Thriller – Well of Doom (02/28/61)

twellofdoom01A long-nosed chauffeur is driving two men in suits through a thick fog.  As they are discussing the dangers of the Moors, Penrose laments that they are going to be late to his bachelor party.  The driver slams on the brakes as there is a giant standing in the road.

He has his arms raised menacingly and is wearing one of those tinker-bell jerkins with the little tutu-like ruffles around the waist.  Who decided this was the official uniform for giants? Obviously they are custom-made; there are no Giant and Fat man stores selling them.  If they are custom made — bespoke, if you will — why not order a f***ing pair of proper trousers and a snappy blazer?

twellofdoom02And who decided to start stores that catered only to the Tall and Fat like they were freaks to be segregated from decent — though in need of new clothing — people?  C’mon, #talllivesmatter.  OK, I’m not so worried about the fat ones.  I just lost 65 pounds — it ain’t rocket science; well maybe a little physics.

The giant pulls the chauffeur out of the car.  Fearing a bad Uber passenger rating, the two other men — Penrose and his estranged butler Teal —  gamely get out of the car to help the driver.  It’s only a giant, after all; it’s not Ferguson MO.

Before they have a chance to have their heads ripped off, the giant’s equally creepy boss shows up.  He coyly throws out devilish names they might use for him — Beelzebub, Baal, Moloch.  Moloch seems to stick, and his giant is named Styx.  Presumably still carrying a lot of anger from a childhood where the other kids called him The Stygian Fairy, he kills the chauffeur and drives off with the three men.

twellofdoom03Flashback:  Earlier that day, Teal had dropped in to toast Penrose’s upcoming nuptials, despite some sort of falling out.  Although I’m not sure how you have a falling out with a butler — you just buttle his ass right out the door.  They toast the bride Laura and throw their glasses in the fire.  Laura calls and tries to talk Penrose out of attending the stag party, but he refuses.

Back in the car, Penrose believes this is just a stag party prank.  Moloch is in the front seat pointing a gun at him.  One pothole and he could have ended up like Marvin in Pulp Fiction.  As it is, Moloch puts a slug in the seat next to Penrose just to let him know this is not prank.  Penrose offers him his entire net worth — a little prematurely in my opinion — but Moloch says it is not enough.  In an ill-fated escape attempt, Moloch kills Teal.

twellofdoom05Penrose is locked in a cell with the titular Well of Doom.  He claims that Penrose’s father threw the rightful owners of the castle down the well to their doom and usurped their position; although did not usurp their source of fresh water – idiot!

And Moloch should know because it was he who was killed!  Bwah-ha-ha-ha.  Oh, and Styx has kidnapped Laura and she is in the cell across the hall, gagged and naked — er, bound.

Moloch presents Penrose with a contract to sign over all his possessions.  Penrose refuses, suspecting he and Laura will be killed anyway.  Moloch, in true Bondian style leaves him alone to contemplate his doom.  Penrose rigs an escape plan from the Well involving a device a Bondian device worthy of Q — a rope.

twellofdoom08When Moloch returns, he finally relents in order to save Laura’s life. Of course, after signing, Styx tosses him in the well anyway.  After they leave, Penrose is able to climb up the rope which would have been perfectly visible to Moloch and Styx.

Finding Laura’s cell empty, he goes back up into the castle and finds Moloch and Styx stripping off their make-up.  He also sees that his former butler Teal is still alive and is really the ringleader.  With Penrose dead, he will claim Penrose and his wife are on an extended honeymoon and will enjoy the estate as overseer.  Yeah, that honeymoon story should satisfy the neighbors for years.

He says that document Penrose signed is going to “make up for years of humiliation . . . have you ever thought what it is like to be a man’s man and live in a household where they give you orders day after day?”  Maybe he really is a man’s man, he’s sure never lived with a woman.

twellofdoom09In a nice bit of luck, and by “bit”, I mean a Rock of Gibraltar sized bit of luck, Moloch and Teal shoot and kill each other; and Styx falls from a balcony thinking Penrose is a ghost.

Several reviews give high praise to this episode, but it wasn’t really anything special.  The high point was the make-up on Moloch and Styx.  Its effectiveness is especially obvious when we get a scene of them without it late in the episode.

Penrose, Laura, Teal and the story are only adequate.  But the show really belongs to Moloch, Styx, the make-up department, and the cinematographer — all outstanding.

Thus concludes the ten episode run of the Thriller Fan Favorites Collection.  At first, I thought I had found a show that possibly even trumped The Twilight Zone.  But, like any show, the quality was a bell curve — just seems like the curve would have been a little more subtle if you’re cherry-picking 10 episodes.

