Thriller (1960 series)
Thriller, AKA Boris Karloff's Thriller (1960 TV series); The Veil AKA Destination Nightmare (1958 "mini-series" of episodes never released for TV)
"As sure as my name is Boris Karloff, this is a Thriller!" Fright-film favorite Boris Karloff introduces and occasionally appears in this eerie anthology series' tales of people thrust into strange and usually terrifying situations, enacted by a different ensemble cast of character-actors each episode, with many of the more memorable supernatural stories written by such authors as Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, and Henry Kuttner.
"Good evening. Tonight I'm going to tell you another strange and unusual story of the unexplainable which lies behind The Veil!" An obscure and technically unrelated 1958 anthology horror series called The Veil and hosted by (and starring) Karloff, was filmed but never released as a television show, and might be thought of as a predecessor to Thriller; its purportedly true stories generally dealt with crime, suspense, mystery, and the unexplained (usually in the form of precognition and warnings from beyond the grave), with very little (if any) of the more purely fictional themes of Weird and supernatural horror that Thriller would occasionally explore.
Out of this World (1962) was a 1962 science fiction anthology spin-off of the British Armchair Theatre series, also hosted by Karloff; most episodes are believed to now be lost, but a couple surviving episode descriptions are tantalizing; see it's follow-up series Out of the Unknown (1965) for sample episode synopses.
- Release Date: 1958 (The Veil), 1960-1962 (Thriller)
- Country/Language: USA/UK, English
- Genres/Technical: Crime, Suspense, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, black-and-white, anthology
- Runtime: (Thriller generally formatted for a 1-hour commercial television slot; The Veil for a 30-minute slot)
- Starring: host Boris Karloff and an ensemble of guest stars (often including Karloff)
- Director: (various)
- Writer: (various)
- Producer/Production Co: Hubbell Robinson Productions, Revue Studios; (Hal Roach Studios produced The Veil
- Watch Episodes: Thriller (link); The Veil (link)
- Rated: (none) (equivalent of a "G" or "PG")
Thriller had a reputation in its day for being violent, gory, and scary, though today's audiences might find it hard to imagine; Boris Karloff's grandfatherly presence in the stories' prologues and epilogues tends to take the edge ff the horror a bit, too; still, it might not be considered a particularly "kid friendly" series even by today's standards....
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)
The Thriller anthology series veers wildly between crime stories and supernatural horror, with varying degrees of quality to the results ranging from quite boring (especially for the crime stories), to remarkably creepy and effective. A few of the better supernatural horror stories were adaptations of stories by authors from the Lovecraft circle....
The Veil appears to have been almost completely non-Lovecraftian, with episodes focusing on allegedly true tales of psychic phenomenon, mystery, and crime.
Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.
- (review needed!)
- "The Cheaters" (Robert Bloch): An old pair of eyeglasses offers a unique gift to the wearer—the ability to see into the minds and souls of others. But there's a price to pay for such wonderful magic.
- "The Hungry Glass" (Robert Bloch): Ignoring local superstition and the stories of hauntings, a young photographer and his wife follow through on their plans to purchase a long-abandoned seaside home.
- "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" (Robert Bloch): 70 years after the Jack the Ripper killings in London, an amateur detective convinces the police that Jack may still be alive, eternally young, and still killing, currently in New York.
- "Hay-Fork and Bill-Hook": A rural English village is the site for murder, superstition, and accusations of witchcraft.
- "Well of Doom": An ostensibly powerful sorcerer and his colossal minion abduct a wealthy gentleman and attempt to frighten him into to signing over his property and other holdings.
- "Trio for Terror" (August Derleth and others): Our host presents a trifecta of trepidation: first, an occultist is murdered by his nephew; second, a gambler is forced to slumber in a strange bed; and third, a murder suspect eludes the police by hiding in a museum with a unique exhibit.
- "Parasite Mansion": Following an auto accident, a young woman is forced to convalesce in the home of a family of benighted misfits who are desperate to protect their dangerous secret.
- "Mr. George" (August Derleth): As avaricious relatives scheme to murder a little girl for her inheritance, their every attempt is foiled by an unseen force.
- "The Prisoner in the Mirror": After being trapped in an enchanted mirror for centuries, an evil sorcerer exchanges locales—as well as bodies—with a present-day historian and wreaks havoc on the streets of a modern city.
- "Dark Legacy": A two-bit stage magician inherits a book that enables him to summon demonic forces.
- "Pigeons from Hell" (Robert E. Howard): Car trouble forces two young brothers to spend a terrifying night in a dilapidated and seemingly abandoned Louisiana manor house.
- "The Grim Reaper" (Robert Bloch): Legend has it that a lurid painting of the Grim Reaper is cursed and will bring a violent demise to anyone who owns it.
- "The Premature Burial" (Edgar Allan Poe): A man who suffers from catalepsy becomes obsessed with ensuring that he is never buried alive during a seizure, but his cuckolding young wife has other plans.
- "The Weird Tailor" (Robert Bloch): In an attempt to revive his dead son, a man who dabbles in black magic commissions a tailor to make a very unusual suit of clothes.
- "Masquerade" (Henry Kuttner): Wry humor permeates this tale of a honeymooning couple forced to seek shelter in a dilapidated hotel operated by folks who claim to be vampires.
- "Dialogues with Death": This episode offers two tales of terror: First, a long-time employee of the local morgue has heartfelt conversations with the deceased. And second, a Cajun Colonel cleverly arranges the comeuppance of his greedy young nephew and the young man's wife.
- "The Return of Andrew Bentley" (August Derleth and Richard Matheson): An old man fears that upon his death, his soul will be possessed by an evil sorcerer and the sorcerer's cohorts.
- "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk": The secret of Mrs. Hawk's ability to raise prize-winning pigs? She is Circe, the enchantress of Greek myth who once turned great warriors into swine.
- "The Incredible Doktor Markesan" (August Derleth): After financial circumstances force a man and his wife to reside with his uncle in the uncle's creepy old mansion, the couple soon stumbles across a terrifying secret.