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Brian Clemens' Thriller (1973 - 1976)

Discussion in 'Cult TV' started by Willie Oleson, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 1.

    upload_2020-1-14_4-28-25.png

    It's almost impossible to describe the whole story because there are so many spontaneous twists and turns, but it's about a couple that wants to defraud the insurance company by faking the death of the wife.
    Except that the death itself won't be faked, that's going to be the wife's look-alike's job, Jennifer.
    Jennifer and Paul get married.
    upload_2020-1-14_4-34-24.png
    Paul's wife and co-conspirator Toni pretends to be Jennifer (as herself) and fakes spontaneous blackouts, which will explain Jennifer's (as Toni) unfortunate "accident".
    Later, the doctor calls Jennifer to rearrange the next appointment but she has no idea what he's talking about since she's never suffered from blackouts.

    upload_2020-1-14_4-39-2.png

    Jennifer thinks that Paul worries too much about his (vague) business, and informs him about her wealth, more than one million dollars, just in case he's going to need some.
    Paul had no idea, and this last-minute revelation saves her life.
    But Toni has no intention whatsoever to change their plans.
    The situation spirals out of control, she tries to kill Jennifer herself, she and Paul struggle and he accidentally pushes Toni over the cliff - which is witnessed by a witness.
    The witness was part of the original plan, but of course he wasn't supposed to see this.

    Paul urges Jennifer to tell the police the truth: that it was an accident, and that he saved her life.
    She says that she can't tell the police anything because she had a blackout.

    Paul is toast, cue sinister dam-dam-dam music.

    Well I thought it was a very intriguing and twisty episode, although Jennifer had to be a little gullible sometimes in order to let the deceit to continue.
    There weren't any eerie moments and that's what I really want from this series.

    7/10
     
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  2. Angela Channing

    Angela Channing World Cup of Soaps Moderator EXP: 21 Years

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    This was a great series and featured many actors who went on to bigger things, including a young Donna Mills in the episode about a Rolls Royce.
     
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  3. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 2.

    upload_2020-1-15_4-42-46.png

    The episode starts with a murder that takes place in 1953. They don't show the murderer so there we have our first mystery.
    In the present time, a couple decides to buy a big house in the countryside and once they're inside it becomes clear that it's the same house where the woman was murdered.
    What could possibly go wrong.
    About the couple itself, she's rather young and pretty and he's middle-aged and average looking. We have to believe that he's worked hard and long enough to afford a house like that, but they still need that hypersensitive and vulnerable damsel in distress because...they're more interesting victims I suppose.
    Nevertheless, I have this feeling that the older man/younger woman is the standard, not the exception, in this type of story.

    Anyway, the husband starts to behave strangely, he whistles some familiar tune and snaps his fingers in a compulsive way.
    A plumber is working on the pipelines in the cellar, and he discovers the body of the woman who was murdered in the opening scene.
    upload_2020-1-15_5-18-26.png
    They really make the best of sets, and a spooky house doesn't really need monsters or murderers. The madness, the sadness and the hostility of a particular space can represent an evil that isn't necessarily human.
    Well obviously in this case it is since they found the body, it's a murder house.

    They call a psychic in order to find out who or what is being haunted.
    As per usual, this results in over-the-top cheesy drama, screaming and near-fainting.
    upload_2020-1-15_5-31-54.png

    At some point the husband almost stabs his wife, later he leaves the house and actually kills a woman and takes her jewelry.
    Confusing part: this unknown victim looks like the psychic.
    upload_2020-1-15_5-37-9.png

    But later he also kills the psychic and buries her in the cellar.
    At the end of the story it's revealed that he was the original killer all along and he's always amnesiaced his crimes.
    The house in the countryside is where it all began and somehow he was lured back to that place and then his hidden alter ego took over again.

    So..the possession turns out to be a semi-possession. I tried to decide how much I liked it, and I guess that says it all.
    For whatever reason I don't care for these characters and maybe that's why the melodramatic reveal falls flat.

