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DVD Review

DVD cover

Rod Serling's Night Gallery
The Complete Series


Presenter: Rod Serling
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £79.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 11 January 2016

This has certainly been a long time coming. Although all three seasons have been available separately for some years now on Region 1, only Season 1 has been released in our own Region 2 format. Since 2006 we have had to make do with the curious three-disc set incorporating only a few short and teasing snippets from the years which followed. But not anymore. After countless outraged forums, reviews and minor campaigns, we now have the complete three seasons available in one fantastic set.

Night Gallery is presented by Rod Serling, the co-writer and presenter of the original 1950s series The Twilight Zone. However, whereas that show enjoyed five successful seasons this one only ran to three. Many anthology fans saw The Night Gallery as a disappointment in comparison, but it’s closer to the truth to state they are both products of their time. The 1950s was a purple patch for science fiction horror, the 1970s not quite so much. Black and white has a harder, eerie quality, whereas colour is sometimes over-bright and garish. Of course, The Twilight Zone had the advantage of excellent then-contemporary scriptwriters such as Richard Matheson, whereas The Night Gallery had to delve into the classic literary archives of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Lovecraft stories seldom transfer well to the screen; after all, how do you realistically depict his ‘Great Old Ones’, such as Cthulhu, Yog Sothoth, and ‘the Crawling Chaos’? But I have to say that these adaptations are some of the best. Just check out Pickman’s Model, and Cool Air. Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture is a Lovecraftian story, rather than being by him. The professor scoffs at the ancient gods as a storm encroaches from outside. It’s both edgy and funny, with one of the students depicted as Lovecraft himself, and the others names connected to him – such as Mr Bloch and Mr Derleth.

The pilot is a strong start. It features three main stories: The Cemetery stars Roddy McDowell as a greedy and scheming young man who kills his ailing uncle in order to hurry-up his inheritance, but a constantly changing painting shows the uncle’s vengeful return from the grave. This has bundles of atmosphere, and McDowell is so good in his role that you positively hate him. Ossie Davis (the man who thought he was JFK in the brilliant film Bubba Ho-Tep) plays the long-standing butler. Eyes, starring Joan Crawford, follows. It’s about a blind woman who wants to buy someone’s eyes, even though they will only last for a day. It’s also notable for having a young Steven Spielberg as the director. The Escape Route is a great little tale about an on-the-run war criminal who finds solace in a painting.

The number of stories featuring in each episode of seasons 1 to 3 depend strictly upon their length. Generally there are two or three. The longer stories are undoubtedly of higher quality, and there are ‘fillers’ – some of which are only a minute or two in length. They really are a mixed bag, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous. The short ones are mostly played for laughs or puns, but are better described as cringe-worthy, even though some remarkably good actors make an appearance.

Actors include, Vincent Price, David McCallum, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, John Carradine, David Carradine, Orson Welles (voice), Susan Strasberg, Forrest Tucker, Rene Auberjonois, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Patrick Macnee, Bill Bixby, Jill Ireland, John Saxon, John Colicos, Jack Cassidy, Victor Buono, Adam West, Patrick O’Neal, Ray Milland, Leslie Nielsen, Desi Arnaz Jr, Diane Keaton… and many, many more. Do you realise that Batman and three of his villains are in this bunch alone! Not to mention Kung Fu, The Incredible Hulk, Steed of The Avenger, and The Invisible Man.

The general guide seems to be: The better the source material, the better the adaptation. I was going to give this collection 8 marks, but there’s so much material to enjoy here that the handful of woefully bad ones become insignificant in the grand scheme of it all, making me reconsider. This lot really should be revered. Highly recommended.


Ty Power

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