DVD review: “Night Gallery” (1969 – 1973)

“Night Gallery” (1969 – 1973)

Anthology/Horror

5stars_small

43 Episodes

Created by: Rod Serling

Produced by: Jack Laird & William Sackheim

Rod Serling:Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collectors’ item in its own way – not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, and suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”

This month sees the release of the anthology television show “Night Gallery” (1969 – 1973) in a three series ten-disc box set, that incorporates every episode produced – just great entertainment with some good special features at a modest price.

Night Gallery was an American anthology series that aired on NBC from 1969 to 1973, featuring stories of horror, science fiction as well some humorous episodes as well. Rod Serling, who had gained fame from an earlier series, “The Twilight Zone”(1959 – 1964), served both as the on-air host of ‘Night Gallery’ as well as a major contributor of scripts, although he did not have the same control of content and tone as he had on ‘The Twilight Zone’. Serling viewed ‘Night Gallery’ as a logical extension of ‘The Twilight Zone’, but while both series shared an interest in thought-provoking dark fantasy, more of Zone’s offerings were science fiction while Night Gallery focused on horrors of the supernatural.

Serling appeared in an art gallery setting and introduced the stories that made up each episode by unveiling paintings (by artists Thomas J. Wright and Jaroslav “Jerry” Gebr) that depicted the stories. ‘Night Gallery’ regularly presented adaptations of classic fantasy tales by authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, as well as original works, many of which were by Serling himself.

Looking back at a television series from almost fifty years ago may seem a difficult prospect but Serling was such a good writer as well as arbiter of taste that the vast majority of this stories are so unique that they seem to have not aged a day.

Highlighted episodes not to be missed:

Silent Snow, Secret Snow (Seas. 2, Ep. 5)

Based on a short story by Conrad Aiken, this psychological tale is the story of a young boy’s fascination with the snow outside his home; a fascination that turns him inside himself and towards insanity. This one is incredibly creepy and atmospheric, one to watch with the lights on, as well as having company with you.

The Diary (Seas. 2, Ep. 8)

This masterpiece, penned by Serling himself, stars Patty Duke as an aging movie star with a grudge, she enacts madness-inducing revenge on the scathing gossip columnist who shreds her acting credibility. Truly one of the more chilling and well-written episodes of the entire series, but you would not expect anything less from Rod Serling.

The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes (Seas. 2, Ep. 1)

In this chilling tale, a boy is given a very special gift – to see the future. As a commentary on the media’s fascination with the strange and our unearned trust in the media, this story has a very poignant message.

You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore (Seas. 2, Ep. 20)

It is the near future, and people are still mean as well as bullies. At least, that’s the concept at the core of this tale. When a rich couple purchase the best robot maid available and then attempt to beat the crap out of her (like all the other robot maids before her), they get a nasty surprise.

Sins of the Fathers (Seas. 2, Ep. 20)

The very next episode although being painfully grotesque (hunchback dwarves, guttural screaming, turkey legs) is actually really creepy Dark Ages.

Midnight Never Ends (Seas. 2, Ep. 7)

Another Season 2 gem by Serling, this story is like a cross between “Groundhog Day” (1993) and “The Shining” (1980). A young woman picks up a hitchhiker on the road and the two immediately feel as though they are caught in a super-strong bout of mutual deja vous. What they find out is a truth that is more chilling than you could possibly imagine.

Whisper (Seas. 3, Ep. 13)

As one of the final episodes, Serling managed to saved the best for last. With a skeleton cast of amazingly talented actors, this story is a truly haunting tale that answers the question: What is the worst thing that can happen when you believe you can speak to the dead?

The Ring With the Red Velvet Ropes (Seas. 3, Ep. 10)

A heavyweight-boxing champion that has just won the world title finds himself on an unknown island, surrounded by sexy ladies and good food. Everything is great until he finds out that he’s not the REAL world champion until he beats an otherworldly fighter with a very long winning streak.

The Different Ones (Seas. 2, Ep. 14)

Once you’ve seen this one, you’ll see almost a direct connection with some of Serlong’s more notable work on Twilight Zone. In this futuristic episode, a hideously mangled teenager is shipped off to a governmental-alien leper colony. In his desire to be a “normal person,” the hero is willing to do almost anything to avoid literal alienation.

The Caterpillar (Seas. 2, Ep. 21)

A colonial tale of unrequited love turned sour, this is about a British military leader in the jungles of Borneo. When he can’t have the girl of his dreams, he decides to take care of her husband by using the deadly flora and fauna of the inhospitable land. One small mistake in the plan is all it takes for him to get an earful.

A Question of Fear (Seas. 2, Ep. 6)

A rich man makes a revenge bet with an old buddy that he can’t stay locked up overnight in a reportedly haunted house. When he starts seeing strange things (beds with knives in them, for example), he decides that the $10,000 is not worth his life. Unfortunately, the house doesn’t let him call backsies without a fight.

The Big Surprise (Seas. 2, Ep. 8)

There’s nothing scarier to a 12-year-old than a creepy old guy who tells you to dig a big hole. In this very short story (on the same powerhouse episode as The Diary), a young boy gets a tip from an old neighbor that something buried under a nearby tree. Thinking he has heard some kind of verbal treasure map, the boy acquiesces. His surprise is not at all what he expects.

The House (Seas. 1, Ep. 3)

In my favorite episode by far, a woman continually has a dream that she is driving towards an unknown house, but that she knows inside and out. After graduating from dream therapy with a “cured” badge, she actually finds the house from her dreams. Not surprising, there is a ghost haunting it, but what it’s trying to do only becomes clear in the last few moments of the story.

The Housekeeper (Seas. 1, Ep. 1)

As the first episode of Night Gallery, this little story comes out of nowhere and mentally screws everyone. An aging housekeeper with low self-esteem is requested for a dream job. This story is all about the consequences of being young and beautiful forever. I choose this tale for those who like their Halloween ironic.

Tell David (Seas. 2, Ep. 14)

I personally believe that this is the most horrifying of them all, in the traditional sense. A woman with some marital problems and a small son gets lost in a freak storm. When she finds a local house for shelter, all the strange objects that she finds inside surprise her.

Special Features:

This 10 DVD collection brings you every episode from this spine-tingling 1970s series.

Penned by legendary twilight zone writer – rod serling

Includes the original pilot episode from 1969

“Night Gallery” is out now on DVD.

 

 

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Author: spryfilm

I am a reviewer of films and television at Spryfilm.com

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