Monday, June 10, 2013

Well of Doom

Last night, I caught a few episodes of the old TV show Thiller. The shows were part of Sunday Night Noir on MeTV. If you get MeTV in your area, you can catch marathons of your favorite old crime and mystery shows each Sunday night. Thriller ran from 1960-1962 and was hosted by Boris Karloff. He really sets the scary-story-on-a-dark-and-stormy-night mood with his introductions to the stories.

My favorite of last night's episodes was titled "Well of Doom" and for good reason. A good reason I won't be sharing, because I don't want to give anything away. The basic skeleton of the plot is that a young man is kidnapped on the night before his wedding by a man claiming to be the devil and a giant named Styx.

The kidnapped man is played by Ronald Howard who you may or may not know from the 1950s Sherlock Holmes TV series. I loved him on that show and he was pretty good in this! Another Sherlock connection is the show's devilish villain played by Henry Daniell.

I knew I recognized him. He was Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock movie, The Woman in Green, that time with Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock.

You may recognize Styx the sidekick as a young Richard Kiel. You probably know him better as "Jaws" from The Spy Who Loved Me.

Here is the entire Well of Doom episode, which aired in 1961. I think many of you will like it. It's a little dark, and a real nail-biter near the end! Those of you who read my blog in email form can click here to watch the video. Videos don't seem to appear in the email form of my blog.

What did you think of that episode? I'd be curious to hear what you predicted was going on with our villain as you watched this. Did you think he was the devil, a ghost, or something else? I'd like to discuss the plot a bit in the comments, but I'm not going to write any more about it now. Otherwise I might spoil a few plot twists!

P.S. ~ I've ordered some supplies for one of the book projects I mentioned in my last blog post. I have a pretty clear idea of where it's going and can't wait to share the final result! As usually happens with me, I'm going in a different direction from the initial inspiration.


  1. I like Thriller. It's not as high brow as Hitchcock Presents, and not as oddball as some of Twilight Zone, and many of the episodes still hold up.

    I regret that I didn't get to watch many of them when they were on Netflix, and now they've gone. I understand that the show delved into more supernatural and spooky territory in later episodes, which is the stuff I'd really like to see.

    Also, who else recognizes Richard Kiel from his titular role in the cult classic b-movie "Eegah"? In interviews he always seems like one really cool cat, very friendly and AHEM down to earth.

  2. Mantan ~ I agree. It lands somewhere in the middle. There are some definite similarities with the introductions and dark, mysterious plots. I've seen maybe five Thriller episodes, and none of them were all that oddball. There was always just an element of the supernatural. Have you seen the "La Strega" episode of Thriller? That one sticks in my mind. Pretty spooky stuff.

    The shows aren't being offered on Netflix anymore? I don't use Netflix, so I don't know much about how it works. Sounds like they just offer a show for a limited amount of time? You can find many of the old episodes on YouTube now.

    "La Strega" and "Well of Doom" might have been some of the more supernatural seeming ones. I watched an earlier episode that felt more like a crime show. Kind of like an early day Criminal Minds.

    I didn't recognize Richard Kiel from "Eegah" because I've never seen it. :) Just had to look it up. That sounds like a real unique plot.

    "AHEM down to earth" :) Yeah, Richard Kiel has seemed like a really nice guy any time I've seen him interviewed too. He even managed to seem nice in his "Well of Doom" role!

  3. Well of Doom is one of the most Halloweeny episodes because instead of merely being a contempory twisted story, it's also involves costumes and the supernatural - indeed "monsters." Thriller has variety, sometimes it's just crooks, sometimes crooks masquerade as the supernatural, and sometimes it's actually the supernatural! Interesting combination for a show! Boris Karloff's intro's are stellar and I think he is at the pinnacle of his horror persona at this age! I'm glad you are enjoying it :) If anyone is interested the series is available for download at iTunes for $1.99 an episode. You can also buy DVD's from Amazon.

  4. Matt ~ Yes! There were "monsters" of various types in this plot. Some were monstrous in the most human of ways. I thought it was surprisingly Halloweeny, especially in the beginning. The spooky carriage ride, the giant standing out in the fog, the devilish man creeping around, etc.

    I agree about Boris Karloff. He is just perfect for this show. He really sets the tone, and helps me to look forward to what's coming next. Yes, he stands the test of time! A real classic.

    Thanks for the iTunes tip! I'm sure someone reading this will use it. I love how easy it is to access these great old shows!

  5. I've bookmarked a few of these episodes on YouTube. This show is new to me, but from what I've seen, I'm intrigued. Boris Karloff is a huge bonus. The entire series is available on Amazon, but it's quite expensive. There's another, more reasonably priced, DVD of 12 fan-favourite episodes so I've added that to my ridiculously long Amazon wish list.

    1. Little Gothic Horrors ~ This would probably be a good series to get to know on YouTube before buying, especially if it is really expensive. I say that because you might like some episodes better than others. From what I can tell, each episode was based off of a short story written by a different person. That gives each one a different flavor - from mystery, to crime story, to horror and the supernatural.

      The 12 fan favorites collection is a neat idea. I've never seen a DVD made up of fan favorites before. Of course favorite TV episodes are a very personal thing, but it seems like there are always a few classic episodes that stand out for everyone.

    2. I just checked the fan favourites DVD and 'Well of Doom' made it into the 10 picks!

      Yeah, I'll definitely take advantage of watching the episodes on YouTube. I'll keep the DVD on my wish list for a time when the budget is not so tight. :) We've got stormy winter weather right now so the scene is nicely set for some spooky viewing.

    3. Cool! I think it deserves to make the cut. Just checked out the Amazon link. Did you see the list of celebrity guest stars? I'd like to see the episode Rip Torn starred in. Stormy weather sounds perfect to me! It was not only late but storming when I caught that Thriller marathon on TV. It really added to the mood.

    4. Yes, checking out the celebrity guest stars will be fun. As well as Rip Torn, there's also Dick York, William Shatner, and Marion Ross. I don't think I've seen Marion Ross in anything prior to 'Happy Days'.

    5. It so happens that the next episode I decided to watch was the one with Rip Torn! Wow, he was barely recognizable. I keep thinking of him in DodgeBall as Patches O'Houlihan! The episode with him is The Purple Room. That's a good one. It makes you think a little at the end.

  6. I watched it yesterday, Justine. It was the perfect interlude for a rainy afternoon! I vaguely remember the show from when I was young - especially the parts where the commercials were inserted - the layering of the strips of masking tape, it looks like! :D

    I love Karloff's voice. And I did recognize the man who played Teal (Teel?) from some of the old movies I used to watch, although I don't know what his name is.

    Anyway, thanks for the link - it made my day! :o)

    1. Insomniac's Attic ~ I am so happy that you took the time to watch this and that it brought back some memories for you! I wasn't sure how many people would check it out, since it's nearly an hour long. A rainy day is a perfect time to watch something like this. I was watching the Sunday Night Noir marathon pretty late at night, so the shows were a good fit then as well. You just can't watch this stuff on a bright, sunny afternoon!

      Yeah, it does look like masking tape. I wonder what they were going for there? I guess just a hip, geometric, early 1960s design.

      I recognized Teal too! I just looked him up and his actual name was Torin Thatcher. I believe there's also a Sherlock Holmes connection with him. If I remember correctly, he was a grumpy Scotsman with a castle in one of the old Sherlock TV episodes. I just read that he starred in a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, so you might know him from that.