So, we took a little unannounced break. Call it what passes for a wee summer vacation here at Castle Blogferatu. We’ll probably take it easy for most of the summer in fact, but not completely. There will still be some posts to check out along the way, so we’re back, back with a new special little summer project for your dining and dancing pleasure:
From now until September, Blogferatu will be looking at scads of horror TV shows, horror hosts, and whatever televised fare that seems appropriate (or maybe inappropriate) and weighing in on some of them from time to time.
So let’s get the ball rolling with a well-know, well-loved classic.
My Six Favorite Alfred Hitchcock Presents Episodes
I know. I know. How does one narrow down 7 seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to a mere 6 episodes? Madness! Thrift, Horatio, thrift. If I were to try to do my top 50, or 20, or even 10, we’d be here forever. Our, uh, “guests” in the dungeon would be most put out. So a nice little half dozen it is.
#6 The Landlady
A Roald Dahl story (as most of these are…more on that in a bit). Billy Weaver (Dean Stockwell) becomes a tenant of a friendly landlady. Since it’s a Roald Dahl story, and since the teleplay was written by Robert Bloch, one already knows something is amiss and probably with the landlady. She repeatedly refers to her other tenants, but Weaver never sees them. Even though it’s not difficult to sort out fairly quickly where this story is headed, it still remains remarkably effective. That’s the problem with Dahl. Many of his stories are tough to talk about without giving too much away. So…moving on.
#5 The Older Sister
One of two on this list that are not Roald Dahl stories. This one is set one year after Lizzie Borden is acquitted of murder. A very nosy reporter comes poking around looking far a career-making exclusive by attempting to prove Lizzie’s guilt. There really isn’t much else to say about this one without giving too much away, but it’s well worth having a look.
#4 Dip In The Pool
While on his cruise, William Botibol (the always fun Keenan Wynn) places a substantial wager in the ship’s mileage pool, betting that it won’t reach a specific number of miles because of a storm. When conditions improve and threaten to thwart his plan, Botibol takes drastic measures to slow the ship down by jumping overboard. He has a witness whom he is certain will alert the captain who will no doubt turn the ship around and retrieve him. Foolproof, yes? Sure. Of course it is.
#3 The Glass Eye
The only other story on this list not by Roald Dahl. This was recommended to me by Tim Cooper at Naro Video. Of course. Jessica Tandy plays Julia who falls in love with and, well, basically stalks renowned ventriloquist Max Collodi. Okay, okay, stalking might be a bit strong. Still, she writes him letters constantly, begging for a chance to meet him. She follows his tour with the fervent dedication of any diehard Deadhead. Or Phish-head. Or Parrothead. Or whatever. This is a fine twist on the ventriloquist/dummy relationship idea. The final reveal is fairly unnerving. Also bonus points for Julia’s cousin who tells the story, played by William Shatner back when he actually, y’know, acted.
#2 Man From The South
It’s no accident (for reasons that will become clear) that Roald Dahl features heavily on this list. The first version I saw of this was on Tales Of The Unexpected, a kind of 80s knock-off of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It did, however, take a few darker turns here and there, so I’ll be getting to Tales before the summer is out. Anyway, this is the one in which an old man, Carlos (Peter Lorre), makes a bet that an American gambler (Steve McQueen) can’t light his lighter ten times in a row. The wager? Carlos’s car against the little finger on the gambler’s left hand. As always, there’s the Roald Dahl twist. If you haven’t seen this one, you’re missing out. It was also #41 on TV Guide’s 100 Greratest Episodes in 1997.
#1 Lamb To The Slaughter
Is this not one of the finest titles ever? This was my first exposure to Roald Dahl. I read this story before I saw Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka (a movie which, itself, contains one of the creepiest horror scenes to be found in a nonhorror movie. Seriously, that boat ride takes a hard left). I’ve been a fan ever since. What’s not to love about Barbara Bel Geddes as she brains her cheating dirtbag husband with a frozen leg of lamb then feeds it to the investigating detectives? It’s beautiful, and #59 for the aforementioned TV Guide list in 2009. The only problem is that the show can’t make use of Dahl’s truly eerie last line: “And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.” Still…
All. Time. Favorite.
And there you have ’em, a half dozen of my favorites recommended for summer viewing. And in the case of Roald Dahl, one could do worse than a little summer reading as well. Time now for a dip in the moat. Pool. I meant pool.