Ray Bradbury Theater – The Pedestrian (S3E5)

bradbury02In complete contrast to The Wind, this short story is really just a sketch, a thumbnail, and not even the thumbnail.  It is the RBT episode that fleshes out the character and concept.  I’m not sure who to credit for the improvement.  This is the only directing credit for Alun Bollinger, so probably not much attributable to him.  Certainly Bradbury expanded the story for his screenplay.  I think, though, it is David Ogden Stiers who really sells it.  I normally don’t care for him without the Boston accent (like in that really mediocre Star Trek TNG episode), but he is great here.

bbtpedestrian01He has walked to the house of his friend Stockwell.  This is risky and unusual because in the year 2053, street-walking is against the law — I mean literally walking down the streets, not the kind of street-walking that is still prosecuted by fascists in 2014 .

He is dressed all in black and has brought similar clothing to Stockwell.  Stiers reels off Bradbury’s flowery dialogue, and it is the rare occasion that it actually works.  They are giddy as they set out.  Stockwell has never seen dew on the grass, or the over-grown sidewalks.  This despite the fact that the houses do have windows.  Bradbury even gets a laugh out of Stockwell taking a header over a root.

bbtpedestrian03They are soon spotted by a drone Helicopter.  The rest of the episode is basically an interrogation by the drone.  This tracks with the short story except that it is a drone Police Car.

Stiers is grilled on why he is outside.  The drone can’t understand the concept of going for a walk, seeing the sites, or getting some fresh air.  The drone orders Stiers to get in, finally showing that it is not a small drone but was supposed to be a full size helicopter.

The helicopter lifts off and shines a spotlight on Stockwell telling him to  disperse, which unless he is dismembered, I’m not sure is strictly possible.  I think he probably takes the long way home.


  • I really did think it was a mini-copter drone.  Just turned out to be a sketchy special effect.
  • Hmmm, didn’t realize Michelle Forbes was in that ST:TNG episode in a pre-Ro role.  The presence of Lwaxana Troi is enough to stop me from revisiting it, though.
  • NZ-LOTR Connection: Director was 2nd Unit DP on all 3 movies.
  • Next week: A Sound of Thunder.  If they manage to screw that up . . .

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Vicious Circle (S2E29)

Dick York plays young tough Manny Coe . . . well, we can stop right there.  Dick York’s appearance in this role belongs in the Miscasting Hall of Fame.  When he walks in to the gangsta’s apartment and pulls a gun on him, the incongruity between that act and his gaunt boyish mug, pencil-neck, reedy voice, and loosely-hanging leather jacket is absurd.  There is a reason Dick York was cast as the panicky husband in Bewitched — he is not a bundle of confidence and gravitas.  This is like the time George-Michael bought the leather jacket on Arrested Development.

He calmly shoots the gangsta, Boss William’s former deputy who has botched a heist.  His girlfriend sees the murder in the paper and asks him about it.  He says he hasn’t killed anybody.  He lays her down and starts kissing her, no more convincing in this scene than the last.  Of course, how he bagged Samantha on Bewitched was also a great TV mystery of LOSTian proportions.  She wants him to get out of “da life” and get a real job, away from Mr. Williams.

ahpviscious03York storms out of the apartment and sees Russell Johnson on the stoop playing a harmonica — another huge casting blunder.  Like York, he would later go on to a role that he portrayed to perfection, the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.  But here playing a hipster named Turk, saying “man”, it just doesn’t work.

York goes to Boss William’s penthouse and is offered the job as the boss’s new deputy.  Strangely, during the interview, York pours some liquid into a tiny glass too small for a demitasse, or a shot, or even a demi-shot.  He hands it to Williams who uses it as an eyewash.  Hunh?  Maybe whatever he was doing was commonplace in the 50’s.  And, oh by the way, he tells York that his girlfriend must be killed.

Seems Williams fears Betty is a rat, and all rats have to suck the pipe (in the words of Dennis Miller).  Sadly, Williams is being 100% figurative.  A mere 50% figurative would have been a treat for York.  He gets as far as pulling a gun on her, but can’t pull the trigger.  She swats the gun away and runs away.  Unfortunately, she is hit by a car and killed.  Williams compliments York on making the death look like an accident.

1950's booty call.

1950’s booty call.

