Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Joan Crawford
Few people realize it today, but Rod Serling is arguably the guy who "discovered" Steven Spielberg and gave him a big break when he hired him to direct one entry in this anthology horror film that spawned the TV series of the same name. Serling introduces the stories as painting in his "Night Gallery." He wrote all the scripts, but the directors varied. The TV movie aired five years after the cancellation of Serling's "Twilight Zone."
The first tale is directed by John Badham and features Roddy McDowell as a nephew that murders his southern uncle. After the killing he starts witnessing bizarre changes to the painting of a nearby graveyard hanging on the southern estate's hallway wall. It looks like the late uncle's coffin is opening up in it.
The second tale – the one that marked Spielberg's directorial debut – features Joan Crawford as a selfish blind uber-rich woman who pays an impoverished Tom Bosley for the right to have his eyes transplanted into her sockets – so she can enjoy a limited amount of vision – less than a day. I won't divulge much more, other than to say it was a great Spielberg entry. The director should have – could have – made more horror. Sadly he got sidetracked by "Raiders" and "E.T." kiddie fare.
The last story – the weakest, but still, really, really good – has an escaped Nazi war criminal (Richard Kiley) wanting to escape the reality of his life as a refuge by mystically escaping into a painting. He's able to make the system work, with disastrous results. Good performances and a great story.
If you're a fan of Mick Garris' "Masters of Horror" series you owe it to check out the only other serious TV horror anthology franchise. Rod Serling's "Night Gallery" was different from "Twilight Zone" not only because it was in color but it had much more of a horror focus. The TV movie pilot is a classic. It was released on DVD with other episodes from the first season of the series, including "The Doll," an early evil doll story.
In short, this TV movie and its resulting show are musts for horror fans. The 2004 DVD releases captures less than half of what aired but it's worth catching. Hopefully seasons 2 and 3 will someday be released as well.
-- Review by Lucius Gore
Posted by will on December 23, 2007Well he did direct more horror. Duel and Jaws are both classics. And Raiders is not kiddie fare. It's arugably the best adventure movie ever made.