Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Halloween Movie Marathon: Night Gallery

Rod Serling was one of the writers who shaped my own fiction. (He was only 50 when he died, but he'd packed a lot of living into those 50 years.)
I loved Twilight Zone so much and even today rarely miss the hoiday episode marathons they show here in L.A., even though I know most of the episodes they show by heart. I was never that huge a fan of Night Gallery, but the pilot episode (available as part of the first season DVD) has three stories that are scary in very different ways.
The famous segment, "Eyes" starred Joan Crawford and is notable because it was a young Steven Spielberg's break-out directing gig. For me it was kind of a knockoff of the famous Isaac Asimov story "Nightfall." The other two stories gripped my imagination in a much stronger way. The first episode was about a greedy man in the south who is scared to death by paintings showing relatives coming out of their graves. Roddy McDowall and Ossie Davis starred in the episode and I remember Ossie Davis' character was named "Portifoy." That episode was directed by Boris Sagal, father of Sons of Anarchy's Katy Sagal.
For me the most powerful of the pilot's episodes was "Escape Route," starring Richard Kiley as a Nazi war criminal who imagines himself into a painting of an idyllic scene, only to discover someone's moved the painting and he's now trapped in a living hell. It was not a subtle story, but was really effective.
The first season of the show was the strongest, and the disk is something to watch over a long weekend when all the broadcast channels are showing cheesy made-for-television horror movies and theatrical films with the profanity and sex cut out.

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