The Night Gallery (1969) – movie review

Night Gallery pic 18

The Night Gallery – Pilot Movie (1969)

The success of this TV pilot movie spawned the series that lasted for three seasons. Our host, Rod Serling, wrote all three stories in the pilot, all of which had a particular painting as an aspect of the tales. An interesting note is the second segment was directed by a young Steven Spielberg, his directing debut.

The Cemetery Roddy McDowall plays a scoundrel, Jeremy Evans, a distant cousin of a sick miserly estate owner. He shows up shortly before the millionaire’s death (suspicious death) to collect on the will. He derides the butler/assistant, Osmond Portifoy, who helped Uncle William Hendricks for 30 years being both a caretaker and a friend to the man. Uncle William was an artist before his disease crippled him. The last canvas he painted, a view of the family cemetery on the estate, hangs from the Night Gallery pic 11main stairway wall. Soon after the old man’s burial, Jeremy notices a difference in the painting, a fresh burial at a grave site. He calls Portifoy to look at it but the caretaker sees no difference. After being insulted by a drunken Jeremy, Portifoy leaves for the night. As dark falls, Jeremy sees the disinterment of the coffin in the painting. He races around the mansion calling for Portifoy, forgetting that the man had left. Every time he passes the painting he sees the image of his Uncle William move closer to the front door until finally he hears the massive door knocker summoning him.

Eyes – In the second segment, Joan Crawford plays a nasty, well-to-do woman with one distraction. She is blind. Through her lawyer, she finds a man that will donate his eyes for a nominal fee. He needs to pay his bookie before the mob rubs him out. She doesn’t care about the moral implications or the man’s motives, she wants both of his eyes for $9,000. She Night Gallery pic 10especially wants to see the recently finished portrait of herself commissioned by a top artist in the field. The sight will only last 12 – 13 hours. But there will be a price to pay for taking advantage of those less fortunate.

The Escape Route – In the final segment, a man can’t keep his terrible past a secret as memories of his work at Nazi concentration camps surface. Now living in Brazil, he spends time at a museum, under a peaceful painting of a lone man fishing on a docile lake. He imagines himself there at the lake many times. An international investigation team is closing in upon him and he has one wish from God. But God isn’t going to let his sins go unpunished.

These are three excellent tales with stronger themes than The Twilight Zone while still retaining the moral compass of the traditional Zone tales. If you like TZ you will like this also, it feels like an extension of the old show. The first segment is downright creepy and all the stories have a twist ending. Despite that there’s more dialogue than action, the stories will certainly hold your interest.

Excellent story telling in the tradition of the best TZ episodes.
I give it 4.0 walking corpses on the tortured twisted endings scale in the Rod Serling universe.

Night Gallery pic 1

Everything you would want to know about The Night Gallery series, including a gallery of the paintings used to introduce the individual stories can be found here: http://nightgallery.net/

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The Night Gallery – the series
The series began a year later in 1970 and ran for 3 seasons through 1973. Rod Serling was the host, introducing us to stories through paintings in the art gallery. Each hour long episode had up to three stories. Some of my favorite episodes include, Pickman’s Model, The Doll, and Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay. The third season and subsequent syndication format were only half hour episodes. They had a few unaired stories and had edited down some previous episodes to only one story in order to fit the half hour format. They also added in stories from a short lived series called, The Sixth Sense with newly recorded introductions by Rod Serling to round out the syndicated series and the VHS/dvd releases. However, the dvds/blurays of the first two seasons on the market today are the original hour episodes the way they had originally aired.

Our Halloween Traditions: TV Shows – part II

tales dvd pic 2
Our Halloween Traditions: TV Shows – part II

Tales from the Darkside, and some individual episodes from my fave shows, The Odd Couple & The Honeymooners

Tales from the Darkside, episodes:

Halloween Candy and Trick or TreatThese are two episodes that are about Halloween specifically and we watch them every year at this time.
tales - halloween candy pic 2

Halloween Candy is about a grumpy old man that won’t give children treats even though his son brings candy for him to hand out. The son urges him to just answer the door for a few hours. After midnight the old man is tormented by a late night trick-or-treat-er, who is actually a goblin.
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tales - trick or treat pic 2

Trick or Treat, A rich and stingy banker, who owns the mortgages to almost everyone in town, sets up haunted house effects in his own home. Any child of the town can try to find the mortgage and deeds to their parent’s homes and if they do, their parents are free of debt. None of the children can make it. He is visited by a nasty witch on this particular Halloween, and this time he is the one frightened by the guest. This classic witch is on my previous blog, Scariest Witches in Film.


