Are twins really the divided halves of the same person?
The minute I saw the name Henry Slesar in the credits, I had high hopes for a really intriguing mystery. After all, Slesar was the head writer of the mystery soap "The Edge of Night" for years, the golden age of its 28 year run. The story surrounds twins (Christina and Lisa) played by Pamela Franklin who have never met because one of them was institutionalized. After the death of Lisa and her father, Christina returns home to join her mother (Eleanor Parker) only to continuously hear her sister calling out to her.
One of the issues that I've noticed in this series thus far is that it only gives the viewer enough information to follow the basic plot, keeping out key elements that would fill in gaps that the script leaves out. That's very apparent in the cut between a scene where Franklin sees her sister in an open grave (nightmare or reality, never explained) and where she's talking with boyfriend Stephen Brooks. It makes it tempting to give up, but with their lineup of guest stars, that temptation disappears.
Among the other guest stars in this are veteran character actor Andrew Duggan and the exotic, mysterious Signe Hasso as a "spiritual expert". She claims that the spirit of the dead sister is trying to grab Christina to join her, yet you have to take the details here with a grain of salt. Parker's obviously keeping something from her daughter as well, evidenced by the lack of Lisa's belongings in the two room she stayed in. Weird and convoluted, this is not an episode worth remembering outside of the veteran actors.
The legendary Helen Hayes plays Miss Gilden, an elementary school teacher in her last year before retirement, very popular with her students, all except one. That is one with several different personalities, and it's that student, Robert (Michael-James Wixted) whose dominant personality has been taken over by a bad seed, one contemplating murder.
This personality appears and disappears, and it's obvious that he's been developed in Robert's mind even though they have different ideas, he controls Robert's mind and makes him do some very bizarre things, including making obvious false accusations about Miss Gilden. At home, there's a bizarre twists involving the family cat, after the bad side of Robert indicates that he hates cats.
I always love seeing the veteran actors working with young actors, and can just imagine young Wixted learning about Broadway's Victoria Regina and the cute old lady from "Airport" and the impact on their life, even if they didn't stay in acting.
Hayes' Miss Gilden is one of those endearing old dears that the school doesn't want to see leave and students adore as a grandmotherly figure, and Wixted (very convincing) must have had to cringe being cruel to her. The episode really rises in tension, and Hayes becomes progressively stern and frightened as she fears what Robert might do. Janet MacLachlan is very good as the young teacher Hayes confides in and Phyllis Love is also memorable as Robert's mother. A very crafty script with a very disturbed young boy.
This is indeed a very disappointing episode considering the cast of professionals including Carolyn Jones, Steve Forrest,
William Windom and Robert Mandan. Jones returns to the family summer house, and her husband, whom she claims got there the night before, is nowhere to be seen. She goes through a few frightening situations, apparently locked in a room where there's some scratching heard, and the next thing you know, she's out and about acting like nothing happened. Her encounters with various friends in the community have meaningless points, yet from there, she's seemingly screaming while alone at random for no reason.
While Jones is certainly always fascinating to watch, you really don't get to know anything about her character based on the writing. The other characters also seem to serve no purpose, and when the husband (Forrest) shows up, it's obvious that they hate each other. But that's it, and outside of Jones indicating that she has had thoughts of killing him, there's no real mystery except why this didn't have a stronger plot and a conclusion that goes somewhere. Not looking good for this series. Six episodes in, and only two are winners.
There's a reason why Karen Black is considered the campiest actress of the 1970's.
Don't play the Karen Black screaming drinking game. You may not make it to the end of the 50 minute episode. she's the widow of a Vietnam veteran whom she insists is calling her to let her know that he is alive and is planning on killing her because she is getting remarried. Her fiance wants her to see a psychiatrist, but she insists that she knows what she's claiming to be hearing on the phone is correct.
