Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


THRILLER Season 2. 1961.

Boris Karloff was back as the dignified but figuratively winking host of the hour-long Thriller during its second season. Some of the "black comedy" introductions resembled the sort of thing Hitchcock did over on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Highlights of the second season include: "The Return of Andrew Bentley," based on a tale by August Derleth; "Waxworks," a Robert Bloch tale with Martin Kosleck and Oscar Homolka; "La Strega," a tale of a witch starring Ursula Andress which is notable primarily for Morton Stevens' scoring; "the grotesque "A Wig for Miss DeVore," also based on a tale by Derleth; and "An Attractive Family" featuring a group of charming sociopaths.

"Cousin Tundifer" is a delicious black comedy with Edward Andrews going back in time to try to get rid of a wealthy uncle. "The Incredible Doktor Markeson," another Derleth story, stars Karloff as a doctor who successfully brings people back from the dead. "Flowers of Evil" presents Luciana Palazzi as a kind of black widow murderess whose husband worked in a morgue. "Kill My Love" features Richard Carlson giving possibly his most memorable performance as a man driven to murder until his actions even horrify himself. "Lethal Ladies" is a two-part tale [based on stories by Joseph Payne Brennan] in which Howard Morris and Rosemary Murphy -- who play different characters in each episode -- so lose themselves in their roles that the viewer is completely unaware that it's the same actors in each story [wife vs. philandering husband; mousy librarian vs. new boss]. "A Third for Pinochle" is another amusing tale with Edward Andrews' plans to murder his wife stymied by the two biddies who live across the street.

Perhaps the best season 2 episode is "Guillotine," directed by Ida Lupino from a story by Cornell Woolrich, in which a woman poisons a headsman to prevent him from lopping off her lover's head -- but will he drop dead before he can do the deed? Clever -- and very, very suspenseful.

Verdict: Really a great old series. ***1/2. NOTE: Click here to read about season 1.

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