A short review of the pilot for “Night Gallery” (1969)

In some ways, I’m a poor excuse for a horror fan.  I haven’t seen any episodes of some of the classic anthology series that my friends regard as biblically important.  Such was the case with “Night Gallery” — at least until a couple of nights ago.  (You can find it online, if you look hard enough.)

I checked out the 1969 feature-length pilot for the series, and I’m glad I did.  It was good stuff, despite the now lamentable 1960’s music and camera effects that were occasionally distracting.  I’d rate it an 8 out of 10.

There were three half-hour tales comprising the made-for-television movie: “The Cemetery,” “Eyes,” and “The Escape Route.”  “Eyes” was by far and away the best written and performed, but they were all quite good.  The twists for all three tales were quite satisfactory, and the tone was nice and macabre.  And the cast was terrific — Roddy McDowall and Ossie Davis starred in the first segment; Joan Crawford and Tom Bosley appeared in the second.  It was weird seeing such youthful versions of actors that were familiar to me in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The format, along with Rod Serling’s unique narration, was engaging, if a little quaint.  It’s easy to see how this went on to become such a popular television show.

Here’s an odd trivium -in the establishing shots for the second segment, which takes place in New York City, the Twin Towers are missing.  That’s because construction had only just begun on the first tower in 1969, when this pilot was released.  The entire World Trade Center was completed three years later.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damned dirty ape!!!”

“Planet of the Apes” (1968) is a half century old; today is the 50th anniversary of the film’s premiere at the Capitol Theater in Manhattan.  (Thanks to Blog Correspondent Pete Harrison for pointing out the date for us.)  The movie’s original trailer is below.  I actually learned something new looking for it — Rod Serling co-wrote the screenplay.  (I wasn’t aware of that, but it makes sense.)

I’ve already written at length about how the “Planet of the Apes” franchise was a part of my childhood.  (No, I wasn’t alive in 1968, but these films were broadcast periodically on television in the late 70’s and early 80’s.)  So I won’t blather on yet again about it.

But I will say that the iconic line of dialogue you see in the above headline made a pretty big impression on me as a kid.  (And Charlton Heston’s delivery of it was unforgettable.)  When I was in the second or third grade,  I once growled that line at a girl at recess who kept poking me and smacking me on the head.  She was really taken aback by it.