Image Entertainment's 14-disc presentation of the acclaimed anthology series Thriller
is arguably among the most anticipated DVD releases for horror fans and vintage-TV aficionados alike. Hosted by screen legend Boris Karloff, who also appeared in five episodes of the series, and aired on NBC from 1960 to 1962, Thriller
immediately earned a reputation as one of the most frightening programs ever broadcast on television--a legacy that endures some four decades after it left the airwaves. Though it featured an all-star lineup both in front of and behind the camera--actors such as William Shatner, Richard Chamberlain, Rip Torn, Leslie Nielsen, Elizabeth Montgomery, Warren Oates, Robert Vaughn, and Marlo Thomas were among its guest stars, while directors included veterans like John Brahm (The Lodger
), John Newland (One Step Beyond
), and actor-directors Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, and Ray Milland--the chills of Thriller
hinged on its stories. Psycho
author Robert Bloch adapted several of his short tales for the series, including one of its most nerve-jangling episodes, "The Cheaters," about a pair of glasses that reveal terrifying truths to the wearer. Twilight Zone
scribes Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont also contributed scripts, while others were based on stories by Cornell Woolrich, Edgar Allan Poe, and Conan
creator Robert E. Howard; the latter provided the source material for "Pigeons from Hell," the episode widely regarded as the most terrifying of the series, with Brandon De Wilde as a young man who encounters restless spirits and a unique monster in an abandoned Southern mansion. Other standouts include Bloch's "The Grim Reaper," about a cursed portrait that brings death to its owners (including Shatner); "The Purple Room," with Torn as the skeptical inheritor of a haunted house, which viewers will immediately recognize as the Bates home from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
; and "La Strega," with Ursula Andress as a young woman bedeviled by her sorceress aunt.
The 14-disc Thriller: The Complete Series offers all 67 episodes of the series, each remastered and uncut for the first time since their original broadcast. Some 50 hours of supplemental features have also been included; chief among these are 24 hours of commentary tracks by Thriller participants like directors Arthur Hiller and Ted Post and actors Richard Anderson and Beverly Washburn (Spider Baby), as well as genre experts like Tim Lucas, David Schow, Gary Gerani, and Lucy Chase Williams. Episode promos and isolated score tracks by composers Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen) and Morton Stevens all help to underscore why no less an authority than Stephen King declared Thriller to be the best series of its type to ever air on television. --Paul Gaita
We chatted with the late Karloff's daughter, Sara--who runs Karloff Enterprises to preserve, protect, and share her father's memories--about her famous father and the Thriller series.
Question: Thriller has been something of a Holy Grail for fans of suspense and horror and television. It must be a source of considerable pride to see it finally arrive on legitimate DVD.
Karloff: Thriller has always been some of the most popular of my father's TV work. For years I have been receiving inquiries from his fans as to just when the series was going to be released in its entirety and what was holding it up and why Universal would not let it out for the fans to once again enjoy. I, of course, had no real answers to the fan's questions. So I, along with my father's fans, am delighted that the entire 67 episode series is finally being released and that Image Entertainment has done such an exceptional job with the DVDs and all of the extras.
Question: Though your father was best known as a movie star, he was actively involved in television from nearly its inception. Do you recall his feelings about the medium and Thriller in particular?
Karloff: In 1949 my father moved from Hollywood to New York. One of the major reasons for the move was to embrace the new medium of television. It was in its infancy and for those actors, like my father, who were accustomed to "take one," "take two," etc., live television could be terrifying. It was also thrilling and challenging.
My father fortunately was "a quick study" and had had almost 10 years of repertory theater training in British Columbia prior to his arrival in Hollywood. So that all helped him in his new endeavor. He loved the challenge of television and the whole new audience it gave his work. It also brought him an entire new body of work and allowed him to show the breadth of his talent.
My father had two other TV series of his own, Colonel March and The Veil, but Thriller was his favorite. He not only enjoyed his hosting duties and had great fun tailoring each introduction to the episode itself, but he appeared in several episodes. He was proud of the writing and directing by some of the finest writers and directors of the day, but the actors were first rate talent too.
Question: Like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller is fondly remembered by viewers, some of whom saw it during its original network run. To what do you attribute its longevity in the minds of critics and fans, including Stephen King?
Karloff: Thriller was well written, beautifully directed, and had some of the finest actors performing these great shows. As if that were not enough, the episodes were not gory. They were suspenseful and intelligent. They invited the audience along on the adventure; they included the audience in the experience; they did not insult the audience's intelligence as some of today's viewing trash does.
It was the sheer quality of the content of the work of the participants--crew, writers, directors, actors, and my father's hosting--that made this magical package called Thriller and that has given it its long legs and its immense popularity with the fans.
Question: Your father appeared in five episodes of Thriller. Do you have a favorite among these?
Karloff: I really don't have a favorite episode in which my father appeared. I wish, and I think the fans do, too, that he might have appeared in a few more than just 5 out of the 67.
Question: Which aspects of the DVD set do you feel will delight fans the most?
Karloff: As with anything, it will be the new material--the extras on the DVDs that will delight the fans. I wish there were more interviews with the people who worked on Thriller, but Image Entertainment has a beautiful product that the fans have been waiting for for a very long time.
I know my father would be amazed and flattered beyond belief at the longevity and enormity of the legacy he has left and the multi-generational appeal of his wonderful work.
Please thank his fans for their continued interest in his work and his life. He truly was a lovely human being. --Paul Gaita
Now available for the first time ever in any format, experience the complete series hailed as the most frightening ever created for television. Horror legend Boris Karloff (Frankenstein
) guides you through 67 unforgettable episodes of suspense, murder and relentless terror, featuring a stellar cast of stars from the golden age of TV. These tales from the minds of such masterful writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch (Psycho
), and Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window
) include a murderous cursed painting, a supernatural mirror, a demonic tailor's suit, and much more.
Now remastered and packed with hours of exclusive, fascinating extras, Thriller
is the ultimate must-have collection for any horror or classic television fan. Featured stars include: William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Mary Tyler Moore, Elizabeth Montgomery, Rip Torn, Richard Chamberlain, Cloris Leachman, Alan Napier (Batman
), Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
), Werner Klemperer Hogan's Heroes
), Russell Johnson (Gilligan's Island
), Donna Douglas (The Beverly Hillbillies
), Richard Kiel (Moonraker
), Marlo Thomas (That Girl
), Edward Platt (Get Smart
), Marion Ross (Happy Days
), Tom Poston (Newhart
), Natalie Schafer (Gilligan's Island
), Richard Long (The Big Valley
), Ursula Andress (Dr. No
), and many more.