    6/10
     
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  4. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Hero EXP: 13 Years

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    I have been considering buying this series for a long time now. Is it an anthology series where the same actors crop up again and again as different characters and how long are the episodes?
     
  5. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Spooky atmosphere with a bit of camp. Oh yes, this is definitely your thing.
    Approx 65 minutes per episode. Mostly different actors, but some may appear in more than one episode.

    At the end of the episode they also show the intro used for the American broadcasts.
    upload_2020-1-15_22-16-17.png

    upload_2020-1-15_22-21-1.png
    This actor and this scenery are not in the episode, actually.
     
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  6. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 3.

    upload_2020-2-5_21-10-20.png
    That's a very promising title.

    Two young women (one of them is Donna Mills) hire a room in an old mansion. The woman who isn't Donna Mills is the ignorant type and she's going to ignore all the signals so that she can be killed.
    Donna Mills is getting more and more upset about all the weird things that are happening, and also about the other tenants who never leave the house and constantly use the word "marvellous" and do something symbolic with their hands.
    upload_2020-2-5_21-19-24.png
    So it feels kind of Rosemary's Baby meets Stepford Wives. (but it's not as marvellous as it sounds).

    I have to do this reviews in parts because I can only upload 2 images per post.
    But that's on par with the episode itself because they show us "end of part one", "end of part two" etc.
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    They're also being spied on through holes in the ceiling and in the bathroom, and I thought it looked effectively creepy.
    upload_2020-2-5_21-30-31.png

    Donna Mills and a friend are going away for the weekend (or maybe just one night) and the other woman is being invited for a soirée of sorts by one the tenants.
    When she enters the room she sees this, and she cheerfully says "oh, you're all here".
    upload_2020-2-5_21-34-15.png
    This...doesn't look strange at all??
    They tell her to bring the man who lives on the top floor a glass of wine, because...because. And so she does.
    Donna Mills can't enjoy her night out because she's constantly worried about her friend who's now alone in that strange house.
    She goes back and she finds the dead body of her friend, and also the man who claimed that his daughter had disappeared at the time she rented a room in this very house.
    He tells her he wants to show her something and she goes upstairs, to the mysterious room.
     
  8. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Hero EXP: 13 Years

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    Come on Willie!! What happens next! Don't leave me like this! On tenterhooks!
     
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  9. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    A man in 19th century clothes reveals himself, and then he reveals everything.
    upload_2020-2-5_21-43-53.png
    It's absolutely dreadful, there's no fear or suspense whatsoever, and Donna Mills just has to stand there and listen to his cheesy pact-with-Lucifer explanation.
    In return for eternal life he has to take the soul of other people by…*drumroll*...killing them. And then he can appear as that person which means that all the tenants were already dead because they were really this man.
    So why didn't he kill Donna Mills' friend during the "soirée", why bringing her upstairs when he was already with her? Seems like much ado about nothing.
    Initially, the story hinted at the idea that whatever what was going on there was meant for pretty young girls, like Donna Mills and her friend.
    But the man from 1852 has also killed older people, including men. So...yeah.

    After what seems like an eternity, Donna Mills thinks it's better to escape, but he stops her and I think he wanted her to have that power too.
    Her friend arrives just in time to kill him, which seems kind of ordinary, and before he dies he touches Donna Mills and says something like "must live on".
    At the end of the episode, Donna Mills and her friend are sitting on the stairs and she says she's all right - in fact, she's feeling marvellous. And then she does that thing with her hands.

    5/10 (the first half was good)
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  10. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Hero EXP: 13 Years

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    I'm probably gonna give this a miss aren't I?
    Also are you going to start a thread for Upstairs Downstairs? @Willie Oleson
     
  11. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    It's the same as with the other thriller shows like Tales Of The Unexpected, a mix of a good and bad episodes.
    And bad episodes can be entertaining too.
    I usually focus on one show at a time and I'm watching THE BROTHERS right now, plus these stand-alone THRILLER stories.
    After that I think I'll re-watch FOOTBALLER'S WIVES because I've never seen the EXTRA TIME spin-off!