On the plus side, the screeching score was effective, there were some good scripts, and it rarely dragged or seemed padded out like the hour-long TZ season.  But Boris Karloff brought nothing to the show except his name, and presumably the 57 remaining episodes would all be lesser efforts.  But they are on You-Tube, so who knows.


  • Richard Kiel (Styx) was best known as Jaws in a couple of James Bond joints.
  • Thriller filled the Outer Limits slot after the rest of the episodes went behind the paywall.  The question now is do I want to shell out for Hulu.
  • Hulu sucks.

Thriller – The Prisoner in the Mirror (05/23/61)

tprisonerinthemirror02Paris 1910 — I ‘m bored already.

A man is entertaining a woman by doing a few magic tricks for her at dinner. Despite not being six, she is charmed by his shenanigans.  He produces a bird from under a napkin — God knows where he had the poor thing jammed during the amuse-bouche and escargot.  Then he releases the filthy creature in the restaurant to shit in everyone’s consomme — to her delight.

Ultimately, she is hypnotized by his reveal of a huge diamond necklace.  But the scene tprisonerinthemirror03turns to horror as she screams, imagining him turn into a skeleton and his bony fingers putting the necklace on her.  He apparently strangles her as the gendarmes come after him as he is painting over an evil mirror. Rather than face trial and be judged mad, he throws himself out the window, uncannily splatting in the spotlight of a curiously focused streetlamp.

“Half a century later,” Boris tells us.

Professor Robert Langdon, er Harry Langham is interested in an old mirror he has read about and has his assistant, Fred Forrest, scouring the antique shoppes and museums looking for it.  Langham himself finally finds the mirror in a Paris antique shoppe, still tprisonerinthemirror04painted over.  As he scrapes away a bit of the paint, he sees the image of a woman killed by the original owner of the mirror.

He has it shipped home to America, or specifically to the home shared by Langham and Forrest.  Forrest wants his sister Kay to marry Langham and settle him down.  They move the mirror up to the bedroom where Langham gets out the paint scraper and cleans the entire mirror.  He sits staring at the mirror for hours, but sees only himself.  Finally in the dark, he sees the woman lighting candles.  She is able to hear him, but can’t speak herself.

When he tries to show his girlfriend Kay, she sees only her own reflection.  And as she is played by a very hot 33 year old Marion Ross (Mrs. C on Happy Days), that should be tprisonerinthemirror07enough.

But Langham throws her out, and is then met by a man in the mirror who explains that the original owner, evil Count Cagliostro has trapped them in that other dimension, but that they are alive.

The man recites an incantation that is supposed to free them from the mirror, but instead hypnotizes Langham into joining them in the mirror dimension. This enables the man to take inhabit Langham’s body outside the mirror.  The woman can now speak and tells him the man was actually the evil Cagliostro.

Cagliostro goes out for a night on the town for the first time in 50 years, foolishly passing up the very hot Mrs. C who was just complaining of Langham not paying enough attention to her.  Luckily for the future Mr. C, Cagliostro picks up a floozy down by the docks and kills her, drawing the police to his house.

tprisonerinthemirror08The next morning, he sets his eyes on Kay.  She is Langham’s girlfriend, and is there first thing in morning, but he wakes up alone in a twin bed?

That night, Kay deduces that he killed the floozy.  Fred busts him for killing Kay.  The mirror is busted in a struggle.

A nice little story, but with major strings left dangling — like the fate of 3 major characters.  Is Langham dead, or trapped forever in the other dimension?  How about the girl in there with him? Most importantly, is Kay actually dead or hypnotized perhaps banished to a mirror downstairs?


  • The representation of the people in the mirror is sometimes fairly amusing as it is obvious they are just standing in a box.  In some scenes not even a sheet of glass has been installed to look like a mirror.
  • Supposedly Marion Ross is given the ironic toast “Happy Days” but I missed it and ain’t going back.
  • One year later, Lloyd Bochner would be hauled aboard a Kanamit spaceship just because no one could decipher that To Serve Man was a cookbook despite the pages and pages of full-color tasty dishes.

Thriller – The Purple Room (10/25/60)

tpurpleroom01We slowly zoom in on the old — and by “old”, I mean “future” — Bates house.  Through the eerie music, an eerie girl is in bed repeating, “Jeremy, is that you?  Jeremy, why don’t you speak?  Jeremy, in God’s name, why don’t you speak?”