"Barbara! The promise! Remember!" is the key line from the phone conversations of a whispering man and only she is around when these calls are being made so only black and the viewer have any idea that this is recurring, and the viewer isn't sure that this isn't all in her mind. At one point when layingng on a bed, she looks like all she's missing is the Tiki Monster from "Trilogy of Terror", which makes this really a campy but creepy episode. In spite of laughing at the unintentional humor, I found myself engrossed by it, and it's a must for 70's horror aficianados.
To the real world, James Franciscus is a complete wacko. In his own mind, he's sure of what he believes in. He's a believer in paranormal dreams, and he's certain that his daughter Lisa James will be murdered by her boyfriend. Trying to get everybody else to see that is extremely difficult, and realistically, who would believe someone like that? There's ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley, his current girlfriend Meg Foster and his daughter's boyfriend's father, Jeremy Slate.
The boyfriend, George McCallister, is a bit odd, which makes his suspicions all the more valid to him. Something is definitely up though, and it's a bizarre journey into resolving this. The one interesting element of this episode is the effects that occur when Franciscus is having these visions, but the story itself is presented in a very convoluted manner that just boggles the viewer's mind.
It's interesting that the tragic hero who died leading to this ghost story is named after the romantic hero of Bram Stoker's "Dracula". This story focuses on the living, Gena Rowlands and Stuart Whitman, on a trip, staying at a seaside inn (close to the season but open to them) where the late Jonathan Harker and his eternal love Katherine are buried. You can hear their ghosts communicating, and apparently so does Rowlands who can hear the haunting sounds coming from the sea.
She has purchased a little chunk of concrete which contains a miniature anchor, perhaps the tool to unleash these spirits from their earthly bondage. Rowlands becomes ill which forces them to stay there, and this makes her more haunted by the legend which apparently had the late ship captain trapped along the sea, unable to get out, and eventually covered in concrete after being shot by a harpoon.
Rowlands continues to be drawn into the tragedy which threatens to create a new one, especially when Whitman finds her restlessly roaming the shores while still sick. As the episode develops its storyline, you'll be drawn in by its haunting legends, especially as Rowlands begins to take on the personality of the late wife, Katherine. Walter Burke, as the inn caretaker, adds a genuinely spooky element to the episode, perfectly increasing the gothic tragedy of the haunting story.
It takes a good 40 minutes for the frights in this to start and it's only a 50 minute show with commercials. Up until then, you're praying for something to happen after frustrated husband Jason Robards accidentally kills his harpy of a wife played by Stella Stevens. she married him, knowing exactly what he does, then complains about boredom when she gets there. What does she do to make the time pass, sit in front of the TV and watch everything and anything that is on.
When she decides she's leaving, they have a fight, she pulls out the plug of the receiver he needs to get important rescue information, and when he pushes her away, she falls, hits her head and is killed. After he arranges it to look like an accident he discovers in the weirdest way that she was having an affair. So when he realizes who the man is, he kills him too and is then haunted by their presence through the television sets that had him witnessing again exactly what happened when she died.
Of course, in stories like this, the dead never stayed dead, and he's been haunted by everything through the television set. I remember a sequence in the "Creepshow" movie (featuring Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson) that took a similar plot line and made it more interesting in less time. the most interesting element of this is that the TV, after being destroyed, doesn't die, so the haunting continues. It's too bad that so much time has to pass before the real spooky stuff happens.
While forgotten today outside the fans of the cult primetime TV soap and one of the campiest movies ever made, actress Barbara Parkins was once everywhere well regarded and quite busy. She didn't have the camp following of Patty Duke or the tragic ending of Sharon Tate, so outside of cinema and classic TV followers like myself, it's understandable that her career isn't as well regarded even though she's actually quite good. Along with David Birney, she was cast as the lead in the TV pilot for a short-term anthology occult series that I just discovered and am now finding enjoyment in.
Pleasant Valley is a well-regarded section of a small town, but there's a mystery about it that Parkins is determined to solve. Having just moved there with husband Birney, she's disturbed by voices she's hearing after purchasing a rather strange looking statue of a grinning woman (those teeth alone would turn me away from purchasing it), and she goes to see town historian Sam Jaffe. He tells her that the spot where her house is used to be used for execution, containing a gallows for hanging. A young woman was the last person hanged, and now it's obvious that her spirit is possessing the house.