    And I must return to SISTERS, I don't know why I stopped watching - I guess there was interesting new stuff on netflix.

    Other old stuff I've never seen: Batman, Twilight Zone, Big Valley and I've just ordered The Avengers!
    And then there's the Cagney & Lacey and LA Law boxsets, oh my god.
     
  12. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 4.

    upload_2020-2-6_23-46-31.png

    So boring it's un-reviewable. I expected a genius conclusion because...what else could they do to justify this drag? But no, that also didn't happen.
    Starring Dynasty's Neil McVane and Polly Bergen.
    upload_2020-2-6_23-53-41.png

    1/10

    I could use a good one now!
     
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  13. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 5.

    upload_2020-2-8_3-56-34.png

    There is no blood, and I don't think they do blood in any of the Thriller episodes.
    But there's a nice, Hitchcockian twist when it turns out that the damsell in distress - the result of a mistaken identity situation - has theft and murder in mind.
    upload_2020-2-8_4-5-48.png

    7/10
     
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  14. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 6.

    upload_2020-2-9_2-15-24.png

    An unimaginative title, and the start of the episode isn't too fabulous either.
    A woman arrives at the police station because she thinks she has murdered someone, but she can't remember the details - or even her own name, for that matter.
    This kind of intentional vagueness and hysteria, in an attempt to create mystery and intrigue, usually doesn't work for me.

    She turns out to be the wife of a murder mystery novelist, and her "victim", who was conveniently-suspiciously sorta-kinda missing for a while, turns out to be just fine.
    But because it's Thriller you know it's never going to be just fine.
    upload_2020-2-9_2-31-14.png

    From this point on, the story alternates between the police station and the house of the Drew couple.
    A young and eager police officer can't forget the bizarre confession and he keeps digging, eventhough he doesn't know what he's looking for. I found this very intriguing.
    It's not really a surprise that something nasty is going happen, but the darkness and silence (except for the freaky clock) inside the Drew mansion felt very sinister. That kind of stuff always works for me.

    The angle of the story is "guilt by assumption". The author's wife had overheard her husband and his mistress' plan to kill her, but she couldn't deal with it and her mind fabricated it into something that had already happened. But since she was still alive, the victim must have been the other woman.

    The last part shows the execution of the plan, which seems really stupid because the police had already been involved. "Suspicious" wouldn't even begin to describe it.
    The young police officer comes to her rescue, there's a struggle and the evil author tumbles over the Tudor style balcony. Dead.
    It's a big build-up with a rushed ending - somehow I keep forgetting that the last 5 minutes isn't movie, but the horribly alternative opening sequences for the US broadcasts - but I enjoyed the performances more than in the previous episodes, especially the characters at the police station.

    7/10
     
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  15. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Hero EXP: 13 Years

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    You're not selling it...
     
  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Then I guess it hasn't aged very well. There were some scenes in "Someone At The Top Of The Stairs" that totally would have freaked me out as a child. But I can't pretend to be 9 years old.

    Based on the last episodes I think I should have the rated the first one 8/10 because of the clever twist.
    I still hope there are going to be some winners!
     
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  17. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Hero EXP: 13 Years

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    I get that. A few years ago I ordered a show from my childhood that really used to scare the crap out of me. It was called Moondial. I got it on DVD and found it basically unwatchable. So slow and boring and annoying.
     
  18. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Yeah. I had bought Sapphire & Steel, based on the raving reviews on this forum. The first story was OK-ish because it was new to me, but I zoned out when I watched the second story.
    Maybe it's not a thing to binge watch.
     
  19. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 7.

    upload_2020-2-10_20-1-43.png

    A doctor and his young wife arrive in an idyllic English village where they will occupy the medical pratice of the doctor who has recently died.
    upload_2020-2-10_20-24-46.png
    Very lovely indeed, but we all know that the countryside-English translation of idyllic means "sinister".

