Brushstrokes and Broomsticks: Another Night Gallery Tour
An art gallery may strike you as an odd place to spend Halloween … at least, until you see the paintings hanging in the Night Gallery.
“If you seem to sense an aura of cold dampness that permeates this room, attribute it not to either defective air conditioning or inclement indoor weather,” Rod Serling once said. “It’s simply because this is rather a special place with special statuary and special paintings, and they carry with them a coldness that seems to go best in a crypt.”
Most museums turn up the lights so you can see the paintings in detail. But once you see the canvases on display here, I think you’ll be grateful for the many shadows that line the hallways.
I hope you were able to join us for our inaugural tour. Because I have 10 more favorites to share with you today (click on any title to watch the episode on Hulu):
THE DEAD MAN (December 16, 1970)
Poor Dr. Radford. He’s got the patient of a lifetime: a man so susceptible to post-hypnotic suggestion that he can mimic any disease. The potential to cure disease — to perhaps “conquer death,” as the good doctor puts it — is intoxicating. So why did I call him “poor Dr. Radford”? Well, that patient IS having an affair with the doctor’s wife. And there WAS the time Radford had him imitate death. What could go wrong?
SINCE AUNT ADA CAME TO STAY (September 29, 1971)
If your Halloween is incomplete without a witch, well … let me introduce you to Aunt Ada. She’s been enjoying an extended visit with her niece, Joanna, but Joanna’s husband, Lowell, is becoming wary of this creepy old lady. Spurred by the warnings of a professor who specializes in witch lore, he becomes convinced that Aunt Ada is trying to take over his wife’s body, leading to a bizarre race against time.
THE PHANTOM FARMHOUSE (October 20, 1971)
Like werewolves? If you can get past the sight of inmates at a sanitarium in early ’70s fashions sitting on multi-colored platforms in a large tree, you’ll enjoy a scene-stealing performance by a pre-Kung Fu David Carradine in a story about a family of lycanthropes. The sanitarium’s psychiatrist investigates the rumors, only to find himself falling in love with the beautiful girl who lives in the family’s mysterious house in the woods.
BIG SURPRISE (November 10, 1971)
Another Halloween tradition is the campfire story, and Richard Matheson comes up with a doozy here. Three boys are dared by a strange old man to go to a certain tree in a field and dig in a specific spot, where they will uncover, he vows, a “big surprise.” Visions of treasure fill their heads as they set out to unearth the mysterious … whatever it is. Two get fed up, one stays behind to finish the job — much to his regret.
COOL AIR (December 8, 1971)
Ever feel, on a particularly hot summer day, like you can’t live without air conditioning? For Dr. Juan Munos, who never leaves his refrigerated apartment, that’s an all too literate truth. The daughter of a former colleague visits him and feels drawn to this charming, sophisticated recluse. More visits follow. Then a power outage hits, and the quest for, yes, cool air becomes desperate. Rod Serling masterfully adapts H.P. Lovecraft.
CAMERA OBSCURA (December 8, 1971)
Revenge. Comeuppance. Just desserts. Few series were better at showcasing cosmic karma quite like The Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery wasn’t far behind. In “Camera Obscura,” we meet an unscrupulous money lender leaning heavily on a debtor who owns a device that can … well, it’s hard to describe in only a few words. Suffice it to say that the lender is soon trying to borrow some mercy, and coming up quite empty-handed.
DELIVERIES IN THE REAR (February 9, 1972)
Medical advances are a good thing. Not caring how you obtain said advances? NOT a good thing. But try telling that to the self-important Victorian-era doctor at the center of this creepy tale. To teach his students about human anatomy, he needs bodies to dissect, and if that means lining the pockets of grave-robbers? So be it. A Serling-penned meditation on the folly of assuming that the ends justify the means.
I’LL NEVER LEAVE YOU — EVER (February 16, 1972)
Woman with older, sick husband longs to sever her matrimonial bonds so she can marry her young, virile lover. It’s a plot that harkens back at least as far as “Double Indemnity,” but the scheming couple in that film-noir classic never resorted to voodoo to accomplish their crime. Lois Nettleton (from TZ’s “The Midnight Sun”) learns the hard way that evil magic can be a double-edged sword.
THERE AREN’T ANY MORE MacBANES (February 16, 1972)
If you’re crafty enough, you can use a family curse to remove the people who stand in your way. But sooner or later, the hell-beast you’ve unleashed on others will come back to haunt you. You know that, I know that. But Andrew MacBane (Joel Grey of “Cabaret” fame) apparently didn’t. Howard Duff (of TZ’s “A World of Difference”) plays his disapproving uncle, while a pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill plays a bit part. Black magic, anyone?
RETURN OF THE SORCERER (September 24, 1972)
Vincent Price plays the sorcerer (two of them, really). Need I say more?
“We offer you both tricks and treats in this special realm,” Serling once said of Night Gallery, “where the national dish is pumpkin, the national flower is wolfsbane, and our national anthem is the funeral march.”
Happy Halloween, everyone!