Like Jean Val Jean from "Les Miserables", the woman was condemned for stealing a loaf of bread, and when condemned, she left the court with a laugh which is obvious what Parkins is hearing now. The atmosphere is perfect for a gothic thriller where beautiful old homes and kind townsfolk give the impression that everything is peaceful. Allyn Ann McLearie, Jeanette Nolan and Ivor Francis co-star, with Sebastian Cabot ("Family Affair") as the host.
The sounds of the 1779 court case come out of the transistor radio, and that really is a haunting twist. Quite a lot of fun. I consider classic TV anthology to be little mini-movies, cut to half the length of most theatrical films and half an hour shorter for the most part of TV movies.
There's definitely an earthquake in Collinsport, maybe not one that you weigh on the Richter scale but certainly an emotional one. Maggie is ill again, and Sam forbids her from going into work. We get to see Dr. Dave Woodard again, the last of two appearances by Richard Woods, and he is perplexed over the fact that Maggie has apparently lost a ton of blood. Joe comes over to look in on her and she demands he leave refusing to be treated like a child. At the Blue Whale, friends Sam, Burke and Victoria commiserate, and when Joe comes in, Sam rushes home and finds that Maggie is missing.
The roller coaster ride plot line is now going into overtime, and each episode even the ones with filler, are as necessary as the ones with the greatest of twists. There's only 110 minutes of footage a week, so during that time, the viewer needs to want to come back the next day or the following Monday, and every episode is now like a season ending cliffhanger. Kathryn Leigh Scott is doing some great work, so it's nice to see her away from the coffee counter. It's episodes like these that show why this time in the show's history became its golden age, and we haven't even hit the primo stuff yet.
If Jason doesn't watch it, he's going to end up in that locked room with the rotting corpse of Paul Stoddard, that is if Elizabeth's late husband is actually there. He takes things too far by wooing Elizabeth to give him a job, and this is him at his most despicable, trying to be romantic but really just being smarmy. I've loved actor Dennis Patrick in many things, and he does a terrific job here being absolutely vile.
Then there's the rest of the Collins family and Victoria, dealing with the news, starting with Rogers's disgust and continuing with Carolyn's desire to get into the secret room in the basement. Elizabeth convinces Victoria to help her keep Carolyn out and indeed Victoria catches Carolyn trying to get in. The family saga when well written is just as good as the gothic drama, and that makes this a fun episode that shows that just because they have a new villain, they are not knocking Elizabeth and veteran movie star Joan Bennett off the front burner
At the end of the previous episode, we saw Barnabas, complete with fangs, standing over Maggie. That is all we see in the opening sequence until the next morning when Sam wakes his daughter, telling her that she's an hour late for work, and she can barely get out of bed. But she insists on going to work, and you wonder just how will she make it through the day. When Sam goes to see her, she has energy to spare, and Sam is truly worried. That evening, he works to finish the last touches on Barnabas's painting, and Barnabas excuses himself to take a break. It's obvious where he's going, and the sinister music doesn't hide a thing.
This episode only consists of four actors, and in 22 minutes, they cover enough drama for all of the Universal horror movies to turn into a series. This is the first time we've seen Barnabas actually being sinister and reveal what he is even though the audience was most likely aware (unless they were living in their own casket in Transylvania since the mid 1960's). Truly great in every way, and Maggie Evans officially becomes the show's main heroine.
Barnabas Collins hits the bars in this memorable episode where he goes to the Blue Whale. If anything would set his teeth on edge, it would be that song that plays over and over on the jukebox. Maggie does what every young lady would do, be convinced to go to a bar after waking up and having a nightmare. Joe insists on taking her, and it ends up being a party along with Sam and Barnabas (finished with the painting) and Burke who meets Barnabas for the first time. Burke warns Barnabas about Willie which leads to Barnabas's claim that he deplores violence. But by looking at Maggie, there's no other way to describe his desire than with violent intensions even if he doesn't want to go there.
