Thursday, October 3, 2013

Boris Karloff's Thriller: Hay-Fork and Bill-Hook

In spite of bearing the name of the legendary bogeyman, Boris Karloff's Thriller was intended by it's producers (Universal) as a competitor to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, a show that had risen to prominence for the edgy stories of crime and murder that Hitchcock had made famous. One regrettable result of this business decision was that the majority of the show's episodes were pale imitations of the Hitchcock formula: tales of dark motives and nefarious plots, each ending with an ironic twist, and all with nary a whiff of the supernatural. There is little doubt that this feeble replication of Hitchcock led to the show's demise after only two seasons, in spite of the great screenwriting talent at Universal's disposal. Though not exactly a classic episode of the show, Hay-fork and Bill-hook was one of a handful of stories better fitting the name of Boris Karloff, insofar as dealing in some manner with the paranormal.

An inspector from Scotland Yard is dispatched to investigate a murder in a remote Welsh village with a charming history of burning witches at an ancient megalithic circle where once Druids sacrificed Christians. With his young wife in tow (it's their honeymoon) the detective struggles to turn up leads to the grisly pitch-fork killing and has scarcely begun questioning the backwards, clannish villagers when the infamous stone circle becomes the site of another witch-burning (the first in 70 years). To make matters worse, his wife's sighting of a terrifying black dog (traditionally an omen of impending death) breeds speculation among the superstitious villagers that she is herself a witch. Will our hero put down his adult beverage long enough to collar the killer before his witchy wife is consigned to the flames?

I'll not spoil it, but just for giggles here's a shot of that terrifying black hellhound:

Sit! Good Boy. 5/10.


Caffeinated Joe said...

Haven't seen this episode, but this morning I watched "The Devil's Ticket" episode. Pretty nice, even if the twist ending could have been better.

Steve Ring said...

Yeah, it's a reasonably atmospheric episode but not much else. I guess I've overlooked The Devil's Ticket so I must not have cared for it the one time I saw it. There are really just several great episodes of Thriller, imo, that illustrate at the show's wasted potential overall.