Thursday, October 2, 2014

Night of Terror #2: 'Thriller' - "The Twisted Image"

Horror is at its most powerful when it explores universal anxieties- the fear of death, the fear of isolation, the fear of punishment, the fear that your cozy executive existence and happy marriage will be destroyed by a couple of psychotic interlopers, the fear of sharks, etc. "The Twisted Image" is the first episode of the excellent anthology TV series Thriller, hosted by Boris Karloff, and it deals with the fourth of those anxieties in such a deft way that it actually does resonate even if you've never owned a watch worth stealing. Also, you get to hear Boris Karloff say "Leslie Nielsen," which was not something I was expecting or prepared for.

Nielsen plays Alan Patterson, a successful and handsome executive who has two chief problems in his life - one, he's so successful that the kleptomaniac weirdo who works in the mail room wants to be him, and two, he's so handsome that the possessive, delusional weirdo who works in the building wants to marry him. His life is so great, it's a miracle this situation didn't come to a head much sooner. As is, they both start intruding onto his life around the same time, and he ends up being suspected of murder and his family is endangered.

"The Twisted Image" is actually a really good 50-minute suspenser - and even though I made fun of it a little bit it probably is a nigh-universal fear that when things are going good some wild card(s) might come along and mess it all up. I also like the way the three plot strands are threaded together in a much more elegant way than usual in these kinds of anthology programs.

The whole episode's on YouTube if you're interested (and you only have to watch for a couple minutes to hear Karloff say Nielsen's name):

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