It's interesting to see Barnabas pretty much meeting everybody in town, and the thought of a 400-year-old vampire hitting a dive bar like the Blue Whale is funny. Everybody gets something good to do, and there are some amusing lines with Frid having a great dialogue that may not be Williams or Albee or even Poe, but when spoken with the dulcid tones of the excellent Frid, it's as if he was reciting Shakespeare's "Quality of Mercy" speech. A highly memorable episode.
There's a lot going on but it's actually a rather lifeless episode although Elizabeth does try to get Barnabas to get rid of Willie which he says he will do only if Willie gives him reason. Elizabeth seems to agree with that, but she's more concerned with getting rid of Jason at this point since he's more of a menace than Willie is. Jason shows up at the old house to confront Willie, and it's obvious that he no longer has any control over him.
The rest of the actions surrounds Sam attempting to finish the painting, and Maggie's nightmare which involves a rather lavish looking coffin and a mysterious woman inside. Her scream at the end will have you jarred. David's in this episode as well, thoroughly convinced that Barnabas will put the picture of Josette backup when the room he plans for it is done. there seems to be a lot stuffed in this and a larger ensemble than normal so no one really is the focus although Barnabas definitely has his finger (and its ring) on the control button.
The two portraits...imagine it as an Oscar Wilde story.
There's pretty good detail but not much going on in this episode that has Elizabeth visiting the old house for the first time and seeing the uncompleted portrait of her recently arrived cousin Barnabas. She then meets with Burke who wants to know why she sold a piece of property that she had earlier refuse to sell to him. She basically tells him that it's none of his business, keeping a business rivalry even if the personal rivalry has been diffused a bit.
The best scenes go to David who is upset that the portrait of Josette has been removed. He feels there is something different in the old house which certainly looks cleaner and even a bit brighter, but for him, it's psychological not physical. David seems to be stuck in the old house when he hears a pack of wild dogs barking hideously, and that ends the episode on an eerie note. One thing I've noticed is we have not seen David and his father together in a while, but it's obvious that he'll find a surrogate father figure with Barnabas.
This episode surrounds Victoria's discovery that Willie is now working for Barnabas. Willie claims to have met Barnabas on his way out of town and taking a job because it would help him change his life, but Victoria is not so sure. Barnabas decides to hire Sam Evans to paint his portrait (which will most likely look exactly like the one in the Collins mansion, so there's no real point other than to get a portrait in the old house). Sam paints all night, and when a rooster crows, Barnabas insists they're Finished.
Wanting to get one more line from Barnabas's face in, Sam tries to delay, but suddenly Barnabas disappears and Willie appears to take Sam home. It's a very perplexing conclusion of a night's work for Sam, one that will undoubtedly make him suspicious. Lots of mystery and eeriness, but nothing to intrigue the story outside of creating wonder of who Barnabas really is.
The character of Maggie Evans has been lingering on the back burner other than the Laura Collins plot protecting her father. We get to see the importance of her character here, and it only took 221 episodes to get there, even though it was Maggie who spoke the first line of dialog. Kathryn Leigh Scott did a few appearances as the ghost Josette so connecting the two together is quite a nice touch. This episode starts with Maggie closing the coffee shop and Barnabas appearing behind her, no indication of their connection. One mystery is solved however. It is revealed that Barnabas does indeed drink coffee.
We get a bit of the history of Barnabas's cane, a nice touch after he told Roger about the ring. There's a bunch of howling dogs (presumably) in the background, but by chance, Barnabas forgets his cane so Joe drives her to the old house to return it. Willie appears after they leave and expresses concern for Maggie which obviously won't sit well with Barnabas. Maggie expresses a bit of fear, but it's obvious that she's also intrigued. A little bit of romance to mix in with the gothic horror, making you want to break into the Annie Lennox song "Love Theme for a Vampire".
