Sequence of Frights is a recurring column that primarily focuses on horror in tv. Particularly, it takes a more in-depth take a look at 5 episodes or tales — every one adhering to an total theme — from completely different anthology sequence or the occasional film made for TV. With anthologies changing into widespread once more, particularly on tv, now could be the right time to see what this timeless mode of storytelling has to supply.
On the coronary heart of horror is household. Demons, ghosts, and monsters don’t instill worry wherever as a lot as a horrible household can. The horror style recurrently tears down the partitions of what’s deemed regular, and nothing screams “regular” like a nuclear family. After all nobody has the right mum or dad or sibling relationship, however sure circumstances in horror make them extra strained than traditional.
In order a lot as household could be a blessing, it will probably usually really feel like a curse. The characters on this assortment of TV anthology tales can attest to that opinion.
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
Greediness nearly all the time results in downfall in horror, and households will not be spared from this moralistic lesson. Rod Serling uncovered one clan to a merciless destiny within the iconic Twilight Zone episode “The Masks“. The story, directed by Ida Lupino, stays a basic for excellent causes.
Set on the evening of Mardi Gras, “The Masks” facilities on a dying outdated man, Jason Foster (Robert Keith), who ‘welcomes’ his household into his dwelling for one final gathering. His family members are as egocentric and money-grubbing as they arrive, and shortly their habits will likely be judged. Earlier than the eldest Foster passes on, he requests his members of the family every put on a grotesque masks till midnight. They stay to remorse his uncommon demand.
By now, everybody most likely is aware of the twist of “The Masks”. The result of this harsh parable has been etched into minds young and old as a result of they perceive its significance. After all the prospect of a masks rendering somebody’s face monstrous is inconceivable. It’s the concept that folks’s grossest flaws can grow to be completely externalized that shakes viewers to their core.
Serling works so laborious at emphasizing the episode’s cautionary features that he overlooks its characters. They really feel like caricatures who some won’t really feel are completely deserving of their punishment. Be that as it could, Serling and Lupino set a excessive customary for Twilight Zone at its most morbid and unkind.
Evening Gallery (1969)
Earlier than Rod Serling’s Evening Gallery grew to become a full-fledged sequence, it started as an anthology TV-movie. The 1969 telefilm was primarily a pilot with an unmistakable format; a number of self-contained tales linked by Serling’s insightfully creepy narration. The eponymous location was additionally extra minimal in look and area than the one seen within the eventual sequence.
Beginning issues off is Boris Sagal‘s “The Cemetery“, one in all Serling’s scariest creations. Roddy McDowall performs an incorrigible swindler named Jeremy Evans, and he seeks his ailing uncle’s wealth. He does the anticipated and kills the sick outdated man, however his crime doesn’t go unpunished. For Jeremy believes the ghoulish topic of his uncle’s portray is alive and transferring all all through the canvas till it lastly breaks by to actuality.
Of all of the segments within the Evening Gallery film, “The Cemetery” is definitely essentially the most ghastly. The neighboring tales have their very own deserves, however the first one is overtly scary with a patent methodology of steered terror that also sends chills down spines immediately.
How the antagonist comes undone stands out within the huge world of comeuppance tales. McDowall’s dramatic efficiency because the despicable Jeremy is notable as properly. Evening Gallery actually outdid itself with such a macabre opener.
Lifeless of Evening (1977)
One of the vital esteemed style writers of yesteryear is Richard Matheson. Basic audiences know him greatest from his contributions within the authentic Twilight Zone in addition to the movie diversifications of his novels like I Am Legend and A Stir of Echoes. Considered one of his lesser identified creations — or actually one thing they didn’t notice he was the mastermind behind — is the unforgettable story “Bobby” from Lifeless of Evening.
Whereas a great sum of Matheson’s works started as a novel or brief story, “Bobby” is solely authentic and distinctive to this 1977 TV-movie. Darkish Shadows and Trilogy of Terror creator Dan Curtis directed the made-for-television anthology for NBC whereas Matheson co-wrote two of the entries. “Bobby” is undoubtedly essentially the most memorable of the bunch.
In “Bobby”, a grieving mom (Joan Hackett) resorts to the darkish arts to finish her ache; she brings her son, the section’s namesake, again from the lifeless. The spell certainly revives her youngster, however Hackett’s character rapidly learns one thing has gone unsuitable within the course of. Bobby is just not himself… or is he?
Whereas different writers ignore the sage rule of “much less is extra,” Matheson lived by it. He factors out Bobby’s abuse on the hand of his mom with out essentially saying so. Matheson trusts the viewers to determine it out, and as soon as they do, it stays beneath their pores and skin. The conclusion of “Bobby” is as excellent as it’s horrifying. And Curtis apparently favored this story a lot he remade it in his 1996 TV-movie, Trilogy of Terror II.
Tales of the Surprising (1979-1988)
Demise within the Morning
Marrying right into a household isn’t simple. Particularly when the bride is notably youthful than her groom, a rich man (Moray Watson). On this Season 5 episode of Tales of the Surprising, Karen (Cherie Lunghi) finds herself out of types after transferring into her new husband’s nation manor. At first Karen thinks she is solely having a tough time adjusting to her new environment, however she quickly suspects somebody is out to hurt her.
Tales of the Surprising hardly broached the supernatural like its contemporaries. It was extra eager on psychological horror and artifical suspense. With “Demise within the Morning” airing on Halloween, it solely appears becoming to go the additional mile. John Gorrie‘s adaptation of Zia Kruger‘s story is a refined one even by Surprising requirements. Additional rewatches will reveal how sharply made it’s.
What makes “Demise within the Morning” so laudable is its contact of vagueness. Is Karen imagining her troubles or is there actually evil within the works? Surprising episodes usually had a bluntness to them, however right here the dilemma is shrouded in positive mystique. Karen tries to suit into her husband’s life as greatest she will be able to; she makes good together with his son, workers, and his associates. They’re fairly set of their opinions concerning the new spouse, although. But are they resentful sufficient to kill Karen?
“Demise within the Morning” negotiates actuality and the supernatural by introducing the factor of historic witchcraft with solely the belief of it being actively practiced by somebody within the solid. It’s dealt with with grace like most every part else right here. Different episodes within the latter seasons of the sequence had been on the point of sordid, however this one comes throughout as rather more refined despite its fiendish end.
Household caregivers are usually extra depressed and alienated than the common individual, and “Eugene, Oregon” from Monsterland grapples with that unhappy reality in a singular manner. The episode relies on “SS” from Nathan Ballingrud’s brief story anthology, North American Lake Monsters.
In “Eugene, Oregon”, a youngster named Nick (Charlie Tahan) is compelled to drop out of faculty after his mom has a stroke and might not work. Nick’s battle to pay their payments and afford medicine leads him to a web based discussion board after he spots ‘unusual shadow’ folks lurking in his home. His new help group, nonetheless, has ulterior motives for serving to him.
The episode may seem to sympathize with the far-right extremists proliferating society immediately, but it surely truly tries to elucidate in comprehensible phrases how these folks reached such a degree of their lives. The metaphorical use of shadows is intelligent; they’re innocuous till somebody like Nick’s on-line associates says they don’t seem to be. From there somebody like Nick is then indoctrinated right into a radicalized group.
“Eugene, Oregon” is a heartbreaking and related story about a teenager failed by a number of techniques. His mother and father are both sick or absent, his faculty desires nothing to do with him after he drops out, and his job fires him. The saddest half is how Nick won’t ever notice who the true monsters are in his life. Those claiming him as household now are those prepared to sacrifice him for his or her heinous trigger.