Unfortunately, York is not so lucky on his next assignment and botches the job.  Soon he has a visitor at his apartment — a short, even younger kid with ambition and an ill-fitting leather jacket.  At least this kid seems to have a short-man’s complex chip on his shoulder, so he is slightly more menacing.  You know, in that silly short-man way.

Hence the titular Vicious Circle.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  Only Kathleen Hughes and Mickey Kuhn are still with us.
  • Based on the eyewashes and dark glasses, I diagnose Boss Williams as having conjunctivitis aka pink eye.  I appreciate that it was part pf the scene, but was never commented on.  This is not Chekhov’s Eyewash.

Night Gallery – They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar (S1E6)

nightgallery01This was considered by most to be the high point for Night Gallery.

It is after 3 pm and Sales Director Randy Lane is not back from lunch.  His ambitious worm of an assistant Harvey Doane suggests that he might be out drinking.  When the owner Mr. Pritkin needs some info, Doane jumps in and throws Lane under the bus.

Lane’s secretary Lynn tries to cover for him.  She mentions today is Lane’s 25th anniversary with the firm, so he might be at lunch celebrating.  At 3:05, he finally rolls in, drunk and disheveled.  He spent the last hour standing on the sidewalk looking at the shuttered Tim Riley’s Bar.  How he got drunk standing on the sidewalk is not mentioned.

He gets very nostalgic about the bar which will soon be gone with no one to remember it with flowery speeches about the war and rumple seats.  After work, he goes back to the closed bar and reminisces with a beat cop about the old days after the war when they were young.  After the cop leaves, Lane has his first hallucination, of a celebration in the bar when he returned from the war.

ngriley01The speechifying goes on a little long as Serling has always done, but the performances make the show.  There is really no horror or shock to be found in the episode.  I’d have to call it good for what it is.  It just isn’t what I’m looking for in Night Gallery.

William Windom is great as Randy Lane.  Diane Baker was also great as Lane’s secretary.  She was completely convincing in her support for Lane; also pretty hot, reminding me of a young sexier Kate Mulgrew.


  • This episode also contained a short called The Last Laurel starring Jack Cassidy.
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Single Program of the Year.  It was beaten by The Andersonville Trial, also starring Jack Cassidy.
  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  William Windom and Henry Beckman were each in two episodes.
  • Mr. Pritkin played George Costanza’s father in one episode of Seinfeld before being replaced by Jerry Stiller.
  • Don Taylor also directed Escape From the Planet of the Apes, and The Final Countdown.

Nothing going on here. I just liked the shot.

Hell’s Highway (2002)

hellshighway0220 horror movies for $5; what could possibly go wrong?  Part XX of XX. Free at last, free at least, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.

Not a good sign that the only actor I’ve ever seen before is Ron Jeremy — not a good sign for me or the film.

We start off with a man driving through Death Valley.  Ahead, he spots a hitchhiker, and even at this distance, she is a hottie.  He discreetly covers a large knife with a newspaper.  I appreciate that the paper had a headline with the word “Killings” in it.  The director doesn’t jam it down our throat, but it is visible, giving me hope that this movie might actually have some nuance and thought behind it.

Lucinda, in denim shorts and a t-shirt, jumps in the car saying she and her boyfriend walked in different directions for help.  This stranger who has picked her up offers her some water which she gulps down.  Not blaming the victim here, but that’s 2 stupid moves by Lucinda.  She begins gagging.  The man pulls over and she runs into the hills.  She stumbles and he pulls out his knife and jams it into a really fake looking stomach.  But that’s OK — we’re obviously in micro-budget mode here, it was just a few frames, and the movie has already built up some goodwill with me.

hellshighway03The man gets his shovel from the car and puts on a preacher collar.  There is a nice bit of camera trickery as we cut from him giving her a final blow with the shovel to tapping the mound of dirt where she has been buried.  He sprinkles holy water on her grave from the same bottle she drank from.

As he is leaving, he hears her voice taunting him.  He looks around and sees nothing.  Once again, however, the director goes the extra mile and there is a nice reveal of Lucinda standing behind him as he turns, sporting some devilish painting on half her face.  Not that this is groundbreaking work, but after much of the crap in this collection, it is refreshing.  That’s the end of the Preacher.

