Night Gallery – Death on a Barge (03/04/73)

ngdeathonabarge01Local boy Ron sneaks down to the docks as he frequently does. He is checking out a beautiful girl named Hyacinth lounging in the moonlight on a boat — OK, let’s call it a barge — that consistently floats about 10 feet from the pier, with no way to board her (or the barge, heyoooo!).

She says it will be dawn soon, and she says she will have to go.  He asks to come over to the barge, but she says, “never”.

The next morning as he is working at the fish market (which could be one reason for not inviting him over), his perfectly lovely girlfriend Phyllis drops by and he says he can’t make it for their date that night.  The fish market owner confides in her that Ron has been going to bed at seven, waking up at midnight, and coming to work at dawn.

ngdeathonabarge02That night, once again, Rob begs to come aboard the barge or for Hyacinth to come ashore; but she refuses.

He suggests he could come over in the daytime, but she refuses.

He suggests that he could come aboard and meet her father, make it a proper courtship, but she refuses — she sleeps in the day and her father sleeps at night.

This guy can’t take a hint.

At dawn, she goes in the boat’s cabin and her father — sporting a genuine peg-leg comes out on the deck.  There is no mention on the actor’s IMDb page, but that peg leg sure looked real to me.  From behind some crates, Phyllis watches as he lays a plank to bridge the gulf between the barge and the pier.

After the old man goes ashore, Phyllis sneaks aboard and sees Hyacinth about to go to sleep — in her coffin.  Hyacinth puts the vampire moves on her which would have been pretty sweet, but Phyllis barely escapes when Hyacinth can’t follow her outside into the sunlight.

ngdeathonabarge04The next night Ron goes to see her and asks why she hasn’t mastered plank technology like her father.  She says the real problem she can’t cross over flowing water, although stagnant water seems to be a problem too.  However, the lagoon is being drained to flood a new marina, so pretty soon she’ll be doing a Pettit across that plank, she promises.

When the lagoon dries up, Hyacinth is able to come ashore and they meet.  Ron insists he loves her despite her obviously being a vampire.  Hyacinth insists she loves him so much she can’t let him go.  Seconds after he leaves, his boss puts the moves on Hyacinth.  Not so much in love with the boss, she has no hesitation in ripping his throat out (sadly off camera).  Ron rushes home and Phyllis has a nice candle light dinner set up for them.

This is a woman who knows her boyfriend is not having a physical relationship with another woman (not positive on that), but is at least sure that he is head over heels in love with her and he would toss Phyllis into the dry lagoon the first second he could get to Hyacinth.  Yet, she is still faithfully committed to their relationship and doesn’t even give him any shit about it.  So ya gotta love her.  If you’re a man.

ngdeathonabarge05Ron gets a call to identify the body of his boss (who would have made a much better lead actor, BTW) and goes back to the boat — which is what?  Just sitting in the dry lagoon now?  The old man didn’t think it might not be a wise investment to move his boat to higher — er, water.

Hyacinth admits killing Ron’s boss, but assures Ron he will return as the undead. And, really, in a fish market, who’s going to pick up the scent?  Still, Ron wants to kill her.  She helpfully points out where her father keeps the oak stake.  She asks Ron to cry out that he loves her as he plunges it into her. Wait, am I still on the right DVD?

Ron just can’t do it, and falls into her arms.  Hyacinth is just about to go all vampire on his neck when her father enters, picks up the stake and drives it through her heart.

Of course, had he done that years earlier, untold numbers of people would still be alive, and I could have gone to bed at a decent hour.

ngdeathonabarge06Ron is a pretty sappy leading man, but Leslie-Anne Warren was so sensual and looked so other-worldly in her simple billowing clothes that she made up for it.  Phyllis’s performance was fine, but her character is just a doormat — she knew Ron was seeing this other woman and didn’t seem to make much of a fuss about it.

The biggest problem is the cinematography.  I assume that is what accounts for the hazy scenes of Ron and Hyacinth at night, and that it was not a terrible artistic choice.  Other sources say there was a lot of filming day-for-night for budgetary reasons, so maybe this is a side effect (another union triumph — it would be filmed crisply in Vancouver today.  Nice work, guys).  Several other scenes are colorful and sharp, so I can’t blame the crummy transfer in this case.

Overall, I liked the concept, but it was sunk like the barge by the awful look of the night scenes and a lackluster leading man.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  Jim Boles was in The Arrival and Jess-Belle.
  • If she can’t cross flowing water, why does her father go through the routine with the plank?
  • Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut.
  • Leslie-Anne Down vs Leslie Anne Warren.  Always confused me as a kid.

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