David once again sees her with kissing a young man who winds up falling dead on the pavement. When she reveals her fiery glowing eyes David runs away, but when he returns to his studio, the “Girl” is there waiting for him. Is she a girl out of a dream world or more of the thing nightmares are made of?

SOMETHING IN THE WOODWORK — AIR DATE JAN.14, 1973

From a short story by R. Chetwynd-Hayes Housebound with the teleplay adapted by Rod Serling.

A lonely alcoholic Molly Wheatland (Geraldine Page in her third —The Sins of the Father and Stop Killing Me —and final appearance on the Night Gallery), as she portrays a divorced woman who buys a purportedly haunted house cheap, and then befriends a solitary (The spirit of a bank robber named Jamie Dillman played by John McMurtry) ghost that inhabits her attic —he died up there after a shoot out with the cops. Page is always astounding in any role, a quite imposing persona and one of the finest dramatic actors. (as Alexandra del Lago in Sweet Bird of Youth 1962, The Day of the Locust 1975, Interiors 1978)

Molly is so lonely that she even tries to persuade handyman Wilson (Paul Jenkins), to stay and have coffee with her.

Molly goes up and confides in ghostly Jamie about her marital troubles. Molly Wheatland invites her ex-husband over on the pretense of signing some papers and celebrating his birthday. In reality, she has planned a romantic evening. Charlie has a younger woman (Barbara Rhoades) waiting in the car. The enraged Molly boasts that she doesn’t need him because she has friends of her own.

She plans to use the ghost to frighten her cheating ex husband Charlie (Leif Erickson). Molly asks this ghost to “take care of” Charlie, by scaring him to death because he has a weak heart. Jamie begs Molly to “Leave me alone.” And the desperate woman threatens to burn the house down. Jamie asks her “What can I do?” “Charlie has a bum ticker, Jamie. Frighten him to death.”

Charlie thinking that Molly has finally gone insane returns with a psychiatrist and Molly tells Charlie to just go up in the attic to meet the ghost, and he does dropping dead of a heart attack of course as she hears the crash upstairs. “Well, there’s always more goblets to replace the broken ones. But unfortunately, there’s only one heart to a customer. And yours, Charlie, has given out.”

Something in the Woodwork is a pretty workable haunted house trope of cobwebbed liminal spaces and something partially seen between the rafters of the darkened attic.

The atmospheric attic is effectively creepy, as is Jamie’s voice and splintered looking persona. The half black, half white face is quite an interesting make-up choice and reminds me of Lou Antonio as Lokai and Frank Gorshin as Bele in Let That Be Your Last Battelfied episode of Star Trek which aired January 10, 1969 four years prior to Something in the Woodwork. Fred B. Phillips is responsible for the ghost make-up, while I can’t find any credits for who designed the humanoids in Star Trek.

The story continues with a careful what you wish for finale.

Screenplay by Rod Serling and directed by Edmund M. Abrams.

This has been your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl saying hope you’ve enjoyed the journey through the Gallery, stay tuned for more things that go bump in the night!

2 thoughts on “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery 9 Terrifying Halloween Treats!

    1. Yeah, Night Gallery definitely didn’t hit the notes that Twilight Zone did,and Serling was miserable with the series as well, but it’s got some chilling moments and great performances by some wonderful character actors! Creepy is a good word for the show~ Cheers, Joey

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s