Initially, Jason didn't want Willie to leave, but now that Willie seems to be threatening his place at Collinwood, he feels like it's time for Willie to get out, blood loss or not. We're about to learn the secret of how Willie got this way, and even with some juice and soup and little sympathy from Victoria, and Willie tries once again to apologize.
"Nothing will be back to normal until you're gone too", Elizabeth tells Jason, and Willie tries to tell her about the secret he's being forced to keep in. Willie's trying to make amends but he can't get anyone to even care about what he has to say. Later, Barnabas comes in (wanting to move into the "new" house, an obvious bloopers they didn't bleep out), and Elizabeth gives her permission. He turns down help to clean it up, already having help as we later find out. This is getting good, as they say, and the creepiness has just begun to saunter around.
Determined to get rid of Willie Loomis, Roger confronts him and later Jason in an effort to get him up and out. Eventually, Roger decides to bring in a doctor, Dave Woodard (Richard Woods here), and the news is rather shocking, even to Roger. This news comes along with Roger finding out about the cattle from the sheriff (Dana Elcar), and it seems that the two situations may indeed be related.
While Richard Woods only played Dr. Woodard for a few episodes, the character will be important down the road and his first appearance doesn't indicate anything really about him. however, he will have a connection to a very important character to be introduced within the next couple of months, probably my favorite on the show. this is an episode that simply gives us information but it's important information so it's a necessary episode to watch to see the various elements of the story unfold as Jason and Willie's stories take different dimension that expand from their original intention.
So where does a ghoul keep their money? A blood bank?
We haven't seen Barnabas in a while so when he shows up, it's an exciting moment because where he goes, intrigue is stirred up. Roger indicates that Barnabas wants to invest in businesses in Collinsport, as well as move into the old house which of course as we know is in complete disarray. All you have to do is type abandoned mansions in a search engine to get an idea of what it looks like and what living there would be like.
The other storyline involves Jason searching for Willie who ran out of the house in fear, and eventually an encounter between Jason and Barnabas. It's apparent that Jason does know an awful lot about the Collins family history, and their meeting is filled with intrigue and danger, one obvious villain and one subtle one. I don't see them sharing a glass of cheri anytime soon. The plot moves forward, and there's more exciting advancement now in every episode.
Willie fears he is in grave danger by staying at collinwood, and Jason won't let him leave. Carolyn informs Victoria that Willie has been found and something is dreadfully wrong. Jason realizes that Willie has been almost drained of blood and he is frantic but won't let Willie go. as it gets close to the sundown, Willie is more frantic and desperately tries to get out, eventually escaping into the Collinsport night air. Something is obviously controlling him!
At least Jason isn't a total baddie, his concern for Willie genuine. Carolyn and Victoria are concerned as well, and Carolyn suspects that something really sinister has happened to Willie to make him act this way. Jason ends up back in the crypt, and there's a feeling of doom as he roams around the crypt to the sound of the heartbeat. Great, chilling episode that in a classic horror movie would only take a reel to patch out, but in a TV episode can be dealt with featuring more details.
Willie just wants the marbles he's lost and get lost.
We hadn't known Willie Loomis long enough to understand any of his motivations or really care about him, but when you have a hand reach out from a grave and grab you, there has to be some sort of impact. At the Blue Whale, Jason is demanding that Willie accompany him to Collinwood to apologize to the family, and Willie seems petrified in going there. But Jason persists, and it's his act of cruelty that actually wins Willie some sympathy.
It's obvious, even to Burke, that Willie is a shell of himself, and Burke insists that Jason take him to a hospital. But Jason persists, and when they get there, Willie is petrified over the portrait of Barnabas and collapses. Elizabeth finds that she can't get rid of Willie so easily, even though he doesn't want to be there. He's not a completely evil man, we figure out, just greatly damaged, and powers beyond his control threaten to completely destroy him, his greatest fear. Good performances by everyone, especially Joan Bennett who gets to show her fear over being in a situation that seems there's no way out of.