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Halloween related episodes from some of my fave TV shows:

The Odd Couple – Trapped (the masquerade episode) – Felix and Oscar are on their way to a masquerade party but Oscar never picked up a costume. They decide to go down the basement to find something he can wear and accidentally get locked in.
odd couple season 1 odd couple pic 1

OC trapped pic 2 odd couple trapped
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The Honeymooners – The Man from Space – When Alice won’t give Ralph $10 for the Raccoons Lodge annual costume party, Ralph resorts to creating a costume using items around the house.

Honeymooners - man from space episode

honeymooners man from space pic 2 honeymooners box set

Our Halloween Traditions: TV Shows – part I – The Cartoons

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Our Halloween Traditions: TV Shows – The Cartoons

My family’s Halloween traditions include watching some classic TV shows. Naturally, this post is geared toward the whole family so these are generally not too strong.

Every Halloween, and the week leading up to it we like watch these classic family oriented TV shows and specials.

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charlie-brown-pumpkin pic 8

The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

We watch this every year. Despite knowing every line by heart and seeing it since childhood, it still begins our Halloween tradition. They now have a remastered dvd/blu-ray edition.

the great pumpkin
The Great Pumpkin on Amazon
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Disney Horseman

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Disney

This 1949 cartoon of the Headless Horseman is a classic. I had seen it as a child and was both frightened and excited by the tale. Ichabod’s creepy ride home, as the sounds of the swamp seem to be calling his name, “Ichabod,” is still potent today. The Headless Horseman song is a classic, sung by Bing Crosby. Check out these great lines:

adventures-ichabod-mr-toadWith a hip-hop, and a clipity-clop,

He’s out lookin’ for a head to chop!”

What wonderful memories from childhood…

It is currently being sold on DVD as a double feature with another story, Mr. Toad.  The DVD title is The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Each tale is about 25 minutes long.
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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad on Amazon

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And don’t forget…
Scooby-Doo-Where-Are-You-Hassle-in-the-Castle pic 217176438-1067-800

Scooby-doo, Where are you?

Anytime of year is good for a few episodes of the original Scooby-Doo, but they are especially appreciated around Halloween. I own all of the early episode on dvd – Scooby-doo, Where are you? Let’s take a ride in the Mystery Van with Shaggy, Scooby, Freddie, Velma and Daphne, have some Scooby-snacks, and maybe catch Red Herring in a plot to scare those meddling kids away!

Some of my fave episodes:
(all with rhyming titles and campy wordplay)

That’s Snow Ghost
Which Witch is Which
What a Night for a Knight
Go Away Ghost Ship
A Clue for Scooby-doo

Scooby-doo, Where are you? on Amazon

The Following and filming location pics

the-following-pic 1

The Following and On Location pics

Don’t know if anyone has been watching, The Following, but I finally caught up with the season finale which originally aired Mon. 4/28/13

The Following is an FBI serial-killer, crime drama, starring Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy, the down and out agent, called back to duty, in order to recapture convicted serial killer Joe Caroll. The escaped killer has a penchant for Poe, and is writing a book about the true-life crime-drama that he is creating, while taunting the FBI.

It captured my interest early on and was interesting enough to keep me watching. To my surprise, all of the outside scenes of the season finale were filmed at The Fire Island Lighthouse, which is close to where I live. It was one of those, Oh, My God! I know where that is…, moments.

So I thought I would share some pics from my family outing a while back – our last visit to the light house.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you see a location in a movie or show that is in your neighborhood or surrounding areas?

