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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From Beyond Television: Night Gallery


NIGHT GALLERY Season 2 episode #26


This episode highlights two stories both dealing with witchcraft. The first is incredibly atmospheric bearing resemblance to Bava's Wurdulak tale in his THREE FACES OF FEAR (1963) aka BLACK SABBATH. This first goosebumper is a period piece while the second is a modern creeper. Both add up to one of the best of the GALLERY's exhibits.


Starring: John Saxon, Lois Nettleton, Royal Dano

Director: Daniel Haller

The wife of a deathly ill farmer longs to be with her secret lover. She seeks the assistance of an old witch to fashion a doll in his image, but soon finds getting rid of him to be a more difficult task than first thought.

Roger Corman protege, Haller, formerly an art director before tackling directing helms this EC enhanced tale of terror. Some of his genre product include the Lovecraftian DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965) and THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970). Haller immerses his segment in the fog encroached company of the best of Mario Bava. This segment is one of the richest in Gothic atmosphere. The scene where Nettleton tries to burn the doll is one of the most unsettling moments in the series.

John Saxon has been in pretty much everything as well as a massive trove of foreign productions including appearing in Bava's THE EVIL EYE (1963). Nettleton was the hot lady (in more ways than one) in the doomsday TWILIGHT ZONE episode, 'The Midnight Sun'. Royal Dano has been in dozens of movies and television shows in supporting roles as both good guys and bad guys.


Joel Grey, Howard Duff, Mark Hamill

Director: John Newland

Arthur threatens to cut his eccentric nephew, Andrew MacBane, from his inheritance should he not obtain a job. Preferring his studies in witchcraft following in the footsteps of his ancient ancestor, Jedidiah MacBane. Obsessed with finding the ten missing pages from his ancestors book of spells, Andrew decides to summon a deadly demonic force to do away with his uncle, but is unable to send the evil back.

Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill (left) has a brief spot in this segment

One thing fans will notice about a good number of NIGHT GALLERY episodes is how similar they are to certain episodes of Serling's TWILIGHT ZONE. For this segment, the story recalls the classic and horrifying ZONE tale, 'The Jungle' which also dealt with revenge from beyond. There are slight differences, but the similarities are unmistakable.

Fans may remember Oscar winning Joel Grey as master Chun from REMO WILLIAMS (1985). STAR WARS fans need not use the Force to spot a very young Mark Hamill in a small role as a messenger boy. Director, Newland helmed the TREK show 'Errand of Mercy', and the fan favorite television horror flick DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973).



Will Errickson said...

Haven't seen this one but the opening credit sequence and score are a favorite, recently re-discovered thanks to a local retro cable channel.

dfordoom said...

Night Gallery was a great series that's been unfairly overshadowed by Serling's earlier and better-known Twilight Zone.

venoms5 said...

It's a good one, Will. THE CATERPILLAR is my favorite out of the whole series. I hope the third season makes it onto DVD.

venoms5 said...

@ D: I agree, it's a very good show. Watching the doc on the season two set it appears Serling wasn't very happy with the show. He wanted it to be a serious program and producer Laird wanted a lighter one.

A lot of the shows look like refurbished versions of some of the TZ episodes.

dexter-smith said...

Is there a definitive collection currently published in a book, of all the 'Night Gallery' painting ?

venoms5 said...

There is a book on the series itself covering the making of each show from McFarland Press. The Season Two set has a special feature where either all, or most of the paintings have accompanying commentary as to their origin. I haven't watched that feature yet so I don't know if it's all of the paintings, or selected ones.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Not only have I not seen either of these episodes, I somehow have not seen a single episode of Night Gallery whatsoever! I managed to rationalize to myself that the entire series was a TZ ripoff, but judging from the incredible Gothic atmosphere set in the pics and described above, I have no idea what I'm missing V! Might be box set time!

venoms5 said...

These are the same episode, Carl. NIGHT GALLERY had two or three segments per each 60 minute episode. The segments ranged in length. Some were shorts a couple minutes in length and were done in a comedic vein. The stories themselves were between 15 and 30 minutes. Hopefully, season three will show up soon. Spielberg directed one of the segments from the pilot.

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