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.

Post-Post:

  • [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.

One thought on “Thriller – The Weird Tailor (10/16/61)

  1. I believe this episode is the first time any of the artificial mythology begun by H.P.Lovecraft and christened THE CTHULHU MYTHOS by August Derleth appears on TV. Clark Ashton Smith’s interstellar demon Tsathoggua is invoked in the spell Macready intones at the beginning of the episode (itself cribbed from another Bloch story, THE SHAMBLER FROM THE STARS) and the book De Vermis Mysteriis was young Bloch’s effort to one-up Lovecraft’s famous invention, The Necronomicon.

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