***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***
The Norliss Tapes (1973)
Directed by Dan Curtis
Screenplay by William F. Nolan
It would seem that NBC, seeing the success of The Night Stalker and the vehicle of using a pilot movie to launch a series, wanted in on the Horror movie action. They called upon the highly successful talent of Dan Curtis who enlisted William F Nolan for the script. What is produced is like an upper class version of The Night Stalker. It’s familiar ground, but somehow doesn’t feel derivative despite the similarities.
Author, David Norliss calls his publisher, Sanford, telling him he can’t write the book he was supposed to be working on for the past year. The book was supposed to be a exposé to debunk the supernatural. When David disappears, Sanford goes looking for him at his mountain home. He finds the place in disarray. The publisher sits at David’s desk and sees recorded journals about the research he did for the book. He puts a cassette tape into the player.
The taped narration leads into the tale about a woman whose husband died but doesn’t want to stay buried. Norliss investigates the first attack on the woman, Mrs. Cort, that leaves her dog dead and herself frightened. Soon there are more murders. The victims are found to be completely devoid of blood. Norliss speaks with several suspects gathering clues and a mystery unravels concerning an ancient Egyptian ring and a sculpture Mr. Cort had been working on before his death. This dead guy zombie/husband is seriously creepy as he attacks Mrs. Cort and Norliss again. The only drawback is he growls in a voice that reminded me of the ghoul in an episode of Scooby-Doo (the cartoon). Sheriff Hartley, (Claude Atkins) is the reluctant cop who doesn’t want details of the murders released to the public and doesn’t want Norliss interfering with the investigation. The tale escalates in classic Dan Curtis fashion. It ends with Norliss still narrating on tape and Sanford removing the tape as it stops. He then picks up another tape, one of many, presumably another story that would continue the series, as the credits begin.
It’s too bad this didn’t spawn a series, it would’ve been a nice addition to the legacy of Horror TV shows. Despite some drawbacks and similarities to the aforementioned films it was fun to watch. It doesn’t offer anything new or spectacular, but it was entertaining. It’s a quality horror film with exceptional acting and well worth a spin for fans of the other 70s horror flicks I’ve been reviewing.