Mark Walker is in the lucrative business of marrying wealthy older women and murdering them after the honeymoon. That all changes when he falls for cool blonde Stella McKenzie. He considers giving up...
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Anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff that originally told ordinary tales of crime and mystery, but later became a showcase for gothic horror stories, many of which were based on works ... See full summary »
Produced at the same time as the more well-known The Twilight Zone (1959), this series was an extension of the tradition of radio horror and supernatural dramas such as Light's Out, The ... See full summary »
Chiller is a 5-episode horror/fantasy anthology series originally shown erratically in the UK on ITV. The stories each involve, to some extent, the supernatural, and feature lead actors ... See full summary »
An investigative reporter stumbles onto an artist that has made a pact to come back after his death to sculpt a statue of a demon using human blood and clay. Once the demon is awakened he will be granted immortality.
A truly-exceptional series that has largely disappeared into obscurity. This is despite it achieving considerable critical and popular approval when broadcast in the 1970's. It is one of the few British series to have achieved success in the USA and it is not difficult to see why it achieved such popularity.
Unlike most series, "Thriller" was an anthology of separate stories, without recurring characters or situations. This allowed great flexibility in terms of style and story-writing but unfortunately made it more difficult to achieve a long-term identity.When broadcast in the USA and given a rare repeat in the UK in the 1980's it was billed as discrete movies, further eroding its identity.
The show had a very unusual length of just over an hour of action. This allowed more chance to develop stories and explore characters, to great effect. However it also created scheduling problems and has probably helped to kill the chance of further repeats. Unlike better-remembered but unquestionably inferior productions of the time, it was shot on video-tape. Once again artistically this was a great success. It made the action darker and more claustrophobic. Unfortunately this also made repeats less likely with filmed action usually seen as more likely to win wider viewer-approval.
Most credit must go to Brian Clemens. He created the series, wrote most episodes entirely and provided the outlines for all of them. His writing was first-class, and well-supported by guest writers such as Terence Feely. He produced highly intriguing, unsettling, often frightening stories. Astutely, violence was largely kept off-screen and the exact motives of characters were frequently well-hidden. Viewers were forced to use their imaginations, making for deeper and more satisfied viewing. Characterisations were very sophisticated but suitably enigmatic. Most stories featured extraordinary twists and some terrifying scenes.
Direction could still have set things back but was immensely strong. A small team of directors kept true to Clemens's intentions and added great atmosphere. Laurie Johnson's music was perfect - extremely chilling and unnerving - and cranked up the tension spendidly. However the producers also knew when to use silence to powerful effect. They were utterly aware that less is often more.
Acting was very fine. The British performers included many of the leading lights of the 1970's and beyond. Unusually almost every story featured an American actor. Although this was almost definitely to help American sales, it brought an extra dimension. The Americans were able to offer more stylish and classless displays than their more traditional and austere (but still exceptional) British counterparts.
There were inevitably some limitations. The depiction of women was very old-fashioned and often patronising, with far too many references to grown women as "girls". There was an over-emphasis upon portraying women as pretty but helpless, dependent on men to save them. However there were some strong, perceptive and assertive female characters. Generally the view of England is very traditional and deferential, focusing on affluent figures in ostensibly idyllic surroundings. Its world-view was more of the 1950's than the 1970's.
Story-development is a little formulaic. For example, many episodes end with men cradling distressed women. However it should be remembered that "Thriller" was intended for a popular audience and not for the avant-garde, and some predictability goes with the territory and is often part of the fun.
The American versions feature filmed titles and music added long after original production by different companies. The music is sometimes very effective but the titles are unnecessarily long, often amateurish or crass, and alien to the main episodes.
However these are minor points. "Thriller" triumphs irrespective of these reservations, and no production is perfect. Any sophisticated viewer lucky enough to see an episode should be hugely impressed with what is seen. One hopes that stories will appear on DVD or video or receive a repeat broadcast so everyone can see what they have been missing!
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