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Robert McKinney

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
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Nose Norton

Location: Plainville
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Subj: Re: Creature Feature 117: Night Gallery-Season 2(1971-72)
Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 at 04:27:12 pm EST (Viewed 107 times)
Reply Subj: Creature Feature 117: Night Gallery-Season 2(1971-72)
Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 at 11:03:32 am EST (Viewed 107 times)

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The Night Gallery is Rod Serling's horror anthology series that ran from 1969 to 1973. "The Caterpillar" was the 22nd episode of Season 2 and first aired on March 1, 1972. The second story of this episode was titled "Little Girl Lost". "The Caterpillar" is regarded as one of the best segments of the series. "A Fear Of Spiders"(Oct. 6 1971) was the 4th episode of season 2 which featured other shorts titled "Junior", "Marmalade Wine" and "The Academy", and "Green Fingers" was from the 15th episode of season 2(Jan. 5 1972), followed by "The Funeral" and "The Tune In Dan's Cafe".

Set in the British colony of Borneo around the early 1900's, "The Caterpillar" tells the tale of Steven Macy who plots to kill his boss, John Warwick, in order to win the affections of Warwick's young wife, Rhona. With the aid of Robinson, a sketchy British kindling salesman, they plan to have a native earwig placed in the victim's ear, knowing it will work its way into his brain, killing him. However, the Bornean given the task of administering the bug makes a grave mistake leading to the dramatic twist ending.

In "A Fear Of Spiders", a nasty, self-absorbed columnist with a fear of spiders and a lovelorn upstairs neighbor discovers a spider in his sink which grows to the size of a large dog. However, no one believes him and his neighbor unknowingly locks him in the room with the spider to teach him a lesson.

An elderly gardener with "Green Fingers" has land that a tycoon wants to buy. However, when she won't sell, he plans to have a man scare her and cut off her fingers. The woman dies from shock and loss of blood and as the land tycoon surveys the land, he learns that the old gardener had the remarkable ability to make anything grow.

"The Caterpillar" is one of the Night Gallery episodes that I remember from childhood. The episode does such a great job describing the effects of the earwig in the brain that I misremembered there being a scene which showed the earwig. So, there is no actual creature scene in this Creature Feature, but I think this can be overlooked for such a strong story.
The tension is great, whether between Macy and Rhona or Macy and Robinson. Even though nothing is shown, it's not for the bug-squeamish as the performances and creepy music really get under the viewer's skin. Macy's smug glee at the breakfast table before he gets his comeuppance is handled brilliantly as is Robinson's apology to the suffering Macy. The class difference between the gentleman Macy and lowlife Robinson is a bit of a trope but it's not overdone. "The Caterpillar" is a great example of terrifying TV from the 70's.
"A Fear Of Spiders" was also a favorite of mine because it had a giant spider. Directed by John Astin(The Addams Family), the episode has some pretty good verbal jousting between the columnist and his gruff landlord as well as with the neighbor. It was shorter than I remembered. I thought the spider grew more gradually. Still, this episode was fun and there aren't many characters whose comeuppance is more enjoyable than this one.
"Green Fingers" was new to me. Elsa Lanchester(The Bride Of Frankenstein) stars as the gardener and gives a great performance. This one had a very creepy story and a great ending and Greensleeves playing in the background sets an eerie tone.

Memorable Moments:

From "The Caterpillar", when Macy learns the mistake that was made. At first, I thought that he has having itching in his ear because he was imagining what it must be like for Warwick. His realization when he sees the blood is chilling.

From "A Fear Of Spiders', I liked when the spider went from a small spider in the sink to a tarantula. The spider is creepy enough but it growing with no explanation upped the weirdness in the story.

From "Green Fingers", the scene of the bleeding gardener working in the garden as the police find her after the attack was unnerving but her rising from the grave and then sitting in her rocker was the topper. Great ending!

Night Gallery opening
Just seeing this opening reminds of those days being scared silly lying on the floor in front of the TV in my grandfather's room.

"Little Girl Lost" was a very odd episode about a scientist who imagines his dead daughter is still alive. This belief is encouraged so that the government can keep him working. Very odd.

"Marmalade Wine" is another odd one as it has the feel of a two-person play. I'd bet the twist ending had an influence on Stephen King when he wrote Misery. It starred old-time bandleader Rudy Vallee.

"Junior" was a goofy little short featuring Frankenstein's Monster. From reading the descriptions of episodes, it seems the show had lots of brief gag stories featuring classic monsters.

"The Funeral" featured a vampire who wanted to hold a funeral for himself, with all of his weird friends. Joe Flynn(McHale's Navy) stars as the funeral director and Werner Klemperer(Hogan's Heroes) plays the vampire.

You can watch Night Gallery episodes on Hulu or on Dailymotion, though the image on Dailymotion is reversed and the commercials are annoying.

The Caterpillar
A Fear Of Spiders
Green Fingers

I was going to list my personal favorite stories/segments from this season, but it started to become a long list: 'Since Aunt Ada Came To Stay'; 'The Devil Is Not Mocked'; 'The Dark Boy'; 'Camera Obscura'; 'Professor Peabody's Last Lecture'. I kind of had to give up or it would have gone on longer. I noticed typing these that most of these were based on short stories published in Weird Tales and the like. I think part of what made this show, and shows like Thriller before it, work was the excellent source material.

(Possibly) interesting trivia: Rudy Vallee's co-star in 'Marmalade Wine was Robert Morse, his co-star in 'How To Succeed In Business Without Trying'.

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