Way back when, I had talked about the 1960-62 anthology TV series Thriller, hosted by the great Boris Karloff. (Read my post on it here.) At the time I expressed my hope that the series would be someday released on DVD. Well guess what? Thriller is now available as a 14 -disc set with lots of extras like audio commentaries, separate music tracks by composers Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens, and original promos not seen in nearly fifty years! And the library carries it! (Click here to reserve it.)
But how does it hold up? Pretty well, given the passage of time. The picture quality is variable (a few episodes look like they were taken from VHS copies), but the stories, direction, acting & music still hold up. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite episodes:
"The Grim Reaper": Dutiful nephew William Shatner tries to warn aunt Natalie Schafer that the portrait she's bought of the title figure is cursed. All the previous owners have met violent deaths, and she's next! But, need it be said, things aren't quite what they seem. Shatner's subtle (yes!) performance and the "big reveal" (actually two) at the end are highlights.
"The Purple Room": Rip Torn makes a big mistake when he agrees to spend the night in his late uncle's old house (which fans of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho will instantly recognize). But he's not the only one who does in this chilling tale with a great twist ending!
"Pigeons From Hell": From Robert E. Howard's classic short story, which I reviewed here. Even more scarier than the source story.
"The Devil's Ticket": Starving artist Macdonald Carey "pawns" his soul to the devil in exchange for success and fortune. But the due date for his soul -or someone's else's- is getting nearer and nearer. Clever Robert Bloch script with another wild twist at the end!
"The Incredible Doktor Markesan": Thriller host Karloff occasionally acted in some of the episodes, including this classic shocker, in which Dick York and his wife discover that his uncle (Karloff) has succeeded all too well in his experiments on the dead. A kind of updated version of Karloff's old "mad doctor" B films he did for Columbia in the late 30s and early 40s, but with much more impact. The last scene will definitely stick with you long after you see this episode.
There's also "Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper", "Waxworks", "Man of Mystery" and "The Weird Tailor" (all by Bloch) among so many others. In fact, only the last episode, "The Specialists" (which looks like a poor man's updated version of the then-popular Untouchables series) really disappoints. So, if you get a chance (and LOTS of free time), be sure to check out Thriller: The Complete Series.