What I Watch on Television

What I Watch on Television
Ten Current Television shows I watch. In no particular order.
(non-sports) (must have had new seasons in the past year)

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1) The Walking Dead
This is perhaps my favorite TV show of all time! I even like it better than the “6 Million Dollar Man vs. Bigfoot” episode and the “Fonz jumps a Tank of Sharks with his motorcycle” episode. (Obscure 70’s TV show references). This show is better than most Zombie movies and I can’t wait until Sunday nights, when I force my family to become mutes, (like Zombies), so I don’t miss one word or second of the show!

2) American Pickers
Like ‘The Antique Road Show’ but you get to watch these guys crawl and climb through barns and garages of hoarders’ junk, sometimes finding that one gem that is worth something. Also, I like to see them wheel and deal to negotiate prices with some hard-boiled eggs. I guess it is everyone’s wish that they have some item that is worth a bunch of money squirreled away in their garage or attic – Unfortunately, everything I ever saved is worth crap!

3) Operation Repo
I love that people default on their car loans then get MAD at the Repo guys whose job it is to pick up these vehicles by order of the banks. Do these people think they should own a new car for FREE?  It’s a thankless job and you got to be some tough sons-a-bitches to do it. A fun show to watch.

4) Fear Factor
This high-action, somewhat dangerous, beat the clock style, competition show is back on the air after a five year hiatus. I still like to watch people covered in snakes and spiders, eat hissing roaches, and hang upside-down from helicopters to grab flags off of buoys. Good stuff and its all over in an hour! (Unlike those never ending reality shows with all the voting and drama, uhg!).

5) Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution is an in-depth look at the history, evolution and individual sub- genres of hard rock and metal music. Host, Sam Dunn, has got everything right on the money using tons of interviews with music artists, journalists, and rare footage of bands, to tell the story of this music style. The 80’s ‘hair bands’ were only a small sliver of what metal music is all about, but it is what most people envision when they hear the term ‘metal’ (I would argue that much of the 80’s hair band music wasn‘t even ‘metal’ . It was ‘pop’ with loud guitars). This is a great music series now up to their 11th episode.

6) Man v. Food
Who can resist watching Adam Richman hunt down and devour the most juiciest meats, heftiest burritos, and burliest bar food in America. (OK, excluding vegans, and health food fanatics). After watching an episode yesterday, I had to call a half dozen diners to find one that made a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. It’s hard to watch the show and not get hungry. I fully intend to visit places that Adam has discovered and try for myself, those great-tasting foods they serve. I have a map with places of interest, all ready for my next road trip.

7) Scare Tactics
As much as I like being scared, there is one thing I like even better; watching other people be scared. Although this show is probably past its prime, they do come up with some great tricks, on this horror-themed, candid-camera-style, prank show.

8) Ghost Adventures
Ya’ know, there are a few of these shows on cable but it is the fact that Zakk, Nick and Aaron, seem to be enjoying themselves – that they get excited, goof on each other and have some laughs, while trying to detect the spirit world – that makes this show enjoyable to me. I used to watch Ghost Hunters, but that show has gotten so serious, it’s like watching a text book. Ghost Adventures seem to go to interesting places of historical importance, places that intrigue my imagination. And, they show enthusiasm for the things they see. I’m at the point where I don’t even care all that much about the evidence; people can avow or disclaim that, depending on their point of view. It is the adventure that I enjoy, the thought of possibilities, and the banter and excitement between the guys doing the investigation.

9) Celebrity Ghost Stories
I am a casual viewer of this show. I enjoy some of the tales from celebrities ranging from very famous to semi-famous. It is great fodder for the imagination and the show is done well enough to hold my interest.

 

10) The Daily Show
The best way to get news is through comedy like the news show John Stewart anchors/hosts on Comedy Central. In their quest for jokes and laughter, the writing teams do more research and fact finding than actual news shows on regular TV channels. Regular TV news in the US is now like press-release reading, relaying the facts from the sources in the exact way they want them delivered. With the downfall of newspaper journalists, I don’t know who is going to dig deep into the truth. TV today is all about sound-bites and ratings, not truth. Thank god the Daily Show digs deep to show the contradictions, hypocrisies, foibles, and quite often the real people behind the talking-head facades.

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So, what does your list look like? Let’s hear it! Feel free to post yours in the comments.