Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Picks: Rod Serling's Night Gallery, Part 3

Season Two's second four-part episode Death in the Family/The Merciful/Class of '99/Witches' Feast proves an adequate, though uneven, follow-up to The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes/Miss Lovecraft Sent Me/The Hand of Borgus Weems/Phantom of What Opera?--elevated slightly by the appearance of horror legend Vincent Price, along with a few other interesting faces. Unfortunately, the fourth segment, The Witches' Feast, was struck from the episode early on and replaced with another comedy short, Satisfaction Guaranteed. I don't know what that's all about, but since that's what's on the Season 2 DVD, I'll go with it.

In Death in the Family E.G. Marshall (Creepshow) plays as an eccentric mortuary owner and unexpected host to desperate fugitive Desi Arnez Jr. after the wounded criminal bursts into his grim establishment while fleeing the police. The story and performances are quite good and the climax is classic horror. I think I might remember seeing this one back in the 70's. (7/10)

 The Merciful is another short twisteroo with Imogene Coco as a wife who has a plan to improve her domestic situation with a little brick and mortar. Cute but disposable. (4/10)

In Class of '99, Vincent Price plays the stern professor of the titular students, who must be prepared for the brutal realities of a dystopian new world. This was another episode written by Rod Serling. Unfortunately, the anti-war message seems a little on the quaint side, today. But Vincent Price is quite good as the sinister instructor, as is Brandon DeWilde (Shane) as an apt pupil. (4.5/10)

The substitute episode (they shouldn't have bothered) of Satisfaction Guaranteed serves up rotund Victor Buono as the potential customer of an employment agency that seeks to fix him up with an ideal woman--only to find he has oddly discriminating tastes. Besides Buono, the only remarkable thing about this little farce is the head of the employment agency, played by Cathleen Cordell, who fans of the zombie romp Return of the Living Dead will recognize as Colonel Glover's hapless wife, Ethel (who cooked lamb-chops for dinner). (3.5/10)

And lest this review seem incomplete, here's the lost segment called Witches' Feast, which stars Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Buzzi:

Ugh. (3/10)

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