    The left foot of the doctor's wife is in bandages (because of a skiing accident), but that doesn't stop her from wearing high heels. How camp!
    [​IMG]
    The housekeeper is speechless when she sees it, and in the next scene she goes to the grocery store/community centre/Satan's church.
    "She has arrived! It's her! Moon pale and moon gold, with a limping left foot!"
    The other locals are overjoyed at this news because they've been waiting for such a long time.

    To cut a long but no so long story short:
    They believe she's Satan's bride because of the cloven hoof and because...she's blond and pretty, I guess?
    The plan is to have a wedding ceremony on the day that Lady's Day coincides with a full moon.
    The doctor's wife is going to marry some weird guy who can't speak, and then he'll sacrifice her and then the village will have all the Satanic power in the world.
    OK, so I wasn't expecting TheWicker Man quality, but at this point it's getting pretty hilarious, especially when the locals start to humming a hymn or whatever.

    Twist: the wife of the grocer/barman/Satanic priest is an outsider who's treated badly by her husband (a hunky looking man, btw) and she thinks it's all a very bad idea, and she goes to the doctor to warn him.
    In the meantime, the locals remove the bandage from bride's foot, only to discover that it's a normal foot. Which means that she has to die, like every other pretty young blond female who has to be sacrificed on Full Moon/Lady's Day in order to keep Satan satisfied until the real thing shows up.
    But if the doctor's wife was the real thing she'd die anyway, so it's not like the situation had become more dangerous because she was an "impostor".
    Either way, the husband storms into the grocery/bar/satan's church and shoots the weird guy before he can stab the doctor's wife.
    [​IMG]
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarggh! It was so over the top I couldn't help but laughing out loud.


    Not a great episode, but it was delightfully bollocks.

    But wait! The doctor takes the shoe off of the weird guy's left foot...and it reveals a cloven hoof! It was all real!

    8/10
     
  20. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Episode 8.

    upload_2020-2-23_12-41-41.png

    This episode is a murder mystery.
    Young(ish) women are getting strangled for reasons unknown, and one of the four, very suspiciously behaving men in story dunnit.
    It's a little too convenient that all the women in the story have to pass the same crime scene in order to get home. Alone, in the dark, walking.

    A lot of the action takes place inside a library. I thought it looked too big and garnish for a studio set.
    upload_2020-2-23_12-51-9.png

    The third murder is an alleged murder because they haven't found the body yet, only her shoe.
    One of the characters gives a shocked and surprised reaction: "Oh no, not Jilly! She wasn't like the other girls". That was a big fat clue, and I wondered if it was intentionally misleading.
    Suddenly I got this brilliant idea that all four men could have killed someone (there was a fourth victim shortly thereafter).
    This was not the case - and that also means I have created a plot twist that has never been done before. I've always wanted to be a famous writer, maybe this is a sign from above that I should start writing?

    But anyway, they continue to suggest that one of the suspects (an American policeman on holiday) is the real culprit.
    I immediately recognized it as being a mistaken identity scenario, and not surprisingly he's getting killed by the woman who thinks she's going to be his fifth victim.
    However, I was surprised by the rather spectacular death scene, especially in comparison to the absolutely ridiculous strangulation scenes that make the Dynasty season 6 cliffhanger look like the real thing.
    Incidentally, American Policeman was played by a Miles Colby look-alike so I decided to look him up on the internet.
    [​IMG]
    His name is Richard Pendrey, and this was one of his last roles. But not because he died or anything like that.
    And I am utterly, utterly intrigued by artists who end their careers so abruptly. It's a job so there's nothing mysterious about it, but to me it feels mysterious.
    Because I think acting is something that you really want to do, so what made them stop wanting? And there's my inspiration for my second novel!

    The head of the library is sort of a spinster à la Janice from Sons & Daughters. I wouldn't say it was a sub-plot, but they did make a point of it.
    Her last words, and also the last words in this episode: "He had to come back for me...tried to kill me. Because I'm a woman...a very desirable woman".
    *cue eerie music*
    I always enjoy these kind of unexpected, slightly deranged statements.

    7/10
     
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