Ever since our pal Crabbymoon identified a recent NTT as an episode of GHOST STORY aka CIRCLE OF FEAR, I’ve been on a binge-mission. I had started the series on YouTube years ago but it disappeared as soon as the universe discovered I was enjoying it. Thank Goodness Crabbymoon rekindled my interest because a recent Google dig unearthed the series in its entirety, looking far sharper than it had before. (You can view the entire series HERE and I’d suggest doing it pronto because something tells me this ship is sailing soon.) Not every episode is a goldmine but there are more than a few standouts and even the lesser offerings are laced with super potent LSD (Lurid Seventies Décor). I haven’t watched them all yet but allow me to spotlight two segments, both directed by DARYL DUKE (THE SILENT PARTNER).
HOUSE OF EVIL is a must see. Written by ROBERT BLOCK, it stars a young JODIE FOSTER as Judy, a deaf-mute girl who discovers she can communicate telepathically with her grandfather who happens to be played by MELVYN DOUGLAS. It’s a sweet set up until you learn that grandpa dabbles in black magic and his inheritance is hate. DOUGLAS and FOSTER are not surprisingly both phenomenal. There’s a scene involving grudge-gramp instructing unsuspecting Judy on how to make voodoo dolls out of raisin cookies, tooth-picks and swatches of stolen clothing and there’s something truly mesmerizing about its patience and the weaving of Douglas’ voiceover with dreamily random piano cords. It doesn’t hurt that this supernatural tale takes place in a slightly remodeled version of the BEWITCHED house.
DOORWAY TO DEATH is a later episode written by HAMMER regular JIMMY SANGSTER during the shows retitled CIRCLE OF FEAR second season. This is the first episode I ever saw and it remains hard to beat in my book. SUSAN DEY, LEIF GARRETT and DAWN LYN (Dodie!) are siblings who have just moved into an apartment building in San Francisco. This is a rather unusual ghost story as the younger kids explore the third floor they encounter a room that leads to another dimension where a seemingly nice man spends an inordinate amount of time chopping wood in the snow. It turns out his axe has chopped more than just logs and the silent apparition has his eye on DEY as a replacement for the wife he killed. As with HOUSE OF EVIL, director Duke brings a lyrical dreamy quality to the story while never letting up on the suspense. So far these two kindertraumatic episodes are my favorites but I’m keeping my mind open as other installments include the likes of JANET LEIGH, KIM DARBY and PATTY DUKE. Back to YouTube for me.