Saturday, August 21, 2010

Audio Commentary Alert

I've been delving into Image Entertainment's forthcoming THRILLER box set ($149.98, streets August 31) in preparation of writing a detailed review. There aren't many audio commentaries on the first two discs, but I recommend Steve Mitchell's interview with director Arthur Hiller on the series pilot "The Twisted Image." It's pretty good -- a little dry, occasionally off-topic, but informative just the same.
Sadly, the Richard Anderson commentary for "The Purple Room" episode of THRILLER (its first Halloween offering and first true horror episode) is an embarrassment.

Moderator Steve Mitchell asks Anderson what it was like to work with Boris Karloff during the filming of the intro sequence, and Anderson tells him... but with the episode digitally restored, it is now painfully obvious that Karloff is acting in front of a rear-screen projection of Anderson and the other cast members! Therefore, they never met -- at least not during the filming of this episode! (As a commentator in this set myself, I can understand how Steve made the mistake in formulating his question because we commentators were recording while viewing reference prints in much poorer condition than is purveyed here. My old TV copy of this episode, too, makes it look like Karloff and the actors were all standing on the same soundstage.)

Furthermore, Anderson recalls thinking "PSYCHO!" when reading the script. Well, PSYCHO was released in June of 1960, and "The Purple Room" aired in late October 1960 and was obviously filmed some time earlier... still, I guess this MIGHT be possible... but when Anderson notes that the episode makes use not only of the PSYCHO house (true) but the PSYCHO interior including the stairs (BONG!), he makes anything else he says for the remainder of the track, well, regrettably suspect. As a speaker, he is one of those people with a talent for saying a lot but with very little actual content.

Late in the episode, Anderson admits to never having seen it. On the positive side, he's quite good in it.


  1. Anonymous10:50 PM

    Have you see the DVD's? How is the quality? Has it been hurt by cramming so much on so few discs or are they double sided?

  2. Coincidentally, I met Anderson at Chicago Comic Con two days ago. The dude is 84, and seemed to be the only celebrity manning a booth without an assistant there to help. He seemed alert enough, though he moved slowly and spoke softly. We chatted a bit about CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN and even dug out some old stills from a case he had on the floor (and I got him to autograph one for me). Friendly and seemed to be enjoying himself.

  3. Sam Juliano3:41 PM

    Just picked up the set today at a local Barnes & Noble, even though I am still waiting for my amazon set to ship. I am an incurable lifelong fanatic of this show like many other baby boomers.

    I am still investigation, but so far I am most impressed. I was mortified earlier today after reading a commenter on amazon who is complaining the set is taken from 16mm prints, and it pales compared to the LD set (which I also own, and well remember your wonderful review for it) and that Pigeons From Hell is extremely grainy. Well I can't say I agree, though perhaps Pigeons may be a sliver less pristine than others here. THE DEVIL'S TICKET has never looked this good, but I have a lot more to investigate. Ther amazon comments have complained about the isolated music tracks. I'll go back now and examine further.

    D.Guenzel is one of the respondants to "Joey". Check out what he says:

  4. Sam Juliano4:45 PM

    Well, I just posted this on amazon in response to Mr. Guenzel:

    Your post, in reply to an earlier post on Aug. 31, 2010 1:34 PM PDT
    Sam A. Juliano III says:
    Well, I just spent a few hours looking through this set (I bought it at Barnes and Noble) and am relieved. D. Guenzel is reporting here for "April Fool's Day" eight months too early. I am not trained enough to say definitively whether the prints used here were 16mm or 35mm (or even a combination of both) but I will say the work on such episodes as THE DEVIL'S TICKET, THE INCREDIBLE DOKTOR MARKESON, THE GRIM REAPER and a number of others (including the very first episode THE TWISTED IMAGE that Mr. Guenzel takes issue with) is superlative. In fact with GRIM REAPER and DOKTOR MARKESAN, the DVD has matched the laserdisc equivolents from the mid 90's (which I still own and just compared) Yeah there is a slight grain on the classic PIGEONS FROM HELL, but it still looks exquisite, and was never released before on LD or video tape. I have a long way to go, but assuming that Mr. Guenzel isn't a fired Image entertainment employee looking to slander this product (yeah, I read his talk of wanting badly to praise the set and all that) it's a case of expecting a miracle. As it is we have a near-miracle, and a set well worth the wait for the avid fans. Let the celebration begin.


  6. Anonymous12:14 AM

    It's unfortunate that any idiot can write false information on Amazon. Pigeons from Hell has always looked terrible (especially the early scenes) and at least it does look better on DVD. I think the set looks great. I wish they had included all the trailers at the end of each episode, but other the that, it's great.

  7. The big shortfall of the set is the lack of a subtitle option.


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