This is mostly prologue to get us to the main story (and to keep the movie from being 60 minutes instead of 70).  Next we meet the group that we will follow for the rest of the movie.  More goodwill is accrued as Monique flashes the camera . . . then 30 seconds later does it again; sadly, we must wait another whole minute before she turns them loose again.

Chris is driving while Sarah and Eric occupy the backseat.  We see Lucinda hitchhiking ahead.  The group notices the huge number of crosses along the road and Lucinda tells them the story of The Devil’s Highway, which would have been a better title.  Lucinda claims she had earlier hitched a ride with Chris’ brother and killed everyone in the car.  Chris pulls over and demands that she get out of the car, then she points gun at Sarah.  After a struggle, they manage to pull a C. Thomas Howell on Lucinda and roll her ass out of the moving car.  Well, actually they rolled her ass out of the stopped car and cut to the car moving, but kudos to the director for making it work.

Clearly, she is supposed to be the devil.  She had the El Diablo face paint, her name is almost Lucifer, and she is evil.  But what’s with the gun?  The Devil needs a gun like God needs a starship.

That night, they pull over to zelten um Geld zu sparen (finally able to use that phrase from the high school German text).  Finally after 20 minutes, we get another look at Monique’s boobs.

The next day, they see Lucinda again hitchhiking.  She runs at the car, hurling a knife and swinging a shovel, but is no match for 2 tons of D-troit steel which mows her down, decapitating her.  Our heroes move her to the side of the road, and take off. No one notices that her entrails are still hooked to the car, so as they leave, they pull out 50 yards of intestines before dragging half her body behind the car.  Well played, Mr. Director!

hellshighway04Lucinda later shows up again with the El Diablo face paint.  And a chainsaw.  She does some damage before the gang can drive off.  Oh, for crying out loud, Lucinda shows up yet again the next day.  In fact, multiples of her show up.

Eventually all — or at least some — is explained.  It’s not a great movie, but there are enough signs that the makers actually cared that I am willing to go along for the ride.


  • Among director Jeff Leroy’s other joints: Dracula’s Sorority Sisters, Werewolf in a Women’s Prison.
  • Among Monique’s other credits: Stacked Racks from Mars, Busty Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Tales from the Crypt – The Ventriloquist’s Dummy (S2E10)

Image 006Don Rickles is the titular ventriloquist, onstage and getting big laughs.  After the show, he signs a photo for an admiring youngster who will grow up to be Bobcat Goldthwait.

That night, the hotel where he was performing burns down, and Rickles becomes a recluse for the next 15 years.

Bobcat tracks him down in his remote cabin.  He spots a newspaper clipping that says Rickles was injured in the fire; he shows the covered stump of his hand to Bobcat.  Bobcat asks him to come see his act that night and see if he’s got what it takes; other than a left hand.

Bobcat goes on during amateur night and is awful.  Rickles walks out.  Later, Bobcat finds him at the bar.  Rickles, being Rickles, tells him he was terrible.

tftcvent02Outside, Bobcat sees a woman who has just been murdered and realizes that Rickles killed her and also a showgirl 15 years ago, and also started the fire.  He confronts Rickles, but he blames Morty, his dummy.

Bobcat tells him it is just a dummy. Despite Rickles protests, he pulls Morty’s case off the shelf to show Rickles that it is just an object.  But he discovers it is an object without a head.

In the normal universe, Rickles would just tell Bobcat the head was out for cleaning or stored in another case, or destroyed in the fire.  Turns out Morty is Rickles twin brother conjoined at the wrist.  Morty’s head was really Rickle’s mutant brother.

Rickles / Morty attacks Bobcat, and Rickles chops his brother off at the wrist.  Morty rips Rickles throat out, killing him.

tftcvent04Bobcat goes after Morty with a baseball bat.  He launches him with a loose floor board, swats him with the bat, he lands in a meat grinder and Bobcat starts grinding.  Then stops.

Bobcat goes on stage using Morty in a mask.  They argue and Morty painfully grafts himself onto Bobcat’s wrist.

A good episode with great performances and a great twist.


  • Written by Frank Darabont of Shawshank, The Mist, and that season of The Walking Dead — you know, the good one.
  • Don Rickles’ daughter is in the episode billed as “Girl at Bar.”  Her next TV role was in Herman’s Head as “Woman at Bar.”  I eagerly await her future turns as “Middle-Aged woman at Bar” and “Old Woman at Bar.”