Through the miracle of 1960s television, and cheap DVD transfers, as we get very close, we can see that the girl is holding a pistol.  Another clue is when she starts firing it off repeatedly, now screaming, “Jeremy!”  Well, that’s no way to get him to answer.

Flash forward 100 years.

Duncan Corey is at the reading of his brother’s will where he learns he has been left his brother’s house.  Corey is only interested in flipping it, however; perhaps to that hot-ass Bates woman and her weird son.  But wait, there are terms . . . “Should you decide after one night under the roof of Black Oak that you do not choose to take up residence there, the estate will pass to our beloved cousin Rachel Judson and her husband Oliver.”

However.  “After a period of one year’s residence, you will be free to dispose of the estate in any manner you see fit.  But I believe by that time only death would part you from it.”

Duncan, Rachel and Oliver go to visit the house.  Duncan expects that Rachel and Oliver will try to scare him off that first night so they can inherit the house.  They escort him to the titular Purple Room where he will spend the night.

As Rachel and Oliver attempt to toast his first night in the house, Duncan insists on switching glasses, lest they try to poison him.  After Rachel and Oliver leave, Duncan locks the door.

He paces around the room, gun in hand, finally falling asleep until more noises downstairs awaken him.  He goes downstairs to investigate the noises, still waving the gun around.

tpurpleroom03Finally from a dark corner emerges a figure with dagger plunged into its chest.  This gives Duncan quite a hoot as he assumes it is Oliver.  The creature continues closing in on Duncan and he stops being too cocky.  Duncan finally fires several shots into the figure and collapses in fear.

Turns out it was cousin Oliver and Duncan is dead from a heart attack.  Rachel and Oliver drive out into the woods to ditch the car — literally — so it appears Duncan had a heart attack while driving.

That night, history repeats itself as Oliver hears noises downstairs and goes to investigate.  Oliver cowers at what he sees, and Rachel awaits in bed with a pistol.  As Rachel sees a figure approaching the bed, she too begins pumping lead like Bonnie Parker.

And yada yada.  Strangely, upon rewatch (since I was too tired to make any notes the first time), I wasn’t that thrilled with it (no pun intended). But on the first viewing, it was pretty thrilling (pun intended).  This is odd as there are no truly unexpected twists or scares.

tpurpleroom04Again, a good episode.  Rip Torn was again playing the cocky young jerk who thinks he has managed a real score.  Richard Anderson was good to see — he was always great as Oscar Goldman in The $6 Million Man.  I don’t know much about Joanna Berry, but she did a fine job also.  Despite my lackluster writing — more so than usual due to a tough week — this one was a winner.


  • Joanna Heyes appearing in a Douglas Heyes directed episode!  What are the odds?  Well, about 83% according to IMDb.
  • Holy crap, Joanna Berry (Rachel) appeared in a TV movie called The Jerk, Too — a sequel to Steve Martin’s The Jerk.  I had no idea this even existed!

THAT should be the subject of today’s post.

Everyone remembers the original movie began “I was born a poor black child . . .”  The IMDb description for this sequel is

“A man who struggles with gender identity who is beaten up on a daily basis by his father leaves his home to join a gay frat house.”  

Does that suggest laughs to any one?  Who would have possibly green-lighted this piece of shit (admittedly, I have not seen one second of it)?

The main character even shares the same name as in the original — Navin Johnson — so it is clearly intended as a sequel.  Is it his loving father from the original that is now suddenly beating him?  It is telling that the only External Review listed on IMDb goes to an abandoned website.

In a bad sign, it stars Fridays alumnus Mark Blankfield as Navin.  Generally, you see Fridays on a resume, just avert your eyes (unless you’re talking about Larry David or the guy he saved from a future of abject poverty in show-business, Michael Richards (although he was GENIUS as Kramer)).

Directed by Michael Schultz who went on to have an impressive resume.  One of his early hits was Carwash.  So who knows.

Holy crap, it’s on You Tube — I might have to check it out.

Thriller – The Weird Tailor (10/16/61)

Arthur Smith, Jr. drunkenly arrives home to the family estate.  We, never see it from out side, but the double doors open into a long hallway lined with sculptures, so I’m thinking this ain’t my neighborhood.

The tipsy trust-fund infant stumbles from piece to piece offering no admiration or respect.  He puts his hat on one, and gallantly wraps his overcoat around a nude Venus de Milo [1] (although the sleeves need to be taken up a tad) who is scandalously showing her marble-hard nipples on TV in 1961.