Everyone's been wondering what happened to the nefarious Willie since the day Jason got Elizabeth to give him money to leave. When he shows up at the Blue Whale, he sits in seclusion by himself and can barely pick up the drink that the bartender dares to sell him. Burke is prepared for a fight but when he sees the condition that Willie is in, he's actually concerned. Jason questions him too, informing him of everything he's discovered, but can't get a word out of him. It's like he's had a personality transplant, and that is scarier than Willie as he was.
Having not even been on the show for a dozen episodes, John Karlen is terrific, almost looking like a junkie coming down and barely able to function. There's also Joe's stunning discovery of a calf with all of its blood removed and two punctures in its neck. Obviously something likes their veins with tender plasma, and just the thought of the visual of how this happened is hysterical in a macabre way.
When Victoria finds Barnabas roaming around the old house, he gives her a poetic description of the history of how it was built and what he believes has destroyed it. They then head back to the main house where he meets both Roger and Carolyn, and Victoria notes how the old world way he speaks haunts her. Roger, who went to Boston without letting any of the viewers know, is intrigued by the presence of another branch of the family, even if he does wonder if he wants something.
They couldn't have cast the role of Barnabas Collins more perfectly, and Jonathan Frid has already snuck his fangs into the part. His welcome from Roger is the warmest we've ever seen the black sheep brother, that is until he recognizes the ring on Barnabas's finger. While this is basically filler episode, I'd rather have this then the type of episode we'd have today where we have to presume that they've already met, those details often skipped for a bored audience that gets distracted easily. Well written and eerily acted.
One full episode in, and Jonathan Frid has the day off. He's too new to take over as a front burner character, and it creates more intrigue to have the story developed slowly. We still have Jason's blackmail of Elizabeth to deal with so that's what this episode focuses on as he tells Elizabeth that Willie's belongings have disappeared. Roger too has disappeared, not having been seen since he first met Willie, and he never left town. It's just a vacation for actor Louis Edmunds after the exhaustion of wrapping up the Burke Devlin story, just as Elizabeth was absent while Joan Bennett was on vacation as the Laura Collins story culminated.
Joe Haskell makes a return after being absent a bit, and he runs into Burke and Carolyn at the Blue Whale. Carolyn's cool to the men who pretty much dumped her so it will take some damaged control to find out what's on her mind. I like when Nancy Barrett gets front burner work because she reminds me of a fragile heroine from one of those American International Edgar Allan Poe horror film starring Vincent Price, or even from a Hammer film.
Try to tune out the record in the background at the Blue Whale. on sleepless nights after watching a marathon of these, I can't get it out of my head. This episode is more traditional soap opera than the gothic melodrama we've seen with ghosts and phoenixes and whatever Barnabas turns out to be. you can't have young characters on a soap opera without that, so it's a lull but not one without a point.
If they cast Jonathan Frid as Barnabas simply because of his hands, it's an interesting concept because they are as long and double jointed as Bela Lugosi's. Claiming to be a descendant of the Barnabas Collins in the portrait, he makes up a believable story for Elizabeth. Where he intends to stay is never brought up as Elizabeth mentions that they are unfortunately dealing with other guests at the moment. But it's very obvious as to where he is going, and it's also obvious who he will encounter when David says he is going to go outside for a while.
Victoria is the only other member of the family to meet him inside Collinswood, and Barnabas is enchanted and very formal with her. It's nice to see Elizabeth smile as actress Joan Bennett is still a striking beauty. Perhaps with Jason and Willie still about having someone a little more elegant has given her some encouragement.
There's a sound of a dooming drum beat as the camera focuses on the old house, rather beat up but containing its own ghosts. this is where the show begins to speed up even if it's moving at the same pace because now there are far more interesting elements going on, and when David sees Barnabas, he finds a new friend. Barnabas seems more than intrigued by the fact that David has encountered the ghost of Josette. Frid gives off the aura of the Shakespearean training that he had as a younger actor, and he's a more than welcome addition.