Darn the luck, he arrives just as his father is performing a satanic ritual.  Arthur opens the door just as smoke is rising from a pentagram.  He stupidly walks directly across the pentagram to the booze on the other side of the room.  Down goes Arthur — another alcohol-related death.

Smith’s father goes to see Madame Roberti, a blind psychic.  He wishes to bring his son back.  He offers his entire fortune, but she admirably does not deal in such blasphemy, damnation, and defiance of of God . . . but she knows a guy.

She offers him a business card to go see Honest Abe at a used car lot — now there’s a guy used to blasphemy and damnation.  Honest Abe pulls an old manuscript out of his safe — Mysteries of the Worm.  There are only 3 copies left in the world — the others were burned centuries ago along with their owners.

Honest Abe figures he can let it go for, oh say $1,000,000 . . . $1,000,500 with undercoating.  Despite the lure of insanely low APR financing, Smith pays cash for the book (something that was done back when there used to be places called Barnes & Noble or Borders (there also used to be a place called “The Border” in the southwest United States.  Alas, that is gone because Congress still takes cash).  But I digress.

tweirdtailor17Erich (or Erik on IMDb) Borg’s landlord Schwenk storms in and demands the rent, but Borg doesn’t have the dough.  He goes in the back to where his wife is sewing in their apartment.  As usual in these stories, Anna is far too good for him (and 24 years younger), a disparity made even more evident when he tells her to “shut up” and smacks her; when, really, just the smack would have been sufficient.

The store is having a busy day as a second person arrives.  Mr. Smith has brought his own magical fabric required to resurrect his son.  It looks like something Elvis might have made into a gold lame suit.  Borg is to be paid $500 upon delivery.  When Anna asks about the strange fabric, he physically shoves lovely Anna away and she runs to the bedroom to confide in her only friend — a damaged mannequin.

tweirdtailor18In bed alone as Erich works only the unusual specific hours required by Smith, Anna comes out to look at the suit.  It tingles when she touches it, probably more than she can say for Erich.

The next morning, he delivers the suit.  He treats Anna horribly and laughingly threatens to leave her. She goes to have a heart-to-heart talk with the mannequin which she has named Hans.  It is very sad as she describes how she has been beaten and they have both been broken by Erich’s abuse.

Unfortunately, when Borg delivers the suit, Smith is a little short on funds.  Borg is suspicious when he notices that Smith has a nice new refrigerator.  He opens it up to find Smith’s son frozen inside.  In a scuffle, Borg (fighting a man for a change) kills Smith and takes the suit back to the shop.

He instructs Anna to burn it while he goes out for a drink; but, having priorities, he takes time to shove her around a little first.  When he returns, he finds that Anna has dressed Hans in the strange new suit.  Borg admits to killing Smith and Anna says she can’t live with a murderer, so he puts his hands around her throat and proves her correct.

During the struggle, Hans jerkily begins moving.  He chases Borg into the shop and kills him so he and Anna can live happily every after.  At least until she realizes he is not anatomically correct.

Henry Jones (Borg) was probably one of the first “that guy” actors, but I don’t remember ever seeing him play a character who was so despicable and pathetic.  On the other hand, this was Sondra Blake’s first-ever credit on IMDb.  Both were great in their depiction of this sad marriage.

As always, a good story and screenplay from Robert Bloch.  Twilight Zone and Rod Serling are so iconic, they will never be surpassed.  But Thriller is exposing me to a whole new genre I didn’t know existed — quality horror programming, well-written and cast, that was from that same era.

Maybe the fact that the Fan Favorites collection contains only 10 of the 67 episodes is a clue to the consistency of the quality, but I’m going to have to give the others a try.  The Hitchhiker wasn’t even able to pull together ten good episodes for their compilation.

But with one iffy exception, like the other episodes, this one is good stuff.


  • [1] Always the quipster, writer Robert Bloch has Arthur say to the armless Venus, “We’re gonna have to take those nail clippers away from you.”
  • Title Analysis:  Borg is an abusive loser, but does not seem particularly weird.  Maybe it is just a play on “Weird Tales.”  If so, it fails because the double meaning isn’t there.  But then I also never understood the Best of Both Worlds title of the Star Trek TNG Borg episode.  Maybe Picard was the best of humanity, then of the Borg after assimilation?  Of course his attempted genocide of them 5 minutes later might have tainted his legacy among the Borg.
  • Hmmm, I wonder if Madame Roberti is played by the same Iphigenie Castiglioni that was in Return of the Hero?
  • Borg’s landlord was the guy who sold the Tribbles in Star Trek.
  • Strangely, Hans was taller than Anna, but when he became animated, he seemed very small.  We never saw him scaled against anything, so it could have been poor camerawork.

Thriller – The Incredible Doktor Markesan (02/26/62)

Yeah, but FREE HBO.

Fred & Molly Bancroft pull up to his uncle’s house in a snazzy VW Beetle convertible hoping for some charity.  Fred has written letters to his uncle, but much like my letters to Brit Marling, they have gone unanswered (note: I have written no letters to Brit Marling).  Once the finest estate in the county, it is now a run-down hovel; but one of them 20,000 square foot hovels.

As in every horror show, when there is no answer to their knock, they feel free to let themselves in.

After looking around the dusty, cob-webby, run-down mansion, they finally encounter the run-down man who dwells there (notice I didn’t say “lives there” — see what I did there?), Fred’s uncle Doktor Konrad Markesan.  OK, Konrad is your given name, but you’ve been working in an American university, so let’s cut the Doktor crap (Ich habe nicht für 4 Jahre die medizinische Schule gehen zu Herrn genannt.”)

He invites them into the library where Fred lights a fire, wisely, in the fireplace.  I think the hulking dried out husk of Markesan is in more danger of going up in flames than the old books. He stares dead-eyed as they talk about their trip.  He says he never received Fred’s letters because he has been away; and will be leaving again soon.

He offers them a room upstairs with the proviso that they not ever leave tdoktor03the bedroom at night.  Fred admits that they are flat broke and are hoping Markesan can pull some strings to get them jobs at the Penrose University. Sadly, he is no longer associated with the institution; and those aren’t strings, they’re cob-webs . . . actually on him.  He further warns them not to let anyone at Penrose know he has returned, because his work is highly secret.

That night they go to their room, and just to be sure they don’t go exploring, Markesan locks them in.  They look to the window to escape this fire trap, but it has iron bars.  And they see Markesan shambling out into the bog.

That night, Fred discovers that Markesan is reanimating the dead.  He seems to be convening the corpses nightly until they regain their humanity, and are not slow-witted zombies.  It might help if he kept them in the house and didn’t take them back to the crypt each night.

tdoktor07The next night, Fred sneaks out of the room again.  Again, Markesan has brought his moaning dead pals back to the house.  He has each of them laid out in caskets getting inter-venous feedings.  At midnight, Fred goes to see Markesan’s former professor Angus Holden, holder of the most expansive office hours in college history.  Typically a college professor’s of 12:00 – 12:15 office hours are PM, not AM.

Holden says that Markesan was forced to resign when he began experimenting with reanimating the dead using an extract from mold found in graves.  Well then, wouldn’t every dead body be coming back to life?  I guess the extract is the secret ingredient; like Retsin.  Maybe it’s an ancient Chinese secret ingredient — that’s why there are so many of them.

tdoktor08Molly can’t stand being cooped up, so she too sneaks out of the room. She creeps downstairs and sees the four dead men shambling in.

Meanwhile, out in the bog, Fred goes to the Markesan crypt.  He finds the previous generations still stowed away, but Konrad’s slot is open even though it says he died 8 year ago.

When he runs back to the house to tell Molly, he finds Markesan.  The Doktor says not only can he bring the dead back to life, but he can prolong his own existence forever.  Rarely has such a good episode created so many questions.

Markesan looks like death, not even warmed over, but rolled on a gurney through a warm room.  But he is alive.  Who reanimated him?  He was not saved by his life-prolonging research, he actually had a crypt with a date of death.

Why does he keep marching the intern zombies back out to the unseen bog or crypts or cemetery instead of letting them reside in their comfortable satin-lined coffins where they get they IVs?  Maybe it’s all that moaning.  Maybe some better surroundings, a little Mozart, a few paintings might have humanized them.  Also some Lysol spray and Fabreeze, I imagine.

tdoktor05Of course, when Fred returns, he sees dead-eyed Molly closing herself into a casket. Why, since the secret ingredient was not the blood of a young hottie?  If they killed her to keep the secret, why reanimate her? And why does she get to sleep in the comfy satin coffin — just because she’s a chick?

I’m not that crazy over Karloff as a performer.  He has all the range of Shemp.  He’s a good performer, but pretty much one dead note.  Dick York plays a good everyman, and his wife was fine; however, she was as out of his league as Samantha.  Part of Thriller’s effectiveness is its overbearing Psycho-like shrieking score, but even that works to unnerve you.

I rate it zehr gut.


  • Konrad Markesan is played by series host Boris Karloff.
  • Dick York is much better and much better cast here than in Vicious Circle.